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Kaww
2010-11-17, 12:07 PM
Every DM/player has one of these. So what's your explanation?

My example:

You are a captain in the army, your general has given you the order to defend the strategic point (a village with 1000 inhabitants) with your squad of 200 warriors vs 400 enemy warriors coming tomorrow.

LG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you defend the post to the last man.

LN - you recruit the villagers to fight on your side to win. You defend the post to the last man.

LE - You use the villagers as a meat-shield, your archers shoot over the said villagers. You defend the post to the last man.

NG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you fight until you see which side will win. If you think you are wining you offer a parley, if you are losing you surrender, to save as many people as possible.

N - When you see an army twice you size you say to hell with it I'm not dieing for that idiot. You bail.

NE - When you see an army twice your size you join them to loot the village.

CG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you and your men follow them to see to their safety.

CN - You rob the villagers and run away.

CE - You kill/rob/rape/burn villagers in any order you see fitting and then you join the enemy so you could go and kill the bastard that left you there as a kamikaze.

Mastikator
2010-11-17, 12:11 PM
This is my explanation as a DM "just ignore that part of the game and write down your character's personality traits and religious beliefs."

megabyter5
2010-11-17, 12:12 PM
DON'T use anecdotes. Alignment is not a straightjacket. Use general terms, such as "good is altruistic and cares about people's safety" and "lawful follows their own principles without compromise".

Kaww
2010-11-17, 12:16 PM
DON'T use anecdotes. Alignment is not a straightjacket. Use general terms, such as "good is altruistic and cares about people's safety" and "lawful follows their own principles without compromise".

How do you explain chaotic?

EDIT: Acting in a random manner is not an acceptable description...

dsmiles
2010-11-17, 12:19 PM
Don't explain it at all. Tell them to play their character. After a few sessions, show them the alignments in the book, and say, "Based on how you're playing, your alignment is somewhere in the neighborhood of <insert alignment here>." Then they can read it for themselves.

Yora
2010-11-17, 12:23 PM
Law = Trust your judgement.
Chaos = Trust your instincts.
Evil = Sacrifice others to succeed.
Good = Make personal sacrifices to help those in need.

If neither Good or Evil, or Law or Chaos strongly dominates, the character is neutral.

I think this is what alignment originally was supposed to be, and it certainly is the way it works best for a lot of people.

Tengu_temp
2010-11-17, 12:26 PM
LG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you defend the post to the last man.

NG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you fight until you see which side will win. If you think you are wining you offer a parley, if you are losing you surrender, to save as many people as possible.

CG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you and your men follow them to see to their safety.

So, CG and NG are pretty much superior to LG?

dsmiles
2010-11-17, 12:30 PM
So, CG and NG are pretty much superior to LG?

Depends on your POV. I'm an option A kind of guy. I generally play lawful characters, often LG. I enjoy NE as well (but even they still tend to have lawful tendancies).

EDIT: Also I can see LG recruiting volunteers from the village. I have no issue, as a LG character, asking for volunteers to defend their own homes, but I would have no malice towards those that chose not to fight.

Kurald Galain
2010-11-17, 12:32 PM
This is my explanation as a DM "just ignore that part of the game and write down your character's personality traits and religious beliefs."

I totally second that.

Whenever anyone brings up alignment on these forums, we end up having a long debate on it and nobody agrees with each other. Whatever makes you think that I want such a debate at my gaming table?

Ernir
2010-11-17, 12:34 PM
Every DM/player has one of these. So what's your explanation?

I never explain it beyond what it says on the tin, we just argue about what it means when it comes up.

Fiery Diamond
2010-11-17, 12:35 PM
Law = Trust your judgement.
Chaos = Trust your instincts.
Evil = Sacrifice others to succeed.
Good = Make personal sacrifices to help those in need.

If neither Good or Evil, or Law or Chaos strongly dominates, the character is neutral.

I think this is what alignment originally was supposed to be, and it certainly is the way it works best for a lot of people.

I like this explanation. Very nice.


So, CG and NG are pretty much superior to LG?


Depends on your POV. I'm an option A kind of guy. I generally play lawful characters, often LG. I enjoy NE as well (but even they still tend to have lawful tendancies).

dsmiles has it right. Most people in modern American culture think of the presented LG option as stupid, but the truth is that throughout history (and even today) in other cultures the presented LG option is considered superior and better to the NG and CG presented options.

ericgrau
2010-11-17, 12:36 PM
Why start them out with bad habits? :smalltongue: It may be best to start them out without an alignment and let them pick one later or suggest one to them as suggested, to avoid bad stereotypes. That's why I don't want to give a specific situation.

Anyway, to steal what are IMO the most important phrases from RAW:
Good: "make sacrifices to protect or help others"
Evil: "hurting, oppressing, and killing others... without qualms if doing so is convenient" (but not stupid; not for no reason or publicly when they could get in trouble)
Law: "obedience to (legitimate) authority, and reliability"
Chaos: "freedom... flexibility"
Neutral: Average human (by RAW). I like Yora's "neither strongly" explanation.

dsmiles
2010-11-17, 12:37 PM
Whatever makes you think that I want such a debate at my gaming table?
That's funny, my tables never seem to break out in alignment debates. I once played the only evil guy in a neutral/partially good party, and ended up the leader (eventually swaying the party over to the dark side), and yet, not one alignment debate.

"Mr Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the center of the alignment debate?" :smallcool:


dsmiles has it right. Most people in modern American culture think of the presented LG option as stupid, but the truth is that throughout history (and even today) in other cultures the presented LG option is considered superior and better to the NG and CG presented options.
My impression of the "better" option may also be due to the fact that I am a soldier by profession, and sometimes "you gotta do what you gotta do."

Kurald Galain
2010-11-17, 12:47 PM
That's funny, my tables never seem to break out in alignment debates.

There is, of course, a big difference between "playing an evil character in a group of somewhat-experienced roleplayers" and "attempting to explain unambiguously what the term 'evil' would mean on a character sheet".

Starbuck_II
2010-11-17, 12:47 PM
Every DM/player has one of these. So what's your explanation?

My example:

You are a captain in the army, your general has given you the order to defend the strategic point (a village with 1000 inhabitants) with your squad of 200 warriors vs 400 enemy warriors coming tomorrow.

Alright, what are the choices?


LG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you defend the post to the last man.
LN - you recruit the villagers to fight on your side to win. You defend the post to the last man.
NG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you fight until you see which side will win. If you think you are wining you offer a parley, if you are losing you surrender, to save as many people as possible.
CG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you and your men follow them to see to their safety.

Ummm, these are all LG.
What is your seperation theory between these?



LE - You use the villagers as a meat-shield, your archers shoot over the said villagers. You defend the post to the last man.
NE - When you see an army twice your size you join them to loot the village.
CN - You rob the villagers and run away.
CE - You kill/rob/rape/burn villagers in any order you see fitting and then you join the enemy so you could go and kill the bastard that left you there as a kamikaze.

These are all LE. What do you use as a seperation theory?
And neutral:
N - When you see an army twice you size you say to hell with it I'm not dieing for that idiot. You bail.


So you listed LE, LG, and True Neutral.

Notreallyhere77
2010-11-17, 12:48 PM
I always have found the nest way to explain it is this:

Good people care about strangers, and will go out of their way to help one, neutral people care about themselves but don't go out of their way to hurt other people, and evil people get off on treating strangers badly if they don't think they'll get in trouble for it. Lawful people are systematic, and hold themselves and others accountable for deeds done, usually following a set of personal rules which may or may not conform to societal laws, Neutral characters have fewer rules, and are more likely to change their plans if something unexpected comes up, and Chaotic people don't make plans; they play by ear and enjoy it.

But being a specific alignment doesn't mean you always have to act a certain way, it just means you are more or less likely to take a course of action over another.
In practice, this can mean:
Evil characters are more likely to hurt someone without apologizing, chaotic characters are more likely to make false promises. Good characters are more likely to give money to charity, lawful characters are more likely to get a reciept. Chaotic characters are less likely to clean up after their messes, good characters are less likely to stiff the waiter. Lawful characters are less likely to cut in line, evil characters are less likely to stop making fun of you when you start crying.

And if this noob feels the allure of playing an evil character, remind them of this:
Evil characters still make and keep genuine friends and experience true love, they just don't respect or care for non-friends and non-loved-ones, and may abandon friendships more easily if personal gain is involved. Evil is not always bloodthirsty, greedy, or rebellious, though it can be. Mostly, evil is about putting yourself first, your close friends second, and everyone else is an enemy or a tool, not a "real" person.

Godskook
2010-11-17, 12:48 PM
+1 to Yora, for getting it right. There's not 9 alignments. There's 2 alignment axes. The shade of lawful does not change from lawful good to lawful evil.

Mark Hall
2010-11-17, 12:52 PM
The Law-Chaos axis is the Means. The Good-Evil axis is the Ends.

A lawful person uses rules, guidelines, and organizations to achieve ends. A chaotic person is extemporaneous, judging things on the moment, rather than on precedent, and on their own moral sense, rather than on the judgment of others. A good example of the shift between Law and Chaos would be the movie Hancock. Throughout the movie, Hancock is Good. In the beginning, however, he was very Chaotic... he acted as he saw fit, without regard to property damage or the law. If you were doing bad, he was going to stop you, and punish you however he thought he should. Towards the end of the movie, he's transitioned to Lawful. Property damage still occurs... he's certainly not easy on the hospital or the bank... but at the bank, he's asking for direction from the authorities. He's not acting just as he sees fit, but at the direction of others to achieve his Good goals.

Fiery Diamond
2010-11-17, 12:53 PM
My impression of the "better" option may also be due to the fact that I am a soldier by profession, and sometimes "you gotta do what you gotta do."

That, too. Thing to remember when dealing with us American civilians, though, dsmiles, is that unlike soldiers, we have a hard time taking orders from people if we think that the orders are wrongheaded. Many (probably most) American civilians would rather disobey authority than "do what you gotta do," if they think that the authority is wrong (especially if the personal stakes are high, such as your life being on the line). I realize that taking this attitude as a soldier would be...er...devastating to any armed forces, but it is the view that civilians in our culture tend to have.

Felhammer
2010-11-17, 12:54 PM
Law = Trust your judgement.
Chaos = Trust your instincts.
Evil = Sacrifice others to succeed.
Good = Make personal sacrifices to help those in need.

If neither Good or Evil, or Law or Chaos strongly dominates, the character is neutral.

I think this is what alignment originally was supposed to be, and it certainly is the way it works best for a lot of people.

+1! :smallbiggrin:

Very succinct yet very deep!

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-17, 01:00 PM
If they read Order of the Stick, use that.

Roy, Durkon = LG
??? = NG
Haley, Lord Shojou = CG
??? = LN
Vaarsuvius (pre-Split The Party) = N
Julio Scoundrel (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0389.html) = CN
Tarquin (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0723.html), Kubota (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0595.html) = LE
Thog, Therkla = NE
Belkar, Xykon = CE

...huh. OK, so I can't think of good examples of LN or NG at the moment; they may come to me later.

Also: have them read the Good vs. Evil (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#goodVsEvil) and Law vs. Chaos (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#lawVsChaos) sections of the SRD. Combined with the OotS references, it should be enough to give them a good idea of Alignment.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-17, 01:01 PM
+1! :smallbiggrin:

Very succinct yet very deep!

But how do you differ Judgement from Instincts?

Kaww
2010-11-17, 01:07 PM
You are a captain in the army, your general has given you the order to defend the strategic point (a village with 1000 inhabitants) with your squad of 200 warriors vs 400 enemy warriors coming tomorrow.




Alright, what are the choices?

Ummm, these are all LG.
What is your separation theory between these?

