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    Default To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook


    To March into Hell
    For a Heavenly Cause


    A Guide to Lawful Good

    “Might does not make right! Right makes right!”
    -T. H. White, The Once and Future King

    I. Introduction
    Lawful Good is almost unquestionably the most maligned and mistrusted of the good alignments; to many, Lawful Good is the alignment of self-righteousness and zealotry, a font of judgmental hypocrisy and the surest source of insufferable intra-party conflict. Ultimately, I think these views — and the characters that cause them — are the result of a fundamental misrecognition of what it means to be Lawful Good. The goal of this guide is to correct that misunderstanding by showing not only the potential breadth and depth of the Lawful Good alignment, but also by illustrating how even the most stereotypical conceptions can be imbued with nuance and pathos. So, following in the proud-but-recent tradition of alignment handbooks, I present a humble and non-binding guide Lawful Good


    II. What is Lawful Good
    Quote Originally Posted by Lawful Good, "Crusader"
    A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

    Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.
    In principle, the nature of Lawful Good is as simple as the SRD's definition. Where Lawful Good becomes more complex, and where interpretations often go awry and turn towards the insufferable, is in the intersection of that simple definition with a world that is hardly ever so clear-cut. Principles are challenged by necessity, and the law does not always align with what is good. The essence of being a Lawful Good character is to face these challenges fearlessly, with both the courage of your convictions and the courage to question those convictions.

    III. Where Things Go Wrong
    There are two primary pitfalls to playing a Lawful Good character. The first arises in when lofty principles crash headfirst into the messy realities of an imperfect world. The failure to navigate these interactions is the origin of the self-righteous, zealotous, fun-ruining "Knight Templar" everybody hates to play with. Essentially, these are characters for whom Law and Good are too inseparable; they believe the code they follow is the only way to do or be good, and moreover that they have not only the right but the responsibility to chastise or punish any deviation from this code. The problem with this is that it isn't what being Lawful means; note the word "self" in self-righteousness. In fact, the sort of "Cowboy Cop" vigilantism this represents is more quintessentially Chaotic behavior, which has become erroneously associated with cosmic Law because of its potential overlap with mortal laws. For a more in-depth analysis of this, see "Good and/as Law".

    At the other end of the spectrum lies the other primary pitfall of playing Lawful Good: a failure to imagine the alignment as a coherent whole. Instead of problematic interactions between the character's alignment and the outside world, this produces problems between the character's alignment and itself. Lawful Good is often seen as the only good alignment which must serve two masters; to be Neutral Good is to be good above all else, without explicit regard for law or chaos, and though Chaotic Good represents a mix of good and chaos, chaos is typically seen as less binding than law due to its very nature. It is this understanding — seeing the alignment less as Lawful Good than "Lawful and also Good" — that gives rise to the Lawful Good character as an inconsistent hypocrite. The problem here is imagining a fundamental disconnect between Good and Law that is not present for a Lawful Good character. For a more in-depth analysis of this, see "Law and/as Good."

    The essence of avoiding these pitfalls is to consider how good and law will fit together to create a worldview that is at once coherent and not so rigid as to be incompatible with basic existence.
    Last edited by Zrak; 2015-10-07 at 08:28 PM.

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    IV. Doing Righteous Right
    Whether you're planning a character who balances Good and Law to the best of their ability, or who holds one above the other, if you're making a Lawful Good character, you're necessarily going to have to make Good and Law get along. They don't have to get along always or perfectly, and some of the most interesting characters will be those for whom the two get along most uneasily, but at the end of the day they have to get along somehow for the character to be functional and Lawful Good. One way to make this work is to consider examples of Lawful Good characters from pop culture, and emulate the way they integrate each part of their alignment, which is what the next section is concerned with. Another, more theoretical approach, with which this section is concerned, is to explore how the concepts can relate to each other not just as separate concepts, but also as two intrinsically linked parts of a greater whole. If the Archetypes are examples of how to be Lawful Good, "Doing Righteous Right" is about what it means be Lawful Good.

    Good and/as Law
    "Lead the people with administrative injunctions and keep them orderly with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and keep them orderly through observing ritual propriety and they will develop a sense of shame, and moreover, will order themselves"
    Confucius, Analects 2.3 (trans. Rosemont and Ames)


