Alignments, what are the extremes

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It is generally agreed that alignments are an abstract part of d&d.  It is also generally agreed that some DMs use them and others do not.

This thread is to be a discussion of what you think the extremes of one alignment are.  For example, what are the extremes of Lawful Good?  How does the LG of paladins differ from the LG of a thief?  Or even how does it differ from the LG of other paladins?

Let's stick with LG for now.  What do you think the extremes are (and anything in between).  Let's start with a general definition:  lawful good represents order and selflessness.

If somebody thinks the LG topic has been exhausted, go on and pick another alignment to discuss.

Please keep this friendly and courtious.  Under no circumstances should anybody say that somebody's opinion does not count.  Just simply say that you disagree in the most respectful manner that you can and go from there.     

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

Personally, I think that a lot of the problems people have with alignment systems come from too much emphasis on the extremes instead of on the more realistic people of each (and on not understanding that it's not meant to be used for reality anymore than fire-breathing dragons are).

But to stay on topic, I mentioned a couple of similar ideas I had in another thread a couple of weeks ago, and I'd like to copy/paste directly into this thread if that's all right.

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Lets look at this a different way. If one of the big problems is that alignment is a "straightjacket" to players that don't know how to use it creatively, maybe we should come up with a lot of different ways for different kinds of characters to fall under each?

Lawful
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Want everybody to give as much to make society more efficient as they themselves do
OR give a great deal of their own labor specifically so that not as many other people have to

Fix problems with institutions from within as much as possible
AND/OR want even counter-movements to be as efficient as possible


(L/C) Neutral
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Passively work less to either defend the system or to disrupt it than do most people (want mostly to be left alone)
OR relatively normal compared to most people
OR actively do more of both (challenging the system from without specifically to make it less restrictive but equally efficient, rather than temporarily tolerating problems while fixing it from within)


Chaotic
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Want everybody to give as much to make society less restrictive as they themselves do
OR give a great deal of their own labor specifically so that not as many other people have to


Good
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Want everybody to give as much to help those who have less as they themselves do
OR give a great deal of their own labor specifically so that not as many other people have to


(G/E) Neutral
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Passively do less of both charity and cruelty/selfishness/destruction than do most people (want mostly to be left alone)
OR relatively normal compared to most people
OR actively do more of both (believe in and work for the true Greater Good of all people, but are still too judgemental and venegeful of those deemed a threat to others)


Evil
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Amorally don't care about committing cruelty to further their own goals
OR immorally enjoy cruelty as much as accomplishment

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Odds are, if 4-6 people can't figure out an answer you thought was obvious, you screwed up, not them. - JeffGroves
Which is why a DM should present problems to solve, not solutions to find. -FlatFoot
Why there should be the option to use alignment systems:
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If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

Copy & Paste is fine since what you have is on topic.  Your opinions are perfectly valid.

I'm also thinking each alignment is like a scatter point graph with each axis ranging from 0 to 10.  On the x-axis is law and on the y-axis is good (this is for lawful good).  What do you think LG is at the "origin" of the graph, i.e. (0,0).  What do you think LG is at the furthest point (10,10).  Looking at this way let's also assume that the center point (5,5) be the basic definition.

I'm thinking of looking at the extremes to show how the alignment system breaks down or seems to break down.  Think on this.  The plot point (0,0) is also connected to three other graphs:  the LN graph, the NG graph, and the TN graph.

I guess another way to look at it is to visualize a tic-tac-toe board.  The upper-left is LG.  The lines are intersections between the alignments.  The closer to the line you get is the closer you get to the adjacent alignment.

The wheel cosmology of Planescape took it even further than that by adding intermediate alignment planes that show tendencies.  In other words, you can be LG(N), that is lawful-good with neutral tendencies.  This is where the mechanics of the alignment system breaks down.  It is my opinion that it is impossible to play a "pure" alignment.  It is one reason out of many that DMs don't use alignments in their games.

You have the free will to agree or disagree.
You have the ability to act freely on the above choice regardless of the consequences.

