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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    I was rereading through some old strips, and something stuck out. Hinjo is unwilling to go after Kubota partially because it could cause civil war, but also partially because he believes it would be "wrong" (which in this context seems to imply "chaotic").

    In itself it's nothing unusual. However, the implications of such a worldview in a D&D setting gave me pause.

    Say Xykon wasn't a lich, but a regular human. Say he wasn't sitting in a dungeon somewhere outside the jurisdiction of any kingdom, but in a civilized town. Say Roy were to find him there and attack, in that city with a legal framework for arresting and prosecuting criminals.

    Would it still be a Lawful act?

    Such a situation would be classified as an act of vigilantism, as our hypothetical Roy would be taking the law into his own hands.

    The prevailing opinion is that being Lawful does not require one to obey the laws of the region they are in (thus, a Paladin need not execute non-Orcs on sight in an Orc village), but has more to do with following through on one's principles. And yet, Hinjo seems to be convinced that taking the law into his own hands would be chaotic, despite the fact that slaying Kubota on the spot for crimes he cannot prove in court should logically be no different to Roy slaying Xykon for crimes he cannot prove in court (setting aside the absurdity of Xykon in a courtroom, were such a thing to happen it would be Xykon's word against the word of Roy's dead father).

    If vigilantism in a place with a legitimate police framework is chaotic, then it carries deeper alignment implications. For example, if a villain wipes out everyone in your village except you, and then hides in a place with a proper police force, can you ever lawfully mete out justice for the fallen? After all, it's your word against his.

    Clearly, I'm missing something here, but what is it?
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    It's the thing about RPGs you are not to think too much about. Yes, adventurers are chaotic vigilantes, even the lawful ones.

    Often that is legit as there's no official authority where they "fight evil" (and convieniently, "evil" actually exists in that world) - but often it is also not.

    You found a problem - and it's actually there and unsolved. If you have a fun DM he can make it to be part of the story, but most often it's either fully or at least "mostly" ignored.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by thereaper View Post
    The prevailing opinion is that being Lawful does not require one to obey the laws of the region they are in (thus, a Paladin need not execute non-Orcs on sight in an Orc village), but has more to do with following through on one's principles. And yet, Hinjo seems to be convinced that taking the law into his own hands would be chaotic...
    One of Hinjo's principles is that criminals should be legally arrested and fairly tried whenever reasonably possible. This is a common, but not universal, principle among lawful characters.

    Note also the requirement that it be reasonably possible. When a villain is not within the jurisdiction of any legal entity, resisting arrest with lethal force, or engaged in certain sufficiently dangerous activities, lethal force can be used against them without trial.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    I agree with theNater. This is one of Hinjo's core principles--it isn't necessarily the core principle of every Lawful character. Also, Hinjo is thinking in terms of a legal system which was at least partially created by a group of Paladins, and is therefore presumably more biased toward their mindset than most. If he were transported to the Empire of Blood, would he think bringing Xykon in for trial there would be the best option? I'm inclined to think not, personally!

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Keep in mind also that Hinjo is trying to lead a nation and maintain a legitimate government, while ensuring that he has the confidence of his people. Circumventing the law to bring in Kubota would undermine his ability to lead, and bring the stability of the nation into question. This isn't about thinking adventuring or vigilantism is wrong per se, but rather the requirements of the position he is in with respect to all of Azure City.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    In Complete Scoundrel, Batman is treated as Lawful.

    It may be the difference between "arrest/interfere" vigilantism and "punish" vigilantism.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    One person of a given alignment exhibiting a certain attitude does not mean that other people of that alignment will do the same. Hinjo's Lawful alignment expresses itself with being unwilling to bend the rules in order to punish Kubota; another Lawful character, even a Lawful Good one, might not see it that way.

    More importantly, being Lawful does not mean that you need to obey the laws imposed by the authorities of a given community. It might, but it's not required.
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    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    What you're missing is that Hinjo is not just Lawful, he is the ruling monarch. He IS the legitimate authority that exists among the fleet at that time. He has a greater obligation to follow the laws that he himself enforces on others than an adventurer passing through does.

