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alignment question

Discussion in 'Dungeons & Dragons + Other RPGs' started by Phone_Tools, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. Phone_Tools Gems: 3/31
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    hey i'm curious about something. i've seen law/chaos described as adherence to law, honest, respect of authority, ect., but i've also seen it described as honesty, impulsiveness, how organized you are, etc. My question is, what would the alignment of someone who doesn't approve of social order and has little respect for laws, but who is very organized in their personal life and honest? or vice versa? I'm guessing it would be nuetral, but what do you guys think?

    [ September 19, 2005, 03:13: Message edited by: Phone_Tools ]
     
  2. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    It could be neutral. Lawfuls don't hate social order per se and chaotics aren't normally organised. It looks like a set of lawful and chaotic traits that probably gives a neutral alignment as the mean.

    However, depending on what exactly you mean by very little respect for laws and disapproval of the social order, the character could still be lawful. Or still chaotic despite honesty and organisation. Depends what the whole looks like.
     
  3. Gnolyn Lochbreaker Gems: 13/31
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    Most of what you're describing would fit with either the chaotic, or possibly neutral sphere, depending on what exactly you mean by "doesn't approve of social order".

    The chaotic-neutral-lawful spectrum really just gives some indication of whether the individual uses their conscience and whims as a guide (chaotic), or a set of rules (law), often imposed by some external authority. Neutral is the inbetween. Good and evil provide the individual's motivation.

    But some of the attributes you're talking about, such as being organized, don't really have anything to do with alignment. Regardless of their alignment, the individual could be completely disorganized. Believing in organization at a societal level is something different.
     
  4. Oaz Gems: 29/31
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    If said character followed his own rules and traditions consistently ("I get up every day at sunrise, meditate for an hour, perform prayers, attend the holy shrine where my father and grandfather went before me, etc.) then I would say he would be lawful, regardless of his sentiments about the political or legal state.

    But neutral is also a fine choice. If I really had to take a long time to decide whether someone is lawful or chaotic, I'd just peg him as neutral.
     
  5. Gnolyn Lochbreaker Gems: 13/31
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    True, the lawful aspect of a character's alignment doesn't necessarily have anything to do with a political or legal state. But the example you gave doesn't specifically equate to lawfulness:

    "I get up every day at sunrise, meditate for an hour, perform prayers, attend the holy shrine where my father and grandfather went before me"

    Most priests in D&D follow some form of structured ritual, to some extent or another. That doesn't make all priests (or the followers of a given deity) lawful. The part of that example that would most lend itself to lawful v. choatic is the last part. If the individual is attending the shrine because their father and grandfather went before them, and their family, culture, and/or society as a whole contends it is the "right" thing to do, then they're probably more lawful than anything else. But if it represents their own choice, a decision made based on what is "right" for them, then they aren't necessarily lawful.
     
  6. Cordillerion Gems: 1/31
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    What you are describing here is a likely a chaotic character, or one who is at least neutral in regards to law and chaos. The terms 'law' and 'chaos' refer not to your levels of discipline or organization, but your attitudes toward groups and society as a whole.
     
  7. Oaz Gems: 29/31
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    Gnolyn: you make a good point, but I would determine whether the character was lawful or not by asking how much he would give up in order to keep following the rules.

    If, say, times were changing and it was no longer fashionable to go to shrines and people thought you were some backwards fool for doing so - I'd say you'd be lawful for continuing to do that. If you decided to join the "new ways," it would be chaotic, since you are abandoning tradition.

    Thus, I would really argue that chaotic deities promote change, favor innovation over tradition, etc. Dogma is less important to their followers than the actual spirit of the faith.

    For the most part, then, I would say that free will isn't that important for alignment. If you a weak-willed person and are easily pressured into following traditoin (or, say, murdering old ladies), then I'd say you're lawful (and evil). If you follow tradition (and, say, murder old ladies) because you have made the conscoius choice to do so, then I'd say you're still lawful (and evil).
     
  8. Gnolyn Lochbreaker Gems: 13/31
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    I definitely agree that the extent to which the character adheres to the tradition is a telling point. If they abide by the majority of, if not all the elements of that tradition, that's a lawful trait. On the other hand if they're highly selective of which aspects of the the tradition to abide by, then they're more neutral - possibly chaotic, depending on how far they carry that.

    I still think the element of choice plays into it. The example of the weak-willed person is interesting. If that weak-willed individual were to be pressured to change from that tradition, and they did, to me that would be exhibiting a neutral trait. But I can see some circumstances in which they might still be following a lawful path: for example, if the character followed the tradition because the ruling lord dictated it, and then later issued a new edict against the tradition (or in favour of something else), then the character would be exhibiting lawful behaviour by adhering to the authority figure, not the tradition.

