New OOTS products from CafePress
New OOTS t-shirts, ornaments, mugs, bags, and more
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 71
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

    Join Date
    Apr 2019

    Default At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Recently I was rereading the AD&D Planescape’s Planewalker’s Handbook, and upon reading about Mechanus and Rogue Modrons, I noticed how shallow the interpretation of what is Lawful is. For example, apparently, Rogue Modrons cannot understand the concept of chance, and for them nothing is random, which strikes me as quite odd. There shouldn’t be anything unlawful about randomness. After all, randomness can also be seen as a law of nature. Even assuming that the planes have their different physics where the inherent randomness of quantum processes do not exist, saying that randomness is chaotic is weird. For example, a single dice roll can be seen as a chaotic thing (unpredictable), but many many many dice rolls are not (overall, we would expect all sides to appear an approximate equal number of times).

    Yes, you could say that unpredictability is Chaos in itself, but that seems so shallow, such an uninteresting take. For me, a pure ‘Lawful’ roll dice would still be unpredictable, on a roll-by-roll basis, but over many iterations the results would be exactly (with some degree of error) as those predicted by probability. On the other hand, for a pure ‘Chaotic’ dice roll, the results would be completely unexpected things (say, I roll a d6 and get a ‘tails’.) Another example would be dropping a ball on Mechanus vs dropping a ball on Limbo. If I drop a ball on the former, I would expect it to fall down and bounce perhaps in an unexpected direction, but that is fine. No laws of nature or of the planes were broken. But if I drop a ball on Limbo, perhaps it is me who would fall, upwards, because why not.

    Thus, the idea that Mechanus and Modrons are devoid of randomness seems so silly. I know Planescape is a bit old by now, and perhaps this has been changed/addressed in newer releases of the planes, but as far as I know, in 3.5 and to a lesser degree in 5e, the idea that Law is devoid of randomness seems still prevalent, no?

    Anyways, what do you think about this? Do you think Law is truly pure order, no randomness whatsoever? I am of course not talking at the Prime material world level, as I assume that any discussion there can always be murkied by ‘but there’s also a Chaotic component!’. I’m talking here at the purest levels of Law and Chaos (i.e. the respective planes and its inhabitants).

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2021

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    When you get down to it, "Law" and "Chaos" just mean "Opposes Chaos" and "Opposes Law". Any additional detail is something the author writing that particular section thought up, and is as likely as not to be contradicted by the next thing you read about alignment. No one ever sat down, rationalized what these terms are supposed to mean, and then stuck to it, so trying to figure out exactly what they do mean is an exercise in frustration.

    The specific idea that Law cannot comprehend randomness certainly seems pretty dumb to me. I think if you were listing out the most classically Lawful professions it was possible to have, "Actuary" would be up there with "Lawyer" and "Engineer", but the whole thing actuaries do is deal with randomness.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    One definition of random is 'proceeding without definite aim, reason, or pattern.' On Mechanus, a literal clockwork universe, there is a definite aim behind absolutely everything that happens. That aim might not be comprehensible to mortals, but it exists. For Modrons, it's usually the will of Primus - the nigh-omniscient (on Mechanus) power that serves as the core of their life force. Saying that Modrons can't understand randomness, therefore, does not mean they can't understand probability, it's that they cannot understand the concept of things happening for no reason.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    As soon as I read this, I immediately imagined the following conversation between a modron assigned to observe our world and a pentadrone supervisor of all "Earth-type" worlds.

    Modron 1: "Status Report: The English have won the battle of Poitiers. Query: Does this timeline require adjustment?"

    Pentadrone: "Negative response to query. The probability of this outcome is within six standard deviations."

    I actually really love this interpretation you spotlighted, OP, because OF COURSE the modrons would be working to manage unpredictability, while Chaos is constantly mutating to avoid being modelable

    Ducking awesome!!

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

    Join Date
    Apr 2019

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    One definition of random is 'proceeding without definite aim, reason, or pattern.' On Mechanus, a literal clockwork universe, there is a definite aim behind absolutely everything that happens. That aim might not be comprehensible to mortals, but it exists. For Modrons, it's usually the will of Primus - the nigh-omniscient (on Mechanus) power that serves as the core of their life force. Saying that Modrons can't understand randomness, therefore, does not mean they can't understand probability, it's that they cannot understand the concept of things happening for no reason.
    I mean, but that's not what's happening, is it? It clearly states they do not understand randomness. Also, the description of Modrons also implies that the lower ones, the regular Modrons, may not necessarily be aware of what the aim or purpose is. They just follow orders, no?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky McDibben View Post
    As soon as I read this, I immediately imagined the following conversation between a modron assigned to observe our world and a pentadrone supervisor of all "Earth-type" worlds.

    Modron 1: "Status Report: The English have won the battle of Poitiers. Query: Does this timeline require adjustment?"