    A Lawful Good character should bring out the best in others, not (just?) punish the worst in them. Being Good doesn't mean doing what is right out of fear, or by coercion, but doing right for its own sake. Making others act properly out of fear of reprisal does not contribute to the cause of good; they will revert to their old ways once free from prying eyes and coercing hands. While sometimes, even often, a Lawful Good character will find themselves with no recourse but the use force to protect the weak and innocent, this is not the only path of Lawful Good, or even necessarily the preferred path. For Good to win a lasting victory over evil, Good must be a choice, and the ideal of the Lawful Good is to inspire others to choose to live in their example, to build a world where others won't ever have to rely on force as they have had to, where the innocent will no longer need protecting. For a Lawful Good character, it is worth a lifetime of listening to cynics' taunts and enduring the provocations of the wicked if even one of them can be convinced, when it truly matters, to do the right thing. Rather than latch on to a disagreement over immoral methods, or dishonorable tactics, and drive a wedge between herself and her allies, a paragon of Lawful Good ought to find points of commonality, the smallest seeds of Good trying to sprout in a wicked heart, and patiently nurture the growth of those virtues, for this is the way good will someday truly triumph over evil. This is not to say wickedness can be ignored, or the guilty should not be punished, but that the true, primary goal of Lawful Good is not the destruction of any ephemeral Evil, but the creation of stable, lasting Good. Anyone can save the world once; Lawful Good characters are the only ones who might just be able to save it once and for all.


    Law and/as Good
    "Then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak."
    The Code of Hammurabi

    Because most fantasy societies, by combining medieval infrastructure with omnipresent supernatural threats, are fundamentally extremely dangerous places, most works of fantasy tend to associate Good with certain kinds of stability; in fact, many of modern D&D's gaming and literature precursors were framed around a conflict between Law and Chaos on basically the same terms as much of modern D&D is framed around a conflict between Good and Evil. Law is the lone bulwark not just between the common folk and almost certain death, but between the common folk and all manner of abuse and oppression. To the Lawful Good, Law is grain stored for famine relief, Law is the code that bars a feudal lord from infringing on certain rights of his subjects, Law defends the wrongly accused from the "justice" of the mindless mob. Law, in other words, is less a weapon one wields than a shield that stands between the defenseless and all that would do them harm. Law is the force which curtails the oppression of the weak by the strong, that denies the ability of might to make right; law is the mechanism by which Good can exist in a lasting, functional way. In a number of fantasy societies, this Law will overlap largely or even entirely with the mortal laws of the land, since the trope of Goodly Kingdoms remains common to this day. In many other societies, those whose laws do not uplift but hold down those who most need protection, this Law will clash with both the laws of the society and its prevailing social order. Remember the words of the official definition: Lawful good characters speak out against injustice, and temper their honor with compassion. A society which lacks compassion, or whose laws are not just, is not Lawful in the sense a Lawful Good character would understand the term; the oppressive tyrannies of Lawful Evil societies are merely more organized networks of the fundamentally chaotic selfishness that characterizes "might makes right" societies.


    Lawful Good in Campaigns

    There's no way to create a guide to address how every lawful good character will fit into every campaign, so this section is aimed more at providing more general advice for general issues both players and DMs may have integrating lawful good characters into a campaign. As in all cases of making a character fit a campaign or table, the best advice is probably the broadest; work together to make sure everyone is happy. That said, with a number of preconceived notions and biases floating around, it's not always so easy to do this in practice as it is on paper, so this section can hopefully provide both players and dungeon masters with some ways to make their characters better fits for their tables or their campaigns more open to (constructive) Lawful Good characters.

    The most general concern for a player designing a Lawful Good character is making certain they fit the tone and narrative of the campaign and its setting; as we'll come to see in the archetypes section, there are a lot of ways to be Lawful Good, even in the most inhospitable of places, and it's important to focus on finding a way for your character to be the alignment you want that is also a believable way for someone born into the campaign's world to think, feel, and behave. Along the same lines, your character has to have a reason for doing and the willingness to be doing what the party is doing in the campaign; for example, playing a character who absolutely refuses to lie in an espionage-themed campaign is a recipe for disaster. That isn't to say you can't be a Lawful Good character in a spy campaign — or even a crime campaign, with a little creativity — just that you have to keep the party's goals and the basic narrative in mind when you design a character.

    Dovetailing with this is creating a character who can get along with the rest of the party on at least a basic, functional level. This isn't to say you have to design a character who likes the rest of the party, or who believes they're good people, or even one who will support everything they do, but you shouldn't design a character opposed to the basic concept of another player's character. Any character of any alignment can and almost certainly does have lines they won't cross, and even lines they won't allow others to cross, and there's nothing wrong with creating such limits for your Lawful Good character; rather, the problem is in setting limits that unreasonably constrain other party members. In general, the more strict your characters' moral requirements will be, the more you need to talk over the idea with the other players beforehand.

    The most common stumbling block of a Dungeon Master for a Lawful Good character is the introduction of moral dilemmas, or tests of virtue; this is particularly problematic around characters who have to maintain a certain alignment for mechanical reasons, like Paladins, exalted characters, and even clerics. As common as the stereotype of the “Problem Paladin” whose inflexibility and intolerance create constant intra-party conflict is the “fall-happy” dungeon master, who for whatever reason seems to view every waking moment as a moral test and the slightest transgression as a reason for a Paladin to fall. Even in the vast majority of cases, who fall short of this extreme, “failed” moral tests are a major source of grievances between players and dungeon masters, and Lawful Good characters are the most likely to run afoul of such tests.

