All About Alignment

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Biodisaster:
I always thought Chaotic Neutral was a cop-out for most people. I've seen very few people pull it off.

Because then you get that tool who does whatever he likes to screw up the campaign and justifies it with "BUT I'M A CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!!!!" Unfun.

I view Chaotic Neutral as being the Self-Centered Douche.

Lawful Evil as being a Asshole King.

Chaotic Good as I'm-Doin'-Whatever-Good-Acts-I-Fuckin'-Want! type, even if the acts break the law.

I chose those, 'cause honestly those are the ones I'd be choosing between the best.

Oh! And a True Neutral where the Character in question wants a balance between Good & Evil and helps the side that is at a disadvantage.

PaulH:
Surely you're not suggesting there no place for a PC like that are you? ;D

I'm mostly saying that Evil tends to be solitary. That concept of a druid only works with other characters that follow that same creed, and would be wholly disruptive to a group that does not. As a DM it would certainly make me roll my eyes if my players were designing villains rather then heroes, because it makes my job a LOT harder.

I find it amusing that the author pegged Nietzsche as Chaotic Evil when the whole point of nihilism is that it is a meta ethical position that holds that there are no objective ethics. Using an objective ethical system to classify someone who doesn't believe it exists is ironic.

For the record, a basic set of four meta-ethical positions are, if I remember:

    Realism: there are objective ethical rules (this is probably most people in most D&D worlds)
    Relativism: every (either culture or person) has their own set of rules, which are objective to them
    Nihilism: there are no real rules of right or wrong
    Skepticism: who knows if there is right or wrong

The D&D matrix doesn't deal very cleanly with the last three (are they all neutrals of some sort or is it dependent on their behavior? A Skeptic might be a generous and caring person but vehemently refuse to believe in any defined moral code), but, then, neither do most real ethical systems.

I'm also not sure that utilitarians are chaotic. I like the idea but rigidly following Benthamite utilitarian calculus when it violates common sense (the old philosophy class example about the utilitarian vehemently defending firebombing Dresden in WW2 for no reason except it made more Allies happy than Germans unhappy comes to mind) doesn't strike me as chaotic. I think following any defined ethical code rigidly is lawful, even if it is consequentialist rather than deontological.

EDIT: Also, this totally brings to mind the hilarious "Dungeons and Discourses" strips from the Dresden Codak webcomic.

permacrete:

Ernil Menegil:
In the end, Alignment is a complex system which most people, I've found, will defecate on. I personally love it, but when I look at the paladin tropes instituted ("Shoot first, ascertain innocence later"), I notice that a truly well-roleplayed paladin is rarer than dodos.

To properly role-play a Paladin requires cooperation and trust between the player and the DM. The essence of the traditional Paladin is sacrifice. With the exception of the tools of the Paladin's trade (sword, shield, armor, warhorse) he or she should be willing to give up everything else in the service of the deity. The player needs to be able to count on the DM providing opportunities to provide for a character's needs in a way that keeps the game fun.

This is true, but a Paladin isn't going to be suicidal and he does his deity no favours by blindly sacrificing himself on the claws of a Red Dragon he has no business trying to fight because he's level 3 and it's got a claw three times the size of his entire body. Sacrifice, yes, but needless sacrifice is pointless and a Paladin should know the difference.

Amnestic:
This is true, but a Paladin isn't going to be suicidal and he does his deity no favours by blindly sacrificing himself on the claws of a Red Dragon he has no business trying to fight because he's level 3 and it's got a claw three times the size of his entire body. Sacrifice, yes, but needless sacrifice is pointless and a Paladin should know the difference.

Certainly. Just as the Paladin won't casually sacrifice his tools of the trade, he should remember that he is himself the tool of his deity. A Paladin would only make "the ultimate sacrifice" in the context of something epic. My point though was that if a Paladin sacrifices his supplies so that refugees don't starve to death, the DM needs to send a divine rabbit for dinner.

If the Paladin wastes his resources instead of sacrificing, then the DM should feel free to poop all over him.

Amnestic:

permacrete:

Ernil Menegil:
In the end, Alignment is a complex system which most people, I've found, will defecate on. I personally love it, but when I look at the paladin tropes instituted ("Shoot first, ascertain innocence later"), I notice that a truly well-roleplayed paladin is rarer than dodos.

