A view on alignments

I've seen some threads regarding dissatisfaction with the definitions of alignments.  (And more than a little sentiment over the years that they're absolutely useless roleplaying tools.)  I've also never quite agreed with how the standard alignments are usually described.  I thought it might be worth it to present my view on what the alignments mean and the typical errors in interpreting them; let's see how many other people view them the way I do.

One of the most common misconceptions about alignment, in my view, is that Lawful Good means "accepts the law of the land," whatever that law may be.  I've even seen it commonly suggested that a Lawful Good character faced with an unjust government would be conflicted between standing up for what's right and preserving the existing order. I don't think that describes Lawful Good at all.  (But even the current iteration of the playtest rules to seems to reinforce it with "as expected by society.")  Conversely, Chaotic Good doesn't mean simply "rebels against the existing establishment."  I find it odd that Robin Hood is always used as a Chaotic Good example.  The most common version of Robin Hood is rebelling against a usurper in an effort to restore the true king!  That's Lawful Good.

So here are what I think are accurate and succinct descriptions of the alignments.  Framed right, I think alignments really can provide a valuable roleplaying guide.  I'd like to see them fleshed out more in the rules, and playing a larger role in character customization.


Lawful Good: Interested not only in morality, but in justice and order. Order has a value, and the best way to accomplish good is through a just society and laws. They strive to bring about a lasting good society or community, not just to uphold the current order.


Neutral Good: Primarily concerned with morality. Sees the value of order, but will always place meeting others' needs above concerns like just punishment for wrongdoing.


Chaotic Good: Actually feels chafed by rigid rules and societal expectations. Seeks to help others mainly by freeing them to make their own decisions and determine their own values.


Lawful Neutral: Justice and order are the primary concern. No particular compulsion to sacrifice of themselves for common welfare; would have compassion mainly for people close to them.


Neutral: Most people. Stays more or less within the confines of society's expectations, though not based on principle. Looks out for their own, but not really interested in helping others or seeking moral betterment.


Chaotic Neutral: Again, chafes under authority, rules and restrictions. Primarily concerned with their own freedom to do as they please, not with anyone else's.


Lawful Evil: Interested in seeking their own ends and increasing their own power, and most comfortable doing so in an orderly system. Desire to bring others under their control and to their way of thinking, and will sacrifice others' welfare toward the purpose.


Neutral Evil: Totally out for themselves, and will twist laws, government structures, or lack thereof to their best advantage. The most unscrupulous kind of person.


Chaotic Evil: A bully. Concerned with their own gratification - usually their immediate whims. Don't like people telling them what to do, and will enjoy causing harm to anyone who angers them or gets in their way.

I find it odd that Robin Hood is always used as a Chaotic Good example.  The most common version of Robin Hood is rebelling against a usurper in an effort to restore the true king!  That's Lawful Good.



Hahaha, good point! In fact, I'll go one further: some of the older Robin Hood tales actually have him murdering people, torturing monks and stealing from churches - acts that could be argued as being evil. I also read a story that portrayed an interesting version of him - his group of "Merry Men" being basically a 12th century equivalent of the Mafia.

I see "lawful" as not just supporting a legitimate authority, but also about behaving with honour and integrity, keeping one's word, and observing basic rules of society, while "chaotic" is more concerned with doing what it takes to achieve whatever end, even if it's a bit dishonest. A chaotic good person might lie, make promises he has no intention of keeping, or hit below the belt, but ultimately his aims will be to do good, whilst a chaotic evil person will do those things just to fulfil his own desires. A chaotic good person will stab his enemy in the back, because he feels that's the best way to end the threat to the village, while a lawful good person will insist that he has to be brought to trial.

I also feel quite strongly that a chaotic person, whether good or evil, should not be trusted, because he has a reputation for breaking his word - hey, you want to be a cool mysterious rebel, you've got to give up something!
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
I could admit the chaos-law axis can be interpreted by different ways. For example the classic movie: "A man for all seasons". Do you think the main character is lawful or chaotic? 
(it is only a History example. It isn´t my intention arguing about religion)


* Can be good a fishermen village who kill dolphing because they compete the fishing? what if sea elves attack fishermen to proctet dolphins? (for me only neutral)






 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

* Can be good a fishermen village who kill dolphing because they compete the fishing? what if sea elves attack fishermen to proctet dolphins? (for me only neutral)



 


I would ask why killing a dolphin would make them not good. It's an animal. It would be no different than if they killed a deer, a buffalo, a wolf, or a shark. The only thing that matters is intent. Are they eating it? Are they killing it to defend themselves or keep it from eating their fish? Or do they simply take joy in tormenting an animal with no other purpose?
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Killing a animal if it isn´t necesary (defense, food or hunting to get skin) is bad. Maltreating animals, cruelty to beasts, is evil. 

Hurting a intelligent animal isn´t good (but a reason like legitime defend).

If those fishermen really need that fish, aren´t bad, nor aren´t good, only neutral.

What if a dragon wishs exterminate the fishermen village because it wishs that fish too?





"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

This is why I actually liked the 4th edition alignment system. It basically boiled it down to Good, Evil, Very Good, Very Evil, or Undecided. Really easy choices. 
My two copper.
Killing a animal if it isn´t necesary (defense, food or hunting to get skin) is bad. Maltreating animals, cruelty to beasts, is evil. 

Hurting a intelligent animal isn´t good (but a reason like legitime defend).

If those fishermen really need that fish, aren´t bad, nor aren´t good, only neutral.

What if a dragon wishs exterminate the fishermen village because it wishs that fish too?


You didn't say anything about being cruel or maltreatment. You said villagers that kill a dolphin wouldn't be good. There is no reason for that to be the case. There is nothing inherently evil about killing a dolphin. It's an animal. If they are doing it because they need food, no issues. It's no different than killing a wolf that's been attacking your flock. Nothing evil about it.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Some creatures or characters can be hostile but no necessarily evil, but example the tribal men who protect/defend their territory to hunt.

But the good person should try avoid killing no-hostile most inteligent beasts.

Can a good character kill a unicorn if it isn´t necearyat all?

Let´s imagine a group of dwarfs miners who kill a oread (mountain fay) because she didn´t allow them mine their mountaing. Can good characters do it? or kill a treant.   

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

Some creatures or characters can be hostile but no necessarily evil, but example the tribal men who protect/defend their territory to hunt.

But the good person should try avoid killing no-hostile most inteligent beasts.

Can a good character kill a unicorn if it isn´t necearyat all?

Let´s imagine a group of dwarfs miners who kill a oread (mountain fay) because she didn´t allow them mine their mountaing. Can good characters do it? or kill a treant.   




there is nothing good or evil about killing a creature for your livelyhood, no matter how intelligent.

animals kill all the time, they have no alignments, why should sentiant beings be held to a different set of standards? that's just arrogant.
I fear this thread has gone way off the rails . . .
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