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View Full Version : Behaviors to link to Law/Chaos?



JusticeZero
2015-02-05, 09:16 PM
This alignment band is always problematic, so can anyone suggest specific actions that can be quantitively operationalized as "Lawful" or "Chaotic" tied to one of the various dichotomies that aren't just good/evil for moral arguments? Something that can be easily communicated, and measured non-subjectively.

HunterOfJello
2015-02-05, 09:33 PM
Lawful can be very generalized, highly specific, or location dependent.

When it is considered from a very generalized point of view, it would be working towards the cause of Order. The Saga of Recluse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Saga_of_Recluce) is a good example of this. Working towards building things like cities, complex objects, and civilizations can fall under this in very broad terms. In the very generalized form Lawful also opposes the forces of Chaos that work towards breaking complex objects, cities, and groups apart. (I don't think I've explained this one very well, but if you look up information on the Saga of Recluce you'll see what I mean.) Lawful deities who write their own rules fall into this category.

In a highly specific form, Lawful can work by creating a very explicit list of rules, set of laws, or a code that a character follows no matter what. They follow this code regardless of the situation and what they personally consider to be acceptable or unacceptable conduct will likely flow directly out of this list of rules, set of laws, or code. This method is an expression of the deontological (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics) ethics standpoint. Paladins fall into this category.

Location dependent will mean that an individual has a variable set of rules, laws, or code that they follow based on what location they occupy. These rules would match up to the laws of that specific land (though they likely have their own set of morals that will conflict with this upon occasion). A person in this position would obey the laws of the land wherever they are and occasionally take different actions than they would like due to how their current area's laws are. A lawful diplomat would likely fall into this category.


I think one of the reasons why Lawful is often such a pain to deal with as an alignment is because people don't come out and say what sort of Lawful they are and get caught in between one of the above three types (or others). The above categories will of course also blend either well or badly on occasion.

jedipotter
2015-02-06, 12:27 AM
Lawful is really simple order. Doing things as per a set of rules or standards. Simple lawful behavior is having a plan. For example, taking the same route to a place or doing the same things daily are both Lawful.

More complex a Lawful person likes rules. They like the idea of rules. They like the idea that rules and/or laws and/or standards will be best for everyone.

Chaotic is disorder. Doing whatever, whenever. Simple chaotic behavior is random. For example, aimless wandering or all ways doing different things.

The average farmer is very Lawful. He gets up every day and does a lot of the same chores. Every day. And very often he has a set order and plan on how to get everything done. He is working every day to provide for himself, as planned

The thief is very Chaotic. He gets up, not quite sure what to do that day. Every day. He just takes things as they happen. He does not have much of a plan, but just thinks up of things on the run. He simply does whatever he needs to provide for himself.

Akodo Makama
2015-02-06, 01:24 AM
Lawful is really simple order. Doing things as per a set of rules or standards. Simple lawful behavior is having a plan. For example, taking the same route to a place or doing the same things daily are both Lawful.

More complex a Lawful person likes rules. They like the idea of rules. They like the idea that rules and/or laws and/or standards will be best for everyone.

Chaotic is disorder. Doing whatever, whenever. Simple chaotic behavior is random. For example, aimless wandering or all ways doing different things.

The average farmer is very Lawful. He gets up every day and does a lot of the same chores. Every day. And very often he has a set order and plan on how to get everything done. He is working every day to provide for himself, as planned

The thief is very Chaotic. He gets up, not quite sure what to do that day. Every day. He just takes things as they happen. He does not have much of a plan, but just thinks up of things on the run. He simply does whatever he needs to provide for himself.

The real test of the farmer's law-good axis comes when you ask him to join you at the bar after a day of work for a night of drunken debauchery. Mr Law will say "Nope, gotta milk the cows at 6". Mr Chaos will say "Let the booze flow as long as I can hold onto the ground with both hands and not fall off". Mr Neutral will say "Ok, but only till 10, cause the cow does still need to get milked, but they can wait till 9 for one day".

jedipotter
2015-02-06, 01:50 AM
The real test of the farmer's law-good axis comes when you ask him to join you at the bar after a day of work for a night of drunken debauchery. Mr Law will say "Nope, gotta milk the cows at 6". Mr Chaos will say "Let the booze flow as long as I can hold onto the ground with both hands and not fall off". Mr Neutral will say "Ok, but only till 10, cause the cow does still need to get milked, but they can wait till 9 for one day".


Not exactly. Lawful farmer can go out for a drink. Most of the time he won't have too many, and won't stay too late...he has work to do in the morning. And he dislikes disrupting his normal set workday.

The Chaotic one will just do whatever they want, when ever they want.

Neutral falls right in the middle, may or may not go for a drink...might stay lat, might not.

JusticeZero
2015-02-06, 11:04 AM
So, given that adventuring will contain a lot of novel and changing situations that defy a set routine, what specific behaviors can you use to measure this?

Corsair
2015-02-06, 02:43 PM
The thief is very Chaotic. He gets up, not quite sure what to do that day. Every day. He just takes things as they happen. He does not have much of a plan, but just thinks up of things on the run. He simply does whatever he needs to provide for himself.

Any thief who just does whatever comes to mind is going to either never go beyond being a sixth-rate pickpocket or end up in prison. Skilled theft requires a plan. Ever play Payday? How about the Thief games? Going into a difficult heist and not planning it out generally results in you getting your ass handed to you.

And that doesn't make the Thief Lawful. Being careful, methodical, and having a plan doesn't make you Lawful, it makes you Not An Idiot. It's more statistical than moral, a representation of your character's Wisdom.

By that same token one can be reckless and foolish without being Chaotic. Hell, you can have a reckless, foolish Paladin. I wouldn't advise it, especially given that you should probably represent that with a low Wisdom score, but it can be done.

Beta Centauri
2015-02-06, 02:54 PM
I recall when Law/Neutrality/Chaos were all the game offered me. Of course, the definitions and most of the rest of the rules clearly implied that Law was "good" and Chaos was "evil."

At the most basic, I see Law as having a plan and Chaos as not having a plan. If things go wrong for Law, it tries to correct things. If things go wrong for Chaos, it tries to adapt to the new things.

Synovia
2015-02-06, 03:43 PM
Law vs Chaos is about motivation, and about reasons for doing things. A lawful individual lives by a code of rules.

If you've ever see The Wire (I've been watching a lot lately, so forgive all the references), Omar is a Lawful Evil roguish character, despite making his living by robbing drug dealers. He does some terrible things, and breaks a ton of laws, but everything he does is structured - he makes a point of not harming 'Taxpayers' and only hurting people in the game, about following the 'rules' as agreed upon (won't rob people on sunday, etc). He's big on 'eye for an eye,' and on payback. He's a terrible person (evil) but believes that if people don't follow rules, everything falls apart.

McNulty, on the other hand, is a Chaotic Good detective - he's insistent that the right people go to jail, and that 'good people' don't get screwed. He doesn't care about the chain of command, doesn't follow his orders, doesn't care about politics, and is willing to fudge things occasionally, etc.

Lawful people are more about the process and rules, Chaotic about the end results.

Segev
2015-02-06, 03:47 PM
Lawful people generally like predictability. They like knowing what is coming, knowing what is expected of them, knowing what to expect of others, and being able to rely on this to make plans.

To this end, they tend to dislike liars and feel telling lies is bad. This doesn't mean they never will, but they have to have a reason for creating this diruption in the ability of people to know what to expect.

