How can Black Creatures be Good?

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I have always felt like every color has a good and bad side, including white.  It was a creative concept and made the cards of each color feel a lot more dynamic, but I just don't get how black can possibly be good. Also, I mean mono-black, no Golgari or Orzhov, or Lord of Innistrad stuff.
By being neutral and not killing people.

On a protagonist role, we've had Toshiro Umezawa, Tetsuo Umezawa (sure, he has and too, but we both know those are just compliments), Chainer, Xantcha, El-Hajjaj and pre-Innistrad Sorin (and Duffy Duck, Donald Duck and Bart Simpson according to the staff). All these people are various levels of anti-hero, with Xantcha and Tetsuo being very heroic and Chainer not very much.

Basically, a protagonist who is likeable is someone defined by personal gain, but who isn't a (massive) jerk about it, and who may even be humourous thanks to their greed (see Duffy Duck for starters).

Recall that colours often are influenced by their allies as much as themselves. shares 's rationality and 's emotional impulses, which can make a person fairly decent.
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Selfish actions can have positive outcomes for others. A few drops of blood can provide the answer to merciless engins of death. This guy did the Multiverse a world of good. Unfortunately it was undone by an elf child. Fortunately he let her deal with the problem rather than simply clean up her mess and let her off without experiencing the consequences of her actions.


Tetsuo Umezawa believed that the use of black mana provided a test of one's honor: the use of black's overt and covert destructive abilities without going on a power trip.  

Oh, boy. You may have opened a bee-hive here


Define "Good". Because a lot of this discussion will depend on it.


But the bottom line will be that Black has the problem of being depicted as very evil and gross on the cards, just like Red tends to be violent. Black it color of social change, for example, but that doesn't fit neatly onto a card. 


Lastly, ambition being evil is a bit of an annoying trope. 


Edit: Also keep in mind that good is not nice.

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An aspect often ignored is that is also the colour of morality relativity, which counters 's extremism nicely.
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Given that the Zendikar vampires are "good guys" (relatively speaking; they're not 300 feet tall and covered in tentacles), Toshiro Umezawa was a "good guy", and Xantcha was a "good guy", yeah.

While colors themselves aren't good or evil, how can white be good? When black is good (which is rare), it's really good, but when white is evil, it's (again) really evil.
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I didn't read the novel, but from what I can gather in the wiki, Maralen of the Mornsong was pretty nice for a black Lorwyn Elf lady.
[<o>]
characters certainly look out primarily for themselves, but that doesn't mean they have to do so at the exclusion of others. Imagine you have, for example, a magistrate of a small community. His people pay him taxes, till his fields, and allow him to have a comfortable life. Going with traditional tropes here, let's say a dragon moves into the area and is threatening to eat the village. Would it not be in line with to kill the dragon to protect his people, because in doing so he protects his cozy life?

It's been a while since I've read it, but if memory serves, Immanuel Kant believed that the only actions that were "right" or "good" were the ones done for the "right" reasons. If we accept this, then would, I believe, find it difficult to be "good." However, I personally have never bought into Kantian philosophy, so, as Yxoque mentioned, you would really need to define what "good" means to you in these terms.

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Allo's Fortnight
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Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
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Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
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Basically, MTG morality is pretty much direct blasphemy against Kant, since what matters is what people do. Frankly, I am inclined to see actions as more relevant than intent.
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It's been a while since I've read it, but if memory serves, Immanuel Kant believed that the only actions that were "right" or "good" were the ones done for the "right" reasons. If we accept this, then would, I believe, find it difficult to be "good." However, I personally have never bought into Kantian philosophy, so, as Yxoque mentioned, you would really need to define what "good" means to you in these terms.



In my opinion, you can do "evil" things for "good" reasons (and vise versa) without the action shifting "alignment". If killing something is bad, killing someone to save millions is still bad, but you can justify it because it was needed. 