These are all LE. What do you use as a separation theory?
And neutral:
N - When you see an army twice you size you say to hell with it I'm not dieing for that idiot. You bail.

So you listed LE, LG, and True Neutral.

The Evil both NE and CE knowingly and willingly disobeyed their orders, same goes for NG and CG. NG sticks around to see if breaking the orders may be avoided, CG doesn't.
If you think that this:

You kill/rob/rape/burn villagers in any order you see fitting and then you join the enemy so you could go and kill the bastard that left you there as a kamikaze.

is lawful behavior you are very chaotic OoG...

Kurald Galain
2010-11-17, 01:08 PM
If they read Order of the Stick, use that.
Note that several of the alignments you suggest are disputed (e.g. Haley, Vaarsuvius, Thog and Therkla). It took ages and a very explicit post by The Giant to end the recurrning "Belkar is CN" debate.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-17, 01:12 PM
The Evil both NE and CE knowingly and willingly disobeyed their orders, same goes for NG and CG. NG sticks around to see if breaking the orders may be avoided, CG doesn't.

Just because you are LG does not mean you don't surrender/parley.


If you think that this:

You kill/rob/rape/burn villagers in any order you see fitting and then you join the enemy so you could go and kill the bastard that left you there as a kamikaze.

is lawful behavior you are very chaotic OoG...

Alignment is not straightjacket.
LE (like devils) are schemers. If they are advantaged to join the evil momentarily: they will. So yes, that is LE pure LE since Devils are LE.
They will backstab them later.

I'm debating based on D&D rules.

I am rather LG: and none of what you posted (that is Good) is abhorrent to that alignment.

Recruiting villagers isn't evil.
Realizing you can't win and go on to protect the spirit of the LAW (protecting the village and evaucating with them) isn't evil.

You might lose promotions, but you won't lose your alignment of LG.

Burner28
2010-11-17, 01:15 PM
If they read Order of the Stick, use that.

Roy, Durkon = LG
??? = NG
Haley, Lord Shojou = CG
??? = LN
Vaarsuvius (pre-Split The Party) = N
Julio Scoundrel (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0389.html) = CN
Tarquin (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0723.html), Kubota (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0595.html) = LE
Thog, Therkla = NE
Belkar, Xykon = CE

...huh. OK, so I can't think of good examples of LN or NG at the moment; they may come to me later.

Also: have them read the Good vs. Evil (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#goodVsEvil) and Law vs. Chaos (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/description.htm#lawVsChaos) sections of the SRD. Combined with the OotS references, it should be enough to give them a good idea of Alignment.

Julio is CN?

And I kinda doubt that Thog isn't CE, he seems to act based on his whims and he enjoys resisting arrest

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-17, 01:17 PM
Note that several of the alignments you suggest are disputed (e.g. Haley, Vaarsuvius, Thog and Therkla). It took ages and a very explicit post by The Giant to end the recurrning "Belkar is CN" debate.
I'm aware that they're disputed on the Internet, but that doesn't mean much now does it :smalltongue:

I'd be willing to put hard currency that The Giant would Word of God my selections - if he cared to. At the very least, if you pointed n00bs at these characters they would be able to get a general understanding of the Alignments indicated.

Still not sure about NG and LN. Serini (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0277.html) looks the most like NG in this comic but she's done practically nothing in-comic to flesh out her character. The same is true of Dorukan for LN. Basically, I think that those gaps can be filled in by reading the SRD once you have exemplars of the other seven Alignments pointed out.

N.B. I'm less sure of Thog than Therkla since Thog's Alignment hasn't really come up (aside from being Evil) but he doesn't strike me as being particularly Chaotic.

EDIT: A nice CG v. CN point of view is when Julio invades Azure City. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0392.html) The Good character shows concern for the welfare of others, while the Neutral one says "eh, they'll be fine."

hiryuu
2010-11-17, 01:19 PM
Plays by a set of rules (either your own or set by someone else), plays by a set of rules sometimes, does not play by a set of rules?

Nice guy, sometimes a nice guy/sometimes a jerk, total jerk?

Kaww
2010-11-17, 01:20 PM
If Asmodeus told a devil stay there and defend that spot from the army coming tomorrow and the said devil:

killed/robed/raped/burned villagers in any order he saw fitting and then he joined the enemy so he could go and kill the bastard that left him there as a kamikaze

he would no longer be considered L in my book.

Also voluntary recruitment is ok, drafting isn't, at least for a LG character...

Burner28
2010-11-17, 01:20 PM
I'm aware that they're disputed on the Internet, but that doesn't mean much now does it :smalltongue:

N.B. I'm less sure of Thog than Therkla since Thog's Alignment hasn't really come up (aside from being Evil) but he doesn't strike me as being particularly Chaotic.

Thog acts based on his whims and enjoys resisting arrest. He is also supposed to be the opposite of Roy

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 01:20 PM
N.B. I'm less sure of Thog than Therkla since Thog's Alignment hasn't really come up (aside from being Evil) but he doesn't strike me as being particularly Chaotic.

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0252.html

Thog: "Oh, little ice cream friends! Thog delays boredom-driven rampage only for you!"

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-17, 01:24 PM
Thog acts based on his whims and enjoys resisting arrest. He is also supposed to be the opposite of Roy
Eh, he also seems perfectly OK following the orders of Nale - or anyone else who happens to be around.

Like I said, it wasn't a very strong preference but in any case Belkar's total disregard for authority makes him a better CE exemplar. Comic 125 (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0125.html) is a good example of CE behavior, for example.

EDIT: @Hamishspence - wholly irrelevant. All it shows is that he's unlikely to be Lawful; a point that everyone agrees on. Neutral characters can take actions for whimsical reasons too y'know :smalltongue:

Kurald Galain
2010-11-17, 01:27 PM
I'm aware that they're disputed on the Internet, but that doesn't mean much now does it :smalltongue:
No, but it does mean that it's not a good aid in explaining alignment to anyone: you point at Therkla to explain what NE is, but the only reason why Therkla might be NE is because you say so.

If you want to use OOTS as a tool to explain alignment, a better idea is to point out how Roy, Durkon, Miko (pre-fall), Hinjo, and Soon all act very differently, and yet all are lawful good. Also, these characters have their alignment stated in the comic, as opposed to assumed by fan speculation.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 01:37 PM
EDIT: @Hamishspence - wholly irrelevant. All it shows is that he's unlikely to be Lawful; a point that everyone agrees on. Neutral characters can take actions for whimsical reasons too y'know :smalltongue:

A NE character going on a "boredom-driven rampage" sounds a bit atypical though.

In Don't Split The Party, The Giant suggests Therkla is the "balancing" kind of Neutral:


In many ways, I see Therkla as a sort of spokesperson for Neutrality. Not only the sort of Neutrality that looks out for their own interests, but the sort that sees a need for balance.

Therkla isn't actively involved in keeping that balance, but it is her instinct to seek it. When the feces hits the fan, her solution is for the Evil people to go over here and the Good people to go over there, and everyone just chill.

She can't understand each side's need to defeat the other. In her world, everyone would just respect each other's alignment preferences, and that would be that.

Of course, it's no surprise that it doesn't work out. Her death is a direct result of her unwillingness to subscribe to the with-us-or-against-us mentality of Kubota and, to a lesser extent, Elan.

Mando Knight
2010-11-17, 01:38 PM
Law = Trust your judgement.
Chaos = Trust your instincts.

This isn't necessarily true. A Chaotic person can spend a long time in deliberation to figure out how to proceed, and a Lawful person's instincts might be to follow the rules.

Another (also incomplete) way to explain it would be that a Lawful person seeks some kind of order in the world, whatever that order might be, often wanting structure and patterns behind everything and taking comfort in such; but a Chaotic person doesn't care about or may even be opposed to such order, seeing it as unnecessary to society (or his own success, or whatever) and using it only when it's beneficial to them.

Either version of Evil could want to take over the world, but CE generally wouldn't care about leaving any kind of infrastructure or such behind, leaving the world to collapse when they are deposed (and possibly before, when they see how much work it takes to rule the world), while LE would be more likely to build up an empire to rule and sustain. Chaotic and Lawful Good both generally support the good of the community, but CG rarely helps to develop or support a strong government (since villains could use the government! We can't let The Man (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheMan) have that much power!) unless they personally trust the leaders, while LG would be more inclined towards having fairly strong and competent governing bodies, since they see them as the foundation of a strong society, even if the leaders are persons they find distasteful.

Burner28
2010-11-17, 01:41 PM
This isn't necessarily true. A Chaotic person can spend a long time in deliberation to figure out how to proceed, and a Lawful person's instincts might be to follow the rules.

Another (also incomplete) way to explain it would be that a Lawful person seeks some kind of order in the world, whatever that order might be, often wanting structure and patterns behind everything and taking comfort in such; but a Chaotic person doesn't care about or may even be opposed to such order, seeing it as unnecessary to society (or his own success, or whatever) and using it only when it's beneficial to them.

Either version of Evil could want to take over the world, but CE generally wouldn't care about leaving any kind of infrastructure or such behind, leaving the world to collapse when they are deposed (and possibly before, when they see how much work it takes to rule the world), while LE would be more likely to build up an empire to rule and sustain. Chaotic and Lawful Good both generally support the good of the community, but CG rarely helps to develop or support a strong government (since villains could use the government! We can't let The Man (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheMan) have that much power!) unless they personally trust the leaders, while LG would be more inclined towards having fairly strong and competent governing bodies, since they see them as the foundation of a strong society, even if the leaders are persons they find distasteful.

I like this summary, though you usually don't get Chaotic characters wanting to take over the world though:smallwink:

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-17, 01:42 PM
No, but it does mean that it's not a good aid in explaining alignment to anyone: you point at Therkla to explain what NE is, but the only reason why Therkla might be NE is because you say so.

If you want to use OOTS as a tool to explain alignment, a better idea is to point out how Roy, Durkon, Miko (pre-fall), Hinjo, and Soon all act very differently, and yet all are lawful good. Also, these characters have their alignment stated in the comic, as opposed to assumed by fan speculation.
They're fine choices because Rich is very good at portraying Alignment in-comic, regardless of what Teh Internet says.

RANT
I don't know why this forum (and perhaps the Internet in general) has such a hard time parsing Alignment. I suspect that it is because most of the folks hereabouts didn't learn D&D playing TSR products; the AD&D Alignment chapter was evocative and clear, even if contemporary definitions of TN and CN have changed. But that's just a suspicion on my part.

If the OP really wants to cut through the static surrounding Alignment, OotS is an excellent tool. If he agrees with my picks, great - I singled them out because they provide particularly good illustrations of the listed Alignments. If he doesn't, fine - use some other rubric or whatnot.

At this point, I don't care anymore. Alignment is simply an issue so charged in people's minds that it is impossible to speak sensibly about it. I've tried, I've cited authoritative texts, and yet most of what I hear back is "but I believe X." The Nine Alignments System is an Objective system constructed out of defined terms; when those terms are rarely discussed you cannot have clarity.

Now, if the OP is interested in a nice, clean list, this is what I'd use:
LG = Roy
NG = ???
CG = Lord Shoujo
LN = ???
N = Vaarsuvius (focus on pre-Split)
CN = Julio Scoundrel
LE = Tarquin
NE = Therkla
CE = Belkar or Xykon

Each of these characters have had scenes in which their Alignment was explored in-comic. Many of them had arguments that centered around core concepts of Alignment their respective Alignments. You could do worse than handing this list to n00bs as an introduction to Alignments; it's not a bad start.

