A Philosopher's Blog

Uncommon Commoners #1: Fish Sticks

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on May 31, 2014

Fishsticks-Cover

A Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure for 1st-3rd level characters.

Description

Fish Sticks is the first book (of seven) in The Uncommon Commoners campaign series. In this semi-epic campaign, the uncommon commoners will fulfill their destiny. Or die trying. Or both—if their destiny is to die trying.

Bound by destiny and linked by a secret from the past, the uncommon commoners must face their first semi-great challenge, best explained by the following uncommon poem:

 

Welcome to Pisco, our village.
Which, I hope, you will not pillage.
Though the village smells please do not go!
I beg you to listen to our tale of woe!
Once we were happy and full of weal.
Now the place smells like a dead seal!
As for the cause of our pain
You do not need a giant brain
Nor the diviner’s art
To know that the fish do fart!
I am at my wit’s end!
Help us, or I’ll go around the bend!
That is what I have to say.
If you won’t help us, I bid you good day!

The Uncommon Commoners #1: Fish Sticks is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 1st-3rd level uncommon commoner characters (included in the adventure). While the adventure is written to be humorous and fairly light, it is also designed to be suitable for serious game play.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Detailed color maps for the adventure.
  • Fully developed NPCs, complete with detailed descriptions, backstories and motivations. And loot.
  • An actual plot. Really. In at least two senses of the term. Plus combat, of course.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • Pre-Generated uncommon commoners with backstories, catch phrases, special abilities and special feats.
  • New NPC classes (the magician and the wilds warrior).
  • New Traits & Feats (resilience, focused healer, heroic resilience, devoted healer, and doorman).
  • New rules for intelligent mounts.
  • New Spells (accompanying performer, amplify instrument, entourage, loud speak, and saltball).
  • New Magic Items & Equipment(boots of underwater walking, dancing sea bird, elixir of dancing, elixir of drunken dancing, necklace of saltballs, sexy tiara, salt bomb, bubble weed and Kelok crossbow).
  • 86 pages of adventure (includes maps)!
  • Donk!

Available  At

DriveThru RPG
P
aizo

Downloads

Hero Lab Files, Maps, Etc.

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

 

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On Returning the Lost

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on February 17, 2014
A picture of a wallet.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My regular running routes take me over many miles and through areas that are heavily trafficked—most often by college students. Because of this, I often find lost phones, wallets, IDs and other items. Recently I came across a wallet fat with cash and credit cards. As always, I sought out the owner and returned it. Being a philosopher, I thought I’d write a bit about the ethics of this.

While using found credit card numbers would generally be a bad idea from the practical standpoint, found cash is quite another matter. After all, cash is cash and there is typically nothing to link cash to a specific person. Since money is rather useful, a person who finds a wallet fat with cash would have a good practical reason to simply keep the money and use it herself. One possible exception would be that the reward for returning the lost wallet would exceed the value of the cash in the wallet—but the person who finds it would most likely have no idea if this would be the case or not. So, from a purely practical standpoint, keeping the cash would be a smart choice. A person could even return the credit cards and other items in the wallet, claiming quite plausibly that it was otherwise empty when found. However, what might be a smart choice need not be the right choice.

One argument in favor of returning found items (such as the wallet and all the cash) can be built on the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. More formally, this is moral reasoning involving the method of reversing the situation. Since I would want my lost property returned, I should thus treat others in the same way. Unless, of course, I can justify treating others differently by finding relevant differences that would justify the difference. Alternatively, it could also be justified on utilitarian grounds.  For example, someone who is poor might contend that it would not be wrong to keep money she found in a rich person’s wallet on the grounds that the money would do her much more good than it would do for the rich person: such a small loss would not affect him, such a gain would benefit her significantly.

Since I am reasonably well off and find relatively modest sums of money (hundreds of dollars at most), I have the luxury of not being tempted to keep the money. However, even when I was not at all well off, I still returned whatever I found. Even when I honestly believed that I would put the money to better use than the original owner. This is not due to any fetishes about property, but a matter of ethics.

