Sunday, August 3, 2008

Alignments: The Good & The Bad

Sorry about the lack-of-update yesterday but real-world D&D called, and my group is one of those crazy ones that enjoys playing for 13 hours straight. But I'm back, and I'm riding high on a Five Hour Energy shot. Up, up, and blog away!!!

Ok then! It is time for the alignments! There are nine alignments available in Dungeons and Dragons, and they take up only a tiny little itty bitty line on top of your character sheet. Before I got on my alignment kick, the only attention I gave them was a pair of abbreviated letters on that little line, which I quickly forgot about until some alignment-based spell was fired off. But what good are alignments if you can't use them?! (What's a paladin after all without morals to shove down the rogue's throat?)

Lawful Good: Being lawful good means that you have a preset idea of how good people should act. This is based on your personal set of beliefs and your code. You have dedicated your life to the path of goodness and you have committed to a war against evil, whether through strength or arms, or from you actions and your quests.

You tell the truth, and you keep your word. You speak out against injustice and will not let darkness and evil stay hidden. You hate to see the guilty go unpunished, and take it upon yourself – if your code allows – to act as judge, jury, and executioner. Good characters find you a fast friend and a brave force against evil - if occasionally a little bit over-zealous.

You lose your patience quickly with the hastiness and recklessness of chaotic characters, though you may recognize that chaotic good characters and you are seeking the same ends, just through different means. Above all else you follow your code and morals which are ultimately good.

Neutral Good: Being neutral good means that you always try to be as good as you can be. You do the best you can, and generally try to help others. If someone asks you for aid, be them king or peasant, you will do your best to help them, though it would not be your duty. You are a kind individual, but do not like to be bossed around or disrespected.

You are level-headed, choose your battles carefully, and approach matters with an open mind. You are tactical and make decisions through intelligence, unlike those blinded by acting through honor, or those who charge into whatever they think is best without weighing other options. You are unbiased in doing good.

Chaotic Good: Being chaotic good implies that you always think of the greater good. You set your sight on a goal, and will usually take a wide array of means to reach it. You don’t really care what others things about you, and similarly, you yourself never make judgments about others.

You hate tyranny and are annoyed by evil beings telling you or others what to do, though respect wise or fair orders - often seeing them as "suggestions" - just as long as no one tries to impinge upon your personal freedoms. You value personal freedom in all beings, and see all beings as equals in receiving rights and respect.

You are good, first and foremost – kind and benevolent to all creatures, even those you may disagree with. You pursue good and will not take evil actions, though your actions may be held as rebellious or nonconformist, even blasphemous or traitorous by common society. You seek to secure personal freedom for everyone.

Lawful Neutral: Being lawful neutral implies that you very strictly adhere to your own set of morals or to a personal code, either of your own creation or set down by a church, monastery, or other such organization. Typically such beliefs fall under something that could not be considered good or evil necessarily, such as a code for self-improvement and advancement.

A set of morals handed down from a monastery requiring self-improvement and self-testing at any cost for example, might imply a lawful neutral set of morals. Rather then bothering with good and evil, you worry about order and organization. You are not swayed by calls for help, or by the gains and rewards of lies and betrayal. The only thing that moves you is your code, which you follow until the end.

You are reliable, honorable and true, though you are not a zealot for either good or evil.

True Neutral: Being neutral implies that you are a self-focused person. You’re not necessarily egotistical or self-center, but you always choose to do what you think is a good idea at the time. You may decisions in the spur of the moment and do not give thought to what is good, evil, lawful, or chaotic, until the time comes when you must make such decisions.

You generally lean towards good because hey, you like it when people are good to you, don’t you? You don’t feel personally committed to good or evil either way though. Let the heroes be the heroes. You just want to live your life!

You try to just live your life, taking good or evil steps if required. You are unbiased, and do not hold prejudices against anyone. Some neutral people, on the other hand, rather then simply lacking conviction, are devoted to neutrality. They follow balance and tend to avoid the dangerous extremes of good, evil, law, and chaos.

Neutral beings are usually kind unless given some reason not to be. They know the world is full of those that would try to sway them to take on the mantle of a hero, or to commit acts of evil, and are wary of such individuals.

Chaotic Neutral: You are truly and fully a free spirit. You follow your whims, no matter where they may take you. If you feel like stealing for your supper or slaying a dragon for it, it’s all the same to you. In the end, it boils down to what you feel like doing at the time.

You care about personal freedom, but don’t really care if others gain theirs. As long as you are free to do what you wish, then your happy. A chaotic neutral character does not go out of their way to take down lawful organizations, because that would ally them with good or evil.

You may be unpredictable, but you’re not totally random. Intelligence and wisdom still guides you. Your actions never are without reason, so you’d probably walk over a bridge, before jumping off of it. Unless of course there was something shiny in the water, or someone dared you, or you felt like it…

Chaotic neutral characters generally lean towards goodness, as with most neutral characters, but do not feel beholden to it. Though they may kill if they had to, they probably find no joy in killing and would usually not go out of their way to do it.

