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Chrysalis
Greets,

It is a bit of a moral dilemma for me and I am trying to figure it out. What makes a runner a professional killer? Is it that they take money for it, or is there a kind of steely professionalism that creates mental barriers so that you are not killing Smith, but the henchman that got in your way.

If the runners are hired to kill someone in a club. In one version of the scenario one of the character's seduces him so that he drinks from a poisoned cup, dying of what might be a stroke or heart attack (until the autopsy of course). In a second version he is lead to the back alley of the bar where the PCs wait and confront him and kill him and his bodyguard in an action movie style hale of bullets. In a third version the PCs corner him in the back alley and beat him to death with tire irons and fists.

It seems to me that the difference between killing and murder is that killing seems to involve James Bond like adversaries and methods and is murder involves plebian weapons with plebian motives.

Am I off base here? Is there a limit to what you consider to be acceptable violence? Is it really about seeing the sensible guns, but not seeing the senseless act?

Fuchs
I don't see the difference in those examples, to be honest. The legal definition is pretty clear in all those cases - if you kill someone for money you committ murder, no matter how you do it. Poison use by itself is actually a rather common sign for murder (murder as in the worst kind of killing).

(I am differing between manslaughter, killing, and murder, I think in the US you judge them by degrees.)
Ryu
Murder as opposed to Killing is a question of the law. "Professional" is a can of worms on its own. It´s not the method that counts, its the effect. Guranteed death, no witnesses, no unwanted collateral damage come to mind.
Fleming
Once the death of another person is planned, deliberately, it's murder. Whether professionally or privately, whether I hire a hitman to arrange an accident for my wife, or push her down the stairs myself, the result is the same. The target's bodyguard, or any innocent bystanders, would - legally - be manslaughter, I think, since you didn't plan for their deaths, but willingly committed actions that led to their demise.

It's a matter of every character's personal ethics, what they're willing to do. Mostly, my players use Tasers and Stun spells for guards and other innocents that get in the way, reserving the killing for those they feel "deserve" it.
Critias
The capacity for such work -- and by this I even mean gunning down an unlucky security guard while in the middle of a b&e style job, not just pure wetwork -- is one of the reasons I've long been of the opinion that your average Shadowrunner is somehow fundamentally flawed. Much like I can't help but view "adventurers" in D&D as murderous hobos, there's something wrong with most Shadowrunners, that they end up with the lifestyle they adopt.

Whether it's a glamorous James Bond high-end sort of ritzy Shadowrunner pro, or a gutter-dwelling thug with a crowbar and a stolen Ares Predator... killing, outside of self defense or the defense of others, is killing. People with strong morals don't tend to sign up for that sort of thing as a career path and a lifestyle choice. Soldiers and police officers use violence as an "in defense of others" method (in theory), but I'm sure a stroll down your local death row will introduce you to all sorts of people with character flaws that are not unlike those you might expect on your average Shadowrunner.

That's part of the challenge of making a character, to me. You've got to walk a fine line. You want to -- most of the time -- make someone who's likeable enough to feel like some sort of protagonist, but at the same time they've got to be the sort willing to go on Shadowruns, hang out with the people Shadowrunners hang out with, and do the sort of thing Shadowrunners do (IE, shoot people right in the face for money).
Fuchs
What may help in D&D, but maybe not in SR, is to not use our own moral compass, but the setting's. In my D&D campaigns, morality is defined by the world the characters live in. Killing someone over an insult is in many cases expected behaviour, even good and honorable in society.

In SR, it's a bit more difficult, since it's so closely related to our own society and time. But even so it can help if one goes a bit into "how would this be judged by the SR world/society, or in an action movie?" mode.
Chrysalis
I think you really do have to have a bit of psychopathy to be able to work as a Shadowrunner. To be able to go to violence from zero to a hundred demands a certain type of personality. The kind that scares people more than any intimidation roll might.

There has to be some kind of statisfaction in being a Shadowrunner for it to become a lifestyle choice, more than simply wearing the trappings. The idea that the Shadowrunner shapes his/her body and mind to be weapons demands something more than posing.

Apathy
I saw a documentary once where they had a psychiatrist give Richard Kuklinski (a notorious Mafia hitman in prison) a series of interviews. At the end, the psychiatrist gave his professional opinion that Kuklinski possessed two unusual traits that made him particularly skilled at his job. One, he showed strongly sociopathic tendancies. Two, he had an diminished ability to feel fear. Apparently this 'fearlessness' trait is common among people who chose high risk jobs. Those with a strong social conscience became cops or firemen or similar, and those who grew up in dysfunctional households with violent role models, etc were ideally set up for jobs like his.

