Being Good

I am having trouble with the different Good alignments.  Note: If you dislike alignment, just leave this thread alone.  I know that some people don't like it and won't use it, but that is not the purpose of this thread.

Essentially, my question is: what effect does the Law-Chaos side have on Good?

How does being Chaotic influence your actions when you are Good?  The Character Creation pdf says, "Chaotic Good creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect."  So what would a society of CG creatures be like?  (It says many elves are CG, for example).  I'm especially curious about the effect of "with little regard for what others expect." 

Neutral Good "is about doing the best one can to help others according to their needs."  That makes sense.  You obviously can't help everyone, so your prioritize.  NG fits with my expectations and understandings of what it means to be a good person.

Lawful Good "creatures can be counted on to do the right thing, as expected by society".  This is where is gets very confusing for me.  It makes it sound like the effect of being Lawful makes you sometimes less interested in doing what is good, because you are held back by what society expects.  Is that how you view it?

In other words, imagine three people: LG, NG, and CG.  They are all very, very rich.  The expectation of the society is that those who can afford to should give 10% of their earnings to a charity each year.  At the end of the year, the LG person gives 10% of their earnings.  The NG researches the different charities and finds out which ones need money the most; they then give 10% to that charity.  The CG person gives away almost all of their money, because they really don't need that much anyway, and who cares what society thinks.

In other words, LG characters will often have their hands tied, so to speak.  They must often choose between upholding the law and following societal norms and doing what is right.  To me, this presents a pretty cool opportunity for roleplaying.  But what is the difference between NG and CG?  I arbitrarily decided that the NG character would follow the societal norms in my example above, but there is no reason for them to do so.  Perhaps a NG character would follow the law/societal expectations what it fits with doing the right thing.  But then what is a CG character?  They can't possibly be someone who always breaks the law and does the opposite of what society expects, because that sounds more like CE.  But if they follow the law/societal expectations only what doing so also fits with how their conscience directs them (in other words, fits with what is good and right), how is that any different from CG?

Summary: what is the effect of being Lawful on Good?  How does Chaotic Good differ from Neutral Good?
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To me lawful and chaotic dictate your allegiance to an organization.  I don't think being lawful makes you loyal to all governments.  You are just a believer in your group and it's goals.   If you are good, you believe your group is promoting the good.   Chaotic though are individualists who eschew group allegiances.   They believe people are best served by being independent.

It is an interesting dynamic when the group a lawful good member is part of begins to go bad.  Thats a fun tension because his loyalty to the group is tested against his good character.   It makes for an interesting campaign twist.  If the devotion to the group blinds a character then he will begin to go LN instead of LG.  

I believe though that any LG character will find another organization to support if he loses the first one.  In time at least.   So being LG means your makeup is about what society can do good as a group.   Whereas chaos is more personal code.

In any case, a good person will help others and promote general well being.  An evil person will serve interests that are in opposition to overall well being.  LE evil for example might be a very devouted Nazi.  Whereas CE is more about personal self interest.


One thing for sure.  If you want a rational game.  Stay away from Lawful = organized and Chaos = disorganized.   It makes for a lot of silliness if you go that route.

 

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To me Law-Chaos is a character's dedication, devotion, and loyalty to causes, beliefs, and laws they didn't create.

Lawful Good character will accept other's rules and will only break them unless they break their moral code.

Neutral Good characters will follow other's rules as long as the inconvience is low.

CG characters dislike any laws they they have no hand in creating unless it matches their views. They do what they want as want as long as they follow their own moral code and they can withstand the penalties.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Lawful good - 
"I wish i could help, but the law is the law".

Nutral good -
"I might help, i don't like breaking the law".

Chaotic good -
"I will help, who cares about the law".

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F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

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Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

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Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

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Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

You can also evaluate the LG-CG axis in a means vs ends paradigm.

For the LG (like, say, a by-the-books, moral FBI agent) the means by which you arrive at an end are just as important as the end itself. It may even be preferable to "fail the right way" vs succeeding by cheating. This LG always reads your rights, only examines concrete evidence and treats a suspect as innocent until proven guilty. Such a character may even risk their own life to protect a villain whom they've arrested or is otherwise under their care. This type of character would also have a strict sense of justice, probably untempered by mercy.

The NG (say, a police precinct captain of a corrupt city or a charity worker in gangland) will likely focus on immediate good vs systemic good. This is the type who will give food and aid (even treat the injuries) to villains or undesirables regardless of the usual relationship dynamic. Tougher/Harder NGs might eliminate a gang leader or side with a less violent faction against an out-of-control warlord. This NG's goal is to do the most good, right now, with the available resources. They do not let a desire for perfection to get in the way of a good goal. Where the LG might push for universal healthcare to address the problem of uninsured/underprivileged, the NG would open a medical clinic in a needy area.

The CG character is not constrained by social order, law, or expectation. (I see it as Qui-Gon Jinn, who follows the will of the force regardless of what the Jedi Council says). Such a character is willing to cheat at gambling to free a slave, hoodwink a ruthless merchant, or tell royalty to mind their own darn business. A harder NG might even resort to vigilantism or street justice in certain circumstances. For this NG, there is an objective good, and it doesn't matter how its achieved. You might hear this character say (regarding a band of marauders he's just killed), "Of course they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell!"

TL;DR - LG = systemic good. NG = immediate good. CG = Most good at whatever cost.

Ps- I hate alignment.
I don't think it's helpful to characterize Lawful Good as epitomizing a conflict of Law and Good any more than Chaotic Good is a conflict between Chaos and Good. That is, "I wish I could help, but the law is the law" is not a particularly LG sentiment, but rather more a LN(G) or LG(N) sentiment (i.e., it's already prioritizing Law over Good).

Lawful Good is committed to the view that there just is an order to the universe, and doing what is right is convertible with living in accord with that order of things. Any given society may or may not reflect that order, of course, so LGs can be in conflict with evil societies or evil practices in otherwise good or neutral societies. Still, their conflict would not be between Law and Good, but between what is, on their view, a false understanding of Law. A law which required someone to refrain from a necessary good would not be obeyed, nor would one which compelled the doing of something evil.

Even so, society is a social good considered in itself, and this means respecting its ordinary functioning. So, an LG person would do what she could do obey laws and customs, even perhaps finding creative ways to obey the law and still do the good when these seem to be in tension if not in absolute conflict. For a good example of LG behavior in the face of conflict, consider Aragorn's treatment of Beregond. Beregond, in trying to save Faramir, left his post (don't forget, this is no small thing when a city is under attack) and killed two guards who were only doing their duty. Rather than impose the death penalty, which lawfully Aragorn might have done, he chooses to banish him. However, his banishment is in fact the fulfillment of his true desire, since he is "banished" to Ithilien to serve Faramir and promoted to Captain of the White Company.