EDIT: Hamishspence raises an interesting point with his Split quote. I agree that Therkla is the "balancing" type but I have a hard time seeing her as anything but Evil. In particular, her willingness to kill folks to prove a point (and, y'know, being an assassin) really suggests she's usually a lot more Evil when mitigating factors (i.e. a Good lust-object) aren't around.

But, y'know, I'm not going to spit in the face of The Giant here - not after I spent all this time holding him up as an exemplar of Alignments :smalltongue:

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 01:47 PM
The Nine Alignments System is an Objective system constructed out of defined terms; when those terms are rarely discussed you cannot have clarity.

That's the thing though- you will find numerous people who will point out that the "defined terms" aren't at all clearly defined.

Take "innocent"- what defines a PC or NPC as an "innocent" whom it is an evil act to debase or destroy, for fun or profit?

and what happens when you debase or destroy somebody, for fun, who is not an "innocent"?


I agree that Therkla is the "balancing" type but I have a hard time seeing her as anything but Evil. In particular, her willingness to kill folks to prove a point (and, y'know, being an assassin) really suggests she's usually a lot more Evil when mitigating factors (i.e. a Good lust-object) aren't around.

Maybe Therkla is Evil by deed, Neutral by instinct- her natural instincts tend to lead her toward Neutral behaviour- but she overcomes them?

Mando Knight
2010-11-17, 01:56 PM
I like this summary, though you usually don't get Chaotic characters wanting to take over the world though:smallwink:
Xykon.

Taking over the world is a grandiose plot, and nearly everyone with vast ambitions has at least entertained the thought. CE might be terrible at ruling the world once they get it, but they can desire it all the same.

Kaww
2010-11-17, 01:56 PM
I didn't want this to become an alignment debate. I was just preparing myself for a noob player I might DM soon/ I wanted to clarify as much as possible the very fuzzy alignment axis problem and I'm looking for a clear example. Unfortunately she doesn't reed OotS so I was looking for less flawed descriptions than my current one. I once played with a veteran playing CG who thought he had no right to steal and to lie. I just want to avoid problems like this. Yora's explanation is too fuzzy.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 01:58 PM
Maybe look up the TV Tropes Character Alignment page? There's much more in the way of examples there.

Burner28
2010-11-17, 01:59 PM
Maybe look up the TV Tropes Character Alignment page? There's much more in the way of examples there.

Nah I don't think that is a good idea seeing as most of the examples there aren't official and so is subjective

Psyren
2010-11-17, 02:02 PM
Start by not calling them "noobs" and they'll probably be more inclined to listen to you.

Sipex
2010-11-17, 02:04 PM
I did it by showing them famous characters which fit the bill and making the explanation that "This alignment doesn't mean you HAVE to be stupid." or "This alignment doesn't mean you have to be nice/a jerk."

Ie: Robin Hood is Chaotic Good

Kaww
2010-11-17, 02:09 PM
Start by not calling them "noobs" and they'll probably be more inclined to listen to you.

:smalltongue: I call her by her name. :smalltongue: I don't see a problem calling her a noob, since
a) she don't know who I am
b) she doesn't visit the forum and
c) I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what a noob is

Also noob doesn't translate in an offensive manner, just the same as beginner or novice only shorter...

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 02:11 PM
Nah I don't think that is a good idea seeing as most of the examples there aren't official and so is subjective

The way it describes each alignment though, draws heavily on the PHB. And possibly Palladium as well- which has a very similar alignment system.

Complete Scoundrel is one of the few D&D books to actually give examples from media, of various "scoundrelly" characters and their D&D alignments.

LG: Batman, Indiana Jones, and the yellow-suited detective whose surname is Tracy
LN: James Bond, Odysseus, Sanjiro (Yojimbo)
LE: Boba Fett, Magneto

NG: Zorro, Spider-Man
N: Lara Croft, Han Solo (early appearances), Lucy (Dracula)
NE: Mystique, Sawyer (Lost)

CG: Robin Hood, Mal Reynolds (Firefly), Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica)
CN: Jack Sparrow, Al Swearengen (Deadwood) Snake Plissken (Escape from New York)
CE: Carl Denham (King Kong) Riddick (Pitch Black)

That said, I suspect a lot of this will be very disputed, and some (Batman, Robin Hood, and so on) will get a "Depends who's writing them".

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-17, 02:19 PM
I didn't want this to become an alignment debate. I was just preparing myself for a noob player I might DM soon/ I wanted to clarify as much as possible the very fuzzy alignment axis problem and I'm looking for a clear example. Unfortunately she doesn't reed OotS so I was looking for less flawed descriptions than my current one. I once played with a veteran playing CG who thought he had no right to steal and to lie. I just want to avoid problems like this. Yora's explanation is too fuzzy.
Agh :smallsigh:

Well, the AD&D Alignment Chapter had a great description of a Nine Alignment Party in action; unfortunately the TN and CN character descriptions no longer jive with the (superior) WotC descriptions of those Alignments.

But more importantly - what are you trying to accomplish here? If it's just "hey, there's a thing called Alignment, here it is" then point to the SRD links I provided; it should be enough to give a general idea as to what "Good" "Evil" "Law" and "Chaos" means.

If, on the other hand, you want to hear "this, and only this, is what playing X means" then I think you're out of luck. Alignment is not a straightjacket and aside from defining a few parameters it can't do much else.

Mando Knight
2010-11-17, 02:24 PM
I once played with a veteran playing CG who thought he had no right to steal and to lie.A CG character may very well believe this.

For a quick set of fairly polarized examples...
LG is classic Superman, the Big Blue Boy Scout (or the Adam West-style Batman). Fight for Truth, Justice, etc. (The American Way isn't really... appropriate here)
LN is someone devoted to The Rules, regardless anything else. A shade of gray between LE and LG, she will generally be amicable... until you break The Rules.
LE is Grand Moff Tarkin, the tyrannical oppressor. Follow his rules to the letter, or you will pay. Like LN, the rules are important... his rules.
NE is Evil itself, without an emphasis on either tyranny or lawless destruction.
CE is the Joker, the psychopath. He might have a goal in mind, but generally it's along the lines of cackling while burning down the world.
CN is the anarchist. He hates LN the most because she insists on The Rules, which he thinks are bad... sometimes more so than Evil. He loves being able to do whatever he wants, but isn't particularly malicious or kind to others.
CG is Robin Hood, the rebel against tyranny. He might rob and steal and lie, but generally does so because he sees that following The Rules will get people hurt.
NG is just Good... wanting to do good, generally without emphasizing following the rules or stopping oppression.
NN, TN, or N is simply Neutral... it can't decide, or it doesn't want to decide... or it chooses to be in the middle.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 02:28 PM
But more importantly - what are you trying to accomplish here? If it's just "hey, there's a thing called Alignment, here it is" then point to the SRD links I provided; it should be enough to give a general idea as to what "Good" "Evil" "Law" and "Chaos" means.

There's also the "Save My Game" WoTC article on Law and Chaos:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a

which covers them in more detail.

WinceRind
2010-11-17, 03:20 PM
How do you explain chaotic?

EDIT: Acting in a random manner is not an acceptable description...

Often defies the established social order/ social beliefs. Tends to follow his/her own code of morality if any as opposed to the society's.
Also, is not concerned with laws very much.

Yora
2010-11-17, 03:47 PM
This isn't necessarily true. A Chaotic person can spend a long time in deliberation to figure out how to proceed, and a Lawful person's instincts might be to follow the rules.
I didn't mean that lawful characters don't use their instincts or that chaotic characters don't think things though.

What I meant that when a characters rational judgement and his instinctive hunches are at conflict, they will ten to follow the one or the other.
For example a character is faced with a certain situation and he can't see any flaws or errors in it, but he somehow has a bad feeling about it that he can't explain.
I think a lawful character would rather try to clear his head and concentrate on the facts and go through with the plan as intended, but maybe being extra watchful. Logically nothing is wrong and his mind may play tricks on him.
On the other hand a chaotic character would be much more likely to abandon the original plan because he somehow knows something is fishy, even if he can't explain it to his superiors. He'd rather assume that he overlooked something or made an error, but trusts that his instinct is right.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 03:51 PM
I wondered if Lawful and Chaotic characters might tend to have instincts that are different.

A Lawful character might have an instinct to trust someone in authority who they do not know, and a Chaotic character might have an instinct to distrust them.

This may not be very plausible though.

kyoryu
2010-11-17, 04:12 PM
You are a captain in the army, your general has given you the order to defend the strategic point (a village with 1000 inhabitants) with your squad of 200 warriors vs 400 enemy warriors coming tomorrow.


While your evil/chaotic examples aren't bad, I'm not fond of the Good/Lawful ones. Many are just bad tactics. Throwing away lives of soldiers for no gain isn't Good or Lawful, it's just dumb. Following stupid orders might be Lawful, but it's not particularly good. Getting villagers to help you doesn't really shift the alignment, especially if you're still throwing your body out there with 'em.


Law = Trust your judgement.
Chaos = Trust your instincts.
Evil = Sacrifice others to succeed.
Good = Make personal sacrifices to help those in need.

If neither Good or Evil, or Law or Chaos strongly dominates, the character is neutral.

I think this is what alignment originally was supposed to be, and it certainly is the way it works best for a lot of people.

I agree with the Good/Evil bit, but I'd say that Law/Chaos are more like:

Law: Trust the rules, and value the combined force of organization
Chaos: Trust your own judgement, and value the unfettered abilities of individuals

BeholderSlayer
2010-11-17, 04:16 PM
I wouldn't explain it to them, rather I'd let them play for a while then at some point explain to them how they have been playing as an [alignment] character. That way they see it in a concrete way.

Zeofar
2010-11-17, 04:26 PM
I'd first say, don't create a narrow set of characteristics based on a story from which they must extract meaning (it is fun, but so easy to screw up and often useless or confusing). Just set down a few baselines from which they can judge their actions and thus their character's alignment. If they can't "look back" into the character's life, then selecting alignment beforehand is useless; all acts may affect alignment, but alignment does not affect all acts (or necessarily any).

This the most pared down interpretation of alignment I can give:
Good: Explicitly or implicitly respects the rights of others.
Evil: Explicitly or implicitly denies or ignores the rights of others.

Lawful: Explicitly or implicitly respects society
Chaotic: Explicitly or implicitly disrespects society.

Tell them that, or whatever you actually use to judge alignment as the DM, and there you go. Or then sit down with them and go through their characters past and analyze them by whatever guidelines you are using. You give input, see how they feel about it, and they can give their view on the issue and perhaps change their character a bit if they're shooting for a certain alignment.



Don't explain it at all. Tell them to play their character. After a few sessions, show them the alignments in the book, and say, "Based on how you're playing, your alignment is somewhere in the neighborhood of <insert alignment here>." Then they can read it for themselves.

This is really the best suggestion for beginning players who don't grasp the concept well, don't have any clear views on their character's past, or play their characters, as one might say, like themselves.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 04:28 PM
This the most pared down interpretation of alignment I can give:

Good: Explicitly or implicitly respects the rights of others.
Evil: Explicitly or implicitly denies or ignores the rights of others.

Lawful: Explicitly or implicitly respects society
Chaotic: Explicitly or implicitly disrespects society.

It is a pretty good summary. An evil antihero might only deny or ignore the rights of "those who prey on the innocent"- but by torturing them to death, they're still behaving in an Evil fashion.

I might have said "authority" rather than "society" for Law and Chaos though- they might respect their own Chaotic society (if, say, an elf in an elven realm) but not respect a leader that tries to increase their authority.

Yora
2010-11-17, 04:36 PM
A lawful conquerer can have complete contempt and disregard for the society of a community he conquers.
A chaotic hippy can admire the great society that the people in his commune have created.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 04:39 PM
hence my preference for "authority" rather than "society"

The lawful evil conquerer's lawful evil men, will normally respect the authority of those in the chain of command.

