My problem with Good and Evil, and proposal for a Third Axis.

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I dont see Good and Evil as how you go about solving a problem, I see it as how selfish you are, and how willing you are to exploit and demise innocent life for personal gain/goal. Someone who is violent and merciless and never forgives but at the same time is fighting for the people and likes to smite evil and make them feel pain is still Good. They may be Brutal Good, but they just gain pleasure out of making the "Evil" feel pain by avenging the pain they caused to innocent people. This is why a third alignment axis should be added, one that encompasses the level of violence, forgiveness, and regret. Such as Passive/Moderate/Brutal.

Here is examples of this third axis I thought of as applied to Chaotic Good.

For example, batman is Passive Chaotic Good, because he clearly goes against the law and lives by his own system inorder to punish and go after criminals, however he is not willing to crossover the line and commit true violence and if he ever had to kill someone, he would deeply regret his descisions and such. Passive characters believe more in reform and may forgive.

A Moderate Chaotic good character would be your standard vigilante who goes after the badguys, shoots them, and thats about it. They arent out neccessarily to make them suffer or completely avenge the pain of their victims, but they want them to be dead and out of this world.

A Brutal chaotic good character would go after the badguys, slaughter them, kill them, make them feel pain inorder to avenge the people in which they hurt. They feel pleasure in killing badguys, and have a bloodlust about them because afterall, these dirtbags who harm innocents need to feel immense pain and suffering. However, they are still good because they are always here to protect the innocent, and never will let their bloodlust harm an innocent bystander, only the truly bad perpatrator, heck, Brutal good characters would even host fundraisers and other things for the common good of society. Brutal Chaotic Good would still not let ANY innocent person be harmed at all ever, but basically go all out on the badguys.

Basically what I am trying to say is, Evil would be independent from Brutality, because Evil implies personal gain, self exploition, and other things, while Brutality implies the means in which you achieve things. A Brutal Chaotic Evil character may desire to slaughter little children, but a Brutal Chaotic Good character would find this sick bastard and shove his face into spikes as punishment.

A Brutal Lawful Good Paladin may have a bloodlust to go out and slay the dragons and demons and other crime infesting their city, while a Passive Lawful Good character would be that typical superhero who always lets the badguys get away and thinks they are reformed, like that guilable goody goody.
So you propose that all people have the right to inflict suffering on others, and that this behavior is 'Good'?
I never said that at all. Nobody has the right to harm innocent people at all. However if your someone whos commited true attrocities, someone Brutal Chaotic Good for example, will hunt you down and throw you off a cliff head first, and it doesnt make him any less Good for punishing someone like this inorder to avenge the pain theyv caused to innocent people.

Sure, a more reserved Good person would never do this, but if someone decided to get brutal about it, they would still be Good.

As far as im concerned, nobody recognizes that there could be a good person thats helping and protecting others and completely selfless but just has violent HATRED towards evil doers and wants to make them suffer for their terrible crimes.
Yeah, that's called 'Evil'.
Okay, so your sister or mother was just raped and killed. Would you still be calling someone Brutal Chaotic good "Evil" after they give that guy what he deserves. An evil person is out to exploit others for personal gain, this type of character is completely good, he helps children in the park, donates to hospitals, is religious, helps old ladys walk across the street, but the second some truly evil **** enters the picture, this guy will wreck him up.
The most horrific of atrocities do not give the 'Good' person license to commit minor 'Evils'. 
No one has the right to inflict suffering on another; to do so is 'Evil'.

Re: your (inflammatory) example above, I do not know what the rapist 'deserves'. 

However, I do know that capitalists exploit others for personal gain; by this example, America and most of Western Europe is 'Evil'.



Which philosophers have most inspired your metaphysical thinking, AlexRider?
Warning: I have read none of the rest of this thread except what I've quoted below.
The most horrific of atrocities do not give the 'Good' person license to commit minor 'Evils'. 
No one has the right to inflict suffering on another; to do so is 'Evil'.


It's true that evil does not justify evil, but in dire circumstances, a good person may commit evils, either "for the greater good," or out of an emotional response. Whether or not it's right, or justified, or even a good idea, it's human nature. These acts are extraordinary moments, and do not define the person, though they may yield insights to that person's heart.

That's why the 3.X paladin code was so stupid; if you acted like a real person, you lost your powers.
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Alright, your one of those self-rightous people who say "A killer is a killer no matter who hes killing".
When I say exploiting, im not talking about business, im talking about whether killing, raping, heavily stealing out of greed, enslaving. Not business practices.

Oh and, Common sense tells me that bad guys need to be punished, and because they arent punished, people continue to do bad things since well, whats the fear when the only thing stopping you is some guy hoping you reform? Which explains why someone like Batman will never prevail because he constantly lets the criminals murder more or threaten more, while someone like the punisher or the boondock saints simply deals what they deserve.
The alignment-system is constrictingly clear-cut. D&D is not a shades-of-grey type of setting unless you specifically want it to be, and thus, the system you get out of the box clearly states that what you describe above is indeed evil.