    Further, using the power of the office to sidestep the law of the land is exactly what got his uncle into trouble. Since he condemned Shojo, doing the same would make him a hypocrite. His uncle's missteps almost certainly caused him to be extremely cautious in that regard, even beyond the practical aspects of not wanting to cause a rift between the nobles and the crown.

    But the answer to your broader question is usually, "No, in a civilized society, you can't lawfully kill someone for a crime you can't prove." You can do it, and possibly still be Lawful, but doing so is not going to be a Lawful act. Yes, that sometimes means that villains get away with things, but the alternative is anarchy, with people just randomly killing other people for made-up crimes. In most Lawful societies, the job of meting out justice does not lay with the citizenry, but with the police (or the knights, or whatever). If you're Lawful, you take your case to the authorities and try to convince them to arrest the villain. Or, you realize that one Chaotic act won't change your whole alignment and kill them anyway. And then maybe you turn yourself in for murder.

    Of course, there are civilizations with codes of honor that not only allow but demand that you personally take your revenge on such a villain...but then it isn't vigilante justice anymore. It's just a different type of Lawful.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    What you're missing is that Hinjo is not just Lawful, he is the ruling monarch. He IS the legitimate authority that exists among the fleet at that time. He has a greater obligation to follow the laws that he himself enforces on others than an adventurer passing through does.

    Further, using the power of the office to sidestep the law of the land is exactly what got his uncle into trouble. Since he condemned Shojo, doing the same would make him a hypocrite. His uncle's missteps almost certainly caused him to be extremely cautious in that regard, even beyond the practical aspects of not wanting to cause a rift between the nobles and the crown.

    But the answer to your broader question is usually, "No, in a civilized society, you can't lawfully kill someone for a crime you can't prove." You can do it, and possibly still be Lawful, but doing so is not going to be a Lawful act. Yes, that sometimes means that villains get away with things, but the alternative is anarchy, with people just randomly killing other people for made-up crimes. In most Lawful societies, the job of meting out justice does not lay with the citizenry, but with the police (or the knights, or whatever). If you're Lawful, you take your case to the authorities and try to convince them to arrest the villain. Or, you realize that one Chaotic act won't change your whole alignment and kill them anyway. And then maybe you turn yourself in for murder.

    Of course, there are civilizations with codes of honor that not only allow but demand that you personally take your revenge on such a villain...but then it isn't vigilante justice anymore. It's just a different type of Lawful.
    Are you just making a statement regarding the OOTS universe here or making a broader statement on the lawful alignment in D&D?

    Either way. The subject of the significance of Hinjo's actions are settled but the thread has broadened to ask the question to whether a vigilantism can be treated as Lawful in D&D. I take it from the above the OOTS universe ruling is no, and that is in opposition to what the Complete Scoundrel (which is non-Core) says about personal honor codes and using Batman and **** Tracy as examples of Lawful Good.

    I take it that the results here are that there are two opinions regarding the Lawful alignment in D&D as a whole. One requires Lawful people, by and large, to obey the laws of the jurisdiction they are under, perhaps with caveats if the jurisdiction is not civilized or is evilly aligned. The other very narrowly construes lawfulness as obeying a code of rules, including a personal one.

    The Giant has come down on the former. The other is a legitimate interpretation but cannot be used to judge the behavior of characters in OOTS.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Giant said most of my points but I wish to say:

    Based on your Scenario, Roy would not have comitted vigilantism. Roy would burst into a city and kill one of it's citizens. In Origin, he tries to and succeeds in negotiating with Orcs because he doesn't want to just kill them without hearing their side of the story. He'd wait to find evidence condemning a human Xykon just going about his business.

    Also, Xykon would be dead if he was still human (he's 110) but that's just pedantic.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    I take it that the results here are that there are two opinions regarding the Lawful alignment in D&D as a whole. One requires Lawful people, by and large, to obey the laws of the jurisdiction they are under, perhaps with caveats if the jurisdiction is not civilized or is evilly aligned. The other very narrowly construes lawfulness as obeying a code of rules, including a personal one.

