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Jubal_Barca
2011-08-17, 08:25 AM
I've been writing some deeper background for my current DnD 1st Ed character, a Half-Elf wizard called (in a shocking originality streak) Jubal Barca.

In particular I've been focusing on his late father Melquar, an elf noble from a now ruined city (ruined mostly thanks to the backstabbing, murdering uncle of one of the other PCs).

I'm not sure, though, what alignment Melquar would be. Essentially, he was a senior councillor in the city of Tanitica, one of the main leaders. He was, on a personal level, very cold and manipulative. In general he was more or less unable to form strong personal relationships with anyone, keeping even his marriage (which he mostly found and arranged on the grounds that my character's mother was linked to the merchants' guilds via her family and would thus be a useful political playing piece) on very formal terms. His two children (my character being the younger) he brought up entirely focusing on their usefulness. The older of the two was brought up as a soldier and captain, with a view to him giving my father more strong control of the army, and my character (the younger) had his magical talents trained towards essentially being a magically powered up diplomat (Charm Person ftw). Melquar was also extremely ruthless in removing opposition, ensuring that his opponents had scandals revealed about them or were forced into exile. He was sufficiently cold that he refused to take time off his work to attend even the funerals of close allies, and would happily move swiftly to leave a former friend destitute or without power if this meant his goals could be better achieved.

However, despite this he was a very (at least by the standards of the day) humane leader. He never had his opponents executed unless they had genuinely committed a capital crime, and his political maneuvering was done more or less entirely in the interests of increasing Tanitica's trade and wealth, ensuring peace, and distributing money and improving the lot of the poor. He personally banned torture in the city, and was at the time of his death (shortly prior to Tanitica being invaded by barbarians) attempting to remove the laws allowing serfdom on some of the city-state's estates. Nor did he profit from his position, with his family losing much of their wealth as it was given to foundations for the less well off or spent on bribing opposing nobles out of the way to get his firmly held beliefs and agendas passed.

So... how would you align the guy?

deuxhero
2011-08-17, 08:33 AM
Black is somewhere in the mix "unable to form strong personal relationships with anyone"

supermonkeyjoe
2011-08-17, 08:38 AM
Sounds very much like lawful neutral to me, he seems cold and emotionless but that doesn't qualify him as evil, likewise he was fair and humane but that doesn't seem enough to qualify him as good.

flumphy
2011-08-17, 08:41 AM
He seems to been a strict leader and parent, an immaculate planner, and someone who worked within the system rather than in spite of it. He spent his life imposing his beliefs into the law of the land. Assuming I am correct about those aspects of his personality, I'd definitely call him lawful.

As for the good/evil axis, he appears to be mainly self-serving. Maintaining his personal power, and perhaps his family's power, seems to be a higher priority for him than doing good. However, he isn't mentioned as going out of his way to harm anyone not threatening his rule, and he sees good as better than evil when such a course is practical. Sounds like neutral to me.

tl;dr: Lawful Neutral

Elyssian
2011-08-17, 11:01 AM
Well I wouldn't argue the lawful debate but good/neutral/evil is harder to decide with out a little more info on motives. I tend to look at things like is he so emotionless that he could be considered a sociopath or does he mask his emotions so that those he sees as threats to his position have less leverage? If you go the way of sociopath and the father literally is incapable of emotional attachments then that is LN or TN, but if you feel that he is just masking his feelings all the time then I would honestly go Neutral Evil or Good depending on whatever you decide as his underlying motive. A character doesn't strickly have to be Lawful to have strick discipline in their life, cause how lawful is it really to have your opposition "removed" just so that the people don't have a chance to rebel or disagree with your parties ideals ect.

Drachasor
2011-08-17, 11:40 AM
I lean towards Lawful Evil. Personal friendships mean NOTHING to him. That's more than a little dark.

LE people are allowed to not be complete monsters. It is perfectly acceptable for him to not kill needlessly, not torture (doesn't work), and be against serfdom.

Hmm, I'm reminded of what the Doctor said to a villain in one episode:
"You let one of them go but thatís nothing new. Every now and then, a little victimís spared. Because she smiled, because heís got freckles, because they begged. And thatís how you live with yourself. Thatís how you slaughter millions, because once in a while, on a whim, if the windís in the right direction, you happen to be kind."

Now, this person in the OP isn't slaughtering anyone, but he treats friends and family like disposable commodities. That's definitely evil. And didn't profit from his position? Please. He had a huge amount of political and other kinds of power. That's profit. The occasional good deed doesn't excuse his methods. Increasing the power of the city means nothing since that effectively increases his power as well.

So yeah, LE, I think, but the nicest sort of LE.

Anxe
2011-08-17, 12:40 PM
LN or LE. I'd ask your DM. He's the one who is actually going to play this character after all.

Xuc Xac
2011-08-18, 05:10 AM
All of them... and none of them.

Jubal_Barca
2011-08-18, 08:20 AM
LN or LE. I'd ask your DM. He's the one who is actually going to play this character after all.

Actually, Melquar is dead (died 6 or 7 ingame months before the campaign began) - I mostly threw the question out because it was interesting as opposed to because I practically needed it answered per se.

Essentially the conundrum is whether it's possible to be good for what you did even if you weren't nice. The effect of Melquar's leadership for the majority of Tanitica's citizens was positive, and he consciously worked to those ends as his primary concern. However, on a personal level he was undeniably a manipulative bastard.

So... I guess I'd say it was more like the flipped form of Drachasor's example from the Doctor. Melquar didn't slaughter people - as noted, he generally made things a lot better for the general populace. So rather than "being kind on occasion", it was the reverse, never showing personal kindness openly but working in a very calculated and ruthless manner for the benefit of the city or its people. The question is really how importantly one judges personal relationships in comparison to the importance of overall actions, and I think it's a fairly interesting debate in terms of DnD alignments. Do you have to be nice to be good?

hamishspence
2011-08-18, 08:35 AM
So... I guess I'd say it was more like the flipped form of Drachasor's example from the Doctor. Melquar didn't slaughter people - as noted, he generally made things a lot better for the general populace. So rather than "being kind on occasion", it was the reverse, never showing personal kindness openly but working in a very calculated and ruthless manner for the benefit of the city or its people. The question is really how importantly one judges personal relationships in comparison to the importance of overall actions, and I think it's a fairly interesting debate in terms of DnD alignments. Do you have to be nice to be good?

You don't have to be especially "nice" but you have to avoid being especially nasty (that is to say, committing major evil deeds on anything like a regular basis).

Plus, you have to "make personal sacrifices to help others". And since Neutral people typically make personal sacrifices for those they feel a personal connection to- (friends, family, or even nation)- but are less likely to do so when they lack this connection- then at least some of the Good character's personal sacrifices, have to be for "strangers"- those without this connection.

Drachasor
2011-08-18, 01:44 PM
Also, you can't say "this person did an evil/good deed, so he's evil/good!" Someone that is evil is perfectly capable of supporting good causes now and then. Heck, if those causes happen to make his position stronger, then it's a smart thing to do.

You have to look at behavior and motivations. Now, we didn't get much in the way of motivations from the OP. We did get behavior though. He treats his family as tools. He treats his friends as disposable commodities if they are no longer useful. He does whatever he can within the rough limits of the law to take and keep power. Did he have to treat his friends and family like that to get his goals? I don't think so. Sure, maybe he has to stop a political rival who is also a friend, but that doesn't mean he has to leave them poor and destitute. Training his kids so they are useful didn't mean he had to forgo showing them love and affection.