To properly role-play a Paladin requires cooperation and trust between the player and the DM. The essence of the traditional Paladin is sacrifice. With the exception of the tools of the Paladin's trade (sword, shield, armor, warhorse) he or she should be willing to give up everything else in the service of the deity. The player needs to be able to count on the DM providing opportunities to provide for a character's needs in a way that keeps the game fun.

This is true, but a Paladin isn't going to be suicidal and he does his deity no favours by blindly sacrificing himself on the claws of a Red Dragon he has no business trying to fight because he's level 3 and it's got a claw three times the size of his entire body. Sacrifice, yes, but needless sacrifice is pointless and a Paladin should know the difference.

That sounds like the dilemma laid out in the pre-story to the Icewind Dale game:

Everard the local cleric of Tempus is a grizzled sort, whose temple is built over the 'Stone of Jerrod'. Jerrod being a shaman of the Uthgart, who in an heroic sacrifice, dies attempting to close a big ole' demon portal. Anyway, point of contention on Everad's part is that Jerrod's sacrifice was utterly worthless. Jerrod, having seen what he took to be an omen from his god, Tempus took that as a sign that he should plunge into the portal. (Thus sealing it.)

Everard's thinking though, was that the omen was a sign that the battle was turning in the barbarian's favour and -not- that Jerrod should sacrifice himself. That in doing so, Jerrod dishonoured himself by not continuing the fight, either falling in batter or emerging victorious. Course, Everard's views in the matter come into play in the endgame, however it's an interesting dilemma.

If your alignment dictates you follow a certain course, does that make it illogical to follow another when such presents itself? Even if such would normally be against that alignment. If I'm a primarily Lawful Evil overlord, does it not make sense if I were captured by the forces of good to somehow placate them and not, you know, antagonise them? (Though, thinking on it, why would a Lawful Evil personage be in such a position, since ideally they'd conduct themselves in such a way as not to invite such retaliation or at least, as long as it were deemed necessary to do so.)

Bah, I'm waffling. Good article though.

GothmogII:

If your alignment dictates you follow a certain course, does that make it illogical to follow another when such presents itself? Even if such would normally be against that alignment.

Consistently? Yes. At that point your DM might ask you to adjust your alignment to better reflect your playstyle. That's not a huge problem, since people are not static and their views change over time, or a dramatic/traumatic event can drastically change your views.

If you just made one decision not keeping in line with your alignment, I don't think that would be seen as "illogical" so much as "human". We all have times when we might consider breaking our moral codes for one cause or another, doing something we would normally consider absolutely reprehensible for the sake of a cause or someone we care about. A one off event probably wouldn't be that big a deal. Hell, in certain situations it might be encouraged. Emotional stress can play hell on a person's judgements.

I actually did a presentation for my Abnormal Psych class recently, in which I noted that there is some evidence that there is an intuition/emotional moral permissibility check before a more rational "pro vs. con" analysis takes place. In a stressful situation, it is entirely expected that a person's moral judgements could be compromised and differ from their alignment.

Archon:

In case you were wondering, Kant was lawful good and Nietzsche was chaotic evil.

Sorry, while I enjoy the article, I can't agree with some of your conclusions.

"I am altering the deal...". That's Darth Vader you're talking about. Mr. Lawful Evil. Not Chaotic in the slightest. Neutral Evil at worst.

Immanuel Kant? The Critique of Pure Reason marked him as lawful neutral. He'd be quite insulted by the term good, as it posits that he was working towards goal other than reason.

And Nietzsche? Chaotic maybe, Evil? No more so than Machiavelli, and he wrote The Prince as a work of satire. Perhaps Nietzsche's anti-semitic sister for taking his works, but again he would be insulted by anything other than Neutral.

I think it's a Batman problem again. Alignments are so very difficult to judge.

image

Further to this: There's quite a big gap between Trans-Atlantic play. American D&D enthusiasts tend to be sticklers for boxed text, while Brits run fast and dirty. But the Hand of Vecna can know exactly how CE you are, even if you try and posit a pacifistic ideology.

Amnestic:

GothmogII:

If your alignment dictates you follow a certain course, does that make it illogical to follow another when such presents itself? Even if such would normally be against that alignment.

