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Captured leaders - should they be tortured...

Discussion in 'Alpha Centauri' started by Doctor Phibes, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Doctor Phibes

    Doctor Phibes Chieftain

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    It's hard to avoid roleplaying in SMACX 2012, and personally, though I have no problem with committing a vast wholesale slaughter of enemy combatants - with a bit of collateral damage to civilians - in a good cause, I draw the line at torture. A shame, therefore that SMACX gives us little alternative with captured leaders than to stick them in a punishment sphere.

    I might have considered summary battlefield execution in many cases, a la Ceausescu, if there was a chance that remaining followers would continue the cause in their name, but this is not possible, so I might proceed as follows, SMAC only for brevity:

    [I'm usually playing Dee, Zak, Lal or Aki in these scenarios and I'm obviously roleplaying modern liberal democracy, maybe even Eudaimonea. If you prefer Yang or Santiago YMMV of course]:

    Santiago: I consider the Spartans to be nothing better than terrorists and parasites. Common criminals, basically. As such, I'd hand Santiago and her more dedicated followers over to my criminal courts straight away, while conducting a war crimes investigation in the meantime (war crimes are an issue in all cases, but some leaders are more likely to commit them than others).

    Zakharov: Erratic. I would likely sit Zakharov down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and ask him nicely what he thought he was doing getting into that war in the first place. But there is another side. Given his notorious lack of ethics, I'd simultaneously be investigating Uni facilities for Crimes Against Humanity. If they came to light, all involved would have to face public trial and possible sentencing. (The trouble is, just as happened after WW2 with the likes of von Braun, the temptation is, except for the worst offenders, to just give them great techie jobs).

    Miriam: Well, this is a tricky one. The Believers are sincere, but, as a society, utterly insane. Insanity is, however, a defence. Believers would have to be examined on an individual basis. The obviously deluded, like Miriam herself, could be rehabilitated, especially easy once lategame facilities like the Telepathic Matrix become available. Those manipulating an insane system for their own ends should be further investigated.

    Yang: No insanity here, though it is open to some doubt as to how sincere Yang is. Looks to me although he manipulates standard commie rhetoric for his own ends, a la North Korea. Yang would not, however, recognise the sovereignty of the legal system I describe (neither would Miriam, but she's bonkers). Deep ideological clash. Unless public opinion demanded a trial, I believe I would keep him under indefinite house arrest like Napoleon, surrounded by many many creature comforts to erode his Ascetic Virtues away. (Hmm, maybe that counts as torture...) In the meantime, of course, his old society would be learning the benefits of a free and prosperous society. Could be worth releasing him after a couple of centuries, likely he'd prove popular on talk shows and such.

    Morgan: Well, I'm sure the great CEO would be happy to sit down for a nice chat once properly defeated (he doesn't usually know when he's beat, even when down to one size 3 base). And he'd no doubt say that he was waging a necessary and clean war for survival and resources. (Except his public rhetoric says otherwise, see his interpretation of 'the power compamy'.) In any case, barring war crimes, I'd simply release him on payment of war reparations. Such reparations starting with seizure of all Morgan family energy credits and capital assets. A great entrepreneur like him should be given the opportunity to show how he can build an industrial empire starting from absolutely nothing. It would, no doubt, prove an inspiration to many.

    Deirdre: Well, time for a nice cup of tea again. It's hard to imagine the Gaians being big on war crimes, given their mindset. But that erratic behaviour. I could be pretty damned sarcastic with Lady Skye when she's declared on me for no good reason and I've been behaving in an utterly greener way than her. Surely the welfare of Planet takes first place. Sarcasm, Yeah, that'd be the way to go - .a bit of shaming. I think after that I'd give her a very demanding and high-powered environmental job that would hopefully keep her out of mischief...

    Lal: The entire legal framework I'm operating under is the one Lal aspires to. So it's pretty unlikely that any great war crimes or CAHs may have been committed by the UN. It might be wise to treat the whole thing as a terrible misunderstanding. But one mostly due to the utter utter incompetence of the UN leadership. Lal's society itself should not need reforming like Yang's or Miriam's, but Lal himself should be quietly pensioned off. Perhaps he could retain some sense of self-worth by becoming a visiting speaker like Gorbachev.