I can agree that a Chaotic Good person who brings a very bad person to justice (whether it be by death, law, or humiliation) remains good in doing so as long as his cause remains good also. To gain pleasure or enjoyment out of the suffering or death of others, regardless of their alignment, is evil.
 
To enjoy killing these very bad men is sociopathic at best. That's what your third axis suggests. Their measure of sanity. 
My third axis basically refers to someones ability to forgive, have regrets, and take violent action, and in a way sanity too I suppose, as someone in the Brutal or even moderate range might be somewhat brainwashed by their ideals of self justification.

The DND alignment system has spots for people who help innocents, and people who destroy innocents, but my third axis brings about an opportunity for their to be a shade of gray that destroys evils.
The alignment system of DND has been a source of fascinating debate for longer than I've been alive; I don't know that I could add anything to the topic which hasn't been previously, and more articulately, conveyed. 

My personal view is a departure from the simulationist perspective.  Since I do not believe the alignment system of any edition of the game effectively models ethics, morality, theosophic persuasion, metacognition or whatever, I use alignment in my games as a function of trope. 

But a third axis could be cool.  Passive, Moderate and Brutal sound like degrees of extraversion to me.  Maybe do the other four established axes of personality as well (openess, conscientiousness, agreeableness and nueroticsm)?  A seven axis alignment system would make for a great RPing challenge. 

I think introducing some player incentives for running a more complicated alignment might be interesting, too.  When it comes to DND, imagination and innovation are the keys to a good time, and it sounds like you are innovating and imaginateing.
I didn't think it was possible to convince me even more that alignment was unnecessary and useless, but congratulations, you did it.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I didn't think it was possible to convince me even more that alignment was unnecessary and useless, but congratulations, you did it.



I'm already on that page with you Salla.  I've been using character motivations instead for years now.
There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

However, I do know that capitalists exploit others for personal gain; by this example, America and most of Western Europe is 'Evil'.


It gets worse. By the OP's logic, this would make Al-Qaeda 'Brutal Lawful Good'...
"There's an old saying that all it takes for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. I've always had a problem with that. If you do nothing to oppose evil, then how are you 'good'? To turn aside and allow evil to flourish is to collaborate with it. You ask for mercy. You claim you have done nothing. That 'nothing' is why you deserve no mercy." - Lorian Karthfaerr, drow paladin of Avandra Robin Laws says I'm a Storyteller:
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You're more inclined toward the role playing side of the equation and less interested in numbers or experience points. You're quick to compromise if you can help move the story forward, and get bored when the game slows down for a long planning session. You want to play out a story that moves like it's orchestrated by a skilled novelist or film director. Storyteller 92% Tactician 83% Method Actor 75% Butt-Kicker 67% Power Gamer 67% Specialist 58% Casual Gamer 8%
AlexRider,

You have an interesting postulate, but your thesis lacks understanding and experience.  Let's start with some basic definitions of good and evil.  Evil is easy and is generally defined as self serving  actions to the detriment of others.  If good is evil's opposite, then that would make good the act of putting others ahead of one's self.  You propose that society can be improved by the elimination of some of its members and I agree.  My problem is that you feel that methodology does not matter.

Let's assume that society would benefit if everyone was a good citizen and behaved well with eachother.  Machieveli argued that seeking a just society was good and that methodology didn't matter.  If local law enforcement started rounding up everyone that stole, or even broke the speed limit, slit their throats, and hung them on a meat hook in the town square as an example to the citizens, would that make them brutal lawful good?

You look at the idea of doing similar things to rapists and murderers, but who decides what crimes require the cleansing of society?  A hundred years ago, several prominant American leaders decided that feeble mindedness needed to be cleansed from society, so they rounded up thousands of Americans that they deemed feeble minded and had them sterilized.  The already bad ideas that these Americans started were taken to Germany where sick men twisted them even further into the holocaust.

Even if we proclaim that we have a solid line where we can say exactly who does and who does not deserve to die without ever making a mistake, I still have a problem with the idea that a good person can do it slowly and brutally.  This goes back to the definitions of good and evil.  If society would benefit from the removal of an individual and this conclusion has been reached justly and according to the laws of society, then let it be done quick and clean without fanfare or rejoicing.  The minute the executioner starts to revel in the act or make a spectacle of the proceedings he starts working to satisfy his own enjoyment at the expense of the condemned.  Self gratification at the expense of others is the definition of evil.