Consistently? Yes. At that point your DM might ask you to adjust your alignment to better reflect your playstyle. That's not a huge problem, since people are not static and their views change over time, or a dramatic/traumatic event can drastically change your views.

Before 3rd edition, changing your alignment was a traumatic experience, almost as devastating as being brought back to life.

GothmogII:
If I'm a primarily Lawful Evil overlord, does it not make sense if I were captured by the forces of good to somehow placate them and not, you know, antagonise them? (Though, thinking on it, why would a Lawful Evil personage be in such a position, since ideally they'd conduct themselves in such a way as not to invite such retaliation or at least, as long as it were deemed necessary to do so.)

Waffling in your morals for your own well being is evil anyway, so it doesn't matter, waffle, trick those stupid do'gooders, and then when you have the upperhand, crush them like they should have crushed you, those stupid pillocks.

The_root_of_all_evil:
"I am altering the deal...". That's Darth Vader you're talking about. Mr. Lawful Evil. Not Chaotic in the slightest. Neutral Evil at worst.

"Altering the deal" is a chaotic act. Destroying the Jedi council because they wouldn't acknowledge your awesomeness? Chaotic act. Sacrificing your morals for selfish reasons (the loss of your wife/mother), chaotic act. Dwarth Vader is about the most Chaotic star wars character in the D&D sense. Just because he made a deal in the first place doesn't mean anything because he reneged on it.

I think it's a Batman problem again. Alignments are so very difficult to judge.

image

Batman has been written by way too many people and given way too artistic license to make any sense of it. Everyone who writes batman paints him with their own take on the character, and yeah, that character has run the gamut from lawful good to chaotic evil (although I would imagine he'd settle in the Chaotic Good range, as while he respects the police officers, he truly feels that the laws do not apply to him because of his higher goals, which is tres chaotic)

Nice article, but it oversimplifies moral philosophy and it's somewhat redundant to more deterministically inclined dungeon masters. Meaning, I as a dungeon master, decide what action is good and evil, lawful and chaotic and there will be no argument about it. By assigning and subtracting good and evil points as seen in NWN2. That is, if I even allow the alignment system to be employed. You cannot put thousands of years of moral philosophy into a system of nine categories devised for a game.

Interesting read, even if I'm not going to really take this to heart. I prefer to use a much more fluid, relativistic alignment system when I DM, but then I tend to run games for players far more interested in roleplaying, and as a result, in-character alignment arguments. Whenever there's a new member to one of my groups, it's always great to see their reaction when smite evil works on the paladin.

Implementing a system like this might actually be hazardous for my health. I'm smart enough to know I should never get in the way of a roleplayer and their character concept.

Ah, there is no discussion quite so nerdy as attempting to determine where on the alignment scale various fictional/real life characters might fall - I think the last one of these I found myself involved in was a discussion of just what alignment one should classify Ozymandias as, though at the point I jumped in the discussion had verged off onto a tangent about Rorschach. My contribution to that exceptionally nerdy discussion was to point out that his personal philosophy is a very close echo of one possessed by a particular faction from the Planescape setting: The Mercykillers (aka The Red Death), fanatics who strive to create a universe of perfect and absolute justice.

That might almost sound desirable until you consider that perfect justice for all logically precludes any notion of forgiveness, redemption, or the possibility of mercy - hence "Mercykillers", those who seek to kill mercy itself. No crime can be overlooked, all the guilty must be brought to 'justice', no matter the cost or consequence their single-minded pursuit of that justice might entail for others in the process; the only transgressions the Mercykillers will overlook are those they themselves commit in the course of carrying out their duties. Sounds a bit like someone who would say "No compromise, even in the face of Armageddon", no?

For obvious reasons, there is no such thing as a "good" Mercykiller, as characters of good alignments invariably find their crusade horrifying, and rightly so - a universe where everyone gets exactly what they deserve sounds fine until you realize that we're all guilty of something.

Rubashov:
Pretty good article, but I have a problem with its attempt to lump virtue ethics and rule-utilitarianism together. They might both be "neutral" insofar as neither is strictly deontological or strictly consequentialist in the conventional sense, but they are also very different from each other--and the description in the article fits Aristotelian virtue ethics much more closely than it fits rule-utilitarianism. Rule-utilitarianism holds that there are principles that individuals are morally obligated to follow, and the reason individuals must follow those those principles is because having everyone be obligated to follow some general rule will (according to the rule-utilitarian) leads to better overall results than having everyone try to figure out for themselves which course of action would best maximize utility. It has nothing to do with the character traits motivating the actions.