    OK - what would you do with your captured leaders and societies?

    EDIT: I'll maybe have a go at the SMAX lot later if there's demand. But feel free to include them yourself...
     
  2. Packherd2

    Packherd2 Chieftain

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    I'm a little disappointed in myself. This never occurred to me, despite many dozens of games over the years. (And, yes, I find myself roleplaying, too, even when I don't mean to.)

    I suppose it's that I simply get immersed into the story, and torture of my rivals is justified as the necessary outcome of a hard-won victory. By the time I get any one defeated, I've usually committed a few unsavory deeds already, so it's not like I'm playing out of character.

    But I would point out that, in game, torture isn't the only option. If an opponent is beaten early enough, they'll often escape to respawn elsewhere on Planet, usually the Isle of Deianira, where no one can get to them. So torture only comes into play when Planet is full up of humans.
     
  3. Doctor Phibes

    Doctor Phibes Chieftain

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    That's true, though it doesn't represent a moral choice for the player. Funny, though, I rarely see them escape my clutches, probably because I don't wipe them out early enough, I guess, and I do have the respawn option turned on.

    An interesting other point is how you manage to put them in a punishment sphere when you haven't gained the tech yet...
     
  4. Weird T Figure

    Weird T Figure Chieftain

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    I would assume that most leaders at the brink of being captured would off themselves like Hitler, but then again, Kaddafi and Saddam didn't.
     
  5. Peck of Arabia

    Peck of Arabia Sociable Recluse

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    Good question! where am I?
    I agree with most of your post, and will probably feel a little more morally dubious next time I play and finish off a faction (then again, thoy did have it coming...). When it comes to Deidre, though I'd certainly class use of PSI combat as unacceptable between human combatants, and their faction is all about mind worms and PSI! No quiet cup of tea for her!
     
  6. MHaruspex

    MHaruspex Chieftain

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    I'm a huge fan of Yang and his idealogy, but I like to imagine something like the reservation system in Brave New World. The Hive ends up the dominant society on Planet and takes on the role of maintaining order, but with islands of free markets, democracies, or whatever abound.

    In my eyes, any society in which you're happy is a good society. There are a lot of worldviews out there, and thus it follows logically that if you want to keep everyone happy there should be a lot of diverse societies out there that people are free to move between if they so desire.

    That's really why I like Alpha Centauri so much - there's no good and evil or anything, instead the game simply hands you seven distinct ideologies and tells you they're all viable. So I try my best to avoid actually capturing any leaders, and instead leaving them as the governors of their ideological islands as incorruptible philosopher king Yang makes sure they don't try to grab power for themselves or anything.

    If a leader refuses surrender and must be captured, I don't have any qualms about the punishment sphere option. They rejected peaceful cooperation, and knew perfectly well how things would end for them.
     
  7. Packherd2

    Packherd2 Chieftain

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    But what happens when two persons happiness is mutually exclusive? And how long is one's happiness valid? Must you be content for all time, or would it be permissible to have one fleeting ecstatic moment in exchange for a lifetime of dissatisfaction?

    I prefer the formulation in the American Constitution. It's not happiness to which we enjoy a right, but its pursuit.

    (If you couldn't tell, I'm a Morganite.)
     
  8. MHaruspex

    MHaruspex Chieftain

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    If two peoples' happiness is mutually exclusive, move them apart. What they don't know can't bother them, after all. If they're not satisfied and are trying to kill each other or something, well, that's what justice systems are for.

    On the note about what makes for a happy life, it'd have to be a long-term thing. I'd have a tough time accepting that, say, a homeless heroin addict leads a fulfilling life. The summation of my position is that if you have a government with the power to make people happy, there's no reason they shouldn't - and that's what Yang preaches with the Virtual World, his quote for Monopole Magnets, and even putting some effort (via bioengineering and whatnot) into ensuring the Genejacks are content.
     
  9. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Chief Executive Officer

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    I love to Roleplay ^^
    Playing as Foreman Domai of the Free Drones:

    Commisioner Pravin Lal: "Ah! Commisioner.... The U.N is no more... ever since the reactor malfunctioned aboard that hundreds year's old wreckade once called "The Unity" (to self: I would suspect Santiago had something to do with it) Why You cling so hard to the ideals of the Old Earth. Can You not see we are all fighting for our lives out here ?! Trying to forge our existance in this inhospitable environment and live a life of meaning ? Why You have insisted on imposing those sanctions on the council ? And how do You explain Retroviral Engineering in Your datalinks ? ...."