Given how he treats those close to him and those who get in his way, I don't think he was aiming to make the country stronger for the good of everyone. Rather, it seems more likely that making it stronger for his own good happens to benefit others. Torture isn't effective and it can make enemies of good-aligned nations, so why keep it? Slavery/serfdom isn't particularly efficient, so the country and hence he are stronger without it. Seems to me he does evil without regret when it benefits himself and good without regret when it benefits himself. Correct me if I am wrong though.

I can see a argument for LN with evil tendencies, but LE seems a bit more right. LE doesn't have to mean you do evil for evil's sake. One way to be evil is just to be self-centered -- if it doesn't help you, then it isn't worth much.

This guy does show that being LE doesn't necessarily mean you are a horrible leader. Certainly it is far better than Chaotic Neutral and arguably can be better than Chaotic Good (legal consistency is important in a nation) -- for certain sorts of LE and CG. Of course, in a different circumstance that same LE leader who does do good on occasion could easily do great evil repeatedly...so long as he benefits.

askandarion
2011-08-18, 02:56 PM
He's a bit of a vicious utilitarian, isn't he?

Definitely not Good. Not compassionate, doesn't view other creatures as having intrinsic value vs. their usefulness, and despite his focus on the city does not show an interest in bettering the lives of others. He values a conceptual whole instead of those that make up the concept. His methods are also too cut-throat. You can't intentionally destroy others' lives for your own goals (even if the goals are to improve the city) and be Good. And for that matter, just because you want to "improve" something doesn't mean you're good if your methods are cruel.

Is he Neutral? That's the strongest case to make, and the easiest, and others have given sufficient support I think. It's quite possible.

Is he Evil? I think yes. I read his intentions as "improving" the city because he wants to, not because it needs improvement. He shows no regard to what others think or feel, in personal or civic life. He made things better for some, but far, far worse for others. The description of his actions towards those who cross him, and his own children, strikes me as cruel. He could have taken not only more compassionate measures to enemies, but also alternative tactics to make more use of them- his description makes him sound much more interested in destroying all who oppose him (not through bloodshed, but still).

Quite frankly, I'm not even sure he's lawful. I can't quite put my finger on why, though- he goes through the motions correctly. I need to think why I feel that way some more.

hamishspence
2011-08-18, 03:02 PM
Quite frankly, I'm not even sure he's lawful. I can't quite put my finger on why, though- he goes through the motions correctly. I need to think why I feel that way some more.

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


To be lawful is to be in favor of conformity and consistency, to act in a systematic and uniform fashion, and to take responsibility. As a lawful person, you establish patterns and precedents and stick to them unless you can see a good reason to do otherwise. Methodical efficiency is your byword, and you believe in the concept of duty. You plan and organize your activities to achieve particular goals, not just to satisfy impulsive desires. You believe a proper way exists to accomplish any goal, though it may not always be the traditional, tried-and-true way. Likewise, you cultivate long-term relationships and endeavor to build trust between your associates and yourself. As a lawful person, you recognize that most laws have valid purposes that promote social order, but you are not necessarily bound to obey them to the letter. In particular, if you are both good and lawful, you have no respect for a law is unfair or capricious.

Being chaotic, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily mean you are incapable of adhering to the law. Though chaotic societies may seem disorderly, they exist in abundance. As a chaotic character, you are dedicated to personal and societal freedom. You pursue your dreams and don't try to put limits on your nature. You don't value consistency for its own sake; rather, you respond to every situation as you see fit without worrying about what you did before. The past is the past and the future is uncertain, so you prefer to live in the present. Each situation is new, so planning and procedures are pointless -- in fact, they restrain people from reacting quickly and decisively. 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. You are always ready to try new techniques because you believe that experience is the best teacher, and you are always open to discovery.

In short, good and evil describe a character's ideals, and law and chaos describe the means she uses to work toward her goals. The law of the land in any given place is most likely designed to promote social order, so in general terms, lawful characters are more likely to respect it than chaotic characters are. However, the content of the law matters much more than its mere existence.

Redrat2k6
2011-08-18, 04:59 PM
As a whole would you say he is:

The Others in this example are people as a whole, evil, neutral, and good people would change the circumstances obviously.

Willing to sacrifice his own personal comfort in order to benefit others? This means active participation in others lives.
If Yes then Good.

Not willing to actively help others at personal sacrifice, but not willing to actively hurt others for personal gain. Although personal gain may be indirect.
If Yes than Neutral.

Willing to actively hurt and disadvantage others for personal gain.
If Yes than Evil.

You can get into specifics like "What if the character was stealing for his family?" (In which case all he is doing is having preference for a certain group of people over another based purely on personal reasoning.) In which case you would have to identify those personal reasons and their motives, but more often than not it falls into the neutral range.

enderlord99
2011-08-18, 05:02 PM
Lawful Neutral with Evil tendencies (which really means "somewhere between LE and LN").

Cerlis
2011-08-18, 05:13 PM
murdering the innocent is a habit, not a requirement of being evil.

so i'd def agree lawful neutral or evil.

my main point is just cus he doesnt kill off his enemies or whatever(which would seriosly risky to anyone hoping to gain political position) doesnt mean he isnt evil.

NNescio
2011-08-18, 05:33 PM
As a whole would you say he is:

The Others in this example are people as a whole, evil, neutral, and good people would change the circumstances obviously.

Willing to sacrifice his own personal comfort in order to benefit others? This means active participation in others lives.
If Yes then Good.

Not willing to actively help others at personal sacrifice, but not willing to actively hurt others for personal gain. Although personal gain may be indirect.
If Yes than Neutral.

Willing to actively hurt and disadvantage others for personal gain.
If Yes than Evil.

You can get into specifics like "What if the character was stealing for his family?" (In which case all he is doing is having preference for a certain group of people over another based purely on personal reasoning.) In which case you would have to identify those personal reasons and their motives, but more often than not it falls into the neutral range.

That rules out Lawful Evil Knight Templars.

(AKA The Well-Intentioned Extremist, which are a dime a dozen among 'sympathetic' villains.)

Kalirren
2011-08-18, 06:13 PM
LN. The best alignment of them all.

Cisturn
2011-08-18, 06:15 PM
I'm gonna fall in line with rest. He's Lawful Neutral with some great intricacies. He's self serving and cold, but he also generally does seem to care about his people...as in mostly working to ensure peace and improve the lot of the poor. He seems like LN with some darker tendencies, but with his goals being what they are, he may have been LG earlier on in life.

Acanous
2011-08-18, 07:19 PM
He COULD be L/N, and propably wants other people to see him as L/N, but is more likely L/E.

I had a wizard character that wanted to found a wizard's college and promote education of the masses, a magically-enhanced (Tippyverse) way of life, and eliminate the class system in favor of having a governing council of the smartest wizards in the realm.

He had close friends, whom he sacrificed much for, even being driven out of a city for not turning over his best friend's child to be execuited, and making an enemy of the church of corilleon for not turning on a drow bard. He served in his country's army for a few years, and he even saved the world once. Buuut

He was an evil man, who had no qualms about taking what he needed from those who could not stop him. He did not kill his enemies because it would be *Too easy* for them to come back, and then he would have lost track of them.

Extortion was a business model. He'd *Leave the country* to do any real bad mojo, like piracy or dirty deals with slavers. That way, the folks at home would still think of him as that nice man with the colourful carriage from down the lane, not the great and mighty sorceror-hunter that was trying to regulate who got access to magic.

If he ruled the world, it would be a very efficient place, with first-world quality of life, and 1984 style government.

So, TL:DR; L/E is the best alignment a politician can be.