Thanks for the exceptionally astute response. You are of course correct in your critique. When I was writing this column, this was the paragraph where I said "I'm over simplifying and someone is going to call me out on it."

I'm glad you agree that they are both "neutral" - but apart from the fact that rules-utilitarian occupies a midway point between strict deontological and consequentialist thinking, it doesn't have anything else to do with the neutral category I established, no.

I.E.D.:
Nice article, but it oversimplifies moral philosophy and it's somewhat redundant to more deterministically inclined dungeon masters. Meaning, I as a dungeon master, decide what action is good and evil, lawful and chaotic and there will be no argument about it. By assigning and subtracting good and evil points as seen in NWN2. That is, if I even allow the alignment system to be employed. You cannot put thousands of years of moral philosophy into a system of nine categories devised for a game.

Sure you can. In fact, I just did! :)

You're doing the same, too, you're just doing it intuitively rather than explicitly.

DojiStar:
I find it amusing that the author pegged Nietzsche as Chaotic Evil when the whole point of nihilism is that it is a meta ethical position that holds that there are no objective ethics. Using an objective ethical system to classify someone who doesn't believe it exists is ironic.

Arguing about Nietzsche is largely pointless as his writing style lends itself to endless debate, but for what it's worth, I believe you to be quite mistaken. Nietzsche's arguments in some books may have led to the position we today call nihilism but he was not in himself a nihilist. He held to substantive ethical positions that have been described as "maximax" ethics.

For the record, a basic set of four meta-ethical positions are, if I remember:

    Realism: there are objective ethical rules (this is probably most people in most D&D worlds)
    Relativism: every (either culture or person) has their own set of rules, which are objective to them
    Nihilism: there are no real rules of right or wrong
    Skepticism: who knows if there is right or wrong

The D&D matrix doesn't deal very cleanly with the last three (are they all neutrals of some sort or is it dependent on their behavior? A Skeptic might be a generous and caring person but vehemently refuse to believe in any defined moral code), but, then, neither do most real ethical systems.

The D&D matrix handles meta-ethics quite well: Realism is right, and the other three are objectively wrong. In D&D, rules as written, you are objectively Lawful, Chaotic, Good, or Evil. You may *think* you're good, but whether you are Good or not can be detected and verified through divination and other magic.

I have always measured Good/Evil in the measure of how concerned they would be about the well-being of others. If the players can justify something like torture (As a paladin), and provide a good enough reason as to how it could fit within thier morals, then I would allow it. A more obvious one, being able to a lie to save the life of another.

All in all, life is generally shades of grey anyways, so there is a great deal of flexibility in interpretation.

A random ide that I have, but I am not sure how good it is, is this- Good is often 'Fractured' far more than evil is.. Although two different factions of Whatever/Good may disagree, they will, most of the time, be able to solve disputes peacefully. The Neutral/Good may comprise of two factions, one that seeks to protect everything, and specialises in healing and defensive magic, but ultimately, being unable to exert any real force to end evil. Another faction would exterminate anything that is evil at its core. If its a societal thing, like perhaps goblins, it would offer them a chance to 'reform', and purge those that refuse........ while a splinter faction of this may, instead of 'purging' them, instead send them to a prison dimension where they cannot 'harm innocents'...

Ah yes the 9 alignments. Hard to define and even harder to enforce. But lets not debate it but do as we are told as nice lawful people.

Feudal Japan: A textbook example of Lawful Evil. A strict caste system layered people with the top having the greatest "value", privileges and responsibilities. These would get progressively lesser as you moved down the ranks. At the bottom you would find the caste-less who were not considered people at all. The caste-less would be used to test new katana-swords (a practice later abandoned). As a katana is suppose to be able to cut a man in half across his chest these test were invariably lethal. In the end it all revolved around the emperor to whom all owed allegiance.

Carl Rowe: Ok to be strictly honest he is a bit of a hard one to place. I would ultimately say he was chaotic evil (the last push into evil is because I don't like him. While he is not a homicidal maniac he still use extremely immoral techniques to get his way.