On a more practicle note, the moment a human is called upon to intentionally kill or even injure another human, something triggers in our minds that cause us to pause since we are willing doing something to the detriment of other.  Why do you think so many soldiers and police officers have psychological after killing people that charged and fired shots at them?  Someone that has killed this part of his brain through rationalization, repitition, and/or training isn't good, he's broken.
AlexRider,

You have an interesting postulate, but your thesis lacks understanding and experience.  Let's start with some basic definitions of good and evil.  Evil is easy and is generally defined as self serving  actions to the detriment of others.  If good is evil's opposite, then that would make good the act of putting others ahead of one's self.  You propose that society can be improved by the elimination of some of its members and I agree.  My problem is that you feel that methodology does not matter.

Let's assume that society would benefit if everyone was a good citizen and behaved well with eachother.  Machieveli argued that seeking a just society was good and that methodology didn't matter.  If local law enforcement started rounding up everyone that stole, or even broke the speed limit, slit their throats, and hung them on a meat hook in the town square as an example to the citizens, would that make them brutal lawful good?

You look at the idea of doing similar things to rapists and murderers, but who decides what crimes require the cleansing of society?  A hundred years ago, several prominant American leaders decided that feeble mindedness needed to be cleansed from society, so they rounded up thousands of Americans that they deemed feeble minded and had them sterilized.  The already bad ideas that these Americans started were taken to Germany where sick men twisted them even further into the holocaust.

Even if we proclaim that we have a solid line where we can say exactly who does and who does not deserve to die without ever making a mistake, I still have a problem with the idea that a good person can do it slowly and brutally.  This goes back to the definitions of good and evil.  If society would benefit from the removal of an individual and this conclusion has been reached justly and according to the laws of society, then let it be done quick and clean without fanfare or rejoicing.  The minute the executioner starts to revel in the act or make a spectacle of the proceedings he starts working to satisfy his own enjoyment at the expense of the condemned.  Self gratification at the expense of others is the definition of evil.

On a more practicle note, the moment a human is called upon to intentionally kill or even injure another human, something triggers in our minds that cause us to pause since we are willing doing something to the detriment of other.  Why do you think so many soldiers and police officers have psychological after killing people that charged and fired shots at them?  Someone that has killed this part of his brain through rationalization, repitition, and/or training isn't good, he's broken.



I do see your points, but someone like a police officer example, in rare cases, who has the stomache to kill in his line of duty and feel no regrets or such is still Good, hes just possibly Brutal. The point however is, regardless, hes still risking his life out there for the benefit of society with no personal gain for himself (Besides a small paycheck). Sure, slow and painful torture probobally isnt the best thing at any moment, but what I mean by Brutality is that you wont hesitate to hack off the head of the badguy if thats what it takes.

        The thing about Machiavellis belief you mentioned above was more Lawful Evil. That is basically binding society to the will of fear and supreme corrupt law and order, and it punished people for non evil actions. Brutal Good only punishes for Evil actions. Stealing and driving through lights are in no way evil actions. Brutal Chaotic Good if anything, would go AFTER the kind of Lawful Evil who desires supreme law and corruption in rebellion and other things. Brutal Chaotic Good would be more inclined to go after corrupted judges, murderers, abusive slave owners, rapists, lawful evil law enforcers, tyrants, corrupted nobleman, drug lords ruining the lives of many, and more, brutal chaotic good would not be looking to "civilize" society like their opposite, Lawful Evil, but instead, cleanse out the corruption of Evil men, aswell as Evil men within the law itself.

        And about America's past with cleansing of the Indians, well Andrew Jackson, while being a solid president, was obviously Chaotic Evil. Evil does not mean you DESIRE to cause pain to others, or even WANT to be evil, it just implies that you are willing to cause harm to innocents if it is more convienient for your goal. And in Jackson's case, it was simply more convienient for his goal, which is the growth and prosperity of his country, to set up the trail of tears and march innocents to Oklahoma in basically a form of genocide, so he gladly was willing to do it. And while he was president, Jackson was still chaotic because of his frontier background, hatred of tradition, hatred of aristocracy, and hatred of central power of the government, and he broke many rules of the lands code, and didnt follow a set of rules.






The most horrific of atrocities do not give the 'Good' person license to commit minor 'Evils'. 
No one has the right to inflict suffering on another; to do so is 'Evil'.


Let's say you found this man about to kill another innocnet person, and you have a loaded gun in your hand but are too far away to get to him physically to stop him. What is the proper 'Good' response? To kill him and save the person's life? To yell hoping he'll stop and gamble with that innocent person's life? To shoot him in the kneecaps, causing him suffering but keeping him alive?

Personally, I believe very strongly that Justice is 'Good'. Bringing suffering to those who have caused greater suffering for the sake of preventing future harm is 'Good'.

I don't want the legal system to do it because it is too easy to abuse, but in the sense of fundamental morality I have no problem with it. I'm also against the death penalty as a legal recourse for this same reason.

Man On Fire is a great movie. 
The Intimident: Ridiculous Intimidate on a Dragonborn Ardent Wild Mindreaver: A Dark Sun Brutal Barrage Crit-Fishing Battlemind Empathic Elements: Making It Rain Healing with an Ardent in Athas
I always carry a loaded firearm. If I were certain that your subway stabber was about to kill another person, then I would shoot to kill. (This kneecap shooting non-sense indicates you are unfamiliar with firearms and their use.) However, doing so would be an Evil act. I recognize that I am not Good, though I wish I were.