    Pentadrone: "Negative response to query. The probability of this outcome is within six standard deviations."

    I actually really love this interpretation you spotlighted, OP, because OF COURSE the modrons would be working to manage unpredictability, while Chaos is constantly mutating to avoid being modelable

    Ducking awesome!!
    Exactly! This is an awesome take, and much better that Law equals to the 'modelability' and consistency of systems than just some vague order definition.

    I hope if Planescape is ever brought back, they revisit these interpretations of order and chaos.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DwarfFighterGirl

    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Yukito01 View Post
    I mean, but that's not what's happening, is it? It clearly states they do not understand randomness. Also, the description of Modrons also implies that the lower ones, the regular Modrons, may not necessarily be aware of what the aim or purpose is. They just follow orders, no?
    Well firstly, the impression I get from a lot of published encounters is that low level modrons aren't aware of anything at all- they're not sapient, they get their orders through magic.
    Also we're now sort of getting into "what does random actually mean?" because when we say a die is random, what we mean is that it's probabilities are perfectly balanced. When we say the stock market is random, we don't mean that all results are equally likely.
    What I think the writeup means is that Modrons are strict determinists. If you were about to roll a die, we could look up that die roll on the cog of rolling randomizers and get a 100% perfect prediction of what number that roll will land on. Because the rolls "not actually random" you just don't know what it's going to be! Which probably makes more sense when you live inside a giant self-aware clock.
    Non est salvatori salvator,
    neque defensori dominus,
    nec pater nec mater,
    nihil supernum.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2020

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    I haven't bothered with Planescape. If I want to pay attention to cosmic levels of Law and Chaos, I'll go back to Moorcock or something even older, the way Shin Megami Tensei series does.

    But to deal with the matter at hand, the problem with this talk of randomness is that it misses a connection to what Law and Chaos are on the human level: collectivism versus individualism, large organized groups versus individual benefit.

    Approached from that angle, rather than Law being uncomprehending of randomness and variation, it would just hate it and seek to control and eliminate it.

    Inability or unwillingness to comprehend randomness has more to do with determinism and fatalism than group orientation. It's possible to bundle those in with group-mindedness if you approach Law from the idea that there's an universal hierarchy, a singular will everyone ought to serve (Primus for Modrons, God for humans, etc.) that covers social relations and physical laws both. But even that is less "unable to comprehend randomness" and more "does not believe real randomness exists". Equivalent to a player at a table denying that die rolls are random and saying they only seem random because the roller does not know enough of the mechanics of the roll to make a foolproof prediction.

    "Randomness and probability are only uncertainty of prediction, born of our inability to grasp the Great Will in its full glory. They are not real facets of nature, only useful fiction."

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Apr 2017

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Chauncymancer View Post
    If you were about to roll a die, we could look up that die roll on the cog of rolling randomizers and get a 100% perfect prediction of what number that roll will land on. Because the rolls "not actually random" you just don't know what it's going to be! Which probably makes more sense when you live inside a giant self-aware clock.
    That's actually an interesting point; a dice result in theory isn't actually random, its just determined by position at time of release, force of release, trajectory of throw, distance to impact surface, materials of dice and impact surface, and other obstructions in the path of trajectory. Sure, to us who can't (and wouldn't want to) measure such things, that's effectively random, but to a Modron, its probably inconceivable that you wouldn't know these things... why, that's just anarchy!

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2014

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Randomness is kind of the most fundamental law of OUR reality. k log W and all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yukito01 View Post
    For me, a pure ‘Lawful’ roll dice would still be unpredictable, on a roll-by-roll basis, but over many iterations the results would be exactly (with some degree of error) as those predicted by probability.
    This property has a name: Stochastic.

    Also consider what laws do for us (in the sphere of natural sciences, not jurisprudence). They allow us to model reality. I imagine that's what makes a modron "lawful".

    This whole alignment axis is too overloaded. It's frequently referred to as the ethical axis (as opposed to moral). And in the very early D&D it was kind of mislabelled. Back then it was largely meant as civilization vs wilderness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glorthindel View Post
    That's actually an interesting point; a dice result in theory isn't actually random, its just determined by position at time of release, force of release, trajectory of throw, distance to impact surface, materials of dice and impact surface, and other obstructions in the path of trajectory. Sure, to us who can't (and wouldn't want to) measure such things, that's effectively random, but to a Modron, its probably inconceivable that you wouldn't know these things... why, that's just anarchy!
    Except it likely is. Since we're talking about dice, which exist in our world, I feel compelled to note the quantum nature of our reality. It is of course possible that a die roll is quite deterministic, but it might also be a highly chaotic phenomenon. And when I say chaotic, I mean in the context of Chaos theory. Which is an actual branch of mathematics that studies systems highly sensitive to their initial conditions.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Chimera