Joseph Gobbles: Neutral Evil. A man who only saw Hitlers wishes as more important then his own. His legacy, his wishes, and his reputation was more important to him then even his own wife and children. In many ways his family was mere tools to him. he loved them certainly but they were suppose to follow his wishes. In many ways he reminds me of my mothers second husband.

Doctors without borders: A clearly neutral good organization. They wish to help those in greatest need and they are not beyond bending the rules to get it done. They will however try their best to stay within the law.

Your average HMO: Lawful evil. An institution that is technically suppose to help people in need but in actuality is in it for profit maximization. Putting up ridiculous rules and demands to stop people from getting the best care they can and only caving when there is a threat of bad publicity.

Boston Legal: Alan Shore is you quintessential Chaotic Good. To him unfairness is the greatest crime. While he is lecherous and self-indulgent he is never shy to fudge, bend or even break the law if he deems it is called for. Shirley Schmidt is Lawful good (just manages to get into good). She is follows the rules to the letter and even though she has a demeanour of a hard business women she has great affection for the lawyers working for her and the people of the world in general. Paul Lewiston is Lawful neutral all the way. By the book and by the numbers. To him the law is the law and morality is an unnecessary indulgence. Whie he knows there are other ways to get things done he also knows that he can't use these methods.

Belgarath: A sorcerer from the Belgariad by David Eddings. He is Chaotic Good in the greatest way. While he has a reputation for being ruthless and conniving his entire existence is to help others. While his help may not be understood by others it is always of greatest importance to all the people of all the world.

Well that is it from me. =)

The_root_of_all_evil:

Sorry, while I enjoy the article, I can't agree with some of your conclusions.

What? Disagreement with regard to D&D Alignments? Unthinkable.

That's Darth Vader you're talking about. Mr. Lawful Evil. Not Chaotic in the slightest. Neutral Evil at worst.

I have NO idea where the concept of Darth Vader as Lawful Evil comes from. Darth broke the rules of the Jedi order, betrayed his Republic, then betrayed his Emperor in an attempt to overthrow him, consistently violated the military chain of command and military justice system whenever he got in a bad mood, altered the terms of bargains at a whim, and then betrayed his Emperor again because his kid got hurt. That's as Chaotic as can be. What's the evidence for his alleged Lawfulness?

Immanuel Kant? The Critique of Pure Reason marked him as lawful neutral. He'd be quite insulted by the term good, as it posits that he was working towards goal other than reason.

Kant wrote extensively about the Good Will, which means the Will in compliance with the Moral Law. Kant believed that the Moral Law defined good. He'd not have been insulted at all. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/ has a nice summary.

And Nietzsche? Chaotic maybe, Evil? No more so than Machiavelli, and he wrote The Prince as a work of satire. Perhaps Nietzsche's anti-semitic sister for taking his works, but again he would be insulted by anything other than Neutral.

The notion that The Prince was a work of satire is a decidedly minority view, a fact which is not even contested by adherents of the theory. See http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/introser/machiavelli.htm
It's a bit silly to state it here as bald fact.

I don't think Nietzsche would be insulted at all by being called Evil. This was a man who referred to himself as the Antichrist. He would say that if "good" means what it means in D&D, then Evil is far preferable for the great man.

I'd always explained the alignments as:
Chaotic Good: Robin Hood
Neutral Good: Average nice townsfolk
Lawful Good: Paladins and so forth
Chaotic Evil: Well, Chaos.
Neutral: Evil: Your standard thief or unscrupulous mercenary, in it for the money.
Lawful Evil: Evil dictators/barons and so forth.

And I never bothered examining the neutrals, since I've never had anyone play as them.

The Paladin's view of Lawful Good is the same as an Angel's *Lawful Good Outsider) right? Is that why (or what) players have a problem with them? Angels ARE Lawful Good - they're the very epitome of lawfulness and goodness, and Paladins hold the same outlook on Alignment. There really isn't any grey area. But that drives the conflict, because Paladin is mortal, and hence corruptible. Hence you can get interesting character development as the "easy evil" route has to be fought back. Saying that, I'm not sure if it's entirely a player problem with Paladins - DMs themselves don't give them the credit and the incentive structure that they need to feel like viable choices.

