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Technical Pacifist / Video Games

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Technical Pacifists in video games.

  • Generally speaking, some games can allow you to conduct a "pacifist run" by technically not killing enemies, provided that non-lethal methods are available. In games that allow you to use your fists as well as guns or knives, in theory you could go through the entire game without killing anyone, assuming that there aren't sequences where you are forced to kill.

  • Alpha Protocol has the possibility of nonlethal takedowns instead of killing opponents by using unarmed combat and tranquilizer darts for your pistol. The game tracks your number of nonlethal takedowns by 'hospital bills racked up', since even though they're non-lethal said methods will still hurt like hell. By contrast, lethal kills are tracked by 'number of orphans created'. There are several perks that can be acquired for such 'pacifism', most of whom help you get even better at doing more. Specializing in non-lethal takedowns is actually quite effective, to the point that you can complete a mission requiring great amounts of stealth by sprinting into every room and beating every guard into unconsciousness with your bare hands.
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  • Ezio in the Assassin's Creed II games spares several targets when he feels he doesn't have to kill them. As did Altair. Upon finding out that it wasn't Robert De Sable at the funeral, but a decoy, he refused to kill her anyway because she simply wasn't his target. And a good thing too, because he wound up having kids with her.
  • Batman: Arkham Series
    • Enemies in the sequels will comment about previous encounters with Batman, all which ended with them getting their asses kicked. The only person they believed Batman ever killed is the Joker.
    • Given the number of people that get beaten by Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum, at least a few would have died from their injuries, and that's not counting those who 'accidentally' fell into bottomless pits or are left unconscious on electrified floors.
    • In Batman: Arkham City, Batman beats up thugs and mercenaries, and leaves them lying around on rooftops and streets, in a city undergoing constant power struggles between various groups of sociopathic thugs. Even if they do wake up in time, they have a good chance of having broken limbs that make it difficult to defend themselves. And their employers threatened to kill them if they fail, anyway. Oh, and it's winter.
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    • Also in Arkham City, Batman is more brutal than usual with Solomon Grundy, even destroying some of Grundy's internal organs to defeat him. This doesn't technically violate his no-killing rule since Grundy is undead.
    • Batman: Arkham Knight pushes this even further. Besides all the existing brutal takedowns, Batman can now drop room lights on people, smash their faces into live electrical outlets, throw them out of moving vehicles, and fire supposedly "non-lethal" rounds at them from his tank-grade Batmobile.
      • It's also possible to run over mooks with the Batmobile, or fire the Batmobile's machine-gun at wrecked cars until they blow up with unconscious mooks right next to them. Most of the time, they automatically jump out of the way, but sometimes they'll get hit and are electrocuted (you can also activate this remotely if mooks are standing around the Batmobile) and, after knocking them out, you can drive the car directly over them—Batman even used the threat of crushing a mook's head with one of the tires in a scripted interrogation scene, so it's not like there's an automatic protection for mooks against being run over. It's also possible, with the correct upgrades, to fly at a mook sniper standing on a high, narrow ledge, slam them into the ground (the One-Hit KO move you can do while gliding) and send them flying up, only to fall the rest of the way to the ground dozens of feet below. If that guy's not dead, then he's never using his arms and legs again.
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  • Dead or Alive: Kasumi will always try to avoid fighting and attempt a peaceful solution first, especially when she's up against allies. However, when she sees there's no choice but to fight, she tosses any doubts and goes all out.
  • In the FPS/RPG Deus Ex, there are several nonlethal weapons and in the early stages of the game the player is encouraged by various characters to knock foes unconscious whenever possible, rather than kill them. It is actually possible to complete the entire game without killing a single person, and many players endeavour to accomplish such a so-called 'no kills' game. Also in the early stages of the game, how much lethal force the player uses against opponents earns them brownie points with their more gung-ho allies, and disapproval from the rest, or vice versa.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has an achievement called 'Pacifist' for not killing anyone. You are, however, quite free to punch people out, bang their heads together, break their arms, throttle them, tranquillise them, zap them and gas them. (And murder four boss characters. As well as set a facility to self destruct killing dozens of people in one of the endings)
  • Corvo from Dishonored can go through the entire game without taking a single life. Including the lives of the men he is supposed to kill as an assassin. He just finds other, crueler ways around it.