    I personally think that the "whys" and "what fors" are important to the character's alignment; what is the player's rationale for their character's alignment? For classes that have alignment restrictions/requirements I think it's particularly important.
     
  9. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Yes, I agree that being 'organised' does not determine alignment in and of itself. I think the respect for laws and keeping promises are better indications. A squirrel is very organised because he hides acorns and nuts to eat later, but I'm not sure you would call a squirrel lawful.
     
  10. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I would say following one's word, traditions and the like. As for law itself, I doubt following all dumb laws ever in existence makes you lawful... it could actually make you chaotic for all the bizarre value of it. Anyway, a lawful character will have a preference towards doing things the legal way and in any form of police work, judicial process, lawmaking or governance, he will follow the law above sentiments. Also, I tend to think the more lawful you are, the closer to compulsive honesty you get. A good character will try to be compassionate, kind etc, but a lawful one will try to be fair before and above everything else. This doesn't mean an LN won't have any compassion, that an NG will be dishonest etc etc, but it looks like LG is the one who combines compassion with fairness, NG doesn't care much for anything else than compassion, LN puts a great emphasis on fairness and isn't swayed by sentiments and so on and so forth.

    As for the social order, I suppose a lawful character will believe in the necessity of having one, although he doesn't necessarily have to agree with each and every particular social order in existence. I suppose the chief priorities will be that the society should be ordered, that there should be no randomness in governance and law enforcement, that the rules should be spelt out clearly, that exceptions shouldn't be made, perhaps also that laws and rules should be taken "by the book" instead of creative interpretation.
     
  11. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    If someone is highly disciplined in their personal life, in that sense I call them lawful. Monks are the best example of that, to me -- they may not give a hoot about the rules of the kingdom they reside in, but they do follow a rigorous schedule in order to unlock their potential.
     
  12. Dall Gems: 3/31
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    I think this person would be chaotic, even if he is honest and ll that stuff (well only if I have to pick eother lawful or chaotic)... I think the most important point is, that he doesn't like social order or rules, because ín my opinion thats the whole point about being chaotic. As Gnolyn Lochbreaker says, a chaotic being is impulsive, and a lawful being uses a set of rules.But honestly I think this being is neutral, because he's somethin in between. he doesn't care much about a lawful society, but he likes order in his own life...

    But is the character good or evil? Then it perhaps would be easier to figure out which alignment would fit best?
     
  13. Phone_Tools Gems: 3/31
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    thanks for the replies everyone...
    so, to summarize:
    lawfulness= uses set of rules as a guide, respects laws, follows traditions, (sometimes) disciplined, keeps word, is honest.

    Chaotic: uses conscience as a guide, is impulsive, doesn't always respect laws and traditions, etc.

    also, does the amount of lying and telling of the truth that a character engages in reflect on their alignment (a la Planescape Torment)? I'm pretty sure the answer is yes but not quite.

    Another thing regarding alignment. In d&d, alignment seems to be polarizing forces in the universe. In the words of the player's handbook 3rd ed., "good and evil are not philosophical concepts in the D&D game. They are forces that define the cosmos". So in terms of the idea of alignment on a large scale (not individual), what exactly do law and chaos represent? In my opinion, it would be that chaos represents entropy, disorder, and random chance, and law represents order, unity, and rigidity (for lack of better words). What got me thinking about this is in planescape: torment, where you meet a huge iron golem who serves the cause of entropy and who's purpose in existance is to make weapons by which the multiverse will be undone, presumable for a final battle against "order". It kind of got me thinking about that

    later,
    -PT
     
  14. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I would say a lawful character is more often than sometimes disciplined. Also, a lawful one has to follow conscience, it's just a matter of what the conscience tells to a lawful or a chaotic character but doing things against your conscience is hardly lawful. It may actually be chaotic -- a step against your values and beliefs in favour of practical goals. That's chaotic. Either that or evil, when it's an "end justifies means" thing.

    You seem to get the law and chaos summaries right, at least in my opinion. Chaos is inconsistent and self-destructive. Order is predictable, solid, reliable, integral. At times, chaos may take sickeningly random forms and law may appear rigid and boring.

    I am inclined to agree with LKD. Remember the knightly orders of the middle ages? Their arrogance in the face of temporal authority was legendary. They could say "I answer to a higher justice" and keep doing their job as their Rule, their faith and their cause demanded. Those guys were as disciplined as you get, devoted beyond normal human means and strictly accountable (once upon a time, a Templar convent commander got suspended for a year for wasting a mace by throwing it after a game bird).
     
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