They will tend to feel that denotation can trump connotation, especially if there is dispute over connotation's meaning.

They are often creatures of habit, because habit provides predictability and minimizes the number of things which could get in the way of smooth operations.


Chaotic people like options. They like surprises, and they like being able to surprise. They don't mind if they don't know what others are doing, nor if others know what they're doing, because they like taking things as they come and adapting to take advantage of what they find.

To this end, they tend to look like they run haphazard lives. The plans they make are rough and have enormous swaths of "and then see what we have" scribbled into them.

They don't mind throwing out the exact meaning of an agreement as long as they feel that everybody involved knew what was meant and they're working towards it. If they feel cheated, they'll take what they feel they're due and call it quits.


Both lawful and chaotic people are capable of deception. Lawful types will tend to value truthful denotations that are deceptive in context, while chaotic types will simply out-and-out lie. Lawful types feel this gives them ethical high ground, because they do what they said they would. Chaotic types feel such sophistry is silly.

Both lawful and chaotic types are capable of adapting to situations. Lawful types may have contingencies galore, or they may have a simple "if nothing else applies, improvise" condition in their plans, but they will improvise if needs be. They just tend to do so with an eye towards repeatability and making sure everybody knows the new plan.

Chaotic types improvise a lot more often. Not only are they less likely to have a plan for a given situation, but they are more comfortable just making it up as they go along. They either trust that everybody else will pick up on it or improvise a similar solution given similar conditions, or they don't care and plan to work through it alone. (Maybe planning to help others, maybe not.)


Worrying about the letter of an agreement, about one's honor, or about the conflicting call of one's conscience and one's ethics is a hallmark of Law (and often LG).

Taking things as you find them, going into a situation unprepared but planning to improvise as your first order of business, and refusing to be bound by a misunderstanding (sometimes even to the detriment of others who were dealing in good faith) are hallmarks of Chaos.

jedipotter
2015-02-06, 04:01 PM
So, given that adventuring will contain a lot of novel and changing situations that defy a set routine, what specific behaviors can you use to measure this?

Lawful This person likes plans and goals. They want to know where they are going and when and why and how. And they like to stick to the plan. Even if something happens, they will still want to do the plan. They will keep a set routine for themselves as much as possible, get up at the same time, take watch at the same time, and so on. And they would really want everyone else to do so too. They like battle plans and tactics. They like to plan ahead. They like to have set things that will happen in response to an action.

A lawful person will follow laws and rules and such, simply as they like the idea of following them. Though if they are evil, they will try to twist the law or rule so it works out for them.

Chaotic is more carefree, they don't really think about tomorrow much at all. They don't make plans and only have vague goals like ''get rich someday''. They find it impossible to really follow much of any plan. They think everyone should decide what they will do themselves. They don't care much for battle plans and tactics, they will just do whatever comes to their mind at the time. They like to think and do things on the run.

A chaotic person only vaguely follows the laws and rules, but it's more like they simply have not broken the law or rule....yet. A good chaotic person will try to twist a law or rule so it works out for them.

Though you should never measure alignment by one act. A Chaotic person might come up with a single plan, but that does not violate their alignment. Same way a Lawful person can just ''wing it'' for once.





Any thief who just does whatever comes to mind is going to either never go beyond being a sixth-rate pickpocket or end up in prison.

This is very true. And note this is the way at least half of the thieves worldwide are....



Skilled theft requires a plan. Ever play Payday? How about the Thief games? Going into a difficult heist and not planning it out generally results in you getting your ass handed to you.

And these are the more Lawful Thieves. Planning a big heist is a lawful act, not a chaotic one.



And that doesn't make the Thief Lawful. Being careful, methodical, and having a plan doesn't make you Lawful, it makes you Not An Idiot. It's more statistical than moral, a representation of your character's Wisdom.

Having a big plan does make a person Lawful, that is the whole point of Lawful. A thief with a plan is not chaotic, they are lawful evil or neutral evil.



By that same token one can be reckless and foolish without being Chaotic. Hell, you can have a reckless, foolish Paladin. I wouldn't advise it, especially given that you should probably represent that with a low Wisdom score, but it can be done.

Yes, any alignment can be reckless and foolish.

JusticeZero
2015-02-06, 04:03 PM
Law vs Chaos is about motivation, and about reasons for doing things.Alas, the whole point is because it's important to remove the "discern the motives of the character" part from the equation. It's just too much of a hassle to second-guess the thoughts of the character. I am actually willing to discard "Law" and "Chaos" to clear things up if needed, and replace it with a different set of ideals.

Segev
2015-02-06, 04:14 PM
Hm. Let's look at it from the perspective of "what would be a 'sin' to a Lawful/Chaotic person?"

A lawful person will not out-and-out lie. He might twist the truth, but he will not lie.

A lawful person will not flout the rules of any organization he has willingly joined. If he finds the rules untennable, he will separate from the organization as formally as possible; he will not simply abandon his duties without a great deal of ethical turmoil.

A lawful person will not go back on an agreement, even if it has become unfavorable to him.

A lawful person will not allow others to back out of an agreement just because it is disadvantageous to them, unless they can do so in a "costless," and thus just, fashion. (e.g. if they want to back out before any exchanges of goods or services have been made, a lawful person CAN agree to abrogate the agreement. But won't if either side's already begun to deliver their part of it.)


A chaotic person will not allow conscious habits to control him. He may fall prey to vices and addictions, but he will not follow a habitual process just because it is habit if something - anything - potentially better crops up.

A chaotic person will not hold people to the letter of an agreement if it becomes clear they did not understand what was meant.

A chaotic person will not allow themselves to be held to the letter of an agreement which is twisted from what they understood the spirit to be.

A chaotic person will not hesitate to do what their conscience or desires tell them just because some rules, agreements, or promises say they shouldn't. (They might choose to refrain based on other, deeper concerns, such as keeping a promise they know is important to a friend, but they would do so not because they promised, but because it's for a friend.)

hamishspence
2015-02-06, 04:15 PM
Elan's mum has a tendency to come up with complicated plans, despite being Chaotic Good:

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0725.html

the Lawful Evil Nale apparently inherited the tendency.

Perhaps "Planner" is not an especially alignment-associated personality trait?

Segev
2015-02-06, 04:21 PM
Elan's mum has a tendency to come up with complicated plans, despite being Chaotic Good:

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0725.html

the Lawful Evil Nale apparently inherited the tendency.

Perhaps "Planner" is not an especially alignment-associated personality trait?

Maybe. I would still say it's indicative.

Lawful people plan, and stick to plans. They like knowing what is coming and knowing, in the heat of the moment, that there is a contingency for this.

It's the Xanatos Gambit vs. Xanatos Speed Chess. Xanatos Speed Chessmasters will tend more towards the chaotic side of things. It's not inherent, but it is where Chaotic type planners likely fall. Xanatos Gambits almost always are Lawful designs, because they involve not just planning, but planning to a degree that you have arranged events to your liking almost before you push the first domino.

ObnoxiousKender
2015-02-06, 04:24 PM
This is a helpful site about the alignments. It gives a pretty in depth overview, the sins and commandments of the different alignments and a bunch of other helpful stuff.
http://www.easydamus.com/lawfulgood.html

jedipotter
2015-02-06, 04:40 PM
Perhaps "Planner" is not an especially alignment-associated personality trait?

It's not just ''the plan''. It's not like Chaotic people don't plan, it's more that they don't really feel the need to do so very often.