    • In the sequel, assuming you chose to play as her, his daughter picks up a similar skillset, including the same knack for coming up with flagrantly sadistic but technically nonlethal ways of taking people out of the equation.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In Daggerfall, Ebonarm is the god of war worshiped in the Iliac Bay region. He is a Black Knight, with his ebony sword fused to his right arm and he is never seen without his ebony armor. However, he refuses to fight in any war started for petty reasons. When he appears on the battlefield, it is usually to prevent bloodshed and reconcile the opposing sides.
    • Morrowind's Imperial Cult faction is typically non-violent, so their only combative skills are the hand-to-hand and blunt weapon skills. This draws from the real life Catholic clergy during the Middle Ages, who could fight in battles but were not allowed to use bladed weapons as they were forbidden to draw blood.
    • As seen in Skyrim, the Greybeards, masters of the Thu'um, practice a strict policy of non-intervention in worldly affairs, and of studying the Voice only as a way to honor the gods. This policy was established by their founder, Jurgen Windcaller, who himself was a Badass Pacifist. He served as a Tongue (master of the Thu'um) in the ancient Nord armies, but was present for their crushing defeat at Red Mountain. He fell into Heroic BSoD despair and meditated until he concluded that the defeat was punishment from the gods for misusing the Thu'um. He would inspire the "Way of the Voice", preaching pacifism and the use of the Thu'um only to honor the gods. That said, in-game, the Greybeards have no issue defending themselves using the Thu'um if the need arises.
  • The Roving Clans of Endless Legend have as one of their primary faction traits an inability to declare war on other factions, considering war a poor substitute for trade. However, this attitude does absolutely nothing to stop them from hiring neutral mercenaries to carry out a False Flag Operation (which another faction trait of theirs allows them to unlock earlier in the game than other players), hiring spies to assassinate enemy heroes and sabotage their cities, or gearing up and marching forth when another faction declares war on them.
  • The protagonist of Exit Fate, Daniel Vinyard, is a pacifist who wants only to bring world peace. He is also a military officer (of several different sides throughout the game) because he isn't so naive as to think others will stop fighting unless they're forced to. Nonetheless he always tries to choose methods that save the most lives, even at great personal risk, and feels guilt when people are hurt (usually when an ally betrays him).
  • Fallout 3 has a interesting way of doing this. Do you have a follower NPC and want someone dead, but you don't want to be evil? Punch them in the face to start combat with them, then watch as Charon shotguns them in the face, causing him to lose the Karma! Do not attempt this in a crowded plaza.
    • Some of the games in the series require this perspective for a Pacifist Run to be possible. The final boss of Fallout 2 must be killed — but it is possible to reprogram the turrets in the room to attack him instead, convince an escaping Enclave combat unit to help out (the final boss is blocking the way to the exit) and have your companions help out, at which point you yourself fighting might not be necessary. A pacifist run in the original Fallout still requires you to trigger the Self-Destruct Mechanism of the Mariposa Military Base, killing dozen, if not hundred of mutants in it. Fallout: New Vegas require either neutralizing Mr. House or destroying the Brotherhood bunker — but the neutralization can be done in a way that doesn't actually kill House there and then, and the bunker's self-destruct has a long enough countdown that it is possible the inhabitants all got out before it went up.
  • In Final Fantasy Type-0, Class Zero cadet Eight has an aversion to using weapons that can kill others. To that end, he opts to forego weapons in favor of using his bare hands.
  • The Police Helicopter Pilot in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas could be considered one of these:
    Gunner: Why do I always have to do the fucking killing?
    Pilot: Because I am a pacifist. SHOOT 'EM!
  • Guilty Gear:
    • Guilty Gear X: Dizzy is a pacifist who hates violence of any form. The only problem is that the spirits living in her wings are very protective of her and have no such moral concepts. Her attacks have names like "This Was Used to Pick Fruit From Trees" and similar nonviolent uses. Most of her quotes in battle are desperate pleas for said spirits to either stop or at least hold back. It's even worse when she takes a nasty shock (such as a 10,000-foot fall), as one of the spirits possesses her... She's also notable as being the only character to lack an Instant Kill attack, as it wasn't until XX Accent Core that she got one, naturally revolving around her more violent right wing Necro. Xrd completely revamped it so that Dizzy stops Necro from obliterating her opponent with a powerful energy blast, and said opponent surrendering after seeing the nuclear fireball that nearly took them out (the victory text even saying "Surrendered" instead of the usual "Destroyed".)
    • Guilty Gear XX: Zappa is a softy who has no desire to fight anybody. It's just his luck that he's possessed by a host of excessively belligerent spirits with a penchant for insulting the wrong people.