        And about America's past with cleansing of the Indians, well Andrew Jackson, while being a solid president, was obviously Chaotic Evil. Evil does not mean you DESIRE to cause pain to others, or even WANT to be evil, it just implies that you are willing to cause harm to innocents if it is more convienient for your goal. And in Jackson's case, it was simply more convienient for his goal, which is the growth and prosperity of his country, to set up the trail of tears and march innocents to Oklahoma in basically a form of genocide, so he gladly was willing to do it. And while he was president, Jackson was still chaotic because of his frontier background, hatred of tradition, hatred of aristocracy, and hatred of central power of the government, and he broke many rules of the lands code, and didnt follow a set of rules.


To me, trying to call any President "chaotic" seems wrong. To become President, you have to dedicate years along a fairly narrow path in life centered around politics and the system. He came to power through the system, and that system was the only authority he wielded. I view Chaotic Evil more like an aggressive pack of dogs or a violent street gang. There's structure and heirachy, but the leader wields his power through intimidation and shows of force. There isn't a set legal precedent and system in place that says who is leader and how they became leader.
The Intimident: Ridiculous Intimidate on a Dragonborn Ardent Wild Mindreaver: A Dark Sun Brutal Barrage Crit-Fishing Battlemind Empathic Elements: Making It Rain Healing with an Ardent in Athas
Politicing today is very different today than it was In 1830.
Politicing today is very different today than it was In 1830.
I always carry a loaded firearm. If I were certain that your subway stabber was about to kill another person, then I would shoot to kill. (This kneecap shooting non-sense indicates you are unfamiliar with firearms and their use.) However, doing so would be an Evil act. I recognize that I am not Good, though I wish I were.


What philosophy are you basing this on? I'd argue that refusing to use power within your control to prevent harm to an innocent is some degree of Evil.

By the way, I'm gun owner and hunter, and was trying to present a hypothetical that involved invoking suffering as a way of preserving the life of the innocent and the guilty as one of the moral choices.
The Intimident: Ridiculous Intimidate on a Dragonborn Ardent Wild Mindreaver: A Dark Sun Brutal Barrage Crit-Fishing Battlemind Empathic Elements: Making It Rain Healing with an Ardent in Athas
I find the universal prescriptivist approach to be most satisfying in terms of philosophical rigor.
Views are certainly very different from the 19th century as compared to now I suppose. Andrew Jackson used chaotic beliefs to get into office however, and while hes not exactly a "violent pack of dogs", he still commited a genocide against innocents, and has no respect for codes and traditions. We have to remember that Chaotic Evil isnt always an incoherent barbarian of evil and power sucking and innocent bashing. It just usually is in many cases, such as the Joker, who would be like Brutal Chaotic Evil. However, Andrew Jackson is still more of a passive Chaotic Evil, as oxymoron as that might sound, he still has no care or use for restrictions and order or hierarchys, and practices evil when its more convienient to fufill his goal.

Also, back then in the early 20th century and late 19th century, a police marshall would feel great satisfaction and happiness after hunting down a group of evil bandits and blowing their head off and finally making the town a safer place. Back then, they even had celebrations after bringing back the "head" of the leader of a ruthless gang. And you would have been COMPLETELY wrong for saying these marshalls are "evil" for saving the towns ass and keeping out the scum.
We'll have to agree to disagree on that point, AlexRider. The gross barbarism of 19th century White America was one of the most horrific times in US history, in my opinion.
Politicing today is very different today than it was In 1830.


After a quick refresher on Andrew Jackson from wikipedia, he seems like a clear case of what I'd call Lawful Neutral. This fits right in with his military career and how he handled his presidency. His power came from his positions and the authority that those positions afforded him.

It's just how I've always viewed the alignment/ethos thing. I've never been able to picture a chaotic evil in a position of power over lots of people because I view it as more of an in-person presence. The only exception would be something like the Evil Eye from Lord of the Rings, as it was able to keep everyone in check from a distance through the immense personal power it wielded.

Those that mix to some degree the authority of a personal power and a system I'd classify as Neutral ethos, like Conan when he became king. 

These are all talking about leaders of each ethos, obviously there's lots of room for followers within each.
The Intimident: Ridiculous Intimidate on a Dragonborn Ardent Wild Mindreaver: A Dark Sun Brutal Barrage Crit-Fishing Battlemind Empathic Elements: Making It Rain Healing with an Ardent in Athas
Well, my use of eugenics might have been misunderstood, since Andrew Jackson predated the eugenics movement by 100 years.  Although there was a racial tie to eugenics, it was also used to "cleanse" the white race by keeping the mentally handicapped, deaf, criminals, prostitutes, lazy, stupid, and all other unfits from reproducing.  The landmark supreme court case that decided in 1927 that Virginia could sterilize the unfit found that Carrie Buck, a poor white girl, should be sterilized for having a baby out of wedlock even though she claimed that she was raped by a member of her foster family (the authorities also thought her baby daughter should be sterilized since they figured her promiscuity was genetic; think Idiocracy).