Take the two types of plans:

Often a Chaotic plan is simple, we will go and do this. They can be someone complex, though often it's just linked simple plans. A chaotic person only does the bare minimum research they feel they need to do. A Chaotic plan often does not have a set time element, it's left more for the individuals to decide when to act. A Chaotic plan will not have lots of moving parts.

Lawful plans are all most always too complex. A pure lawful person can plan something out for weeks or more. The lawful person will often over research everything. Most often, a Lawful plan is timed down to the second. There is no room for improvising in a Lawful plan. A Lawful plan has lots of moving parts.

hamishspence
2015-02-06, 04:43 PM
It's the Xanatos Gambit vs. Xanatos Speed Chess. Xanatos Speed Chessmasters will tend more towards the chaotic side of things. It's not inherent, but it is where Chaotic type planners likely fall.

Vetinari and Thrawn are usually cited as excellent examples of LE (or possibly LN, in their more sympathetic variants.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/XanatosSpeedChess



Lawful plans are all most always too complex. A pure lawful person can plan something out for weeks or more. The lawful person will often over research everything. Most often, a Lawful plan is timed down to the second. There is no room for improvising in a Lawful plan. A Lawful plan has lots of moving parts.

You're thinking of the Clock King - tends to be associated with Law - but not always - and not all, or even most, Lawful characters have to be this way.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ClockKing

Beta Centauri
2015-02-06, 05:24 PM
Elan's mum has a tendency to come up with complicated plans, despite being Chaotic Good:

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0725.html

the Lawful Evil Nale apparently inherited the tendency.

Perhaps "Planner" is not an especially alignment-associated personality trait? "Perhaps." Spare me your condescension.

First of all, The Order of the Stick is a story, and a story has certain requirements that a strict ruleset isn't going to meet. I don't go to it to interpret the rules, I go to it for entertainment.

Second of all, Rich Burlew's interpretation of alignment isn't the end-all-be-all of alignment. And for all we know he gave that's character's alignment next to no thought. For all we know, he completely spaced on the character's alignment when writing scenes for it.

Finally, alignment isn't a program that controls a person's every action. Anyone can plan, and who says a complicated plan is any good as a plan. Complicated plans rely heavily on luck, rather than certainty, which sounds to me like something someone chaotic would do, adapting to the situation if the plan falls through.

Is alignment really a valid conversational topic on this board. Most other places have realized that it brings out the worst in people.

hamishspence
2015-02-06, 05:51 PM
Maybe someone who's read a lot of D&D novels could cite examples of how canonically Chaotic characters plan, how canonically Lawful characters plan, and noticeable commonalities?

jedipotter
2015-02-06, 09:38 PM
Maybe someone who's read a lot of D&D novels could cite examples of how canonically Chaotic characters plan, how canonically Lawful characters plan, and noticeable commonalities?

Well, the most striking thing about Chaotic characters, like Drizzit, Elminster, Storm, and The Simbul is they very often don't have much of a plan. They have a more, ''lets just go and see what we can do''. When they do come up with a plan, it's very short term and direct. And another striking feature is they leave everyone else alone. They will help if directly asked, some times, but really have no plan for helping anyone before they get in trouble.

Lawful characters, King Azron, Laroch, Manshoon, and Khelben very often have plans with in plan with in more plans and even more plans. They have lots of goals they have set for themselves and have at least a couple plans in motion to get the goal. A lot of the plans are very long term. A big feature is they are often rulers who want to tell everyone what to do. They try to 'help' long before anything happens.

Deophaun
2015-02-06, 10:01 PM
The problem with the Law vs. Chaos axis is that Law and Chaos are not actually opposites, so you get lots of debate as to what makes someone lawful versus what makes one chaotic, and all of the distinctions are terrible.

Take your barbarian for instance. Barbarians cannot be lawful according to 3.5 rules. Barbarians are such because they are uncivilized: they live outside the protections and rules of established society. All good so far. However, consider then that, since barbarians do not have external restraints on their behavior, that means they probably have a lot of internal restraints. After all, when you live in a group where the only thing preventing anyone else from taking an axe to you in your sleep is their opinion of you, you are not going to make yourself a liability to your tribe or do things that might make others think it would be better if you never woke up again. That means barbarians are much more likely to have a personal code of conduct than, say, a banker that already has a system of external laws and regulations in place to bind conduct between parties.

The banker, of course, is lawful, because his entire profession relies on the law and other people having enough faith in that law that they will willingly surrender their money to a stranger. But he needs no personal code. He can, of course, swindle his clients through creative bookkeeping, and use the law as a veil under which to commit his crimes. Remove the law, and the dishonest banker is going to feel completely exposed.

So, then Law and Chaos are about External versus Internal restrictions, right? Well, no, because you have the bloody Paladin and Knight, which are all about Internal restrictions that often call on them to part with the External.

So, in the end, you're left with a mess, and the only conclusion being that the people who made the alignment grid didn't think things through. So, for the sake of your sanity, you shouldn't think too much about it, either.

JusticeZero
2015-02-07, 03:51 AM
Thus why I am happy to replace the concepts with a roughly analogous duality, provided that whatever duality is used allows me to judge a characters actions without ever having any insight into what said character is thinking or intending to do.

Mastikator
2015-02-07, 04:30 AM
A lawful person will be organized, honest, uncreative and strict.
A chaotic person will be disorganized, dishonest, creative and flaky.

Lawful people tend to plan ahead, in detail. Chaotic people tend to improvise.

Corsair
2015-02-07, 04:42 AM
A lawful person will be organized, honest, uncreative and strict.
A chaotic person will be disorganized, dishonest, creative and flaky.

Lawful people tend to plan ahead, in detail. Chaotic people tend to improvise.

All those are only tangentially connected to the Law/Chaos spectrum. Creativity in particular has -nothing- to do with either axis of morality. LGs can be just as creative as any other alignment. I wouldn't classify lying as a Chaotic act either. Devils are Lawful and the greatest liars in the cosmos.

Mastikator
2015-02-07, 05:07 AM
"Tangentially connected" is still connected, and frankly, tangentially is the only kind of connected you'll find in either axis for any trait.

And even if you wouldn't classify lying as chaotic, the D&D system does classify honesty as a lawful trait, especially lawful good. You might reason that lying is either (or both) chaotic and evil, which would explain devils lying. The devils still value "honor" in their own twisted way, which nonetheless involves not saying something technically untrue to someone you've sworn fealty to. And never backing down on a promise. (yes, only technically, but technically can still get you pretty far)

ChaoticSky
2015-02-07, 09:17 AM
I did alot of research on this topic when i first got into DnD because i found it fascinating. However the eventual conclusion i reached is that, as often defined, the law/n/chaos band makes no sense, most examples of lawful or chaotic behaviour are bad stereotypes at best, and often not even morality-related, Chaos doesnt mean a person is dishonest any more than Law means they have to tell the truth. I did eventually find a explanation for DnD morality that i fancied and makes moral sense, but i cannot find a link for it now, so i will paraphrase as best i can;

Law vs Chaos is ultimately a matter of where a person draws their morality from. A Lawful character holds to a external code of morality; a code of honour, a religious doctrine, the rule of law, fealty to a lord or cause, ect. A Chaotic character holds a internal code of morality; they follow their own conscience(or lack thereof) and feel for right and wrong rather than what others or society expects of them. Neutral characters do alittle of column A/alittle of column B; they form their own morals and mold them with the expectations of society, or hold to the law, while informing it with the demands of their own conscience.