10 to 1 lawful good scale, 10 being extreme.
10 be fanatical; no room for discretion, robot minded with laws to the point of self destruction.  100% letter of the law, so extreme that player enforces it on others...with force if necessary.
5 be reasonable; room for discretion. Understands the Letter of the Law and the Spirit of the Law. Applys to self mostly and occasionally on others in reasonable manner.
1- very loose liberal interpretation of laws, sometimes too liberal. Mostly follows the Spirit of the Law, especially when having to break letter of the law. Matter of factly dont like laws, feels its not perfect but regardless trys to follow. Rarely or ever enforces on other.  On the verge of chaotic good scale 1.

To me it scales from looking at self only at 1 without imposing on others like a zen monk, and as it scales upward towards 10, focus shifts to imposing onto others.  At 10 its with extreme force.

And everything in between.   Problem lies when players define it at 10, fanatic LG, thinking there is only that type, and lives to shove it down on other players...with force, unreasonably with always detrimental outcome to self and others.  "I adraw my sword and attack you cauze im LG!".
Copy & Paste is fine since what you have is on topic.  Your opinions are perfectly valid.

I'm also thinking each alignment is like a scatter point graph with each axis ranging from 0 to 10.  On the x-axis is law and on the y-axis is good (this is for lawful good).  What do you think LG is at the "origin" of the graph, i.e. (0,0).  What do you think LG is at the furthest point (10,10).  Looking at this way let's also assume that the center point (5,5) be the basic definition.

I'm thinking of looking at the extremes to show how the alignment system breaks down or seems to break down.  Think on this.  The plot point (0,0) is also connected to three other graphs:  the LN graph, the NG graph, and the TN graph.

I guess another way to look at it is to visualize a tic-tac-toe board.  The upper-left is LG.  The lines are intersections between the alignments.  The closer to the line you get is the closer you get to the adjacent alignment.



Close, but look at the bigger picture, all 9 alignments:
The y-axis is Law/Chaos
The x-axis is Good/Evil.

The axes themselves are neutrality.
Everything to the right of the y axis is good, everything to the left is evil.
Everything above the x axis is Lawful, everything below is evil.

Now you can actually plot every alignment...
Lawful good would be quadrant 1 (top right), and you get there by having both numbers positive.
Lawful evil is in quadrant 2 (top left) and you get there by having a negative x value and a positive y value.
Chaotic evil is qaudrant 3, (bottom left) and you get there with 2 negative numbers
Chaotic Good is quadrant 4...
The neutrals are located somewhere on the axis, and NN is the origin.


In other words, it puts them in this order, but leaves much narrower ranges for neutrality than a tic-tac-toe board...
LE-LN-LG
NE-NN-NG
CE-CN-CG
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
Good and Evil are social constructs.  Any measure of the extreme of one requires the measurement of the extreme of another.

This is essentially represented in the Law and Order sitting opposite of Chaos and Disorder.

Chaotic can be a form of evil in itself, unorganized. 

A personal example from a recent session (of the DnD encounters.)

At the finale, between my party and this wizard lady, a third group ran in (they were evil and up to no good, even trying to steal from us before), and offered to assist us in the final battle.  Sensing their inevitable betrayal, we all decided to just kill everyone, but not before our "chaotic good" gnome offered the suggestion of

"Why don't we work with them, then kill them, they're evil so we'll need to get rid of them anyways."

To which, my lawful evil half-orc blackguard mentions that betrayal is not in his principles, and will do no such thing, but noted that they should be eliminated.

To the DM, who had a problem with me playing a lawful evil character, I queried "Who is really evil in this situation?  The chaotic good character (recall that chaotic good alignments often act on whims of what they feel is right, consequences be damned) or the lawful evil character who lives by a set of ethics and a code?"

Working with a group, only to betray them later, justifying it as right to do because they're evil, well, if that itself ain't evil...

It reminds me of Dante's Inferno, in the final circle of hell, Brutus and Cassius were receiving personal punishment from the devil for the greatest sin, that of betrayal.

Lawful Good and Lawful Evil characters, in my opinion are just two sides of the same coin.  They live by morals, ethics, rules, and codes, valuing friendship, brotherhood, and comeraderie, whereas those of a Chaotic alignment are dangerous, serving the flights of fancy that they refer to as "justice."