My problem here is with the idea of who gets to decide what is and isn't evil.  You say that stealing is in no way evil, but then say that it should be ok for a character to brutally beat a corrupt judge -- a judge who did what, took a bribe?

This gets even more complicated when you look at the rights of men compared to the rights of man.  Let's go back to the running red lights example.  No one thinks that you should get to pull a motorist out of his car and beat him just because he ran a red light.  What if, however, he hits a bus carrying school children as he runs the light and kills five of them.  He has now caused unknowable pain and suffering in the lives of five families.  Do we now have the right to beat him to death?  What if he has multiple tickets for running lights so that we can assume he has the habit of doing it and that he might run a red light again in the future?  Where do we say that the rights of this one man end so that the good of the general public may prevail.  That's what we mean when we say "for the greater good."  We mean that we are going to take away the rights of individuals to improve society.  I believe that people who are "good" are conscience of the rights of individuals and often weigh them carefully before disregarding them "for the greater good."

As I said before, I believe that there are cases when individuals should be removed from society, but I find difficulty in saying a good hearted person would go around looking for such individuals just so he can have fun bashing in their faces.  The problem is that we all enjoy a game that has a strong aspect of combat (because conflict and battle are more fun and interesting).  To rationalize all of the violence that we have our characters perpetrate, we often fill our adventures with unreal scenarios and impossible situations.  We then try to implement a morality system and base real life motivations to nonsensical plots.  Perhaps a morality system really doesn't work for this game because we'd have to play a character's inner turmoil much deeper to claim that a truely good person is fine with all this killing.  I don't think claiming he's brutal good works.
Its hard to imagine a good-hearted person doing this, but if you've seen/watched examples it becomes much easier to grasp. The Boondock Saints, is an epic example of this in a way. They go out of there way to hunt down these "Evil" folks to put bullets through their head. These Evil people they hunt down are people who the Saints go out of their way to murder, rather than people who have to be killed in self- defense. They are brutal in a way that they force an audience in the final courtroom scene to witness their execution on an evil man, and force everyone to watch.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKzM8xsQ5-U Here is the ending scene in the courtroom of the movie if anyone needs a refresher on what it is. Spoiler alert obviously. This is what I call true Chaotic Good.


In my opinion the alignment system in DnD has always been less about who the character actually is but more of how the character views themselves.  You could easily make the argument that a "brutal" chaotic good character is actually and evil character, but does the character view himself in that light.  That has always been the problem with alignment systems, perspective is everything.


That being said, I do like the idea of a 3rd axis on an alignment system, and brutality is probably the best one I can think of.  Actually my problem with alignment systems has always been in the x-axis.  In my opinion characters that are evil for the sake of evil are kind of stupid, storytelling wise at least; such people rarely exist in the real world.  While there are plenty of “evil” people in this world, most of them think they are doing good, even Hitler thought himself a benevolent savor.  In fact even the few we can call "evil" in this world – gangsters, CEOs, and whatnot – are usually closer to "unaligned,” since they are not motivated by the desire to be evil, simply the desire to get theirs.


I once came up with an alignment system with three axes, one of them was basically brutality, another was “rebellion vs. conformity” (basically how much one conforms to the values of their society) and the other was “diplomatic vs. single minded” (the fist has no ultimate end goal, instead just tries to do good whenever, the other has some ultimate plan or virtue to uphold).  The idea was that on this scale there was no good nor evil, everyone thought they were a good guy, their way of going about it was just different.  I’ve never used this scale.


Eberron seems a perfect fit for you since alignment is really muddied. After all, the whole "the ends justify the means" is definitely evil since most of the folks who follow that philosophy will sacrifice others to achieve those ends, but never themselves. One way of looking at it.



I didn't think it was possible to convince me even more that alignment was unnecessary and useless, but congratulations, you did it.


Win.

I didn't think it was possible to convince me even more that alignment was unnecessary and useless, but congratulations, you did it.



I always just stick chaotic good on my character sheet and then basically forget about it. I don't think alignment is even necessary except as a roleplaying aid, but chances are, if you have enough of a character concept to know your alignment, you probably don't need it.

You have about as much charm as a dead slug. - Haymitch You don't make footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time? I'm an eladrin feylock Special from Disrict 4 who goes to Hogwarts during the school year, Camp Half-Blood in the summer, and takes lightsaber classes on the side. Are you jealous yet?
However, I do know that capitalists exploit others for personal gain; by this example, America and most of Western Europe is 'Evil'.


It gets worse. By the OP's logic, this would make Al-Qaeda 'Brutal Lawful Good'...