The chaotic good members of a society though, might respect their leaders as people, rather than respecting authority as a concept.

Zeofar
2010-11-17, 04:49 PM
It is a pretty good summary. An evil antihero might only deny or ignore the rights of "those who prey on the innocent"- but by torturing them to death, they're still behaving in an Evil fashion.

I'd personally say that they're probably neutral in that case if their intent is to stop future evil or serve justice (and probably chaotic, either way) unless their methods of torture were especially repugnant (rape, forced cannibalism on the victim, cannibalizing the victim alive or dead, forcing them to commit evil acts that they otherwise wouldn't, etc.) since it would in some ways show respect for others by trying to prevent further evil. If it is for their own pleasure, though, it'd surely be right in evil territory, though.



I might have said "authority" rather than "society" for Law and Chaos though- they might respect their own Chaotic society (if, say, an elf in an elven realm) but not respect a leader that tries to increase their authority.

Good point, but "authority or society" might work better overall in my view.


A lawful conquerer can have complete contempt and disregard for the society of a community he conquers.
A chaotic hippy can admire the great society that the people in his commune have created.

I'm talking about society on a far more conceptual, basic level. A lawful conqueror still believes that the function of society is valid (dictating law, morality, customs, culture, and other things. It depends a little on your point of view) and in long-term, universal societies (everyone should abide by a certain set of rules and they should not be changed unless necessary, or at all) regardless if he despises a certain society. Whether or not he recognizes their rights to have their own society (and why) and how he goes about changing that (and why) depends on whether he is good or evil. At the same time, if he does not support their society in the least and goes about changing it brutally, he might still be good or neutral if his intent is to make it better (i.e., they believe that rape, murder, or torture is the right of the strong, other such issues). I'd argue that the hippie is neutral (if we're talking about real world hippies or at least ones with the same general characteristics) since he believes that society should be less restrictive and more changeable (especially based on an individual's beliefs) but should still exist.

Worlok
2010-11-17, 04:53 PM
You may want to provide simple formulae and illustrative quotes in order to ease a relatively unexperienced person into the alignment system. I usually go by this list:

Law means order and/or discipline
Chaos means freedom and/or self-interest
Evil means egoism and/or cruelty
Good means altruism and/or philanthropy
Neutral means disregard and/or ignorance

This implies as follows:

LG serves and protects ("As is the law, I shall not do you harm unless you force me to.")
CG supports and liberates ("It's all up to you, rules are way too slow and rigid, anyway.")
NG just likes to help ("Who cares how much you've stolen, you're in pain and I will heal you.")

LE conquers and corrupts ("Rules are not meant to be broken. Opposition is. Until then, I'll see to it that it's not technically murder.")
CE destroys and enslaves ("You ask what gives me the right to take your stuff? You've got it and I hate you, that's what.")
NE simply loves to see your pain ("There are rules, some follow them, some don't. And then there's me. Bleed for me.")

LN obeys the rules ("He may have killed your family. He may even have killed mine. But you have killed him, and for that you're a criminal.")
CN makes its own ("You know what? Screw the law. I'm awesome and I'll do exactly as I please.")
TN doesn't care at all ("Why would I want to join your cause? Why hinder it? In the end, it's all the same.")

(Of course, alignment is not, in fact, a straightjacket, and personality almost always overrides or at least flavors it differently: Some are TN out of disillusionment, because nothing ever seems to change anything to them, some out of optimism, because no matter how dire the situation, they will always find something to be happy about. A person who has witnessed a mugger kill an uncooperative victim may turn LG -because she's seen the effects of unchecked viciousness and seeks to establish/uphold a system where such horrors can't happen again - or CE - because he has seen a truly liberated individual sacrifice that tool for his own (read: the mugger's) benefit and wants that kind of power for himself - or anything at all, really.)

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 04:56 PM
I'd argue that the hippie is neutral (if we're talking about real world hippies or at least ones with the same general characteristics) since he believes that society should be less restrictive and more changeable (especially based on an individual's beliefs) but should still exist.

CG elven societies are often monarchies.

I think it's only the more strongly Chaotic (such as the Diaboli- a society of Chaos-subtype outsiders) that have no authority, and rely entirely on traditions and suchlike, to hold it together.


I usually go by this list:

Law means order and/or discipline
Chaos means freedom and/or self-interest
Evil means egoism and/or cruelty
Good means altruism and/or philanthropy
Neutral means disregard and/or ignorance


This is another good one- because it doesn't rely entirely on egoism for Evil, or on "harming the innocent".

A character who has truly embraced cruelty as a method of dealing with those they deem "deserving" might therefore be Evil.

Grynning
2010-11-17, 05:03 PM
My circle of friends generally has quite a few Scrubs fans. I use Scrubs to break down alignment for them. It doesn't cover all of them, but gives them a good idea of what to extrapolate from there:
JD - Neutral
Turk/Carla/Elliot - Neutral Good
Dr. Cox - Chaotic Good (shifts more towards Neutral Good in later seasons)
Janitor - Chaotic Neutral
Dr. Kelso - Lawful Evil

There's also the classic chart from TV Tropes:

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/alignment_graph_9564.jpg

kyoryu
2010-11-17, 05:05 PM
CG elven societies are often monarchies.

I think it's only the more strongly Chaotic (such as the Diaboli- a society of Chaos-subtype outsiders) that have no authority, and rely entirely on traditions and suchlike, to hold it together.


Even traditions can make a society "Lawful". On a societal basis, Lawful/Chaotic becomes more about the balance of freedoms vs. laws and regulations. A generally Chaotic society will still recognize the need for some laws, but will prefer to have the minimum amount of them, and for them to intrude the least amount possible on the daily activities of citizens. A more Lawful society would believe that most activity should be regulated and done in accordance with rules, and be more willing to accept a greater intrusion into the daily lives of citizens.

So a tradition-based society that was very structured, and had strict traditions that oversaw every aspect of life would still be Lawful. A legal-based society, that had only minimal laws, and primarily had laws to address criminal offenses could still be, overall, Chaotic.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 05:09 PM
So a tradition-based society that was very structured, and had strict traditions that oversaw every aspect of life would still be Lawful. A legal-based society, that had only minimal laws, and primarily had laws to address criminal offenses could still be, overall, Chaotic.

In the Dark Elf Trilogy Drizzt refers to tradition as one of the dominant features of the otherwise rather Chaotic dark elf society.

Chaos might tend to favour informal principles and traditions, over formal rules and regulations.

That said, as you say, there might be an element of crossover- a society with few laws but many strictly observed traditions, could be more lawful than one with a lot of laws that are simple, general, and designed to maximize individual freedom.

Mark Hall
2010-11-17, 05:10 PM
CG elven societies are often monarchies.

I think it's only the more strongly Chaotic (such as the Diaboli- a society of Chaos-subtype outsiders) that have no authority, and rely entirely on traditions and suchlike, to hold it together.

Truthfully, the presentations of Elf society in D&D... and here I'm thinking primarily Dragonlance... it's always struck me as highly Lawful, though they get called Chaotic.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-17, 05:13 PM
Truthfully, the presentations of Elf society in D&D... and here I'm thinking primarily Dragonlance... it's always struck me as highly Lawful, though they get called Chaotic.

Kind of the problem with Lawful/Chaotic: they are identical in some situations. Even when said otherwise.

kyoryu
2010-11-17, 05:20 PM
In the Dark Elf Trilogy Drizzt refers to tradition as one of the dominant features of the otherwise rather Chaotic dark elf society.


Which doesn't really contradict what I said. What would make the society Lawful/Chaotic would be the extent that the "rules" (laws or traditions) impinge upon the day-to-day life of the citizenry.

Worlok
2010-11-17, 05:20 PM
This is another good one- because it doesn't rely entirely on egoism for Evil, or on "harming the innocent".

A character who has truly embraced cruelty as a method of dealing with those they deem "deserving" might therefore be Evil.
Thanks. :smallsmile: (I made it up myself, quotes included, if not without outside inspiration. :smallbiggrin:)

I always thought that the alignment system is meant to cover every aspect of a character and should thus have various dimensions - Especially seeing how 1. rules (Law and Chaos) are made based on the attitudes of a given group, while attitudes (Good and Evil) are judged by the rules of a given society and 2. alignments, take LE as an example, can entail different mindsets if roleplayed right, basically divided after whose focus lies on Law and whose on Evil.

Zeofar
2010-11-17, 05:20 PM
CG elven societies are often monarchies.


Well, sure, but a particular form of government doesn't preclude a certain general alignment in most cases. Attitude, approach, lifestyle, and intent (This is where implicit comes in...) can matter just as much. That said, I think my explanation would work fine enough whether or not the hippie is neutral or chaotic, being that I'm talking about something far more basic than a specific society.

At the same time, WotC (I can't speak for pre-wizards editions) seems to display a total lack of understanding of its alignment system in just about every area. They add flavor and all such stuff and slap on the alignment that they think feels right or according to the predetermined alignment that was chosen (Elves are chaotic, Dwarves are lawful, Humans are neutral/vary).

Truthfully speaking, it is still pretty difficult to see Elves as full Chaotic. They have an abundance of traditions, are not terribly changeable, and often base their decisions on precedent. As much as I like to think that my explanation solidly retains the original boundaries and designations that exist in the game, it might not be entirely true. For the most part, though, I think it is more sensible than some of WotC's stuff and certainly more thorough though being far briefer (WotC seems to have fallen into the pit-trap of "tell alignment by telling a story," which cannot clearly encompass all possibilities). Part of the problem is that their own writers can't agree on what alignment means or at least the guidelines by which to judge it (They have the exact same problem as the roleplaying community, in other words).

Fiery Diamond
2010-11-17, 05:21 PM
I've been rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender, and reading this thread got me wanting to pick alignments for characters from that show.

Unfortunately, the only ones I can think of off the top of my head would be:

Long Fang (head of the Dai Li): LE
Princess Azula: LE
King Bumi: CG
Toff: CG

I'd probably put Zuko as some form of neutral throughout the early parts, eventually switching to some form of good.

Katara, Aang, and Sokka are probably all NG.

Iroh...I'm not sure what I'd say Iroh. CG, maybe?

Anyway, Toff is awesome.

HenryHankovitch
2010-11-17, 05:24 PM
My take on Law vs Chaos:

Lawfulness means that you believe rules and laws are important, and that society is best served by having defined codes that people should follow. It means you think that keeping your word and honoring contracts are important for their own sake, not just based on the outcome of that contract.

A Lawful person does not necessarily follow the law of the land; he may have a moral code based on religion or personal beliefs that clashes with the law of the land in whole or in part. That person may or may not believe that his code ought to be the law for everyone, but he will think that law and order are important regardless. If he tolerates a different moral code for society than himself, it is likely because he believes having a mediocre moral code that everyone can more-or-less agree with is better than having a superior moral code that only a few people can actually live with.

Lawful does not necessarily mean you think everyone is alike under the law, or that it applies equally to everyone. A Lawful Evil tyrant might believe that, as the ruler, he is entitled to change or break whatever laws he sees fit, so long as everyone else has to obey them.


Chaos means that you believe laws, contracts, and agreements are only important inasmuch as they are useful, or give the best possible outcome. He might believe so based on a personal ideal of liberty or anarchy; or he simply might not care about the details.

Chaotic doesn't necessarily mean random; a Chaotic person is capable of reasoning, and understands the usefulness of conventions and even laws. He might follow laws out of convenience--not wanting to make life difficult for himself or others--regardless of whether he actually thinks they're important. Even a person who thinks speed limits are silly will probably obey traffic laws (for the most part) simply to avoid the hassle of being pulled over and ticketed.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 05:24 PM
Well, sure, but a particular form of government doesn't preclude a certain general alignment in most cases. Attitude, approach, lifestyle, and intent (This is where implicit comes in...) can matter just as much.