Lord.Sorasen
2011-08-18, 07:43 PM
Lawful Neutral, I'd say. But more importantly, lawful. Good or evil is sort of irrelevant because it takes a backseat to this.

The man is calculating. He is ultra goal oriented to the extent of funneling all aspects of his self into this goal. I imagine someone of this sort of never really thinks about good or evil. He thinks about the success of the city.

His emotionlessness... He treats others as tools instead of people. People have needs and can be difficult. Our feelings often lead us to make irrational decisions. By avoiding emotional attachment, it's easier to stay focused on the proper logical response.

Perhaps his good or evil might be there, hidden, but I feel like he's the sort who would oppress either impulse.

Shep
2011-08-18, 07:44 PM
I'd say LN. I'm not seeing LE. Yes, he's cold and impersonal. Those, however, are personality traits, and not ethical decisions. I don't find the description supports a 'selfish' interpretation. He made sure his kids are useful to society. Father of the year? No. But not evil.

Drachasor
2011-08-18, 08:10 PM
I'd say LN. I'm not seeing LE. Yes, he's cold and impersonal. Those, however, are personality traits, and not ethical decisions. I don't find the description supports a 'selfish' interpretation. He made sure his kids are useful to society. Father of the year? No. But not evil.

The evil comes from tossing FRIENDS aside like garbage when they got in his way. Heck, not even tossing them aside, but actively destroying them. As described he didn't care for his kids any more than he did his friends. Doesn't sound like he even bothered looking for ways to not destroy and leave destitute anyone that got in his way.

Here's the thing. How is this guy different from Lex Luthor? Luthor would use his kids as tools (and has). Luthor would destroy friends that got in his way. Luthor donated money to the poor (good for his public image) -- and he'd do similar good deeds for the same reason or just because it led to better efficiency. There are at best two differences. One, the guy in the OP is less murderous (but this is not sufficient to make someone not evil), and he's less rich (which can be considered "less capable" than Luthor). The OP seems to have sacrificed wealth for public image AND to maintain his political power, so in the end he was still had a lot of power. Hardly "not profiting"...he just didn't profit with money.

Lord.Sorasen
2011-08-18, 08:47 PM
The evil comes from tossing FRIENDS aside like garbage when they got in his way. Heck, not even tossing them aside, but actively destroying them. As described he didn't care for his kids any more than he did his friends. Doesn't sound like he even bothered looking for ways to not destroy and leave destitute anyone that got in his way.

Here's the thing. How is this guy different from Lex Luthor? Luthor would use his kids as tools (and has). Luthor would destroy friends that got in his way. Luthor donated money to the poor (good for his public image) -- and he'd do similar good deeds for the same reason or just because it led to better efficiency. There are at best two differences. One, the guy in the OP is less murderous (but this is not sufficient to make someone not evil), and he's less rich (which can be considered "less capable" than Luthor). The OP seems to have sacrificed wealth for public image AND to maintain his political power, so in the end he was still had a lot of power. Hardly "not profiting"...he just didn't profit with money.

New stance for me: We haven't seen enough of this character to know. What we are seeing is someone who is cold and calculating. But what we really need is a paladin. Melquar needs a paladin to oppose him in the same way Superman opposes Lex Luthor. We don't know Melquar's limits.

We also don't know how Melquar really fealt. Spoiler ahead. In Gurren Lagann Rossiu has his best friend executed for the sake of the city and its people. For a time he seems very cold. But he's never been selfish about it. Lex Luthor is selfish. Someone who truly wants what is best for his people may very well be different in core ways.

Melquar may have been a very logical person in that he believes the lives of the many outweigh the lives of the few. As something of a utilitarianism (if this is the case) he might throw away the lives of those close to him in order to see the lives of others greatly improved.

flumphy
2011-08-18, 08:52 PM
The evil comes from tossing FRIENDS aside like garbage when they got in his way. Heck, not even tossing them aside, but actively destroying them. As described he didn't care for his kids any more than he did his friends. Doesn't sound like he even bothered looking for ways to not destroy and leave destitute anyone that got in his way.

Here's the thing. How is this guy different from Lex Luthor? Luthor would use his kids as tools (and has). Luthor would destroy friends that got in his way. Luthor donated money to the poor (good for his public image) -- and he'd do similar good deeds for the same reason or just because it led to better efficiency. There are at best two differences. One, the guy in the OP is less murderous (but this is not sufficient to make someone not evil), and he's less rich (which can be considered "less capable" than Luthor). The OP seems to have sacrificed wealth for public image AND to maintain his political power, so in the end he was still had a lot of power. Hardly "not profiting"...he just didn't profit with money.

What I got from the OP is that he enacted social reform not for the sake of good publicity but because he genuinely believed it to be the best course of action. I suppose you could read it either way.

If it was solely for the publicity, then yes, I'd agree he's evil. But if he was, in fact, acting for the greater good, then I stand by my initial label of neutral. Being ruthlessly utilitarian doesn't make you evil, especially if you don't bear any malice. It just makes you a jerk, and possibly a sociopath. Look at modrons and inevitables, for example. Pure, cold, ruthless, calculation, yet the epitomy of LN.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 11:58 AM
If it was solely for the publicity, then yes, I'd agree he's evil. But if he was, in fact, acting for the greater good, then I stand by my initial label of neutral. Being ruthlessly utilitarian doesn't make you evil, especially if you don't bear any malice. It just makes you a jerk, and possibly a sociopath. Look at modrons and inevitables, for example. Pure, cold, ruthless, calculation, yet the epitomy of LN.

Eh, sociopaths aren't utilitarian. They are pretty much evil by definition. Quite literally their empathy circuits aren't working and so they don't value others.

Lawful Evil can act for the greater "good" (in their own mind). Lenin is a great example of someone that was Lawful Evil. Ignoring the costs in lives and misery is what makes someone Lawful Evil rather than Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good. Malice is not necessary....one simply need not care. This is part of the definition of Lawful Evil:

He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion.

I'd say Inevitables have some of their flavor text poorly written. A true LN would not sacrifice an ally without a second thought -- that's LE territory. Though one might argue they are LN with LE tendencies.

Anyhow, overall I agree with Lord.Sorasen...we don't really have enough information to be sure. The guy simply hasn't been pushed enough to make his alignment clear, and we lack any description of his motivations. At best though, he's LN with evil tendencies given how he treats his friends.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 12:15 PM
Eh, sociopaths aren't utilitarian. They are pretty much evil by definition. Quite literally their empathy circuits aren't working and so they don't value others.

Lawful Evil can act for the greater "good" (in their own mind). Lenin is a great example of someone that was Lawful Evil. Ignoring the costs in lives and misery is what makes someone Lawful Evil rather than Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good. Malice is not necessary....one simply need not care. This is part of the definition of Lawful Evil:

He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion.

I'd say Inevitables have some of their flavor text poorly written. A true LN would not sacrifice an ally without a second thought -- that's LE territory. Though one might argue they are LN with LE tendencies.

Anyhow, overall I agree with Lord.Sorasen...we don't really have enough information to be sure. The guy simply hasn't been pushed enough to make his alignment clear, and we lack any description of his motivations. At best though, he's LN with evil tendencies given how he treats his friends.

You can be sociopathic, (not care about others,) but have morals for personal reasons. Evil is as evil does and good is as good does. Being sociopathic has nothing to do with it.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 12:29 PM
You can be sociopathic, (not care about others,) but have morals for personal reasons. Evil is as evil does and good is as good does. Being sociopathic has nothing to do with it.

That's not really how people work, and particularly not how sociopaths work.