    There's nothing wrong with presenting a Lawful Good character with a moral dilemma or test of their virtue; the test of virtue is an ancient trope often closely associated with the character types that are, in turn, the basis of what we think of as Lawful Good, and both moral tests and dilemmas are what give us the most meaningful and enjoyable opportunities to play our characters' alignments, whatever those alignments happen to be. However, there are certainly wrong ways to go about implementing and resolving tests of virtue or other moral dilemmas. In general, it's helpful to think of moral tests as puzzles, subject to the same axioms as any other puzzle; for example, creating a moral dilemma with only one “right” answer is at least as, if not more, likely to be a source of ill-will and frustration that creating a puzzle with only one right answer. The same way a good puzzle is one that rewards creativity rather than a “find the pixel” solution, a good moral dilemma is one that rewards a thoughtful, critical engagement with the situation and the character's beliefs, not one that rewards knowing what their dungeon master thinks about any given thought experiment. The purpose of introducing a complex moral situation is to give players an opportunity to play their character and struggle with conflicting moral positions, or to take the right course isn't the most practical or advantageous one, not to punish your players for thinking about the issue, or even merely the implications of a high-fantasy setting on that issue, differently than you do.
    Last edited by Zrak; 2015-10-18 at 12:44 AM.

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    V. Virtues of the Soul: Archetypes of Lawful Good

    "When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness."
    Joseph Campbell


    Sweet Sir Galahad; or, The Shining Knight

    My strength is as the strength of ten,
    Because my heart is pure."
    Alfred Lord Tennyson, Sir Galahad

    The connection between the Paladin and Lawful Good is as undeniable as it is unshakable, and so it is only fitting that we follow that noble tradition and set aside the first archetype of Lawful Good for the Knight in Shining Armor. Despite that name, one does not need land or title or shining armor to be a Shining Knight; indeed, the very thing that makes the Shining Knight to shine is the fact that she could lose all of this, arms and armor, rank and reputation, without losing that which makes her who she is. Her gleam is the glow of goodness and the blaze of bravery in her heart, and they cannot be extinguished no-matter what else is taken from her. Though the connection is more literal in some cases, like clerics and paladins, all Shining Knights draws their true power less from strength of arms than strength of character; anyone can hold a sword or lance, but few have the courage to stand alone and wield it against all the assembled hosts of hell, or the compassion to stay that sword when doing so is more just. A Shining Knight will always lay down her life for the innocent without a second thought, or stand against certain death to save her companions. It is not that she does not fear death, or does not feel pain or sorrow or fatigue, but that she will not allow such trivialities to get in the way of doing what is right.

    Honor, Valor, and Self-Control are the chief virtues of the Shining Knight, and without all three, one cannot be a Shining Knight. That said, within each virtue, there is a measure of flexibility, more than people often imagine when considering the archetype. Though later romanticized, it should be remembered that historical codes of honor and chivalry were codes of conduct, but codes of conduct designed for an aristocratic warrior class that was, indeed, expected to be competent in battle. Honor need not imply, as it is often seen to, an aversion to all pragmatism and cleverness; consider Lancelot's joust with Dinadan in Le Morte d'Arthur, where Lancelot defeats Dinadan by arriving on the field disguised in a "maiden's cloak" to take Dinadan by surprise, which none present, least of all Dinadan himself, appear to find dishonorable. Similarly, Valor does not equate to pointlessly self-destructive bravery, but to the willingness to sacrifice oneself when doing so is necessary to protect the lives of the weak and innocent, and to a willingness to accept any challenge from an equal; to refuse a challenge you acknowledge you cannot win shows the virtue of humility, while to accept a challenge from a lesser opponent is dishonorable unless something more than mere glory, like the safety of others, is at stake. Lastly, Self-Control refers both the Shining Knight's control over her own emotions and their display, but also towards her own behavior towards others, and is thus composed of the virtues of "hardihood" and "forbearance." Hardihood represents stoicism in the face of adversity, while forbearance refers to tolerance and restraint, including the restraint from exercising one's rights. A Shining Knight who harps upon her companions' every failing, who is haughty and judgmental about all points of contention, and who seeks punishment for petty wrongs does not stand up for Law or Good, but in fact fails to uphold the virtue of forbearance. Remember the quote by Confucius, "Don't worry about not being acknowledged by others, worry about failing to acknowledge them" (Analects 1.16, trans. Rosemont and Ames).

    Though any class can emulate the virtues of a Shining Knight, it is most common seen amongst the more mundane and martial vocations, for the Shining Knight's identity is determined by show she reacts to adversity, by her willingness to face overwhelming odds and stand stoic when all others fall into hopelessness; those whose mighty magics keep them from having to stare down their own mortality, or cause few situations to seem wholly hopeless, are less likely to face the brutal winters that force them to find glorious summer inside themselves. The Shining Knight is one who transcends mundanity and mortality not by overcoming the literal conditions, but by denying those concepts' control over her. Though most Shining Knights will be charismatic, for few would not follow a leader who values their lives above her own, their true prime requisite is Wisdom, which gives them the discernment to always act righteously, and the willpower to stand by their convictions unfailingly. Physically, constitution is most important to a Shining Knight, whose indefatigable quest for good requires equally tireless virtue, and whose fearlessness is best paired with durability.