    -interuption on the speakers- *Warning! Warning!* The mind worm boils have breached the outer base perimiter, civilians are advised not to leave the habitation dome* "Computer! Open communications channel 45, code alpha765-foreman, log on to the perimiter sensor array station" *Incoming transmission* - What's this is all about commander !? Report !

    - Foreman :static noise: we have severe casualties in section 6. Flamethrower teams dispatched ! :static: Radar shows bugs everywhere ... :static: :illegible sound: ... oh my god we are all going to die !!!! arghhhhh! :more static: *transmission ended*

    "Damn ! .... Computer put the entire base on red alert ! Patch me up to the Command Center code omega546"

    "- This is Commander Ferguson of the Free Drones Central! Foreman ! Sensor scans just confirmed empath teams 24 clicks from the intrusion point, section 7. Gaians are jamming our communication channels :static noise: Requesting immediate air strike on ...-ksssshhhhht- :long static noise break: I repeat This is Commander Ferguson, Foreman we need an air strike confirmation missiles are hot and :static:" *transmision ends*

    :mischief:

    Lady Deidre has a lot to answer for her "secret war" ;)
     
  10. Pyjama Team

    Pyjama Team Chieftain

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    You could throw them into the genejack factory. They should be accountable to some mineral bonuses being exception people. Or that's rubbish.


    Just read a description of "genejack", brought to the fore of a search by google:

    "In the world of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, a genejack is a genetically engineered being, created for the sole purpose of hard labor in the factories. The genejack's low brainpower, augmented musculature and enhanced stamina make him the perfect laborer, especially in the communal environment."

    I just noticed that "low brainpower" is a relativistic term and still could describe ridiculous intelligence. Perhaps industrial coolant is required for any further augmentation to intelligence beyond that of genejack levels (i.e. they are ripped smart and any smarter their brains explode. engineers have managed to attain the right balance. Some genejacked could be automatic drones if they are close to incendiary level intelligence.


     
  11. blaster97337

    blaster97337 Chieftain

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    I've never really thought about the torture bit in Alpha Centauri, I guess I just accepted it as a part of the game I didn't have any control over so wasn't really important compared to the many other ethical questions in the game. Now that I think about it though I really wouldn't torture any of them though, regardless of how completely insane some of them seem... infact most of them I'd actually let live reasonably comfortable lives once things were all sorted out

    Anyway here's how I would deal with them (by the way I generally play as Lal with a democratic, planed and either wealth or knowledge social set-up):


    Miriam: I'd make sure she was never in charge of anything remotely meaningful ever again but other than that I'd more or less let her do as she liked while being closely watched to make sure she didn't try anything crazy. After all most of her quotes make her seem reasonable, but in game she has an obsession with attacking everything...

    Zakharov: Firstly there would be a substantial investigation into his work and the appropriate punishments for any misconduct or crimes... but once that was done I would probably offer him a position as a lead on some minor research team, after all he is a brilliant scientist. I would how ever watch his work closely and make sure that all his research is done in an ethical way, and the results of it are considered carefully before being used.

    Morgan: I would deal with him pretty similarly to Zakharov, offer him some small management job somewhere to keep him busy, if he doesn't want it then just let him do whatever he likes, with his faction gone and the majority of his wealth taken as payment for his actions he's not really an issue.

    Deirdre: Execution, possibly with a flame-thrower. Her crimes are serious and all to obvious, breading, training and using mindworms. Seriously mindworms are creepy, disturbing and evil and so need to be exterminated, completely, not bred. The whole "secret war" thing with the Spartans also was quite underhanded and morally questionable especially since I wouldn't think mindworms would be very good at taking prisoners or not killing civilians. Honestly Deirdre can die in a fire, same with the planet cult, and any player in a multiplayer game who trains mindworms.... freaking mindworms...

