From: Sandy Petersen (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 27 Jun 1995 - 20:09:07 EEST
>the [Aldrya] cult writup says for Wood Lords "Never kill a living
>thing except in defence of yourself or your forest.". The next
>sentence says, "Destroyers of living things must be eliminated at
>>Are these really contradictory, or do the Aldryami have a liberal
>>and proactive definition of "self-defence"? If the former, how
do >>they cope? If the latter, how far can they go? Can they slaughter >>nearby trolls on the offchance that they might sometime attack the >>woods? Or do they have to taunt the trolls into attacking first? First off, Aldryami are not humans. While some of their emotional and rational range overlaps those of humans, they are neither a subset, nor a reflection of human concepts or ideas. They are something Different. Often their behavior appears illogical or contrary to common sense to us (but never to them). On the other hand, human behavior seems generally illogical and contrary to common sense even to other humans, so I guess they're one up on us.
One fine example of the Aldryami attitude towards life is the manner in which they value living organisms. For humans, sentient life is really by far the most important, and at least the most ethically advanced humans recognize that all sentient life has certain rights. Non-sentient animal life is of qualitatively lower importance. Some extremely ethical humans concern themselves with such lower life forms (Chalana Arroy healers are vegetarian, and strive not to cause unnecessary pain to animals, for instance). But in general, behavior treating a beast as if it were human is considered aberrant (consider the stereotype of the elderly spinster and her pampered miniature alynx, for instance). Giving undue consideration to plant life is generally considered grounds for insanity. Humans who _do_ show respect to plants generally do so because they are _really_ giving respect to Aldrya or Flamal or some other plant-spirit, not the vegetation itself.
But Aldryami generally value Plants > Animals > Sentient Life. Yet the difference is deeper even than this simple reversal of priorities would appear. For humans, the difference between Sentients/Animals/Plants is _qualitative_. For elves, it is not so, but all life lies on a continuum.
Because of this continuum, the Aldryami do not necessarily distinguish between "enemy" and "non-enemy" members of the same species, but rather they know only "harmful" and "more harmful". Humans are enemies. Some humans may be less damaging than others, but all are ultimately harmful. Even a human who honors the plant spirits, always casts Food Song, and is kind and gentle to all Aldryami is a liability, if only because there is no guarantee that that human's children will be as friendly. Still, the Aldryami will generally nurture and befriend such humans so that they will prosper and spread their dogma and hopefully lessen the overall deadliness of humans. It's selective breeding, really.
Anyway, any dwarf or troll is clearly an enemy of the forest, and it is generally considered fine to kill such a being wherever it is encountered. Elves do mount raids into troll and dwarf territory on occasion to "prune" their enemies. Even a troll who has never ever attacked the woods is still a woods-enemy, you see.
>>How about a ZZ Death Lord that surrenders after razing several
>>acres of woodland? A Humakti in the same position, after an Oath
They would kill the ZZ Death Lord unless they calculated that taking him prisoner would somehow benefit them. The Aldryami know the power of the Oath spell, and would probably spare the Humakti if he took an Oath never to harm the forest again, for he is no future threat. Aldryami have no sense of vengeance, as do humans. However, Aldryami _behave_ vengefully and are wrongly stereotyped by humans as an exceedingly revenge-oriented species. This is because beings who have harmed the forest in the past must be killed, so that they do not spread their evil seed any further. For instance, a human who slashes and burns a section of Aldryami forest cannot be allowed to escape, even if he never again does such a deed, for his children, and his friends, and his pupils, and _anyone_ who comes into contact with him may learn to slash and burn the forest. Such a human, even if only caught after decades, must either be killed, or somehow cursed horribly, so that other humans are deterred from harming a forest. But there is no hate or vengeance in the Aldryami action. Merely cold-blooded calculation. Or, rather, Aldryami are capable of hate, but it is (again) not the same kind of hatred that humans or trolls experience.
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