    Join Date
    Dec 2015

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Yukito01 View Post
    At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness
    ...
    Anyways, what do you think about this? Do you think Law is truly pure order, no randomness whatsoever? I am of course not talking at the Prime material world level, as I assume that any discussion there can always be murkied by ‘but there’s also a Chaotic component!’. I’m talking here at the purest levels of Law and Chaos (i.e. the respective planes and its inhabitants).
    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    I haven't bothered with Planescape. If I want to pay attention to cosmic levels of Law and Chaos, I'll go back to Moorcock or something even older, the way Shin Megami Tensei series does.
    Quote Originally Posted by RandomPeasant View Post
    Any additional detail is something the author writing that particular section thought up, and is as likely as not to be contradicted by the next thing you read about alignment. No one ever sat down, rationalized what these terms are supposed to mean, and then stuck to it, so trying to figure out exactly what they do mean is an exercise in frustration.
    I think this is a good summation of my point. I think the OP is correct that law-chaos is somewhat shallow at the planar level. Thing is, the planes of existence (particularly the outer planes) were this odd little bit of D&D worldbuilding that took on a life of it's own without ever stepping back and thinking as to whether there was any specific point or plan to the whole thing.

    Planes of existence as a concept started pretty early in the game (can't remember if they were mentioned in the original Little Brown Books, but certainly by Eldritch Wizardry they were an established thing), but the great wheel and all the different planar descriptions didn't come along until Dragon # 8 in 1977 and then as an AD&D PHB appendix in 1978. In those, the descriptions were rather cursory, and they certainly seem like they were just things put there to inspire DMs to do something interesting with them. The planes were fully fleshed out in 1987's Manual of the Planes, which was 1) well after Gary had been given the boot, 2) well past the point where there was any real 'plan' except keep putting out product to hopefully keep the lights on another month, and 3) at the point when the game worlds were being filled out and all the 'here be dragons'-type signs replaced with exhaustive descriptions of every corner for no well-defined reason. After that, there have been minor changes and revisits (certainly Planescape in general took another crack at interpreting the planes), but for the most part the main 'hooks' of each one had ossified. Some seemed clearly to be simply afterlives for people of various bents. Others as grand places to set a high-level adventure. Mechanus, with a bunch of geometric, logic/axiomatic cartoon characters living on spinning gears, certainly seems like that latter, and on that level, they work. Is it sorta silly? Of course, but no more than a world with gelatinous cubes and color-coded dragons.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Segev's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by martixy View Post
    This whole alignment axis is too overloaded. It's frequently referred to as the ethical axis (as opposed to moral). And in the very early D&D it was kind of mislabelled. Back then it was largely meant as civilization vs wilderness.
    For most practical purposes, that's still a pretty good definition. Law is "society-oriented" while Chaos is "individual-oriented." Law is about authority and rules circumscribing behavior, while Chaos is about "can I do it? Can you stop me?" Law is about organization and smooth operation, while Chaos is about independence and clashing goals.

    None of this is perfect ,mind you. But these tend to be how it manifests as "the ethical axis," and while broader ideas of order vs. randomness, of preservation vs entropy ten to crop up, those are ancillary to these core elements, I believe, as used and presented as alignments.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2020

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    The Great Wheel takea blatant inspiration from real esoteric beliefs and virtually every outer plane refers to some mythological concept by name.

    It the Wheel feels like a mess, it's because the game designers (for various reasons) slowly filed the serial numbers off, replacing them first with theme park versions of themselves, then with second and third hand fantasy derivatives, in a grand game of Telephone where each new iteration is subtly different, but not actually better explained.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Banned
     
    GreenSorcererElf

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Yukito01 View Post
    Recently I was rereading the AD&D Planescape’s Planewalker’s Handbook, and upon reading about Mechanus and Rogue Modrons, I noticed how shallow the interpretation of what is Lawful is. For example, apparently, Rogue Modrons cannot understand the concept of chance, and for them nothing is random, which strikes me as quite odd. There shouldn’t be anything unlawful about randomness. After all, randomness can also be seen as a law of nature. Even assuming that the planes have their different physics where the inherent randomness of quantum processes do not exist, saying that randomness is chaotic is weird. For example, a single dice roll can be seen as a chaotic thing (unpredictable), but many many many dice rolls are not (overall, we would expect all sides to appear an approximate equal number of times).

    Yes, you could say that unpredictability is Chaos in itself, but that seems so shallow, such an uninteresting take. For me, a pure ‘Lawful’ roll dice would still be unpredictable, on a roll-by-roll basis, but over many iterations the results would be exactly (with some degree of error) as those predicted by probability. On the other hand, for a pure ‘Chaotic’ dice roll, the results would be completely unexpected things (say, I roll a d6 and get a ‘tails’.) Another example would be dropping a ball on Mechanus vs dropping a ball on Limbo. If I drop a ball on the former, I would expect it to fall down and bounce perhaps in an unexpected direction, but that is fine. No laws of nature or of the planes were broken. But if I drop a ball on Limbo, perhaps it is me who would fall, upwards, because why not.

