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LG, NG, CG

Discussion in 'Dungeons & Dragons + Other RPGs' started by Loreseeker, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. Loreseeker

    Loreseeker A believer in knowledge Veteran

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    This is something that has floated around my head a good deal, and the latest OotS triggered it again.

    Why is it that these days CG is considered the superior sort of Good, especially compared to LG?

    A good friend of mine feels the reverse - that LG is being labeled "best Good" while I'd say it's labeled "easiest to abuse" good, or "good most likely to turn evil".

    TBH, I dislike the alignment grid of DnD / find it too artificial, but it works for this discussion. So yes:

    1. Why is Lawful Good usually seen as Lawful, while CG as Good?

    2. Is this just me, or has anyone else noticed that, in general, Chaotic Good is shown as the "free, pure" Good alignment. Almost as if Law is a taint.

    (I know that in the past there were some rather horrid "instructions" how LG chars are to be played and that bad image probably remains, but really... LG does not mean Law Above All.)

    I'll admit being quite a fan of LG characters - but that doesn't mean that I find NG or CG less good. Good is Good, whatever the Law-Chaos alignment.
     
  2. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    The way I see it a LG will follow rules no matter what whereas a CG will probably enjoy breaking them and a NG character will play by the rules unless they're too restrictive.

    A LG character is a perfect team player whereas a CG is an individualist. As good as CG is such a character will have a hard time following rules and regulations and an even harder time following orders.

    The alignment system is a rather simplistic way to deal with morals, what it does is reduce a character's psychology to a few archetypes and as such it provides a basis.

    All are good, the difference is purely a matter of point of view so I agree with your assessment, CG is not better than LG. Still, in most movies the hero is usually a rebel or a free spirit. On the one hand society demands that we should be law abiding citizens and on the other hand the media vehiculates models through movies (but not only movies) that do question society and its rules or the place of the individual in society.

    Is Batman LG or CG? What about Bruce Wayne? Is Batman LG because he follows rules or CG because he is not bound by the rules Bruce Wayne has to respect?

    What does make Robin Hood superior to Ivanhoe? Does it mean that Robin Hood ceases to be CG and becomes LG once Prince John is overthrown?

    Rebels are fascinating heroic figures because they stand out and live by their own rules. In fact they make their own rules and that's something most of us can only dream about.
     
  3. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    You've seen my posts along these lines. I get really tired of paladins being portrayed as "lawful stupid" -- the idiotic way the Order of the Radient Heart is represented in SoA just solidifies the lawful stupid moniker. That Keldorn doesn't fall if he seeks out and murders his wife's lover (it is murder, the guy cannot possibly defend himself) is a complete misinterpretation of a paladin.

    The "law above all" bit is truly misguided. It is the sworn duty of paladins to fight against the unjust -- the paladin follows the laws and codes of his diety without question, but the laws of man are always suspect. If a law appears to violate a paladin's beliefs in even the slightest way, it is the duty of the paladin to fight against the law. What is so hard to understand about that? It is easy to apply this same belief system to other LG characters.

    I have always believed good-evil is the axis around self. True evil puts themselves above all others -- pure good always puts the needs of others first. With neutral believing you need to take care of yourself as well as take care of others.

    The law-chaos thing is also often done quite stupidly. A chaotic person does not commit random acts! Their actions are not determined by a die roll -- THAT is insanity. And insanity is not relegated to one ethos (often CE is simply seen as violent sociopaths who will kill with a flip of a coin -- once again, insanity).

    I've always seen the law-chaos as being the axis around rights. Chaos believes individual rights are of the utmost importance. Law believes the needs of the society trumps the rights of individuals. A chaotic person may be more willing to break a law, but both will willingly break a law if it violates their good-evil ethos (lawful evil is willing to break laws if there is an advange to breaking it). Neutral simply believes in balancing the needs of society with the rights of individuals.

    Lawful good will sacrifice themselves in battle to further the cause of good. Chaotic good person will sacrific themselves in battle to save a life. Both will attack a demon loosed on a town but for slightly different reasons -- the paladin is eradicating evil while the CG ranger is trying to save lives.

    The ultimate goal of a CE person is to become rich, famous, powerful ... to become a god and have the ability to do and take whatever is desired. But it's all about self and obtaining personal goals without thought of how those goals affect others. The goal for a LE person is typically power -- controlling legions of minions to do his or her bidding while holding others in check ... to become a god in order to rule on high. Subtle differences.