Think of a Chaotic Good person as someone who is convinced that rule-following for the sake of the rule is precisely contrary to the flourishing of persons. That is, to promote Good means, at the same time, to promote individual freedom and expression. Rules, traditions, standards, and all the rest are seen to get in the way of the true Goodness which is expressed most fully in Chaos. They are not opposed to society as such, and do not (generally) do radical things all the time (e.g. walking around naked for no reason, telling jokes when others receive terrible news, etc.), but are the kind of people who just do what they think is best, and consider that we would all be happier if we just minded our own business. So, a CG person could just as easily be a revolutionary or someone trying to stir people up to be free as it could be a live-and-let-live sort.

A Neutral Good person is as fully committed to the Good as the others, but does not see Law or Chaos as intrinsically bound up in what it means to be good. Social norms often serve the Good, or at least do not impede it, so the NG person is not, like the CG, going to tweak the nose of society to help people "loosen up". On the other hand, on the NG's view, we can sometimes do more good by ignoring norms and traditions, and in these cases, the NG will look more the the CG than LG.

In the case of the rich people above, there is no reason to think that every one of them might not have given all of his excess wealth away. Unless the LG person had a social role which required holding on to the money (e.g. he was the lord and needed to pay the soldiers who guard the people, the staff of the castle, etc.), he would be just as free to perform an exuberant act of generosity as the NG or the CG.
Wow, you pick the interesting topics, don't you?

This is my view, codified by many conversations between a CG elven mage and a LG human paladin. Thanks to SteeleViper for the input!

***

At its root, Good works for the betterment of all (or at least of most), and sees himself as a tool to work toward that betterment. Evil works for the betterment of self and sees others as tools to use on his path to betterment.

Lawful means following the laws and customs that have been agreed on by the society in which the person lives. However, LG doesn't just slavishly follow laws. If a law is a bad law, he will work to change it (for the betterment of the society). He will tithe only to good charities, probably dividing it up equally amongst all of them. He is very much part of society as a whole, and thinks of people first before himself. He's not truly "selfless" (though some undoubtedly are), because he knows if he neglects himself he cannot be as effective. But he will often put others before himself to his own detriment.

Chaotic means the only restrictive force is his own views and conscience. He doesn't worry about laws, but he won't break them just for the sake of breaking them; however, neither will he worry about trying to change it if it's a bad law. He'll just ignore it. His tithe will go to charities that he personally thinks are worthwhile, or he may even tithe to specific people rather than a formal charity. He's very much an individual, and thinks of persons (as individuals) rather than people. He takes care of himself just as much as he takes care of others.

Neutral does good where he sees the need. He often works on a more personal level than the LG, but looks out for society more than his own views. He's a "team player" within the society, but his team is usually smaller than the LG's. He, too, thinks of persons, but can also see people. His tithe will probably go to one or two charities that he thinks will benefit those who need it more than others. He takes care of others while caring for himself, but will sometimes put others first.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

Alignment's muddy business, so here's my take on the Law-Chaos axis:

Lawful Good characters see a mugging and stop it. They do so adhering to the laws of the settlement (issuing a warning, claiming citizen's arrest, and attempting nonlethal attacks so the culprits can be punished). They may not do any of these things if they are not aware of the laws, but they may also attempt to adhere to laws that disagree with the settlement they're in, if they believe there is a more meaningful authority to follow in this context. This could result in actions that appear chaotic.

Neutral Good characters see a mugging and stop it. They do so in the best way possible at the time in order to prevent the mugging from getting worse. This may or may not involve killing the culprits, and it may or may not involve attempting arrest; it's irrelevant to this character whether the actions taken are lawful or chaotic.

Chaotic Good characters see a mugging and stop it. They do so with complete abandon for the laws of the settlement. They may still proclaim warnings, citizen's arrest, and attempt to take the culprits alive -- however, they will only do so because they want to or need to, and likely not to let the law do its job.

What this means is that a Lawful Good character, a Neutral Good character, and a Chaotic Good character can all behave the exact same way at a given time, because they are all Good.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
The Wikipedia page on D&D alignments explains is quite well:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_%28Dunge...

Lawful Good "creatures can be counted on to do the right thing, as expected by society".  This is where is gets very confusing for me.  It makes it sound like the effect of being Lawful makes you sometimes less interested in doing what is good, because you are held back by what society expects.  Is that how you view it?




You got it right, in my opinion!

People tend to see sometimes Lawful Good as the "good-est" of the goods, but that's not true. Lawful-Chaotic has nothing to do with being good. If anything, Chaotic Goods are free from the restrains of law and society to do what they think is good on their own way.

A character who is Lawful and Good will often have conflicting feelings about many situations (and this is very cool to roleplay if you're into that kind of stuff!).

A man is charged guilty of a crime and is to be executed. He begs for mercy and you feel he is sincerely repentant, or maybe you feel the punishment is too harsh, or maybe you feel the punishment is unnecessarily severe because it has political reasons behind it. What do you do? Uphold the law, or try to save the man's life somehow?

There is no "right" answer to that based on the LG alignment. This internal conflict is the answer. This is very interesting and gives depth to the character. Many "good" characters in stories (books, movies, etc) have had similar conflicts.
The Wikipedia page on D&D alignments explains is quite well:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_%28Dunge...

Quite well ? I don't think so, as each alignment come with concepts like compassion, honor, conscience, altruistically or greater good. All these term can't be used to define anything. Simple necessity or social pressure can motivate honor or acting altruistically. And someone's conscience can lead to kill a lot of people.

Another example, "A Chaotic Good character favors change for a greater good". I'm pretty sure a Lawful neutral character have his own idea of greater good.


There's no clear way to align characters. Just put the tag that makes the most sense in the context, including the conceptions from the DM and the player about what is good, and what is right (and good luck with this last part, usually, DM wins).

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Definition - Common Good: The sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.

Lawful/Good: Seeks to promote the common good by cooperating with proper authority and just laws. This is key, the authority must be properly established (so a hostile take over does not get the L/G PCs help) and the laws must be just (so laws that are unjust are not defacto respected by the L/G PC). The L/G person may decide, out of prudence for the common good, to endure for the time being certain laws they do not agree are just, if they see that opposing them openly at the time would cause more harm than good. They will however seek to bring about change to these unjust laws in those ways that work within the system where possible, and will still be willing to personally resist these types of unjust laws either openly or secretly or both even at great personal cost, but will only do so in a way that as stated, does not cause more harm than good.

