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imp_fireball
2009-04-24, 11:09 AM
How does mental ability affect alignment? How does alignment affect mental ability?

Just for the record - Mental ability involves wisdom, intelligence and charisma.

How have you guys looked at it? How might you look at it?

This is a thought experiment.

The Glyphstone
2009-04-24, 11:16 AM
Why would alignment have any relation to mental attributes? It's not like, say, Chaotic characters have to have lower Wisdom than Lawful characters, Chaotics just put less impact on the consequences of their actions - they don't have to be unaware of said consequences.

Zaq
2009-04-24, 11:16 AM
No offense, but I see no way this can end well.

Anyway, you're basically trying to say that some alignments are "smarter" than others, is that right? Or that smarter (or wiser, or more charismatic) people would be naturally drawn to certain alignments? I think that's a really dangerous road to be heading down.

Tsotha-lanti
2009-04-24, 11:52 AM
Chaotics just put less impact on the consequences of their actions - they don't have to be unaware of said consequences.

That's not what Chaotic really means. That's a personality thing, not an alignment thing. The Lawful/Chaotic axis tells you whether you put the group or the individual first.

And yeah, there's no connection between alignment and "mental ability."

Dentarthur
2009-04-24, 12:03 PM
Firstly, remember that Good/Evil and especially Law/Chaos are very poorly defined and nobody really agrees on what they mean, hence all the alignment-bickering.

Secondly, while I don't think there's a correlation either, there may be a pattern if we look at the core character classes; the PHB indicates which way each class leans alignment-wise and which ability scores are most important to them.

{table]Class|Tendency|Attributes
Paladin|Lawful, Good|Charisma, Wisdom
Monk|Lawful|Wisdom
Cleric|Lawful|Wisdom, Charisma
Wizard|Lawful|Intelligence
Fighter|All|
Druid|Neutral|Wisdom
Barbarian|Chaotic|Wisdom
Ranger|Chaotic, Good|Wisdom
Rogue|Chaotic|Intelligence, Wisdom
Sorcerer|Chaotic|Charisma
Bard|Chaotic|Charisma, Intelligence[/table]

I see Wisdom across the board and Charisma represented twice on each side. Intelligence is a primary attribute for one Lawful-tending class and a secondary for two Chaotic-tending classes. Evil is not represented here, since PCs are generally assumed to be Good, but most classes can easily be either.

My totally scientific conclusion: Mental abilities and alignment have jack-all to do with each other.

imp_fireball
2009-04-24, 12:38 PM
No offense, but I see no way this can end well.

Anyway, you're basically trying to say that some alignments are "smarter" than others, is that right? Or that smarter (or wiser, or more charismatic) people would be naturally drawn to certain alignments? I think that's a really dangerous road to be heading down.

I claimed no such thing.

In fact, I'm more interested in how it all adds up.

Ie. A paladin who's lawful stupid might react one way or the other because the player says his low WIS justifies his actions.

In retrospect, he is more chaotic neutral, acting upon his own opinion of what's right, and using his paladin organization to further what he deems 'justice'. Eventually, the GM argues that he's going through an alignment change and will thus lose his paladin abilities.

Similarly, how can someone with low intelligence or appallingly low wisdom actually interpret what's right and wrong? Actually think it through in a mature manner from a self formed, well thought opinion?

Realistically, it's taking a huge step in life.

Realism. That's another reason why I created this thread. How is this all realistic?

lsfreak
2009-04-24, 01:42 PM
As soon as you try and bring reality into the D&D alignment, it falls to shambles.

A person with very low Int could easily understand right and wrong, in that they either do or don't try and harm others. Maybe they are incapable of seeing very far into the future, and so the consequences might be evil, but they never performed an evil act. Likewise someone with high Int but low Wis could easily see the outcomes of their actions and how it would effect people.

About the only way I could possibly see realistically tying it in would be someone with very low Int and abysmally low Wis, who is also a sociopath with zero empathy and is utterly incapable of understanding others have feelings. In which case he ends up True Neutral, just like animals.

Dogmantra
2009-04-24, 01:48 PM
zero empathy

That would mean low charisma too, and I doubt that anyone would have three dump stats! :smallwink:

The Glyphstone
2009-04-24, 02:01 PM
That would mean low charisma too, and I doubt that anyone would have three dump stats! :smallwink:

Barbarians have four.:smallbiggrin:

Mando Knight
2009-04-24, 02:02 PM
I think that higher Intelligence and Wisdom scores don't affect your alignment, but rather how deliberately you follow that alignment. Wisdom and Intelligence allow the character insight as to what actions are associated with the alignment, and combined with knowledge of what the character wants will cause him to edge towards the alignment most allied with his goals, both short-term and long-term.

lsfreak
2009-04-24, 02:07 PM
Actually, I don't think Charisma necessarily ties into empathy. I could see someone having high Charisma (force of personality) while simply being utterly unable to relate to others. The closest two examples I can think of off the top of my head would be Hitler (extremely high Charisma, but sees the entire human race as individuals that need to have their individuality erased for the betterment of the species), and Voldemort (high Charisma in D&D terms at least, but so self-centered that he is unable to relate to others).