Link for those interested: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5740692213665972395
knasser

Most evils begin with emotionally detaching oneself from the victim, and killing someone depends on this more than most. Premeditated murder is commonly perceived as more evil than killing someone in the height of battle because the emotional detachment required is both more sustained, lacks the immediate and attributable cause of a momentary anger or threat and, particularly, indicates a lower threshold for achieving the mental level of intent to kill. I.e. if you kill for money as opposed to because you found someone attacking your partner, that indicates that the necessary level of intent is arrived at too easily as far as society is concerned. Therefore it's considered a greater problem to be rectified with punishment.

In your poison - tire iron progression, one might consider the beating to death to be worse because it demands a greater degree of emotional detachment. It might even indicate a pleasure in such methods if it is chosen over the method of poison. But I think all distinctions are heavily over ridden by the simple fact of pre-meditated murder. If some bizarre circumstance (such as only happens in movies and RPGs) happened whereby someone murdered another for "the greater good" etc., then the quick poison method would be considered a lesser evil than the tire irons, because it would be kinder. But you can't tell the difference between two shades of grey when you're standing in the bottom of a coal mine. (Figuratively speaking).
Critias
I imagine sociopathy's pretty common amongst Shadowrunners. *Good* for them, in fact, if you look at it purely from a "these are traits a sociopath exhibits," and hold that up next to the job requirements for being a Shadowrunner.
john_doe
Although, in the D&D line of thinking...D&D rewards you for killing things. The tougher the monster you defeat, the more XP you get, so the murderous mentality is dumbed down or desensitized in the name of character advancement.

Where in SR, you can successfully complete a run and not kill anyone (except wetwork jobs of course) and still gain just as much Karma (or more if the GM deems so) as if you had killed everyone along the way.

But then again, in D&D you are the heroes that come to save the day.
In SR, you are a nobody trying to make it to tomorrow.

In my groups games, it's just mutually accepted by everyone that due to the nature of the biz of running in the shadows...killing someone is all in a day's work. Would you be a shadowrunner otherwise?


Didn't SR3's Shadowrun Companion have a flaw that prevented you from killing people, or at least made it so you didn't have to or something like that?
Heath Robinson
QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 27 2008, 02:39 PM) *
If some bizarre circumstance (such as only happens in movies and RPGs) happened whereby someone murdered another for "the greater good" etc.,

Bizarre circumstance that only happens in movies and RPGs? It's done every day by all manner of people; religious, secular, professionals, amateurs, Americans, Europeans, Britons, Africans, Asians, Australians, New Zealanders. Intelligence services do this on a regular basis, although you can claim that it isn't murder because it's done to protect others from misfortune - in which case nobody can ever get murdered for the greater good either.

I'll now contribute to the topic constructively; the world of 2070 is full of people that value the lives of others little, as you might expect in a world that is so full of problems and low living standards. The kind of person who is willing to kill others in order to survive is not going to be rare, the only abnormal thing about Shadowrunners is the amount of effort they're willing to put into this earning their pay and the amount of danger they accept as part of their lives.
Siege
In D&D, typically you're killing non-humans - specifically, non-humans that don't even resemble humans all that much. Dwarves? Short humans. Elves? Skinny humans. Orcs? Goblins? Not so much.

I distinguish between killing and murder thusly:

1. Murder is killing for "bad" or "evil" personal pleasure. You have the desire to kill, be it for money or sexual gratification and so on. Example: I torture someone to death because I like to listen to the screams.

By comparison, a Soldier might take pleasure in keeping his buddies alive, so he's glad he was able to kill the hostile before the hostile was able to attack. That would be an example of a socially acceptable (generally speaking) reason for being glad that someone is dead and that you were able to successfully kill him. While this can be argued as being selfish, it is generally acknowledged as a good reason, versus the bad reasons as listed above.

What are the good reasons? Ordered to do so (sometimes), in defense of self or others (usually).

2. Killing is the act of taking a human life. There are no judgments or evaluations as to the motives or situations underlying the act - just the nature of the act itself.

To paraphrase: all murder is killing, but not all killing is murder.

-Siege

Spike
I have a lower opinion of humanity in general, so I don't necessarily think shadowrunners must exibit signs of sociopathy or psychopathy.

May help them adjust if they came from a nice suburban corp family, but if they came from the barrens then killing and dying are just how they were raised, its a fact of life.

Human life only has inherent value if you were taught to give it one, and a LOT of people never learn that. More in Shadowrun than today, but I don't think exceptionally so.
KCKitsune
Actually, unless you're playing a "Evil" campaign, then most, if not all, of the killing in a D&D adventure are evil creatures that have it coming.