    Thus, the idea that Mechanus and Modrons are devoid of randomness seems so silly. I know Planescape is a bit old by now, and perhaps this has been changed/addressed in newer releases of the planes, but as far as I know, in 3.5 and to a lesser degree in 5e, the idea that Law is devoid of randomness seems still prevalent, no?

    Anyways, what do you think about this? Do you think Law is truly pure order, no randomness whatsoever? I am of course not talking at the Prime material world level, as I assume that any discussion there can always be murkied by ‘but there’s also a Chaotic component!’. I’m talking here at the purest levels of Law and Chaos (i.e. the respective planes and its inhabitants).
    Incorrect. There really is no such thing as randomness. Enacted 1000 times, if ALL factors are the same, the result will be exactly the same.

    Consider the roll of a die.The die follows numerous physical laws. Laws which are immutable. If you take that die, cast it with the exact same speed at the exact same angle, with the exact same environmental contingencies, you would get the same result every time. But producing an unchanging envirnment is impossible.

    There is nothing truly "random" in life. All things are an effect. There is no cause and effect, except for the original cause. All things following that cause is an effect.

    This is the philosophy of order and law. Study the laws deep enough, measure all current effects and you can figureout all things past and future usinf mathmatical formulae.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Segev's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    Incorrect. There really is no such thing as randomness. Enacted 1000 times, if ALL factors are the same, the result will be exactly the same.

    Consider the roll of a die.The die follows numerous physical laws. Laws which are immutable. If you take that die, cast it with the exact same speed at the exact same angle, with the exact same environmental contingencies, you would get the same result every time. But producing an unchanging envirnment is impossible.

    There is nothing truly "random" in life. All things are an effect. There is no cause and effect, except for the original cause. All things following that cause is an effect.

    This is the philosophy of order and law. Study the laws deep enough, measure all current effects and you can figureout all things past and future usinf mathmatical formulae.
    I won't argue this too strenuously, but feel the need to point out that there are very serious Ph.D.s in physics who will disagree strenuously with you. Especially the last sentence: it is, in fact, impossible to "measure all current effects" to the degree required, due to the Uncertainty Principle (which has been demonstrated in experiment). So there is, in theory, true randomness buried in the quantum mechanics of things.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I won't argue this too strenuously, but feel the need to point out that there are very serious Ph.D.s in physics who will disagree strenuously with you. Especially the last sentence: it is, in fact, impossible to "measure all current effects" to the degree required, due to the Uncertainty Principle (which has been demonstrated in experiment). So there is, in theory, true randomness buried in the quantum mechanics of things.
    In our universe, sure. On Mechanus, again a literal clockwork universe, probably not. And one of the things about Planescape is that belief changes reality. So it's actually a goal of the Modrons, as a cosmic force, to eliminate all fundamental randomness - in the quantum mechanical sense or any other mathematical sense that might produce such randomness - from reality in order to render it perfectly ordered.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Chimera

    Join Date
    Dec 2015

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I won't argue this too strenuously, but feel the need to point out that there are very serious Ph.D.s in physics who will disagree strenuously with you. Especially the last sentence: it is, in fact, impossible to "measure all current effects" to the degree required, due to the Uncertainty Principle (which has been demonstrated in experiment). So there is, in theory, true randomness buried in the quantum mechanics of things.
    Sure, modern 20th-21st century physicists defending natural laws which may or may not exist in a given D&D universe.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    In our universe, sure. On Mechanus, again a literal clockwork universe, probably not. And one of the things about Planescape is that belief changes reality. So it's actually a goal of the Modrons, as a cosmic force, to eliminate all fundamental randomness - in the quantum mechanical sense or any other mathematical sense that might produce such randomness - from reality in order to render it perfectly ordered.
    I like this take on Law/Chaos in the planes. Determinism vs free will in a setting that makes it a real conflict, not just an academic debate.

    Over the years, though, I think various writers have conflated pretty much every possible definition of the words “law” and “chaos” and pressed those definitions into service at the individual, societal, and cosmic levels. Which is to say, there might be some inconsistencies.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Good and Evil are real concepts of human behavior. Virtually every philosophical, psychological, religious, or moral system in the history of the human race includes them as components of real human behavior (even if they sometimes hide them under other names).

    Law and Chaos are D&D constructs, taken from fantasy novels in which it was not well defined. No philosophical, psychological, religious, or moral system in the history of the human race has ever included them as components of actual human behavior.