    The Giant has come down on the former. The other is a legitimate interpretation but cannot be used to judge the behavior of characters in OOTS.
    I think maybe you missed Rich's last paragraph.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by jere7my View Post
    I think maybe you missed Rich's last paragraph.
    That's an asterisk I took out for a shorter post. Should a civilization have some sort of honor-killing code, tradition or whatever the acceptable sources of lawful behavior are, then such killing is lawful. However, for this to be the case you would have to belong to the injured party. Honor-killing is for those that were dishonored, not just for ANYONE to uphold. So the Giant's post does not contain much of a caveat. Especially, since we have not verified any civilization we have been in yet has such a tradition.

    Also, note that vengeance for vengeance-sake has a long tradition of being considered an evil act in Western literature, which is different from whether it is lawful.

    As long as we are on asterisks. The orc village situation is different, since a lawful character may only be concerned with following the laws, procedures, customs, traditions or what have you of civilized jurisdictions, and, for a non-evil aligned lawful character, probably not evil-aligned one (I take it Durkon's desire to go through the authorities was before he realized how evil the Blood Empire was).
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    In Complete Scoundrel, Batman is treated as Lawful.

    It may be the difference between "arrest/interfere" vigilantism and "punish" vigilantism.
    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    Either way. The subject of the significance of Hinjo's actions are settled but the thread has broadened to ask the question to whether a vigilantism can be treated as Lawful in D&D. I take it from the above the OOTS universe ruling is no, and that is in opposition to what the Complete Scoundrel (which is non-Core) says about personal honor codes and using Batman and **** Tracy as examples of Lawful Good.

    I take it that the results here are that there are two opinions regarding the Lawful alignment in D&D as a whole. One requires Lawful people, by and large, to obey the laws of the jurisdiction they are under, perhaps with caveats if the jurisdiction is not civilized or is evilly aligned. The other very narrowly construes lawfulness as obeying a code of rules, including a personal one.
    First of all, Tracy's a cop, not a vigilante. While he sometimes gets framed by his enemies and has to go on the lam to clear his name, he always looks for evidence to submit to a judge.

    Secondly, there have been a lot of different incarnations of Batman since 1939. The original incarnation was a gun-toting vigilante, but that incarnation was more of a rip-off of The Shadow wearing a costume inspired by one of Zorro's enemies. By 1940 Batman had dumped the guns (and the ugly purple gloves) and had a kid sidekick; together they solved crimes rather than punished criminals.

    This was the direction Batman took for the next few decades, with a few variations: Batman was essentially a private detective and he began to consult for the Gotham PD (who deputized Batman and Robin and issued them badges). Batman wasn't quite as scrupulous when it came to following the law as Superman, but that was mostly a matter of degree. This incarnation of Batman began to undergo some weird adventures, fighting pirates, space pirates, zombie pirates, robots, space robots, super-intelligent gorillas, the Rainbow Raider, the Ten-Eyed Man, Calendar Man and Bat-Mite, before an attempt was made to bring his adventures back to Earth in the mid 1960's.

    Then the "Batman" TV show made the character campy again, until Denny O'neil and Neal Adams gave Batman's adventures a feel that reflected the pulp stories that inspired the character: grand adventures against larger than life enemies like Ra's al-Ghul, grittier stories about urban crime and a Batman more willing to bend or even break the law to catch criminals. This was the status quo for the rest of the "Bronze Age" of superhero comics, as Batman quit the Justice League of America to found The Outsiders, D_ick Grayson quit being Robin and later took on the identity of Nightwing, and Batman recruited a young boy named Jason Todd, whose circus performer parents were murdered by Killer Croc, to be the new Robin. In this era Batman was not Lawful in anyway shape or form; he hovered between Neutral Good and Chaotic Good.

    In 1985 Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", a story about an aging Bruce Wayne becoming Batman again, showed a much darker Batman who openly broke the law and bordered on being outright psychotic. While "The Dark Knight Returns" wasn't part of the ongoing storyline (involving the events of "Crisis on Infinite Earths"), after the conclusion of "Crisis" Frank Miller retold the origin of Batman (what we would call "rebooted the character") in the ground-breaking "Batman: Year One". The post-crisis Batman is firmly standing in Chaotic Good territory. He wishes he could obey the law, but feels that if he did the criminals he fought would be unstoppable.