In Shadowrun I would try to have my character use non-lethal methods of taking down the corpsec... if for no other reason than they might take you alive rather than geek you instantly.
Wesley Street
I know what the legal definitions are but when Vorstedt flashes his diplomatic immunity papers at the end of Lethal Weapon 2 and Riggs shoots him in the head anyway everyone cheers. That's total murder in the first degree and plays off of the notion of a "moral majority" overriding the rule of law but you can't help feeling satisfied that the bad guy was getting what he was due. So if a shadowrunner takes a wetwork assignment to off a corporate exec who has been conducting genetic experiments on innocent children that's a "job." If he's hired to off a priest who refuses to sell his church property to a developer, that's "murder". So is shooting someone who doesn't get off "your" barstool. Anyone but a complete sociopath or dissociative psychotic would know the difference, no matter what the upbringing. Thugs in the ghetto know that murder is wrong but that it's also one of the costs of business and killing of innocents, while sometimes unavoidable, is reprehensible (if only because it brings the law down on you).
PBTHHHHT
And there's always felony murder when you're committing a dangerous felony and there's unintentional killing.
Wesley Street
I think a way to wiggle around the corpsec security guard thing is to view them as enemy soldiers, which is really what they are. They are extraterritorial and the rules of law and the rules of war create a clear distinction between the two.

Killing Old Gus who is protecting his family gas station with a shotgun? Bad.
Killing Joe Sixpack the Mitsuhama Security thug? A-OK.
Critias
Which is why some GMs go out of their way to give corpsec guards some personality (inasmuch as it's possible, depending on the situation).

Remember the cop in Reservoir Dogs? When it was a hundred boys in blue lined up outside the jewelry shop, he was just a cop. When he got his ass tied to a chair, his ear cut off, and the gas can came out, he started crying about how he's got kids, and a wife, and blah blah blah blah blah.

Which...still didn't work on that particular "Shadowrunner," but, hey. It was the actor (to an extent) ad-libbing some low blows at Michael Madsen (who'd just had a child), and the same basic principle.
kzt
No, it's murder. Like most criminals, you can make all sorts of arguments about how "she had it coming" but murder is what it is. Your character is a the same moral level as the guy who shoots people in a 7-11 for $213.
knasser
QUOTE (Heath Robinson @ Mar 27 2008, 02:52 PM) *
Bizarre circumstance that only happens in movies and RPGs? It's done every day by all manner of people; religious, secular, professionals, amateurs, Americans, Europeans, British, Africans, Asians, Australians, New Zealanders. Intelligence services do this on a regular basis, although you can claim that it isn't murder because it's done to protect others from misfortune - in which case nobody can ever get murdered for the greater good either.


People murder each other for the greater good everyday in these countries and these professions? I require evidence of that.

As to the view held by several here that murder is only murder if condemned by society, I disagree completely. The act remains the same act regardless of whether your culture or leader congratulates you for it. The argument extended above exonerates every Nazi perpetrator of the Holocaust, Ariel Sharon and countless others. And to say that a soldier is not murdering someone because he's "defending his buddies" in no way changes that he has just shot someone dead. That he may or may not be able to justify it (and if he is not defending someone that did not themselves force the attacker to resort to violence, then he probably cannot without recourse to personal profit), does not change what is done.

To define murder as "unlawful killing" is to declare the legal system an arbiter of morale action. We have seen repeatedly throughout history that this is hopelessly fallable.
knasser
QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Mar 27 2008, 04:07 PM) *
I think a way to wiggle around the corpsec security guard thing is to view them as enemy soldiers, which is really what they are. They are extraterritorial and the rules of law and the rules of war create a clear distinction between the two.


Which works so long as you have convinced yourself that there was no moral blame for having invaded the country and put your "soldiers" there in the first place:

Shadowrunners break into high-security Aries corporate enclave.
Get surprised by guard. Shadowrunner A shoots guard dead.

Later, Shadowrunner A: "Hey, it wasn't murder. I had to protect my buddy."


Dubious. Very, very dubious. What were the motivations for the run again? If it's money, I think you've failed at morality.
Critias
QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Mar 27 2008, 11:07 AM) *
They are extraterritorial and the rules of law and the rules of war create a clear distinction between the two.

The rules of law and rules of war only do so for other soldiers, though.

Shadowrunners aren't.
CircuitBoyBlue
I'd also say that murder is murder. Even if it's justifiable (and I won't get my hands dirty in a debate about what's justifiable and what's not), it's still murder. Part of what makes a cause "the greater good" is that people are willing to accept consequences in pursuit of it, and that includes moral consequences. Say I believe in Cause X. If I'm willing to kill for cause X, but I'm not willing to start thinking of myself as a murderer for Cause X, then maybe Cause X isn't really all that great, because it can't trump whatever moral self-image I have. But if I go into the situation knowing it will require the absolute self-sacrifice of my conscience, and ruin my chances of ever being a good person, and I'm still willing to do it, then obviously it is the greater good, at least in my mind.