Also, Biznatch, we had a thread not too long ago about the Morality of Grixis , which might interest you, since it deals with something similar. 

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Loyalt for a cause, If has a reason do what is right, then it will use any means to get it. You just need to give the character the right push to do something to save the world.
Thanks for the replies.  I'm new to the forum so it's good to see so much activity.  For clarification, I just feel that when put in the context of "for the greater good" relatively evil actions are still in the white slice's jurisdiction.  Where ever I read about black it seems to be about decay, death, and, by no coincedence, self-gain.  
Basically, MTG morality is pretty much direct blasphemy against Kant, since what matters is what people do. Frankly, I am inclined to see actions as more relevant than intent.



Yeah, I agree. The example I've always used is as follows: Imagine that you're walking down the street and happen upon a burning house. There is a crowd gathered outside, and maybe even a news crew, but the fire department hasn't arrived yet. You hear a child screaming from inside. Now, you've always wanted to be famous, or thought of as a hero, and here, you see the opportunity, so, with everyone watching, you run into the house and save the child's life. You did it for your own, selfish reasons, but ultimately, you SAVED A CHILD's LIFE. Now, in this example, I can see how saving the child simply because it's the "right" thing to do might be "more right" than because you wanted to be a hero, but that doesn't mean your action wasn't right.

With that in mind, I think there are plenty of ways that can be "good."

Shameless Self-Promotion

These are the MTG Fiction pieces I have written:

Planes of the Dual-Walkers
Allo's Fortnight
The Butcher's Cleaver
Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
Pariah
Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
Numerous poems in The Poetry Plane
Magic: The Musical

Please read and comment! I love hearing people's thoughts and reactions to my work!

Basically, MTG morality is pretty much direct blasphemy against Kant, since what matters is what people do. Frankly, I am inclined to see actions as more relevant than intent.



Yeah, I agree. The example I've always used is as follows: Imagine that you're walking down the street and happen upon a burning house. There is a crowd gathered outside, and maybe even a news crew, but the fire department hasn't arrived yet. You hear a child screaming from inside. Now, you've always wanted to be famous, or thought of as a hero, and here, you see the opportunity, so, with everyone watching, you run into the house and save the child's life. You did it for your own, selfish reasons, but ultimately, you SAVED A CHILD's LIFE. Now, in this example, I can see how saving the child simply because it's the "right" thing to do might be "more right" than because you wanted to be a hero, but that doesn't mean your action wasn't right.

With that in mind, I think there are plenty of ways that can be "good."

I see what you mean here.  Using "bad" and "good" relatively here:  while white might do something bad for the greater good, black could do good for the wrong reasons.  Still, sounds like all black planeswalkers are dicks though
Thanks for the replies.  I'm new to the forum so it's good to see so much activity.  For clarification, I just feel that when put in the context of "for the greater good" relatively evil actions are still in the white slice's jurisdiction.  Where ever I read about black it seems to be about decay, death, and, by no coincidence, self-gain.  



Welcome to the forum.



I think this is a common misconception. White is actually the most likely to do evil things "for the greater good". Likewise, White will hesitate to do "evil", because they're aware that the rules forbid it, or because it feels wrong. Black is capable of disregarding the rules. Black will be faster to break the bystander effect, will rise up to unjust authority, dissent... The persons who didn't go along with the Milgram Experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment and Ash's experiment are more likely to be Black than White And remember what I said about depictions on the cards. What they show on cards is always just a small part of what a color is capable of. 


Edit: About Black planeswalkers being "dicks". Keep in mind that "good is not nice". And try reading Agents of Artifice. Liliana is not nice, but she is sympathetic.

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Yes, because those are typically (though not always) more interesting characters. Personally, I think and have more in common than any other combination of enemy colors, certainly on a morality level. I think black and green actually have quite a bit in common, as well, but honestly throughout the history of magic characters, I think most could have been with just a minor tweak here or there.