    You have successfully identified one aspect of why the Law-Chaos axis has no value as a basis or explanation for human behavior. Keep going. There are lots more to find.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Banned
     
    GreenSorcererElf

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    In our universe, sure. On Mechanus, again a literal clockwork universe, probably not. And one of the things about Planescape is that belief changes reality. So it's actually a goal of the Modrons, as a cosmic force, to eliminate all fundamental randomness - in the quantum mechanical sense or any other mathematical sense that might produce such randomness - from reality in order to render it perfectly ordered.
    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I won't argue this too strenuously, but feel the need to point out that there are very serious Ph.D.s in physics who will disagree strenuously with you. Especially the last sentence: it is, in fact, impossible to "measure all current effects" to the degree required, due to the Uncertainty Principle (which has been demonstrated in experiment). So there is, in theory, true randomness buried in the quantum mechanics of things.
    I have had this argument with such. And when he went to prove me wrong, simply couldn't. I do agree, it is impossible to produce, even in my original statement, but it stands to reason.

    Since true time travel is proven impossible, and the best we could theoretically manage to achieve is to pull objects forward, doing a true test of this is also impossible. He and I came to the conclusion pursuing it further was fruitless and his final statement on the issue was "possible, but indeterminate."

    But I am stating from a voewpoint of Mechanus and the gods of order here. To be honest, I prefer to view law vs chaos as stability vs change.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Protecting my Horde (yes, I mean that kind)

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    You have to remember that Modrons are strict determinists. They genuinely believe that if they could chart the path of every particle in the multiverse they can determine exactly what will happen, what has happened, and what is happening right now.

    They think order, absolute, rigid order is what makes sense. Mechanus is an expression of that, thus the clockwork and crazy levels of Modrons.

    And a single die roll is random. You can't effectively predict which face will come up on any given roll. A perfect balanced die will over hundreds, thousands, millions of rolls should show an equal number of each face coming up. But that doesn't tell you want roll will come next. That's what Modron's don't understand.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Banned
     
    GreenSorcererElf

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    You have to remember that Modrons are strict determinists. They genuinely believe that if they could chart the path of every particle in the multiverse they can determine exactly what will happen, what has happened, and what is happening right now.

    They think order, absolute, rigid order is what makes sense. Mechanus is an expression of that, thus the clockwork and crazy levels of Modrons.

    And a single die roll is random. You can't effectively predict which face will come up on any given roll. A perfect balanced die will over hundreds, thousands, millions of rolls should show an equal number of each face coming up. But that doesn't tell you want roll will come next. That's what Modron's don't understand.
    Not if they were successful in mapping out all energies and factors involved. The angles the die lands, any air currents shifting in the wind, tge angle the die corner will strike the ground, the force with which it was cast...

    Ultimately, if everything were mapped put perfectly, that die would be predictable to an exact degree.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    Not if they were successful in mapping out all energies and factors involved. The angles the die lands, any air currents shifting in the wind, tge angle the die corner will strike the ground, the force with which it was cast...

    Ultimately, if everything were mapped put perfectly, that die would be predictable to an exact degree.
    Indeed. True randomness depends on quantum mechanical effects which, in the D&D multiverse, may or may not exist depending on where you are presently standing at the moment. To mangle Einstein a bit, god both does and does not play dice with the universe, just only certain parts. The Modrons are from one of the 'no dice' parts and they are fundamentally incapable of understanding the 'dice' parts and perhaps more importantly they don't want to understand them because they intend to eliminate those pieces from their idealized version of the multiverse.

    This is admittedly very bizarre since it implies that your very molecular structure changes depending on which plane you happen to be on, but the D&D multiverse is absolute bonkers, so this is pretty par for the course.
    Resvier: a P6 homebrew setting

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Protecting my Horde (yes, I mean that kind)

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    Indeed. True randomness depends on quantum mechanical effects which, in the D&D multiverse, may or may not exist depending on where you are presently standing at the moment. To mangle Einstein a bit, god both does and does not play dice with the universe, just only certain parts. The Modrons are from one of the 'no dice' parts and they are fundamentally incapable of understanding the 'dice' parts and perhaps more importantly they don't want to understand them because they intend to eliminate those pieces from their idealized version of the multiverse.
    I think its important to recognize that Modrons 1) don't want to understand randomness to begin with, and 2) think randomness is bad and are actively working to eliminate it from the multiverse.

    This is admittedly very bizarre since it implies that your very molecular structure changes depending on which plane you happen to be on, but the D&D multiverse is absolute bonkers, so this is pretty par for the course.
    Nah, your molecular structure only changes if you think it does. And you genuinely have to believe it does change, at which point you'd end up becoming a Modron or some other similar paragon of law, chaos, or whatever.

    Cogito, ergo sum is pretty much the byword of the multiverse; or more accurately: Et cogito sic est.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2014

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    You have to remember that Modrons are strict determinists. They genuinely believe that if they could chart the path of every particle in the multiverse they can determine exactly what will happen, what has happened, and what is happening right now.