    There are other incarnations of Batman besides the comic books. The Batman from the DCAU is Neutral Good; he doesn't break the law, but he bends it quite a bit: he removes evidence from crime scenes in front of Commissioner Gordon despite Detective Harvey Bullock (loud) protests; he dangles criminals from rooftops to intimidate them, but they always have a safety line around their legs; he trespasses on (and oftens breaks into) private property without a warrant in order to threaten mob bosses (like Rupert Thorne), information brokers (like The Penguin) or corrupt corporate executives (like Roland Dagget); when framed for murder by The Phantasm, he resists arrest; and he violates international weapons treaties when he installs a superweapon on the JLU Watchtower. And yet there are laws he won't break, and he tries to support the police, district attorney and the staff at Arkham Asylum.

    The Batman of "Batman: the Brave and the Bold" is Lawful Good. Yes, he strikes with the Hammers of Justice against criminals, but he never breaks the law. He upholds the law, whether in Gotham City, Gorilla City, Rann, Atlantis, Metropolis, Oa, wherever Space Ghost lives, and of course Zuhr-En-Ahr. He is disgusted whenever Plastic Man reverts to the bad habits of petty crook Eel O'Brien; lectures Booster Gold about why real heroes (like their deceased colleague Ted Kord) don't seek fame and glory; serves as a mentor to the Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle and to Firestorm; and flies around on a jetpack in broad daylight, stopping bank robberies and armored car heists to the cheer of the crowds. This Batman would rather let Gorilla Grodd go free than have to break the law to catch him. (Luckily Gorilla City has an extradition treaty with the US!) Instead he carefully looks for clues, follows suspects, disguises himself as a minion, and generally engages in legal detective work.

    So yeah, depending on how you interpret the character, Batman works just well as a Lawful Good detective, a Neutral Good crime fighter and a Chaotic Good vigilante.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    the question to whether a vigilantism can be treated as Lawful in D&D.
    Lawful can be a personal code. Not specifically "The legal system of the land you're currently in". Batman is Lawful. Spider-man is Lawful. They work outside the law, but they follow strict personal codes.

    One can be completely, 100% lawful while still breaking every legal law on the books.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    That's an asterisk I took out for a shorter post. Should a civilization have some sort of honor-killing code, tradition or whatever the acceptable sources of lawful behavior are, then such killing is lawful. However, for this to be the case you would have to belong to the injured party. Honor-killing is for those that were dishonored, not just for ANYONE to uphold. So the Giant's post does not contain much of a caveat. Especially, since we have not verified any civilization we have been in yet has such a tradition.

    Also, note that vengeance for vengeance-sake has a long tradition of being considered an evil act in Western literature, which is different from whether it is lawful.
    It really depends on a lot of factors. In some societies the concept of "trial by combat" was a legitimate way to determine a criminal's guilt. But those societies usually have some form of ritual that must be adhered to in order to invoke trial by combat, such as someone being accused of murder. If there's no dead body, and no real reason to suspect Sir Jimmy of murder, there's no trial. If Sir Jimmy is found standing over the body of his lady-love, Lady Love, he is probably going to be accused of the murder despite his protests about an Elf with one arm. Rather than have a magistrate, tribunal or jury hear the case, Sir Jimmy might invoke trial by combat to clear his name. The prosecution gets to appoint a champion to fight on their behalf; the fight might be to the death, to the first wound, or best two out of three with nerf guns. This is a Lawful behavior. If Sir Jimmy's pal, Miss Terry the Rogue, feels this is barbaric and that Sir Jimmy should flee, he'll patiently tell her that he won't break the law.

    On the other hand are honor duels, where one party declares that the other besmirched the honor of the first party and challenges the second party to a duel witnessed by a third party. ("I dinna like'a dat'a part!" "You shoulda been to the second party! I didn't get home till three in the morning, half blind!") The second party can refuse to duel and lose face among those who consider honor duels important. The thing is that even if a society allows them, they are inherently Chaotic, since Lawful societies usually have some form of libel and slander law, where an aggreived party can sue for monetary damages.