This is mostly off-topic, but I'm just curious: Did anyone else think Ambassador Laquatus  wasn't ? at best...

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These are the MTG Fiction pieces I have written:

Planes of the Dual-Walkers
Allo's Fortnight
The Butcher's Cleaver
Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
Pariah
Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
Numerous poems in The Poetry Plane
Magic: The Musical

Please read and comment! I love hearing people's thoughts and reactions to my work!

Thanks for the replies.  I'm new to the forum so it's good to see so much activity.  For clarification, I just feel that when put in the context of "for the greater good" relatively evil actions are still in the white slice's jurisdiction.  Where ever I read about black it seems to be about decay, death, and, by no coincidence, self-gain.  



Welcome to the forum.



I think this is a common misconception. White is actually the most likely to do evil things "for the greater good". Likewise, White will hesitate to do "evil", because they're aware that the rules forbid it, or because it feels wrong. Black is capable of disregarding the rules. Black will be faster to break the bystander effect, will rise up to unjust authority, dissent... The persons who didn't go along with the Milgram Experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment and Ash's experiment are more likely to be Black than White And remember what I said about depictions on the cards. What they show on cards is always just a small part of what a color is capable of. 


Edit: About Black planeswalkers being "dicks". Keep in mind that "good is not nice". And try reading Agents of Artifice. Liliana is not nice, but she is sympathetic.


I know white has a huge capacity to do evil that's what I tried to say. And you're right about good isn't nice, which is why they are still dicks haha.  Sorin means well but there's a reason he doesn't have any friends
Yes, because those are typically (though not always) more interesting characters. Personally, I think and have more in common than any other combination of enemy colors, certainly on a morality level. I think black and green actually have quite a bit in common, as well, but honestly throughout the history of magic characters, I think most could have been with just a minor tweak here or there.

This is mostly off-topic, but I'm just curious: Did anyone else think Ambassador Laquatus  wasn't ? at best...



That's what I love about enemy colour relationships. Many of their conflicts are ultimately childish and superficial. and disagree on how to operate a society, but both are sympathetic to their people and highly agressive to their enemies, while and easily mix on the matters on enlightment.

As for Laquatus, it depends. Ambition and power hunger can easily be too.

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I think a big reason why white is usually seen as the "good" color is its emphasis on rules. White values society very much, so it enforces rules that will protect that society. It so happens that many of the things white generally supports also align with common human morality. However, white is the color of dogma. As white Phyrexia demonstrates, white characters will strictly promote and enforce whatever system of beliefs they see as good, and those who dissent are locked up or destroyed.

On the other hand, black (and red) is less likely to impose arbitrary restrictions on its behavior like white does. Black will do what is necessary to meet its goals and doesn't feel obligated to put itself at a disadvantage by being nice or honorable. Black is unscrupulous, so even when it does good it may do so using means that many people see as morally questionable. Ultimately black does what is in black's best interest, and in a social situation, doing what is seen as morally right can be in black's interest by allowing it to accumulate respect, political power, or the loyalty of others.
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I think my main problem with black is that it's too similar to red.  
I think my main problem with black is that it's too similar to red.  



Well yes, converges with on the values of hedonism and selfishness. However, unlike , is not impulsive and is more rational (as the MTG Salvation wiki puts it, reads the intructions, while doesn't), and is ostensibly also less sentimental.

Basically, compare Liliana with Chandra. Both are hedonistic women, but Liliana is more controlled and looks for things ike wealth and power while Chndra lives every day of her life like it's the last, and goes on adventures.
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Black is capable of good, but isn't particularly good itself.
When it does good, it does so not out of altruism or its own moral compass, but out of pragmaticism.
Sorin sealed away the Eldrazi, to keep them from destroying Dominia.
Liliana broke open the Helvault, to get at her demon master sealed inside.
and so on

Black believes that morality is a social construct. It is capable of seeing the point of it, like preventing us from ax murdering each other, but thinks that it is an artificiality.     
To me, the difference between and can be summed up in yet another allegory (I'm just full of these today, huh?)