I hate to brake it to you but Al-Qaeda probably are Chaotic Good. In their own minds they are, most likely, doing what is in the best interest of humanity (good) though they are prepared to do whatever it takes to see it achieved (chaotic). Now don't misunderstand me, they are wrong, there is no question about that, but their motivations lie in a desire to do good. And that is what the Good vs Evil thing really comes down to, what are your motivations. Beyond that, and i hate to quote anything writen by George Lucas, you'll find most of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. To us Al-Qaeda seem evil because the process that they undertake for the good of humanity involves changing/fighting/killing us and from their perspective, well, exactly the same is true.

Anyone who genuinely acts out of a desire to do good, is good. Now it is entirely possible, as in the case of Al-Qaeda or to be honest probably Hitler as well, that their intentions can be wholly and, in these two cases massively, misguided, but that they intended to do good makes them good. To be truly evil a person has to be motivated by a wish to bring pain or suffering to other people for no other reason then to see them hurt or suffer. That being the case true evil is extremely rare and is probably largely restricted to seriously damaged individuals like serial killers. If on the other hand you are essentially out for what you can get for yourself with no particular regard for others be it good or ill you would rate as unaligned/neutral or whatever you want to call it. This is of course far and away the largest group of people in society.

This of course is not to say that a good person, acting out of good intentions, can't perform evil acts. This is where we get the Holocaust or most other genocides in history, Al-Qaeda's global jihad or the thousands of civilian deaths following the invasion of Iraq. In the end though this doesn't change the reality of their "alignment" and for that reason it is a wholly useless concept. At least in the real world.
However, I do know that capitalists exploit others for personal gain; by this example, America and most of Western Europe is 'Evil'.


It gets worse. By the OP's logic, this would make Al-Qaeda 'Brutal Lawful Good'...


I hate to brake it to you but Al-Qaeda probably are Chaotic Good. In their own minds they are, most likely, doing what is in the best interest of humanity (good) though they are prepared to do whatever it takes to see it achieved (chaotic). Now don't misunderstand me, they are wrong, there is no question about that, but their motivations lie in a desire to do good. And that is what the Good vs Evil thing really comes down to, what are your motivations. Beyond that, and i hate to quote anything writen by George Lucas, you'll find most of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. To us Al-Qaeda seem evil because the process that they undertake for the good of humanity involves changing/fighting/killing us and from their perspective, well, exactly the same is true.

Anyone who genuinely acts out of a desire to do good, is good. Now it is entirely possible, as in the case of Al-Qaeda or to be honest probably Hitler as well, that their intentions can be wholly and, in these two cases massively, misguided, but that they intended to do good makes them good. To be truly evil a person has to be motivated by a wish to bring pain or suffering to other people for no other reason then to see them hurt or suffer. That being the case true evil is extremely rare and is probably largely restricted to seriously damaged individuals like serial killers. If on the other hand you are essentially out for what you can get for yourself with no particular regard for others be it good or ill you would rate as unaligned/neutral or whatever you want to call it. This is of course far and away the largest group of people in society.

This of course is not to say that a good person, acting out of good intentions, can't perform evil acts. This is where we get the Holocaust or most other genocides in history, Al-Qaeda's global jihad or the thousands of civilian deaths following the invasion of Iraq. In the end though this doesn't change the reality of their "alignment" and for that reason it is a wholly useless concept. At least in the real world.



Really? Al-Qaida is Lawful Evil. Why? Because they are fighting for an order where only their rules will apply, and they will use any means necessary to achieve that goal, including the murder of innocent people. A Lawful Evil character creates rules to suit their purpose and uses the people under them to achieve their ends, no matter how cruel or brutal. Even if it's for a "better world", they still believe the ends justify the means, which is evil because Osama has no desire to strap a bomb to HIS own body, does he? From a D&D perspective (we'll say Eberron as it has good examples), that's why King Kaius is LE. You might feel the same, but the post implies otherwise. All I can say is:

How quickly we forget 9/11 and how many INNOCENTS were lost that day. Killing innocents, especially in such a way as that, was an evil act, no matter what any say. But hey, they're fighting for a better world through bombing. Yeah, that's a perfect to serve the greater good: Destroy the greater good. Yeah, that makes sense.

The U.S., I believe, is grossly Lawful Neutral, with good and evil tendencies. The nation is governed by the rule of law and (we'd like to think) doesn't play favorites (though it does sometimes), but just as many within the law try to remain impartial. We're also one of the most charitable countries in the world, which is sometimes out of self-interest and sometimes out of genuine concern. I haven't seen this charity from terrorists. If anyone has, I'm all ears.

Doing what you FEEL is right for humanity is, in the end, only an intention, and intention doesn't amount to diddly squat. Alignment deals with what you do, not what you intend to you. Are there evil people within good (or unaligned) organizations? Definitely, but when an entire network believes in a new order and will resort to killing indiscriminantly, it's evil, no question. If the other has people of multiple alignments, but tries to fight only those who would kill indiscriminantly, it's not evil. Not good, mind you, but not evil.