Lawful Evil: Villains who are lawful evil recognize that being evil is fun, but it's even more fun beating those goody two-shoes at their own games. They recognize and understand that the world has rules - from the politician to the paladin - and since the world is run by a certain series of codes and morals, why not do everything to take advantage of the system?

The first thing a lawful evil villain should ever take into account is their code. Like any lawful character, they have their own set of morals, though in this case, it is usually either a set of rules laid down by the organization (such as honor amongst thieves), or a personal set of rules. Unlike other lawful characters, the code that lawful evil villains follow is usually not a very friendly one, though they still follow it with a zealous fervor.

Lawful evil villains seek power, and are typically willing to pretty much do anything to get it. Their methods of advancement however are not wild and boundless. Such villains are usually masterminds and manipulators - careful planners who weasel their way to the top through blackmail and deceit.

If lawful evil villains have superiors, they will follow them dutifully, and will value their deals - making them surprisingly trustworthy. In the end though, lawful evil villains do not truly care for the lives of those around them. Bounty hunters who kill their targets without mercy, or a thief who follows her superior's orders without question may be lawful evil.

Above all else, a lawful evil villain follows their code or their orders, no matter what they have to do in order to succeed.

Neutral Evil: The only person who matters is you, and you know it. Neutral evil villains are self-centered, and look out for themselves about all else. They don't kill on a whim, and certainly not because they're told to, but they will if it benefits them most at the time.

While a lawful evil or chaotic evil villain may fight to the death, either to fulfill their task, or just because they're crazy, a neutral evil villain is much more likely to drop to their knees and ask to be spared, just so they can get away and have their vengeance later.

Neutral evil villains may have a wide assortment of goals in life, but they readily realize that the quickest and easiest way to achieve those goals is through evil. They could care less who they hurt along the way - as long as they don't get caught.

If their machinations take a turn for the worst, or if a neutral evil villain sees a way to backstab their companions and turn the tables even more in their favor they'll jump at the opportunity. They are more then willing to follow the rules if it helps them get what they want, but would gladly sabotage and double-cross, if it will help them get ahead.

Chaotic Evil: Cruel, heartless, and bound by no rules, chaotic evil villains are perhaps the most classically "evil" of all. They kill and destroy whenever the mood strikes them, and have absolutely no sense of value for human life. "Planning" and "mercy" are two words that have no place in their vocabulary. If you can count on a chaotic evil villain to be one thing, it is crazy.

Either fueled by a lust for bloodshed, or crazed by one's service to a god of destruction or slaughter, chaotic evil villains care for little other then destruction and chaos. The world, in it's very nature, is too balanced in their eyes. Wherever there is law or order, the chaotic evil villain seeks to bring destruction. They rarely have goals, and are impulsive to an extreme.

Temperamental, sadistic, and lawless - chaotic evil villains are whirlwinds of bloodshed and catastrophe, seeking nothing other then to upset the world. They are selfish and ruthless beings who only occasionally care even for their own lives, if only to be able to live in order to destroy another day.


Geek's Dream Girl said...

The description of Neutral Evil is the EXACT description of my old character in my Eberron game. I really miss her, she was so much fun. :(

Storyteller said...

I'm a lawful good individual by design, but even I have a weak spot for playing the evil character every so often. Since I'm always the DM, never the player, this rarely happens - my heart would probably lean towards lawful evil or neutral evil though. They are oodles of fun :)

Elisabeth said...

Just curious... How would you define someone who was a vigilante type? A character who goes out of their way to hunt those who are truly wicked (slavers, rapists, murderers of the innocent, oppressors etc) and make people suffer, and punish and kill them, and will torture but only if information is needed and can't be gained by other means? But would risk his life to help any innocents in danger, and do the right thing. I feel it walks the good/neutral line because of methods but am just curious what you think.

Carlos Antonio said...

As a rule of thumb, the good-evil axis rules your ends, while the chaos-law your means. Except for those specifically cathered to the contrary, as the example True Neutrals commited to neutrality itself as an ideal.

That being said, you cannot really hope to categorize every human personality among nine different categories. You may as well start believing in zodiac and frenology.

And even yet, the various vigilante stereotipes are relatively easy to put in check.
The average one will be Lawful Good. Yes, Lawful Good. They follow the rules to the letter, and their rules are always cathered towards what they perceive as good, specially if they envision themselves with the authority to change said rules (as most vigilantes do). Think The Punisher or some of the darker Batman series.
Indeed, they may as well be Paladins; so long as they can convince themselves that the one they just tortured for information deserved it, they will be fine.
Even with that, though, they can still veer away on either axis, or both. A neutral good vigilante would not feel bound by preset laws, and would be much willing to side with villians and then backstab them. A lawful neutral one would be less concerned with the spirit and more with the letter of his codes, less likely to show mercy, etc.
You can even have a Chaotic Evil vigilante who is still an HERO. He would not be much commited to justice or law, so much as manslaughter. He just happens to direct his violence against fellow evils, because they are generally a better target, or because they like the public applause for their heroism.

The possibilities are infinite. Except, you know, they aren't, there are only nine, but you get the point.

And yes, I know this comes several months later, but whatever. I thought and I had to post it. May future readers enjoy it, if not Elisabeth herself.