    Of course if the "libel" or "slander" is true (albeit embarrassing), the aggreived party might not be able to sue and will call for a duel, which is precisely why US Vice President Aaron Burr challenged out New York Post Publisher (and former signatory of the Constitution) Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton considered duels a pointless anachronism, while Burr saw them as a legitimate means to nurse his ego. Hamilton fired his pistol into the air while Burr shot Hamilton square on. Burr then fled to South America to avoid prosecution.

    The orc village situation is different, since a lawful character may only be concerned with following the laws, procedures, customs, traditions or what have you of civilized jurisdictions, and, for a non-evil aligned lawful character, probably not evil-aligned one (I take it Durkon's desire to go through the authorities was before he realized how evil the Blood Empire was).
    The Orcs didn't live in the village; they were camping outside the village for a rock concert that wouldn't be taking place for several weeks. One of the Orcs got the munchies and went into town to buy some snacks, terrifying the Human villagers, who believed that they were raiders. So the villagers hired several bands of adventurers to get rid of the Orc "raiders", each of which were wiped out before Roy and Durkon's group were hired. When Roy realized why the Orcs were camped out he managed to negotiate with them. This infuriated the other party members (save Durkon, who was impressed by Roy resorting to a non-violent solution); after all they ended up getting the same amount of XP for babysitting the Orcs until the "Iron Golems" concert that they would have gotten for killing them, but they had to spend six weeks babysitting Orcs and had to go to the concert. The leader (a paladin of all things) was annoyed about the waste of six weeks they could have spent adventuring after killing the Orcs. That's not Good behavior; the Orcs didn't do anything other than startle the villagers, and due to a misunderstanding the villagers hired adventurers to slay them. Roy resolved the situation and got nothing but grief for it from the other adventurers.

    By contrast, the Empire of Blood is a harsh Lawful Evil totalitarian state; yes they have laws, but they are enforced unjustly. A Lawful Good character might feel the need to acquire an entry pass, but once he knows about the Empire's true nature he should be trying to overthrow the Empress of Blood (and if he knows about them, Team Tarquin) because the Empire oppresses people.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by NerdyKris View Post
    Lawful can be a personal code. Not specifically "The legal system of the land you're currently in". Batman is Lawful. Spider-man is Lawful. They work outside the law, but they follow strict personal codes.

    One can be completely, 100% lawful while still breaking every legal law on the books.
    That's not how the Lawful Alignment works in D&D. Lawful Evil characters only break the law if they can cover it up; they prefer to rewrite the laws so that they favor themselves and no one else. Take Darth Vader as an example; he is a murderer, a tyrant, a torturer and a follower of a once banned religious order so vile its name is a curse. But none of that matters to the Imperial Officers stationed on the Death Star or the Executor; the Emperor has appointed Lord Vader to a special position outside of the military chain of command, subservient to only the Emperor himself. From the lowest Stormtrooper to the highest Grand Admiral, everyone in the Imperial Army and Navy must obey a command from Lord Vader. And if they displease him he'll use Force Grip to collapse their tracheas. This is all Lawful, because the Emperor, the legitimate ruler of the Galaxy according to the Empire, said so.

    Luke Skywalker is a rebel. He is wanted for destruction of Imperial property, murder of Imperial officers and personnel, theft of Imperial property, suspicion of harboring a Jedi Master, conspiring with a Jedi Master, possession of contraband (a lightsabre), possessing stolen Imperial property (the Death Star plans inside Artoo), aiding and abetting a known traitor (Senator Leia Organa), armed insurrection, conspiracy to commit armed insurrection, high treason, conspiracy to commit high treason, and belonging to a cult (the Jedi Order). And yet Luke Skywalker is very Lawful Good. He's a plucky underdog fighting against a vast, evil Empire, trying to restore justice and liberty to the Galaxy. His pal Han Solo is not Lawful Good, but Luke is an idealist who dreams of making the Galaxy a better place for every man, woman, child, Wookie, Mon Calamari, Sullustan, Ithorian, Twi'Lek, Gungan, Duros, Snivvian, Togruta, Chadra Fan and Zabrek.