Also, should I remind everyone that as you guys make money and take advantage of business profits, you are all practicing capitalists and therefore, as you say, of Evil alignment. Just thought I'd point it out. I won't claim self-righteousness and say I'm Good, but I'm not Evil, either. I think I'm Lawful Neutral. I have a job (physical therapist), and I carry it out to the best of my ability.

And, of course, this all comes back to why I love Eberron.
And this is why any absolute form of alignment is ludicrous.  Because good and evil, lawful and chaotic, brutal and passive (if you want to go there) are SUBJECTIVE concepts.  What one person believes about his alignment could directly contradict what his opponent believes about his alignment.  Who is to say who is correct?  The PCs go and slaughter a bunch of goblins/drow/bugbears/animals... don't those 'evil' creatures have a society?  Families to support?  Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children?  To those creatures, the PCs, falling on them like the wrath of the gods, killing them and stealing their stuff, seem pretty (Brutal) Chaotic Evil, I'm sure.

This is why I play Unaligned and let the characters work things out for themselves.

Hitler believed he was Lawful Good.  So does Gadaffi.  So did Hussein.  So does/did (because who knows, really?) Bin Laden.  So does Obama.  So did Blair, whilst he was in power.  So does the UN.  Very few people would act in the sure knowledge that what they were doing was evil.

And now that I've Godwinned the discussion, can someone lock it please?
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
And this is why any absolute form of alignment is ludicrous.  Because good and evil, lawful and chaotic, brutal and passive (if you want to go there) are SUBJECTIVE concepts.  What one person believes about his alignment could directly contradict what his opponent believes about his alignment.  Who is to say who is correct?  The PCs go and slaughter a bunch of goblins/drow/bugbears/animals... don't those 'evil' creatures have a society?  Families to support?  Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children?  To those creatures, the PCs, falling on them like the wrath of the gods, killing them and stealing their stuff, seem pretty (Brutal) Chaotic Evil, I'm sure.

This is why I play Unaligned and let the characters work things out for themselves.

Hitler believed he was Lawful Good.  So does Gadaffi.  So did Hussein.  So does/did (because who knows, really?) Bin Laden.  So does Obama.  So did Blair, whilst he was in power.  So does the UN.  Very few people would act in the sure knowledge that what they were doing was evil.

And now that I've Godwinned the discussion, can someone lock it please?


The whole subjective thing was what I've been pushing for some time, as well. If nothing else, the argument shows that alignment is too muddy a term to be properly applied to D&D (which is partly why I have nothing to do with 3.5). In the end, I think alignment stems from will, not intent.

And yes, I do believe you won. I don't care about the future of this thread. Smile
Eberron seems a perfect fit for you since alignment is really muddied. After all, the whole "the ends justify the means" is definitely evil since most of the folks who follow that philosophy will sacrifice others to achieve those ends, but never themselves. One way of looking at it.


Means: Breaking down your neighbor's door with an axe.
End 1: To steal a plasma tv.
End 2: To see if you can.
End 3: To rescue a baby from a burning building.

Ends justify means every day. The only question is does that end justify those means. It is something that the alignment system in D&D has serious trouble arbitrating, causing all sorts of grief when DMs and players disagree, which is why you're best off not taking alignment too seriously or ignore it all together.
Wow, I can't believe I'm still enthralled by this thread, but my mind just handed me a billy club and I think I spotted a part of the horse's corpse that isn't completely mangled.

The big problem with alignment is the debate of whether or not there is a universal definition of good and evil, something that can be applied to all situations at all times.  I remember seeing something in the design philosophy of this edition that said that the points of light setting does have a universal good and evil scale that extends beyond the gods.  The definitions that followed were the descriptions for the five alignments.

Judging on the number of threads about alignment, I think those descriptions might have fallen a little short of universal.  The problem is that D&D is a situational game.  Your characters are put into impossible situations and have to find some way to work through them.  Despite how well you think you might have defined good and evil in your own mind, a good DM, given enough time, will find some situation that will either twist your definitions or cause you to question them.  An amazingly great DM will also find a way for you to leave the session with new insight and respect for what it takes to be a "good" hero.

Most of the discussions on being good revolve around the what and the why.  Our ends and means are really whys and whats respectively.  The interesting thing about this thread is that the third axis for the alignment system could be described as how.  Unfortunately, how and what can be intertwined and confused.

Let's take CrowScape's example, breaking into a neighbor's house (for convenience, I'm going to change the point of entry from a door to a window).  I'll even get more specific and say that we're only looking at end three: the house is on fire and we're trying to rescue a baby.  The only means of entry is a window; breaking into our neighbor's house through a window becomes a means to a noble end.  Now we can look at how we're going to break in: throwing a brick through the window, or wrapping a shirt around our hand and carefully knocking out the glass.  The brick would be fun and expedient (the brutal side of the third axis).  The shirt idea might take more time, but it eliminates the possibility of collateral damage or injury (the peaceful end of the axis).