    I've also seen where neutral is played such that for every powerful evil foe vanquished, a powerful good foe must also die (same with law and chaos). What a bunch of BS. The selflessness of a good individual is thought of as folly, but harmless. Evil is often dangerous. The neutral person is more a 'live and let live' kind of person -- as long as you don't harm anyone they care about they're content to just leave you alone.

    Sorry , I took this just a bit further than simply good.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2009
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  4. Disciple of The Watch

    Disciple of The Watch Preparing The Coming of The New Order Veteran

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    Can't trust minions. Want something done, do it yourself.

    Back on topic... beautiful picture you painted there, T2. :evil:
     
  5. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    In the SP dictionary we will place the picture of DotW next to CE. :D
     
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  6. 8people

    8people 8 is just another way of looking at infinite ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran

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    [​IMG] The grid system is more accurately a graph system, imo. Extremes along one axis or another determining law and chaos, good and evil. Not a set of boxes.

    CG is often seen as 'best good' because the way D&D is played - you're the focus of the show, not the society you protect. Not the people you assist and help along the way. It's about characters doing what they want (and usually getting away with it)

    That is not to say, that is the only (or correct :rolleyes:) way to play.

    LG is abused because a lot of people either have the wrong idea, or try to be a CG character in LG clothing. It's easy to say "I want to help the people!" then not donate any money to the cause of rebuilding a damaged community because "I've been saving up for that awesome sword in the next town over. If I buy that instead I can protect these people better in the future!"

    LG prioritise in reducing criminal activity so the society is calmer and can prosper, from that they protect the population from an unjust power taking the throne, or other seat of office. In the case of a paladin, their cause has religious ties and may include funding the buliding of churches and educating the people in their beliefs. Just as a lot of law used to be based in scripture, a paladin may take steps to codify a religious law as a community law if it BENEFITS the people in some way. Paladins are also supposed to refuse reward beyond what is neccessary to afford the task at hand. It is folly to refuse all payment when armour needs repairing. They may request services instead of coin, however, or a spell or a physical good.

    CG will help people when and where they can, their priority is to make people safe and free from tyranny. Where LG looks with an eye of keeping out the unjust, CG looks with an eye of keeping out the too strict. If a man leads a community but administers harsh justice to deter crime, a CG group will challenge him as cruel and unfair and attempt to free the people.
     
  7. Loreseeker

    Loreseeker A believer in knowledge Veteran

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    Yay, it's not just me. :)

    Yeah, I agree with pretty much everything both T2 and Cara posted. (and yes, DotW does deserve a CE Hall of Fame entry :p)

    Duty and loyalty are not traits for suckers. It is quite possible to achieve lovely characters with engaging personalities and maintain every point of honour or fairplay they believe in. That exactly is the beauty of such characters - to have them win while following a set a rules.

    I don't think pushing/enforcing Laws is the point of an LG character. It's more personal - believing in a law. You don't have to enforce laws as LG.

    Chars shouldn't have alignment grids - and certain DnD splatbooks about how to act out alignments deserve to be burned.

    Side note:
    T2 is completely right about chaotic.
    I play a Planescape char who believes in True Law - she challenges laws in order to break them and prove them false - believing that True Laws will resist her attempts. She delights in finding creative ways to resolve problems - unexpected solutions - seeking to improve laws and thinking that Chaos is simply an amazing tool to get there.
    My char will break every law in the book, but there is always a method to her madness - a greater point she is out to get (Beautiful Irony). She acts chaotic - but is merely following a set of rules of her own.
     
  8. Ziad

    Ziad I speak in rebuses Veteran

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    Definitely not just you :)

    I don't have much to add to what T2 already (excellent post by the way) but I want to point something out: "law above all", or "follow rules no matter what" as Caradhras put it, is in fact Lawful Neutral. I always thought this was the reason Helm was Lawful Neutral while Lathander is Neutral Good: Lathander exemplifies being Good and not necessarily Lawful, while Helm is the pure essence of Law regardless of Good/Evil (hence the "no matter what"). I always thought the Radiant Heart were completely bogus as paladins because they're much closer to Lawful Neutral, and by 2E rules a Lawful Neutral paladin is a fallen paladin (now why that should be the case is another matter; personally I always thought a paladin should be of the same alignment as her patron deity and would fall upon changing to another alignment, but that's for another discussion).