I realize TV shows that have "sociopaths" in them very often get this wrong. The British Sherlock Holmes 3-part series last year, for instance. They are decidedly getting it wrong, however.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 12:41 PM
That's not really how people work, and particularly not how sociopaths work.

I realize TV shows that have "sociopaths" in them very often get this wrong. The British Sherlock Holmes 3-part series last year, for instance. They are decidedly getting it wrong, however.

Naw, sociopaths can certainly have morals. They can understand ethics and choose to apply them for whatever reason. The reasons may just be... different. For example, many people think sociopathy means desire to hurt people. It doesn't mean that at all, though. I don't watch much TV and haven't seen any shows about sociopaths.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 12:53 PM
Naw, sociopaths can certainly have morals. They can understand ethics and choose to apply them for whatever reason. The reasons may just be... different. For example, many people think sociopathy means desire to hurt people. It doesn't mean that at all, though. I don't watch much TV and haven't seen any shows about sociopaths.

Err, no.

"...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder)

Sociopaths DO NOT CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. That's a primary part of the disorder. They can be very good at faking it, but that's it. Fundamentally, morals are about caring for others and acknowledging that other people matter for their own sake. Sociopaths aren't capable of that. At best they might ape morals when necessary in social situations, but only because that's the best way to get what they want.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 12:57 PM
Err, no.

"...a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder)

Sociopaths DO NOT CARE ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE. That's a primary part of the disorder. They can be very good at faking it, but that's it. Fundamentally, morals are about caring for others and acknowledging that other people matter for their own sake. Sociopaths aren't capable of that. At best they might ape morals when necessary in social situations, but only because that's the best way to get what they want.

Yes, sociopaths don't care about other people. I admitted that. No need to shout. But people aren't cardboard cut outs. They can still care about how other people affect them. They can decide to have ethics not out of concern for other people but for many personal reasons or even because they trick themselves and think that they do care about people because they have been told they are supposed to and are to delusional to seperate themselves from it and self analyze.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 01:04 PM
Yes, sociopaths don't care about other people. I admitted that. No need to shout. But people aren't cardboard cut outs. They can still care about how other people affect them. They can decide to have ethics not out of concern for other people but for many personal reasons or even because they trick themselves and think that they do care about people because they have been told they are supposed to and are to delusional to seperate themselves from it and self analyze.

Ethics without conviction are not ethics at all. They can pay lip-service to ethics, but they can't actually hold true to their ethics since fundamentally they don't care about others. If they did care, they wouldn't be sociopaths.

Toofey
2011-08-19, 01:05 PM
I don't see indicators of good or evil in the first post, I see personality traits that I feel are associated with evil, but no evidence of evil acts. I would say that if his actions as leader gave a hint of either good or evil then that would define his ethical axis but the information we have just indicates lawful.

If you could explain the father's intent better that would be great, i get that you are thinking of the father more in terms of shaping your character's intent, but I think the Father as you wrote him is LN with a whiff of evil, but no real evidence of it.

Shep
2011-08-19, 01:37 PM
The evil comes from tossing FRIENDS aside like garbage when they got in his way. Heck, not even tossing them aside, but actively destroying them. As described he didn't care for his kids any more than he did his friends. Doesn't sound like he even bothered looking for ways to not destroy and leave destitute anyone that got in his way.

Here's the thing. How is this guy different from Lex Luthor? Luthor would use his kids as tools (and has). Luthor would destroy friends that got in his way. Luthor donated money to the poor (good for his public image) -- and he'd do similar good deeds for the same reason or just because it led to better efficiency. There are at best two differences. One, the guy in the OP is less murderous (but this is not sufficient to make someone not evil), and he's less rich (which can be considered "less capable" than Luthor). The OP seems to have sacrificed wealth for public image AND to maintain his political power, so in the end he was still had a lot of power. Hardly "not profiting"...he just didn't profit with money.


It seems you discredit the comparrison between Luther and Melquar in your own post. If there were no differences other than the fact that Melquar doesn't murder his enemies, your analogy is already shot. It's the equivalent to saying: 'What's the difference between Batman and the Joker besides the fact that he won't kill his enemies?' But there are many other differences. Luther became obsessed with killing Superman just because Supes humiliated him. Luther is demonstrably an egomaniac - he considers all his deeds and accomplishments as they reflect back on him. He is selfish to the core. His degree of success is irrelevant here, as we're talking about alignment, and thus motivation, rather than ability. Luther may well improve the lot of the poor, but does he actually give a rat's behind about the poor? He donates to charity because of how that affects his appearance. Melquar is stated to truly desire the betterment of the poor (though we aren't told why). This is not an evil motivation. Not only that, but Melquar is described as making personal sacrifices for the wellbeing of the nation he runs.

Let's take a look at some of the the seven deadlies (not the only standard of morality, but a well known one.) Greed? Melquar gave up his family's wealth to improve the lot of others. Wrath? He has a limit to how far he'll go in pursuing his goal, and that limit is murder. Pride? Luthor has it spades, but if Melquar has it that's info that's not included nor alluded to in the OP. Sloth? Okay, you can't accuse Luthor or Melquar of that.

Is Melquar a saint? I'm not trying to make that argument, but the longer I dwell on it, the further I think Melquar leans toward LN with G tendencies rather than E tendencies. Here's another take on Melquar's treatment of friends and family - he lay down his own interests, even those of love for family and companionship, in favor of the interests of the many. He's directly stated as making personal monetary sacrifices to benefit the many. We aren't told how he felt about sacrificing being close to his family, although it is hinted at that he might not even have been capable of closeness. Some people are built that way. They may desire warmth and friendship, but do not have the personality to meet that need.

This last paragraph is speculation, but no more so than your speculation that he throws friends asside without regard for their feelings. We haven't been told that. He might hold humanity in disdain, working for their good for some other nefarious purpose, but we haven't been given that information. I think the most logical interpretation of what was stated is LN. Other interpretations are certainly possible, though.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 01:51 PM
It seems you discredit the comparrison between Luther and Melquar in your own post. If there were no differences other than the fact that Melquar doesn't murder his enemies, your analogy is already shot. It's the equivalent to saying: 'What's the difference between Batman and the Joker besides the fact that he won't kill his enemies?' But there are many other differences. Luther became obsessed with killing Superman just because Supes humiliated him. Luther is demonstrably an egomaniac - he considers all his deeds and accomplishments as they reflect back on him. He is selfish to the core. His degree of success is irrelevant here, as we're talking about alignment, and thus motivation, rather than ability. Luther may well improve the lot of the poor, but does he actually give a rat's behind about the poor? He donates to charity because of how that affects his appearance. Melquar is stated to truly desire the betterment of the poor (though we aren't told why). This is not an evil motivation. Not only that, but Melquar is described as making personal sacrifices for the wellbeing of the nation he runs.

You go into a lot of motivations regarding Luthor. We have very little in regards to the motivations of Melquar so we can't compare there. A LE guy is allowed to have idiosyncrasies like "not killing", and if that's the only difference between two people then it is actually very, very little. Heck, Luthor doesn't even kill people all that much. Melquar is NOT stated to have truly desired betterment for the poor. He is stated to have done things that make their lives better. That's a very different thing. Luthor has also done things good for the poor (among other things). These guys behave in a similar fashion, but Melquar doesn't have anyone like Superman pushing him to see what limits exist.

When we look at behavior, there are tremendous amounts of similarities, which I think you are ignoring. This doesn't happen if you compare the Joker to Batman. If you ignore the motivations, they still act radically differently. Batman only goes after criminals, whom he stops for the police. The Joker goes after innocents and has a sadistic sense of humor. One is very methodical, the other is very unpredictable. One has been shown to clearly be willing to sacrifice of himself for others, the other has never done so.