    They think order, absolute, rigid order is what makes sense. Mechanus is an expression of that, thus the clockwork and crazy levels of Modrons.

    And a single die roll is random. You can't effectively predict which face will come up on any given roll. A perfect balanced die will over hundreds, thousands, millions of rolls should show an equal number of each face coming up. But that doesn't tell you want roll will come next. That's what Modron's don't understand.
    This is far from a given, but you're giving me ideas.

    What if the D&D universe was random in nature (like ours is), but modrons WERE strict determinists.
    Meaning that one end of one alignment axis is fundamentally broken and does not represent some kind of basic truth about the universe or stance one can take, but a misguided idea.

    How did that come to be? Could the universe have been different in the past? What kind of cataclysmic event caused such a change in the nature of reality? Why have the modrons not adapted to this change? What do the alignments represent? Are they the mirror to some fundamental aspect of the universe (or at least supposed to be)? Is someone preventing the modrons from adapting? Why? Or are the axes like a divine portfolio and the modrons are like an old god refusing to change, to make way for the new way of things?

    @Calthropstu @Beleriphon That discussion you're leading. Are you guys familiar with the distinction between chaos and randomness? (In the IRL, scientific sense.) I feel like there's a misunderstanding you're not even aware off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    I won't argue this too strenuously, but feel the need to point out that there are very serious Ph.D.s in physics who will disagree strenuously with you. Especially the last sentence: it is, in fact, impossible to "measure all current effects" to the degree required, due to the Uncertainty Principle (which has been demonstrated in experiment). So there is, in theory, true randomness buried in the quantum mechanics of things.
    PhDs? Try nobel laureates. :)

    To take us further down the rabbit hole of actual physics: It's not that the information is hidden in some fashion (this notion is called, appropriately, "hidden variables theory" and has been experimentally disproven in the 70s; see Bell Inequalities), we just can't get to it, it's that the information does not exist.
    Sixty symbols video.
    Last edited by martixy; 2021-06-17 at 08:43 PM.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Protecting my Horde (yes, I mean that kind)

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by martixy View Post
    This is far from a given, but you're giving me ideas.

    What if the D&D universe was random in nature (like ours is), but modrons WERE strict determinists.
    Meaning that one end of one alignment axis is fundamentally broken and does not represent some kind of basic truth about the universe or stance one can take, but a misguided idea.
    I think we take objectively that the material plane of D&D is random like ours. The general gist of the material is that is like our universe in all ways, unless otherwise specified.

    How did that come to be? Could the universe have been different in the past? What kind of cataclysmic event caused such a change in the nature of reality? Why have the modrons not adapted to this change? What do the alignments represent? Are they the mirror to some fundamental aspect of the universe (or at least supposed to be)? Is someone preventing the modrons from adapting? Why? Or are the axes like a divine portfolio and the modrons are like an old god refusing to change, to make way for the new way of things?
    The multiverse, and more importantly the Great Wheel, are more like Platonic Ideals of universes. If, for example, we take Mechanus as the Platonic Ideal of Determinism the Modrons are trying to make everything else like it. I want to be clear I'm not saying that's what Mechanus is specifically presented as, but Planescape definitely takes the concept of Platonic Ideals and turns them up to 11.

    Edit: Also keep in mind that mortal thoughts change the nature of the Great Wheel, so if enough mortals stopped think of the Great Wheel and instead of though of it as the Great Haggis Cook Off that's what the multiverse would eventually reshape itself into. In fact its a major Plancescape plot point that an entire layer of Arcadia slid into Mechanus because the Harmonium were running re-education camps on the layer and it stopped being Good.

    @Calthropstu @Beleriphon That discussion you're leading. Are you guys familiar with the distinction between chaos and randomness? (In the IRL, scientific sense.) I feel like there's a misunderstanding you're not even aware off.
    I'm aware of enough of the difference to get me into trouble. So, maybe. Please share, I'm happy to be proven wrong.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2021-06-17 at 08:46 PM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Banned
     
    GreenSorcererElf

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by martixy View Post
    This is far from a given, but you're giving me ideas.

    What if the D&D universe was random in nature (like ours is), but modrons WERE strict determinists.
    Meaning that one end of one alignment axis is fundamentally broken and does not represent some kind of basic truth about the universe or stance one can take, but a misguided idea.

    How did that come to be? Could the universe have been different in the past? What kind of cataclysmic event caused such a change in the nature of reality? Why have the modrons not adapted to this change? What do the alignments represent? Are they the mirror to some fundamental aspect of the universe (or at least supposed to be)? Is someone preventing the modrons from adapting? Why? Or are the axes like a divine portfolio and the modrons are like an old god refusing to change, to make way for the new way of things?

    @Calthropstu @Beleriphon That discussion you're leading. Are you guys familiar with the distinction between chaos and randomness? (In the IRL, scientific sense.) I feel like there's a misunderstanding you're not even aware off.