One of the reasons is my belief that I do have obligations to help others, especially when the cost to me is low relative to the aid rendered. In the case of finding someone’s wallet or phone, I know that the loss would be a significant inconvenience and worry for most people. In the case of a wallet, a person will probably need to replace a driver’s license, credit cards, insurance cards and worry about identity theft. It is easy for me to return the wallet—either by dropping it off with police or contacting the person after finding them via Facebook or some other means. That said, the obvious challenge is justifying my view that I am so obligated. However, I would contend that in such cases, the burden of proof lies on the selfish rather than the altruistic.

Another reason is that I believe that I should not steal. While keeping a lost item is not the same morally as active theft (this could be seen as being a bit analogous to the distinction between killing and letting die), it does seem to be a form of theft. After all, I would be acquiring what does not belong to me by choosing not to return it. Naturally, if I have no means of returning it to the rightful owner (such as finding a quarter in the road), then keeping it would not seem to be theft. Obviously enough, it could be contended that keeping lost property is not theft (even when it could be returned easily), perhaps on the ancient principle of finders keepers, losers weepers. It could also be contended that theft is acceptable—which would be challenging. However, the burden of proof would seem to rest on those who claim that theft is acceptable or that keeping lost property when returning it would be quite possible is not theft.

I also return found items for two selfish reasons. The first is that I want to build the sort of world I want to live in—and in that world people return lost items. While my acting the way I want the world to be is a tiny thing, it is more than nothing. Second, I feel a psychological compulsion to return things I find—so I have to do it for peace of mind.

 

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Homosexuality, Choice & Engineering

Posted in Ethics, Metaphysics, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on February 14, 2014
English: Venn diagram depicting the relationsh...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my previous essay I rambled a bit about homosexuality and choice. The main point of this was to set up this essay, which focuses on the ethics of engineering people to be straight.

In general terms, sexual orientation is either a choice or it is not (though choice can be a matter of degree). Currently, many of the people who are against homosexuality take the view that it is a matter of choice. This allows them to condemn homosexuality and to push for methods aimed at motivating people to choose to be straight. Many of those who are at least tolerant of homosexuality contend that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. They are, of course, careful to take the view that being homosexual is more like being left-handed than having an inherited disease. This view is taken as justification for at least tolerating homosexuality and as a reason to not allow attempts to push homosexuals in an impossible effort to get them to choose to be straight.

For the sake of this essay, let it be assumed that homosexuality is not a matter of choice—a person is either born with her orientation or it develops in a way that is beyond her choice. To blame or condemn the person would be on par with blaming a person for being born with blue eyes or to condemn a person for being left-handed. As such, if homosexuality is not a choice, then it would be unjust to condemn or blame a person for her sexual orientation. This seems reasonable.

Ironically, this line of reasoning might make it morally permissible to change a person’s orientation from gay to straight. The argument for this is as follows.

As has been supposed, a person’s sexual orientation is not a matter of choice: she is either born that way or becomes that way without being able to effect the result. The person is thus a “victim” of whatever forces made her that way. If these forces had been different in certain ways, then she would have had a different sexual orientation—either by chance or by the inexorable machinery of determinism. Given that the person is not making a choice either way, it would seem to be morally acceptable for these factors to be altered to ensure a specific orientation. To use an analogy, I did not choose my eye color and it would not matter, it would seem, whether this was due to a natural process or due to an intentional intervention on the part of others (by modifying me genetically). After all, the choice is not mine either way.

It could be replied that other people would not have the right to make the choice—that it should be left to blind chance (or blind determinism). This does have some merit—whatever they do to change a person, they would be morally accountable for. However, from the standpoint of the person, there would seem to be no difference: they do not get a choice either way. I ended up with blue eyes by chance, but if I was engineered to have green eyes, then the result would be the same: my eye color would not be my choice. I ended a heterosexual, but if I had been engineered to be a homosexual, I would have had no more or less choice.

Thus, robbing a person of choice would not be a moral concern here: if a person does not get a choice, she cannot be robbed of that choice. What is, however, of moral concern is the ethics of the choice being made to change (or not change) the person. If the change is beneficial, such as changing a person so that her heart develops properly rather than failing before she is born, then it would seem to be the right thing to do. If the change is harmful, such as altering the person’s brain so that he suffers from paranoia and psychosis, then it would seem to be the wrong thing to do.