  • The Hitman games have a scoring system that encourages players to complete missions by only killing the target, without leaving any collateral damage. Each game presents certain non-lethal takedown options, such as chloroform or tranquilizer syringes, to assist in this regard when dealing with patrolling guards or unlucky civilians. Again, this is done for reasons of "professionalism" rather than morality, and in Blood Money 47 is perfectly willing to kill civilians without batting an eyelid if he's specifically ordered to do so.
  • Evan from Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a reporter trying to write a book about the events of the first game. He doesn't like killing, and actually gets more points for knocking out characters without killing them. That doesn't stop him from beating the crap out of Russian mobsters or knocking them out with, say, a baseball bat. However, if he does end up accidentally killing his enemies, he goes into an enraged state in which all his attacks are lethal and can use blades and guns.
  • Freeware game Iji has the storyline change somewhat depending on how many enemies you kill. However, only direct kills count. So, while you can avoid everything for the pacifistic route, you can also make heavy use of technical pacifism and use indirect means to kill your foes without upping the counter; such as intentionally being hit by an enemy explosive so the explosion kills everything in proximity to you (or the enemy who shot it). More methods are crossfires, knocking an enemy into harm's way, speeder bikes or broken turrets on their heads from two stories up (which only counts as a kill if it hits them within the first second or so of you getting off — after that, you're fine) cracking their weapons so they'll explode, then hurting them to almost dead, and letting them fire their defective weapon, attempting to murder assassins the old-fashioned way (since they always teleport off when close to death and thus don't count as kills). Interestingly, despite being the hero, Iji actually gets the villainous version of this trope. You can arrange the slaughter of hundreds of people while still finishing with a kill count of zero, and no one calls her on it. It's made even easier in version 1.6 as reflected enemy shots do not count as kills (lampshaded by the aliens, who consider it "semantic"), meaning you can go on a killing spree of deadly tennis matches without getting a mark on your kill count. The explanation is that this is self-defense, but abusing the rule for Nano is always tempting…
  • Ittle Dew: The Portal Wand can defeat certain enemies without directly harming them, either by using their own projectiles against them or dropping them onto spikes for a One-Hit Kill.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts games, in contrast to his being the captain of the knights, Goofy hates weapons according to the manual. Instead, he uses his shield to beat people up, with surprising effectiveness for a character who's supposed to be clumsy… Though he did wield a musketeer sword in his youth without any problems, as KH3D confirms. Something must've happened between then and KHBBS that caused Goofy to switch to shields...
  • The Elves in the MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online are the embodiment of this trope throughout the entire epic storyline. The Rangers also get a few of those in, but for better reasons.
    • Lampshaded in this commentary which ends with: "Come on, Hidden Guard. Let's just have a little 'accident' with Mazog and get on with it, eh?"
  • Just like his creator/"father", all that the eponymous Hero of Mega Man X wants is to see a peaceful world where humans and Reploids co-exist with each other. However, he's ready and willing (albeit reluctantly) to fight to protect that potential future, at least until Mega Man X7, where he takes a 10-Minute Retirement from the front lines and tries to guide the Maverick Hunters to more peaceful solutions until he realizes that innocents are being directly threatened by the current crisis and resolves to fight to save them, rather than stopping Red Alert. The two goals are thankfully intertwined.
  • Though he is considered the greatest warrior on earth alive, Solid Snake is deeply committed to preventing violence when ever possible. And for a series that is all about war and soldiers, the Metal Gear games have probably one of the most pacifistic stories you'll ever come upon in a game. The less deaths one directly causes in the series, especially in later games, the more points one is rewarded and the more you'll qualify for special rewards. You can even tranq bosses in later games, with a different cutscene after, though the end results are the same. In fact, the boss encounter with The Sorrow in Metal Gear Solid 3 is 1:1 proportional with how many mooks you slew. (More disturbingly, if you left any to the crows or vultures, their ghosts will actually show the damage.)
    • It should be definitely noted though that this is a trend that only begins from Metal Gear Solid 2 onwards. In Metal Gear Solid Psycho Mantis notes that Snake is an EXTREMELY violent person and he's one to always find himself in a new battle since normal life doesn't suit him very well. However, it's Liquid's accusation that Snake enjoys all the killing, and Snake's inability to deny it, that prompts Snake's more pacifistic nature, where he tries to avoid becoming like his father.