    PhDs? Try nobel laureates. :)

    To take us further down the rabbit hole of actual physics: It's not that the information is hidden in some fashion (this notion is called, appropriately, "hidden variables theory" and has been experimentally disproven in the 70s; see Bell Inequalities), we just can't get to it, it's that the information does not exist.
    Sixty symbols video.
    It's not so much that the information doesn't exist, there are simply unmeasurable and unknown factors at work. I am familiar with uncertainty principle. And my friend looked at it long and hard before finally agreeing it was, in fact, possible that I was correct.

    But I figured out long ago that theoretical physics is rife with errors, and I disagree with them on major items.

    The uncertainty principle is something I personally question. Yes, waves have an unpredictability to them. But I think it is not because they "are inherently unpredictable" but rather forces are at work we are unable to percieve, interact with or measure. Yet.

    Because, at a quantum level, matter begins to act like waves, maybe the unknown quantity is present there. But that doesn't mean "it is unknowable." Scientists for thousands of years have made that claim. Until someone ultimately proves them wrong. In a D&D reality, the very nature of this unknown quantity may very well be rooted in the plane of limbo. In pathfinder, this would be a throwback to the maelstrom where all life originated.

    But it's nice to know that d&d bull**** can still explain at least some things even at a quantum level.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Spore's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    Nah, your molecular structure only changes if you think it does. And you genuinely have to believe it does change, at which point you'd end up becoming a Modron or some other similar paragon of law, chaos, or whatever.

    Cogito, ergo sum is pretty much the byword of the multiverse; or more accurately: Et cogito sic est.
    That is a pretty common thing throughout the publications, because it plays so well into the idea of a divine being (aka DM) guiding every move in this game, and to the idea that ideas change reality. Because in D&D it ultimatively does. Which brings the game back into the humanities from the natural sciences, because that is typically what D&D is: An empowering collective game of make believe.

    Dice only matter because we as a community decide to add a bit of randomness (read: unpredictability) into our games. D&D is perfectly playable without dice, which is often the preferred way for some things. But ultimatively it looses its luster as a strict game when the DM can make you win/loose at everything.

    So no, while Modrons and elemental chaos in the WotR-planescape work on the principles of "quasi-sciences", in reality like many things it is based on esoterics and late 18ths ideas of theoretical science. It is as much physics as alchemy is chemistry. Which means, it is a little of it, and A LOT of esoteric bullcrap.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2014

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    The multiverse, and more importantly the Great Wheel, are more like Platonic Ideals of universes.
    These were kind of rhetorical questions. World-building prompts to be specific.


    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    I'm aware of enough of the difference to get me into trouble. So, maybe. Please share, I'm happy to be proven wrong.
    I already talked about this in my first post, but it's likely over the head of most readers. I'll try to explain better.

    A chaotic system, is one that is highly sensitive to initial conditions. A double pendulum is the classic example found in the Chaos theory wiki page I linked. Perhaps a more understandable example is a pencil balanced on its tip. A minuscule change in how it is balanced will change which direction it falls toward.

    Randomness is the idea that a particular outcome CANNOT be determined by any information you have prior to it. Said another way, there does not exist information that will let you determine the outcome of a random event. Particle decay is fundamentally a random process. There is nothing you can measure, no experiment you can do that will tell you when a particle will decay.

    Now combine the 2 concepts. Along with quantum mechanics.

    So quantum mechanics generally only works on very small scales. But what if you only need small changes to affect a system drastically - i.e. a system is highly chaotic? Chaotic systems allow quantum mechanical effects, which are normally limited to small scales to escape into the macroscopic world.

    Conversely, you can have a very chaotic system, but if you are somehow able to reset it to the EXACT same initial conditions, you will always get the same outcome.
    A highly chaotic system can resemble randomness, but the two concept are distinct.


    Randomness / Chaos High randomness Low randomness
    High chaos Fluid mechanics Pseudo random number generators
    Low chaos Schrodinger's cat A marble at the bottom of a concave bowl

    Fluid mechanics: As much as we can model certain situations well enough, fluid mechanics is fundamentally both highly chaotic and random. Describing turbulent flow is an unsolved problem in physics.

    Pseudo Random Number Generators: These are the random number generators your computer uses (barring hardware sources of randomness present in some chips). They are algorithms designed to statistically resemble randomness. But they are not random (hence the pseudo), they are strictly deterministic. The same input will ALWAYS produce the same output. However the exceptionally high chaos of the system means that they APPEAR random. Input successive numbers (small differences in initial conditions), but get WILDLY differing outputs.

    Schrodinger's cat: The cat, and the whole box are a highly random system - it depends on the fundamentally random process of particle decay. But it is a very low chaos system. Outcomes do not vary based on when the particle decays or other factors. The dispenser always releases the same amount of gas. The cat always ends up either dead or alive.