In the matter at hand, the key concern would be whether making a person a heterosexual or a homosexual would be good or bad. As noted above, since it is assumed that sexual orientation is not a choice, engineering a person to be straight or gay would not be robbing them of a choice. Also, the change of orientation can be assumed to be thorough so that a person would be equally happy either way. In this case, the right choice would seem to be a matter of consequences: would a person be more or less likely to be happy straight or not? Given the hostility that still exists towards homosexuals, it would seem that engineering people to be straight would be the right choice.

This might strike some as horrifying and a form of orientation genocide (oriocide?) in which homosexuals are eliminated. Or, more accurately, homosexuality is eliminated. After all, the people who would have been homosexual (by change or by the mechanisms of determinism) would instead be straight, but they would still presumably be the same people they would be if they were gay (unless sexual orientation is an essential quality in Aristotle’s sense of the term). If orientation is not a choice, it would seem that this would not matter: no one is robbed of a choice because one cannot be robbed of what one never possessed.

A rather interesting question remains: if sexual orientation is not a choice, what harm would be done if everyone where engineered to be straight? Or gay?

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Cheben at Paizo Store & DriveThruRPG

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on December 28, 2013

Cheben-Cover

Description

The good folks of Cheben have four problems they need solved.  To start things off, the dead have been walking about in the old graveyard and scouts have reported seeing something else skulking around the old mausoleum. Good Father Rollin would go deal with them himself, but he is busy ministering to the spiritual needs of the community.

Second, goblins have been spotted near the old auxiliary armory and it is feared they might have set up a base of operations on the island. The militia would handle the problem, but the mayor worries that the goblins might be engaged in a ruse to lure away the defenders of the town.

Third, an area of woods near the town is permanently in shadow, no doubt due to magic of some sort. Two hunters have gone missing in the woods and others have reported siting strange creatures in the woods. The town wizard would deal with this, but he is busy with critical research, which leads to the final problem.

Kosven, the town wizard, needs some brave souls to investigate an old and abandoned library. The library has reputation for being haunted and no one in the town wants to face what lurks within its walls.

As usual, it is up to starting adventurers to solve the villagers’ problems. Or die trying.

Cheben is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 1st-3rd level characters.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Detailed color maps for the adventure.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • New Monsters (Paper Phantom, Silent Guardian (Least), Rage Wolf, and Whip Plant).
  • Retro Art (=Bad Art).
  • A complete campaign starter adventure with four distinct adventure areas.

Available  on Amazon
Available at DriveThruRPG
Available at the Paizo Store

Downloads

Cheben Monsters & Maps

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Rils’ Lesser Sanctum at DriveThruRPG and the Paizo Store

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on October 29, 2013

A Pathfinder compatible adventure for 3rd-5th level characters.

Description

This adventure is the second in the Rils’ series. It is preceded by the Tomb of Rils.

While scholars of necromancy debate the very existence of Rils, none of them doubt that there are numerous tombs, sanctums and dungeons that are allegedly his handiwork.

The scholars who accept that Rils existed believe that because of his devotion to knowledge, he created numerous repositories holding his scrolls and books.  They also claim that Rils did not wish his knowledge to fall into unworthy hands or to be acquired too easily. As such, these repositories are supposed to be well guarded and thoroughly trapped. Others claim that he created these places as deathtraps to slaughter those who might someday challenge his power. Still others speculate that some of his tombs and sanctums were created to imprison and torment failed students.

Rils’ actual fate and motives (assuming he existed at all) are not recorded in history. Some scholars believe that he was destroyed by adventurers who mistook him for an evil lich. Others contend he was destroyed by adventurers because he was an evil lich. Some say that he still exists and dwells within a vast underground library, penning necromantic tomes. Whatever the truth, from time to time the location of one of Rils’ alleged repositories is discovered and adventurers brave the dangers within. Sometimes, it is said, Rils himself takes a hand in guiding potential necromancers…perhaps to power…perhaps to doom.