Again though, I overall don't think there's enough information about Melquar to have a firm evaluation of his alignment beyond it not being good and that he is lawful.


Is Melquar a saint? I'm not trying to make that argument, but the longer I dwell on it, the further I think Melquar leans toward LN with G tendencies rather than E tendencies. Here's another take on Melquar's treatment of friends and family - he lay down his own interests, even those of love for family and companionship, in favor of the interests of the many. He's directly stated as making personal monetary sacrifices to benefit the many. We aren't told how he felt about sacrificing being close to his family, although it is hinted at that he might not even have been capable of closeness. Some people are built that way. They may desire warmth and friendship, but do not have the personality to meet that need.

Part of caring about other people is caring about those close to you. This guy doesn't do that. He seems to go to extremes (short of killing) to get rid of people in his way, even friends. That shows a profound disrespect for others and is evil behavior. He's not "laying down his own interests" here, but laying down the interests of other people. "Get in my way and I'll eliminate you with prejudice, whether you were a friend or not" is decidedly not a philosophy that a good person can stand by. That's removing people just because they are inconvenient...which isn't good no matter his goal (which is frankly quite unclear).

Please note, being a net positive influence on the world doesn't mean your alignment is good. That's not what alignment is about.

Shep
2011-08-19, 02:22 PM
You go into a lot of motivations regarding Luthor. We have very little in regards to the motivations of Melquar so we can't compare there. A LE guy is allowed to have idiosyncrasies like "not killing", and if that's the only difference between two people then it is actually very, very little. Heck, Luthor doesn't even kill people all that much. Melquar is NOT stated to have truly desired betterment for the poor. He is stated to have done things that make their lives better. That's a very different thing. Luthor has also done things good for the poor (among other things). These guys behave in a similar fashion, but Melquar doesn't have anyone like Superman pushing him to see what limits exist.

When we look at behavior, there are tremendous amounts of similarities, which I think you are ignoring. This doesn't happen if you compare the Joker to Batman. If you ignore the motivations, they still act radically differently. Batman only goes after criminals, whom he stops for the police. The Joker goes after innocents and has a sadistic sense of humor. One is very methodical, the other is very unpredictable. One has been shown to clearly be willing to sacrifice of himself for others, the other has never done so.

Again though, I overall don't think there's enough information about Melquar to have a firm evaluation of his alignment beyond it not being good and that he is lawful.



Part of caring about other people is caring about those close to you. This guy doesn't do that. He seems to go to extremes (short of killing) to get rid of people in his way, even friends. That shows a profound disrespect for others and is evil behavior. He's not "laying down his own interests" here, but laying down the interests of other people. "Get in my way and I'll eliminate you with prejudice, whether you were a friend or not" is decidedly not a philosophy that a good person can stand by. That's removing people just because they are inconvenient...which isn't good no matter his goal (which is frankly quite unclear).

Please note, being a net positive influence on the world doesn't mean your alignment is good. That's not what alignment is about.

There's not a tremendous amount of anything between Luthor and Melquor. Melquor has been described for... two paragraphs. Luthor has been around since 1938. Comparing Melquor to a known murderer and egomaniac is a bit premature at best.

Neither does turning on a friend necessarily mean your alignment is bad. Turning in a friend is an action, not an alignment. The circumstances under which you take an action have bearing on the morality of that action. What if his friend was accepting bribes? Misappropriating funds meant for others? What if his friend turns out he was terminating enemies with extreme prejudice, or was a spy trying to instigate war with a neighboring kingdom? Should Melquar have overlooked this for the sake of friendship? Again, none of this is evidence for a good alignment, but neither is it evidence of evil. Do you really think the circumstances or reasons for Melquar's actions don't matter?

My point is not that we know for a fact that Melquar isn't evil, only that the facts do not support labelling him as evil at this time. If we learned more, Melquar could indeed turn out to be evil. To my mind, alignment is never as simple as saying, "Being unkind to your family is something a good person would never do."

And please don't misunderstand me, I'm also not trying to argue that ignoring family is a thing most good people would do. But neither would I make a blanket statement that there are no circumstances under which a good person would do so. What about Prince Zuko in Avatar? Was his mother evil for saving his life? She could only do so by leaving him in the night without explanation. Was this done out of selfishness, or out of a desire to save her son?

enderlord99
2011-08-19, 02:33 PM
Wow... Apparently, Whatsisname is "Lawful Something."

TriForce
2011-08-19, 04:05 PM
it seems to me hes pretty lawful neutral.

the lawful part is pretty obvious, hes activly promoting and inforcing the system becouse he believes in it. when given a choice, he will always go for the traditional approach, and he seems to firmly believe in the rules of both society and the law as they are.

a lot of people here seem to discuss the neutral/evil possibility, but since he activly tries to improve the city for everyone, not just himself, and as far as i read it, he seems to believe that his way is truly the best way for everyone (he may or may not be wrong about it, but thats not really the issue here) and he doesnt punish people unless they deserve it, and when he does punish, the punishment seems to fit the crime. all of this would even be enough to put him on the good side, were it not for the fact that hes as cold as ice, and doesnt form any emotional connection to anyone or anything, except perhaps the status of himself in the world.

doing truly good deeds, with a (slightly) evil mindset, for a good cause, strikes me as neutral.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 04:24 PM
it seems to me hes pretty lawful neutral.

the lawful part is pretty obvious, hes activly promoting and inforcing the system becouse he believes in it. when given a choice, he will always go for the traditional approach, and he seems to firmly believe in the rules of both society and the law as they are.

a lot of people here seem to discuss the neutral/evil possibility, but since he activly tries to improve the city for everyone, not just himself, and as far as i read it, he seems to believe that his way is truly the best way for everyone (he may or may not be wrong about it, but thats not really the issue here) and he doesnt punish people unless they deserve it, and when he does punish, the punishment seems to fit the crime. all of this would even be enough to put him on the good side, were it not for the fact that hes as cold as ice, and doesnt form any emotional connection to anyone or anything, except perhaps the status of himself in the world.

doing truly good deeds, with a (slightly) evil mindset, for a good cause, strikes me as neutral.

Well, if you're him and an egoist, then I guess "he got in my way" could be considered "he deserved it." Outside of that...no, he definitely hurts people that don't deserve it, and he doesn't just hurt them, but ruins their lives.


There's not a tremendous amount of anything between Luthor and Melquor. Melquor has been described for... two paragraphs. Luthor has been around since 1938. Comparing Melquor to a known murderer and egomaniac is a bit premature at best.

I'm just saying there are a lot of similarities from what we know.


Neither does turning on a friend necessarily mean your alignment is bad. Turning in a friend is an action, not an alignment. The circumstances under which you take an action have bearing on the morality of that action. What if his friend was accepting bribes? Misappropriating funds meant for others? What if his friend turns out he was terminating enemies with extreme prejudice, or was a spy trying to instigate war with a neighboring kingdom? Should Melquar have overlooked this for the sake of friendship? Again, none of this is evidence for a good alignment, but neither is it evidence of evil. Do you really think the circumstances or reasons for Melquar's actions don't matter?

As described, this isn't one act. He regularly destroyed the lives of friends who got in his way. They aren't described as being "on the take" or anything like that...merely as being people who didn't agree with whatever his agenda was at the time. Melquar has a pattern of this sort of behavior, apparently done without remorse.