    Examples of Shining Knights fiction include the noblest knight of the round table, such as Galahad and Percival, as well as many other knights from medieval romance and contemporary fantasy fiction. Outside the realm of traditional knights, the ideal lives on in any character whose indefatigable virtue and unshakeable courage against all odds is an example and inspiration to all with heroism in their hearts; Captain America is a prime example of a non-fantasy Shining Knight, while the Dresden Files's Michael Carpenter is an example from a more modern urban fantasy.


    Serpico; or The Public Servant
    "I had to prove to myself that the Law could be proper and righteous and for the good of humankind. It was from that moment that I was destined to be a police officer."
    Nicholas Angel, Hot Fuzz

    Some people play "Good Cop," the Public Servant is one — and files a report about the bad cop's behavior. Typically a member of an official, lawful organization, the Public Servant is the only one who seems to remember that her commitment is to serve the people. More generally, this term can apply to a Lawful Good character who strives to be lawful and good in a system that isn't necessarily both, or even either, especially if the organization once was but has lost its way, or remains so in name but is riddled with corruption. A Public Servant is a great Lawful Good choice for a dark and gritty campaign setting, since their dedication to noble ideals is tempered by their awareness of harsher realities, but does not in the least falter for it. They will struggle to improve the systems around them rather than accepting them for what they are, but they will accept the conditions under which they have to struggle to improve them. Their savvy, even cynical dedication to idealism can make them a potent reconstruction of Lawful Good character types in a deconstructionist setting. In their balance of law and good, the Public Servant's methods emphasize Law every step of the way, while her ideals are clearly all weighted in favor of Good; because her capacity to do good is tied to the social order, she has to work within that order if she wants to keep doing good, including to change that very order for the better.

    The primary virtues of a Public Servant are Integrity, Responsibility, and Dedication. A Public Servant's Integrity is crucial because this Integrity is what stands between her and the corruption and moral degradation she opposes; the moment she gives in and sinks to their level is the moment the Public Servant loses her ability to really change anything. A Public Servant incorruptibility is the standard she carries for all to see, and her most potent weapon in her fight for virtue and truth; her own conduct and character must be so unimpeachable that she is beyond reproach, that all invented slander is transparently false, and that when it comes to her word against everyone else's, hers is the word that will be believed. If Integrity is the means by which a Public Servant fights for good, Responsibility is the reason. A Public Servant isn't inspired by a hunger for power, wealth, or glory, but by a sense of responsibility to her community; she is, after all, in the service of the public. A Public Servant may know she cannot save her world, or even just her city, but will dedicated every fiber of her being to leaving it a better place than she found it, because that duty is just as solemn and grave. Dedication, whether it is an unwavering dedication to her principles or a dogged determination to complete the task at hand with perfection, is the embodiment of her sense of responsibility, and is what allows her, emotionally and pragmatically, to bear so heavy and weary a burden.

    Public Servants can be of any class, from an NPC warrior in the city guard to an ancient and powerful Conjurer striving for reform in a magocracy's Wizard's council. Wisdom and Intelligence provide a Public Servant with the knowledge, skills, and insight to see through deceptions, and the willpower to resist the temptations of corruption or simply giving up. Though Charisma could aid a Public Servant in drawing attention to the corruption around her, few attempt this route as anything but a last resort, since doing so will upset the framework in which she's been allowed to function, and could jeopardize her ability to make lasting change if it fails.

    The Senator Smith (or, the Idealist Politician)
    (from T.G. Oskar)
    "Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again."
    Senator Smith, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

    Oftentimes, politicians are described as corrupt and amoral; not always Evil, but it's almost a requirement to be at least detached from Good. The Idealist Politician is the rare exception: a public servant, or someone in a position of power, who genuinely believes s/he can make the government work for the people. The axiom behind the Idealist Politician is that "the Law exists to serve the People", and any law who would work against the best interests of its people doesn't deserve to be called a law. However, unlike the rebel who openly defies the law, the Idealist Politician works by using its position to change the law, or if it's against interests, to stop it from ever becoming one. The Idealist Politician may eventually become jaded or embrace corruption because of what seems to be the futility of making the Law work for the people, but that doesn't necessarily has to be the case: an Idealist Politician is no ignorant, and can have a degree of cunning that can surprise even the career politicians. A successful Idealist Politician is charismatic, cunning, but above all, and as its title implies, still capable of believing in the greater Good; in the end, you can't help but respect him/her for clinging to its principles, and achieving a victory over corruption and tyranny on its own turf. The rebel may change government from the outside, and sometimes by force; the Idealist Politician changes it from the inside, by fighting against the evil within.