    Regarding Keldorn, he can do so many evil things without falling I sometimes wonder why Bio set him outside the whole mechanic. Aside from killing his wife (which I wouldn't call Lawful and certainly not Good) he also attacks Viconia without provocation just because she's a drow. Granted drow are generally evil, but she escaped the Underdark for a reason, and it's obvious that she's an excellent candidate for a Good or Neutral-aligned surface-dweller to turn her to a less-evil path (which ironically enough you can do in the game). A truly Lawful Good paladin would jump at the chance to turn her; he instead decides that she should die, just because. I always thought this was rather out of character, considering some of the other things he says during the game, especially his conversations with Anomen.

    I think Rich Burlew had a very good insight when he created Miko. She's in fact the exact way you should not role-play a Lawful Good paladin (and I'm going by her very early appearances, never mind later on when she goes completely bonkers). She is fanatical about "law above all, no matter what" and that makes her extremely unlikable even to other (Lawful Good) paladins, never mind that it ultimately leads her to fall.

    I think any alignment system will be restrictive, and frankly I don't mind D&D's that much because a 2D axis is miles better than a standard one-axis Good/Evil system (which is what most games, especially CRPGs, have).
     
  9. Dave the Magic Turtle Gems: 16/31
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    Just tick unaligned and play what you want...:p

    Labelling your characters chosen path is a silly idea, NPC's it might make sense with, they often have a defined goal and a method to get there that is obviously lawful, chaotic, good or evil. But an adventurer should be dynamic, being exposed to a life of constant danger and difficult choices should change your character over time, you may start off believing that your Gods teaching are law, that people of your faith can do no wrong, but you might start to see things differently as life goes on and you experience more. There are so many interpretations of what each alignment is that it's not worth bothering, you can sum it up with an example "if my character saw this, he'd do that" and it allows more flexibility.

    I doubt I wake up feeling Lawful Good everyday, I'm pretty sure I can be a vindictive prick sometimes, and other times too nice for my own good. Not because I seek a balance in the world but because that's just the mood I'm in at the time. Alignments change over time is the point I'm making, so what's the point in having one to start with?
     
  10. Blades of Vanatar

    Blades of Vanatar Vanatar will rise again Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    RP-wise, alignments are a helpful guide, not a end-all rule maker. Or shouldn't be at least. Though I think they are portrayed incorrectly most of the time, especially in video games. The Order of the Radiant Heart is portrayed to me as what LN is meant to be in D&D. Especially concerning Keldorn's family issues.

    The D&D system implements their alignment standards into the game mechanics, with alignments as part of the spell/ability system. Detect/Protection from Evil/Good/Law/Chaos for example. Or your ability to turn/control undead. It really hampers your RPing experience. I prefer lots of choices for my characters, no a rigid system. I still think the overall D&D system is good enough to enjoy, but the alignment aspect is one of it's cons.
     
  11. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Dave, I'd tend to agree with you with all characters except divine. Clerics, druids, paladins and rangers (and blackguard to extend the thought) must follow the chosen path. In creating one of these classes you have chosen to make a character based in divine magic and thus beholden to a diety and their mythos. The character can change, but not without severe consequences (such as Viconia after abandoning Lloth and losing all her clerical powers until she realligned with Shar).

    Non-divine characters can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and just go kill things (only needing to worry about legal recourse). The divine character has a higher obligation and gods are notoriously quick to punish. It's really too bad Bioware did not impliment alignment tracking (as in NWN) in the BG saga. Having an evil cleric who suddenly has no divine ability due to too many good deeds would have been great. In the earlier editions a cleric could fall (i.e., the god would stop speaking to the cleric and spells were limited to 3rd level and below).
     
  12. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    Poor phrasing on my part, what I meant by the use of the word "rules" is not just any rules but the set of rules that a LG character would follow. A Jedi Knight (as LG as it gets) will follow the Jedi Code no matter what. I wasn't talking about lawyers or law enforcers.
     