(On the other band: Good characters care about the wellbeing of everyone more or less equally, Neutral characters care about people and things they have a connection to, and have a internal order of importance; family over friends, friends over strangers, etc. Evil characters care only and absolutely about themselves, and only care about other people and things in the capacity that they affect their own life; Bob is my mancandy, my fortress is important to my plans, i really like that sword, etc.)

Its never what a character does, its why they do it. A Chaotic character who places a tremendous personal value on honesty is less flakey and more trustworthy than a Lawful character who follows a code that calls for secrecy and/or misdirection (like the followers of Zon Kuthon in pathfinder). It is also why paladins are always Lawful, even when their deity is not; they are following that deity's doctrines, and are therefore behaving Lawfully, even if those doctrines call for what you might consider 'chaotic behavour' in service to a chaotic deity.

I know not everyone shares this view, but it elegantly resolves all issues that have ever cropped up with dnd morality systems that ive been able to find or imagine. Lets me sleep at night. :smallwink:

PersonMan
2015-02-07, 10:17 AM
"Perhaps." Spare me your condescension.

I didn't see any sort of condescension in his post.


Is alignment really a valid conversational topic on this board. Most other places have realized that it brings out the worst in people.

I don't think that's quite the case.

---

As far as Law/Chaos is concerned, I'd agree that a Chaotic plan would look like 'alright, so Sneaky Bob sneaks up to the door' instead of 'so, Sneaky Bob takes this alley into that plaza, then goes behind the merchant stalls and then takes the first left...', but that Chaotic people would definitely plan if it was needed. They'd just be the type to make a sequence of solo 'every man is his own general' bits rather than a single, interwoven plan.

Thrudd
2015-02-07, 10:57 AM
I prefer a simpler alignment system. as we've discovered from all these debates, the nine spoked wheel is so open to interpretation on all points as to be almost useless. Forcing a character's personality into these poorly defined boxes is nothing but a source of argument and misunderstanding, if alignment is taken seriously by the DM.

Law is ordered civilization. If your character is from human/demi-human civilization and has a basically favorable attitude toward it and isn't a criminal, they are lawful.

If a character or creature has an antagonistic attitude regarding human/Demi-human civilization, they are chaotic.

If a character does not seek the downfall of human civilization but does not necessarily respect it's laws and customs, they are neutral.

This doesn't mean all human kingdoms must be lawful, I just used that as an example, since humans and Demi humans are generally the protagonists of the game, with law abiding societies. Whatever creatures make up the generally fair/rule of law societies are lawful. Two lawful kingdoms could be at war with one another, but they would not engage in slash and burn pillaging or genocide.

The forces of chaos, however, will always be the enemies of lawful societies, by definition, and would raze enemy civilizations to the ground.

This implies a game world where the civilization of the player characters is on the edge of wilderness and unknown lands full of dangerous creatures that would harm them and destroy their towns and cities if they were able.

A character's moral code or personality traits don't really need to be categorized. Protection and detection spells based on alignment either don't exist, or apply only to supernatural creatures and divinely powered spell casters.

Corsair
2015-02-07, 01:52 PM
I prefer a simpler alignment system. as we've discovered from all these debates, the nine spoked wheel is so open to interpretation on all points as to be almost useless. Forcing a character's personality into these poorly defined boxes is nothing but a source of argument and misunderstanding, if alignment is taken seriously by the DM.

Law is ordered civilization. If your character is from human/demi-human civilization and has a basically favorable attitude toward it and isn't a criminal, they are lawful.

If a character or creature has an antagonistic attitude regarding human/Demi-human civilization, they are chaotic.

If a character does not seek the downfall of human civilization but does not necessarily respect it's laws and customs, they are neutral.

This doesn't mean all human kingdoms must be lawful, I just used that as an example, since humans and Demi humans are generally the protagonists of the game, with law abiding societies. Whatever creatures make up the generally fair/rule of law societies are lawful. Two lawful kingdoms could be at war with one another, but they would not engage in slash and burn pillaging or genocide.

The forces of chaos, however, will always be the enemies of lawful societies, by definition, and would raze enemy civilizations to the ground.

This implies a game world where the civilization of the player characters is on the edge of wilderness and unknown lands full of dangerous creatures that would harm them and destroy their towns and cities if they were able.

A character's moral code or personality traits don't really need to be categorized. Protection and detection spells based on alignment either don't exist, or apply only to supernatural creatures and divinely powered spell casters.
Why wouldn't they engage in slash and burn or pillaging? I would describe almost every major conflict of the last 10,000 years of Human history to have been Lawful societies versus Lawful societies. Rome utterly annihilated Carthage. Crusaders sacked Jerusalem and the streets ran red with blood. The Thirty Years War turned Germany into a wasteland, the list goes on and on.

Thrudd
2015-02-07, 02:09 PM
Why wouldn't they engage in slash and burn or pillaging? I would describe almost every major conflict of the last 10,000 years of Human history to have been Lawful societies versus Lawful societies. Rome utterly annihilated Carthage. Crusaders sacked Jerusalem and the streets ran red with blood. The Thirty Years War turned Germany into a wasteland, the list goes on and on.

Yes, the real world is quite a bit more complex and shades of grey. For a game modeling the real world, discard alignments altogether. People have loyalties, values, and priorities informed by those things. We all know the "barbarian hordes " of celts and goths were not "forces of chaos" as the roman propaganda might say, nor was Carthage some kind of great evil kingdom. It is just people fighting for greed, ideology or survival or all of those things.

For a fantasy game about adventurers facing horrible monsters in the dark places, it helps for there to be a little more black and white sometimes. We don't need to think too hard about why there are cannibalistic monsters living underground looking to kill and eat any interlopers, or if they have a reason or motive to be that way. They are monsters, a hazard our adventurers must overcome.

Corsair
2015-02-07, 02:39 PM
The morality of monsters rarely has anything to do with the Law/Chaos axis, but you were discussing wars between two Lawful states earlier with the suggestion that a Lawful state would wage a more moral, just war than one leaning more Chaotic. But Law and Chaos have nothing to do with Good and Evil, and conflating the two is pointless. If you're going to remove alignments from the board removing the Law/Chaos axis makes far more sense than the Good/Evil one, even if Law/Chaos predates Good/Evil in D&D.

Thrudd
2015-02-07, 03:17 PM
The morality of monsters rarely has anything to do with the Law/Chaos axis, but you were discussing wars between two Lawful states earlier with the suggestion that a Lawful state would wage a more moral, just war than one leaning more Chaotic. But Law and Chaos have nothing to do with Good and Evil, and conflating the two is pointless. If you're going to remove alignments from the board removing the Law/Chaos axis makes far more sense than the Good/Evil one, even if Law/Chaos predates Good/Evil in D&D.

That may be true. War is never really "lawful" or "just", lawful nations would do whatever they needed to win, and then would reestablished their own version of law/civilization. A "chaotic" kingdom would not be so much a single civilization as a collection of tribes and individuals in a certain location autonomously competing for resources, perhaps with a strong monster or king that everyone defers to by reason of getting killed/eaten if they didn't. Once in a while the tribes and monsters get goaded into a common goal of attacking a neighboring lawful kingdom.