    The "Mr. Smith/Honest Politician" archetype really depends on having faith on the authority/the system, for as corrupt and antiquated as it may be, it's still the viable form of law. As well, a desire to reform, because the idea is that the Honest Politician knows that some of the system's components are corrupt, and thus they strive to change it in order to perfect it. Finally, since the Honest Politician works for its people and not for its own interests, it must also have a sense of duty.

    The best representative is senator Jefferson Smith, from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, for his passionate attempt to stop a law that would benefit corrupt politicians and suffering greatly because of it, but at the end, never giving up his principles and eventually causing a change amongst the older, corrupted, politicians. [Zrak's note: A more recent example is Police Commissioner Frank Reagan on Blue Bloods, who uses his role as an authority figure within the department to fight corruption and mend broken or outdated regulations.]

    BTW: now that you wrote about the Public Servant, you can figure the Honest Politician is this on steroids - while the Public Servant is LG working on the lower rungs, the Honest Politician is LG as the Authority. Most likely, when a Public Servant has to report to someone, the Honest Politician is most likely the guy they report to - they know the guy will do the job, but most importantly, they'll do the job by the book. The book is not enough? Well, they'll make the right way to do the job, and then make it work.
    Last edited by Zrak; 2015-10-11 at 06:12 PM.

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    VI. World Without End: On the Fringes of Lawful Good


    Every alignment borders others, and there are always characters and archetypes who fall close enough to those borders as to be arguably another alignment. In the spirit of this guide, which celebrates Lawful Good as the best alignment you can be in all its myriad manifestations, we present here such edge cases; these archetypes are no less "real" examples of Lawful Good than any other, merely archetypes to which Lawful Good cannot lay exclusive claim.


    Stoneface; or, Justice, not the law
    (Good, ambiguously Lawful; from Sayt)
    “You took an oath to uphold the law and defend the citizens without fear or favor," said Vimes. "And to protect the innocent. That's all they put in. Maybe they thought those were the important things. Nothing in there about orders, even from me. You're an officer of the law, not a soldier of the government.”
    Terry Pratchett

    One of the most confusing things about Lawful Good is that there is Law, and then there are laws. Stoneface believes that these are related concepts, laws do not necessarily spring from Law. What does the Lawful Good do when temporal law is twisted into the lash of the dictator? When despite the best and truest effort of the Serpico, rot creeps into the heart of authority, and the shield bludgeons what it was meant to protect? The law of the land must be set aside in appeal to higher laws. Justice, not the law, must prevail. The cells that hold the wrongly imprisoned must be torn down, for when men of good conscience are imprisoned beside killers and thugs, Justice as a concept, is threatened. When an innocent is damned, ought they not be freed? When the State orders that babies must be placed on the altar of a hungry knife, that State must be altered, and the knife, broken.

    The values of Stoneface are Clarity, Justness and Abnegation. Clarity discerns laws that are Good from laws that are just laws... or worse. Justness apportions a correct response to injustice. The code of Draco, they say, was so harsh it was written not in ink, but in blood. Not so Stoneface: she believe punishment ought to be moderate, it ought to be proportional. To the downtrodden, Stoneface strives to generous too those who steal from hunger. The bread is returned, or paid for. But if a corrupt magistrate will not release one falsely imprisoned, the cell will be torn open. But this path requires Abnegation: The rejection of the self. She will be called an anarchist (And indeed, shy may stray close to chaos). She will be censured, for Stonefaces arise from the failures of the Serpico, and indeed, may be a sort of 'Fallen Serpico', one who has lost their faith, not in Law, but in these laws, or this system. Stoneface may even be executed for acting against mortal law.

    Stonefaces do not occur within Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good societies, they are lawful Good reactionaries against Lawful Evil societies.

    The Oathbound; or My duty, come what may
    (Lawful, ambiguously Good)
    Arnold: Grandpa, I have a problem.
    Grandpa: Let me guess — you saved some guy's life, and he's trying to make it up to you by being your slave.

    Arnold and Grandpa, Hey Arnold

    The Oathbound represents a fundamentally good person who may do things which aren't fundamentally good in the name of a vow they have taken and hold as sacred or otherwise unbreakable. The quintessential example would be a guard who enforces a law he (rightly) believes to be wrong, or a soldier who fights in a war she (again, rightly) believes immoral. In other words, the essential feature of an Oathbound is a deeply Good personal morality whose exercise is restrained by an ethical commitment to duty or obedience to another; someone who obeys out of fear, or to buy time until they can rebel, is not Oathbound. While the Oathbound may thus willingly take actions she knows to be wrong, she abhors doing so and, when freed of whatever obligation binds her to doing so, will seek to redress these wrongs as fully as she is able, perhaps even going so far as to avenge them upon the one to whom she was once obliged.

