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  • On demon summoning and ethics

    Look, I know its probably done to death, and you all already thought of this...

    But has anyone thought of Demon-summoning? I mean, you are grabbing a creature, taking it from its home, and then binding it to your will to do whatever you want. From sex, to dying against an enemy, or labour. You're applying mind control to it to do stuff for you. Potentially forever.

    I mean, there's stuff about how life in Creation is a lot more nicer than Malfeas, but that sounds like a lot of the apologism for slavery.

    This applies for elementals as well. There's a lot of debate on the ethics of creating an A.I. or designer babies for an explicit purpose. Think what comes up when you summon an elemental for, say, giving yourself a cold breeze or starting fires.

    So the question is, is in the face of modern ethics, is it in any way defensible to summon, and bind, demons and elementals?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
    Look, I know its probably done to death, and you all already thought of this...

    But has anyone thought of Demon-summoning? I mean, you are grabbing a creature, taking it from its home, and then binding it to your will to do whatever you want. From sex, to dying against an enemy, or labour. You're applying mind control to it to do stuff for you. Potentially forever.

    I mean, there's stuff about how life in Creation is a lot more nicer than Malfeas, but that sounds like a lot of the apologism for slavery.

    This applies for elementals as well. There's a lot of debate on the ethics of creating an A.I. or designer babies for an explicit purpose. Think what comes up when you summon an elemental for, say, giving yourself a cold breeze or starting fires.

    So the question is, is in the face of modern ethics, is it in any way defensible to summon, and bind, demons and elementals?
    I guess the first logical answer is "You can't defend it", but you can treat them well. For example, the elementals you create do not exist before (if I remember well), so you basically create a sort of conscience and allows for it to develop. If you don't treat it poorly, I don't see this any differently than adopting an animal (I guess there can be discussions about specific parts of animal rights and should human interact with animals at all but I won't go on this complicated topic) and treating it well.

    For demons I guess it's different. I don't really have an idea about this, because they have needs and desires far too different from us to understand, but I guess on first approximation, if they are not unhappy with what you are asking them to do, it's not too bad.


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    • #3
      What is modern ethics?

      Is a lion morally wrong to eat a human?
      Is a human morally wrong to kill a lion trying to eat it?

      Rothbard has a chapter in The Ethics of Liberty stating it is not morally wrong to for humans to kill alien space vampires (no, really -- studying ethics is great RPG material). I think his arguments apply to Exalted summoning demons.

      Longer reply later.

      Originally posted by Chausse View Post

      the elementals you create do not exist before (if I remember well), so you basically create a sort of conscience and allows for it to develop. If you don't treat it poorly, I don't see this any differently than adopting an animal
      Or having a child.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
        But has anyone thought of Demon-summoning?
        Sure.

        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
        I mean, you are grabbing a creature, taking it from its home, and then binding it to your will to do whatever you want.
        Though to be fair, a smart demon summoner will summon a demon to do something the demon wants.

        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
        From sex, to dying against an enemy, or labour. You're applying mind control to it to do stuff for you. Potentially forever.
        Sure. But here's the thing: if it wanted to do that stuff anyway, then all you've really done is given it a free ticket to Creation and asked it to do that on your behalf specifically. Heck, you can even pay the demon for its labor; the spell isn't stopping you from doing so.

        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
        I mean, there's stuff about how life in Creation is a lot more nicer than Malfeas, but that sounds like a lot of the apologism for slavery.
        And in the wrong hands, demon summoning is absolutely slavery.

        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
        Think what comes up when you summon an elemental for, say, giving yourself a cold breeze or starting fires.
        Why something so small? Do you feel like that's what most sorcerers who summon elementals will task them to do?

        Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
        So the question is, is in the face of modern ethics, is it in any way defensible to summon, and bind, demons and elementals?
        Yes. Contact them ahead of time, bargain with them for their service, and after you summon them, pay them for their work.
        Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 02-14-2020, 12:41 PM.

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        • #5
          Most summoners, to my understanding, don’t object to the characterization of binding sentient if alien life forms to serve them. Iirc, blood apes find Creation unpleasant.
          Ethical defenses of enslaving demons probably hinge on demons not being human and thus fundamentally different things ethically, more than anything abou creation being nicer.


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          • #6
            TheCountAlucard You can contact a demon without using the spell to summon them ?


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Chausse View Post
              TheCountAlucard You can contact a demon without using the spell to summon them ?
              Even then, there might be problems.