As far as SR goes, most of my characters are pretty selfish, and believe that yes, they may be murderers, but if the "might makes right" system can be used against them most of the time, they should be able to use it in their favor once in a while. As a person, I'd take issue with that, but just as I wouldn't make an RPG character with my RL skillsets of "Meaningless Paperwork/3" and "Watching Cartoons/6*," I also wouldn't make an RPG character with my set of morals and fears, because then wouldn't be going on runs, I'd be working a government job and watching cartoons all the time. My current character is probably a bit less selfish. He's an urban shaman that uses the ways of the city (which involve killing) to protect the city. I envision him using lethal force more when the murder rate is up, and less lethal force when it's down, but such fluxuation doesn't really happen in the game, that I can tell (the GM has never said "murder rates are down this week!"). So a lot of times I kinda just do something really violent, and then see how the group reacts, and base his future decisions off that. But I feel extremely flaky for doing it this way.

*this would be a specialization in "Futurama," if we were talking about an RPG set in the present era, and I have no idea what it would translate to in 2070.
Heath Robinson
QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 27 2008, 04:25 PM) *
People murder each other for the greater good everyday in these countries and these professions? I require evidence of that.

Let me first ask you how you so define the "greater good" with regards to scope. Is it that you believe that the "greater good" requires that the whole world benefits? Or that some small part of it benefits?

For the former, we are dealing with fewer people; those that believe that the world would be improved by the group they kill in the name of. Muslims with the unquestioned belief that only Islam can save people from eternal torment can be said to be killing for the "greater good", as can Christians or Hindus that do the same. Patriots that believe that their country is beneficial for humanity in the military or intelligence services that are ordered to kill are doing so for the "greater good". The racist that is also a patriot that kills "those durned black folk" because they believe that only a racially pure country is stable (and therefore best able to benefit the world) and the ecological extremist that blows up buildings for their cause because they believe that humans are killing the earth both are doing it for the "greater good".

For the latter, anyone who kills for the interests of a group is killing for the "greater good". One can make an argument that since any benefit to one small part of humanity still benefits humanity as a whole, so this position is valid.

You can take issue with my definition of the "greater good" as a purely subjective phenomenon, but there can be no agreement as to what the "greater good" entails in universal practical terms and whether one goes for a utilitarian sum of all or individual benefits is something else that not all will agree upon.
Fuchs
QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 27 2008, 05:25 PM) *
To define murder as "unlawful killing" is to declare the legal system an arbiter of morale action. We have seen repeatedly throughout history that this is hopelessly fallable.


It's the only definition I can accept. Deciding what's murder, what's manslaughter, and what's justified killing is what I do for a living. It is by no account "hopelessly fallable" since deciding whether or not a justification like "I was ordered to" is standing up in court is a central part of this process if brought up. It generally means that an execution ordered by a state is not considered murder when the basic standards of fair trial had been followed. That's the international standards, not the standards of individual states.
ArkonC
I think the idea that all shadowrunners are mentally unstable or just plain bad people is flawed. Some shadowrunners are good people, trying to do good things, and hopefully earn a living doing it...
I've played my share of benevolent people in SR3, not taking any wetwork runs, planning other runs to such an extent that during the whole campaign, only a handful of people actually died...
On the other hand, the previous character I played was a complete psycho, ice cold and all that...
So I'm not saying shadowrunners are good people, just that they can be, it takes all kinds...

On the subject of murder, any justification is only a point of view. It used to be justified to duel someone to the death over matters of honour (and we just don't see enough of those nowadays). Everyone understands freedom fighters killing for their own freedom. Well, everyone but the people they kill... D&D makes it easy, here's black, here's white, now go kill... Shadowrun is just shades of shiny neon grey...
Critias
Note, at no point did I say all Shadowrunners. I said "your average Shadowrunner." Just like your average death row inmate isn't there over a mistake the courts have made (the vast majority of people on death row are guilty of their crimes), but there may be one or two that are... the average Shadowrunner is very likely a mildly sociopathic mercenary who can't hold or won't hold down a real job for some reason.

There are Robin Hoods and Sam Verners out there, but I imagine the greedy, murderous, assholes outnumber them pretty heftily.
Slymoon
Ah yes, the question of Morality:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequentialism


and finally:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armin_Meiwes

Convicted of manslaughter, though by definition it should have been murder since that was the intention.




Overall, killing something is 'murder':
The social acceptability is another matter, whether it be acceptable as defense but not as stepping out and random shooting/ stabbing. Killing for sport or to eat (in the case of animals for the most part) is what the debate from persons is today. As I spoke before I am a hunter and the term 'murder' when hunting offends me, but bluntly that is exactly what it is. It is acceptable to me as I do not just do it for kicks.
And in some societies (rare these days) it was socially acceptable to eat people.

So the question should be:
In Shadowrun 2070 is it socially acceptable to be killed randomly or not. Based on society today, I have to assume it is still not acceptable and therefor Society(as a whole) would never justify a Shadowrunner. However, a corp sec guard would be justified in killing "Terrorists/ 'Runners". At least that is my opinion.


Drogos
This also begs the question of how romanticized are shadowrunners by the media of 2070?
Critias
Of course a security guard would be "justified" by society in killing a Shadowrunner. It's his job. Hell, they might even get a raise for it.