Rils’ Lesser Sanctum is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 3rd-5th level characters. It is written to follow Tomb of Rils, but can be run as a stand-alone adventure.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Detailed color maps for the adventure.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • New spells (Animate Desert Zombies, Animate Burning Skeletons, and Bone Dance).
  • New Monsters (Burning Skeletons, Toothed Fish and Desert Zombie)
  • New Magic Items (Binding Bracers, Mummy Unguent, Lesser Necromantic Mask, and Swarm Stone).
  • Free Hero Lab portfolio.
  • Dream sequences.

Available now on Amazon.

Available at DriveThruRPG.

Available at the Paizo store.

Downloads

Rils’ Lesser Sanctum PDF

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Tomb of Rils at DriveThruRPG & Paizo

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on October 11, 2013

A Pathfinder compatible adventure for 1st-3rd level characters.

Description

The history of Rils is a matter of considerable debate among the great scholars of necromancy. Some of the learned even assert that Rils never existed. Some claim that stories about different necromancers were combined over the centuries and this fictional composite was named Rils.

While the myths and historical accounts vary, a common point of agreement is that unlike many other necromancers of his caliber, Rils was not interested in spreading undeath across the world. Instead, Rils has been portrayed as devoted to the study of necromancy and the undead as a matter of intellectual curiosity.

The scholars who accept that Rils existed believe that because of his devotion to knowledge, he created numerous repositories holding his scrolls and books.  They also claim that Rils did not wish his knowledge to fall into unworthy hands or to be acquired too easily. As such, these repositories are supposed to be well guarded and thoroughly trapped.

Rils’ actual fate (assuming he existed at all) is not recorded in history. Some scholars believe that he was destroyed by adventurers who mistook him for an evil lich. Others contend he was destroyed by adventurers because he was an evil lich. Some say that he still exists and dwells within a vast underground library, penning necromantic tomes. Whatever the truth, from time to time the location of one of Rils’ alleged repositories is discovered and adventurers brave the dangers within.

Tomb of Rils is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 1st-3rd    level characters.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • New traps.
  • Detailed color map for the adventure.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • New spells (Bone Dance and Glue).
  • New Monster (Bone Dancer)
  • Free Hero Lab portfolio.
  • Zombie fish.

Available now on Amazon.

Available at DriveThruRPG.

Available at the Paizo Store.

Downloads

Tomb of Rils Monsters, Spells & Maps

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Broken Mine at Paizo & DriveThruRPG

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on October 4, 2013

A Pathfinder compatible adventure for 4th-6th level characters.

Description

Old stories tell of the wizard Kelsun, better known as Kelsun the Mad Prophet, who was driven mad by visions of a world-shaking disaster. Fortunately, his madness proved to be benevolent—he set out, in his odd way, to help ensure that items of power would be available to help rebuild civilization after the disaster. Unfortunately, his benevolent madness was…madness. He created strange dungeons filled with exotic traps and monsters to guard these items. As most dungeon creators do, he left cryptic and even bizarre clues regarding the locations of his caches.

One such clue was entrusted to an order of druids and, after centuries, they finally managed to locate the dungeon in question. However, as is always the case, they will call on the heroic adventurers to recover the item promised to them, a magical vine. In return, the brave survivors will be able to keep all the other treasures of the broken mine.

Broken Mine is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 4th-6th level characters.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Random encounters for the area.
  • Detailed color maps for the adventure.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • Unusual traps.
  • Hero Lab support.

Available on Amazon.

Available at DriveThruRPG.

Available at Paizo.

Downloads

Broken Mine Monsters & Maps PDF

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Tower of Zakelana at DriveThruRPG & Paizo Store

Posted in Miscellaneous, Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on September 19, 2013

Zakelena-Cover

Description

Roughly three centuries ago the young Zakelana began her adventuring career as a wizard. She was well known for her gift for turning foes to allies and for having a rather broad definition of what counted as a legitimate target for adventuring. This approach earned her the anger of many powerful people who sent assassins or monsters to exact their vengeance. Whenever possible, Zakelana attempted to persuade any would be killer to switch sides. The best known example occurred when a rival mage send a creature to torment Zakelana in her dreams. According to the tale, Zakelana was able to win over the creature with the gift of a pony named “Giggles.”

