Hello, love the blog and enjoy reading your posts whenever you make them. I have a question, hope you can help. When you're playing an LG character, does it make sense to have them distrust governments, even those in settings where they match alignments? Whenever I play an LG character, I'm always suspicious of such officials, because if corruption is going to come from somewhere, its them. Are you LG, even if you're suspicious of those who enforce a potentially LG society? Does that make sense?
Thanks for the praise & the ask. It’s a rather interesting question I’ve been mulling over. Keeping in mind my definition of “Lawful” (holding oneself to an externally-defined code), it would largely depend on the relationship with who is setting the standard for that code. There are three entities involved, and the result depends on the interplay between them. Those three entities are the Lawful Good character (LG for short), the object of Suspicion (OoS), and whoever is the writer of law (WoL) in question.
I would say there are 3 possible interpretations:
- The most straightforward example might be that the LG is a follower of a particular deity. This makes the deity the WoL. The OoS we’ll say is some government which claims to also follow the same deity. In this case, having the LG suspicious of the government doesn’t cause the LG to change alignment. Their commitment is not to the OoS but to the deity. So longer as they are following the WoL, I would still classify them as Lawful Good. (Good example: Friar Tuck throwing the corrupt Bishop out of a Window in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). Still an LG imo.
- Another possible case is where the OoS IS the WoL. In this case, we might have the LG being a deputy or sheriff in some sort of law enforcement capacity, with their loyalty being tied to the law enforcement organization. An example of this might be something like the movie Serpico, where a cop surrounded by dirty cops doesn’t have anywhere to turn. If the LG is suspicious that the WoL is not actually Good, then I think it could go either way. Either they are holding themselves to the ideals the WoL was forgotten (or faked), and they are holding themselves to that Law and are still Lawful Good, or they recognize that this Law is not good and ought to be destroyed, therefore they are Chaotic Good. I could really go either way on this one. (Basically, I feel like this is a Don Quixote scenario, in which the character would consider themselves Lawful Good, but everybody else would call them Chaotic Good).
- The third option is where I can see the LG losing their “Lawful” status. This is a case where the LG is suspicious of the WoL without cause or perhaps preemptively. The difference between this and #2 is that the LG has no reason to doubt the Goodness of the WoL. If the LG is inherently suspicious of the WoL, then I would say the LG is not truly committed to the standards established by the WoL. To be Lawful, you have to hold yourself to the that external code, and if you are suspicious of it, you can’t really hold yourself to it. If that’s the case, then I’d say the LG really isn’t LG at all, but Chaotic Good. I would say, in this case, they are probably most like good ol’ Thomas Jefferson, fighting the system for a better system (or, some might say, fighting the system for a system that treats him better).
So there you have it. Three possibilities, some of the Lawful Good, some of them Chaotic Good. To me, the telling difference isn’t so much the Lawful Good character themself, but rather the Writer of Law. If the establisher of the external code actually is good, then it’s very straightforward. If not, then I’d leave it up to the GM, but for me there’s a strong case to be made for the character becoming chaotic.