Good and evil are easier to understand than law and chaos, but keeping law and chaos over good and evil allows there to be more moral ambiguity in characters, which I find preferable in a game about adventurers who regularly resort to killing and stealing in the pursuit of recovering lost treasures largely for their own profit and power. Law means "people on our team, pretty much trustworthy", chaos means "guys that are dangerous and might kill you", neutral is " wait and see what they want".

The characters can still call themselves aligned with law and civilization if they use deceit, trickery, and violence to fight their way past chaotic humanoid outposts to steal a dragon's treasure in order to make a name for themselves and become minor lords. Would you still call them "good"?

Really, alignment isn't needed at all. It's just a way to categorize and justify in-game conflict, be it physical or social.

Corsair
2015-02-07, 03:46 PM
Moral ambiguity only works in an ambiguous setting. When you're doing dungeon crawls moral ambiguity is moot. But having clearly delineated Good and Evil doesn't prevent moral ambiguity. Take Dragon Age, for example, and the Orzammar leadership crisis. If you translated it to D&D, Bhelen would be Evil, and Harrowmont good. Bhelen's a murderous, treacherous, self-serving scumbag, and Harrowmont is a noble-hearted, honorable man. But Harrowmont, despite being a Good man is also the wrong choice for Orzammar, and if elected to the Kingship his leadership results in Orzammar's gradual downfall. Bhelen, on the other hand, enacts reforms that could save the Dwarven civilization.

So do you support the evil man who saves Orzammar, or the good man who dooms it?

Envyus
2015-02-07, 05:18 PM
Devil's in order to corrupt people in more sutble ways then straight up asking for a soul tend to make deals that require people to do certain acts for minor benefits. They only get a person's soul if they are Lawful Evil or if they own their soul.

Here is the table which gives descriptions of some lawful behaviors.


ACTS OF OBEISANCE
Devils also actively try to recruit mortals to the side of law,
although their activities in this regard garner less attention
than their corruption of souls to evil. Some tricky devils pose as
tanaríri to hoodwink would-be demon worshipers into submitting
to the infernal hierarchy.
Mortals drifting toward the side of law accumulate obeisance
points, which function like corruption points. Obeisance points
can be removed through formal repentance aided by chaotic
clerics or by preforming equally chaotic acts. The following table outlines the obeisance value of various
lawful acts.

Swearing fealty to a leader you know 1
Swearing fealty to a leader you've never met 2
Disciplining an underling 2
Resolving a dispute through lawful process 2
Quietly accepting a legal judgment against you 2
Executing a lawful sentence of corporal punishment 3
Following a rule you consider stupid 3
Aiding a superior to your own detriment 3
Swearing fealty to a devil 4
Obeying a leader you do not respect 4
Performing a lawful execution 5

By the rules of coruption points once you gain 10 points you become lawful.

Corsair
2015-02-07, 06:28 PM
Disciplining an underling? So every orc chieftain who maintains his power by beating seven kinds of hell out of any of his tribe who defies him is Lawful? Although I can agree with the rest of that list.

goto124
2015-02-07, 07:35 PM
I would just slap the Evil tag on monsters to mean 'most definately kill this guy', the Good tag to mean 'do not kill this guy, I mean it', and don't give any alignments to anyone else.

I can see a few ways in which this loses sense though.

'DM, why is this obviously evil, baby-eating creature Good?'
'Because you're not supposed to kill it.'
'What.'

JusticeZero
2015-02-07, 08:02 PM
I would just slap the Evil tag on monsters to mean 'most definately kill this guy', and the Good tag to mean 'do not kill this guy, I mean it'.

I can see a few ways in which this loses sense though.
Right, not least being that it has to be ONE alignment system to cover every human, orc, elf, and aboleth equally.

jedipotter
2015-02-08, 02:03 AM
All those are only tangentially connected to the Law/Chaos spectrum. Creativity in particular has -nothing- to do with either axis of morality. LGs can be just as creative as any other alignment. I wouldn't classify lying as a Chaotic act either. Devils are Lawful and the greatest liars in the cosmos.

One of the many things about alignment is that everyone wants everything to be everything. People get the idea that they think they think is so many ways that you could never give them a set alignment. Though, in practice most people do align themselves one way or another.

Just take Laws:

A Lawful person likes laws. The reason does not matter, they might have one or a dozen. But they like laws. They like to follow laws, they like others to follow laws and they love the idea that someone somewhere makes up laws for them to follow.

A Chaotic person likes no laws. They think everyone should be free to do whatever they wish. They don't like to follow laws and they hate the idea that someone somewhere makes up laws and tells them what to do.

Now the trick is, you only have it one way. If a person likes even just one law, they are taking Lawful's side. The same way a person takes the side of Chaotic if they dislike a law. There is a lot of room in the middle, that is neutral, of course, but they will be leaning one way or another.




The morality of monsters rarely has anything to do with the Law/Chaos axis, but you were discussing wars between two Lawful states earlier with the suggestion that a Lawful state would wage a more moral, just war than one leaning more Chaotic.

Morality is for Good and Evil, not Law and Chaos. A Lawful person does not care about being moral just as they are lawful, that is where good and evil come in.

Akodo Makama
2015-02-08, 02:22 AM
A Lawful person likes laws. The reason does not matter, they might have one or a dozen. But they like laws. They like to follow laws, they like others to follow laws and they love the idea that someone somewhere makes up laws for them to follow.

A Chaotic person likes no laws. They think everyone should be free to do whatever they wish. They don't like to follow laws and they hate the idea that someone somewhere makes up laws and tells them what to do.

I don't feel it's the 'law' itself, but the effects on the constant struggle between Personal Freedom and The Greater Good.

A lawful person believes maximizing the greater good is the best way, even if it comes at the cost of some personal freedom. Conversely, a chaotic one believes that maximum personal freedom is the best way, even if the overall greater good suffers.

If the 'law' hurts the greater good, the 'lawful' character would likely be against it. If a 'law' were to grant more personal freedoms, a chaotic character would likely be in favor.

jedipotter
2015-02-08, 02:46 AM
I don't feel it's the 'law' itself, but the effects on the constant struggle between Personal Freedom and The Greater Good.

True, except Lawful does not care about good. It's more a sense of Fairness or evenness.

Though Lawful people like laws as laws force everyone to act one way: the way the law says. And Lawful people like that Idea: Everyones action the same.



A lawful person believes maximizing the greater good is the best way, even if it comes at the cost of some personal freedom. Conversely, a chaotic one believes that maximum personal freedom is the best way, even if the overall greater good suffers.

If the 'law' hurts the greater good, the 'lawful' character would likely be against it. If a 'law' were to grant more personal freedoms, a chaotic character would likely be in favor.

Your mixing Lawful and Good. A Lawful person does not care about the greater good. And a Chaotic person does not care about good.

Take a Lawful ruler person who makes a Law: No One in my Land may own a Weapon, except my guards. Now a Lawful Good person is doing it for the greater good: if they get rid of weapons, they hope there will be less death as it will be harder for people to kill each other and less crime in general. They want the law to help people and save lives. Lawful Neutral is doing it for order: getting rid of weapons makes for less mayhem and they like less mayhem. And don't care about helping others, but just want to live in a nice orderly world. The Lawful Evil person is taking away the weapons for pure power and control: if they get rid of all weapons, then the ruler and his guards have all the power of life and death over everyone. People with no weapons are easy targets. They want to help little more then themselves and have more power.

A true Chaotic person wants no laws.

