In the Republic, there’s a thought experiment that a faerie or demon might make real in Mythic Europe. A shepherd named Gyges finds the grave of a king, after an earth tremor, and removes a ring from it. When he places the ring upon his finger and twists it, he becomes invisible. He uses this to murder the king, seduce the queen, and take control of the kingdom. The question is, if two men, one moral and the other immoral, are each given a ring, will they act differently? The members of the symposium disagree on whether virtue is socially enforced, or is an internal quality, not dependent on the will of the crowd.

In Mythic Europe, a faerie or a demon can grant the ability to become invisible: the ring might even be the embodiment of either.  The obvious plot hooks are:

  • Does having the ring make people more likely to sin?  In NPCs, does invisibility grant a bonus on personality checks that sway them toward darker actions? Some commentators mention the anonymity effect of the internet, and suggest the ring would generate it in everyday life.
  • If you are the virtuous holder of the ring, and it has been explained to you that there are two rings, do you have a moral responsibility to destroy the experiment by taking the ring from the other invisible person? How could you do that?
  • Was the buried king a historical figure, or just a plausible prop? If these rings were known in ancient times, who made them, who used them, and why are they now rare? The king was a giant buried in a metal horse. What does that tell you about his people, or his faerie nature?
  • Does the ring hijack the Common Sense Virtue, which is sort of innate in all NPCs, suggesting that the ring could be used to sort out various problems, gradually wearing away their scruples?
  • If you confront the creature that gives the rings, can it offer you something in exchange for letting the experiment run its course?  For example, it might offer to let you choose who the new ringberarers are. Would you accept a couple of magic items for your covenant, if you knew they were likely to bring, at least, drama, and at worst, damnation to whomever you handed them to?

 

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2 replies on “The Ring of Gyges

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