    The values of the Oathbound are fidelity, abnegation, and patience. An Oathbound is quite literally loyal to a fault, but their fidelity to even ignoble causes and individuals is based in noble motives. Indeed, she is only able to serve them because she shares the Stoneface's abnegation, or rejection of the self; her guilt and shame at her actions come behind the call of her duty. Of course, if she shows patience, she may hope to someday have the chance to right her wrongs while maintaining her honor. Characters who feel they owe another a Life Debt, such as Ghost Dog in the Jim Jarmusch film of the same name, are perhaps the most common examples of this trope aside from those already mentioned, since they feel they must serve the one who saved their life until that debt is repaid. A more specific, if ambiguous, example of the Oathbound is Fallout 3's Charon, who obeys completely anyone who holds his contract, but expresses disgust at harming innocents and, when his contract is transferred, may even seek vengeance against past masters.
    Last edited by Zrak; 2015-10-18 at 01:16 AM.

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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    This handbook seems a bit barren, so let's go with an archetype that is quite odd for a Lawful Good character, but exemplifies the focus on Law and/as Good.

    The Senator Smith (or, the Idealist Politician)

    Oftentimes, politicians are described as corrupt and amoral; not always Evil, but it's almost a requirement to be at least detached from Good. The Idealist Politician is the rare exception: a public servant, or someone in a position of power, who genuinely believes s/he can make the government work for the people. The axiom behind the Idealist Politician is that "the Law exists to serve the People", and any law who would work against the best interests of its people doesn't deserve to be called a law. However, unlike the rebel who openly defies the law, the Idealist Politician works by using its position to change the law, or if it's against interests, to stop it from ever becoming one. The Idealist Politician may eventually become jaded or embrace corruption because of what seems to be the futility of making the Law work for the people, but that doesn't necessarily has to be the case: an Idealist Politician is no ignorant, and can have a degree of cunning that can surprise even the career politicians. A successful Idealist Politician is charismatic, cunning, but above all, and as its title implies, still capable of believing in the greater Good; in the end, you can't help but respect him/her for clinging to its principles, and achieving a victory over corruption and tyranny on its own turf. The rebel may change government from the outside, and sometimes by force; the Idealist Politician changes it from the inside, by fighting against the evil within.

    The best representative is senator Jefferson Smith, from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, for his passionate attempt to stop a law that would benefit corrupt politicians and suffering greatly because of it, but at the end, never giving up his principles and eventually causing a change amongst the older, corrupted, politicians.

    --

    That works? More examples are welcome.
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    On Lawful Good:
    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
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    Looking forward to this once it's complete: this alignment, as many others, is in dire need of having its stereotypes refined and/or rejected.


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    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    Looking forward to this once it's complete: this alignment, as many others, is in dire need of having its stereotypes refined and/or rejected.
    I agree. I have a friend that likes playing lawful stupid paladin of pelor and i would love to be able to point him to this for some much needed roleplaying advice.
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    Has anyone seen LP around? I can't help but feel that he'd want to contribute.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellowryn View Post
    I agree. I have a friend that likes playing lawful stupid paladin of pelor and i would love to be able to point him to this for some much needed roleplaying advice.
    And now you can, thanks to the first archetype I managed to edit and post. Given the prevalence of that kind of character, and the close association between Paladins and Lawful Good, I figured I should get the "Paladin" archetype done right out of the gate.

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    That works? More examples are welcome.
    Yeah, definitely, thanks. Would you mind if I (or you, if you'd rather do it) added a list of a couple central virtues that define the archetype? Just sort of broad concepts that embody the aspects of Law and Good it most emphasizes. I just started adding them to the archetypes I was working on, and I think they really help with clarity.

    I also have a really high fever, though, so what I think may not be correct (especially about what is and is not clear ) and if this seems like a bad idea feel free to disregard it.

    I'll try to think of other examples, but it really is hard to beat the eponymous Mr. Smith.

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    For archetypes, look at Michael Carpenter from Dresden Files. He is everything that a paladin should be (look at Miko for the counter example). He devotes his life to protecting the weak and innocent from those who would harm them, specifically an organization of devils. He would forgive any willing to repent of their evil ways, even and perhaps especially those in the organization devils he opposes. He is self sacrificing, almost to a fault. Despite all this, he is not judgmental to those who have not found the way that he has.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zrak View Post
    Yeah, definitely, thanks. Would you mind if I (or you, if you'd rather do it) added a list of a couple central virtues that define the archetype? Just sort of broad concepts that embody the aspects of Law and Good it most emphasizes. I just started adding them to the archetypes I was working on, and I think they really help with clarity.
    Well, the "Mr. Smith/Honest Politician" archetype really depends on having faith on the authority/the system, for as corrupt and antiquated as it may be, it's still the viable form of law. As well, a desire to reform, because the idea is that the Honest Politician knows that some of the system's components are corrupt, and thus they strive to change it in order to perfect it. Finally, since the Honest Politician works for its people and not for its own interests, it must also have a sense of duty.

