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Tequila Sunrise
2008-12-19, 03:48 PM
How do you feel on the subject? Good? Bad? Reasonable? Bogus? Supported by RAW? Supported by tradition? Enforced in practice?

Discuss.

TS

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-12-19, 03:50 PM
Alignment is junk. Completely. Lawful v Chaotic is never defined. That said, characterizing it as ADD is taking it more than a bit far.

GoodbyeSoberDay
2008-12-19, 03:55 PM
Lawful and Chaotic seem to be associations of related qualities, none of which are necessary by themselves. Only when you accumulate enough of one type of quality over another are you Chaotic or Lawful.

For example, you can have a standard LG Paladin with severe ADHD (reasonably assumed to be a "Chaotic" quality) so long as he has other strong Lawful qualities to make up for it.

Of course, what counts as Lawful and Chaotic qualities is the hard part, but do you really expect me to do the hard part?

Nerd-o-rama
2008-12-19, 03:56 PM
Alignment is junk. Completely. Lawful v Chaotic is never defined. That said, characterizing it as ADD is taking it more than a bit far.What the tall kid said.

Tengu_temp
2008-12-19, 04:03 PM
Worse than ditching alignment, waaaaay better than "lawful = always obeys the law, chaotic = don't care about the law" or "lawful = conformist, chaotic = individualist". If I absolutely had to define lawful and chaotic alignments, I'd use those.

I assume that the ADD part is an exagerration here.

Zeful
2008-12-19, 04:10 PM
How do you feel on the subject? Good? Bad? Reasonable? Bogus? Supported by RAW? Supported by tradition? Enforced in practice?

Discuss.

TS

Lawful: I will use the laws to further my GNE (Good Neutral Evil) Goals.
Chaotic: I will use whatever I deem necessary to further my GNE goals.

That's how I try play at least.

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 04:13 PM
I have never understood why so many people have such a deep level of loathing for alignment.

Talya
2008-12-19, 04:14 PM
Lawful: I will use the laws to further my GNE (Good Neutral Evil) Goals.
Chaotic: I will use whatever I deem necessary to further my GNE goals.

That's how I try play at least.

This is good, though I don't necessarily relate the law-chaos axis to actual legalities. I view it more as whether you follow a code of conduct that governs your actions above and beyond your intentions, or just do what seems like the best idea at the time. And even that doesn't do it justice...

MammonAzrael
2008-12-19, 04:16 PM
Personally I think the biggest issue is that TSR never had a thesaurus (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0012.html). I believe this alignment axis would be better understood if it was Order/Chaos, instead of Lawful/Chaotic.

That being said, I think your comparison is certainly one way to go about it, and possibly a good way to get new players not to just assume
"lawful = always obeys the law, chaotic = don't care about the law" or "lawful = conformist, chaotic = individualist".

rubycona
2008-12-19, 04:21 PM
How I like to do alignment is this: create the personality First, with all nuances. Good-Evil is usually easy enough to define, but law-chaos, I usually prefer to figure out the fundamental view of the character.

Does he believe he does or should act in a way that all people should act? If yes, that's a point towards lawful, if no, a point towards chaotic. IE, stealing from the rich to help the poor is good, but if Everyone did that, even chaotic characters realize the problem. A paladin isn't conformist: he's living what he believes to be an example for all others to hopefully follow.

Do the ends justify the means? If yes, a point towards chaotic, no a point towards lawful.

And so on. "Accumulation of traits" doesn't seem fitting for a fundamental philosophy. Like me, IRL... I do what I think is right, and to hell with the law or anything that gets in the way. At the same time, I'm bound by oath to never lie. The first line better reflects my fundamental philosophy, so I consider myself, IRL, to fall into the Chaotic Good category.

Edit: I Like the alignment idea, as to me, it seems mostly a way to force people to really analyze and understand their character's motivations. As a DM, I'm pretty flexible with definitions, so I don't let it hinder my players.

Tequila Sunrise
2008-12-19, 04:21 PM
I assume that the ADD part is an exagerration here.
You're right. The exaggeration was meant to encompass the whole 'chaotic personalities don't have the discipline to become paladins/monks/whatever' theory.


I have never understood why so many people have such a deep level of loathing for alignment.
Ya got me! I think it has something to do with painful adolescent gaming experiences, overly controlling DMs, fast-food-heavy diets and shetland ponies.

TS

Tar Palantir
2008-12-19, 04:21 PM
I agree it's a little bit messed up, but for any given character I make, it seems intuitively obvious what alignment they should be. It's hard to generalize lawful and chaotic, but is less complicated in practice, most of the time. A few snags come up, but there will always be snags. I don't think it's as bad as people make it out to be.

KilltheToy
2008-12-19, 04:34 PM
You're right. The exaggeration was meant to encompass the whole 'chaotic personalities don't have the discipline to become paladins/monks/whatever' theory.


It's not that those of us with ADD don't have the discipline to become paladins or monks. If someone with ADD wants to become a monk, they could, it'd just likely take them a bit longer to learn. IIRC, paladins are called by the powers of good into becoming paladins.

Raz
2008-12-19, 04:42 PM
I personally feel that Law vs. Chaos has had good explanations and treatments in the past.

The hard part's finding them in the whole Good vs. Evil mix!


However, among the more notable examples of Law vs Chaos coming into play is the Bloodwar of Planescape fame. Helps if you ever had the Hellbound kit.

It presented the fight between the Ta'nari (sp? I don't have my resources on hand) and Baatezu quite well I felt. Heck, it was where I LEARNED about Chaos vs. Law!


Personally I felt that Chaos is not simply ADD, if that were true Chaotic characters would have a much harder time adventuring overall. It is occasionally ADD, but not the most pressing quality I feel.

Chaos has a much easier time being mutable in its methods and goals. If a goal is easily obtained, it may immediately switch to another goal that was either on the sideline or made up on-the-fly. If one method of achieving a goal isn't working as quickly as hope, NEW PLAN! NOW!

Chaotic characters are very much characters of the Present Moment. More so than Lawfully inclined ones, who tend to either be very traditional (past thinking) or thinking ahead. This isn't to say that a Chaotic character can't stick to a code of honor or make plans. However said characters are more likely to have very personalized codes of honor based on their past experiences, and their plans are going to have ______ that might need filling when they get to work (Hmm... should I bribe the guard with a bologna or turkey club sandwhich?)

Leewei
2008-12-19, 04:42 PM
Paper bag! Paper bag! Paper bag!

TheLogman
2008-12-19, 04:44 PM
I follow states and local laws to the letter. I have a personal code of behavior that I follow. When I see a stop sign, I will stop, COMPLETELY. When people behave "randomly" or out of character, it bothers me. When I see people violate traffic laws/have a light out/something else, it bothers me. I like routine and not being a familiar environment or doing familiar things puts me off a little.

Now of course, I have some Chaotic Tendencies, and my Lawfulness isn't that obsessive, but I am pretty sure I am Lawful.

Now I have a friend who thinks a number of laws are bunk, doesn't obey traffic laws if nobody is endangered by it, regularly behaves "randomly", seeming weird or odd to other people. He will act out of character once a week or so, and isn't bothered by the things above that bother me.

Now of course, as above, his Chaotic alignment isn't completely Chaotic, but I am pretty sure he's Chaotic.

The problem (With Law/Chaos) is that there is no solid definition. To my knowledge, following laws/routines/personal codes is Lawful, and not doing so is Chaotic. But then we have the whole "Teamwork" crap that Wizards added, and so apparently anyone that can work with anyone else is Lawful, and you can only be Chaotic if you are a crazy and stupid loner.

Athaniar
2008-12-19, 04:49 PM
Alignment begone! The power of true roleplaying compels you!

Alignment is nothing but an obstacle for roleplaying, and the few things depending on the system can easily be removed or rewritten.

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 04:51 PM
But then we have the whole "Teamwork" crap that Wizards added, and so apparently anyone that can work with anyone else is Lawful, and you can only be Chaotic if you are a crazy and stupid loner.

Never saw this. To me, the bad one was the 2E PHB, which explained how Chaotic Neutral meant that you were insane. To some extent, they still do that. I've learned to ignore them.


Alignment begone! The power of true roleplaying compels you!

Alignment is nothing but an obstacle for roleplaying, and the few things depending on the system can easily be removed or rewritten.

...I don't follow. How does it hinder roleplaying?

Zeful
2008-12-19, 04:52 PM
This is good, though I don't necessarily relate the law-chaos axis to actual legalities. I view it more as whether you follow a code of conduct that governs your actions above and beyond your intentions, or just do what seems like the best idea at the time. And even that doesn't do it justice...

It's merely a baseline for the mindset of Lawful or Chaotic I use. It's not perfect, but it allows me to better assign alignments to personalities rather than the other way around, and it gets around certain other issues with alignment. Like my [Chaotic (Neutral] Good) character I played on the forums. He bucked authority at all times but tended to admit that yes helping the people is a good idea.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-19, 04:54 PM
I usually define Law v. Chaos as this:

Law: Plays by the rules.
Chaos: Does not play by the rules.

And by "the rules", I generally mean "society's rules". It's an ethical choice, rather than a moral one like Good v. Evil is.

rubycona
2008-12-19, 04:55 PM
Alignment begone! The power of true roleplaying compels you!

Alignment is nothing but an obstacle for roleplaying, and the few things depending on the system can easily be removed or rewritten.

It depends on the DM, really. If the DM is a stickler for his/her own personal definitions of alignment (like my old DM was... oh, the arguments!) then, it's a MAJOR hindrance. I wanted my character to be a certain way, figured "Chaotic neutral" matched my character best, but my DM refused to allow me to act on any lawful-ish qualities. And heaven forbid you go true neutral!

On the other hand, if your DM is open to personal interpretation, and realizes that people are actually more complex than 9 possible alignments would otherwise suggest, then it actually Helps roleplaying, IMO.

People don't change their fundamental worldviews on the fly (if it seems they do, they're probably chaotic :P). But they can use the requirement of having an alignment to sit down and really figure out the fundamental philosophy of their character.

I personally find it makes it easier to make a full, in depth character, since it forces me to figure out how my character views things in regards to the concepts of good/evil and law/chaos.

Seffbasilisk
2008-12-19, 04:55 PM
Chaotic is ADD as much as Lawful is OCD.

Those are both extreme examples, but less about the mindset, and more about the actions. Often people with ADD are actually more disciplined than others, because they have to be. I have to deal with both of those, but wouldn't call myself Lawful when I'm OCD, or Chaotic when ADD.

Lawful is more...structured, chaotic is more being able to move with the times. Most martial artists I know are Lawful, while most of the good streetfighters I know are Chaotic.

I think Alignment is taken from how the character responds to things, thinks, and acts, instead of vice-versa.

Athaniar
2008-12-19, 04:58 PM
Never saw this. To me, the bad one was the 2E PHB, which explained how Chaotic Neutral meant that you were insane. To some extent, they still do that. I've learned to ignore them.



...I don't follow. How does it hinder roleplaying?
By telling you (the character) how you should act. Plus, it creates a lot of discussions like this, on how to interprete them. Without alignment, no pointless discussion, but rather free roleplaying, that allows for moral ambiguity.

SilverClawShift
2008-12-19, 04:58 PM
The alignment system is generally bunk, and it's also needlessly convulted and self-contradictory.

That said, removing the idea of alignments all-together is a lot of work, given that so much of the D&D cosmological structure (not to mention so many spells, class restrictions, ect, are dependant on it). To simplify things, my group uses a very blunt alignment system.

Lawful is doing good things, chaotic is doing bad things. Good and evil come in when you examine WHO you do those things to.

Lawful Good is doing good things for good people.
Chaotic Good is doing bad things to bad people.
Lawful Evil is doing good things for bad people.
Chaotic Evil is doing bad things to good people.

We STILL don't pay too much attention to the alignment system.

Fax Celestis
2008-12-19, 05:01 PM
By telling you (the character) how you should act. Plus, it creates a lot of discussions like this, on how to interprete them. Without alignment, no pointless discussion, but rather free roleplaying, that allows for moral ambiguity.

The alignment spot on your character sheet is supposed to be a guideline, not a stopping block. Two characters who are both Chaotic Good may have completely different outlooks on what that actually means.

Most of the arguments on this topic are because people try to apply the alignment system to an objective viewpoint, when alignment is actually subjective and different for each and every person. As such, for each character, their alignment, while containing each of the nine alignments, will necessarily be different in a fundamental fashion. Because of this, no two characters will ever truly "share alignment", even if they both carry the same two word descriptors: their motivations differ, and as such their alignments will necessarily likewise differ, despite them carrying the same "alignment name."

Saph
2008-12-19, 05:01 PM
Lawful = ordered, Chaotic = disordered. That's how I've always seen it, anyway.

The Law/Chaos axis gets less attention than the Good/Evil one for obvious reasons, but just like the other, it really does exist. I know plenty of Lawful Neutrals and Chaotic Neutrals in real life. :)

Just bear in mind that like with the other axis, most humans fall somewhere in the middle . . . and remember to come up with personality first and alignment after.

- Saph

Zeful
2008-12-19, 05:02 PM
By telling you (the character) how you should act. Plus, it creates a lot of discussions like this, on how to interprete them. Without alignment, no pointless discussion, but rather free roleplaying, that allows for moral ambiguity.

Which is why you apply Alignment after you know the character's personality, so you have a quick reference to the character's moral lines.

I've never found Alignment to be a Roleplaying hindrance.

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 05:07 PM
Concurred w/Zeful, Fax, rubycona

rubycona
2008-12-19, 05:09 PM
Which is why you apply Alignment after you know the character's personality, so you have a quick reference to the character's moral lines.

I've never found Alignment to be a Roleplaying hindrance.

Exactly. It's a guideline.

Forcing alignment into something like, LG = EXACTLY this interpretation, etc, means that you can basically only play 1 of 9 possible people. All LGs will be, personality wise, exactly identical, and that's retarded. I had a DM who seemed to think that way.

As a rough guideline showing the general world view of the characters, it's very useful. As long as you take care not to turn into a definition-nazi.

Raz
2008-12-19, 05:15 PM
I also agree.

Personality, then Alignment!


That needs a slogan or some-such...hmmm...

I agree with PTA? Wait, that might get confusing.

Trizap
2008-12-19, 05:21 PM
The alignment system is generally bunk, and it's also needlessly convulted and self-contradictory.

That said, removing the idea of alignments all-together is a lot of work, given that so much of the D&D cosmological structure (not to mention so many spells, class restrictions, ect, are dependant on it). To simplify things, my group uses a very blunt alignment system.

Lawful is doing good things, chaotic is doing bad things. Good and evil come in when you examine WHO you do those things to.

Lawful Good is doing good things for good people.
Chaotic Good is doing bad things to bad people.
Lawful Evil is doing good things for bad people.
Chaotic Evil is doing bad things to good people.

We STILL don't pay too much attention to the alignment system.

nooooooooo!!!! order is not good and chaos is not evil! they are completely separate! chaos is not evil, and lawful is not good! get that into your head!

AslanCross
2008-12-19, 05:27 PM
How I like to do alignment is this: create the personality First, with all nuances. Good-Evil is usually easy enough to define, but law-chaos, I usually prefer to figure out the fundamental view of the character.

Does he believe he does or should act in a way that all people should act? If yes, that's a point towards lawful, if no, a point towards chaotic. IE, stealing from the rich to help the poor is good, but if Everyone did that, even chaotic characters realize the problem. A paladin isn't conformist: he's living what he believes to be an example for all others to hopefully follow.

Do the ends justify the means? If yes, a point towards chaotic, no a point towards lawful.

And so on. "Accumulation of traits" doesn't seem fitting for a fundamental philosophy. Like me, IRL... I do what I think is right, and to hell with the law or anything that gets in the way. At the same time, I'm bound by oath to never lie. The first line better reflects my fundamental philosophy, so I consider myself, IRL, to fall into the Chaotic Good category.

Edit: I Like the alignment idea, as to me, it seems mostly a way to force people to really analyze and understand their character's motivations. As a DM, I'm pretty flexible with definitions, so I don't let it hinder my players.

QFT. The main reason why a lot of people hate alignment comes from their DMs (or worse, other players) enforcing that all people with the same alignment will behave in exactly the same way. Even the PHB says that you roleplay the character, not the alignment.

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-19, 05:36 PM
Law: You routinely adhere to standards that were generated outside of yourself. Rules, commands, expectations, conventions, traditions; they're all the same basic sort of thing. I'm not sure if the English language has a single word for such things or for following them. "Law" and "lawful" are definitely misleading at best.

You don't have to adhere to all established standards. That would be pretty much impossible, since different cultures and subcultures are often in direct conflict with each other. You just need to adhere to one set of standards. So you can totally have two LN or LE groups fighting over whose particular flavor of Law is better, or just over resources. In Acheron, they do this pretty much 24/7. (On the other hand, a Lawful Good group isn't very likely to initiate violence against another Lawful Good group.)

Following a "personal code" should not be considered Lawful. That was an incredibly stupid idea. Any personality can be phrased as a code. "My monk's personal code of honor is that he doesn't ever take crap from anybody and does whatever the hell he wants. He believes very strongly in this." No, I'm sorry, that's dumb. But the monk's alignment restriction is also dumb, so I'll let you play a Chaotic monk, how's that? At tenth level, you can even have unarmed attacks that are treated as Lawful, Chaotic, Good, and Evil, so you'll be effective against more creatures with DR. Oh, and you don't have to take all of your Monk levels in one block, 'cuz that was a dumb idea too.

Honesty should only be considered a Lawful trait in situations where you're expected to be honest. In a situations where society approves of lying, dishonesty should be considered Lawful! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Chaos: You defy others' expectations because you do things your own way. You're not about to do something just because you were told to. You violate normal standards of behavior; you don't follow those standards, you follow your own.

Being Chaotic does not mean being random and unpredictable. That was an incredibly stupid idea. You can insist on doing things your very own particular way all the time and still be Chaotic. In fact, if you consequently refuse to compromise with others, this probably makes you Chaotic.

That said, Chaotic people are more likely to be insane and vice versa, simply because many unconventional forms of irrational behavior class as as both insane and Chaotic. Normal superstitions, biases, control issues, etc., by virtue of being normal, aren't considered "insane". But it's the unconventional part that makes most forms of insanity Chaotic, not the irrational part. Got it?


I have never understood why so many people have such a deep level of loathing for alignment.
I could say "Because it's horribly implemented", but that seems overly generous. The rules don't implement anything, because all of the official material on alignment adds up to a big pile of nonsense. The core description of alignment is so vague that different people very understandably come up with completely incompatible interpretations of how alignment is supposed to work. Including different WotC game designers, because they never got together and came to a consensus about this.

If you want to make alignment consistent and non-ridiculous, you really do have to sort through a bunch of things and remove/change various stuff. A lot of gamers are understandably resentful about having to do all that work just to get the system non-stupid.

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 05:42 PM
Hardly needs "implementation," just a few suggestions to help people choose which effects their character will get decked by.

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-19, 05:49 PM
So are you OK with, e.g., "Evil" and "Neutral" meaning different things for monsters than they do for PCs? The inconsistency doesn't bother you?

Fax Celestis
2008-12-19, 05:52 PM
So are you OK with, e.g., "Evil" and "Neutral" meaning different things for monsters than they do for PCs? The inconsistency doesn't bother you?

Since those are subjective terms, I have no problems with that.

Roog
2008-12-19, 06:06 PM
Lawful = OCD, Chaotic = ADD :smallbiggrin:

PurinaDragonCho
2008-12-19, 06:15 PM
Alignment is a problem because it's the most subjective part of the game. Everyone can easily see how mathematical stuff like BAB and saves work, but smart dudes wearing sheets have been sitting under trees arguing about law and chaos as far back as history goes.

Best thing is for each group to discuss it and come to their own conclusions about how it will work and what it will mean in their game. There will never be a concensus on a forum with hundreds of members. But 5 people could probably reach at least a truce on certain issues.

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-19, 06:22 PM
Since those are subjective terms, I have no problems with that.
Good and Evil aren't supposed to be how people personally choose to categorize things, though. Each one is supposed to be a single objective thing. [Edit: As the terms are used in D&D, not necessarily in moral philosophy in general.]

If you want to align things based on how people in the gameworld feel about it, that's really what the Law/Chaos axis is for. Good and Evil are supposed to be altruism/benevolence and cruelty/malevolence, independent of how people feel about them. The problem is that altruism isn't quite the same thing as benevolence, and cruelty isn't quite the same thing as malevolence, and the rules switch back and forth on which of those Good and Evil are. The switching is mostly implicit and therefore hard to pin down, but it's there.

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 06:30 PM
Well, my own answer would be that altruism and cruelty are not fixed to any one alignment. Benevolence and malevolence are rather specifically good and evil. A neutral evil person, after a violent looting, might drop a bag of gold coins in a beggar's cup in a fit of cheer. There's more than enough documented examples of lawful good cruelty.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-12-19, 06:33 PM
Law: You routinely adhere to standards that were generated outside of yourself. Rules, commands, expectations, conventions, traditions; they're all the same basic sort of thing. I'm not sure if the English language has a single word for such things or for following them. "Law" and "lawful" are definitely misleading at best.

You don't have to adhere to all established standards. That would be pretty much impossible, since different cultures and subcultures are often in direct conflict with each other. You just need to adhere to one set of standards. So you can totally have two LN or LE groups fighting over whose particular flavor of Law is better, or just over resources. In Acheron, they do this pretty much 24/7. (On the other hand, a Lawful Good group isn't very likely to initiate violence against another Lawful Good group.)

Following a "personal code" should not be considered Lawful. That was an incredibly stupid idea. Any personality can be phrased as a code. "My monk's personal code of honor is that he doesn't ever take crap from anybody and does whatever the hell he wants. He believes very strongly in this." No, I'm sorry, that's dumb. But the monk's alignment restriction is also dumb, so I'll let you play a Chaotic monk, how's that? At tenth level, you can even have unarmed attacks that are treated as Lawful, Chaotic, Good, and Evil, so you'll be effective against more creatures with DR. Oh, and you don't have to take all of your Monk levels in one block, 'cuz that was a dumb idea too.

Honesty should only be considered a Lawful trait in situations where you're expected to be honest. In a situations where society approves of lying, dishonesty should be considered Lawful! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Chaos: You defy others' expectations because you do things your own way. You're not about to do something just because you were told to. You violate normal standards of behavior; you don't follow those standards, you follow your own.

Being Chaotic does not mean being random and unpredictable. That was an incredibly stupid idea. You can insist on doing things your very own particular way all the time and still be Chaotic. In fact, if you consequently refuse to compromise with others, this probably makes you Chaotic.

That said, Chaotic people are more likely to be insane and vice versa, simply because many unconventional forms of irrational behavior class as as both insane and Chaotic. Normal superstitions, biases, control issues, etc., by virtue of being normal, aren't considered "insane". But it's the unconventional part that makes most forms of insanity Chaotic, not the irrational part. Got it?

Gosh, for someone who hates the Alignment System so much, you nailed the Law/Chaos distinction quite well. I guess your handle is well chosen :smallbiggrin:

Khatoblepas
2008-12-19, 06:36 PM
Precursor: My idea of alignment is mainly from the Planescape cosmology. Also, whew, this took a heck of a long time. I probably was ninjaed three times over. Anyway, this tries to explain the general outline of the alignment components, and where it is taken to an extreme by the paragons of that alignment. Remember: When Good and Evil are equally inpartial, both are dangerous.


Lawful is doing good things, chaotic is doing bad things. Good and evil come in when you examine WHO you do those things to.

NO.


MORAL ALIGNMENT
Good and evil dictate WHY you do something.
GOOD:
"We've got to help these people, even if it costs us our lives!"
Benevolence. Acts that are more beneficial than detrimental to the wellbeing of others. One can ultimately bring more detriment than benefit to a situation and still be Good, so long as the intent was to improve the situation for other innocent or likewise benevolent beings. Good does not require omniscience. Good characters are generally selfless.
Taken to an extreme in: Elysium. To the point where there are naturally forming birds that sap the will of those who want to leave, making them docile and listen forever to the calming birdsong, ignorant of anything else happening around them. Elysium is dangerous for it's the sheer amount of Safety there. It cares about you until you never do anything to hurt anyone ever again.

EVIL:
"We've got to stop these people getting killed, they could be useful to us later on."
Malevolence. Acts that are more detrimental than beneficial to the wellbeing of others. Intent is a factor. One can ultimately bring more benefit than detriment to a situation and still be Evil, as usually the act was to benefit them first and formost. Evil Characters are generally selfish.
Taken to an extreme in: The Gray Waste of Hades. It also saps the will of those who want to leave, sucking out their soul and making them care less and less about everything (Apathy towards others, and then yourself) until eventually the plane subsumes them. The danger here is that the plane itself doesn't care about you. It wants you for a petitioner. And it doesn't care about how you get there.

ETHICAL ALIGNMENT
Law and Chaos dictate HOW you do something. Law and Chaos is a bit more complex, as it not just dictates your outlook, but also it can consume you far more than Good and Evil can. This was developed in Planescape, where Law and Chaos ARE far more important than Good and Evil, to the point where there is the Blood War - an eternal conflict between Law and Chaos.
LAW:
"In order to save them, we must formulate a plan."
Meticulous. A Lawful creature will value order to solve a problem, making plans and evaluating situations. They will try to create contingencies for projected unexpected situations, and often have backup plans to fall back upon. If it doesn't fit into the world, there must be a rule governing it. If not, it shouldn't exist. Lawful creatures also might want to understand everything. Nirvana is a state of absolute enlightment, wherein you understand everything.
Taken to an extreme in: Mechanus. Mechanus operates on a strict schedule where every action is planned, measured and controlled perfectly. There is no chaos theory in Mechanus, everything that happens, happens for a reason. There is no destiny, only the planned future, and the denizens of Mechanus work so that this is always so. The futher more lawful you go, the less Good it seems (but Modrons, Inevitables et al are never Evil, since they are physically incapable of thinking along those lines). Inevitables murder. Modrons cannot empathise beyond the Modron above and the Modron below. Even Rogue Modrons are fiercely careless. It is not that they are evil, but they have no concept of empathy or antipathy. A faction that embodies this ideal are the Mercykillers. They show no mercy, because order is the only thing that is important. They aren't perfect, as most of them are primes, not planars, and thus tainted with the slightest bit of other alignments. But this is why Vhailor can be Lawful Neutral, not Lawful Evil.

CHAOS:
"We've no time! Let's just play it by ear."
Spontaneous. Chaotic characters do not plan, they do not try to make rules for every single little thing that goes on in the world. It's chaos, berk, why worry about it? While Law is structure, Chaos is imagination. No Plan, No Weapon, No Contingency? No problem for a chaotic character. He plays it by ear, adapting himself to the situation, rather than the situation to him. Chaotic characters are driven more by impulse and emotion than rationality and logic. Revolutionaries are chaotic. Chaotics want change. They can shape the world with their imaginations, but they can't maintain it. This doesn't mean they are ADD, but more... they don't want to be constrained by a single set of rules.
Taken to an extreme in: Limbo. Rolling potential. Everything everchanging in a soup of raw planestuff. Things might form, they might not. But only one thing is for sure: It will suffer entropy and return to the roiling waves of Limbo eventually. Slaadi are chaos embodied, and it shows. Even they're egg implanting shows entropy. Eventually, all will be slaadi. And then all will be chaos. But nothing is for certain. The Xaotisects are a faction that tries to embody chaos. bErK,v@╙* XaoS, *WT*17'Z X+*j *■i x.



HERE'S THE RUB:
All mortals (and some immortals) are tainted with all four alignments. They never have to act exactly like their alignment all the time - Alignment follows your overall personality, not the other way around. You could be chaotic with a penchant for honour. You could be lawful and somewhat spontaineous. Good creatures can be selfish sometimes. Evil creatures can be selfless. But it is your overall worldview which governs your alignment, NOT solely the individual acts you take.

Alignment should NEVER be constraining unless you are playing one of the Extreme alignment planars, such as Angels, Fiends, Modrons, and Slaadi. If you have the alignment subtype, your default alignment is going to be that subtype.

BUT.

If you have experienced other alignment philosophies, and are tainted by them, you can be whatever alignment you desire. Player characters should never be constrained by alignment, it should follow their overall worldview, and changes should be discussed between the player and the DM. Always.

Remember.
Vhailor is insane and Lawful Neutral.
Ignus is murderous and Chaotic Neutral.
And play Planescape: Torment. It makes everything make a lot more sense.

It's amazing how alignment's been watered down. It used to be so, so important.

And did I miss anything?

Agrippa
2008-12-19, 06:50 PM
Worse than ditching alignment, waaaaay better than "lawful = always obeys the law, chaotic = don't care about the law" or "lawful = conformist, chaotic = individualist". If I absolutely had to define lawful and chaotic alignments, I'd use those.

I assume that the ADD part is an exagerration here.

Then you probably won't like my take on Law and Chaos. To me Law is placing the needs of the many over the rights and liberties of the few. For example, an innocent child is fortold to unleash a demonic army upon their 16th, 17th or 18th birthday. A Lawful Evil would kill the child to avert the prophecy, stating that the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the few. A Lawful Neutral would instead place the child in a carefully warded insititution for the rest of his or her life, again stating that the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the few. While a Lawful Good would take the same option as the Lawful Neutral but allow the child more social contact and eventually releasing the child from custody, stating that the needs of the many outweigh the rights of the few but that does not condone creulty or callousness.

Deme
2008-12-19, 07:16 PM
Music is somehow, to me, the best example I can think of of what feels like Law/Chaos to me. During High School, I attended an art school part of the time (for writing, but that's not the point), and what I really noticed was the difference between the Classical Music/Composing kids and the Jazz kids. While I was never really involved enough, socially or musically, to really pin down what the difference was, I can say that the basic ideas of Jazz Music and Classical Music feel like Chaos (in music form) and Law (in music form) to me

Jazz is a lot less focused on what's already been written, and it is very much focused on "doing what's right in the moment."

Classical seems more focused on what's written on the page, even if you wrote it yourself. It seems (and I am not a music expert) to be focused on the structure of the music itself. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a lot more "rules" to classical music than there are in Jazz.

Neither is better or worse than the other, just suited to different players and different ears. A Jazz Musician doesn't have to never write it down, and a Classical Musician can probably get away with a bit of improvisation, every now and again...

There. Metaphor Complete.

((Also, Bards not being allowed to be Lawful stink. Just saying: it makes sense, but only when stereotypes are allowed. I would love to one day go and play a travelling bard who plays carefully prepaired sheet music and meticulously schedules his route across the countryside.))

Cheesegear
2008-12-19, 07:33 PM
Devil's Advocate and Khatoblepas have pretty much already said what I wanted to say. Except that Khat wins...


It's chaos, berk, why worry about it?

Since everything else in that post was something I already thought, the above line is the only thing I really paid attention to. :smallwink:

ericgrau
2008-12-19, 07:41 PM
law = disciplined: yes
chaotic = ADD: NO. That's a minor yet highly annoying RP mental disorder, not ethics.
"there's no rule for this": yes there is. It's right there in the rulebooks, though people don't pay much attention, disagree outright with it, or fill in their own version.

But let's assume we fast forward for a second and assume we finally get people to agree to pay attention to the rule and follow it. Even then there's still some disagreements, but it's still worth a shot. Here are the topic sentances from the rules:


"Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability.
"Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility.
Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.


IMO everybody already gets the gist of it, heck 90% posts seem to indicate that. But some take one aspect way too far or literally or etc. They try to be "lawful stupid" or rules-lawyers when it comes to alignment. IMO once you introduce fine nuances into alignment debates you've already screwed it up.

Law is straight up, chaos is whatever works, neutral is most people: straight up most of the time but whatever works if that's convenient enough. I'm intentionally trying to use fuzzy terms here, if you take that overly-literally or think I'm making up a hard-and-fast rule seperate from the above you've missed my point entirely. Just don't force yourself to play any alignment any certain way. No ifs ands or buts. If it loosely/mostly fits into one of the above more than it fits in the other 2, you're golden. If you're not sure or don't care just go neutral.

Here are a couple stunning examples, but there could also be 10 million lesser forms and variations:
Superman: "I hope this hasn't put you off from flying, statistically speaking it's still the safest way to travel."
Jack Sparrow (first movie): "There are no rules of engagement only can and cannot."
Most people you know (neutral): kinda obey the law, usually honest and loyal-ish

Tequila Sunrise
2008-12-19, 07:54 PM
((Also, Bards not being allowed to be Lawful stink. Just saying: it makes sense, but only when stereotypes are allowed. I would love to one day go and play a travelling bard who plays carefully prepaired sheet music and meticulously schedules his route across the countryside.))
Come play in one of my games; no alignment restrictions, just good clean fun!

TS

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-19, 08:00 PM
Gosh, for someone who hates the Alignment System so much, you nailed the Law/Chaos distinction quite well. I guess your handle is well chosen :smallbiggrin:
I don't hate the basic idea of the alignment system. I strongly dislike a lot of things that they did with that idea. It's rather like how someone can hate the Fighter class because he likes the idea of a highly effective, skilled warrior without any weird special abilities.

Some day I may start a series of posts on the problems with alignment and potential ways to fix them. The thing is, it would be a lot of work. Seriously addressing this subject requires a frickin' essay. Partly because alignment-in-practice really is that screwed up. But even moreso because making something that even ambiguously qualifies as a world of black and white absolutes really does require a fair deal of serious moral philosophizing. On the bright side, the main reason that I wouldn't find it wasteful to say that much about a game is that alignment actually does potentially provide a useful tool for looking at real-world morality and moral issues. There are things to be said about the distinction between Law and Good that have applications beyond the gaming table.

I mean, there are a damn bunch of socially acceptable ways to directly or indirectly hurt, oppress, or endanger other sentient beings. And this social acceptability is very much not directly based on compassionate egalitarian cost-benefit analysis. Conversely, just because behavior is extremely taboo doesn't necessarily make it harmful to anyone. Overt taboo behavior might be necessarily harmful, if we choose a definition of "harm" so broad that it covers experiencing anything you dislike. If so, we should honestly explore the implications of that. If not, we still need to decide exactly what we do mean by "harm". And so on and so forth.


Well, my own answer would be that altruism and cruelty are not fixed to any one alignment. Benevolence and malevolence are rather specifically good and evil. A neutral evil person, after a violent looting, might drop a bag of gold coins in a beggar's cup in a fit of cheer. There's more than enough documented examples of lawful good cruelty.
The above are the sorts of clarifying statements that are needed to make sense of alignment. Following through on them entails changing the listed alignment of a bunch of things.

Most alignment restrictions on classes are best done away with. Those really do restrict roleplaying: They limit allowable character concepts. Agreed?

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 09:11 PM
*shrug* depends.

Classic example would be Paladin. Based on the core concept, the alignment restriction is not only logical, it is in fact the class' core concept. If you have another concept for your paladin, then he probably shouldn't be doing what a paladin does. Unearthed Arcana therefore hands out some options for paladins of variant alignments.

Other times, it's deliberately used to prevent certain class combinations from being available. This does restrict character concepts, but no more than the line that says multiclassing monks and paladins can never return to their roots. It's a mechanical crutch.

The way I see it, alignment restrictions encourage a variety of character concepts, because you try to play within the framework. If you have a great concept based on an illegal combination, ask to step outside the norm. DM fiat is supposed to overrule restrictions when a player has a decent reason.

Thurbane
2008-12-19, 09:58 PM
How do you feel on the subject? Good? Bad? Reasonable? Bogus? Supported by RAW? Supported by tradition? Enforced in practice?

Discuss.

TS
That's pretty similar the way I've looked on the Law vs Chaos divide. Organization vs randomness. Some people in my group tend to get bogged down with Lawful = obsessed with written laws and following them to the letter.

I view it more as Vorlons vs Shadows, or Jedi vs Sith. Most of my alignment preconceptions tend to come from older editions and their treatment of alignment, however...

AslanCross
2008-12-19, 10:28 PM
Most alignment restrictions on classes are best done away with. Those really do restrict roleplaying: They limit allowable character concepts. Agreed?

With the core definition of the Paladin, no. The paladin's core concept is devotion to an ideal above and beyond the normal lawful good (or CG, LE or CE) person. That still doesn't mean, however, that every LG paladin acts in the exact same way. Some could have a rectal stick, while others could focus more on compassion. (I prefer the latter.) Not all Lawful Evil Paladins of Tyranny need to be self-aggrandizing, arrogant and scornful jerks. They could be smooth-tongued, charismatic, or even quiet---attitudes which might belie a seething desire to crush all opposition in a methodical and cruel manner.

With the monk, depends---I see the monk as following a particular ideology and sticking to it. Sticking to an ideology can go any which way. (On the other hand, one could go the Eberron way and have monks and clerics gain their power from their own enlightenment (monks) or faith (clerics), regardless of ideology or religion.)

With everything else, yes. Nothing prevents a barbarian from having a code of honor that he strictly adheres to. Just because a guy can get really angry doesn't mean he doesn't follow any code, legal or personal. The problem with the Barbarian, I think, is its flavor. It specifically talks about a person who is uncivilized and lives outside of the typical High Fantasy kingdom. Still, this assumes that just because he wears bear skins and wields an axe doesn't mean his tribe doesn't or can't have a strict disciplinary tradition or even a personal code of conduct that includes truthfulness, avoiding unnecessary conflict, etc.
Removing the barbarism flavor, we're left with a berserker--and I think it's very easy to imagine an order of hobgoblin berserkers who are strictly trained to maintain a fine grasp on their anger, only letting it loose explosively at the right moment.

Same thing with the bard---I don't see how a musician can lose his ability to grow and develop his talents just because he, say, becomes a member of an army that imposes a rigid code of conduct and a spartan lifestyle.

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-19, 10:49 PM
Classic example would be Paladin. Based on the core concept, the alignment restriction is not only logical, it is in fact the class' core concept.
Well, one could say that the paladin is a divinely empowered warrior who uses holy power as both sword and shield, and that restricting that concept to a particular subset of Lawful Good is silly.

Honestly, though, I like the basic idea of the DnD classic paladin as specifically a champion of justice. They're not quite ideally set up for that, though, because you can run them as getting their power from gods who may not endorse all of their ideals. As I see it, a cleric of Moradin is supposed to follow his god's commands to go smite a whole village full of orcs, but a paladin who worships Moradin should probably respond by telling Moradin to stuff it. If he can lose his paladin powers for disobeying his god and for breaking his code, he can potentially be put into situations where he just loses his powers no matter what he chooses to do. This is why he shouldn't get his powers from Moradin.

If only deities who are themselves paladins empower mortal paladins, it's a bit better, but I prefer them nondenominational. They might still get their special abilities from the God o' Paladins, but that they might serve as his allies and not so much followers, y'know? Indeed, I would prefer that Paladins Don't Get To Be Partisans, period. That they're obligated to take the right side, even if this brings them into conflict with their friends, family, and entire society.

Anyway, this character concept is specific enough that it arguably ought to be a prestige class, not a base class. If it has to be earned in-game, that helps to keep paladinhood from going to a player who can't handle it. That strikes me as a good thing.

It also deserves a power boost to compensate for its restrictive code. No, really. That stuff meaningfully limits your potential, which warrants a corresponding balancing boost to potential.
I was specifically thinking of the Paladin class when I said "most alignment restrictions". Bein' all Lawful Good really is a big, big part of the core 3E paladin. Getting rid of that doesn't really change the Paladin class so much as replace it with a similar class also called "Paladin". Which is arguably not a bad thing. But not the same.


Other times, it's deliberately used to prevent certain class combinations from being available. This does restrict character concepts, but no more than the line that says multiclassing monks and paladins can never return to their roots. It's a mechanical crutch.
Yeah, and those restrictions are dumb. The thingies where you have to take all of your Paladin and/or Monk levels in one block included.

While removing the Paladin class's specific code fundamentally changes it, you can remove the alignment restrictions on the Monk, Bard, and Barbarian and not fundamentally change them. Which strikes me as a good indication that they're unnecessary.

They're a holdover from days when base classes were also restricted by race and ability scores. Why they decided to keep this particular variety of restriction in 3E I don't know. There's nothing crazy broken about any combination they prevent. Same deal with multiclassing XP penalties, really. Yeah, some classes are a bit front-loaded, but it turns out that XP penalties were a crappy attempt to compensate for that, and the most powerful builds are Spellcaster Base Class/PrC anyway, so screw it.


The way I see it, alignment restrictions encourage a variety of character concepts, because you try to play within the framework.
They, um, encourage the ones they allow over the ones they disallow. But that's only desirable if you consider the allowed concepts to be superior to the disallowed ones.


If you have a great concept based on an illegal combination, ask to step outside the norm. DM fiat is supposed to overrule restrictions when a player has a decent reason.
Should a build alternating between Monk and Rogue levels require more justification than one alternating between Barbarian and Rogue? If so, why?

If not, why not just say right off the bat that you're getting rid of the restrictions, instead of requiring players to come to you for special permission?

afroakuma
2008-12-19, 10:59 PM
Yeah, and those restrictions are dumb.

You'll note I agree. "Crutch" was not a compliment.


While removing the Paladin class's specific code fundamentally changes it, you can remove the alignment restrictions on the Monk, Bard, and Barbarian and not fundamentally change them. Which strikes me as a good indication that they're unnecessary.

I would argue that a monk should not be chaotic (or should receive a name change - favoring the latter) as the choice of term implies a certain level of asceticism.


They're a holdover from days when base classes were also restricted by race and ability scores.

Oh, those foolish times.


Why they decided to keep this particular variety of restriction in 3E I don't know.

Paladin & dipping.


There's nothing crazy broken about any combination they prevent. Same deal with multiclassing XP penalties, really.

Yeah, those aren't viable. I haven't had a DM yet pay attention to them.


Yeah, some classes are a bit front-loaded, but it turns out that XP penalties were a crappy attempt to compensate for that, and the most powerful builds are Spellcaster Base Class/PrC anyway, so screw it.

Again, painfully true.


They, um, encourage the ones they allow over the ones they disallow. But that's only desirable if you consider the allowed concepts to be superior to the disallowed ones.

They obviously do... however, for players who have difficulties with the RP aspects or with character concept, the fences help them. For those that don't, the fences offer lines to color dangerously close to. For those that really don't, DM fiat allows for more interesting stuff.


Should a build alternating between Monk and Rogue levels require more justification than one alternating between Barbarian and Rogue?

Rogues don't have an alignment restriction. The only chain there would be that stupid class change rule.


If not, why not just say right off the bat that you're getting rid of the restrictions, instead of requiring players to come to you for special permission?

See above with the RP rookies.

Thurbane
2008-12-20, 12:43 AM
I just don't get why so many people seem to have huge problems with the mutliclassing restrictions on Paladins and Monks, multiclassing XP penalties in general, class-based alignment restrictions etc...

At the risk of getting myself flamed silly, if you're looking for a game where flavor/fluff based rules have been almost entirely sacrificed on the altar of balance, might I suggest 4E instead?

It's just that I get irked when I look back on my many happy years of 1E and 2E gaming, and people today say "OMFG can you believe that back in those days you couldn't even play a halfling paladin/monk/barbarian/bard! LOL those editions suxx0red!". :smallannoyed:

It's like the stupid 3e/4e edition wars we see around today, or the love/hate ToB threads. Not better, not worse just...different. It took me a long time to stop being a giant jackass and realize that myself. :smallredface:

JaxGaret
2008-12-20, 01:12 AM
I've been thinking of it as Lawful = Driven By Logic, Chaotic = Driven By Emotion.

It works reasonably well.

SadisticFishing
2008-12-20, 01:28 AM
Oh, God, no.

Lawful = believing in law.

Chaotic = believing in NOT law.

Order and anarchy. No more than that.

Thurbane
2008-12-20, 01:31 AM
I've been thinking of it as Lawful = Driven By Logic, Chaotic = Driven By Emotion.

It works reasonably well.
Exactly, that's why I think of it as someone like the difference in Jedi and Sith philiosophy.

bosssmiley
2008-12-20, 07:10 AM
Paper bag! Paper bag! Paper bag!

:smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

My personal take is very Moorcockian, with a dash of Planescape.

Law is structure, rigidity and following set protocols
"Sorry Mr Tuttle, but existential computer says no."

Chaos is constant ferment, fluidity of form and spontaneity of action
"We can't stop here! This is Slaad country!"

This allows for the whole Yin/Yang of chaos theory in D&D (Modron fractal mathamagics and quantum weather butterflies of Limbo anyone?), and also avoids the silly "Chaos is incoherence and/or madness" thing which I once saw typified as:


If Chaos = disorder, then you're beating up hobos.
If Chaos = irrational responses to stimuli, then you're going to Bedlam to attack the loonies.

Wulfram
2008-12-20, 07:58 AM
*Casts Dictum, killing everyone with an untidy bedroom*

The thing is that for the Law/Chaos axis to make sense, it needs not only to make sense, it also needs to be important and fundamental. If it's just about how organised you are, then the presence of spells which kill people of the wrong alignment looks rather strange. Similarly if you interpret it politically - as Order vs Freedom - it seems superfluous when you're smashing your way through a dungeon, and if you are playing a campaign in which it is important then I don't think you necessarily want people to be able to cast "Detect Rebel".

hamishspence
2008-12-20, 08:06 AM
I see each trait as being relevant but not the be all-and end-all. A person can have multiple Lawful traits and a small amount of Chaotic traits and be LN, for example.

Maroon
2008-12-20, 10:17 AM
How did alignment get so caught up in fluff? It's a mechanical effect; it's alignment, not merely personality. Sure, it affects how you roleplay, but so does your race and class.

In settings where it's appropriate, I treat alignment the way Mr Maliszewski handles it (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/10/alignment-thoughts.html):

The way I'm envisaging it right now, there are three forces at work in the cosmos: Nature, which simply is (and is thus Neutrality); Law, which seeks to control/subdue Nature to one degree or another; Chaos, which seeks to undermine/destroy Nature.

Neutrality is made up both of creatures who simply go about their daily existence without regard to why and creatures who have chosen, for philosophical reasons, to uphold/protect "the Balance" that Nature represents, said Balance being often impersonal and even amoral.

Law is made up of those who favor Order, whether that order be civilization, hierarchy, or outright domination. There are thus "ethical" distinctions between adherents of Law, some being Good, some being Neutral, and some being Evil. Regardless of such distinctions, all Lawful aligned creatures seek to impose structure on Nature and oppose the entropic character of Chaos.

Chaos is made up of those who revel in destruction, whether it be outright destruction or gradual corruption. Despite different approaches, there are no ethical distinctions between Chaotic beings, since all wish to bring Nature crashing down because they see even its disinterested "order" as too restrictive and stifling. Only destroying Nature will bring ultimate freedom -- the freedom of total annihilation.
This way, demons, faerie and the insane are all to varying degrees aligned with Chaos, while devils, angels and paladins are on the side of Law, though not necessarily the same side of Law. Alignment is not how you go about doing things, it's what you stand for.

It depends on what the focus of the campaign is. Since James is coming at D&D from a grognard sword & sorcery angle, Law and Chaos are his cosmic forces, and has Nature, being impersonal and neutral, as the middle ground. Good and evil are simply different kinds of Order.

In high fantasy, the cosmic forces are obviously Good and Evil. Since no sane druid would want to strike a balance between kicking puppies and petting puppies, Nature is the off-angle, chaotic purview of faerie (but still neither Good or Evil), and order comes from civilisation, but neither are that important in the bigger picture, since a civilised devil is just as Evil as a savage demon.

I'm guessing the reason D&D is so wishy-washy about alignment is because it can't decide whether it wants to be pulpy sword & sorcery or Tolkien high fantasy, and includes both axes as mechanical effects while diminishing the importance of each. It's how you get the crazy "Why did your cleric who likes to have his desk tidy cast Dictum? You killed my rogue who wears a purple tie with a green suit!" situations. The rogue isn't actually aligned with Chaos, is he? The cleric is aligned with Law, he's the mortal agent of a Lawful god, but he's not quite played that way.

I personally prefer low fantasy, so my settings usually don't have "cosmic forces", and as such don't use alignment. But then again, I don't use straight D&D, so it's easier to nix the alignments that are (haphazardly) ingrained into the system.

Neithan
2008-12-20, 11:13 AM
Being chaotic means trusting your guts.

And as every day experience surprisingly tells us, the guts are very often right.

Or more often than the brain, if you're more of a chaotic person. :smallbiggrin:

Your head says that everything is fine, but you're still having a bad feeling about this.
You know, that you don't really have a choice here, but you really would much rather chose differently and deal with the consequences that arise from it later.
Lawful people usually take a deep breath and go on as planned. Chaotic characters say "screw it!" and hope their feeling was right.

Exactly, that's why I think of it as someone like the difference in Jedi and Sith philiosophy.
True. When a story writer realizes that the conflict is not about Good vs. Evil but about Order vs. Chaos, things start to get interesting. I think I don't really make a spoiler here when I say that it's the big twist of Babylon 5.

Devils_Advocate
2008-12-20, 05:42 PM
You'll note I agree. "Crutch" was not a compliment.
Ah, thank you for clarifying; I wasn't sure how to read that.


I would argue that a monk should not be chaotic (or should receive a name change - favoring the latter) as the choice of term implies a certain level of asceticism.
There's no contradiction in a Chaotic ascetic. Come on, a guy who rejects both hedonism and society's restrictions to devote himself to the pursuit of personal mental, physical, and spiritual perfection? "I want to be the very best, the best there ever was!"

But anyway, "rogue" implies mischief, "barbarian" implies savagery, and "ranger" implies employment by a park service. :smalltongue: That's OK, though, because you can let a non-mischievious character have levels in the Rogue class; he'll just have levels in Rogue without being a rogue. Well, he may be referred to as "a rogue" out-of-game, but he won't be called a rogue by people in-game, presumably. In just the same way, "Monk" can serve as the name for a martial arist class.

"Monk" also implies maleness. The iconic monk is a woman. Obviously the term doesn't mean exactly the same thing in D&D as it does in real life.


Paladin & dipping.
Having to take all of your paladin levels in one block encourages dipping at least as much as it discourages it.

OK, so various alignment restrictions place limits on what builds you can add a Paladin dip to. Why is a two-level dip in Paladin more objectionable than a two-level dip in Fighter? Because they wanted paladins to be rare and special, and having the class thrown into lots of builds is at odds with that?

Bah! If paladins are supposed to be rare and special, Paladin should be a prestige class instead of something that any player can choose right off the bat.


Yeah, those aren't viable. I haven't had a DM yet pay attention to them.
I gather that they're commonly disregarded. Like level limits for demihumans in AD&D.


They obviously do... however, for players who have difficulties with the RP aspects or with character concept, the fences help them.
I disagree. You can draw boundaries without setting up fences.

I like to point to Beguiler as a class they got right. They go and point out that if you make a Lawful Good Beguiler, he'll be hella weird and atypical of the class. They don't disallow you from making one, though.

The Rogue class description discusses typical Rogue alignment. It explains how they tend to be Chaotic, at least more often than they are Lawful. That helps the reader to understand what a typical Rogue is like, and to see a few things that would make a Rogue atypical.

Rangers, similarly, are said to be most commonly Chaotic Good. This helps a player to see how to design an archetypal Ranger, and also to see how a Lawful Good Ranger they might build would be different from the typical Ranger.

You can provide plenty of guidance on how to flesh out a character concept without limiting options. The books do this in several cases. You can discuss why something might be a good choice or a bad choice.


For those that really don't, DM fiat allows for more interesting stuff.
Obviously, the DM has final say on what goes into his game. Yet there's remains a difference between tentatively allowing something and tentatively forbidding it. Tentatively disallowed material is... discouraged, shall we say. Perhaps even disdained to a degree, however slight? You're saying that it requires a justification, essentially. Whereas the DM needs a justification for keeping tentatively allowed stuff out.

The question then becomes: What are the DM's justifications for requiring player justification for some options but not others? Are his reasons good ones? Is he really discouraging things that he wants to discourage, and encouraging things that he wants to encourage? Does he understand how presenting some things simply as options, and presenting other things as requiring special permission, encourages and discourages various character concepts?

If I would rather not actively discourage the creation of, say, Barbarian/Paladins, then I should not include a rule that discourages their creation.


Rogues don't have an alignment restriction. The only chain there would be that stupid class change rule.
It's the same basic type of rule (i.e. needlessly restrictive for no good reason). Like alignment restrictions, it's how things work by default.

... I'll admit that I can't think of a prevented multiclass combination that couldn't be sensibly argued as at least vaguely inappropriate. Class/alignment combinations, sure, but not so much class/class combinations. Hmph.


At the risk of getting myself flamed silly, if you're looking for a game where flavor/fluff based rules have been almost entirely sacrificed on the altar of balance, might I suggest 4E instead?
Um, Thurbane, you may have missed this, but the general theme here is a dislike of flavor-preventing rules, not flavor-enforcing rules.

My cleric's deity is the active source of his magical abilities, so he loses his powers if he violates his god's wishes? Hey, cool, I can dig it.

I can't give a Lawful guy in the service of the King, who entertains visitors, negotiates deals, and consciously passes down the stories, music, and magical traditions of his culture, the music-lore-magic-and-shmoozing class, because that class is prohibited to him? MAN WHAT.

I'm all for restrictions that actually make sense. I'm opposed to restrictions that make the opposite of sense. And I feel that sense-neutral restrictions should only exist to balance the game.


This allows for the whole Yin/Yang of chaos theory in D&D (Modron fractal mathamagics and quantum weather butterflies of Limbo anyone?), and also avoids the silly "Chaos is incoherence and/or madness" thing which I once saw typified as:


If Chaos = disorder, then you're beating up hobos.
If Chaos = irrational responses to stimuli, then you're going to Bedlam to attack the loonies.
That only applies to someone who attacks people for being Chaotic. Depending on how you're running alignment, it's questionable whether you should attack people for being Evil. Attacking all Chaos is just wacky no matter what spin you put on alignment. It's something that would only be done by abnormal nutjobs. Who would then be Chaotic by such standards. OH, THE IRONY!