My point is not that we know for a fact that Melquar isn't evil, only that the facts do not support labelling him as evil at this time. If we learned more, Melquar could indeed turn out to be evil. To my mind, alignment is never as simple as saying, "Being unkind to your family is something a good person would never do."

I am also saying we can't be sure, but as described he appears to have a pattern of evil acts, motivated solely by his own self-interest and personal desires. For his good acts we don't get any hints of the motivation behind them. We know there were humane ends from those acts, but no clue as to why he did them.

That's why I lean towards evil with what we know so far. Granted, the OP could reveal information that dramatically changes that, but we can't base a judgment on what could possibly be true.

Shep
2011-08-19, 06:36 PM
Well, if you're him and an egoist, then I guess "he got in my way" could be considered "he deserved it." Outside of that...no, he definitely hurts people that don't deserve it, and he doesn't just hurt them, but ruins their lives.



I'm just saying there are a lot of similarities from what we know.



As described, this isn't one act. He regularly destroyed the lives of friends who got in his way. They aren't described as being "on the take" or anything like that...merely as being people who didn't agree with whatever his agenda was at the time. Melquar has a pattern of this sort of behavior, apparently done without remorse.



I am also saying we can't be sure, but as described he appears to have a pattern of evil acts, motivated solely by his own self-interest and personal desires. For his good acts we don't get any hints of the motivation behind them. We know there were humane ends from those acts, but no clue as to why he did them.

That's why I lean towards evil with what we know so far. Granted, the OP could reveal information that dramatically changes that, but we can't base a judgment on what could possibly be true.

Yes, you've stated that you think he's evil, you just haven't presented any compelling reason that hasn't already been refuted.

Edit: Oh dear gods I've gotten myself involved in an alignment debate!!!!!

I need a different, friendlier-looking avatar.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 06:49 PM
Yes, you've stated that you think he's evil, you just haven't presented any compelling reason that hasn't already been refuted.

Neutrals don't go out of their way to help strangers, but they do go out of their way to help friends. This guy doesn't do that and in fact disposes of friends when they are inconvenient to his personal goals. That's evil by definition according to the alignment system.

In response I've gotten "well, at the end of a long life he'd done a few acts that were good! Maybe even two of them didn't immediately benefit himself" Wow...color me unimpressed at his "good" qualities.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 07:44 PM
Ethics without conviction are not ethics at all. They can pay lip-service to ethics, but they can't actually hold true to their ethics since fundamentally they don't care about others. If they did care, they wouldn't be sociopaths.

What makes you think they can't care about the ethics they have decided to follow? I wonder if you are making the assumption that all sociopaths are manipulating, hate filled people who are fully aware of their own affliction and mentally stable enough to analyze what they are/how they might as well act. If they act good and do good during their lives, whether or not they have empathetic intentions, I see no reason to call them evil or even not good.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 08:31 PM
What makes you think they can't care about the ethics they have decided to follow? I wonder if you are making the assumption that all sociopaths are manipulating, hate filled people who are fully aware of their own affliction and mentally stable enough to analyze what they are/how they might as well act. If they act good and do good during their lives, whether or not they have empathetic intentions, I see no reason to call them evil or even not good.

Because it is not easy to be ethical even with empathy (which helps a lot). When a situation pops up where the sociopath can be selfish or ethical, and being selfish has no negative consequence for them, why would they be ethical?

I'm not saying they are necessarily manipulating (though that is very common), nor hate-filled. Merely that they don't see a value in other people except for how it serves their own ends (including personal amusement). It doesn't matter if they aren't conscious of that fact or not...that's just how they are.

You propose that people who aren't capable of caring about others are capable of caring about others. It's a contradiction of their medical disorder. You're essentially claiming there are sociopaths that aren't sociopaths, which doesn't make any sense.

Again, if they care about others, then they aren't sociopaths.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 08:39 PM
Because it is not easy to be ethical even with empathy (which helps a lot). When a situation pops up where the sociopath can be selfish or ethical, and being selfish has no negative consequence for them, why would they be ethical?

I'm not saying they are necessarily manipulating (though that is very common), nor hate-filled. Merely that they don't see a value in other people except for how it serves their own ends (including personal amusement). It doesn't matter if they aren't conscious of that fact or not...that's just how they are.

You propose that people who aren't capable of caring about others are capable of caring about others. It's a contradiction of their medical disorder. You're essentially claiming there are sociopaths that aren't sociopaths, which doesn't make any sense.

Again, if they care about others, then they aren't sociopaths.

I never said they care about others except for how it satisfies themselves, but if thinking they are a moral person satisfies themselves personally, they can do it. Even if their morality is not inherent or based on empathy, if they follow it then they are being moral. Like I said, why does a sociopath have to be conscious of their own sociopathy? They can act however makes them feel good and that may be thinking of themselves as good people for whatever reason. And why couldn't a sociopath who acknowledges their own sociopathy decide to follow a certain code absent from emotion towards other people?

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 09:14 PM
I never said they care about others except for how it satisfies themselves, but if thinking they are a moral person satisfies themselves personally, they can do it. Even if their morality is not inherent or based on empathy, if they follow it then they are being moral. Like I said, why does a sociopath have to be conscious of their own sociopathy? They can act however makes them feel good and that may be thinking of themselves as good people for whatever reason. And why couldn't a sociopath who acknowledges their own sociopathy decide to follow a certain code absent from emotion towards other people?

A person could certainly be conscious of the fact they don't care about others. What of it? That doesn't mean they are going to care about others.

At the point at which they make themselves care about others on a regular basis, they are no longer sociopaths.

You are being rather flippant about mental disorders. Someone recognizing they are depressed doesn't mean they can snap out of it. Someone recognizing they are manic doesn't mean that they can fix it. Someone knowing they have OCD doesn't mean they can get rid of it. Someone recognizing they are a sociopath doesn't mean they can do a dang thing about it. In fact, these conditions persist even when one is aware of it....being aware of it doesn't solve anything.

In particular, sociopaths have a kind of brain damage. That doesn't get "fixed" by willing it aware or realizing that it is something other people wouldn't like about them.

Again, you are proposing that someone who essentially has brain damage making them incapable of caring about other people, can suddenly decide to care about other people. That is not how these things work.

Another way to look at it, would be to consider why such a person would adopt such a code. To adopt a code devoted to caring about others and putting them before you when it wasn't in your own interest, you would have to acknowledge that those others have a value independent of your existence. Sociopaths CAN'T DO THAT. That's why they are sociopaths. It is just as impossible for them as it would be for someone who was severely depressed to wake up and decide "I'm going to be happy today" and then be happy.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 09:28 PM
A person could certainly be conscious of the fact they don't care about others. What of it? That doesn't mean they are going to care about others.

At the point at which they make themselves care about others on a regular basis, they are no longer sociopaths.

You are being rather flippant about mental disorders. Someone recognizing they are depressed doesn't mean they can snap out of it. Someone recognizing they are manic doesn't mean that they can fix it. Someone knowing they have OCD doesn't mean they can get rid of it. Someone recognizing they are a sociopath doesn't mean they can do a dang thing about it. In fact, these conditions persist even when one is aware of it....being aware of it doesn't solve anything.

In particular, sociopaths have a kind of brain damage. That doesn't get "fixed" by willing it aware or realizing that it is something other people wouldn't like about them.

Again, you are proposing that someone who essentially has brain damage making them incapable of caring about other people, can suddenly decide to care about other people. That is not how these things work.

Another way to look at it, would be to consider why such a person would adopt such a code. To adopt a code devoted to caring about others and putting them before you when it wasn't in your own interest, you would have to acknowledge that those others have a value independent of your existence. Sociopaths CAN'T DO THAT. That's why they are sociopaths. It is just as impossible for them as it would be for someone who was severely depressed to wake up and decide "I'm going to be happy today" and then be happy.