JusticeZero
2015-02-08, 12:31 PM
True, except Lawful does not care about good. It's more a sense of Fairness or evenness.Well, you'll note that Akodo did not define what the "Good" in it WAS. I can imagine a LE person fighting to preserve the institutions of society for much the same reason that a wizard fights for libraries from which their power is derived.

Corsair
2015-02-08, 01:49 PM
Now the trick is, you only have it one way. If a person likes even just one law, they are taking Lawful's side. The same way a person takes the side of Chaotic if they dislike a law. There is a lot of room in the middle, that is neutral, of course, but they will be leaning one way or another.

I...wow, that's the most absurd interpretation of Law/Chaos I've ever heard. So a Chaotic person in your eyes cannot agree with even the most basic laws, and a Lawful person cannot disagree with a Law? So -going to court to try to change the law- is a Chaotic act?

Othniel
2015-02-08, 03:20 PM
Wow, what an interesting - and complicated - thread. I didn't realize that alignment was so complicated.

jedipotter
2015-02-08, 04:02 PM
Well, you'll note that Akodo did not define what the "Good" in it WAS. I can imagine a LE person fighting to preserve the institutions of society for much the same reason that a wizard fights for libraries from which their power is derived.

Those are not good actions, by themselves. Even a Chaotic Evil wizard can defend a library.


I...wow, that's the most absurd interpretation of Law/Chaos I've ever heard. So a Chaotic person in your eyes cannot agree with even the most basic laws, and a Lawful person cannot disagree with a Law? So -going to court to try to change the law- is a Chaotic act?

Yes, Chaotic is pure no laws. Chaotic is not ''woo hoo I don't like laws....er, except for the 200 laws I do like''.

But don't mix words too much with ''like'' and ''agree'' and such.

Courts are Lawful, and going to court is a Lawful act. Even changing a law is a Lawful act. A Chaotic person will ignore the court and ''take the law into their own hands'' at best, and kill the court at worst.

Now, yes everyone in a society follows the laws. If the law says you can't do X, then most people won't do X. The Lawful people do it because they agree with the law, and even more so they agree with the idea of having laws that they are forced to follow. They might not ''like'' the law, but they still agree with the ''idea'' of having the law. For example a Lawful person might not like paying taxes, but they love the idea of money being taken from them by a government and beings used to do stuff. Chaotic people follow a law simply to not be bothered with things like cops, jail and fines. They don't agree with the whole idea of laws in the first place, they think people can police themselves just fine. They think of taxes as simply being robbed.

Corsair
2015-02-09, 01:21 AM
There are Chaotic civilizations. D&D Elves are Chaotic and have fully sized nations, and you cannot have a nation without a system of laws.

Problem one here: Lawful is a poor choice of words. Order is a far better choice.

Regarding people liking or disliking laws being whether they're Lawful or Chaotic...if we're doing this as a 1:1 thing, where if you like more laws than dislike them you're Lawful, given that most Laws are obvious - don't murder, don't steal, don't rape, don't destroy people's stuff, and so on nearly everyone would be Lawful. If it's that even supporting one law nudges you out of Chaotic, and disliking one law nudges you out of Lawful, literally everyone would be Neutral. Even Paladins are going to get aggravated by certain laws.

So are we going to have a Paladin lose his powers for such heinous, chaotic acts as saying "I hate toll booths."?

This isn't even getting into the matter of codes of morality that go beyond temporal law and order, concepts like differing political opinions (Whatever your opinion of varying political parties the vast majority despite being virulently opposed to each other are going to be Lawful).

And then we have the issues with the Chaotic side, where a Chaotic being is incapable of liking -any- laws. Where we have Barbarians becoming Lawful because they like the idea of criminals being made to fight in gladiatorial arenas and the traveling bard losing his ticket to Arborea because he approves of a city legalizing brothels.

Othniel
2015-02-09, 01:39 AM
Problem one here: Lawful is a poor choice of words. Order is a far better choice.


This has always bugged me. Paladins are typically Lawful Good, yet there are often evil laws (or at least laws that cause evil) that a Good-aligned person would want to see removed. Sometimes a law may have an effect so heinous that working toward its repeal is not good enough, and you feel that you have to refuse to obey the law. This is a chaotic act.

Barbarians are typically Chaotic (or at least not Lawful), yet many barbarian cultures in real-world history have had their own laws, or at least codes. The only thing that truly separated them was that they were not part of the "civilized world."

Corsair
2015-02-09, 02:08 AM
If I had my way I'd change the whole Law/Chaos axis into Civilized/Uncivilized. Would make things so much less annoying.

jedipotter
2015-02-09, 03:29 AM
There are Chaotic civilizations. D&D Elves are Chaotic and have fully sized nations, and you cannot have a nation without a system of laws.

Not even remotely true. A nation can have no laws. Such a nation might not even have money or the concepts of ownership and property. With a generally good society, you don't need laws as people won't harm each other or commit crimes(for two easy examples: take a newspaper box, you put your money in, open the door and take a newspaper....but there is nothing stopping anyone from simply taking all the newspapers....but they simply don't. And then just look at an all night store, with no thick glass, bars on the windows or other extreme security. People can walk in and out all night, as no one will rob the place)




Regarding people liking or disliking laws being whether they're Lawful or Chaotic...if we're doing this as a 1:1 thing, where if you like more laws than dislike them you're Lawful, given that most Laws are obvious - don't murder, don't steal, don't rape, don't destroy people's stuff, and so on nearly everyone would be Lawful. If it's that even supporting one law nudges you out of Chaotic, and disliking one law nudges you out of Lawful, literally everyone would be Neutral. Even Paladins are going to get aggravated by certain laws.

Well, there is a lot of truth in the idea that most people are neutral and the two(four) extremes are rare. Most people follow and like most laws.....and then they break and don't follow a handful or two.

Note: Your obvious laws are only obvious to a Lawful person. A pure Chaotic person would not want them at all.



This isn't even getting into the matter of codes of morality that go beyond temporal law and order, concepts like differing political opinions (Whatever your opinion of varying political parties the vast majority despite being virulently opposed to each other are going to be Lawful).

A political party is Lawful. Chaotic people are rebels and revolutionaries.



And then we have the issues with the Chaotic side, where a Chaotic being is incapable of liking -any- laws. Where we have Barbarians becoming Lawful because they like the idea of criminals being made to fight in gladiatorial arenas and the traveling bard losing his ticket to Arborea because he approves of a city legalizing brothels.

Why would barbarians have an arena? You need to take the step back...a chaotic barbarian society has no criminals as it has no laws. If someone does something you don't like, you can stop them...or even kill them. It's simple enough. And the Chaotic bard would never, ever want anything ''legalized''.


This has always bugged me. Paladins are typically Lawful Good, yet there are often evil laws (or at least laws that cause evil) that a Good-aligned person would want to see removed. Sometimes a law may have an effect so heinous that working toward its repeal is not good enough, and you feel that you have to refuse to obey the law. This is a chaotic act.

Other then the insane extremes, no law is Good or Evil. And it's often more of a point of view if a law ''causes'' good or evil. And no good person, no matter how crazy, would make a heinous law...they would be evil. Though, if your a Lawful person you have agreed to give up your personal freedom of choice and go with the flow.



Barbarians are typically Chaotic (or at least not Lawful), yet many barbarian cultures in real-world history have had their own laws, or at least codes. The only thing that truly separated them was that they were not part of the "civilized world."