True- it's just that for elves, there's a clearly recognized authority- a monarch (or, in some cases, a ruling council of nobles).

Whereas for the also Chaotic (but much more so) Diaboli- no-one holds authority.


My take on Law vs Chaos:

It fits in very well with the WoTC Save My Game (Lawful & Chaotic) article I linked to earlier.

Even if the lines between Law & Chaos are a little blurry- people do seem to be having the same general ideas about how they work.

dsmiles
2010-11-17, 05:29 PM
CE: Riddick (Pitch Black)

That's the only one that I personally disagree with. I saw him as leaning more LE, with his own personal code of honor. Yeah, sure, he sacrificed the chick, but it was to save the other two and himself (mostly himself). Somebody had to be sacrificed, and no one was willing to do it, so he chose for them. Also in Chronicles, he leaned towards LN, IMO, but that is neither here nor there.

I actually wanted to reply to the OotS alignments posts:

Really? No NG? What about Elan? Sure he's not so bright, but he's a good person, and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. He's definitely down as "Solidly NG" in my book.

Zeofar
2010-11-17, 05:31 PM
Kind of the problem with Lawful/Chaotic: they are identical in some situations. Even when said otherwise.

To me, this is mostly caused by wonky understanding of alignment. The "Avatar of Chaos" bit is something which I've seen before that pretty much epitomizes it: in this scheme, chaos is random behavior; ergo, the most chaotic being acts the most randomly. However, always acting randomly is a personal law or restriction, so it must be lawful. This is also an argument against neutrality being back and forth behavior (if you go back and forth, it must be random, so it must be chaos), which is also flawed (neutrality can be back and forth behavior. It doesn't have to be, of course). This includes two misuses and misunderstandings of alignment: that randomness always is the same as chaos, and that any personal codes are highly lawful behaviors (and not usually simply character traits, which is my take on it). This doesn't come up if you use my system or Worlok's since they both clearly delineate the mechanisms for judging alignment.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 05:32 PM
That's the only one that I personally disagree with. I saw him as leaning more LE, with his own personal code of honor. Yeah, sure, he sacrificed the chick, but it was to save the other two and himself (mostly himself). Somebody had to be sacrificed, and no one was willing to do it, so he chose for them. Also in Chronicles, he leaned towards LN, IMO, but that is neither here nor there.

Can't a CE character have a code of honor- and an element of being more antiheroic, than outright villainous?

That said, I'm not sure what of Riddick's behaviour and attitude could be signs of Chaos.



Really? No NG? What about Elan? Sure he's not so bright, but he's a good person, and doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. He's definitely down as "Solidly NG" in my book.

He actually says "Chaotic Good am I" in the lament immediately after Roy's death.

kyoryu
2010-11-17, 05:36 PM
Chaos means that you believe laws, contracts, and agreements are only important inasmuch as they are useful, or give the best possible outcome. He might believe so based on a personal ideal of liberty or anarchy; or he simply might not care about the details.


Additionally, a Chaotic person may believe that the restrictions placed on people as a result of strong "rules" are generally harmful, and often do more damage than the evils they seek to prevent.

Even if laws or rules can give the "best" possible outcome, in the mind of a Chaotic individual, the restrictions may outweigh the gains.

A Lawful person may find laws that state that a person must do a certain amount of work on, say, the city walls to be good because having strong walls benefits everyone in the city.

A Chaotic person may disagree, and say that the infringement upon individual freedom is not worth the walls, and a way of building the walls that relies upon individual choice to assist in wall building (incentives, pay, whatever) would be a better way to approach the problem.

dsmiles
2010-11-17, 05:53 PM
Can't a CE character have a code of honor- and an element of being more antiheroic, than outright villainous?

That said, I'm not sure what of Riddick's behaviour and attitude could be signs of Chaos.Maybe, but I see chaotic evil as more of the...Ishamael (WoT) type. Mad with power, and willing to do anything to destroy their enemies. Riddick fell far short of this for me. He was actively trying to save as many people as he could, and not because he cared about them (although I think he gave a darn about the teenager, and even more so in Chronicles). He definitely fit the "Aberrant" alignment from Palladium, which seems more Lawful evil than Chaotic evil to me.

He actually says "Chaotic Good am I" in the lament immediately after Roy's death.I really don't see him fitting that particular alignment. Maybe it's just me, though.

Zeofar
2010-11-17, 05:59 PM
That's the only one that I personally disagree with. I saw him as leaning more LE, with his own personal code of honor. Yeah, sure, he sacrificed the chick, but it was to save the other two and himself (mostly himself). Somebody had to be sacrificed, and no one was willing to do it, so he chose for them. Also in Chronicles, he leaned towards LN, IMO, but that is neither here nor there.


Naw, he is solidly Chaotic Neutral in both. He wants to stay free and isn't above killing people to do this (or most things), but as far as I can recall will only do so if it meets his fancy or is the most efficient manner of doing so. He intimidates people, but won't just go around hurting people randomly as he seems to imply he does. Part of it is that he hides his emotions (No, he isn't a big softie, but he isn't the emotionless killing machine he pretends to be) as much as possible; he pretends to care about himself far more than he actually does. He sacrificed the pilot because he wouldn't kill a child, the Imam had a family, and because she was part of the crew and it was her duty to protect passengers. He stayed because he knew that none of them beside himself were actually capable of protecting anyone (and the animated short vindicates this decision). If he were really LE or CE I doubt the others would have survived.

As for the Chronicles, the "I told you to stay in New Mecca!" bit was not because he didn't want responsibility for what had happened, but because he actually cared about the girl (and only serves to further illustrate that his decision was not just "choosing for them").


Maybe, but I see chaotic evil as more of the...Ishamael (WoT) type. Mad with power, and willing to do anything to destroy their enemies.

How does that work for powerless CE individuals who have no enemies?


I really don't see him fitting that particular alignment. Maybe it's just me, though.

He's the party bard; he can only be CG.

Kurald Galain
2010-11-17, 06:09 PM
They're fine choices because Rich is very good at portraying Alignment in-comic, regardless of what Teh Internet says.
And yet, someone on teh internet just gave Therkla as the prime example for neutral evil, whereas just three posts up (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9782932&postcount=34), The Giant is quoted on her being true neutral.


Kind of the problem with Lawful/Chaotic: they are identical in some situations. Even when said otherwise.
Absolutely! (http://www.nuklearpower.com/2010/03/09/episode-1223-make-the-truth/)

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 06:10 PM
He's the party bard; he can only be CG.

Bards can be Neutral and still advance- only Lawful alignment stops them from advancing further in Bard.

Elan does exhibit a lot of wacky behaviour (though wackiness isn't solely the purview of Chaos) and has a rather relaxed attitude toward rules and conventions.

On Complete Scoundrel- it does take a rather harsh view of Riddick and Carl Denham- neither are as destructive as more typical CEs are.

But then, its Good characters, like Mal Reynolds, can be a little grey too- in the other direction.

Dr.Epic
2010-11-17, 06:13 PM
Here:

http://img442.imageshack.us/img442/9894/alignment.jpg

dsmiles
2010-11-17, 06:14 PM
How does that work for powerless CE individuals who have no enemies?

Powerless, I can see, but a CE person with no enemies? I doubt it.

Zeofar
2010-11-17, 06:15 PM
Bards can be Neutral and still advance- only Lawful alignment stops them from advancing further in Bard.



nononononono, this is a humorous webcomic that originally just played off of generic RPG tropes. The party bard can not be anything other than CG.


Powerless, I can see, but a CE person with no enemies? I doubt it.
There is a difference between enemies and victims, even in the perception of a CE character.

Here:



Already posted. It does pretty much cover everything, though. I'd blame the people less and more the poor initial description of alignments, though.

JaronK
2010-11-17, 06:21 PM
The explanation I usually give:

Lawful characters follow a preset code (which can be exterior, like the laws of the country, or interior, like a Bushido style code) that may get in the way of their goals.

Chaotic characters always aim for their goals, without regard to any codes.

Good characters prioritize attempting to make the world a better place for others according to their belief of what's better over making the world a better place for themselves.

Evil characters want to make the world better for themselves, prioritizing this over making the world better for other people.

Neutral characters on either axis are in between, balancing the two opposites.

JaronK

Psyren
2010-11-17, 06:24 PM
nononononono, this is a humorous webcomic that originally just played off of generic RPG tropes. The party bard can not be anything other than CG.

As regards OotS: it seems to me that Rich is intentionally fudging one axis of each member's alignment. For example, Haley is Chaotic Greedy, meaning the only thing we can be certain of is that her alignment contains some aspect of Chaos. She could be CG or CN. (It got especially blurry after this strip. (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0648.html))

kyoryu
2010-11-17, 06:24 PM
Good characters prioritize attempting to make the world a better place for others according to their belief of what's better over making the world a better place for themselves.

Evil characters want to make the world better for themselves, prioritizing this over making the world better for other people.


I'm reminded of the last few South Park episodes, where the conversation goes something like:

Cartman: "Yes, no need to thank me, I'm just working to make the world a better place."

Kenny: "For YOU. You're making the world a better place FOR YOU."

Cartman: "Yes, that's what heroes do."

Murdim
2010-11-17, 06:34 PM
Maybe Therkla is Evil by deed, Neutral by instinct- her natural instincts tend to lead her toward Neutral behaviour- but she overcomes them?
It was her initiative to try and save the Katos from Kubota's ninja mooks, after all.


http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a
While interesting and thought-provoking, this article makes me cringe each time I read it. It has been written with paladins and other Lawful characters in mind, and it shows. It depicts Law in a surprisingly clever, tactful way, highlighting the best aspects of the alignment, while dismissing the absurd notion that Lawful characters have to obey every law, everywhere. It manages to underline its richness, its complexity, its diversity over the "Lawful Stupid" stereotype ; reading the article helps you realise that Lawfulness isn't enough to describe an outlook on law and authority, that the typical LG monk, LG wizard and paladin are very different from each other, and that you actually have to think up the goals, causes, beings or ideals towards which your character will direct his lawfulness.

Chaos, on the other hand... well, the paragraph about it isn't so much a description as it is a bunch of poorly thought-out stereotypes, presumably in contrast to the awesomeness of Law. According to the article, a Chaotic character "don't try to put limits on his nature", and basically do what feels right at the moment. Because apparently, acting according to one's feelings wihout thinking too much about the ins and outs is a purely Chaotic trait. This means that a person with an obedient, conformist disposition, who obeys laws because they've been taught it is the right thing to do, is actually the complete opposite of Lawful. Hhmmm. Maybe we could agree that all things considered, shallowness and short-sightedness don't have much to do with alignment after all.

That doesn't stop here, of course. Apparently, being Chaotic prevents you from learning from your past experiences, from analyzing a given situation in depth and from elaborating plans... because it would restrain you from reacting quickly and decisively - of course ! In other words, Chaotic characters might be very smart, but you won't even notice unless they have a highly intelligence-dependant skill set, since they will act like dunces anyway. And then there's this : "You don't get tied up in exclusive relationships because they could hold you back from your destiny -- which might be right around the corner". This would be like saying that Lawful characters always burden themselves with a variety of binding relationships founded on hypocrisy and convention, but according to the author of the article, since one ultra-reductive stereotype is about Chaos while the other is about Law, one is okay and the other isn't.