I am not saying sociopaths can just do it. That's not what I am saying. I am saying that sociopaths may think they are not sociopaths and so follow a moral structure because they don't know any better even though they may have little to no emotional investment in it. Sociopaths frequently think they are 'good' people because they don't know any better but to adopt what they have been told about morals. In this case, following a 'code' IS in their own personal best interest not because they care about the other person but to satisfy their own conceptions about themselves.

The second one about someone who knows they are sociopathic but decides to follow a code for some reason, (whatever this reason is, even if it is just that it benefits them better to make people think they are normal,) aren't evil because they aren't doing evil.

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 09:54 PM
I am not saying sociopaths can just do it. That's not what I am saying. I am saying that sociopaths may think they are not sociopaths and so follow a moral structure because they don't know any better even though they may have little to no emotional investment in it. Sociopaths frequently think they are 'good' people because they don't know any better but to adopt what they have been told about morals. In this case, following a 'code' IS in their own personal best interest not because they care about the other person but to satisfy their own conceptions about themselves.

The second one about someone who knows they are sociopathic but decides to follow a code for some reason, (whatever this reason is, even if it is just that it benefits them better to make people think they are normal,) aren't evil because they aren't doing evil.

In other words, they "just do it [for whatever reason]" is exactly what you are saying.

You know, I might think my eyes aren't blue, but that doesn't make it so. A sociopath not knowing he is a sociopath is not going to make him care about other people. It is like proposing someone with borderline personality disorder is going to willingly admit when they are wrong and carefully consider other people's emotions and opinions and their own unique perspective and position in the world. Doesn't happen.

A sociopath is not going to follow some strict ethical code that's actually good ethics. Because adopting such a code seriously requires that they care about other people, which is precluded because they are a sociopath. You further propose that they strictly follow something they have no emotional investment in, and again that's NOT how people work.

Beyond that, sociopathy is a personality disorder, meaning it affects behavior. By proposing a "sociopath" who has normal behavior, you are actually proposing someone that isn't a sociopath at all.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 10:02 PM
In other words, they "just do it [for whatever reason]" is exactly what you are saying.

You know, I might think my eyes aren't blue, but that doesn't make it so. A sociopath not knowing he is a sociopath is not going to make him care about other people. It is like proposing someone with borderline personality disorder is going to willingly admit when they are wrong and carefully consider other people's emotions and opinions and their own unique perspective and position in the world. Doesn't happen.

A sociopath is not going to follow some strict ethical code that's actually good ethics. Because adopting such a code seriously requires that they care about other people, which is precluded because they are a sociopath. You further propose that they strictly follow something they have no emotional investment in, and again that's NOT how people work.

Beyond that, sociopathy is a personality disorder, meaning it affects behavior. By proposing a "sociopath" who has normal behavior, you are actually proposing someone that isn't a sociopath at all.

My definition of morals is any code that determines your behavior with other people. When I say they can certainly have morals, I mean they can certainly understand how to interact with people according to code X, not that they have strong emotions attached. I am understanding the definition of a sociopath as someone with no empathy. With that definition, I don't think they are incompatible. With a different defintion, I suppose it would change. Someone can have normal behavior with abnormal motivations.

Again, if the definition of sociopath is more than a way someone processes information and more than a lack of empathy...

Drachasor
2011-08-19, 10:10 PM
My definition of morals is any code that determines your behavior with other people. When I say they can certainly have morals, I mean they can certainly understand how to interact with people according to code X, not that they have strong emotions attached. I am understanding the definition of a sociopath as someone with no empathy. With that definition, I don't think they are incompatible. With a different defintion, I suppose it would change. Someone can have normal behavior with abnormal motivations.

Again, if the definition of sociopath is more than a way someone processes information and more than a lack of empathy...

You should have read the link I sent. A person is determined to be a sociopath based on behavior.

What you are proposing is some kind of super secret sociopath that doesn't care about other people, but who acts like he does -- and might not even be aware of that. I'd lean towards saying such people don't exist (assuming you could see all of someone's behavior over time). In any case, they wouldn't be diagnosed as sociopaths and we have no way of knowing if such people do exist.

I think such a hypothetical person couldn't exist because they'd have no reason to adopt an ethical code that told them to care about others. People need reasons and emotional weight to adopt such codes. Without that, they don't, not with any conviction.

SowZ
2011-08-19, 11:05 PM
You should have read the link I sent. A person is determined to be a sociopath based on behavior.

What you are proposing is some kind of super secret sociopath that doesn't care about other people, but who acts like he does -- and might not even be aware of that. I'd lean towards saying such people don't exist (assuming you could see all of someone's behavior over time). In any case, they wouldn't be diagnosed as sociopaths and we have no way of knowing if such people do exist.

I think such a hypothetical person couldn't exist because they'd have no reason to adopt an ethical code that told them to care about others. People need reasons and emotional weight to adopt such codes. Without that, they don't, not with any conviction.

I'm fairly certain there is a mental disorder that is simply lack of empathy and nothing more, I just asked a mental health professional who says yes, almost certainly they exist, but it seems what I understood of one mental disorder, lack of empathy, and called it sociopathy even though it is only something that leads to sociopathy. What I said only applies to potential people who lack empathy but do NOT have sociopathic behavior, it seems.

Jubal_Barca
2011-08-20, 12:50 PM
*did not expect things to get this heated* :smallwink:

I've thought of the guy mostly from how my character would view him (now the debate's started, I don't just want to WoG myself into his head), but here are some further observations...

- I don't see Melquar as a populist, he couldn't have made a rousing public speech to save his life. The popular perception of his work wasn't "Melquar is improving our lives" or "Melquar is freeing the slaves", it would have been "The council is...". Melquar ensured the council was packed with his allies, and if he wanted to speak it was rare for him not to carry the day on the council, but he was never the council's chairman or its public face.

- Melquar was an obsessive worker. He wore his clothes to rags and didn't trance for weeks in some cases if he felt there was more important work to be doing; his wife, Hanta, mostly spent her time making sure he remembered to eat. On state occasions or official meetings he would tidy himself up a lot though, mostly so as not to stand out.

- The only rest Melquar always insisted on was that a few times a year, he would go inland on the family estates for a day or so. He'd rarely take anyone with him, and most of the time when they found him again he'd just be sitting halfway up a tree, thinking about things (once or twice, he took Jubal and they both silently sat up a tree to think about things; my character still prefers to sit up a tree when hard thinking is needed).

- Melquar's ruthlessness did extend to family. His father was a very traditional elven noble, and disapproved of Melquar stating that he believed that slavery was a bad thing for the city (a few human generations back, most of the city's humans were serfs of the elves, or of a few powerful human guildmasters). After one such argument, Melquar gained his family seat on the council and began his political career by a complex financial and legal maneuver usually reserved for the insane that prevented his father using the family estate (which was owned legally by the family, not the individual) for paying debts without the consent of all males of age within the family. His father had no money in his own name, and rapidly found himself bankrupt. Melquar gave in, let him pay his debts and gave him enough money for a spartan but live-able retirement in exchange for him transferring the entire family estate and accompanying council seat to his personal control.