  13. Scythesong Immortal Gems: 19/31
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    Because in the end a lot of laws are open to human interpretation? Because laws are relative and it's simply impossible to exhaust the possible application of one law to every possible scenario? Because you can't possibly know exactly what a deity wants unless you're a deity yourself? The fact that D&D deities also make mistakes doesn't help.

    I was also under the impression that a lot of Keldorn's decisions required an "extra" push from a certain someone, including the decision to kill his wife/her lover.
    He should have fallen as a result, yeah. But point is, he didn't make a lot of those decisions on his own.
    It is just as possible to prove that the NPC's in BG2 are actually quite faithful in their alignment as to prove they're not, unless there's a 500 page book called BG2 NPC's - 10,000 Facts About Keldorn Firecam being distributed around that I don't know of.
     
  14. Déise

    Déise Both happy and miserable, without the happy part!

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    I've usually seen it the opposite way around. LG is the purest form of good and CE is the most evil. I think a lot of it is down to the order they're listed in! Usually LG first and CE last. Also, humans tend to prefer stability to chaos ("may you live in interesting times").

    If you're someone who dislikes bureaucracy and authority I can see you think CG is superior.

    I do really like the alignment axis but I think it's important to bear in mind that the two lines are completely separate. Your value in one doesn't affect your place in the other. It's probably the case that for a lot of people if you present them with two linked items they automatically think there must be a relationship between them.

    The other important thing is that "they're more like guidelines anyway." It specifically says that a lawful person will not follow laws they believe to be wrong. A chaotic person will not ignore laws completely. Also, the alignment should reflect a person's actions rather than his demeanour. I think PST handled this badly. Messing about and making fun of people shifted your axis to chaotic even if you were lawful and stayed true to your word when something important was going on. I'm really liking the character of Alastair in DAO for this reason. I think his alignment would be LG but his conversations are often frivolous on the surface and are loaded with sarcasm. He will also break promises made if he believes it to be for the greater good.
     
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  15. NOG (No Other Gods)

    NOG (No Other Gods) Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

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    I think it's a problem in western culture as a whole these days. We identify too much with the rebel, the trouble-maker, the rabble-rouser, often to the point of demonizing agents of law and justice. Robin Hood, Batman, Ironman, and many other "heroes" exemplify this. Though the LG side is still present in today's culture (Superman, Law&Order, etc), it has definitely taken a back seat to the CG side (or, sometimes, just the C side).

    That being said, I think trying to pin down any of the "boxes" as X and only X is folly. Psyches are not that simple, and the alignment system is a simplistic and vague organization of psyches. Two different "Chaotic Good" people may do the same thing for very different reasons, or completely oppose each other on a topic. The same with LG or any of them. A good GM should understand a character's motive and "ballpark" an alignment for both the character and the actions they commit.
     
  16. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
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    I don't agree with the premise of this thread. I don't think that people see chaotic good as more 'good' than lawful good. If anything, it seems to be used as an excuse to do evil things and write them off as chaotic.

    Of course, there's some tension with lawful good when the code of rules you're following naturally lead to something that's not good, but that doesn't make LG 'less good', it just gives a different way of becoming not good if you prioritise the lawfulness over the good (and you always have the option of getting a new and better set of rules for yourself to follow, so it's not like you necessarily have to go that way if you've been following a system that turns out corrupt).
     
  17. pplr Gems: 18/31
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    I don't have a problem with the system because of the several good points already made. Guide more than strict rule system.

    Also it seems to strike a nice balance between the really complicated concept of mapping out everything a character would likely do in various situations and what can we use to describe their core leanings in less than a sentence.

    I don't like removing either the lawful-chaotic axis or good-evil because doing so dumbs it down to a point where something is missing.

    There are or have been societies where following the law would lead to doing something evil and others where it would lead to doing something good. So law vs chaos alone doesn't strike me as detailed enough.

    Yet using simply good or evil doesn't describe very well how a character interacts with some aspects of society and its rules. So law vs chaos fits there.

    Some of what I've seen gives the impression D&D's designers thought Lawful Good was the highest types of good (paladins). But also one of the easier ones to trip up (bad laws).

    An interesting challenge, but one that I'm sure answers would readily appear for, is asking how does one challenge a chaotic good (or chaotic ___) PC.

    I agree with the "ballpark" (not uber strict) notion where a DM or player would ask what the general tendency of a given PC or NPC is towards an alignment, or not, with reasons to explain why or why not.
     