Outright evil laws that demand intrinsically evil actions will not be tolerated and will be actively resisted. Outright evil authority or seriously evil abuse of even proper authority will be resisted, and if the L/G person sees that the situation cannot be rectified, they will promote revolution against that authority if they deem the good outweighs the harm of such an action. If they see that such a revolution would bring about more harm and misery on the people than allowing the regime to remain and just trying to find other ways to end it and blunt it actions, they will choose that option.

Compare/Contrast:

Basically, while all Good persons will seek the common good, the Law/Chaos aspect I think delineates how each person sees the best way to achieve the greatest common good. 

Lawful persons will see that the common good is best served by a strong and just social order. While the common good of each local order (the family and then the village) is important, it can truly only be served and reach is fullness if it is integrated within the larger orders of the society (the county/city, then the kingdom/empire, then the world, then the universe/multiverse). The larger orders must respect the local ones and operate under the principle of subsidiarity:

Subsidiarity: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good

The lawful person might see this as the best way to achieve the fullest common good for the most people. Thus they will cooperate with authentic authority and their laws that seek to achieve this, even if sometimes those in authority or the laws they pass are not perfect. In these cases, the lawful person will seek to improve the laws and rulers in proper ways, being willing to put up with certain less than just rulers or laws that are the result of society growing and finding its way into a higher moral order. If these unjust laws or rulers are severe enough, the lawful person will act against them in a way that preserves the common good and does less harm than good.

By presenting the lawful side, I leave it open to others to compare that to the chaotic side, which is sort of like light and dark, in that, once you define what light means, darkness is really just the absence of light. So perhaps by defining what Lawful means, Chaotic and Neutral can just become the various degrees by which one departs from the Lawful version. 

Larry
I think a good way to think about it is the three opposing forces in Les Miserables.
LG=Inspector Javert
NG=Jaen Valjaen
CG=Friends of the ABC

In my view, a lawful good character often won't see any difference between law and good. It's not a moral conflict, they simply uphold the law because they believe that is the right thing to do. Sometimes LG characters might have that assumption challenged, and at that point I believe most would chose good over law (though not all) but I believe the archetype is characterized by not separating the concepts in the first place.

Neutral Good strive to do what they believe is right, and don't even think or care about how the law relates to it. They just do good with little to no regard for the law either way. They are characterized by this lack of caring about law at all.

Chaotic Good believes the opposite of Lawful Good, that law is the enemy of good. They oppose the law because they believe that is the right thing to do. They don't necessarily go out of their way to break laws, but they want to change what they perceive to be a corrupt lawful society. Sometimes through full scale revolution, other times through smaller acts. But they are characterized by their belief that all law always gets in the way of good.


How does being Chaotic influence your actions when you are Good?  The Character Creation pdf says, "Chaotic Good creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect."  So what would a society of CG creatures be like?  (It says many elves are CG, for example).  I'm especially curious about the effect of "with little regard for what others expect." 



The 2e DMG has some really good answers to your questions.   

It had information on society alignment, area alignment, varrying social alignment, and the alignment of religions.  

For example, here is how it defined how a LG and a CG society acts.



Lawful good: the people are generally honest, law-abiding, and helpful. They mean well (at least most of them do). They respect the law. As a rule, people don't walk around wearing armor and carrying weapons. Those who do are viewed with suspicion or as trouble-makers. Some societies tend to dislike adventurers, since they often bring trouble.

Chaotic Good: The people mean well and try to do right, but are hampered by a natural dislike of big government. Although there may be a single ruler, most communities are allowed to manage themselves, so long as their taxes are paid and they obey a few broad edicts. Such areas tend to have weak law enforcement organizations. A local sheriff, baron, or council may hire adventurers to fill the gap. Communities often take the law into their own hands when it seems necessary. Lands on the fringes of vast empires far from the capital tend to have this type of alignment.





Quick clarification about Neutral Good: when i say they don't care about law, I mean specifically in relation to what is right and wrong. They don't see law as inherently either. They are fine with the law and see no need to change or get rid of it. But they also have no qualms about breaking the law if it hinders their ability to do good. (As opposed to CG, who oppose the law because they believe it is inherently wrong and LG who uphold the law because they believe it is inherently right.)
First of all, thanks to everyone who posted!  I wish I had the time to respond to everything, but it will have to suffice to simply say that you have given me a lot of insight.

But ultimately, it seems like the issue is not clear cut at all, and I like that.  To me, alignment SHOULD be muddy.  It isn't a set of black and white rules, it is a million shades of gray.  I really liked what Caeric said about all three types of Good acting the same at times.  To know the difference you would have to know the internal motivations of all three.

However, regarding the issue of "Which Good is the MOST Good?", I think there are situational answers.

For example, in a very Lawful society (say, your standard Dwarven hold), LG would certainly be the most Good.  NG is still pretty good, but some might even find LN to be more Good.  And I think many would say that LN was more Good than CG.  You might even find those who would side with LE over CG (like how the police are always giving Batman a hard time, but rarely ever go after Lex Luthor...yeah, I know we don't know their alignments, but you know what I mean). 

In other words, you can't separate your Law/Chaos side from your Good/Evil side.  The two are completely intertwined and interrelated.  For a LG person, being Lawful is a part of being Good, and being Good is part of being Lawful.  For a CG person, being Chaotic is a part of being Good, and being Good is a part of being Chaotic.

And both would have conflicts.  While I think we tend to focus on the Lawful/Good conflicts, Chaotic and Good would create conflicts as well.  For example, a situation in which it was clear that the way to do the most good was by helping organizations and groups over individuals.  Do you give in to your Chaotic side even though it means helping less people?  Or do you give in to your Good side even though it means siding with organizations that you innately distrust?

So the argument could be made that NG is the most Good, objectively.  They aren't hindered by any influences of Law or Chaos, and so they are free to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances.  Given the above situation, they would pick to help the most people in a heartbeat.  If it was reversed (help more people or help less by doing it through a good organization) they would similarly have no conflict.

In other words, you can't separate your Law/Chaos side from your Good/Evil side.  The two are completely intertwined and interrelated.  For a LG person, being Lawful is a part of being Good, and being Good is part of being Lawful.  For a CG person, being Chaotic is a part of being Good, and being Good is a part of being Chaotic.