    BTW: now that you wrote about the Public Servant, you can figure the Honest Politician is this on steroids - while the Public Servant is LG working on the lower rungs, the Honest Politician is LG as the Authority. Most likely, when a Public Servant has to report to someone, the Honest Politician is most likely the guy they report to - they know the guy will do the job, but most importantly, they'll do the job by the book. The book is not enough? Well, they'll make the right way to do the job, and then make it work.
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    On Lawful Good:
    Quote Originally Posted by firebrandtoluc View Post
    My friend is currently playing a paladin. It's way outside his normal zone. I told him to try to channel Santa Claus, Mr. Rogers, and Kermit the Frog. Until someone refuses to try to get off the naughty list. Then become Optimus Prime.
    T.G. Oskar profile by Specter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the_archduke View Post
    For archetypes, look at Michael Carpenter from Dresden Files. He is everything that a paladin should be (look at Miko for the counter example). He devotes his life to protecting the weak and innocent from those who would harm them, specifically an organization of devils. He would forgive any willing to repent of their evil ways, even and perhaps especially those in the organization devils he opposes. He is self sacrificing, almost to a fault. Despite all this, he is not judgmental to those who have not found the way that he has.
    I might be missing something, since I'm not too familiar with Dresden Files, but this sounds generally along the lines of the extant "Shining Knight" archetype, right? If so, I can certainly add Carpenter as an example of that archetype; if not, you'll have to tell me a little more about the character.

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    Well, the "Mr. Smith/Honest Politician" archetype really depends on having faith on the authority/the system, for as corrupt and antiquated as it may be, it's still the viable form of law. As well, a desire to reform, because the idea is that the Honest Politician knows that some of the system's components are corrupt, and thus they strive to change it in order to perfect it. Finally, since the Honest Politician works for its people and not for its own interests, it must also have a sense of duty.

    BTW: now that you wrote about the Public Servant, you can figure the Honest Politician is this on steroids - while the Public Servant is LG working on the lower rungs, the Honest Politician is LG as the Authority. Most likely, when a Public Servant has to report to someone, the Honest Politician is most likely the guy they report to - they know the guy will do the job, but most importantly, they'll do the job by the book. The book is not enough? Well, they'll make the right way to do the job, and then make it work.
    Cool, after lunch I'll add this on to the other part and get it added to the archetype list. I'm figuring a picture of Jimmy Stewart in the eponymous role is probably the image?

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    Yes, add him as an example of shining knight
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    All right, done and done. If you'd rather I use a different quote for "Idealist Politician," I'm totally open to changing it, but that was one of the more fitting lines I could remember off the top of my head.

    I'll probably work on finishing some of the other archetypes I've started or adding some notes about integrating Lawful Good characters into a campaign later this evening. As before, if anyone has any new archetypes or additional examples of the present archetypes to add, feel free to post them. In terms of the archetypes I'm already working on, one is for a "Good King" type (i.e. a Lawful Good leader in a society which is Lawful Good) and another for Spock-type characters who serve in more advisory roles.
    Last edited by Zrak; 2015-10-11 at 06:20 PM.

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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    Hmm, I think perhaps the Powderkeg of Justice could be incorporated sometime.

    I also think that Josiah Edward Bartlett from The West Wing makes a pretty good 'Senator Smith'.

    But for an archetype, how's this, it might be a little controversial:

    Stoneface; or, Justice, not the law
    “You took an oath to uphold the law and defend the citizens without fear or favor," said Vimes. "And to protect the innocent. That's all they put in. Maybe they thought those were the important things. Nothing in there about orders, even from me. You're an officer of the law, not a soldier of the government.”

    One of the most confusing things about Lawful Good is that there is Law, and then there are laws. Stoneface believes that these are related concepts, laws do not necessarily spring from Law. What does the Lawful Good do when temporal law is twisted into the lash of the dictator? When despite the best and truest effort of the Serpico, rot creeps into the heart of authority, and the shield bludgeons what it was meant to protect? The law of the land must be set aside in appeal to higher laws. Justice, not the law, must prevail. The cells that hold the wrongly imprisoned must be torn down, for when men of good conscience are imprisoned beside killers and thugs, Justice as a concept, is threatened. When an innocent is damned, ought they not be freed? When the State orders that babies must be placed on the altar of a hungry knife, that State must be altered, and the knife, broken.

    The values of Stoneface are Clarity, Justness and Abnegation. Clarity discerns laws that are Good from laws that are just laws... or worse. Justness apportions a correct response to injustice. The code of Draco, they say, was so harsh it was written not in ink, but in blood. Not so Stoneface: she believe punishment ought to be moderate, it ought to be proportional. To the downtrodden, Stoneface strives to generous too those who steal from hunger. The bread is returned, or paid for. But if a corrupt magistrate will not release one falsely imprisoned, the cell will be torn open. But this path requires Abnegation: The rejection of the self. She will be called an anarchist (And indeed, shy may stray close to chaos). She will be censured, for Stonefaces arise from the failures of the Serpico, and indeed, may be a sort of 'Fallen Serpico', one who has lost their faith, not in Law, but in these laws, or this system. Stoneface may even be executed for acting against mortal law.