    Santago: Many many criminal trials and war trials, if she manages to be found not guilty of everything then I would allow her to live a life somewhere and do what ever it is she would do, while being very closely watched. Although to be honest I'm not entirely sure she could adapt to being a normal citizen... and I don't want her anywhere near any sort of armed force... so she probably wouldn't do very well

    Yang: I would make sure he was tried for every crime possible, he would inevitably be found guilty of enough of them that he would end up spending the rest of his life in jail or the equivalent... so I wouldn't really have to do anything else about him.

    other than the planet cult (who would be executed... except I think the leader is meant to be a kid or something... so I might try to be slightly more lenient with him...) I dont really know enough about the Alien Crossfire factions to really comment on them.... mostly I think they'd get a general "legal trials, make sure they have no real power to be dangerous, possibly give them some appropriate job, and then let them live there lives as they see fit" approach

    and that's what would I do with my captured leaders.
     
  12. A.Caesar

    A.Caesar Chieftain

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    I give them a choice; surrender, or die
     
  13. IdaGno

    IdaGno Chieftain

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    trespassers will be shot

    survivors will be shot again
     
  14. mintcandy

    mintcandy Chieftain

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    I find that sticking captured leaders into punishment spheres to be thematically appropriate, given the cynical dystopian tone throughout SMAC.

    I might go one step further, though.

    I would applaud it if instead of sticking them into Punishment Spheres, the video for captured leaders depicts them being forcefully strapped into a Hologram Theater.

    After being strapped in, the video then shows the player what "fantasy" the captured leader is being subjected to. Of course, the "fantasy" would change to be an endless cycle of the captured leader's worst nightmare.

    For example, Zakharov's "fantasy" could depict being trapped in a highly superstitious and faith based society where knowledge was shunned at every turn in favor of tradition. How something like this would be shown in a short span of time would be interesting, to say the least.
     
  15. Jingo7

    Jingo7 Chieftain

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    Sorry to necro this thread. I recently bought AC and I think it's awesome, better than civ in fact.

    The user above is correct, the torture of captured leaders is in keeping with the cynical dystopian atmosphere of the game.
    Having said that, after seeing the torture animation for the first time, it gave me a pang of disgust, mixed with perverse pleasure.

    Since I was role-playing a little bit as the communist Drones, I figured that they would be repulsed by the right-wing libertarianism of Santiago (my defeated enemy). But actual torture? That's messed up, and can be accounted for only by assuming that the moral compass of humanity has been deadened somewhat since arrival at Planet. OR this torture is utterly secret and considered as a horrible, though somehow necessary act of duty.

    I suppose it depends on the situation and factions concerned. Frankly, apart from Domai, I would shoot all of the leaders upon capture, including Deidre, Morgan and the Haxxor boss.
     
  16. Darsnan

    Darsnan Chieftain

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    Yup! :thumbsup:

    While generically stated, I think this sums it up quite nicely. I know on more than one occasion I've propagated war against the Hive, the Believers, Unis, or Morganites to the bitter end, because of what they did in that specific game, and I would brook no resistance, and offer no succor until their leader was burning in the Punishment Sphere. And of course there is the flipside of this where you are the one who is being overwhelmed by an unrelenting enemy: would that make you play harder, knowing that if you fail, your virtual self will end up in the Punishment Sphere, there to burn for all eternity?

    And of course there is a third option here which I haven't seen listed to date, which I call the "rescue the damsel in distress" option, where a Faction Leader you identify with has been captured, and you cannot bear to think of them spending eternity in the Punishment Sphere, and so you do everything in your power to liberate them from the evil clutches of Faction Leader X!

    So, 3 different situations involving Punishment Spheres, with one common theme amongst them: each engages you the player, and for various reasons makes you want to play that much harder. Job well done by the devs, IMO. :goodjob:

    D
     
  17. Robo-Star

    Robo-Star Chieftain

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    Or they sign a pact of submission.
     
  18. Darsnan

    Darsnan Chieftain

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    And just to follow up on my previous post regarding the "rescue the damsel in distress" reason as to why Punishment Spheres add to the game, why I have created a scenario based on this theme here:

    https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/data-angels-smax-scenario-operation-cntl-esc-f8.614072/

    FYI in case anyone comes across this thread in the future and wants to explore this idea further.

    D
     

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