If society didn't expect security guards to kill Shadowrunners, the position of armed security guards wouldn't exist. Shadowrunners wouldn't carry such fun guns. Security guards would...do what? Politely ask you to leave?
Fuchs
Given the acceptance of gladiatorial games and similar Bloodsport by the masses, and the only slightly less deadly combat bike and urban brawl leagues, I do not think SR's society sees killing in the same light as we do. It's still a crime, but I think society as a whole is more dehumanised, and does not see murder as as wrong as we see it.
knasser
QUOTE (Heath Robinson @ Mar 27 2008, 04:48 PM) *
Let me first ask you how you so define the "greater good" with regards to scope. Is it that you believe that the "greater good" requires that the whole world benefits? Or that some small part of it benefits?


A universal agreement on what is the "greater good" is going to be hard to reach, but I think we can rule certain things out that you wont dispute. Murder for revenge on personal slights, infidelities, dislike of a person's ethnicity or religion, for personal profit or to satisfy personal desire to kill. Murder for just about any cause that isn't to prevent further harm qualifies, I think. Agreed? If not, why not?

Now your comment as that
QUOTE (Heath Robinson)
It's [murder for the greater good] done every day by all manner of people; religious, secular, professionals, amateurs, Americans, Europeans, Britons, Africans, Asians, Australians, New Zealanders. Intelligence services do this on a regular basis


I require evidence of that. I don't believe that murder is committed every day in these places for reasons that don't fall into the above. As you think they do, please provide some examples. As to the intelligence services doing this on a regular basis, I have to point out two things that undermine this:

Firstly, under international law (and even the US has committed to this one), extra judicial killings are prohibited without exception. So if you were in a position to say that such things were occurring on a regular basis, you certainly wouldn't be posting that on a role-playing forum.

Secondly, as far as instances of extra-judicial killings taking place that we are aware of publically, I can't name one that has been done for "the greater good." In fact, most of the instances I'm aware of are ones I've heard word of mouth ones about targeted killings in Iraq of bothersomely popular figures. That definitely falls under the motives of political advantage and / or profit. Certainly not "for the greater good."

You asked for the definition of "for the greater good" and it's hard to give you a perfect one off the cuff, but I'd say any motive that has the gain of one particular faction at the expense of another is on extremely shaky ground.

QUOTE (Heath Robinson)
Muslims with the unquestioned belief that only Islam can save people from eternal torment can be said to be killing for the "greater good"


Firstly, there are over a billion muslims alive today and the incidences of violence picked up on by the Western media are firstly a tiny minority, and secondly almost always to do with a political situation in the area, not the fact that someone is a muslim or an arab. It's offensive to use Islam as the go to example for incidents of violence. Secondly to your actual point: that a murderer might say an incident of violence is for the greater good does not mean that it was so. I am not discussing whether murders are considered to be for the greater good or not. I'm questioning your off-hand belief that there are murders "every day" that actually are for the greater good. As I've stated above, killing someone for the benefit of one faction at the expense of the another is really hard to understand as being for the greater good. If you can provide examples of killings being done every day to prevent further harm, we might be talking. But other than that, I'm going to have to ask you to post examples of killings that you think are done for the greater good. I'm serious - we can argue sementics for page after page, but if there are killings done every day for the greater good in the UK, then it ought to be fairly easy to substantiate.


QUOTE (Heath Robinson @ Mar 27 2008, 04:48 PM) *
You can take issue with my definition of the "greater good" as a purely subjective phenomenon, but there can be no agreement as to what the "greater good" entails in universal practical terms and whether one goes for a utilitarian sum of all or individual benefits is something else that not all will agree upon.


As you can see, your options were not the only ones. I think we have a rough, working definition of "greater good" to go on.
Spike
QUOTE (Critias @ Mar 27 2008, 09:19 AM) *
Of course a security guard would be "justified" by society in killing a Shadowrunner. It's his job. Hell, they might even get a raise for it.

If society didn't expect security guards to kill Shadowrunners, the position of armed security guards wouldn't exist. Shadowrunners wouldn't carry such fun guns. Security guards would...do what? Politely ask you to leave?



Now ask me why I classify Demolition Man as a horror movie.
knasser
QUOTE (Critias @ Mar 27 2008, 05:19 PM) *
Of course a security guard would be "justified" by society in killing a Shadowrunner. It's his job. Hell, they might even get a raise for it.

If society didn't expect security guards to kill Shadowrunners, the position of armed security guards wouldn't exist. Shadowrunners wouldn't carry such fun guns. Security guards would...do what? Politely ask you to leave?