And both would have conflicts.  While I think we tend to focus on the Lawful/Good conflicts, Chaotic and Good would create conflicts as well.  For example, a situation in which it was clear that the way to do the most good was by helping organizations and groups over individuals.  Do you give in to your Chaotic side even though it means helping less people?  Or do you give in to your Good side even though it means siding with organizations that you innately distrust?

So the argument could be made that NG is the most Good, objectively.  They aren't hindered by any influences of Law or Chaos, and so they are free to do the right thing regardless of the circumstances.  Given the above situation, they would pick to help the most people in a heartbeat.  If it was reversed (help more people or help less by doing it through a good organization) they would similarly have no conflict.


That's pretty much what I was trying to get at with my Les Mis comparison.
Lawful Good: I will promote good within the law. 
Neutral Good: I will promote good anyway that I can.
Chaotic Good: I will promote good, regardless of what other think of me.

Lawful Neutral: I will follow the law within the best of my ability.
Neutral: I will care for myself within the best of my ability.
Chaotic Neutral: I will express my freedom within the best of my ability.

Lawful Evil: I will promote myself  by harming others within the law.
Neutral Evil: I will promote myself by harming others, anyway that I can.
Chatoic Evil: I will promote myself by harming others, regardless of what other think of me.


Know what I think is funny about these alignments?
A lawful neutral soldier could pillage a town, then help rebuild it the next day.
All because of their superior orders and the soldiers would not care as long they follow their order.
Basically, they are machines.  
I think a good way to think about it is the three opposing forces in Les Miserables. LG=Inspector Javert NG=Jaen Valjaen CG=Friends of the ABC In my view, a lawful good character often won't see any difference between law and good. It's not a moral conflict, they simply uphold the law because they believe that is the right thing to do. Sometimes LG characters might have that assumption challenged, and at that point I believe most would chose good over law (though not all) but I believe the archetype is characterized by not separating the concepts in the first place. Neutral Good strive to do what they believe is right, and don't even think or care about how the law relates to it. They just do good with little to no regard for the law either way. They are characterized by this lack of caring about law at all. Chaotic Good believes the opposite of Lawful Good, that law is the enemy of good. They oppose the law because they believe that is the right thing to do. They don't necessarily go out of their way to break laws, but they want to change what they perceive to be a corrupt lawful society. Sometimes through full scale revolution, other times through smaller acts. But they are characterized by their belief that all law always gets in the way of good.



I have a hard time seeing Javert as LG. Remember the scene between Fantine and the callous young man with the snow? Javert's actions in that area of the story were almost purely driven by his need to maintain the social order. When the low class woman assaulted the higher class man, Javert did not stop to think of why, nor did he consider her obviously frail health or pleading. I'd personally incline him as LN throughout much of the story, since his adherence to the law practically defines him.
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As an absolute I don't think any of them are the most good.   Characters act on their world view to do good.   Law or Chaos or in between shapes that world view.   Unless you are certain that any approach is always the best, you'd have to accept that sometimes each is best and sometimes not.

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I think a good way to think about it is the three opposing forces in Les Miserables. LG=Inspector Javert NG=Jaen Valjaen CG=Friends of the ABC In my view, a lawful good character often won't see any difference between law and good. It's not a moral conflict, they simply uphold the law because they believe that is the right thing to do. Sometimes LG characters might have that assumption challenged, and at that point I believe most would chose good over law (though not all) but I believe the archetype is characterized by not separating the concepts in the first place. Neutral Good strive to do what they believe is right, and don't even think or care about how the law relates to it. They just do good with little to no regard for the law either way. They are characterized by this lack of caring about law at all. Chaotic Good believes the opposite of Lawful Good, that law is the enemy of good. They oppose the law because they believe that is the right thing to do. They don't necessarily go out of their way to break laws, but they want to change what they perceive to be a corrupt lawful society. Sometimes through full scale revolution, other times through smaller acts. But they are characterized by their belief that all law always gets in the way of good.



I have a hard time seeing Javert as LG. Remember the scene between Fantine and the callous young man with the snow? Javert's actions in that area of the story were almost purely driven by his need to maintain the social order. When the low class woman assaulted the higher class man, Javert did not stop to think of why, nor did he consider her obviously frail health or pleading. I'd personally incline him as LN throughout much of the story, since his adherence to the law practically defines him.


Agreed, but his entire reasoning for being so devoted to the law is because he belives that it is God's will. His actions are almost entirely lawful with little to no regard for what we as an audience are informed is right and wrong. But his motivations are entirely morally based. He maintains the social order because in his mind that is what it means to be good.

I suppose it comes down to whether you see alignment as being defined entirely by a character's actions, or if you take their motivations into account as well. I am in the latter camp, because to me good and evil are somewhat subjective, and can therefore only be determined by a character's motivations, whereas law and chaos are objective and determined by the character's actions. Another way to put it, the Law/Chaos axis is the means. the Good/Evil axis is the ends.

I would argue that good was Javert's intended ends, even if he was somewhat misguided in that endeavor. Law was merely the means he used to bring what he believed to be good to the world. When Jean Valjean spared his life, he realized that his worldview was flawed and had a serious crisis of faith that ultimately lead to his suicide. This wouldn't have happened with a Lawful Neutral character - they're not concerned with good and evil, they take a backseat to law. Javert on the other hand, realized that it was indeed possible for a good man to be a lawbreaker, and couldn't handle living in a world where law isn't necessarily always good. At least, that was my interpretation. YMMV.

EDIT:
Props for the detailed rebuttal, by the way. I honestly wasn't expecting to get a response to the Les Mis part at all. I think using such complex characters to analyze the alignment system is highly valuable, because it illustrates how there can easily be many different interpretations of what alignment means, all of which are valid. I think it's a strength of the alignment system, but also the reason it's so contentious.
Caothic good aligment is the big pain in the neck. 

My opinion is we should forget caothic like almost anarchy. Anarchists can´t build strongholds or prisons to punish criminal without using death sentece. 

 G. K. Chesterton: “When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom, you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

My idea is all caothic characters can behave like lawful, but only about allegiance (fatherland, family, tribe, guild, religion, ideology). For example Sun Wukong, the king monkey, can be a example of caothic monk with allegiance "fatherland, friends and warrior´s code".  


"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 

However, regarding the issue of "Which Good is the MOST Good?", I think there are situational answers.

"Most" good seems like a weird thing to suggest -- alignment has never been a matter of magnitude. The nine alignments aren't discussing how lawful, chaotic, good, or evil you are -- just whether you are or aren't, and assuming that evil and good are mutually exclusive while lawful and chaotic are mutually exclusive.