Alignment is really the toughest thing for a roleplayer to wrap their minds around (I'd go out on a limb and say any roleplayer, in any system that utilizes alignment, the alignment is the trickiest part of the game it's in). These debates will really be endless, because I doubt 2 players will ever agree 100% to eachother, because this is all about psychology and the nature of morality, and that's some pretty tricky stuff to deal with.

SL33TBL1ND:
I'd always explained the alignments as:
Chaotic Good: Robin Hood
Neutral Good: Average nice townsfolk
Lawful Good: Paladins and so forth
Chaotic Evil: Well, Chaos.
Neutral: Evil: Your standard thief or unscrupulous mercenary, in it for the money.
Lawful Evil: Evil dictators/barons and so forth.

And I never bothered examining the neutrals, since I've never had anyone play as them.

that's actually not a bad guide, and if you're going to simplify the alignments down to single tropes, I actually have no problem with those (except chaotic evil - Chaotic Evil is cruel for cruelty's sake. It's Evil when there's no real reason to be evil. If you do an evil thing just because you want to, and that's all there is to it, that's evil. I don't have a nice little word to describe it, I think the 3e book called it "The Destroyer")

Lawful Neutral and True Neutral are the only ones you missed out, and they're actually pretty simple to personify - Lawful Neutral is the police. It's the justice system. A lawful neutral character follows the law not because he's scared of what will happen to him if he doesn't (a weaker lawful evil for instance), but rather because he believes that the law is the only way for society to thrive.

True Neutral can be one of two types of people. It's either the old hermit who doesn't want anyone bothering him and doesn't bother anyone himself (not necessarily hermitting himself, but that self-sufficient "leave me to mine" attitude), or the Negotiator, the Mediator.. a person who sees the middle ground between benevolence and malevolence and wants to live there, and wants to bring people together.

So True Neutral is either isolationist, or a unifier

Oh, you missed Chaotic Neutral as well.. Chaotic Neutral is all about freedom. Beorn from The Hobbit is a solid Chaotic Neutral character that isn't "Chaotic Stupid". Through the scope of the story, he might seem benevolent (and hence Chaotic Good), but he's really not. He just wants to be left to his own devices. He's not going to go too far out of his way to protect the forces of good, and they had to basically entertain him for him not to just throw them away. He kills goblins, but that's not because they're evil, He kills them because they bother him.

It's all about personal freedom, and not suffering from the scruples of others.

Ohhh, new show idea: "I Hit It With My Nihilism: D&D with Porn Stars and Nietzsche." I think we can bring everything I love together into one awesome stew of D&D inspired glee.

Archon:
Ohhh, new show idea: "I Hit It With My Nihilism: D&D with Porn Stars and Nietzsche." I think we can bring everything I love together into one awesome stew of D&D inspired glee.

haha... you're the man that could make it happen, but you may want to run it by Russ Pitts first, lol

Altorin:

Archon:
Ohhh, new show idea: "I Hit It With My Nihilism: D&D with Porn Stars and Nietzsche." I think we can bring everything I love together into one awesome stew of D&D inspired glee.

haha... you're the man that could make it happen, but you may want to run it by Russ Pitts first, lol

It'll never happen. Everybody knows that Nietzsche played Runequest anyway.

Archon:

Altorin:

Archon:
Ohhh, new show idea: "I Hit It With My Nihilism: D&D with Porn Stars and Nietzsche." I think we can bring everything I love together into one awesome stew of D&D inspired glee.

haha... you're the man that could make it happen, but you may want to run it by Russ Pitts first, lol

It'll never happen. Everybody knows that Nietzsche played Runequest anyway.

hahaha... it's great to see that the CEO of a Media company has enough time to sit down and derail his own threads, lol

Well, it IS 1am. What else am I supposed to do at 1 am? D&D only runs on Mondays and Thursdays.

Well, the savvy businessman gets some sleep.

Archon:
Well, it IS 1am. What else am I supposed to do at 1 am? D&D only runs on Mondays and Thursdays.

So, quick 1:30 session then? I'm sure there's loot the other players won't miss!

