So I am still unsatisfied with the responses I got for the way this post got moderated:

How to roleplay my character's ethics according to the DM when I don't understand those ethics?

After I had been discussing the reason for its first close here:

Why was this post about roleplaying my character's ethics closed?

I figured that, a) "ethics" is a keyword that usually makes users assume, it is being talked about alignments. And b) That questions about alignment tend to generate a lot of opinion based responses.

The fact that my OP coincidentally even mentioned a quote of the GM referring to my alignment just made it worse as I realized later. So before/shortly after the post got reopened again, I removed the alignment part, as it was just background info and not related to what my question was about. But I found to leave the ethics part in it, as I clearly was talking about my own ethics, in contrast to my characters ethical knowledge (not their ethics as dictated by alignment). 9 hours after the post got reopened, it got closed again by mxyzplk. Stating that the content of the answers are only giving opinions. That's true. But to be fair, within the 9 hours after my edit, where it was open again there was no additional answer given, despite it had been for a few hours again as well in the HNQ. So I asked in a comment mxyzplk, for clarification, where all I got as response to after a few days was:

I’m sorry, I see no answer here that tries to Back It Up, so I have nothing to say I didn’t say already, I believe this question is lost in opinion land irretrievably. – mxyzplk

So given that I am not happy with that response I have to ask here again.

Why it was closed a second time, given that it was closed the first time for the opinion based answers it generated, which are bad quality for this sites format, despite after it having been reopened no more opinion based answers had been made?

Does it mean, despite the OP being on-topic, the existign answers either have to be deleted (what they won't do by the given amount of rep generated through it) or they have to edit their answers from an post that is "Not answering what OP asks for and instead write out an opinion about the background story OP mentioned." to an "Good Subjective answer?" What won't happen either since there are 12 answers to a core question that is quite hard to answer. So 12 random people from the internet, won't all be able to provide such a solution.

So even if I assume here mxyzplk's action of closing that post again, just for the sake of "Having opinion based answers", despite not "Generating opinion based answers" anymore, was correct.

Then there remains one question for me, this metapost is supposed to be about:

Since I haven't received any useful answer to my question yet, and still am looking for a solution, would the above described scenario conclude that this is a topic, that by our polices would be forever forbidden to be asked on this site again?

As I see this sites policies, closing a post is supposed to give the OP time to improve their question, so it is better quality/on-topic.

Given that my post was already on-topic, there is not much more I can do, since I was told its the answers it received which ignored my core question, having made it get closed.

So since I still look for an answer, I would like to ask the question again, this time avoid giving too much background info making users tempted to state their opinion. But that would by our policies very clearly be a 100% duplicate post. So getting linked to the doomed post, and still leaving me without a solution to my question. I was also considering, just editing my post into a clearly Off-topic request for opinions. So it actually reflects more a questions the answers it received would be fitting to, and hence wouldn't be a duplicate anymore. But I am not sure if that would be inline with the soul of this format. Plus I am not sure if this would violate the point with changing the scope of a question when there are already answers given. I mean in this case I would change the scope in a way that actually the answers now at least would answer the question. But making an on-topic question, off-topic, just so its inline with the answers it received feels not right to me either.

So what are my options to get answers to my core question? Or is this a special edge case, where in fact there is no way, to ask this on-topic question here ever again?


1 Answer 1


The bigger question can't be answered well because there is no good answer. To paraphrase that big question from the original:

If I end up again in a situation where everyone else at the table agrees that the actions I want my character to take violate what everyone else knows to be the campaign's idea of common sense, how can I resolve the situation happily while both maintaining my player agency and obeying what others have told me is my character's understanding of common sense?

(I've revised this to remove any mention of ethics—a term you might've noticed is a bit loaded 'round these parts; I hope that's okay.) To paraphrase this further, everyone else at the table says that your PC's common sense tells your PC to do this, but you think that it makes more sense for your PC to do that, and you want to know how to reach a compromise that sees you still in control of your character but that doesn't make you seem like a jerk or a pushover and also doesn't make your PC seem like a crazy person or a nincompoop.

The dilemma that big question raises can't be resolved in the abstract. For a general situation like this, having your PC take the action anyway puts you in "My Guy" Syndrome territory. And having your PC not take the action means your agency's removed because you're having the PC refrain from that action because you've been told that's not how folks in the campaign act even though your PC clearly would act that way… because you wanted him to! It's no-win with no middle ground.

Only an ugly bout of lawyering the GM's understanding of his own campaign's version of common sense can resolve these sorts of situations, and each of those situations will be unique because nobody knows when the GM is going to play next the my-campaign's-common-sense-isn't-real-world-common-sense card.

I mean, if the GM is constantly confronting the players with these kinds of dilemmas—for example, the GM routinely says, "Your PC knows that this [insane thing] is what folks in this world normally do; are you sure you want your PC to do that [other campaign-abnormal-yet-much-more-real-world-sane thing] anyway?"—, then maybe by providing several anecdotes readers will discern a pattern that can lead them to determine how you should think in that GM's campaign. Then you could fix your mindset to the campaign and not worry about real-world common sense.

But there was only one example… and it was brilliant! Seriously, had I written an answer, I, too,—even as an experienced user—would've focused on that anecdote (maybe saying something like Have your PC motion for the gnolls to surrender, and, if they don't, your PC attacks; the gnolls were given a chance). It's an incredibly attractive anecdote that encourages others to help solve that specific problem. It's not that nobody wants to solve the general problem but that folks just simply can't and that the charming anecdote also lends itself so readily to solving. So folks just solve the anecdote.

You can ask a question like this again. However, I urge waiting until this is a bigger problem. That's not to discount your feelings! While I know you'd like to know what to do next time this happens, there may never be a next time. I recommend gathering a few of these anecdotes then including those anecdotes—in a much shorter form—and posing the big question again but differently. Maybe it'll end up looking like this: "The GM says common sense in his world is different from common sense in the real world and, because of that, encourages me to change my PC's actions. How can I continue to play my PC the way I want while conforming to the GM's world's kooky notions of common sense?"

And I hope, when you do pose that new question, that you get answers that are better than, "You can't," or, "Tell the GM to play NPCs like he wants and that you'll play your PC how you want."

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I just read to the point where you rephrased my core question. And yeah, thats on point what I am asking. And yeah I am aware, that this is a question that is hard to answer, nonetheless, I read already alot of questions where I told my self after the first read "Well this problem can't be solved" and was suprised by the answers. So I thought nothing should be wrong with asking for that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zaibis
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 6:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Anyways, very usefull. Still I wonder about how that would or why that wouldn't be seen as a duplicate of that prior post. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zaibis
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 6:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis Nothing was wrong with asking! Folks just found the anecdote more powerful than the question. That means, next time, more anecdotes in less space so there's a pattern to be found. And I think the final rephrasing of the question in the second-to-last paragraph is sufficiently distinctive from the original that it could be safely asked without anyone thinking it a duplicate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ What you mean by "And I think the final rephrasing of the question in the second-to-last paragraph is sufficiently distinctive from the original that it could be safely asked without anyone thinking it a duplicate."? I am not sure I get you here correct. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zaibis
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 6:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zaibis Only that I don't think anyone will view as a duplicate of your original question this question: "The GM says common sense in his world is different from common sense in the real world and, because of that, encourages me to change my PC's actions. How can I continue to play my PC the way I want while conforming to the GM's world's kooky notions of common sense?" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 10:43

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