Well we can go back to issues of the right to own land and there's room for ethical debate on whether it's acceptable to claim something as yours. But for purposes of this debate, I think it's pretty clear that the security guard can claim some level of self-defence against the armed intruders breaking into his workplace to justify his actions to himself, whilst the Shadowrunners have to look quite a bit harder to find a moral justification for shooting at him.
Critias
QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 27 2008, 01:30 PM) *
Well we can go back to issues of the right to own land and there's room for ethical debate on whether it's acceptable to claim something as yours.

For the most part, in Shadowrun (as in real life), it's pretty well settled that if something is legally yours (as defined by the laws of the nation-state involved), ethical debates get a big ol' "fuck you." In Shadowrun, especially, only in the most lawless of places (the dark nooks the corps don't like to pay much attention to directly) does anyone dare say otherwise. Indeed, most cyberpunk-genre worlds revolve around the ideas of ownership and profit.

QUOTE
But for purposes of this debate, I think it's pretty clear that the security guard can claim some level of self-defence against the armed intruders breaking into his workplace to justify his actions to himself, whilst the Shadowrunners have to look quite a bit harder to find a moral justification for shooting at him.

Quite so.

He's there doing his legally accepted job, collecting his paycheck and walking his beat, protecting what every other position in the megacorporation has worked so hard to create. You're there knowingly and willfully breaking the law, specifically in contradiction to his stated and socially accepted position, and are both ready and willing to murder him in order to keep him from stopping you. That puts, by default, the Shadowrunner in the "bad guy" category, as society as a whole measures such things.

Society as a whole is not Shadowland or ... or... whatchamacallit, the new Shadowrunner hang-out message board thing, by the way.
WhiteWolf
QUOTE (Chrysalis @ Mar 27 2008, 06:33 AM) *
Greets,

It is a bit of a moral dilemma for me and I am trying to figure it out. What makes a runner a professional killer? Is it that they take money for it, or is there a kind of steely professionalism that creates mental barriers so that you are not killing Smith, but the henchman that got in your way.

If the runners are hired to kill someone in a club. In one version of the scenario one of the character's seduces him so that he drinks from a poisoned cup, dying of what might be a stroke or heart attack (until the autopsy of course). In a second version he is lead to the back alley of the bar where the PCs wait and confront him and kill him and his bodyguard in an action movie style hale of bullets. In a third version the PCs corner him in the back alley and beat him to death with tire irons and fists.

It seems to me that the difference between killing and murder is that killing seems to involve James Bond like adversaries and methods and is murder involves plebian weapons with plebian motives.

Am I off base here? Is there a limit to what you consider to be acceptable violence? Is it really about seeing the sensible guns, but not seeing the senseless act?


Morally speaking murder is a consious act of willing taking someone's life where killing is a consious act of unwilling taking someone's life. Examples of murder would be every act you described. Unwilling would be self-defense and during the course of defending yourself the other person's life was taken from them. Everyone has the right to defend themself. smile.gif
Moon-Hawk
You guys can go 'round and 'round, but it's all based on assumptions like: "killing people is wrong", and "people have free will". Especially the "killing people is wrong" assumption. Bear with me a sec, you're talking about "sociopaths" killing people, and that's exactly the kind of group you need to convince on the whole "killing is wrong" issue. There's the 4-year-old-child "why" defense (you know, the one where the little rugrat just asks "why?" after everything you say, and sometimes you can't tell if they're seeking deep fundamental truth or just trying to piss you off) that can be a little tricky to get around on issues that "normal" people consider obvious.
Normal person: Killing people is wrong.
Sociopathic 4-year-old: Why?
Normal person: Because then they're dead.
Sociopathic 4-year-old: So? That was the point.
Normal person: But you wouldn't like it if someone killed you.
Sociopathic (and evidently very precocious) 4-year-old: But I wouldn't be alive to not like it. Besides, that's all the more reason to kill them first.
Fix-it
the can is open...

the worms

are everywhere
Fortune
QUOTE (Moon-Hawk @ Mar 28 2008, 05:07 AM) *
Normal person: Killing people is wrong.
Sociopathic 4-year-old: Why?
Normal person: Because then they're dead.
Sociopathic 4-year-old: So? That was the point.
Normal person: But you wouldn't like it if someone killed you.
Sociopathic (and evidently very precocious) 4-year-old: But I wouldn't be alive to not like it. Besides, that's all the more reason to kill them first.


Sounds about right to me! biggrin.gif
Heath Robinson
QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 27 2008, 05:26 PM) *
Snipped everything because I intend to deal with everything in as short a space as possible

The fact that you also failed to notice that I intended to say that all groups kill for the "greater group" and instead misconstrued what I said as it occuring every day in every single country is rather vexing, and possibly an attempt at strawmanning.

That you acknowledge the idea that no one can come up with a definition of the "greater good" that is universal (i.e. it is not objectively definable) but ALSO reject the idea that the "greater good" is subjective (that a "murderer might say an incident of violence is for the greater good does not mean that it was so") in the same post is confusing and annoying because it's obvious that you're attempting to state contradictory things and then cherry pick them to defend yourself when I attack those statements. Add to this the fact that you refuse to define what you think the definition of the "greater good" is and I can't actually answer your questions at all.