Also, since when is "achieving goals in the right way -- that is, in a way that promotes the general welfare and doesn't unnecessarily imperil others" Lawful Good rather than just, y'know, plain Good ? And for that matter, what happens when the "right way" involves something that the Lawful Good character consider unethical ?

So, no, I definitely wouldn't recommend this article to new players who don't know how alignment works, unless you want them to believe that Lawful means serious, rounded and sympathetic, while Chaotic means thoughtless, random and immature.

EDIT : wow, I got quite heated up in the process of writing this message... I do still think that the article is of quality. I just don't think it makes a good introduction on the Law/Chaos axis. It is, however, a good piece of advice for new players who already know they are going to play a Lawful character.

kyoryu
2010-11-17, 06:52 PM
While interesting and thought-provoking, this article makes me cringe each time I read it...

Chaos, on the other hand... well, the paragraph about it isn't so much a description as it is a bunch of poorly thought-out stereotypes, presumably in contrast to the awesomeness of Law. According to the article, a Chaotic character "don't try to put limits on his nature", and basically do what feels right at the moment. Because apparently, acting according to one's feelings wihout thinking too much about the ins and outs is a purely Chaotic trait. This means that a person with an obedient, conformist disposition, who obeys laws because they've been taught it is the right thing to do, is actually the complete opposite of Lawful. Hhmmm. Maybe we could agree that all things considered, shallowness and short-sightedness don't have much to do with alignment after all.

That doesn't stop here, of course. Apparently, being Chaotic prevents you from learning from your past experiences, from analyzing a given situation in depth and from elaborating plans... because it would restrain you from reacting quickly and decisively - of course ! In other words, Chaotic characters might be very smart, but you won't even notice unless they have a highly intelligence-dependant skill set, since they will act like dunces anyway. And then there's this : "You don't get tied up in exclusive relationships because they could hold you back from your destiny -- which might be right around the corner". This would be like saying that Lawful characters always burden themselves with a variety of binding relationships founded on hypocrisy and convention, but according to the author of the article, since one ultra-reductive stereotype is about Chaos while the other is about Law, one is okay and the other isn't.

Also, since when is "achieving goals in the right way -- that is, in a way that promotes the general welfare and doesn't unnecessarily imperil others" Lawful Good rather than just, y'know, plain Good ? And for that matter, what happens when the "right way" involves something that the Lawful Good character consider unethical ?

So, no, I definitely wouldn't recommend this article to new players who don't know how alignment works, unless you want them to believe that Lawful means serious, rounded and sympathetic, while Chaotic means thoughtless, random and immature.

There's a couple of things that I don't like about the article, but I think it's okay overall.

Saying that a Chaotic player *can't* plan anything at all is an extreme position, and not really how I interpret the article. As far as planning, I've always liked the Eisenhower quote - "Plans are useless, but planning is everything." This seems far more on the Chaotic to Neutral spectrum than it does the Lawful side, as it values the thought in understanding a situation highly, but disparages actually following a set, rigid plan.

The similar extreme for Lawful is that a Lawful character won't do anything - no matter how trivial - without a detailed plan that they will follow to the letter without deviation.

I agree that the "Lawful characters will try not to imperil others" thing is just silly, as that's really just "Good".

But, that's just my view.

And as far as the "Lawful = Good" thing, I actually disagree... since Lawfulness assumes an imposition of control on others, I think that Chaotic Good is actually closer to "pure" Good than Lawful Good. I also tend to view Lawful Evil as being the most extreme Evil, as imposition of will over others is often an active part of those with a Lawful Evil alignment, as opposed to just chaotic destruction. But, that's a personal opinion.

hamishspence
2010-11-17, 06:53 PM
So, no, I definitely wouldn't recommend this article to new players who don't know how alignment works, unless you want them to believe that Lawful means serious, rounded and sympathetic, while Chaotic means thoughtless, random and immature.

Good point. Still, what official sources are there that cover Chaos in a more nuanced way?

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-18, 11:48 AM
And yet, someone on teh internet just gave Therkla as the prime example for neutral evil, whereas just three posts up (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9782932&postcount=34), The Giant is quoted on her being true neutral.
I do not think that quote says what you think it does.

And neither does The Giant (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0560.html), unless Therkla is just afraid of the harmful radiation (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0228.html) :smalltongue:

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 11:59 AM
I do not think that quote says what you think it does.

And neither does The Giant (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0560.html), unless Therkla is just afraid of the harmful radiation (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0228.html) :smalltongue:

Neutral but thinks she might ping as Evil, is a possibility.

Also, one level in Cleric Of Evil Deity (maybe for the magic buffs) and she'll ping on Detect Evil even if Neutral (would have to be LN or CN, though).

A person doesn't automatically know their own alignment- so a Neutral person might still be wary of Detect Evil spells.

All that said, an Evil person could still be "a spokesperson for Neutrality"- but is that more plausible, than Therkla simply not knowing her own alignment, so being overcautious?

Oracle_Hunter
2010-11-18, 12:02 PM
All that said, an Evil person could still be "a spokesperson for Neutrality"- but is that more plausible, than Therkla simply not knowing her own alignment, so being overcautious?
Yes, since numerous people have stated their own Alignment in-comic.

I'm gonna call O-Chul's Razor (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0546.html) on this one :smallamused:

ThunderCat
2010-11-18, 12:26 PM
LG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you defend the post to the last man.

LN - you recruit the villagers to fight on your side to win. You defend the post to the last man.

LE - You use the villagers as a meat-shield, your archers shoot over the said villagers. You defend the post to the last man.

NG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you fight until you see which side will win. If you think you are wining you offer a parley, if you are losing you surrender, to save as many people as possible.

N - When you see an army twice you size you say to hell with it I'm not dieing for that idiot. You bail.

NE - When you see an army twice your size you join them to loot the village.

CG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you and your men follow them to see to their safety.

CN - You rob the villagers and run away.

CE - You kill/rob/rape/burn villagers in any order you see fitting and then you join the enemy so you could go and kill the bastard that left you there as a kamikaze.I disagree with your take on CN. While stealing from the rich to survive wont turn you evil, robbing poor villagers who're already about to lose their home to war is definitely an evil act. In all your good examples, the villagers were evacuated, and in all your evil examples, the villagers were robbed/killed, so it stands to reason that the neutral examples should all include neither victimising or going out of your way to help the villagers.

HenryHankovitch
2010-11-18, 12:30 PM
There are a few more general points about alignment that I tried to stress with my new players, and I think they were useful:

1) Mechanically, alignment has mainly to do with your relationship to deities, and in turn, their relationship to each other. Outside of divine casters, it's not going to be a mechanical problem, unless you have someone trying to Smite someone in the party. It's just a way of broadly categorizing your particular sense of morality.

2) Alignment describes your behavior; it does not limit your behavior. The words "you wouldn't do that" are simply not spoken at my table, by DM or players. Similarly, I've tried to dissuade them from justifying their actions by saying things like "I'm Chaotic Neutral," as opposed to, "he's not my kin, and so I don't really care what happens to him." As DM I might give someone a player-knowledge reminder if they were going to do something that clashed with their faith or upbringing ("you are aware that Apollo frowns on hiring assassins to kill your rival"), but they can always do it anyway if they dare the consequences. That said, your "real" alignment is what the DM says it is, not necessarily what you had written on your character sheet.

3) This is more houserule than interpretation; but I also have an "aura" aspect of alignment in my game. In other words, someone might be "faintly Evil" or "strongly Evil" depending on what they've actually done. The guy who mostly obeys the law, but cheats on his wife, might technically be NE, but he would only barely show up as such on a Detect Evil type spell. The serial killer, on the other hand, has an aura like an Evil floodlight. Additionally, spells or abilities that work against an alignment are only effective when a creature is strongly aligned. Smiting the philanderer wouldn't really have an effect compared to Smiting the serial killer. In this respect, stuff like Protection from [Alignment] is very much use-at-your-own-risk.

Skavengoblin
2010-11-18, 12:36 PM
Every DM/player has one of these. So what's your explanation?

My example:

You are a captain in the army, your general has given you the order to defend the strategic point (a village with 1000 inhabitants) with your squad of 200 warriors vs 400 enemy warriors coming tomorrow.

LG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you defend the post to the last man.

LN - you recruit the villagers to fight on your side to win. You defend the post to the last man.

LE - You use the villagers as a meat-shield, your archers shoot over the said villagers. You defend the post to the last man.

NG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you fight until you see which side will win. If you think you are wining you offer a parley, if you are losing you surrender, to save as many people as possible.

N - When you see an army twice you size you say to hell with it I'm not dieing for that idiot. You bail.

NE - When you see an army twice your size you join them to loot the village.

CG - You tell village folk to evacuate, you and your men follow them to see to their safety.

CN - You rob the villagers and run away.

CE - You kill/rob/rape/burn villagers in any order you see fitting and then you join the enemy so you could go and kill the bastard that left you there as a kamikaze.

I, like others on this forum, disagree with this. This is what I would say:

Lawful: tends to follow the rules BECAUSE they are the rules.

Neutral: will follow the rules as long as they are reasonable, but disregards any unreasonable or very inconvienent rule.

Chaotic: Cares little for the official rules, caring more about their own personal ideals.

The good vs evil axis is pretty self-explanatory.

This being said, this would be my 9 reactions to that order:

LG- You tell villagers to evacuate, trying to spare as many lives on both sides as possible (obviously the other side only when they are willing to surrender), but putting the safety of the innocents well above those of the combatant. If losing, you may surrender in order to spare the lives of your soldiers, but only once defeat is certain, and only if doing so would actually spare your soldiers from death and torture.

LN- You ask for help from villagers, and may fight to the last man, puting your civic duty above your own life, and possibly expecting your soldiers to do the same.

LE- You will make any sacrifice in order to complete your orders. If this means destroying the village in order to make it more defendable, and using innocents as meat sheilds, then so be it.

NG- You will spare as many lives as possible, even giving ground in order to protect the villagers if this is what you need to do.

TN- You will put forth a good effort to defending the position, because most likely your personal property is at stake in this war as well. You will probably not want to die for this cause, however, so retreating with the villagers if the battle goes sore is a valid option for you.

NE- You will stay and fight, mostly to see the bloodshed. You will, however, flee if your own life seems in peril.

CG- You will defend the town for the sake of the people, but will desert it if doing so would cost too many lives or put the villagers in danger.

CN- You are very unlikely to be fighting in this war at all. Most likely, you are doing it for the money, and so how long you stay and fight depends on how much the money is worth to you.

CE- You probably had something to do with starting this war. You may start killing the villagers yourself, you may send your men out to die, or you may even join the enemy! The only thing that can be said for certain is that those on your side are not much safer then those on the opposition... in fact, less so, since the enemy is probably stronger.


Anyone disagree/ would like to add to any of these, please let me know.

Marillion
2010-11-18, 12:37 PM
I show them this.

http://knowyourmeme.com/system/icons/904/original/Alignment.jpg?1252686782]

ThunderCat
2010-11-18, 12:41 PM
2) Alignment describes your behavior; it does not limit your behavior. The words "you wouldn't do that" are simply not spoken at my table, by DM or players. Similarly, I've tried to dissuade them from justifying their actions by saying things like "I'm Chaotic Neutral," as opposed to, "he's not my kin, and so I don't really care what happens to him." As DM I might give someone a player-knowledge reminder if they were going to do something that clashed with their faith or upbringing ("you are aware that Apollo frowns on hiring assassins to kill your rival"), but they can always do it anyway if they dare the consequences. That said, your "real" alignment is what the DM says it is, not necessarily what you had written on your character sheet.This. Play your character first and decide which alignment fits afterwards. Think of actions as being consistent with your character's personality and beliefs, not its alignment, and, barring alignment restrictions on classes and abilities, don't believe (or try to make others believe) that you're forced to act a certain way because of your alignment

EDIT: Also, I know this is the fourth time it's brought up, but I'm posting it visibly so hopefully people will stop re-posting it again because they didn't check spoilers:

http://knowyourmeme.com/system/icons/904/original/Alignment.jpg?1252686782]

dsmiles
2010-11-18, 12:46 PM
LG- You tell villagers to evacuate, trying to spare as many lives on both sides as possible (obviously the other side only when they are willing to surrender), but putting the safety of the innocents well above those of the combatant. If losing, you may surrender in order to spare the lives of your soldiers, but only once defeat is certain, and only if doing so would actually spare your soldiers from death and torture.