    EDIT: Basically, Luke would be obeying the law if it weren't for the horrible evils the Empire commits. He has to break the law and rebel so that there won't be any more atrocities like Alderaan in the future. By contrast, Darth Vader has convinced himself that he's doing the right thing be twisting and perverting the laws to benefit the Sith, the Emperor's elite followers, and himself. While Vader is no hedonist, and couldn't care about money, he does get one benefit from the New Order: he's immune from prosecution for all of the people he casually murders. The Emperor, meanwhile, indulges in all sorts of forbidden delights, conducts secret Sith experiments, and has granted a whole sector of space to the private individuals and corporations who funded his election as Senator from Naboo and appointment as Chancellor. For Palpatine the law is a plaything, but its his plaything. He demands that anyone else violating the law be harshly punished.
    Last edited by Sir_Leorik; 2013-06-03 at 01:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    The fact that they are different people in different situations matter though.

    It's one thing to uphold a moral code in a place with no law.

    It's another to be the king of a country that has a legal system for bringing people to justice.

    The think is Kubota is in a place where he can be brought to justice. I'm fairly certain that Roy wouldn't have ever attacked Kubota, and notice how Elan refuses to kill him either (despite being chaotic). Different behavior occurs in different situations.

    Compare to Xykon, who is evil and no government has jurisdiction over him. If it's in someones stringent moral code that bad people should be met with punishment, then it makes sense to attack Xykon, and it isn't unlawful to do so.

    TBH, alignment isn't something that you can say "for all X scenario a person is Y alignment." Different circumstance requires different behaviors, even if alignment doesn't change.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by thereaper View Post
    And yet, Hinjo seems to be convinced that taking the law into his own hands would be chaotic, despite the fact that slaying Kubota on the spot for crimes he cannot prove in court should logically be no different to Roy slaying Xykon for crimes he cannot prove in court (setting aside the absurdity of Xykon in a courtroom, were such a thing to happen it would be Xykon's word against the word of Roy's dead father).

    If vigilantism in a place with a legitimate police framework is chaotic, then it carries deeper alignment implications. For example, if a villain wipes out everyone in your village except you, and then hides in a place with a proper police force, can you ever lawfully mete out justice for the fallen? After all, it's your word against his.

    Clearly, I'm missing something here, but what is it?
    Kubota is a 'citizen' (or the faux-medieval equivalent) of Azure City, and hadn't been personally observed doing anything wrong. So the laws of Azure City (which appear, from Hinjo's statement, to include habeus corpus) are in effect. The government can't just execute him because they consider him untrustworthy.

    {SCRUBBED}
    Last edited by LadyEowyn; 2013-06-03 at 02:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    A few confusions seemed to suddenly erupt here.

    1. What's Vigilantism? The answer is "taking the law into your own hands." The accusation of vigilantism is often directed at cops who fail to follow proper procedure in RL.

    2. Personal honor code is all that's important!

    The whole thread is about whether generally following a personal honor code is sufficient for lawfulness (in OOTS?). The Giant (speaking narrowly about killing and legal procedure) said that lawful behavior involves adhering to actual laws of civilized society. So at least as far as OOTS is concerned we have learned that, according to the author, No, a personal code is not sufficient.


    3. What's left to talk about? Broader D&D.

    I'm not clear whether the Giant even meant to weigh in on D&D in general, so there is a question as to whether there is a source in Complete Scoundrel (CS) or other D&D sources to say that lawfulness need only involve following a personal code, or whether we can say this OOTS ruling is firmly established for D&D as a whole.

    My interpretation of Complete Scoundrel is that yes, CS is suggesting a personal code is sufficient (read the language in chapter one, it actually makes references to personal honor codes!).

    I would note other sources in D&D differ. I've seen plenty of characters with strict personal/religious/military/[insert-your-group here] codes classified all sorts of ways in D&D. The most disturbing to me was the barbarians in the Neverwinter nights videogame were classified as Chaotic though they upheld very strict honor codes and complicated tribal traditions (I suppose these weren't considered "civilized" enough). That just strikes me as a mistake, and the videogames are beyond non-Core.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    It would have been awesome if the writers had put as much thought into it as you guys do.
    The laws of physics are not crying in a corner, they are bawling in the forums.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    {SCRUBBED}
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    It would have been awesome if the writers had put as much thought into it as you guys do.
    The laws of physics are not crying in a corner, they are bawling in the forums.