    Stonefaces do not occur within Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good societies, they are lawful Good reactionaries against Lawful Evil societies.

    ((I don't know if I hit the mark for Lawful Good here, it might be a littler closer to NG, or maybe even CG, but to my mind, this is LG))
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    Batman would be an example of a Stoneface then. Gotham, taken over by the Mob. All the cops are corrupt. Someone must stand up for what is right.
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    Obi-wan Kenobi for Serpico?
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_archduke View Post
    Batman would be an example of a Stoneface then. Gotham, taken over by the Mob. All the cops are corrupt. Someone must stand up for what is right.
    ...man, Batman didn't even occur to me as a Stoneface. I mean, some of the instances of him being written has veered far away from LG, but I think that's basically where he belongs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sayt View Post
    Stonefaces do not occur within Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good societies, they are lawful Good reactionaries against Lawful Evil societies.

    ((I don't know if I hit the mark for Lawful Good here, it might be a littler closer to NG, or maybe even CG, but to my mind, this is LG))
    There's no harm in noting that a particular archetype leans on the wall of another alignment, and a lot to be said for it doing so. The most poisonous issue in alignment debates is always that of demarcation, and if you acknowledge there's the shading of other alignments in there, it makes the archetype more considered and real.

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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    Also, double post, but under the Honest Politician I'd put King Arthur. Ironically, he doesn't fit the Shining Knight terribly well because of his various flaws that come down to us from myth about him: slept with Margause, thus bringing about Mordred, fell into despair thus necessitating the Grail Quest (going by the Excalibur version, anyway). Or is he really an archetype of his own - the Messiah figure?

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    Dalinar Kholin from Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings fits the Idealist Politician if you want a more martially inclined example
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    I would offer up Atticus Finch as another example of the Honest Politician.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the_archduke View Post
    For archetypes, look at Michael Carpenter from Dresden Files.
    Love Michael. Great example of a Lawful Good character struggling with an occasionally Lawful Stupid code and the fact that it can sometimes severely limit his utility to others. He started out a hair's breadth away from LS in his first appearance or two, though, IIRC.
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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    How about Vash the Stampeede? Would he fit into any of the listed archetypes or would we need one for somebody who unshakably adheres to a code even when its potentially self destructive, as a means of redemption.

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    Honestly I love LG characters. It is nice to have some ideas to work with. I always let my players tweak their code of honor to try give them more incentive to be LG.

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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    All right, I got the "Lawful Good characters in campaigns" section added, added the Stoneface (thanks, Sayt!), and added another "edge case" archetype. If anyone has a good idea for images for either of the new archetypes, a less goofy quote for the Oathbound, or new archetypes/examples, they're certainly welcome. Hopefully the Good King and Spock archetypes will be up tomorrow, now that I'm at a fever level more suited for proofreading. Thanks for your patience, everyone, and keep the great ideas coming. :)

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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    Might be worth contrasting the Oathbound with Lawful Neutral, as was done for the Stoneface. Lawful Neutrals may similarly be bound to a code of conduct with which they do not personally agree, but the LN's opposition isn't driven by personal morality as chafing under a code which just clashes with their own inclinations or clashes with a personal code they have - not plugging the LN Handbook, but the Accursed for a LN is basically the equivalent of the Oathbound for LG.

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    Those are all good points, thanks, and I think plugging the LN handbook equivalent in the description could actually be really helpful. I'll edit it to talk more about some of that stuff in the morning.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheIronGolem View Post
    I would offer up Atticus Finch as another example of the Honest Politician.
    I don't know if Atticus is actually LG. He's absolutely NOT a politician, however. He's a lawyer. There's a massive difference. Atticus was just following the word and spirit of the law by giving Robinson a good defense. That's not inherently good. He took an oath to uphold the law. He stood by that oath in the face of a lynch mob.

    When he was talking to Tate at the end of the book, he said "but nobody’s hushing this up. I don’t live that way" when he thought Tate was trying to cover up that Jem killed Mr. Ewell. Of course, Jem didn't, but Atticus thought he did. That's not a good outlook, that's strictly LN.
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    Default Re: To March Into Hell for a Heavenly Cause: A Lawful Good Handbook

    I could see LG pretty easily, although I think he'd be more of a Public Servant than an Idealist Politician, since he works within the system rather than from someplace vaguely atop it; idealist politician would be more suited to a judge than lawyer, I'd imagine. It would also be pretty much essential to differentiate To Kill a Mockingbird's Atticus Finch from Go Set a Watchman's Atticus Finch.

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