Anyone disagree/ would like to add to any of these, please let me know.

I still don't feel that asking for volunteers to help defend the village is outside the bounds of the LG alignment. If they're willing to defend what's theirs, they have every right to do so.

Skavengoblin
2010-11-18, 12:58 PM
I still don't feel that asking for volunteers to help defend the village is outside the bounds of the LG alignment. If they're willing to defend what's theirs, they have every right to do so.

I agree. I probably should have left 'asking villagers for help' out of every entry, as it says more about the character being resourceful then their alignment. An evil character may ask them for help... hes just more inclined to force them to help if they refuse. I think neither a Neutral or a Good character would force a villager to fight, but a neutral may put more pressure on them if they refuse, trying to guilt them into it or the like.

I have to agree with the biggest statements. If you play a LG character, it does not mean you HAVE to do this. Rather, if your character would do the above, or have the above mindset, then they may fit best into that alignment.
Find an alignment that matches what your character is like; Do this so certain spells work as they should, not so the alignment can control your character.

Kurald Galain
2010-11-18, 01:04 PM
http://knowyourmeme.com/system/icons/904/original/Alignment.jpg?1252686782]

Thank you. That clearly proves that Therkla is chaotic good, too :smallbiggrin:

kyoryu
2010-11-18, 01:29 PM
I still don't feel that asking for volunteers to help defend the village is outside the bounds of the LG alignment. If they're willing to defend what's theirs, they have every right to do so.

OTOH, an Evil character may well force the villagers to help - either by threatening them/their loved ones himself, or through magical coercion.

A Neutral character may try to pay them to help. A Good character would be more likely to appeal to their better nature.

That seems odd for the N/G characters, I know, but I'm using the basic idea that those characters would use the form of persuasion that *they* would respond best to themselves.

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 01:39 PM
Yes, since numerous people have stated their own Alignment in-comic.

Stating your alignment is not the same thing as proof of knowing it.

Haley: "I'm Chaotic Good! Ish!" Why the Ish, if she knew for sure?

Elan refers to himself as Chaotic Good- but how much of that is "true knowledge" and how much simply being savvy about his own personality and actions to date?

Therkla making an effort to dodge a Detect Evil spell, is not proof that she has infallible knowledge of her being Evil.

Especially with the way that The Giant has described her character- her natural tendency to seek a balance between Good and Evil.

Kaww
2010-11-18, 01:40 PM
I disagree with your take on CN. While stealing from the rich to survive wont turn you evil, robbing poor villagers who're already about to lose their home to war is definitely an evil act. In all your good examples, the villagers were evacuated, and in all your evil examples, the villagers were robbed/killed, so it stands to reason that the neutral examples should all include neither victimising or going out of your way to help the villagers.

Well, my CN opinion was: they are gonna rob you anyway, so why shouldn't I take the loot instead...


I, like others on this forum, disagree with this. This is what I would say:

Lawful: tends to follow the rules BECAUSE they are the rules.

Neutral: will follow the rules as long as they are reasonable, but disregards any unreasonable or very inconvienent rule.

Chaotic: Cares little for the official rules, caring more about their own personal ideals.

The good vs evil axis is pretty self-explanatory.

This being said, this would be my 9 reactions to that order:

LG- You tell villagers to evacuate, trying to spare as many lives on both sides as possible (obviously the other side only when they are willing to surrender), but putting the safety of the innocents well above those of the combatant. If losing, you may surrender in order to spare the lives of your soldiers, but only once defeat is certain, and only if doing so would actually spare your soldiers from death and torture.

Also I think LG would allow some of his men to surrender, but he and those that aren't forced into it would defend the spot till the bitter end...

LN- You ask for help from villagers, and may fight to the last man, puting your civic duty above your own life, and possibly expecting your soldiers to do the same.

LE- You will make any sacrifice in order to complete your orders. If this means destroying the village in order to make it more defendable, and using innocents as meat sheilds, then so be it.

NG- You will spare as many lives as possible, even giving ground in order to protect the villagers if this is what you need to do.

TN- You will put forth a good effort to defending the position, because most likely your personal property is at stake in this war as well. You will probably not want to die for this cause, however, so retreating with the villagers if the battle goes sore is a valid option for you.

NE- You will stay and fight, mostly to see the bloodshed. You will, however, flee if your own life seems in peril.

CG- You will defend the town for the sake of the people, but will desert it if doing so would cost too many lives or put the villagers in danger.

The option to rout and protect the fleeing villagers saves more lives...

CN- You are very unlikely to be fighting in this war at all. Most likely, you are doing it for the money, and so how long you stay and fight depends on how much the money is worth to you.

CE- You probably had something to do with starting this war. You may start killing the villagers yourself, you may send your men out to die, or you may even join the enemy! The only thing that can be said for certain is that those on your side are not much safer then those on the opposition... in fact, less so, since the enemy is probably stronger.


Anyone disagree/ would like to add to any of these, please let me know.

Could you edit (Bold) alignments which you think we agree on, please?
This is what I Bolded...

I don't DM alignment as a straitjacket, but unprovoked murder/rape is an evil act. Saving the defenseless without personal gain/obligation is good...

I'm looking for ways to explain to people that are new to this... So I want an example, not just he behaves in this way or that way...

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 01:46 PM
I don't DM alignment as a straitjacket, but unprovoked murder/rape is an evil act. Saving the defenseless without personal gain/obligation is good...

Maybe it's just me, but I'd consider "provoked rape" to be an evil act.

As in- a person has committed a very serious crime, the penalty for which, in this particular jurisdiction, is to be raped as punishment.

That kind of punishment, qualifies as evil in my book.

Starbuck_II
2010-11-18, 01:47 PM
One issue is Alignment is like the Matrix: hard to explain to outsiders. Yiou have to be in them to understand them.

Haley calls herself Neutral Good ish because she is slipping between the two alignments: NG and TN. She has done evil here/there and she knows it.

Ish is a ending adding to a noun to imply it isn't exactly that way only somewhat.

Not that you aren't that way at all. That would be a an incorrect useage of "Ish".

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 01:50 PM
I thought of it more as

"Haley thinks she's Chaotic Good, knows some of her actions cast doubt on that, doesn't absolutely know for certain she's Chaotic Good- but thinks it's more likely than any other alignment"

Hence "I'm Chaotic Good! Ish!"

(that, and the fact that her listed alignment in the board game, is Chaotic Greedy, might account for it).

Kaww
2010-11-18, 01:55 PM
I don't DM alignment as a straitjacket, but unprovoked murder/rape is an evil act. Saving the defenseless without personal gain/obligation is good...



Maybe it's just me, but I'd consider "provoked rape" to be an evil act.

As in- a person has committed a very serious crime, the penalty for which, in this particular jurisdiction, is to be raped as punishment.

That kind of punishment, qualifies as evil in my book.

Actually you could read it that way...:smalleek:
What I meant was rape/unprovoked murder.
Better?

kyoryu
2010-11-18, 02:03 PM
2) Alignment describes your behavior; it does not limit your behavior. The words "you wouldn't do that" are simply not spoken at my table, by DM or players. Similarly, I've tried to dissuade them from justifying their actions by saying things like "I'm Chaotic Neutral," as opposed to, "he's not my kin, and so I don't really care what happens to him." As DM I might give someone a player-knowledge reminder if they were going to do something that clashed with their faith or upbringing ("you are aware that Apollo frowns on hiring assassins to kill your rival"), but they can always do it anyway if they dare the consequences. That said, your "real" alignment is what the DM says it is, not necessarily what you had written on your character sheet.


Bingo. Actions "out-of-alignment" are resolved with alignment drift, not the DM (or other players) saying "you can't do that."

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 02:09 PM
Better?

A bit. In Robert Heinlein's the Number of the Beast, the "balancing" justice system of one of the parallel worlds, which is basically An Eye For An Eye, is strongly implied to be this:


A poisoner is killed by poison. An arsonist is burned to death. I won't describe what is done to a rapist. But poisoning, arson, and rape are almost unknown.

Skavengoblin
2010-11-18, 04:18 PM
Could you edit (Bold) alignments which you think we agree on, please?
This is what I Bolded...
I completely agree that your comments would be another very likely and reasonable response for someone with that alignment/mindset.

Also, I was looking at the alignments you didn't bold. I think for the most part with those couple alignments that your responses were just as accurate, if not more-so. A NE player, for example, may join the enemy, and my example of staying to watch the bloodshed may be a little leaning towards CE.

What I have done is let them pick, and if I find they act different then their alignment, I let them know what alignment 'I' think they should be. They can refuse of course. I usually only care as much about the G-E axis. Example, a good character PROBABLY wouldnt kill the random rhino grazing in the distance just to see if he could do it. Maybe they can be good still just by justifying that animals don't have feelings. Either way, I let the player know he'd been acting a little more CN, as he cared little for the well-being of those around him, with his group as a possible exception. (No, this wasn't the only thing he did. He was the only character that is adventuring for the money, and not to help the Empire or the villagers.

The biggest thing though is that even within a given alignment, there are countless appropriate actions. Good people don't use torture... but what if it was just psychological torture (ie, intense interrogation, lots of threats, etc.) Still bad to some... but a person could do that to his worst enemies and still have a general ideal that life should be protected and revered (or w/e).

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 04:33 PM
The biggest thing though is that even within a given alignment, there are countless appropriate actions. Good people don't use torture... but what if it was just psychological torture (ie, intense interrogation, lots of threats, etc.) Still bad to some... but a person could do that to his worst enemies and still have a general ideal that life should be protected and revered (or w/e).

On the FC2 Corrupt Acts chart, "Intimidating Torture" which inflicts no damage, is right at the bottom, on a par with "humiliating an underling" or "casting a spell with the [Evil] tag".

So, it could be compatible with Neutral, or even mildly Good, characters.

John Campbell
2010-11-18, 04:42 PM
"Alignment? It's a terrible concept, actively RP-hostile and contributing nothing to the game except arguments and acrimony. We don't use it."

And as proof, I'll point at this thread. Or any alignment discussion ever. They always, always turn out like this. The only thing this one lacks is someone claiming that using some different set of alignments, like the M:tG colors, fixes everything.

hamishspence
2010-11-18, 04:45 PM
I wouldn't go that far- in my experience, most alignment discussions tend to remain fairly civil.

And even if some parts of alignment- grey areas between them- are tricky and hard to define, the general idea makes some sense.

Evil DM Mark3
2010-11-18, 05:52 PM
While far from the be all end and all this is infact a very good place to start:
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/alignment_graph_9564.jpg

Lev
2010-11-18, 07:02 PM
Or this.
http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/2615/alitb.jpg

LG are biased in their beliefs about helping people, CG are free in their beliefs about helping people.


This all comes down to something similar to honor, one's honor simply means an adherence to one's morality regardless of how good or evil it is, hell the Spanish Inquisition was in the name of a LG god but it was a LE act carried out by LE people, it call comes down to bias of one's opinions, follows the same lines of righteousness or proprietary thought patterns.

