View Full Version : Meritocracy and Alignment

2010-11-24, 07:47 PM
Well, as defined by Wikipedia, Meritocracy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy) refers to a political ideology in which "individuals [are appointed to positions] based upon certain merits which could range from intelligence to morality to general aptitude to specific knowledge."

Now, I personally think an unbiased meritocracy-which is probably impossible-is the bee's knees (finally, leaders who are actually suited to the job!). Of course, I am saying this from a real-life perspective, and are thus biased. As a result, I am not neutral when it comes to this thread's question. Let that be the end of anything involving real issues on this thread.

The reason I am bringing this up, is to ask, in your opinion:

What do you think the alignment of meritocratic beliefs and systems are in DnD?

2010-11-24, 08:39 PM
I don't think alignment has anything to do with who would rule in a D&D meritocracy. It depends on which merits the society favors.

In an orc tribe, they may value strength and combat ability; so the strongest, best fighter gets to be the chief.

In a magical society, they might value magical ability. In a religious one, they'll look up to those who are closest to the gods. In some places, there might be schools where the smartest students get the best chance of becoming socially prominent.

There are some places where some alignment would be favored over some other; but once again, it depends on the place and the people. Whether it's the most devious Chaotic Evil drow matron or the Lawful Good paladin that everyone in the human society looks up to, their social positions are based on what the people in their society think make them good rulers (or at least dangerous to cross).

Even a Law/Chaos divide doesn't come up. Lawful people will carefully test and choose the best among them; chaotic people will rise to prominence through force of personality and personal relationships. It's really not an alignment thing at all... more of a... hmm, social sciences thing. Fictional social sciences, obviously.

2010-11-24, 09:10 PM
In my world, orcs respetc personal power. meaning that magic, physical strenght or prowess with a bow is greatly revered. meritocracy! they tend to be chaotic neutral in alignment. tho you find more neutral evil tribes than you find good ones (c.neutral being the majority)

2010-11-24, 10:33 PM
A good aligned society might use Detect Good or other spells to magically discern the alignment of people. Lawful Good people would get a higher position of power than those of other alignments.

2010-11-25, 12:00 AM
"If they can get the job done, they might as well get to do it" - This being more or less how a meritocracy rolls, the concept itself appears True Neutral to me. But any society, regardless of (predominant) alignment may be fashioned as or aspiring to be a meritocracy, so it isn't really tied to an alignment(, which does again make it True Neutral in a way, creating a gloriously endless loop of the same alignment-related statement :smalltongue:).

2010-11-25, 12:13 AM
As it says in the Wikipedia article it's not a form of government but an ideology on how to govern. When I've seen the term applied to modern society it's usually refers to society at large and in the meaning that family connections and wealth don't have as much influence as education and hard work when people are hired or promoted to fill positions in the public or private sector. So the modern ideal of a meritocracy could simply be a society rid of any sort of corruption and hereditary classes. I guess that would be a very lawful society, more likeley good or at least neutral rather than evil.

Most higher positions in modern democracies are filled based on elections which in way determine people's merit. In a less democratic society a meritocracy could simply mean that the highest positions in government were filled based on education, skills and experience as determined by some objective measurements instead of wealth, heredity or other random factors.

Examples I can think of are the powerful Chinese bureaucracy which had to go through The Imperial examination, although it mostly tested literature and philosophy. In the 18th century onwards European bureaucracies were also increasingly filled based on education instead of wealth or titles. Another fictional example is from the novel The Player of Games which featured a society where the results of a very complicated board game determined who filled which position, the winner became Emperor.

In those cases I think the societies could run the gamut of the alignment chart although lawful and/or good is perhaps more likely, at least for the more conventional definitions of merit. An evil meritocracy could simply be based on who most efficiently conquers and enforces the will of the state. A chaotic society might deem combat prowess the most desirable attribute in a leader, an evil such a society might determine that simply by allowing for Klingon promotions (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KlingonPromotion).