Also, considering my 3.5 character is Chaotic Neutral that I've generally been playing as only caring about party members/friends while approaching everything else with a loot justifies the means attitude... I think I'm actually almost right on for his alignment in the article's terms. :D

permacrete:

Ernil Menegil:
In the end, Alignment is a complex system which most people, I've found, will defecate on. I personally love it, but when I look at the paladin tropes instituted ("Shoot first, ascertain innocence later"), I notice that a truly well-roleplayed paladin is rarer than dodos.

To properly role-play a Paladin requires cooperation and trust between the player and the DM. The essence of the traditional Paladin is sacrifice. With the exception of the tools of the Paladin's trade (sword, shield, armor, warhorse) he or she should be willing to give up everything else in the service of the deity. The player needs to be able to count on the DM providing opportunities to provide for a character's needs in a way that keeps the game fun.

Wow, you play with nicer DMs than me. All of the guys I end up under are trying to find some way to screw you out of your Paladin status and form lose-lose scenarios out of sheer assholery.

As for the example of the Paladin, I feel it's necessary to point out Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice.

If the enemy is a drow, an avowed enemy of everything, breaking a few fingers wouldn't violate his code. He's only going to kill the drow anyway. Sparing it would be a violation of his code.

Archon:
Check for Traps: All About Alignment

In case you were wondering, Kant was lawful good and Nietzsche was chaotic evil.

Read Full Article

This has always been one of my favorite topics (and one of the biggest reasons I am sad about the 4e neutering of the alignment table).

Without doing a full article like you have done, my basics come down to:

Anything + Neutral means that your motivations are almost all encompassed by that anything. Neutral Good means that doing Good is the biggest force in your life. Lawful Neutral means that maintaining order is the most important. So in a way, we actually get a 4-4-1 split of alignments. In one camp are the Pure alignments:

Neutral Good
Lawful Neutral
Chaotic Neutral
Neutral Evil

Camp 2 has the Combinational alignments

Lawful Good
Chaotic Good
Lawful Evil
Chaotic Evil

And then there is Neutral neutral (true neutral) which generally has its own discussion.

The first camp focuses solely on one aspect, people in these camps may have opinions on the other axis, but they just aren't as strong as their primary one. A Lawful Neutral person could be in general 'good', but they just aren't as moved to action by it, as they are by Law and Order (not the TV show!).

The Second camp are people more divided by two philosophies. They actually have an easier time rationalizing different types of actions due to the multiple forces on the. Even a Lawful Good character needs to sometimes consider doing the Good thing versus doing the Right thing. Of course, these people are most 'at peace' or whatnot, when they can do both. Lawful Evil likes to be greedy and self-centered, especially when he plays the system right.

As an aside, the best way to distinguish Lawful Evil from Chaotic Evil: The former is a lawyer, who stays within the complex system of rules to achieve whatever selfish goal he wants. The latter is a hacker, who seeks endlessly to bypass the rules to get what they want.

TsunamiWombat:
As for the example of the Paladin, I feel it's necessary to point out Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice.

If the enemy is a drow, an avowed enemy of everything, breaking a few fingers wouldn't violate his code. He's only going to kill the drow anyway. Sparing it would be a violation of his code.

It isn't lawful either though! Remember that if we want to strictly go by alignment (which isn't real world, by the way) here I think are the outcomes:

Lawful Good: Tries to reason with the Drow, and tell him he still has a chance to redeem himself before the execution that is to come for him. However, the LG character can't cause pain even if he knows he needs the information, now will he be able to be a vigilante enough.

Neutral Good: Tries to reason with the Drow, as LG above. However when push comes to shove he puts the law aside, and will consider more forceful options to get the information out. Still probably not straight up torture, but everything but.

Chaotic Good: Maybe tries to reason with the Drow, but has no real problem crunching some fingers. The greater good is simply too important to waste time being reasonable.

Lawful Neutral: It is clearly time to strike a bargain. Afterall, the Drow has needs, and you have needs, there must be SOME intersection, right? However, if it is demonstrable that none exist, then a well planned out system of interrogation will have to be done, but know that no pleasure will be gained by it.

True Neutral: Could bargain, could reason, could go straight for the throat. Any possible strategies offer the same pull.

Chaotic Neutral: Might try to interrogate just because it would be fun. Might not be so great at it either. Clearly the Drow has something you need, and you need to get it from them, so why waste time with a process or planning?