    Marble in bowl: A marble at the bottom of a concave bowl is a highly stable macroscopic system. It does not matter how you drop the marble in, it will always end up in practically the same position - at the lowest point at the bottom of the bowl. Changing the initial conditions does very little for the final outcome, and that outcome is practically always the same, there is no randomness.


    Quote Originally Posted by Calthropstu View Post
    The uncertainty principle is something I personally question.
    I... what?

    If you want to continue this particular discussion, do you mind if we stick to experimentally verified science and steer away from personal speculation?
    Last edited by martixy; 2021-06-17 at 11:22 PM.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RedSorcererGirl

    Join Date
    Apr 2019

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Something I'd like to my initial post is that my main gripe with Mechanus is not whether it is deterministic or not. As someone else said, in the end the planes are made out of beliefs, and it may be possible that such belief exists. My point was more of the line of planar Law (the belief in DnD) shouldn't be limited as such. Randomness (and/or chaos; I may be mixing concepts here) should also be part of Law.

    Highly chaotic and random processes should not be any more difficult for a modron to understand. It's just along the lines "the process behaves according to models". In Mechanus, anything and everything can and is modelled, according to some laws of the universe. The Great Modron March is done as such because the models have found the most optimum paths, or something like that. Even if the individual low modrons don't know the model, they still believe anything can be modelled, and thus understood. In that sense, nothing is 'random' (as in, nothng that can't be modelled exists). I think that makes a slightly better interpretation.

    Plus, even if Mechanus were purely deterministic as some people are claiming, how does it deal with the 'chaos' brought forth by gates? By planeswalkers? I assume some Chaos (as in, chaotic energy) will undoubtedly seep in from the borders of the plane, throwing a wrench into all that determinism. Also, how modrons deal with imprecisions brought forth by trimming down trascendental and other infinite numbers? For any calculation, they will inevitably have to round to some precision, which may bring forward different outcomes (for example, in highly chaotic processes, like a double pendulum). I don't know, this is turning difficult to express into words!

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Re: At the planar level, the Law-Chaos axis in D&D is a shallow take on randomness

    Quote Originally Posted by Yukito01 View Post
    Something I'd like to my initial post is that my main gripe with Mechanus is not whether it is deterministic or not. As someone else said, in the end the planes are made out of beliefs, and it may be possible that such belief exists. My point was more of the line of planar Law (the belief in DnD) shouldn't be limited as such. Randomness (and/or chaos; I may be mixing concepts here) should also be part of Law.

    Highly chaotic and random processes should not be any more difficult for a modron to understand. It's just along the lines "the process behaves according to models". In Mechanus, anything and everything can and is modelled, according to some laws of the universe. The Great Modron March is done as such because the models have found the most optimum paths, or something like that. Even if the individual low modrons don't know the model, they still believe anything can be modelled, and thus understood. In that sense, nothing is 'random' (as in, nothng that can't be modelled exists). I think that makes a slightly better interpretation.

    Plus, even if Mechanus were purely deterministic as some people are claiming, how does it deal with the 'chaos' brought forth by gates? By planeswalkers? I assume some Chaos (as in, chaotic energy) will undoubtedly seep in from the borders of the plane, throwing a wrench into all that determinism. Also, how modrons deal with imprecisions brought forth by trimming down trascendental and other infinite numbers? For any calculation, they will inevitably have to round to some precision, which may bring forward different outcomes (for example, in highly chaotic processes, like a double pendulum). I don't know, this is turning difficult to express into words!
    On Mechanus, pi is exactly 3. It’s more *rational* that way.

    I can imagine a deterministic multiverse where gates and planeswalkers aren’t truly random/chaotic so much as they are difficult to include in the model. Obviously a fully-realized model of the multiverse would account for these things, but it’s certainly easier to model a reality that doesn’t have to deal with them. Which is perhaps the logical bridge between determinism as a philosophy/belief and individual “lawful” behavior. The average person/modron/whatever isn’t able to process the behavior of every particle in the multiverse to understand how all things are determined, so it is possible for them to perceive events as random or chaotic and to be surprised by them. This is, obviously, undesirable. Thus, all right-thinking beings should strive to conform to expectations so that the observable behavior of the world remains within modeled parameters. As such, gates/planeswalkers/planar boundaries aren’t an exception to the deterministic nature of reality, just harder-to-predict local events that should be minimized if they can’t be avoided.

    This thread is giving me an idea for a campaign where Mechanus starts encroaching on the Prime and probability breaks down. Like maybe the first clue/hook is a bar fight because the dice keep coming up seven, or something like that. Flipped coins alternate heads and tails. Everybody dies of natural causes at the age of exactly 71 years, 4 months, and 11 days. Is any of that bad? I don’t know. It’s predictable and orderly, and that’s what’s important.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •