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wolfinsheriffsclothing asked
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:

  1. 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.image
  2. 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).image
  3. 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).image

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.

Alignment, the short version:

turtlebard:

lawfulgoodness:

Morality:

  • Good - Willing to sacrifice personal gain for the greater good
  • Neutral - Personal sacrifice only for personal gain
  • Evil - Willing (and usually eager) to sacrifice others for personal gain

Legality:

  • Lawful - Hold yourself to an externally-defined code of behavior
  • Neutral - Unconcerned by externally-defined codes of behavior
  • Chaotic - Attempts to breakdown externally-defined social mores.

These are definitions of player motivations, not actions.  While all of this is up to GM interpretation for how it works (or doesn’t) in their games, to me alignment is about guiding Role Play, not predetermining it.  A character doesn’t “break” alignment for choosing door A instead of door B.  Alignment changes are a result of that character no longer viewing the world through the above lens  

I like this idea quite a bit. I’m not completely comfortable with the definition of neutral morality, but I can’t even really put my finger on why it’s bothering me. Maybe it sounds a bit too selfish to be neutral? I dunno. Neutral morality has always been a bit weird to me.

I can definitely dig that.  Neutral morality was definitely the one whose wording I played with the most.  I was trying to make it reflect the same idea as the other two, which is why I worded it in that way.  Another way I thought of putting it was 

"Neutral morality works for the greater good when it accompanies personal gain."

Neutral morality really seems to be that terrifyingly hideous blend of “the end justifies the means” and “can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.”

Alignment, the short version:

Morality:

  • Good - Willing to sacrifice personal gain for the greater good
  • Neutral - Personal sacrifice only for personal gain
  • Evil - Willing (and usually eager) to sacrifice others for personal gain

Legality:

  • Lawful - Hold yourself to an externally-defined code of behavior
  • Neutral - Unconcerned by externally-defined codes of behavior
  • Chaotic - Attempts to breakdown externally-defined social mores.

These are definitions of player motivations, not actions.  While all of this is up to GM interpretation for how it works (or doesn’t) in their games, to me alignment is about guiding Role Play, not predetermining it.  A character doesn’t “break” alignment for choosing door A instead of door B.  Alignment changes are a result of that character no longer viewing the world through the above lens  

What’s going on in Ferguson is like reason #1 why I recommend Chaotic Goods seriously consider going into law enforcement.

Thoughts on Lawful Good

judeao:

What if the laws of the setting are inherently bad, but the character follows them faithfully? They might recognize their unjustifiable nature, but enforce it anyway. Are they lawful good in the end?

No, absolutely not.  That makes them lawful, not good.

General RP ramblings

inannah-sinalune:

I have noticed, shall we say, a definite age and gender bias in playing certain character alignments. Yes, I realize WoW doesn’t have specifically delineated character alignments; but it has suggestions of alignments. Forsaken and death knights are, by implication, perhaps inherently “evil” or at least not totally good. Rogues tend to be Evil or at least Neutral. Priests, on the other hand, can be good or evil (Holy vs. Shadow). Druids tend to be seen as Neutral or Good. Paladins can often be Good but can also be played as terribly corrupt (see Blood Knights). Then you always get the phenomenon of people simply not playing a character within the set lines of lore as written by Blizzard. I don’t have a definite arbitrary problem with this, particularly within someone’s closed RP setting; I find it is only a problem with open RP when one wishes to interact with others and then pulls out something that isn’t accepted canon and expects others to simply accept it without question. Otherwise, if it has been agreed on within our group, bring on the creativity.

Less attention is paid to the older style of D&D alignment, Chaotic-Neutral-Lawful.

There’s a lot I could say about the different age groups and genders who tend to play certain tropes, and I started to - but then I realized this was a distraction from my main point, which is about the Lawful Good alignment.

Often, I see Lawful Good being played as an extremely superficial trope. The lawful good paladin repeats laws without reason. He is a mindless automaton, a policeman almost, who cannot think for himself. Chaotic good characters have broken free of a corrupt system that the lawful good character upholds. She cannot break free of it even if she sees the flaws inherent in it, and thus is an oppressor herself by virtue of staying true to her oaths.

In other words, Lawful Good characters are widely seen as corrupt and mendacious or naive and stupid.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that when I know someone who only plays evil characters, this says something about them as a person - who they are, how they think, how they view themselves. People who exclusively play the “evil” aligned character, especially the chaotic type, see themselves as striking back against a system that is oppressing them. Often it simply means they are very young and it is a natural rebellious stage (I remember a few rather silly chaotic characters of my own). But when this behavior persists well into adulthood, it’s sometimes part of a larger socio-political belief system.

Few people play exclusively Lawful Good characters, or “good” characters at all. I spent a long afternoon thinking about this one time and finally came to the realization that you can’t RP something you don’t understand.

If religious people who actually follow the rules most of the time all seem like stupid schmucks to you - then yes, any Lawful good character you play will be a stand-in for people you hate. And this will lead to more bad RP.

Like it or not, truly Lawful Good characters are not stupid or corrupt. They have made a conscious and informed decision to keep order and peace in society and believe the best way to do so is by obeying the rules and trying to see to it that others do. They may have many nuanced reasons for doing so and they are probably not doing so blindly. They may know very well about the problems with the system but hope to reform it from within.

The Nathan Fillion Alignment Chart

Okay, so I admit several of these are sort of ham-fisted, but when I realized the top line I just had to finish it off.

http://dyslexicoedr.tumblr.com/post/91262552480/lawfulgoodness-dyslexicoedr

lawfulgoodness:

dyslexicoedr:

lawfulgoodness:

doncoyote:

lawfulgoodness:

doncoyote:

People trying to justify why their character is “Good” using moral relativism in D&D/PF piss me off.

So I’m looking at my recent posts and I’m not sure why I’m tagged in this?…

<going to url to save space on folks’ dashboards>

neverpenalize somebody for violating their alignment, so long as they are acting in character.  THAT would be super dumb and extremely limiting to roleplaying and character development.  You’re absolutely right that alignment is artificial, and I’m not going to punish my players for growing their character.  In fact, I’m more likely to get frustrated by players whose characters haven’t changed or evolved over the course of the campaign.  Character concepts shouldn’t be immutable.

I just have enough players that are new enough to RPGs or who view them as elaborate wargaming/strategy hobby that alignment helps provide a framework to make decisions.  

I actually had one of my players say, in response to “It’s your turn, what do you do?” respond with…. “I do whatever is most effective.”  In trying to explain how that wasn’t an acceptable response, he just said, “But that’s what I would do.  That’s what my character would do.  My character would do whatever is most effective.”  He kept trying to explain why the GM (me) should tell him what the character would do in that situation, because the character always did The Best Thing Possible (TM).  That particular player used to play chess competitively and was part of regional tournaments and has a hard time not viewing the campaign as a whole and combat in particular as an intellectual contest to be conquered. 

All that to say, I encourage whatever steps GMs and players take to encourage character consistency while still encouraging character growth & development.  For me, the alignment system helps.

dyslexicoedr:

lawfulgoodness:

doncoyote:

lawfulgoodness:

doncoyote:

People trying to justify why their character is “Good” using moral relativism in D&D/PF piss me off.

So I’m looking at my recent posts and I’m not sure why I’m tagged in this?  Am I getting called out for something I posted, or are you just looking for solidarity?  What’s the context here?

image

When talking alignment, I have a pretty narrow range of what I consider allowable “good” behavior, but my views on the “lawful” part are a bit more generous.

Solidarity.
I got a guy, who is the GM for my main PF group, that has said that “enhanced interrogation” does not violate CG, and that were I push for a very strict objective view of what is “Good” and “Evil” when I run PF he won’t play unless I gave him some bullshit 36 page paper explaining good.
I have half a mind to strip out alignment when I do run the Emerald Spire for my group and just let certain classes be horribly gutted. Or tell him to piss up a rope.

He’s 85% of the reason I tend to play LE or LN in PF.

Ah okay, thanks for the clarification.

Moral relativism is where I think a lot of people start to mis identify their character’s alignment.  For me and my games it’s important to recognize that alignment is an external mechanic of the game.  It’s very “meta,” in that the actual characters and game world aren’t arguing about “Lawful vs Chaotic” or “Good vs Neutral,” etc.  Sure, they have a concept of morality and the legal/justice systems of the world around them.  But characters shouldn’t be focused on ensuring they maintain their “Lawful Good” or “Chaotic Good” status.  That is a function of the player, not the character.

This is important because about 90% of “bad guys” think they are the good guys.  With the exception of a few sociopaths, most villains think their actions are justified and would not classify themselves as “evil.”  A character is not Evil because they are dedicated to an alignment.  They are evil because their worldview makes their individual needs, wants, desires, and perspective more important than the greater good of humanity (or whatever society they happen to be a member of).

You don’t need 36 pages to explain “good.”  This exactly why I keep throwing that “You’re a bad person and you should feel bad” image around whenever folks try to justify their Evil campaigns as being Not That Bad (TM).  If your methods and motives require OTHER people to make sacrifices and face hardships so YOU can triumph, then you definitely aren’t good.

While I can see someone trying to make the case for “Enhanced interrogation” being CG, there is an extremely narrow set of circumstances and techniques I can see anyone making with a straight face.  As a GM, I would have to through the CG deity list and, if I can’t see the paragons of Hope, Luck, Freedom, Growth, Joy, Art, or Hunting being on board with it, there’s no way it’s Chaotic Good. 

All of this is why the alignment system for D&D/Pathfinder is pointless even as a game mechanic. The only characters that should even be worried about their behavior are those that have a respondent deity, clerics, paladins, and other divine casters. And even then they should only be worried about how their deity sees their actions. I can imagine some of these lawful good gods being perfectly fine with wiping out a brood of monstrous infants simply because their nature offends the god. Trying to apply some kind of universal objective morality to the game world is ridiculous and applies a level of mechanics, the in my opinion, stifle the actual role playing. Players should be free to have characters that have moral grey areas, it makes them interesting. The conflict between a character who has no qualms about cutting a bloody swathe through the enemy and one who sees it as immoral when there is another way to circumvent the problem is what makes a role playing game more than just a complex board game. It has long been my assertion that most people in reality are Lawful Neutral, they do what is best for themselves within the confines of the law mostly because they fear social reprisal. Most characters in RPG’s really end up being Chaotic Neutral, basically doing whatever suits them best at the time to reach their goals with little concern for the society around them as there is rarely any real social consequences, mostly because these ruin the plot of the game setup by the GM. TLDR: I think the alignment system is dumb and has little effect on the game and should really only apply to characters with specific deities.

See but I’m just not ready to do away with alignment as whole, and even encourage people to think in those terms even in non-DnD/Pathfinder games.  That’s because the alignment system is the only portion of the mechanics of the game to actually encourage roleplaying.  Everything else in the game is more “Function” playing…. how hard can I hit, how often do I hit, how easy is this lock to pick, etc.

Alignment helps players to think about characters and how they respond to the world around them.  I will conceded that in a character-driven or roleplaying intensive-group, alignment is not necessary and might restrict player creativity.  But for new players who aren’t quite comfortable with the completely open world or munchkins who don’t make decisions other than “was is my most effective response to get what I want?” alignment is crucial.  Honestly, without a really strong character concept, alignment is the only thing that keeps everybody from playing True Neutral.  ”Whatever is effective and efficient in this situation is what I do.”

That is extremely boring and why I encourage folks to think of their characters in alignment terms, because it lends a consistency to the character’s voice that otherwise might be lost in the desire to “win.”