Note that a ''Law'' is very specific...that is why Lawful people like them. If you do X, then Y and Z will happen. That is a law. A chaotic barbarian culture can still have codes, but that is not the same as a law. Take cheating. It is not illegal to cheat if your not married. If person A gets cheated on by person B, then person A can not run over to the Law and demand person B get punished. But person B does not just ''get away with it'', as each person can say ''you cheated, go away'' or worse. All sorts of negative things can happen to person B, that are not spelled out in a code of law.


If I had my way I'd change the whole Law/Chaos axis into Civilized/Uncivilized. Would make things so much less annoying.

That does not work. That is just says ''Civilized'' is the ''horrible way to live where others force you to live the way they want to and you get no say in it'' and ''Uncivilized'' is ''freedom''.

neonchameleon
2015-02-09, 04:14 AM
This alignment band is always problematic, so can anyone suggest specific actions that can be quantitively operationalized as "Lawful" or "Chaotic" tied to one of the various dichotomies that aren't just good/evil for moral arguments? Something that can be easily communicated, and measured non-subjectively.

This confusion is because the axis is a relic from the initial versions of D&D, and stolen from Morcock.

As D&D was originally played there was only one axis - law vs chaos. Chaos represented nature and the untamed wilderness, and law civilisation and cities. PCs were generally in favour of law, but there wasn't the moral weight.

Yora
2015-02-09, 04:33 AM
If I had my way I'd change the whole Law/Chaos axis into Civilized/Uncivilized. Would make things so much less annoying.

If I had my way, and I have my way, I just don't use alignment at all. Makes everything so much less annoying.

Wow, what an interesting - and complicated - thread. I didn't realize that alignment was so complicated.

Pretty much the worst idea in RPG history.

neonchameleon
2015-02-09, 05:30 AM
Pretty much the worst idea in RPG history.

Nah. There have been worse ones. (Once we ignore FATAL I'm going to mention calling the GM the Storyteller). But it was a bad one.

Seto
2015-02-09, 06:59 AM
That's only one aspect of the question, but I tend to look at the way the character treats the principles he adheres to (almost everyone has at least some). All three ways are equally coherent and valid.
To Lawful, a principle is a principle, you accepted it, and now you put your doubts or feelings aside and uphold it when it needs to be upheld. You do not allow yourself to do otherwise, except when the consequences would be dire, and sometimes not even then. Of course you're not dumb, you can question yourself and change principles, but that's a long and thoughtful road (and you certainly don't change them the very moment you need to act on them) and you treat your new principles the same way you treated the old. Principle is law.
To Neutral, a principle is something you should not stray away from and you have a firm belief in. However, you can sometimes tweak it if it serves the big picture, or try to keep the principle's spirit while formulating it differently (which sometimes leads to subtly changing principles). If the consequences for upholding your principles are too harsh, though, you can silence them for a moment. Principles are rules.
To Chaotic, a principle helps you formulate who you are and find a way in life ; it gives you identity and reason. However, people can and do change, so it's only natural that you principles change overtime. Besides, the same situation doesn't always call for the same answer : context matters. This is why you should treat principles with both respect and caution : for while your principles reflect who you are, they should not decide who you are. As such, when followed too blindly, they will keep you from moving on and making your own way through life. Principles are guidelines.

(So yeah, Chaotic can have principles, and although "does whatever he wants all the time" is certainly Chaotic, a complex Chaotic character often has methods and life purposes).
I find it's a good indicator, although it's not the only one.

hamishspence
2015-02-09, 07:09 AM
WOTC's "Lawful and Chaotic" article has a few interesting things to say about 3.5ed Law and Chaos:

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

Yora
2015-02-09, 07:12 AM
Nah. There have been worse ones. (Once we ignore FATAL I'm going to mention calling the GM the Storyteller). But it was a bad one.

Hm, that should make for a great article: "The worst ideas of RPG history and their devastating consequences".

Segev
2015-02-09, 09:01 AM
As I usually do eventually in these threads, I'd like to bring up my favorite alignment chart once more:


Nice Guy
|
Plays by the rules---------------Does not play by the rules
|
Jerk



It's not perfect, but you can usually boil it down to this for most purposes.

Also helpful to recall that good/evil is the "moral axis." Law/chaos is the "ethical axis."

Ethics are about adhering to principles and rules.

Lawful people define their ethics and live strictly by them. THey carefully reconcile their rules so there is always a clear "right" way to behave.

Chaotic people usually have some general principles and strive to adhere to them, but rarely spell them out nor allow apparent conflicts between them to stress them. They act in accordance with what they think is best at the time, and don't trouble themselves much over whether it's consistent with the reasoning they applied before.

hamishspence
2015-02-09, 05:02 PM
Note: Your obvious laws are only obvious to a Lawful person. A pure Chaotic person would not want them at all.

The 3.5 DMG suggests, on the subject of settlements in general (so, Lawful and Chaotic alike) "Assume common-sense laws are in place - do not murder, do not steal, and so on" and then goes on to suggest unusual laws that might distinguish places from one another - like a ban on wearing red.

It could be argued that even CN societies recognize the necessity for some general rules.

Othniel
2015-02-09, 05:34 PM
It could be argued that even CN societies recognize the necessity for some general rules.

I agree. It's hard to have a society without some sort of framework. I think it is possible for a society (or just a single character) to follow a set of limited rules (something as simple as "don't take other people's stuff because they don't like it and will hurt me if they can" for example), and still be more on the "chaotic" side of the axis, than the "lawful" side.

Ashtagon
2015-02-09, 05:37 PM
If I recall correctly, 1e said law/chaos was more about how a character interacts with his community.

A lawful character will strongly place his city or nation above his family and friends. A chaotic character will place family and friends above city and nation. Family in this case includes tribe, where the tribe is an extended family (ie. the character could easily give the exact familial relationship between himself and any other person in the tribe), and friends would include not just adventuring party, but tight-knit specialist communities (any grouping of up to a dozen people who work closely together).

jedipotter
2015-02-09, 05:40 PM
The 3.5 DMG suggests, on the subject of settlements in general (so, Lawful and Chaotic alike) "Assume common-sense laws are in place - do not murder, do not steal, and so on" and then goes on to suggest unusual laws that might distinguish places from one another - like a ban on wearing red.

It could be argued that even CN societies recognize the necessity for some general rules.

The basic problem here is the book was written to be ''Kid friendly'', and when a writer lowers themselves to that low extreme....they write stuff like that.

And on the more philosophical side, you have the bias problem. See, them writers are all very polarized one way thinking fanatics. They think that what they think is right and the way things must be always, and ignore and dismiss other points of view. And, naturally, as they think that way...they write that way.

And yes a society does need to have rules, otherwise it's not a society. But laws and rules are not the same.

A chaotic settlement can operate just fine with rules and no laws.

Segev
2015-02-10, 08:46 AM
The difficult thing is that "tradition" is considered a Lawful trait, but any society which lacks codified rules only has tradition on which to run.

I am more inclined to say that a Chaotic society will have laws. These will be rules agreed upon or established to prevent specific things from happening again. They will be either highly specific ("Alright, guys, no more tying up your cow next to the beer barrels; seriously, after the last two times, you'd think people wouldn't need to be expressly told!"), or quite general ("No fighting in town").

They also will tend to be enforced laxly, unless matters of public safety are on the line. And even then, ignorance may well be an excuse to avoid punishment (though not to avoid being forced to comply if the rule is for serious enough reasons - if that dwarven beer makes cows explode with the force of their weight in dynamite, for example, extreme measures might be taken to keep them from being left next to that barrel).