You're walking down the street and you see something in a shop's window that you REALLY want, but you don't have enough money for it. You decide to steal it (and shame on you...)

Anyway, if you're , you smash the window, grab the item and run. If you're , you spend a few minutes casing the joint, then come back later and pick the lock when no one's around. (Or scam the money off of some unsuspecting passerby, but you get the point)

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These are the MTG Fiction pieces I have written:

Planes of the Dual-Walkers
Allo's Fortnight
The Butcher's Cleaver
Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
Pariah
Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
Numerous poems in The Poetry Plane
Magic: The Musical

Please read and comment! I love hearing people's thoughts and reactions to my work!

@Raven, question, what is in the store, do you know what type of security system it has, what type of lock is it and when was it made, is this in a mall or just a shop, how far is it from a good alley to duck into, how fast is the police response time in the area, and do I have any trouble with any gangs in the area? I just want to know my options here.
@Raven, question, what is in the store, do you know what type of security system it has, what type of lock is it and when was it made, is this in a mall or just a shop, how far is it from a good alley to duck into, how fast is the police response time in the area, and do I have any trouble with any gangs in the area? I just want to know my options here.



, are you?

Shameless Self-Promotion

These are the MTG Fiction pieces I have written:

Planes of the Dual-Walkers
Allo's Fortnight
The Butcher's Cleaver
Dead Man 'Walking
Showdown
Pariah
Deals and Devils
The Tears of the Djinn
Cromat Comes
Kiss of the Shorecerers
Numerous poems in The Poetry Plane
Magic: The Musical

Please read and comment! I love hearing people's thoughts and reactions to my work!

Hey, I am not :UM: or :BM: I am :WM: and :BM: Ok.... Orzhov all the way! But If I have a job I need the parameters and, have to know what Im working with.
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Not necessarily. Pride I can see being a huge deal for . "Doing it right the first time" seems to fit the standard for behavior.



Also, have people been talking about black's amorality, or black's immorality. Because all I usually hear from people are the immoral aspects. That's why I tend to avoid "WHY IS BLACK NOT GOOOD!!!!1ONE" threads.

I bring up amorality because here's something people may not have thought of: a black person will have morals, but unlike the "knight in shining armor" whom has to save everyone, they can say "F U" to the system.

For once, I'm going to go without an example. Because it's more effort than I want to put in and I likely won't be back.

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Alright, new theory: these forums are an experiment in ultraminimalism. By Monday everything--yes everything--will be the color white, and typing any character will simply produce a solid rectangle of variable height and width.

Hey when I get hired for a job, I do it right, the first time.



This can be perfectly Black, as Black often doesn't get a second time



I bring up amorality because here's something people may not have thought of: a black person will have morals, but unlike the "knight in shining armor" whom has to save everyone, they can say "F U" to the system.


Thanks for mentioning this, because it's important. Black is amoral, but not necessarily immoral. 

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It occurs to me that, out of context, this entire conversation is extraordinarily racist.

Iiiiiiinteresting. 
It occurs to me that, out of context, this entire conversation is extraordinarily racist.

Iiiiiiinteresting. 


Happens all the time when talking about and . It's one of the reasons that I capitalize the colors, to avoid such confusions. It's possible to add in the color symbols all the time, but I find that it reads harder that way, and apparently they don't work very well on the mobile site?

After the official forums lost most of their functionality, a once vibrant community of Vorthos was wiped out.The survivors founded a new place to discuss all things concerning with the art, flavor and storylines of Magic: The Gathering. Come join us.

While the colours are called "black" and "white", only some cards fit neatly into the apropriate descriptions.  makes use of a lot of green (haha) and purple, while uses a lot of gold.
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Thanks for your answers all. Makes a lot more sense now
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