In her later years, she retired from adventuring and one day she simply vanished. Some speculate a final experiment failed and banished her eternally to some other dimension. Another tale relates how one of her many enemies finally killed her. In any case, she vanished but left behind a tower and a magical gateway to the space containing the tower. Some tales claim that the guards of the tower are monsters that Zakelana won over but could not allow to roam freely. The tales also speak of the great wealth and magical secrets within the tower.

Tower of Zakelana is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 10th-12th   level characters.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Usable as a side adventure or extended encounter.
  • Detailed color map for the adventure.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • New spells (Zakelana’s Dimensional Tunnel and Zakelana’s Dimensional Pit).

Available on Amazon.

Available at DriveThruRPG.

Available at the Paizo store.

Downloads

Tower of Zakelana Monsters & Map PDF

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Dragon Hunt Now at Paizo and DriveThruRPG

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on August 31, 2013

A Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure for 8th-12th level characters.

Description

The once peaceful town of Gremsel is no longer peaceful. Several months ago a ferocious red dragon landed in the center of the town and gave the people an ultimatum: either they would pay him tribute or he would consume every creature in the town, from the smallest cat to the largest cow. Unable to stand against such a beast, the people agreed to his demand.

Hope arrived in town with a new magistrate possessing funds to hire bold adventurers. Sadly for the good folks of Gremsel, hope quickly departed as the dragon boldly killed the adventurers, returning only their charred skulls to the center of town.

Desperate and short on funds, the magistrate of Gremsel has put out a call for heroes bold (and generous) enough to face the dragon. Will the new heroes slay the dragon or shall their charred skulls join the tastefully arranged pile in the center of the town?

Dragon Hunt is a Pathfinder Role Playing Game compatible adventure. It is intended for a party of 8th-11th level characters.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • A dragon. In a dungeon.
  • Detailed maps for the area and dungeons.
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters.
  • A robust narrative with opportunities for both role-play and combat.
  • 99 cents!

Available  on Amazon.

Available at the Paizo store.

Available at DriveThruRPG.

Downloads

Dragon Hunt Map & Monsters PDF

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Kelok’s Tomb Available Now at DriveThru RPG

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on August 21, 2013

A Pathfinder compatible adventure for 2nd-4th level characters.

Description

The wizard Kelok achieved some minor fame developing original spells, some of which were apparently extremely dangerous to the caster. While some of his descendants claim he developed many spells still used today, unbiased experts claim that his original spells have all been lost. His detractors claim that this is a good thing, at least for wizards who prefer not to be imploded by their own magic.

Because of his love of magical research and dangerous machines, it is perhaps fitting that the legends claim that he met his end whilst researching a new spell. Those friendly to his memory claim that he perished while nobly expanding the boundaries of magical knowledge. His detractors insist he perished while making his last and greatest mistake. Whatever the truth of the matter, nothing has been heard from Kelok in 150 years and it has long been accepted that he perished and was placed within a tomb of his own design.

Little is known of his tomb. According to legend, the tomb was located in the wilderness to keep unwanted grave robber and pilfering adventures away from his treasures. There are, of course, the usual tales about the tomb of any wizard, namely that it is packed with great wealth and fantastic items. Naturally, there are also the usual tales of the elaborate precautions, terrible traps, and vicious monsters that protect the tomb.

Here are some of the features of the adventure:

  • Interesting encounters on the journey the tomb.
  • Detailed color maps for the tomb.
  • New monster (Iron Guardian).
  • New spells (Kelok’s Claw, Kelok’s Companion, and Tigermane’s Wolfskin).
  • New Traps (Fire Square and Ice Square).
  • Full statistics are included for all encounters—no need to look up monsters or traps.
  • Robust opportunities for role-play and combat.
  • For character levels 2-4.

Available on Amazon.

Available at the Paizo Store.

Available at DriveThru RPG.

Downloads

Kelok’s Tomb Monsters & Maps PDF

Hero Lab Portfolio Folder

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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