The rules/laws of a Chaotic society will be there to help inform people of how things are done. CG and CN societies, therefore, will tend not to assume malice without reason, and might issue a warning or few first. They certainly will take extenuating circumstances into account, up to the point of completely forgiving violations. "Oh, you fed your cow anti-explodium? Interesting solution. Alright, then, you can leave it next to the barrel."

CE societies may well punish anyway, because they like seeing people suffer. And while they don't NEED the excuse, the excuse is always amusing, especially if you can use it to make the accused feel even slightly like he might deserve it.

Lawful societies tend to view rules-as-rules, which must be followed to the letter, even when no harm was meant nor done.

hamishspence
2015-02-10, 09:06 AM
The difficult thing is that "tradition" is considered a Lawful trait, but any society which lacks codified rules only has tradition on which to run.

I am more inclined to say that a Chaotic society will have laws. These will be rules agreed upon or established to prevent specific things from happening again. They will be either highly specific ("Alright, guys, no more tying up your cow next to the beer barrels; seriously, after the last two times, you'd think people wouldn't need to be expressly told!"), or quite general ("No fighting in town").

They also will tend to be enforced laxly, unless matters of public safety are on the line. And even then, ignorance may well be an excuse to avoid punishment (though not to avoid being forced to comply if the rule is for serious enough reasons - if that dwarven beer makes cows explode with the force of their weight in dynamite, for example, extreme measures might be taken to keep them from being left next to that barrel).

The rules/laws of a Chaotic society will be there to help inform people of how things are done. CG and CN societies, therefore, will tend not to assume malice without reason, and might issue a warning or few first. They certainly will take extenuating circumstances into account, up to the point of completely forgiving violations. "Oh, you fed your cow anti-explodium? Interesting solution. Alright, then, you can leave it next to the barrel."

CE societies may well punish anyway, because they like seeing people suffer. And while they don't NEED the excuse, the excuse is always amusing, especially if you can use it to make the accused feel even slightly like he might deserve it.

Drizzt's monologue sections in the Dark Elf Trilogy include one on Tradition - and there's an emphasis on how dark elf society relies heavily on it, in place of laws.

Envyus
2015-02-15, 01:43 AM
Drizzt's monologue sections in the Dark Elf Trilogy include one on Tradition - and there's an emphasis on how dark elf society relies heavily on it, in place of laws.

It should be noted the Drow in big groups like this are Mostly Neutral Evil instead of Chaotic Evil. The Drow only tend to go full on chaotic evil when they are in small groups and don't have to worry about their society.

hamishspence
2015-02-15, 06:30 AM
That, and members of the clergy of Lolth are more likely to be CE than average drow - and they're the ones in power.

Segev
2015-02-16, 12:11 PM
That, and members of the clergy of Lolth are more likely to be CE than average drow - and they're the ones in power.

It helps that their society has a very "laws apply to those beneath me" attitude. So the leaders CAN be CE: whatever they want to do, they can do, without (legal or social) repercussion. Of course, if they do it to another powerful noble, they might suffer retribution...but that's not aChaotic; it's just recognizing the limits of the core might-makes-right philosophy that ultimately backs CE power structures.

B9anders
2015-02-17, 04:33 PM
This alignment band is always problematic, so can anyone suggest specific actions that can be quantitively operationalized as "Lawful" or "Chaotic" tied to one of the various dichotomies that aren't just good/evil for moral arguments? Something that can be easily communicated, and measured non-subjectively.

In my homebrew, law and chaos are more of a cosmic allegiance than a personal philosophy. Most of it is stolen from conceptions in Nordic mythology.

To be aligned with law is to be aligned with the civilization, an ordered cosmos, to follow the gods that look after humanity and to honour the rites and agreements between men that make them civilized. Concept like personal honour, loyalty and keeping true to one's word would be meaningful to such a person. In many ways, he defines himself by the people and gods around him.

An 'evil' lawful person would twist and use such contracts for his own gain and power and even consider breaking them if no one would know (his honour would still matter to him, but moreso as a tool perceived by others). A 'good' lawful would genuinely believe that to abide by these in spirit is in itself a great source of virtue.

To be aligned with chaos is to be aligned with the primordial forces of nature (like the Jotuns in nordic mythology - Fey IMC) that care little for an orderly universe. They embody the primal and untamed forces of nature that are so hostile to men once they step outside the protected borders of civilization and the sanctified dominions of the gods (even something as simple as a road is an orderly force that can keep the forces of chaos at bay - ie, don't stray from the path, Little Red Riding Hood).


Such a person has no affinity with a concept like honour, and likewise for things like truth and loyalty. He's godless and unreliable to a lawful person. A wizard in a remote tower is often considered such, for he has forsaken the gods in order to deal with forces only the gods can truly tame. Though he does not necessarily follow the moral strictures of society, he may not necessarily be malicious (indeed the fey simply don't comprehend concepts like honour and loyalty).

Such a person typically values qualities like freedom, untamed beauty (which for the wicked, can also take quite perverse forms) and individualistic development. He rarely defines himself in relation to anyone but himself.

A good chaotic person would typically be a free spirit whose desires do not harmonise with the strictures of society. He is perhaps a bard whose creativity must have solitude to unfold and shares his compositions simply for the joy of expressing his work - Or an aforementioned wizard in a lonely tower who has simply abandoned society to study powers beyond the ken of gods and men for his own sake, yet remains sympathetic to people, even if he has little sense of allegiance to them.

An evil chaotic person would be a godless mercenary in it only for himself, who plunders the countryside if the loot is better than the pay and has all but abandoned notions of civility unless it pays. Or a depraved cultist of elder beings who seeks to overthrow the hegemony of the gods.

Those are the alignments in my setting. No 'Neutral' (you are either aligned with the dominion of the gods or not) and concepts like good and evil are quite secondary to this.

Sith_Happens
2015-02-17, 10:52 PM
Moral ambiguity only works in an ambiguous setting. When you're doing dungeon crawls moral ambiguity is moot. But having clearly delineated Good and Evil doesn't prevent moral ambiguity. Take Dragon Age, for example, and the Orzammar leadership crisis. If you translated it to D&D, Bhelen would be Evil, and Harrowmont good. Bhelen's a murderous, treacherous, self-serving scumbag, and Harrowmont is a noble-hearted, honorable man. But Harrowmont, despite being a Good man is also the wrong choice for Orzammar, and if elected to the Kingship his leadership results in Orzammar's gradual downfall. Bhelen, on the other hand, enacts reforms that could save the Dwarven civilization.

So do you support the evil man who saves Orzammar, or the good man who dooms it?

You know what else I like about this example? Bhelen is Chaotic Evil (and Harrowmont Lawful Good). He hates his people's caste system and other elaborate traditions and social hierarchies with a passion; thinks that those things are holding Orzammar back; and won't hesitate for a moment to bend, break, or flaunt whatever laws he needs to secure a position from which he can finally tear that system down. At the same time, though, he's a shrewd politician and, if you put him in charge, a highly competent ruler. In other words, he's everything that most people* think CE characters are incapable of being.

* Including whoever wrote the abomination that is the "The Nine Alignments" section of the 3.5 PHB. Protip: 90% of all alignment confusion can be remediated by ignoring that section and considering each alignment purely as the sum of its parts (which the section in question will invariably make it out to be less than).