You only actually pay attention to my Muslim example of people who might kill for the "greater good" and I want to know why. Is it that - because it's a sensitive issue in the UK - you want me to rescind my statement in an attempt to show that I'm not sure of my positions so that you can use that to argue me down? Poor show old chap, poor show. I'm not scared of the threat of being hated and Muslim extremism is as much a threat as any other extremism, including secular extremism. Anybody that refuses people the ability to make harmless choices is evil.



My position is thus; if their moral outlook factored in support of their choice to kill him - no matter how little - then it was in the name of the "greater good". If it didn't then it was not. Whether or not I agree with their morality does not matter, it was for the "greater good".

Anywhere in which the death penalty serves as a punishment for a crime people are being murdered by a state for the "greater good". Some intelligence agent murders are for the purpose of the "greater good" and some for other reasons as well. If they are ordered to do this then someone may consider it as in the interests of the "greater good". The law empowers its agents to kill in certain circumstances and therefore condones those deaths as for the "greater good". Therefore people die every day in the name of the "greater good" no matter how it may be presented.

I've communicated what I think, come and get me.
hermit
QUOTE ("Critas")
The capacity for such work -- and by this I even mean gunning down an unlucky security guard while in the middle of a b&e style job, not just pure wetwork -- is one of the reasons I've long been of the opinion that your average Shadowrunner is somehow fundamentally flawed.

Like the average Blackwater employee or US special forces soldier is? Honestly, I don't see why. People are always capable of murder, if they need to.

QUOTE
I think you really do have to have a bit of psychopathy to be able to work as a Shadowrunner. To be able to go to violence from zero to a hundred demands a certain type of personality. The kind that scares people more than any intimidation roll might.

An explosive temper is, if you ask me, rather detrimental for a shdowrunner, who needs to be more capable of self-control no matter what, ideally. Think Jack Bauer. Of course, hurting others and not giving a damn about it when you do is nescessary too, but that, everyone can learn.

QUOTE
Everyone has the right to defend themself.

Fun. How far does that go? When directly attacked? When threatened by a superior enemy, do you have the right to attack them first, knowing they'll attack you anyway? And where does that end? Kicking their backs? Shooting their backs? Sniping and running? Planting roadside IEDs when their cars drive by?

Shadowruns don't really need killing most of the time, the way I see it. You can B&E without bloodshed, if you plan accordingly and are somewhat lucky. Wetwork being the exception, but you can also pull that off with minimal bloodshed (the target's), with some luck. Tasers re useful weapons anyway (and firing twice at some person will fairly surely kill them, at least under SR3 rules, so if you really want to kill you still can). For wetwork, stelthy methods usually work best, so in the example from the start, I'd say the poisoning, as well as the beating to death in a dark alley, are more professional than the "Tikki goes to town and kills everyone with her leet vindicator" type of approach.
Fortune
Being able to exhibit extreme and sudden violence does not necessarily equate to 'an explosive temper'. In fact, I think it's the very lack of an explosive temper accompanying that type of instant violence is more what Critias is referring to. Most people display some extreme emotions when they commit a violent act, but those with sociopathic tendencies can usually commit those kinds of acts dispassionately.
Moon-Hawk
QUOTE (Fortune @ Mar 27 2008, 02:22 PM) *
Being able to exhibit extreme and sudden violence does not necessarily equate to 'an explosive temper'. In fact, I think it's the very lack of an explosive temper accompanying that type of instant violence is more what Critias is referring to. Most people display some extreme emotions when they commit a violent act, but those with sociopathic can usually commit those kinds of acts dispassionately.

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. The ability to be enjoying a beer at the bar, have some dude attack you, beat him until his face is squishy and shoot him three times, then sit down and finish your beer, without getting upset. That's scary.

Me? I would be very upset. But hey, it's good beer, what are you supposed to do, waste it? grinbig.gif

edit: Hmmm, all my posts today seem to involve beer. You can tell what kind of day I'm having.
Wesley Street
QUOTE (knasser @ Mar 27 2008, 12:31 PM) *
Very, very dubious. What were the motivations for the run again? If it's money, I think you've failed at morality.


Shadowrunners are fighters. Warriors-for-hire, but warriors never the less, trapped in a society where violence CAN offer reward without repercussion. And when is war NOT about money... or at the very least forcing a favorable economic outcome? I'm not necessarily talking about war on a national scale ie: U.S. vs. North Korea. How many rap songs are there about a young thug saying he's a "soljaboy for life"? I'm not trying to be flip here but war/conflict and money go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Feeling like you've done your patriotic/tribal/gang duty, an adrenaline rush, or cash: they're all some form of payment (be it material or philosophical) and that's what drives a man to pick up a gun and shoot another (when you aren't being threatened first, obviously).
Wesley Street
QUOTE (kzt @ Mar 27 2008, 12:11 PM) *
No, it's murder. Like most criminals, you can make all sorts of arguments about how "she had it coming" but murder is what it is. Your character is a the same moral level as the guy who shoots people in a 7-11 for $213.