    Thanks to half-halfling for the avatar

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    My interpretation of Complete Scoundrel is that yes, CS is suggesting a personal code is sufficient (read the language in chapter one, it actually makes references to personal honor codes!).
    Another source:

    Save My Game: Lawful and Chaotic

    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 (that) is unfair or capricious.
    ...
    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.
    ...
    Any character might fear the consequences of breaking a local law, especially when the authorities rule with an iron hand. Very few characters, however, should make important decisions based solely on the legality of the choices. For a lawful good character such as a paladin, achieving goals in the right way -- that is, in a way that promotes the general welfare and doesn't unnecessarily imperil others -- is the most important consideration.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2013-06-03 at 02:40 PM.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Yes. "Lawful" does not mean "obeys the law." The only thing in D&D that suggests it does, is the name itself, none of the descriptions of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This, in a nutshell.
    Yes, exactly.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    And vigilante-type prestige classes generally aren't limited on the Law/Chaos axis either- the Avenging Executioner (Complete Scoundrel) can't be Good, the Vigilante (Complete Adventurer) can't be Evil- but both can be Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    I think the distinction that must be drawn is this:

    Vigilante behavior may not be a legal (or lawful, lower-case L) act. However, a person whose code of ethics drives him to punish criminals may be a Lawful (upper-case L) character.
    The Giant says: Yes, I am aware TV Tropes exists as a website. ... No, I have never decided to do something in the comic because it was listed on TV Tropes. I don't use it as a checklist for ideas ... and I have never intentionally referenced it in any way.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    Yes. "Lawful" does not mean "obeys the law." The only thing in D&D that suggests it does, is the name itself, none of the descriptions of it.
    I wouldn't go that far. True the description of lawful does not say, directly, "a lawful character obeys the law." [All quotes taken from SRD]

    Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties.
    but "obey the law" does appear in the description of LN

    A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her.
    There are numerous sources of authority that directs lawful behavior or organizes society. That includes "law" as found in legal codes and directed by legislative and judicial framework, it also includes authority in various forms (the President, the bureaucracy, the cops, the Paladins, the General, a very fat dragon, an angel summoned from the Celestial Realms, whatever your civilization recognizes). There is also traditions, some of which, such as the modern tradition of civil disobedience, can be at odds with other parts.

    There are many sources of order in society, "Law" as found in a book, is only one of them. There is also numerous philosophical conceptions of law as, among other suggestions, a natural thing or ideal form, and that might work better (but is beyond the capability of our discussion).

    Is a personal code of honor among these things that make for societal cohesion? Doubtful.
    Last edited by Reddish Mage; 2013-06-03 at 03:14 PM. Reason: Sourced the quotes from SRD
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    It would have been awesome if the writers had put as much thought into it as you guys do.
    The laws of physics are not crying in a corner, they are bawling in the forums.

    Thanks to half-halfling for the avatar

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Wait a second

    A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her.
    I have to read things closer. Really, the description of LN has a personal code in it!? It uses the that "or" connector too. So I'm not sure a personal code of honor is the most helpful part of societal cohesion, but its right there in the description of lawfulness.

    Still, reading the whole SRD clearly indicates that there is more than just a "pick your code" that this quote might indicate. A lawful character from the description of lawfulness, wants societal order and generally respects authority.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    It would have been awesome if the writers had put as much thought into it as you guys do.
    The laws of physics are not crying in a corner, they are bawling in the forums.

    Thanks to half-halfling for the avatar

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by LadyEowyn View Post
    {SCRUB THE QUOTE}
    Quote Originally Posted by Reddish Mage View Post
    {SCRUB THE QUOTE}

    Sheriff: Thread locked for review and clean-up. Don't restart this thread anywhere on the Forum.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland St. Jude View Post

    Sheriff: Thread locked for review and clean-up. Don't restart this thread anywhere on the Forum.
    I've cleaned it up now, so I am going to tentatively reopen this thread, but consider this an official Warning: No mentions of real-world politics or religion, and no straying into "morally justified" territory (i.e. where you discuss whether it is right or wrong to be Lawful or a vigilante). If this goes to either place, the thread will be permanently locked and Infractions will be handed out.
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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    And in order to get this back on track, I will try to get at what I was saying again.