But the closest to what you might mean is Neutral Good, because Neutral Good is not concerned for Law or Chaos -- as far as philosophy goes, the Neutral Good character is only interested in doing Good, not doing Law or Chaos, as you already say.

In other words, you can't separate your Law/Chaos side from your Good/Evil side.  The two are completely intertwined and interrelated.  For a LG person, being Lawful is a part of being Good, and being Good is part of being Lawful.  For a CG person, being Chaotic is a part of being Good, and being Good is a part of being Chaotic.

That's a very realistic posit, and I think I'm inclined to agree that that's how we view morality.

While D&D usually models good versus evil, it's interesting when Law versus Chaos is the plot structure -- Pirates of the Carribean and Marvel Civil War come to mind (although both try to characterize Law and Chaos as Good and Evil, even so).
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
I love Les Mis, though to be honest I skipped some parts of the book...Hugo does go on at times.

So in terms of Law and Chaos with regard to Good, here is how I see it now:

Lawful Good generally believes that the role of government and organizations is to actively help people.  Things like a well-trained and efficient police force, honest judges, and social welfare organizations.  Chaotic Good generally believes that the role of government is to stay out of people's way, so that people are free to do the right thing on their own.
Neutral Good generally believes that the role of government is to do what is best.  Sometimes that means actively helping people, other times it means staying out of the way.

This takes me back to one of my original questions: what would a CG society be like?  What sort of laws would they have?  What holds the society together?  How do they punish transgressions?
Is it even possible to have a Chaotic society (good or otherwise)?  For example, Gnolls are CE.  How would Gnoll Society be possible?  Why don't they simply fight one another until they are all dead?  And if the answer is, "They don't fight each other", then are they REALLY Chaotic Evil?  Or am I over-valuing the influence of Chaotic on behavior?

It seems to me that you can't really have a truly chaotic society.  Imagine a group of CG settlers founding a new town.  At first they say, "No laws, because laws just restrict freedoms!"  But then what happens when two of them get into a fight over land?  What happens when one of them decides he wants the house belonging to another guy, and doesn't want to pay (yeah, no longer Good, but alignment isn't a straightjacket)?  At some point, they will either set down some rules or the town will fall apart.  There is a reason some of the earliest examples of writing we have are Laws, and even "primative" cultures without written language have laws governing their society. 
I love Les Mis, though to be honest I skipped some parts of the book...Hugo does go on at times.

So in terms of Law and Chaos with regard to Good, here is how I see it now:

Lawful Good generally believes that the role of government and organizations is to actively help people.  Things like a well-trained and efficient police force, honest judges, and social welfare organizations.  Chaotic Good generally believes that the role of government is to stay out of people's way, so that people are free to do the right thing on their own.
Neutral Good generally believes that the role of government is to do what is best.  Sometimes that means actively helping people, other times it means staying out of the way.

This takes me back to one of my original questions: what would a CG society be like?  What sort of laws would they have?  What holds the society together?  How do they punish transgressions?
Is it even possible to have a Chaotic society (good or otherwise)?  For example, Gnolls are CE.  How would Gnoll Society be possible?  Why don't they simply fight one another until they are all dead?  And if the answer is, "They don't fight each other", then are they REALLY Chaotic Evil?  Or am I over-valuing the influence of Chaotic on behavior?

It seems to me that you can't really have a truly chaotic society.  Imagine a group of CG settlers founding a new town.  At first they say, "No laws, because laws just restrict freedoms!"  But then what happens when two of them get into a fight over land?  What happens when one of them decides he wants the house belonging to another guy, and doesn't want to pay (yeah, no longer Good, but alignment isn't a straightjacket)?  At some point, they will either set down some rules or the town will fall apart.  There is a reason some of the earliest examples of writing we have are Laws, and even "primative" cultures without written language have laws governing their society. 



CG = Colonial America (mostly but you have to disregard religion and slavery).
LG = Modern day Britain


My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

I love Les Mis, though to be honest I skipped some parts of the book...Hugo does go on at times.

So in terms of Law and Chaos with regard to Good, here is how I see it now:

Lawful Good generally believes that the role of government and organizations is to actively help people.  Things like a well-trained and efficient police force, honest judges, and social welfare organizations.  Chaotic Good generally believes that the role of government is to stay out of people's way, so that people are free to do the right thing on their own.
Neutral Good generally believes that the role of government is to do what is best.  Sometimes that means actively helping people, other times it means staying out of the way.


So, in broad strokes, Lawful Good=Totalitarianism, Neutral Good=Authoritarianism, Chaotic Good=Libertarianism. Obviously it's going to vary from one society to the next, but the ideals you described are more or less inline with the values espoused by the above political philosophies.

This takes me back to one of my original questions: what would a CG society be like?  What sort of laws would they have?  What holds the society together?  How do they punish transgressions?
Is it even possible to have a Chaotic society (good or otherwise)?  For example, Gnolls are CE.  How would Gnoll Society be possible?  Why don't they simply fight one another until they are all dead?  And if the answer is, "They don't fight each other", then are they REALLY Chaotic Evil?  Or am I over-valuing the influence of Chaotic on behavior?

It seems to me that you can't really have a truly chaotic society.  Imagine a group of CG settlers founding a new town.  At first they say, "No laws, because laws just restrict freedoms!"  But then what happens when two of them get into a fight over land?  What happens when one of them decides he wants the house belonging to another guy, and doesn't want to pay (yeah, no longer Good, but alignment isn't a straightjacket)?  At some point, they will either set down some rules or the town will fall apart.  There is a reason some of the earliest examples of writing we have are Laws, and even "primative" cultures without written language have laws governing their society. 


This question has pretty much been a subject of philosophical debate for all of human history, so I wouldn't expect a definite answer to come out of a handfull of folks talking about D&D. That said, a Chaotic society, I think, would look a lot like a Libertarian one. Essentially, some minimal government is acceptable, as long as its role is to uphold personal liberty.

I imagine a Chaotic Good society would best resemble Minarchy - a governing body exists, but its powers lie only in protecting its citizens from theft, coersion, violence, etc. A Chaotic Neutral society might look more like Libertarian Socialism - rejecting the very idea of theft in favor of common ownership, and the government therefore only existing as a peacekeeping agency. Chaotic Evil would obviously be Anarchism. No government or laws at all, any disputes are handled personally.