  • Mirror's Edge on the Xbox 360 has two achievements that play this trope straight: 'Pacifist' (complete a single mission without firing a shot) and 'Test of Faith' (complete the game without firing a shot that hits a guard). Now, the thing to note is firing a shot — for the purposes of these achievements, it is perfectly acceptable to smash the enemies in the face with your knee or their own guns, kick them in the face to send them careening off of buildings, and otherwise brutalize long as you don't shoot them. (of course, the ONE shot you actually HAVE to shoot in ONE sequence in Chapter 8 probably does kill someone, but it doesn't count if the bullet does NOT hit anyone directly. ( it hits an engine if you aimed correctly.) Same thing for using the handgun in chapter 4 - if it doesn't hurt anyone, you can still get the achievement)
    • While not a problem for most of the game, because it's always a lot more safer to run away than to get close enough to enemies to allow them to get a good shot at you, this can be incredibly difficult when you have to face mercenaries in full riot gear with machine guns who block the tiny door that is the only exit from the room you are in. And with your bare hands! Fortunately, this game is Le Parkour pure, but you still have to get quite creative get close enough for a kick in the head without being shredded by bullets from 10 meters away.
    • Mirror's Edge: Catalyst also plays this entirely straight, as it actually doesn't let you use guns, but you can still throw enemies off of roofs. This is a case in which it is also true in the story, as Faith and the other runners don't kill. Faith even takes offense when an assassination plan is brought up.
  • Monster Hunter allows you to invoke this trope by capturing a large monster without actually killing it, by using a trap followed by tranquilizer weapons. In quests where the goal is to hunt large monsters, a capture counts as taking down a monster; you only have to kill the target(s) if the quest objective explicitly says slay rather than hunt. Some other quests explicitly require you to capture a large monster, and cause a Non-Standard Game Over if you kill the target monster. Capturing is in fact easier than killing the target, as a capture only requires that a large majority of the monster's health be depleted, rather than all of it. However, you don't get to carve materials from a monster you capture rather than kill.
  • NetHack has an optional conduct "pacifist", generally considered one of the most difficult to win with. A NetHack pacifist must avoid killing a single monster... directly. However, this does not preclude them from leading their army of powerful pets to a monster and letting violence ensue. In fact, it doesn't preclude their whaling on monsters all they like, provided they don't personally land the killing blow; although this is extremely risky to try without a thorough knowledge of how much damage various attacks do, and a way of tracking monster HP.
  • Perfect Dark
    • The PeaceSims from Combat Simulator mode are a fine example of this. Being opposed to violence, they run around picking up the guns and ammo in the levels, and disarming anyone they come across who isn't a teammate. (They have no problems socking you one to take the gun out of your hands, though - but it counts even more towards this since it doesn't do any damage.) This also serves to make them into roving weapons lockers - slay one and he'll usually drop a full complement of all the guns being used during the round.
    • The FistSims are another example of this, since they too shy away from the use of guns - but have no qualms beating the living tar out of you with their fists.
  • Marona from Phantom Brave. She doesn't like fighting and violence, but is willing to help and protect others despite others treating her badly and will summon her phantoms into battle to kick your ass or if you call her flat-chested. Her Darker and Edgier conuterpart, Carona, also fits into this well. As she states that she's "not all that big into violence."
  • The Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Ragnarok Online has heard of restricting clerics to non-edged weapons, too.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl's Big Bad, Cyrus, is out to eliminate war and create a peaceful universe... by destroying the current one and forming a new one without emotion.
  • The author of Scarab of Ra "feels kindly toward his creatures, and has not provided any way for you to kill them"—even the ones who can fatally bite and maul you. However, you can permanently immobilize them in nets and leave them to starve.
  • Murphy from Silent Hill: Downpour is encouraged to not kill his enemies, but to leave them incapacitated and run away. There's even an achievement for it. Do well enough at it and, as it turns out, he wasn't even capable of killing the man who killed his son.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves: The Guru doesn't fight directly, but there's nothing stopping him from doing things like mind-jacking a mook and ramming him into machinery. Murray himself started off as this due to guilt over failing to protect Bentley from Clock-La in the previous game. He snaps out of it and returns to being "The Murray" when Octavio kicks Bentley out of his wheelchair and coldly mocks him.
  • Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell has an assault rifle with a special Abnormal Ammo launcher that fires a wide assortment of less-than-lethal ordinance, including airfoil rounds, taser darts, and mini-cameras that release sleeping gas on command. The scoring system in the later games encourages players to take the non-lethal approach, although Sam as an actual character seems to prefer lethal force in his in-game dialogue, often having to be told to "hold back" by Mission Control.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the bounty hunter Mira would use tranquilizer darts, hand-to-hand combat, and other nonlethal methods to claim bounties, though the she admitted that she has killed before, when her life was on the line. The Exile can ask her why she kills when she is in the Exile's party; she can't figure out why, which terrifies her.
  • Regal, a playable character in Tales of Symphonia, once killed with his bare hands and as a result refuses to ever use his hands as weapons ever again. He wears shackles for the entire game as a symbol of his crime; nevertheless, he studies extensively in a fighting style made up exclusively of kicks instead. Several characters call him on this logical inconsistency, but he remains firm to his vow. It should be noted that Regal rarely if ever fights with the intent to kill.
    • Well, his objection is really specifically because of who he killed (his lover, Presea's sister...under completely justifiable circumstances, no less). It might be for the best, though: there's strong indication that if he ever did fight with his hands, he'd be an absolute monster (strength/skill-wise).
    • One of the skits hints that he has no problem killing his enemies (beyond Vharley, anyway,) as long as he prays for their souls afterwards.
  • Jun Kazama in Tekken. One of her dislikes is violence, but she is so good at it the skills she taught her son were enough for him to Take Over the World.
  • Thief has a similar ranking system, with human kills being completely forbidden on the highest difficulty setting, not so much for morality reasons (Anti-Hero Garrett is a walking Deadpan Snarker Misanthrope) but rather because "leaving a mess behind" is "unprofessional". To assist in this regard, Garrett gets a variety of non-lethal takedown options, including sleeping gas arrows, flash bombs, and a good ol' blackjack to the back to the head. It's also perfectly fine for someone to end up dead by environmental damage or at the hands of others.
  • Touhou: Hijiri Byakuren is an advocate of peaceful coexistence between humans and youkai. This being Gensokyo, however, there's only one way that "peaceful coexistence" can be achieved.
  • Undertale's Pacifist Route can very much be played this way. As long as no monsters are killed, the player can still do things like attack them but then spare them, run away instead of help save Monster Kid, and be pretty rude to certain monsters (such as Papyrus and Snowdrake).
    • A low-kill Neutral Route could also very much be considered this, especially if the player befriends Papyrus, Alphys, and/or Undyne, and does various other nice things like help the snowman and Monster Kid. The player character would then be someone who's generally nice to the monsters, and only very rarely resorts to violence; and in high-kill runs, Sans says that he "understands acting in self-defense," implying that a low-kill run gets interpreted in-universe as them simply being unable to figure out how to proceed non-lethally in some cases.
  • Vertical Drop Heroes HD (very different from the flash version): You can do a mostly-pacifist run (but good luck getting the final boss to kill himself), and there's an achievement for completing 3 areas without directly killing anyone in a single run, and can acquire experience orbs until you kill an enemy. However, pacifist mode doesn't count indirect kills, and so you can use wit and finesse to lay down a canyon landscape of death and destruction without directly killing anything; use magic to position enemies toward spikes, have the other heroes kill for you, etc.. There's even an achievement for it (It Wasn't Me!).
  • Lunk, an ogre introduced in World of Warcraft Cataclysm, who shows up in the Searing Gorge to chastise the player for their kill-and-loot approach to questing. He appears alongside other quests in the area, offering non-lethal (and/or ridiculous) KOs to accomplish the same goals.
  • Xenogears has a couple of them. Fei is forced to fight because his life and the lives of those he cares for would otherwise be in jeopardy. Citan renounced his warrior ways, but his pragmatism and duty wins out in the end. And Miang, one of the three core villains of the game fights the party only once out of necessity because she's the last line of defence for her boss/partner, Krelian.
  • This will be an option for the player in Yandere Simulator. Between going full Yandere and outright murdering your rivals, or going Actual Pacifist and setting them up with someone else to get their eyes off your Senpai, there's a middle ground where you don't kill anyone, but are perfectly willing to blackmail, bully, and otherwise ruin their lives to get them out of the picture.
  • Zone of the Enders with the main protagonist, while there will be moments where people die the main characters strive to avoid as much death as possible. For Leo it is because he is inexperienced and scared of killing, at least until ZOE 2. For Dingo, most of his enemies are unmanned robots with the only manned units being the boss frames and for Cage, La Résistance avoids casualties in order to avoid an already oppressive government have more propaganda to use against them.


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