I cry a little for Mrs. Greedo's baby boy. Gunned down by some shitbird redneck drug-smuggler in a backwater bar.

Shadowrun deals with more shades of gray than your average RPG but in RL the shades are nearly infinite. When we start talking about absolute morality, we start in with fundamentalism.
hermit
QUOTE
Being able to exhibit extreme and sudden violence does not necessarily equate to 'an explosive temper'. In fact, I think it's the very lack of an explosive temper accompanying that type of instant violence is more what Critias is referring to. Most people display some extreme emotions when they commit a violent act, but those with sociopathic tendencies can usually commit those kinds of acts dispassionately.

So you're more talking about Jack Bauer types?

Besides, as I said, staying cool while killing people can be trained, or mass armies wouldn't be possible.

QUOTE
Very, very dubious. What were the motivations for the run again? If it's money, I think you've failed at morality.

Morality is very much subjective. One's hero is another's terrorist. One's good reasons are another's despicable motives. There is no common morality. Morality is purely culturally defined. And aren't corp guards in it for the money too?
Arethusa
QUOTE (Critias @ Mar 27 2008, 01:42 PM) *
Quite so.

He's there doing his legally accepted job, collecting his paycheck and walking his beat, protecting what every other position in the megacorporation has worked so hard to create. You're there knowingly and willfully breaking the law, specifically in contradiction to his stated and socially accepted position, and are both ready and willing to murder him in order to keep him from stopping you. That puts, by default, the Shadowrunner in the "bad guy" category, as society as a whole measures such things.

I don't think the distinction is really that clear. A professional criminal who does not enjoy hurting people can still rationalize his violence as essentially a state of war: police and security guards are essentially analogous combatants, and the objective of the criminal is hardly to cause as much destruction and violence as possible (a rational criminal would indeed minimize it). The differences here between a professional criminal and a professional security guard really aren't that significant: one is mercenary guarding the private interests of an employer and the other is a mercenary paid for certain objects (as Fallout put it, "making the things of others your own"€” or your employers). A similar situation exists with Blackwater/DynCorp/Triple Canopy/etc, and arguably exists with government employed soldiers as well. Of course, it's obvious that certain forms of this behavior are more socially acceptable than others, but I think these distinctions are significantly less important than our society treats them.

As something of separate point (and I know it's pretty irrelevant to this thread, and this is just wanking thread derailment, etc), I really am not sure the majority of people on death row really are guilty. viz Innoncence Project, Amnesty, etc. There are plenty who are guilty, but there's also a tendency for death penalty convictions to be among the sloppiest and most unjust.

QUOTE (Heath Robinson @ Mar 27 2008, 02:59 PM) *
You only actually pay attention to my Muslim example of people who might kill for the "greater good" and I want to know why. Is it that - because it's a sensitive issue in the UK - you want me to rescind my statement in an attempt to show that I'm not sure of my positions so that you can use that to argue me down? Poor show old chap, poor show. I'm not scared of the threat of being hated and Muslim extremism is as much a threat as any other extremism, including secular extremism. Anybody that refuses people the ability to make harmless choices is evil.

You should be a lot less worried about being hated and considerably more worried about being taken seriously. This is fucking nonsense.
Apathy
QUOTE (hermit @ Mar 27 2008, 02:02 PM) *
QUOTE (Critas)

The capacity for such work -- and by this I even mean gunning down an unlucky security guard while in the middle of a b&e style job, not just pure wetwork -- is one of the reasons I've long been of the opinion that your average Shadowrunner is somehow fundamentally flawed.

Like the average Blackwater employee or US special forces soldier is? Honestly, I don't see why. People are always capable of murder, if they need to.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the average human is fundamentally flawed, and that the average shadowrunner is more flawed than most?
Cthulhudreams
QUOTE (hermit @ Mar 27 2008, 02:45 PM) *
So you're more talking about Jack Bauer types?

Besides, as I said, staying cool while killing people can be trained, or mass armies wouldn't be possible.


Nah, there is pretty good evidence that the first mass armies - say Napaloen's didn't actually have that sort of capability, nor did they need it for combat because it was point in the direction of the bad guys and fire and there were hundreds of people around you doing the same thing. The 95th rifles and similar units attracted and recruited very different people from line regiments. Modern armies are much more effective at decision making and acting under extremely high individual pressure.

That said I do agree that it is possible to train people to effectively cap people in the head on command, just that it is much easier to do this for people who are going to be doing it with their buddies vs some unquestionably bad guys (soldiers), and much harder to get some guy to do it who will be totally on his own killing someone who is definitely unarmed in completely morally ambiguous situations.
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