Lawful Evil: It is clearly time to strike a bargain. You promised someone you'd get this information from the Drow, but you don't really have any personal stake in the people above. Sadly you just dislike going against your word. You aren't planning on killing the Drow anyway, not when you could get him to be your minion and swear loyalty to you.

Neutral Evil: First, you'd hurt him just to make him know you mean business. Make him realize this isn't some joke. You'd give him one chance after that, one final opportunity to do this the easy way. If he fails, you torture the information out of him, and then kill him. Not because you think he is bad or wrong, but because he dared to defy you.

Chaotic Evil: You were promised shiney somethings for this information, so why beat around the bush? You start hurting him while asking him questions, and hopefully he gives you the answer before he dies. Sadly, him giving the answer isn't really going to help him any, since torture and death are both his reward and punishment.

Note that I assume here that the PC involved is actively trying to get the information, no matter the alignment.

I've always been a fan of Nietzsche and his ideas. To find out that this thing considers him evil is somewhat upsetting for me.

Why is this series only focused on D&D? It's cool that you, obviously, put a lot of effort into analysing the D&D alignment system in the light of philosophy and all, but the subtitle of the article series is "Your introduction to tabletop gaming." and it's very rare that you DON'T focus on D&D. It's not the only tabletop game, you're just worsening an already bad tendency with not giving your readers a chance to broaden their horizons by referring to more RPGs. Please do? As it is, I'm a great RPG fan but there's really not much I can take out from your articles.

I'm not saying you focus ONLY on D&D - there's a fair amount of references to RPGs in general (though I find that most of the time I don't agree with your philosophy of gaming, but that's beside the point), but you really rarely call upon other systems when discussing stuff. I just think that's hurting people's views on the hobby, or at least puts them askew.

Archon:

What? Disagreement with regard to D&D Alignments? Unthinkable.

Yeah, it never happens.

That's Darth Vader you're talking about. Mr. Lawful Evil. Not Chaotic in the slightest. Neutral Evil at worst.

I have NO idea where the concept of Darth Vader as Lawful Evil comes from.[/quote]

Anakin starts off as Chaotic Good. Screw the State, but here's some nice toys for Mum.

Losing Padme alignment flips him - so he jumps to Lawful Evil (Most big changes are complete opposites - Han's slow drift from NE to NG was more of an arc). From here he controls the largest army in the galaxy (The three films are basically LE vs CG) The betrayal of the order could be seen as due to the death of Padme (And the Hand of Vecna? Gosh, that's awfully appropriate for Darth)
While he's in command, he does violate orders, all the time. But look at Animal Farm where "Some animals are more equal than others". That's still a lawful Evil tenant that allows it's leaders to kick the peasantry.
In the end though, Luke's arc (CG-LG) shows Annakin what he could have become and as the Emperor (NE) tries to kill him, Anakin flips back to CG, dumps Palpatine and dies with a Good Alignment.
Darth's a tantrum thrower, but he wields power and for that you sort of need a Lawful edge to keep you defended. Chaotic Overlords have to pay their troops - who then desert as soon as Mr. CG turn up.

Kant wrote extensively about the Good Will, which means the Will in compliance with the Moral Law. Kant believed that the Moral Law defined good. He'd not have been insulted at all. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/ has a nice summary.

I don't think Nietzsche would be insulted at all by being called Evil. This was a man who referred to himself as the Antichrist. He would say that if "good" means what it means in D&D, then Evil is far preferable for the great man.

Hmmm....I think I will have to ponder this further. One thing I would say though is that although Kant wrote LG and Nietzsche may have wrote CE, I don't believe they themselves were of that alignment. Most of Nietzche's work was changed after his death and he was dying of syphillis (I believe) at the time. Like Darth, Vitriol can make a hard man seem cruel.

And then take Corporal Carrot from the Discworld. He's so Lawful Good it shines. (Vimes is Neutral Good, but he's not getting that Lawful badge anytime soon) [Vetenari the Lawful NEUTRAL, playing Lawful Evil wants Vimes where he can be manipulated]

But Carrot shot a man in cold blood, regularly lets thieves go and is attached to a creature that just yells Chaotic Evil.

"We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions." - Ian Percy

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