Good and evil comes down to INTENT towards the respect for life, as in a LG character could commit unspeakable actions as long as he justifies it sanely and lets it be a moral dilemma that's resolved through the evil action.

You a fan of knocking someone out instead of killing them? Grats bro, you are good.
Believe that your opinion is the objectively "right" one? You are lawful.

Bias, yo.

John Campbell
2010-11-19, 01:54 AM
I wouldn't go that far- in my experience, most alignment discussions tend to remain fairly civil.

And even if some parts of alignment- grey areas between them- are tricky and hard to define, the general idea makes some sense.
And around here, the uncivil ones get locked down pretty quickly. But civil or not, they never reach any agreement, even on very basic things. People generally have pretty similar ideas of roughly which way the "Good" and "Evil" arrows point, but there are a lot of corner cases, and where exactly they fade into "Neutral" is always up for debate. And no one ever agrees, even in very general terms, what "Lawful" and "Chaotic" actually mean... in large part because they're bundles of unrelated crap mashed together, wrapped in duct tape, with "THIS SIDE TOWARDS MECHANUS" scrawled on them in Sharpie.

And when you step back from just looking at the simplistic framework of stereotypes that the alignment system provides and start looking at characters that have actual depth to their personalities... well, has any "What alignment is [character from pop culture]?" thread ever reached agreement?

And even if one were to, what use would those two letters actually be in understanding how to play the character?

Kaww
2010-11-19, 02:28 AM
And even if one were to, what use would those two letters actually be in understanding how to play the character?

None whatsoever. Still if my new player ask for an example of whatever it's my job to provide the answer or at least the general direction in which the answer may be found. I think that that is the DM's duty. You provide the fun, the rules, but no explanations? Not a good way to do your job in my book...

NOTE: This doesn't mean that you should provide explanations that take 20 minutes while playing. You do this before or after sessions. Also general rules and your view on things must be stated from the start. This doesn't mean 3 hours of soliloquy. :smallsigh:

This is the only forum for which I need to contact my solicitor before posting...:smallbiggrin:

Skavengoblin
2010-11-19, 03:15 AM
"Alignment? It's a terrible concept, actively RP-hostile and contributing nothing to the game except arguments and acrimony. We don't use it."

And as proof, I'll point at this thread. Or any alignment discussion ever. They always, always turn out like this. The only thing this one lacks is someone claiming that using some different set of alignments, like the M:tG colors, fixes everything.

It does contribute to the game. Several spells and artifacts work better or worse for good/evil/chaotic/lawful characters. The 'detect evil' spell is there to help you find people that have little respect for others lives. An axiomatic weapon is designed to be used against people or creatures of a more rebelious nature (at least from a lawful weapon's POV).
So the reason one should learn WHAT LG or CN means is so they can better decide how/if these weapons and spells operate, in a realistic way. You can just say, "well, my player has TN on him, so hes immune to a lot of this stuff", but that goes AGAINST rping.
I am curious, how do you handle all of the spells and such based around alignment? You just ignore them? Because protection from evil should very clearly be able to protect you from characters that are, well, evil. Or if only PCs dont have alignments, then you seem to have just given them immunities from a LOT of spells and abilities.

I say rather then lazily deciding that alignment doesn't matter, each group should try to find at least a broad area that each alignment covers, and under which each player's character has a place (even if that place is in between two viable alignments).

Also, the reason many of these threads don't 'work' is because A.) too few people actually give constructive advice... they would rather just tell them they are wrong "and heres why" B.) too few people are willing to concede when they are either wrong or when someone else is simply 'more correct'. C.) people get bored of actually trying to solve a problem and just complain that the problem can't be fixed.


I don't mean to say that not using alignments is truly bad, but that it isn't a 'simple fix' to the problem, as it takes out several (even if somewhat minor) parts of the game. Before doing this, one should make sure they are OK with the characters missing out on this added feature.

Serpentine
2010-11-19, 03:54 AM
Alright folks, I had an idea which could be useful to the OP if it works. But I need help. Basically, I need more archetype type things - not individuals, because that's just asking for all sorts of trouble, but general categories of people that generally speaking most people would agree fall somewhere in that viscinity. So, anyone got anything else to suggest?http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h287/serpentine16/alignmentgeneral.gif

Myth
2010-11-19, 04:44 AM
LG: A holier than thou knight who defends the honor of a lady and follows his religious dogma to the letter.


NG: An aged Lord who looks to the good of his people but has seen the need to bend the rules when the situation calls for it, however he still regards his laws as a good guideline for his people to follow.


CG: A spontaneous, rebellious character who does not fit well with a strict hierarchy and often speaks his mind without regard to rules or social code. He is a good person and does the right thing though.


TN: The local druid who also acts as a judge in land disputes, who would personally see that the viscous wolf pack is reduced in numbers but would also make sure not to wipe out every wolf and make them extinct in the land.


LE: A ruthless careerist who would incriminate others to take their position, a corrupt clerk or politician, a priest who indulges in lust. They act as if they follow the norm but actually do what they want when they can get away with it OR try to find ways to abuse the system


NE: A smuggler who helps the highest bidder in times of war, a mercenary who does as he is told even if it means killing innocents, but would break rank and run if the tide of battle was going poorly.


CE: A man who follows no law and cares only about what he wants and how to take it. He abuses power to his own gain and does not go out of his way to help others or uphold any tradition or creed. A black widow who murders her husbands for money or an evil priestess who sacrifices children and breaks into peasant homes in the night to snatch babies off the cradle.

My two spell components worth at lest one copper piece each.

Kaww
2010-11-19, 06:55 AM
Alright folks, I had an idea which could be useful to the OP if it works. But I need help. Basically, I need more archetype type things - not individuals, because that's just asking for all sorts of trouble, but general categories of people that generally speaking most people would agree fall somewhere in that viscinity. So, anyone got anything else to suggest?http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h287/serpentine16/alignmentgeneral.gif

(::) It is for you... Also @};- I don't know how to draw something beerish, but you deserve one of those too, since it's the currency in which we show respect...:smallbiggrin:

Great idea. Might actually work! Thanks.

If you aren't sarcastic about the suggestions I might post/PM some (choose which is preferred).

Serpentine
2010-11-19, 07:12 AM
...sarcastic? :smallconfused: Nope, I want more ideas. Tongue-in-cheek and pop-culturey/popular perceptiony is as welcome as serious.

hamishspence
2010-11-19, 07:42 AM
I'd draw most of the circles quite a bit bigger- but that's me. The basic concept is pretty sound.

Kaww
2010-11-22, 03:15 AM
@ Serpentine:
- Ideal doctors of medicine should be neutral good, maybe leaning towards chaotic.
- Ideal professional soldiers should be lawful neutral, maybe leaning towards good.
Looking for disputes and/or other suggestions...
Also I might give this to my players as homework...

EDIT: Also dentists should be a thing of nightmare thus CE. :smallbiggrin:

stainboy
2010-11-22, 06:08 AM
"Alignment determines what spells and magic weapons have extra effects against you and what types of creatures you can summon. If you're a paladin, write down lawful good. If you're a cleric, write down your deity's alignment, unless one of the words is lawful or chaotic in which case replace the other word with neutral. If you're a monk, write down lawful neutral. If you're a rogue, here's the Assassin prestige class, if you like it write down neutral evil. Everybody else, write down neutral."

Skavengoblin
2010-11-22, 06:13 PM
"Alignment determines what spells and magic weapons have extra effects against you and what types of creatures you can summon. If you're a paladin, write down lawful good. If you're a cleric, write down your deity's alignment, unless one of the words is lawful or chaotic in which case replace the other word with neutral. If you're a monk, write down lawful neutral. If you're a rogue, here's the Assassin prestige class, if you like it write down neutral evil. Everybody else, write down neutral."

This is a decent back-up plan, especially if an alignment debate could ruin your game.

dsmiles
2010-11-22, 06:23 PM
"Alignment determines what spells and magic weapons have extra effects against you and what types of creatures you can summon. If you're a paladin, write down lawful good. If you're a cleric, write down your deity's alignment, unless one of the words is lawful or chaotic in which case replace the other word with neutral. If you're a monk, write down lawful neutral. If you're a rogue, here's the Assassin prestige class, if you like it write down neutral evil. Everybody else, write down neutral."

This is a decent back-up plan, especially if an alignment debate could ruin your game.

How is it decent to assign an alignment to a character? You have no idea how that character will be played.

hamishspence
2010-11-22, 06:37 PM
I think the assumption is that Neutral is the starting point- and a character can carry on from there, any way they want.

dsmiles
2010-11-22, 06:44 PM
I'd prefer that "no alignment" is the starting point rather than an expectation of everybody starting off Neutral.

Skavengoblin
2010-11-22, 06:53 PM
I'd prefer that "no alignment" is the starting point rather than an expectation of everybody starting off Neutral.

But again, this throws out many spells that use alignment. I would personally say each person is by default, w/e their races alignment usually is. if they have a good reason to change THAT, then they can present that to you.

However, most people play characters like humans (because we are human... most of us). In DnD, it says MOST humans are TN. You could say that lawful, chaotic, evil, and good alignments are only for those in the extremes. This would explain the lawfulness of monks, the LG of the righteous, holy paladin, and the fanatasism (whether towards good-work or evil-deeds) of a cleric. I beleive this is what they were trying to say.

I wouldn't personally do this, but I think it is a much better alternative than throwing out alignment completely.

kyoryu
2010-11-22, 06:56 PM
I'd prefer that "no alignment" is the starting point rather than an expectation of everybody starting off Neutral.

I basically agree, but I handle that by differentiating "Neutral" and "True Neutral."

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.

dsmiles
2010-11-22, 07:01 PM
I basically agree, but I handle that by differentiating "Neutral" and "True Neutral."

Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.

Po-tay-toes, Fie-brus Too-bers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vXzR49AtxA&feature=related). :smallwink:

Ravens_cry
2010-11-22, 08:48 PM
LG. Superman NG. Ghandi. CG. Errol Flynns Robin Hood.
LN Sherlock Holmes N Merlin. CN Wolverine
LE Dracula NE Flintheart Glomgold CE Carnage
These thoughts are merely the thoughts and opinions of the poster and do not represent the positions or views of the Giant in the Playground.

stainboy
2010-11-23, 07:17 AM
How is it decent to assign an alignment to a character? You have no idea how that character will be played.

You assume that alignment has the slightest thing to do with how players player their characters.

The whole thing was tongue-in-cheek, but it's pretty close to how I do alignment. In my games, alignment is a supernatural trait and has very little to do with personal conduct. Good means "holy," not "virtuous." Any tiefling is, for all mechanical purposes, evil. They take penalties from Protection from Evil, can wield unholy weapons, and so on. This is true even if they're genuinely nice altruistic people. A human contract killer is probably not evil, orcs aren't automatically evil, paladins are lawful good, necromancers are evil, clerics have their deities' alignments, and so on.

The only way a PC has an alignment other than neutral is if they're a spellcaster or a planetouched race.

hamishspence
2010-11-23, 07:22 AM
In my games, alignment is a supernatural trait and has very little to do with personal conduct. Good means "holy," not "virtuous." Any tiefling is, for all mechanical purposes, evil. They take penalties from Protection from Evil, can wield unholy weapons, and so on. This is true even if they're genuinely nice altruistic people.

Technically, in core D&D, it only works this way for beings with the [Evil] subtype.

Which tieflings don't have.

Is this a case of "Evil as a Supernatural Force"? Quintessenial Paladin II did mention it as one of the possible variant options- and said that in this, even a serial killer did not qualify as evil, unless, he was doing it on behalf of a fiend or evil deity.

It's a very, very different way of handling things from standard D&D though.