That's my opinion, anyway. I do think reading up on political science would answer your questions far better than us forumgoers.
I find the alignments, and their perceptions of them, to be quite relative to where the character sits on the Law-Chaos/Good-Evil Axies.  For instance, a lawful good character sees a good act as inherently lawful, and lawful acts as inherently virtuous (which is not to say it is utterly black and white, for them - they can see how someone can use society and laws for selfish, evil purposes), while chaotic acts are necessarily unvirtuous (though they can see the good acts a wayward CG character might be attempting).  A chaotic good character, on the other hand, might see it quite the opposite.  

Likewise, many "evil" people likely don't consider themselves evil (exceptions for things like demons that are made to revel in evil-ness...I mean more like humanoid persons).
I find the alignments, and their perceptions of them, to be quite relative to where the character sits on the Law-Chaos/Good-Evil Axies.  For instance, a lawful good character sees a good act as inherently lawful, and lawful acts as inherently virtuous (which is not to say it is utterly black and white, for them - they can see how someone can use society and laws for selfish, evil purposes), while chaotic acts are necessarily unvirtuous (though they can see the good acts a wayward CG character might be attempting).  A chaotic good character, on the other hand, might see it quite the opposite.  

Likewise, many "evil" people likely don't consider themselves evil (exceptions for things like demons that are made to revel in evil-ness...I mean more like humanoid persons).


Are there any evil humanoid persons in D&D that aren't in service to things like demons that are made to revel in evil-ness? I mean, in real life, I agree that no one really believes they're doing evil things on purpose, but in D&D, there is a definitive good and evil, and evil people seem to be very aware of their evilness. Or at the very least, they're aware of the evilness of the things they warship.
This takes me back to one of my original questions: what would a CG society be like?  What sort of laws would they have?  What holds the society together?  How do they punish transgressions?
Is it even possible to have a Chaotic society (good or otherwise)?  For example, Gnolls are CE.  How would Gnoll Society be possible?  Why don't they simply fight one another until they are all dead?  And if the answer is, "They don't fight each other", then are they REALLY Chaotic Evil?  Or am I over-valuing the influence of Chaotic on behavior?

Hmm... I suppose I'd say the wildlings in a Song of Ice and Fire are a chaotic society. But most examples we'll cite are primarily examples of low-tech, low-function societies. Societies where a lot of their biggest problems are the things that a lawful society would remedy -- the threat of danger from neighbours, the lack of technological advancements. Basically, a lack of everything we might take for granted. That's not to say they're not societies, but what makes them societies seems to be that they have some laws. Just fewer of them, and in exchange they also have fewer great achievements.

A functional, equally-advanced chaotic society might be beyond my imagination. Unless maybe it's like the Krogans in Mass Effect, where they were once orderly and became disorderly.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
While we can all give various alignment ideas, if D&D wants alignment to be part of the game itself, one thing they need to do is to define it objectively, or else they should leave it alone and not include it at all. Without a definition, alignment becomes flavor and fluff only, so it should not be part of the mechanics of the game or the qualifiers either (should not have alignment restrictions for example).

If they want alignment in the game itself, then define what it means to be Lawful/Good, and so on. It does not matter if a player or DM agrees with that definition, they can change it if they like just like any rule, but if you want to have Paladin's required to be L/G or Monks Lawful, you should define what that means at least so there is a "RAW" definition to fall back on.

Better would be just to avoid alignment as part of the rules (allow each DM to do what they like with it but keep it out of the game by default) and instead, if you want to put some restriction on how a class should play, codify that in that class write up. So put in a Paladin Code of Honor or a Monk Code of Discipline, etc. You can offer flavor side bars saying (if you use alignment in your game, the Paladin Code best fits lawful and good and the Monk best fits lawful, etc).

Larry 
A society can't be chaotic by definition, that's why drows chaotic big cities with castes systems make no sense.

An organized system can't be chaotic, but an organized system can bring chaos in another system, like a criminal organization or a virus.
You can't ask much from D&D alignment, it has been created to rein in players who were killing PCs at Mr Gygax table, and wasn't very successful on this side too.

It's vague and subjective, and shouldn't be considered otherwise.
As a DM, you have your idea of what is good, and what is constructive within a society. You put the tag following your conceptions, and your players will just have to accept the way you tag things. It's like political opinions when you are with your family, if you can't find a compromise there's a lot of incomprehension or anger, but if you are at home, the guests will shut up or leave.
IMO, it's best to not talk about political opinions with family, that's why I stopped using alignment a very long time ago.

You put your alignment tags and keep in mind why you decided that, and you just have to stay coherent with the decisions you took when using alignments. 

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

While we can all give various alignment ideas, if D&D wants alignment to be part of the game itself, one thing they need to do is to define it objectively, or else they should leave it alone and not include it at all. Without a definition, alignment becomes flavor and fluff only, so it should not be part of the mechanics of the game or the qualifiers either (should not have alignment restrictions for example).

If they want alignment in the game itself, then define what it means to be Lawful/Good, and so on. It does not matter if a player or DM agrees with that definition, they can change it if they like just like any rule, but if you want to have Paladin's required to be L/G or Monks Lawful, you should define what that means at least so there is a "RAW" definition to fall back on.

Better would be just to avoid alignment as part of the rules (allow each DM to do what they like with it but keep it out of the game by default) and instead, if you want to put some restriction on how a class should play, codify that in that class write up. So put in a Paladin Code of Honor or a Monk Code of Discipline, etc. You can offer flavor side bars saying (if you use alignment in your game, the Paladin Code best fits lawful and good and the Monk best fits lawful, etc).

Larry 

I agree: alignment should not be tied to mechanics, any more than any other aspect of your character's personality.  Imagine if the Rogue class said, "Your character must be unscrupulous and greedy."  I have no issue with them giving general tendencies: like saying, "Monks tend to be Lawful."

Regarding an objective definition, I think that would ruin alignment.  Part of what I like about it is how realistic it is.  It is nebulous...it can't be pinned down...and no one fits a single one perfectly.  But they are a great roleplaying aid, just like anything else you write down about your character's personality.  They describe a general tendency in the way that you act. 

Speaking of that, I wanted to once again thank everyone, but this time for having an actual conversation about alignment in the game.  See?  It CAN be done, and on the interwebs no less!

I've had another crazy thought about LG vs CG (can you tell that I am a little obsessed about the distinction?).  LG characters are essentially pessimists.  They feel that people overall will, given the chance, cheat, steal, or worse.  So Laws and Organization help to keep good people safe.  CG characters are essentially optimists.  They feel that people overall will do the right thing, and that Laws and Organizations will ultimately only make it more difficult for good people to do good things.