  18. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    I don't think bad laws would be a problem. LG characters don't have to follow bad laws. Think about a Jedi for instance (a pally in a sci fi universe), a jedi knight wouldn't follow imperial laws because they are bad but he would follow the Jedi code (which is good in a zen way). The same character would have no qualms about breaking imperial laws and regulations but would find it unbearable to break the Jedi code.

    Killing a prisoner is a big no for a Pally or a Jedi and I think a NG or CG character would feel the same way. Stealing would be problematic for a LG type unless it was clear the victim of the theft was some bad guy (and even so it's not something they would naturally do). Stealing from Jabba the Hutt is not the same as stealing from Luke's uncle. Following the Jedi Code a Jedi Knight would certainly never gather wealth for his personal use whereas a more chaotic type wouldn't mind that at all.

    What would be challenging for a CG character would be to take responsibility for others because chaotic characters are individualistic types (not necessarily selfish that's more on the good/evil axis) so being part of a community would feel like a yoke to them.

    I'm thinking about Star Wars a lot it seems but if you consider Han Solo then you will probably agree that he is CG (or CN but I believe there is a stronger case for CG). If he wasn't good he wouldn't have rescued Chewbacca in the first place. What is important to him is his freedom but he ends up taking chances with the Rebels because he can't just walk away. To him the Rebels are probably just a bunch of idealists who are going to sacrifice their lives facing the Death Star so his coming back means that he is ready to take his chances with them not because he believes in the Force or their ideals but because he can't leave his friends when they're facing certain death. This sort of motivation works pretty well for a chaotic character. A CG character is not fighting to impose laws upon others and in that respect a CG is similar to anarchists (not terrorists but persons who believe the existence of the state to be detrimental to individual rights).

    Being chaotic is more than flipping the coin to decide your next action or seeing no sense or meaning in life, it's about freedom. LG characters lives to serve others and society as a whole whereas CG characters believe in the right of everyone to decide how they should live and in the end they're yearning for absolute liberty (which doesn't mean that might makes right as this outlook is more suited for CE characters).
     
  19. Scythesong Immortal Gems: 19/31
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    Of course it's not about bad laws. It's about knowing which laws are good or bad, which is difficult since laws can be absolute or not, relative or not, have several other implications or not... Long story short, in the human perspective "laws" are actually quite chaotic which is why you really shouldn't take the D&D alignment system seriously.

    There is no such thing as a pure, absolute, ultimately good and extremely basic/obvious law. Lawyers wouldn't exist otherwise. Trusting our "gut feelings" is not enough (which is what Miko in OotS did, and look where it got her). It's the same as absolute liberty not existing - can you really call yourself "free" if you become a slave to the concept of freedom? Does forcing yourself to be liberal actually count as being liberal?

    Game-wise, the alignment system is pretty adequate unless you want to make a extremely irl-based character.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2009
  20. Caradhras

    Caradhras I may be bad... but I feel gooood! Veteran

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    I'd tend to agree with Scythesong (especially on the last point and the paradox Scythesong has cleverly pointed out) but as far as a D&D setting is concerned there are major difference with RL

    D&D is a world in which absolute evil and absolute good exist whereas real life is all about the shades of gray in between.

    In a D&D setting, mortals know for a fact that deities exist and that they are aligned along the good and evil spectrum, given that it is easy for characters to draw conclusions.

    In most cases a Paladin might not think twice before killing a few orcs because they're the enemy and they're meant to be XP fodder. That's why I like the goblins life through their eyes webcomic. It's just like dragons "colour coded for your convenience."

    In most pen and paper RPGs there is no such system and it works nevertheless, you use quirks or characteristics to define your PC. As far as abstractions go the alignment system works fine in the limits of the D&D setting but it is not a Jungian personality test. It would be impossible to define a real life character with only two simple parameters such as good/evil and order/chaos.

    RPGs are models used to depict a different reality and even the most complex set of rules (RPG rules and rulesets) can't cope with the complexity of real life and what it means to be a human being (let alone any fantasy variant which don't exist and as such are by definition alien to us -which is why elves are most of the time regular humans with pointy ears). Philosophers and psychologists have tried for ages to fathom the complexity of the human mind, what has eluded them since the dawn of time can't be reduced to a simple system.
     
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