    In my personal interpretation of Lawfulness in D&D, I believe that yes, it is possible to be Lawful using a personal code rather than the societal definitions of law and order. However, I believe that the burden of upholding that code has to be much stricter than that of the average person in order to actually qualify as Lawful. You must be willing to suffer personal detriment through adhesion to your code, without wavering, if you want to wear the Lawful hat.

    Because almost everyone has a personal code of some sort; Robin Hood had a personal code, and he's the poster child for Chaotic Good. The reason his code doesn't rise to the level of Lawful is that he would be willing to bend it in a pinch. And since he's already bucking all the societal traditions of his civilization, there are no additional penalties or punishments for him breaking his own code. He's unlikely to beat himself up if he needs to violate his own principles for the Greater Good; he'll justify it to himself as doing what needed to be done, maybe sigh wistfully once, and then get on with his next adventure.

    Conversely, a Lawful character who obeys society's traditions has a ready-made source of punishment should he break those standards. If such a character does stray, she can maintain her Lawfulness by submitting to the proper authorities for judgment. Turning yourself in effectively atones for the breaking of the code, undoing (or at least mitigating) the non-Lawful act.

    A Lawful character who operates strictly by a personal code, on the other hand, is responsible for punishing herself in the event of a breach of that code. If she waves it off as doing what needed to be done, then she is not Lawful, she's Neutral at the least. If she does it enough, she may even become Chaotic. A truly Lawful character operating on a personal code will suffer through deeply unpleasant situations in order to uphold it, and will take steps to punish themselves if they don't (possibly going as far as to commit honorable suicide).

    People think that using the "personal code" option makes life as a Lawful character easier. It shouldn't. It should be harder to maintain an entirely self-directed personal code than it is to subscribe to the code of an existing country or organization. This is one of the reasons that most Lawful characters follow an external code. It is not required, no, but it is much, much easier. Exceptions should be unusual and noteworthy. It should be an exceptional roleplaying challenge to take on the burden of holding yourself to a strict code even when there are no external penalties for failing.

    So as far as vigilantism goes, if a character has a specific pre-established personal code that involves personally punishing those who commit offenses, then yes, they could still be Lawful. Most characters do not have such a code; most characters simply follow general ideas of their alignment on a case-by-case basis. Certainly none of the characters in OOTS have such a code except perhaps for Miko. And we all saw what a slippery slope that turned out to be.
    Rich Burlew


    Utterly Dwarfed, the sixth compilation of The Order of the Stick is now in stock. Order at Ookoodook (paper copies) or Gumroad (digital PDFs), or pick it up from your local gaming store.

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    Default Re: Vigilantism and the Lawful Alignment in OotS

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    All this Stuff about Codes which belongs in the Index.
    Not just Miko. Would a Cleric not always have a personal code they must follow? Certainly Durkon and Malack follow Thor's and Nergal's tennants rather strictly (Redcloak's an iffy case). I know they're lawful but then again there haven't been any major chaotic or neutral clerics since Firehelm.

    Also, what about Lawful Evil characters. They don't submit to the authorities. They manipulate to get what they want. Look at Kubota. He didn't really have a code. He spent his screen time messing with loopholes to look "innocent" for Hinjo whilst he plotted his highly un-lawful take over. He wouldn't punish himself for breaking any code he may have had if he got his city.

    Even bigger example. Nale. He never seems to do anything Lawful at all. He doesn't have a code. He doesn't follow traditions of law. He would break any code he had if he got his father's empire and his brother's eternal torment. He'd probably backstab Sabine if he had to.

    I don't debate these two's lawfulness really. I want to know what you think. Certainly Roy, Durkon, Malack, Redcloak, Tarquin and the Paladins (even if O-chul technically breaks Azurite tradition by allying with MITD) fit.

    Finally, do chaotics have to buck societal trends. I'm sure a lot of Chaotic people are happy with how the government runs things. I'm sure the staff of Fujiwara's liked their city and didn't buck trends based on that wild party.

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