Some might see this as a factor of wisdom in place of alignment, but two considerations could be made as to why the methodology affects the alignment.  The first consideration is collatoral damage.  In the ends and means arguement, this could be considered unexpected ends.  What if the brick that was thrown through the window ends up striking the baby we're trying to rescue?  In this case, our means destroyed the ends we were trying to reach and although the expected ends might have justified our means, the actual ends made our means evil.  How would you explain that you killed a baby because you were trying to save it?

The parents' response, "You were trying to save my baby by throwing a brick at it!!?  What were you thinking?" brings us to the second point of consideration.  an alterior motive should be considered as a secondary ends.  The parents might even think that, "I thought it would be fun", or "I've always wanted to do that", were our ends and that the fire was just a rationalization.

Going back to the OP; can a "good" person maliciously track down and brutally murder "evil" people?  I'm sure some people could find some example of where this would seem appropriate, but what are the colateral damages and are there any alterior motives?  It would be nice to claim that we can separate all actions into ends and means and then say that good and evil can be shown on only the ends axis.  Unfortunately, I don't believe that ends and means are orthogonal.  Adding a how axis doesn't help much either because it is probably just the cross product of ends and means.

(Sorry about the math terms.  I suppose if what-why/mens-ends/lawfullness-righteousness were orthogonal, then their cross product, how/brutality, would also be orthogonal in a new direction and would work great as a third axis.  Since I'm begininning to doubt the whole orthogonal conjecture to begin with, I'm about ready to throw the whole system out.)
Eberron seems a perfect fit for you since alignment is really muddied. After all, the whole "the ends justify the means" is definitely evil since most of the folks who follow that philosophy will sacrifice others to achieve those ends, but never themselves. One way of looking at it.


Means: Breaking down your neighbor's door with an axe.
End 1: To steal a plasma tv.
End 2: To see if you can.
End 3: To rescue a baby from a burning building.

Ends justify means every day. The only question is does that end justify those means. It is something that the alignment system in D&D has serious trouble arbitrating, causing all sorts of grief when DMs and players disagree, which is why you're best off not taking alignment too seriously or ignore it all together.



You completely blew off the meaning of the phrase to support your own conclusion. However, much I agree with you (and I do), the meaning of "ends justify the means" (aka consequentialism) is that any conclusion that has good consequences is fine, no matter what you have to resort to to get to that conclusion.

No one's going to dispute someone breaking down a door to rescue a kid from a building. That goes without saying. Where the phrase applies is in situations where questionable methods have good consequences. Take, for example, the Tuskegee study. Some syphillis patients were withheld medication as an experiment into seeing the course of the disease. They learned more of the disease, which is good, but they killed patients the researchers could have saved, which is evil. That is where "the ends justify the means" applies.

Another example is Vic Mackey from The Shield. He was thoroughly corrupt and was willing to throw anyone under the bus to get the job done, stole from drug dealers and gave to himself, not to mention other brutal methods. However, he had a kid who suffered from autism (it was a neurological disease, if I remember right, but might not be autism), which he used the money for, so he had noble intentions at times. But once again, the ends justify the means.

This, of course, makes decisions on alignment very difficult because there are always situations where there are good consequences, but the methods are definitely questionable. In D&D, I don't think anyone would think badly of heroes defending themselves from a monster attack, but one thing I've noticed is that, with few exceptions, certain humanoid races on the fringes (orcs and goblins, for one) are always considered savage and evil. Well, many don't think about what made them that way. Were they driven off by human expansionists centuries ago? Were other races trumping on their turf and, in turn, thrown out of their homes. That's a major criticism I have of Forgotten Realms in that they say these races are only deserving of extermination. If your race was thrown out of their home region and left to live in caves, I would certainly want revenge. Where the complexity comes in is how this revenge is taken, but that's something that has to be gauged case-by-case because no two people are alike.
I personally just don't see the need to add this additional axis. It seems when I see these sort of arguements pop up, it has to do more with a player trying to get away with doing a lot of messed up violent things but wanting to keep "good" on his character sheet.
In D&D, I don't think anyone would think badly of heroes defending themselves from a monster attack, but one thing I've noticed is that, with few exceptions, certain humanoid races on the fringes (orcs and goblins, for one) are always considered savage and evil. Well, many don't think about what made them that way.


When it comes to dealing with savagely evil monsters, I view them as one might view diseases. The measles or the black plague simply are they way they are. I don't wonder what made them that way or feel bad when they're eradicated from a community.

D&D is ultimately a combat based adventure game, so having an enemy to kill without hesitation and little remorse is needed. Does the alignment system reflect the muddled realities of life? Not at all. But it works for D&D.
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