Alternatively, CG is that annoying guy who always makes a big point of explaining that he is only following the law incidentally because that action is the right thing to do, not because it is the law.  As soon as there is an unjust law he will be all up in its face.

But more seriously, it occurs to me that you will see a difference in troubling times.  Imagine, if you will (sure, I will), the Lords of Waterdeep pass a new law that makes it illegal own a well without a very expensive permit, and all public wells are closed down.  The law was pushed through by the powerful Bottled Water industry (the CEO is one of the Lords of Waterdeep), and essentially forces poor people to buy water.  A very unjust law.  Well, the LG character would tend to approach the problem by attempting to change the law.  They might work to root out corruption among the lords, or simply get enough lords on their side to repeal the law.  If all else failed they would take other measures.  The CG character, on the other hand, would actively work to bring free water to the poor, most likely by raiding the bottled water factory (yeah, I don't know anything about Waterdeep, ok?). 

The cool thing is that such characters are actually more effective when they work together, because they approach problems from more than one angle.

The good aligment needs Justice. Justice needs rules. That is the reason for the contradiction of caothic good.

We ought to agree caothic good doesn´t mean breaking most of rules. 

"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 

A Lawful Good character isn't necessarily always constrained by law. They are constrained by good laws that work for the betterment of society. An LG PC would certainly break an unjust law, if the law was established for the good of a few, or a single tyrant. On the whole, order brought about by good laws is good. When it comes to law, they see the bigger picture, and consider themselves contributing to that. There IS a right way to do things, so they do it that way.

A Neutral Good character understands the needs for good laws, but will overlook minor laws the breaking of which makes very little difference in terms of what may be "good" ("I know I'm not supposed to jaywalk, but I don't see any cars, and no one's looking, so I'm crossing the street.  I broke the law, but no one is hurt.")

CG is all about personal freedom. They aren't willy-nilly about flouting the law, but they tend to look to themselves more than their fellow man. Like the other two, they aren't out to hurt anyone, but may do so by careless disregard of law. They're good, they make mistakes, but those mistakes are absent malice.

The most important part of the axis, to me, is the Good-Evil part. That will drive a PC's major actions a great deal more than the Law-Chaos axis.  That said, I do agree with the previous interpretation that states a Lawful character follows a code. That may be the easiest way to define it.
The good aligment needs Justice. Justice needs rules. That is the reason for the contradiction of caothic good.

We ought to agree caothic good doesn´t mean breaking most of rules. 

This is a great point.  Combined with the fact that definitions for CG seem to always come back to the idea of "personal freedom", it raises another question:

Is CG a real thing?

I don't think of LG characters being against personal freedom, unless you are talking about the freedom to do bad things.  But CG characters aren't in favor of that either, right?  So what are CG characters opposed to?  What does it really mean to "act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect"? 

Wouldn't a LG character act as their conscience directs, even when in the company of evil people who expect others to not care about those in need?

The more we talk about alignment, the more I think I will use the 5-point alignment system from 4th edition.  Having Chaos be an extension of Evil and Lawful be an extension of Good makes a lot of sense to me.
I'm going to skip the rest of the thread and just respond to the OP with some basic thoughts.

First, there are a lot of different ways of doing it, and the guidelines are vague enough that you can choose your own alignment adventure.

I look at the Law-Chaos axis as more related to personality than choice. Yes, you can choose, but in general, lawful people just like to have things orderly and structured, both in their individual lives (organized desks) and in their society (clear laws, rules, and expectations). Chaotic people are more spontaneous and free-form (jumping on the horse and heading to town for a night out without planning), an focused on individuals, ("But what do *you* need?"). Neutral good character's aren't "Bipolar Good." They are normal. Law and chaos are extremes. Most people fall into the neutral spectrum. You probably show up for work on time or turn in most of your homework, but a little bit faster than the speed limit is par, and you don't really check county ordinances before throwing your batteries in the trash.

Ideally, LG, NG, and CG are equally good. If you agree with me there, then it is up to you to interpret them in such a way so that it works for you. For instance, one of my players philosophically believes that LG is the closest to his ideas of what good really is, and therefore he allows CG to be sort of "less good" in his campaign. (I personally think my friend's actual personality and alignment (were it interpreted into D&D) would be NG with perhaps some *chaotic* tendencies, but there you have it.) In my own worlds, I try very hard to make all three forms of good equally good in my mind. If I can't stomach something iffy somewhere, I shift it away from good. For instance I tend to be pretty ruthless in drawing the line on debatable issues. Not sure if it is LG or LN behavior? LN. CG or CN? CN. Good is an "extreme," to the extent that the "average" human should probably be neutral on both L-C and G-E axis. Good (as defined in the 3e SRD--look this up if you haven't; it's the best presentation of alignment D&D has ever had) implies going out of your way to help people you have no actual connection to. Being willing to die for your family, friends, country, or an important cause isn't necessarily good. It isn't even necessarily lawful. The average person can muster that up. Being the guy who kept going back into the water to save the plane-wrecked people until he died is good. Of course, you don't have to actually sacrifice your life for strangers to be good. You just have to be the kind of person for whom that seems reasonable and would be willing to do such a thing (given there isn't a better option that doesn't involve you dying.)

Collectivism vs. Individualism is one simple way of looking at Lawful vs. Chaotic that also works.
The good aligment needs Justice. Justice needs rules. That is the reason for the contradiction of caothic good.

We ought to agree caothic good doesn´t mean breaking most of rules. 

This is a great point.  Combined with the fact that definitions for CG seem to always come back to the idea of "personal freedom", it raises another question:

Is CG a real thing?

I don't think of LG characters being against personal freedom, unless you are talking about the freedom to do bad things.  But CG characters aren't in favor of that either, right?  So what are CG characters opposed to?  What does it really mean to "act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect"? 

Wouldn't a LG character act as their conscience directs, even when in the company of evil people who expect others to not care about those in need?

The more we talk about alignment, the more I think I will use the 5-point alignment system from 4th edition.  Having Chaos be an extension of Evil and Lawful be an extension of Good makes a lot of sense to me.



I personally really liked the 5 point alignment system from 4e. In part because it changed the nature of alignment: pre-4e alignment is a description of your nature, 4e alignment is a description of your commitment. You don't just happen to be Lawful Good, you choose it as an ideal to strive for.

LG tends to be made out to be "more good than Good" but that's not the case. Essentially the LG/G divide is in this: when push comes to shove and the good rules (virtues such as honor/honesty and maybe even laws you believe are in general just) are in a position to predictably lead to bad, unjust consequences: do you uphold the rules/virtues despite the consequences (LG) or take it upon yourself to violate the rules/virtues and substitute your own judgement (G). Do you arrest the criminals and turn them in, knowing the criminal justice system will eventually have to let them go because whatever evidence there is against them cannot be gathered in a way to meet the proper legal requirements, or quietly kill them and cover it up so that justice is truly served and they won't be free to murder, steal and **** again in a matter of months? Do you lie under oath at the trial to get the truly monsterous criminal locked away, or tell the truth knowing that your testimony will expose weaknesses in your case that the defense attorney will exploit? Etc. 
The vast majority of the time there should be no real difference between the two: good rules are good rules for a reason, and breaking them (even in pursuit of a greater good) can undermine their systematic value (for example, lying even once under oath, if exposed, can make you an unreliable witness forevermore. You lied that time, how do we know you aren't lying now?).
The 4e devs looked at this issue and decided that while LG was clearly a different thing than NG/CG, there wasn't enough clear distinction between NG/CG to really justify them being different (particularly not from the alignment-as-commitment POV).

With Evil v Chaotic Evil, a similar breakdown could be made. I look at Evil as tyrannical in intent and Chaotic Evil as being simply destructive in intent. The Evil army wants to conquer your civilization for slaves and resources, the Chaotic Evil army simply wants to kill you all because they like killing people. Dialed up to 11, the Evil villain wants to rule the world, the Chaotic Evil villain wants to destroy the world.        
"Lawful Evil" as traditionally described makes more sense as a particular character quirk than an equal share in alignments, especially when considering alignment-as-commitment. The LE and NE character both want to rule over you with an iron fist, the LE one might just have a few personal rules he constrains himself by, a code of honor whose adherence sometimes justifies the occasional setback to conquest in his mind.
I personally really liked the 5 point alignment system from 4e. In part because it changed the nature of alignment: pre-4e alignment is a description of your nature, 4e alignment is a description of your commitment. You don't just happen to be Lawful Good, you choose it as an ideal to strive for.

LG tends to be made out to be "more good than Good" but that's not the case. Essentially the LG/G divide is in this: when push comes to shove and the good rules (virtues such as honor/honesty and maybe even laws you believe are in general just) are in a position to predictably lead to bad, unjust consequences: do you uphold the rules/virtues despite the consequences (LG) or take it upon yourself to violate the rules/virtues and substitute your own judgement (G). Do you arrest the criminals and turn them in, knowing the criminal justice system will eventually have to let them go because whatever evidence there is against them cannot be gathered in a way to meet the proper legal requirements, or quietly kill them and cover it up so that justice is truly served and they won't be free to murder, steal and **** again in a matter of months? Do you lie under oath at the trial to get the truly monsterous criminal locked away, or tell the truth knowing that your testimony will expose weaknesses in your case that the defense attorney will exploit? Etc. 
The vast majority of the time there should be no real difference between the two: good rules are good rules for a reason, and breaking them (even in pursuit of a greater good) can undermine their systematic value (for example, lying even once under oath, if exposed, can make you an unreliable witness forevermore. You lied that time, how do we know you aren't lying now?).
The 4e devs looked at this issue and decided that while LG was clearly a different thing than NG/CG, there wasn't enough clear distinction between NG/CG to really justify them being different (particularly not from the alignment-as-commitment POV).

With Evil v Chaotic Evil, a similar breakdown could be made. I look at Evil as tyrannical in intent and Chaotic Evil as being simply destructive in intent. The Evil army wants to conquer your civilization for slaves and resources, the Chaotic Evil army simply wants to kill you all because they like killing people. Dialed up to 11, the Evil villain wants to rule the world, the Chaotic Evil villain wants to destroy the world.        
"Lawful Evil" as traditionally described makes more sense as a particular character quirk than an equal share in alignments, especially when considering alignment-as-commitment. The LE and NE character both want to rule over you with an iron fist, the LE one might just have a few personal rules he constrains himself by, a code of honor whose adherence sometimes justifies the occasional setback to conquest in his mind.

I completely agree with all of this!  I really hope the 5-point alignment system is mentioned as an optional alternative for Next.

Individual can be "caothic" but all groups need rules. Groups can´t be "caothic" to ca survive worst crysis (for example a illithid invasion).

Let´s see the terrorist organitation Cobra, the classic archenemy of G.I.Joe. Caothic? But there is a chain of command, a hierarchy and soldiers who obey orders.

Decepticons, the villains of transformers franchise. They rebelled againt the previous order but it is a army, it isn´t a group a friends. When Megatron ordered a nuclear attack to New York, the decepticon Thundercracker stopped the bomb because.."he was a warrior with honor, and massive weapons were dishonourable". He was shoted/executed by Skywarp, other decepticon.

What is the honor? Afra was a woman... with a life of sin. She was codemned to death because she converted to a illegal religion. She lived like a sinner, she died like a criminal, and she is venerated by Church like saint martyr. 

We ought to change the idea of caothic means anarchy. Anarchists cann´t live where Zetas rule. 

"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 

It seems to me that you can't really have a truly chaotic society.  Imagine a group of CG settlers founding a new town.  At first they say, "No laws, because laws just restrict freedoms!"  But then what happens when two of them get into a fight over land?  What happens when one of them decides he wants the house belonging to another guy, and doesn't want to pay (yeah, no longer Good, but alignment isn't a straightjacket)?  At some point, they will either set down some rules or the town will fall apart.  There is a reason some of the earliest examples of writing we have are Laws, and even "primative" cultures without written language have laws governing their society. 

I think a Chaotic Good society is one that has laws that benefit individuals; laws that protect individual rights and limit the society's ability to infringe upon those rights.

Take your example, for instance; the individuals in a Chaotic Good society would come to realize that some laws are their to protect their individual rights: the current owner has the right to his house. Each individual will recognise this as beneficial to himself, even if he isn't the one who is having his house stolen (he might be the next time). So, the society, as represented by its individuals, enacts a law that prescribes punishment for the theft of another man's house.

They all choose to obey the laws because they know that they benefit from them, as individuals. There certainly wouldn't be as many laws, or as large a policing force, as in a Lawful society; which depends on laws, and their enforcement, for guidance and structure.

a good dm should make it known how the various alignment flavors work in his campaign, if they are different from the alignment rules in the player's handbook.

alignment rules and definitions should be in the player's handbook. with a sidebar giving a DM the option to modify and/or scrap the alignment rules for his campaign.
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