- Melquar walked everywhere in the city, preferably hooded to avoid attention. If anyone tried to talk to him, though, he simply walked on and outwardly ignored them. He only used his official carriage where tradition absolutely demanded it. This habit proved to be his downfall; he was assassinated by one of the few remaining families of old elven nobility (elves made up about 5% of the population, but owned at least 60% of Tanitica's land) whilst walking through one of the poorer areas of town. After his death, the ascendant opposition decided to regain the Three Islands (historical fiefs of the city-state long since abandoned to Barbarian rule and formally handed over to a relatively friendly chieftain under Melquar). The expedition led to the death of Melquar's older son, and achieved the capture of only one of the islands with heavy loss of life. The Barbarians then held a coup of their own, and along with other tribes their new leader attacked the city and burned most of it to the ground.

hamishspence
2011-08-20, 01:20 PM
Driving a family member into retirement is a little harsh- but when the reason is slavery-related, it's a lot easier to sympathize.

Drachasor
2011-08-20, 02:00 PM
Driving a family member into retirement is a little harsh- but when the reason is slavery-related, it's a lot easier to sympathize.

However, we're told this is because it is better for the city, not because it is the morally right thing to do. That seems extremely consistent with him not being good as most have agreed.

Hmm, we didn't get much more insight into his motivations...honestly I think that's what we really need. Mostly we got some random habits, which aren't related to alignment at all.

hamishspence
2011-08-20, 02:03 PM
He seems almost like an elven version of Vetinari- extremely pragmatic, but also very devoted to his city.

Drachasor
2011-08-20, 02:10 PM
He seems almost like an elven version of Vetinari- extremely pragmatic, but also very devoted to his city.

Seems so, but remember his devotion to his city also serves himself, given his great political power. That's what makes it hard to determine whether he's evil or not, imho.

SowZ
2011-08-21, 07:04 PM
Seems so, but remember his devotion to his city also serves himself, given his great political power. That's what makes it hard to determine whether he's evil or not, imho.

Serving oneself is neutral, not evil.

Drachasor
2011-08-21, 11:55 PM
Serving oneself is neutral, not evil.

Unless you casually get rid of people that are in your way, which this guy IS doing. He uses his kids, destroys friends, etc. This is pretty anti-neutral, generally speaking, since neutrals are willing to step up to defend friends -- they just don't do that for strangers.

Objection
2011-08-22, 08:07 AM
Unless said friend deserves to be destroyed (I don't think that's the case here but still).

hamishspence
2011-08-22, 09:32 AM
The tricky part is when one's friend becomes one's enemy.

"Using people" is one thing- question is, at what point does their use, become an evil act?

If a parent raises a child purely with the intention of creating an asset for "The State" but never does anything evil to them, is this an evil act in itself, or a neutral act?

How about if it's only partly with that intention?

The protagonist in the Heinlein novel The Puppet Masters is a spy- and their father is their spymaster- who is willing to treat them the same way as any other agent. Is the spymaster evil or neutral?

Heatwizard
2011-08-23, 08:13 PM
Seems so, but remember his devotion to his city also serves himself, given his great political power.

That doesn't make it evil, though. It makes it harder to call it good, but no one's really doing that. Running the city for the sake of running the city is neutral.

Drachasor
2011-08-23, 08:37 PM
That doesn't make it evil, though. It makes it harder to call it good, but no one's really doing that. Running the city for the sake of running the city is neutral.

Unless you use evil methods, like brutally destroying friends, family, etc that get in your way.

There's also a difference between running a city for the sake of running a city and running a city for the sake of one's own power.

Heatwizard
2011-08-23, 08:47 PM
Unless you use evil methods, like brutally destroying friends, family, etc that get in your way.

In general he was more or less unable to form strong personal relationships with anyone
He didn't have friends to destroy. Besides, neutrals are allowed to be pragmatic, what's the big hang-up here?


There's also a difference between running a city for the sake of running a city and running a city for the sake of one's own power.

That's irrelevant when he's not doing that.

Drachasor
2011-08-23, 08:54 PM
He didn't have friends to destroy. Besides, neutrals are allowed to be pragmatic, what's the big hang-up here?

He did have friends. Read the OP:

would happily move swiftly to leave a former friend destitute

Inability to properly form/respect close bounds though...that IS a sign of an evil alignment. Psychology used to call it sociopathy, and in D&D terms it would be evil.

Thing is, a neutral is allowed to be pragmatic, but they also respect personal ties. This differs from a good character who respects the rights of those he has no ties to. When a neutral character consistently ignores those ties, that's when their pragmatism (if they have it), starts to make them evil.


That's irrelevant when he's not doing that.

That's not irrelevant, because we can't tell which one he is doing. Making the city strong makes HIM strong, so we can't tell if he's really doing it for the city or himself.

Heatwizard
2011-08-23, 09:01 PM
That's not irrelevant, because we can't tell which one he is doing. Making the city strong makes HIM strong, so we can't tell if he's really doing it for the city or himself.

He's dead at the end of the story. He never unveiled a master plan, so I think it's safe to make a call.

Drachasor
2011-08-23, 09:49 PM
He's dead at the end of the story. He never unveiled a master plan, so I think it's safe to make a call.

You don't need a "master plan" to be evil. A shop keeper with no grand goals can be evil just fine.

flumphy
2011-08-24, 12:31 AM
RAW, is respecting personal ties ever listed as a criterion for being neutral or good? As I've said, all sources I can think of where personal ties come into play at all actually go against that. Thieves and pirates (including Jack Sparrow, who is pretty much the paragon of using and betraying people even when you don't consider his career in piracy) are frequently listed as CN. Inevitables, again, are LN, and pretty much everything else on Mechanus shares the same ruthless outlook. Not just in one source, but as a general rule that even spans editions.

Now, if you use alignment the way you're advocating in your game, that's fine and not at all game-breaking. I would just argue that it wasn't what most of the designers intended and thus probably not the criteria most DMs use. Again, not that it matters as long as an individual DM is consistent in their rulings.

Drachasor
2011-08-24, 01:22 AM
RAW, is respecting personal ties ever listed as a criterion for being neutral or good? As I've said, all sources I can think of where personal ties come into play at all actually go against that. Thieves and pirates (including Jack Sparrow, who is pretty much the paragon of using and betraying people even when you don't consider his career in piracy) are frequently listed as CN. Inevitables, again, are LN, and pretty much everything else on Mechanus shares the same ruthless outlook. Not just in one source, but as a general rule that even spans editions.

Now, if you use alignment the way you're advocating in your game, that's fine and not at all game-breaking. I would just argue that it wasn't what most of the designers intended and thus probably not the criteria most DMs use. Again, not that it matters as long as an individual DM is consistent in their rulings.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.

That's what I'm going by. Good will sacrifice to protect strangers. Neutral will sacrifice to protect friends.

Jack Sparrow is an excellent example of this. He typically DOES sacrifice to protect his friends. There are very rare occasions where he does not, and this is portrayed as a horrible thing for him to do -- one can make an evil act as an exception to normal behavior, but consistent evil will change one's alignment.

I don't know what to say about inevitables. The text indicates they kill or let die allies if it is convenient to do so. That's pretty much textbook EVIL by the rules. I think whomever wrote up some neutral entities didn't pay attention to what neutral really means. Going by the description, they are Lawful Evil, otherwise they wouldn't go around perfectly happy with evil acts. They are programmed to not kill innocents, which seems just like a Lawful Evil compunction. They are just written up very oddly.

charcoalninja
2011-08-26, 08:11 AM
I vote Lawful Evil because of how he treats his opponents. He doesn't just best them, he destroys them politically. He manipulates scandels delving into their private matters to discredit them and arranged people in his way to be EXILED. That's pretty evil.

His uncaring nature and vindictiveness make him evil. Of course he's doing the right thing, he's just going about it in all the wrong ways. Classic Lawful Evil.