              Teodizja might ask for converts. Firmin might ask for people to impale. Puppeteers might ask for babies.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Chausse View Post
                TheCountAlucard You can contact a demon without using the spell to summon them ?
                Well, while the Infallible Messenger spell won't cross interplanar boundaries, the fact is that demons do reside in the Demon City when they're not summoned, and beings can travel to and from the Demon City; passing along a message to a hellbound demon to seek out other demons for employment under you is plausible. Hell, you could even (very carefully!) open a portal via a Working and throw employment pamphlets through.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Accelerator View Post
                  Even then, there might be problems.

                  Teodizja might ask for converts. Firmin might ask for people to impale. Puppeteers might ask for babies.
                  And if their asking price is something that you're not willing to pay, you don't hire them.

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                  • #10
                    TheCountAlucard I like your answers, but it demands of the player and ST to handle demon summoning very differently from what I've seen in my games so far.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Chausse View Post
                      TheCountAlucard I like your answers, but it demands of the player and ST to handle demon summoning very differently from what I've seen in my games so far.
                      Sure. Lots of the actions of player characters are not necessarily going to conform to what's considered by a modern person to be reasonable or ethical/moral behavior.

                      ​Most sorcerers aren't going to bother with contacting demons ahead of time to bargain with them for their services and then pay them a hefty sum. They're going to use them as slave labor because it's convenient. If they even have qualms about slavery they probably won't care as much about demons being subjected to it because demons aren't humans, and generally possess less capacity to object to their mistreatment to the sorcerer.
                      Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 02-14-2020, 01:22 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
                        Well, while the Infallible Messenger spell won't cross interplanar boundaries, the fact is that demons do reside in the Demon City when they're not summoned, and beings can travel to and from the Demon City; passing along a message to a hellbound demon to seek out other demons for employment under you is plausible. Hell, you could even (very carefully!) open a portal via a Working and throw employment pamphlets through.
                        I'm now imagining weekly demon job fairs during the First Age.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Grod_the_giant View Post
                          I'm now imagining weekly demon job fairs during the First Age.
                          "Remember fellows blood apes, what interests recrutors nowadays are transversal competences and soft skills. Try to think of how you can use your blade-like claws in situations that prove you are able to manage a team. Your only limit is your imagination and dedication !"


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Accelerator View Post

                            But has anyone thought of Demon-summoning? I mean, you are grabbing a creature, taking it from its home, and then binding it to your will to do whatever you want. From sex, to dying against an enemy, or labour. You're applying mind control to it to do stuff for you. Potentially forever.
                            Well, there's a tad more nuance to it then that. But sure, it does amount to a largely one way exploitative power dynamic (although that gap gets narrower as you go down the circles; it can be a tad perilous to summon the unquestionable).

                            As how to characterize the interaction goes, I feel as though among First Circle Demons who even have consciousness their personal liberty isn't quite the highest on their list of priorities, because they don't exactly have it anyway. And considering the point of summoning, you're probably bringing them in to do the kind of thing they live for anyway. I think it's valid to portray blood apes as not being upset to maim and feed on behalf of another rather than themselves. What were you even summoning them for otherwise. Hell, the agatae thrive on being steeds for others (and their magically bound Intimacies don't necessarily stop them from having fits of emotion that cause them to buck their riders off).

                            Originally posted by Accelerator
                            This applies for elementals as well. There's a lot of debate on the ethics of creating an A.I. or designer babies for an explicit purpose. Think what comes up when you summon an elemental for, say, giving yourself a cold breeze or starting fires.
                            I think that what comes up when you summon something for that purpose might have the intelligence of an insect or a fish.

                            I'm against going out of one's way to kill mayflies, but don't quite mourn that they have such short lives.

                            Originally posted by Accelerator
                            in the face of modern ethics, is it in any way defensible to summon, and bind, demons and elementals?
                            If the summoning of spirits was a thing that definitively existed in reality, ethical arguments against doing so on grounds of the agency of those spirits would probably exist.

                            But I think the subject is far enough removed from reality that it shouldn't present much of a challenge for people to play the role of characters who are unconcerned with it, even if they are with things like clear cut human slavery.

                            Heck, I feel there are greater ethical considerations to bringing steeds or familiars into combat.


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                            • #15
                              Sorcery taps into the surrender paths of the Yozi right? You could make a case that summoning and binding demons is then just fulfilling the terms of their surrender to the army of the gods.

                              Otherwise, no I don’t really see a defensible position of demon summoning as a moral thing to just be doing. On the other hand we are taking about demonologists summoning forth inhuman monsters from Hell and directing their baleful intelligence towards something in Creation. Should we be framing this in a moral way? Nothing else about it seems to imply that it’s a nice thing to be doing. Not that you shouldn’t be one. Both this edition’s signature Exalts and the previous one’s have had some pretty serious moral failings themselves. The world of Creation is like Game of Thrones or the Witcher or something. The TV tropes would be a Crapsack world with Black-and-Grey morality most of the time.

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