Of course neither have the lack of empathy I'm talking about, where they simply don't have the mental faculty to understand that other people are people (similar to how some animals have comparatively high Charisma, despite being unable to understand morality and their own survival).

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 02:24 PM
Similarly, how can someone with low intelligence or appallingly low wisdom actually interpret what's right and wrong? Actually think it through in a mature manner from a self formed, well thought opinion?

Realistically, it's taking a huge step in life.

Realism. That's another reason why I created this thread. How is this all realistic?
No effect. Why? Because alignments actually have fairly simple principles.

For example:

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.
Did you hurt someone for no reason? That's not Good. Did you hurt someone purely for personal advantage? That's Evil.

At most, mental ability would affect how easily your character can be tricked. A LG Fighter might end up killing innocents if he could be convinced that they were terrible cultists who were going to murder babies. However, if he just ran in and started killing, he's not respecting life (so, Neutral) and if he keeps killing after it's obvious that they're willing to surrender, then he's Evil.

3E Paladins are tricky, because committing an Evil Act (i.e. killing innocents) even unknowingly, can cause a Fall. Their alignment should not change so long as they believe they are acting in accordance with their alignment, but they will still Fall and need to Atone. But for everyone else, it should have no effect on their actual alignment.

oxybe
2009-04-24, 02:28 PM
stats really have nothing to do with alignment

they, like alignment should only be used as a guideline on how your character acts.

a high int lawful character might deliberate for a while and slowly check off what needs to be considered then make a reasoned decision

a high int chaotic characters might have a deluge of ideas and quickly filter them through them for the best choice.

a high wis lawful character might be more aware of his environment and notices when things are out of place or were deliberately falsified.

a high wis chaotic character has a "gut instinct" that is usually right. he instinctively knows when things aren't "right". he might not make the connection immediately, but he knows.

a high cha lawful characters might seem larger then life. they have an unnatural elegance to them that just attracts people.

a high cha chaotic characters might be more easy-going and boisterous, they just ooze a grand time and have that scream "PARTY 24/7 RIGHT HERE"

note that these are "mights". individual characters will run the gamut of personalities and should not be expected to be a paragon of his/her alignment, but show it's traits in a mostly consistent manner.

Kalirren
2009-04-24, 02:49 PM
I'm not sure the whole thing about which alignment gets the stupid people is really on-topic.

At least in 3E, if you're not aligned (or some sorts of extraplanar, or powered by some random energy type, or undead/deathless or the like,) then you have to have Int 3 to have an alignment at all.

As an extension from this, I'd say that mental stats influence how strong of a stance a character can possibly take on alignment, whatever that alignment may be. A player who plays a retarded orc barbarian, Int 6 - Wis 8 - Cha 6, could probably get away with saying that his character just wants people to be nice to him and his friends and his favorite worg, even while he understands that a lot of smacking-down goes on in the world, and he himself does a fairbit of it. That's a perfectly acceptable stance for an 6-8-6 CN character.

On the other hand, I wouldn't let a player who plays a 16-18-16 CN character get away with anything less than a strongly individualistic personal philosophy.

I don't think alignment should affect anything at all - it's a characteristic derived from personality and outlook, not the other way around.

Telonius
2009-04-24, 03:01 PM
Not much to do with each other. There are examples of the whole range in each alignment.

Lawful Good
Hig Int: Spock
Low Int: Cyclops
High Cha: Capt. Picard
Low Cha: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
High Wis: Yoda
Low Wis: Harry Potter

You could go through it for each alignment, but I think you get the point.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-04-24, 03:06 PM
Not much to do with each other. There are examples of the whole range in each alignment.

Lawful Good
Hig Int: Spock
Low Int: Cyclops
High Cha: Capt. Picard
Low Cha: The Hunchback of Notre Dame
High Wis: Yoda
Low Wis: Harry Potter

You could go through it for each alignment, but I think you get the point.Harry Potter is by no means Lawful. CG-CN.

And yes, as long as your Int is above 2, you can be any alignment.

Godskook
2009-04-24, 03:32 PM
My thoughts:

Intelligent people tend to understand their views well, and thus are less likely to fall into zealotry than others. Hence, I suspect that a high int would result in one of the 4 half neutral alignments. They would prefer classes other than druid or paladin(but more so, prefer against paladin).

Wise people(if you know gods exist) would put themselves into the service of higher powers, since they know that off themselves, they'd never be powerful enough. Since D&D gods hit the full spectrum, the god's servants would too.

Charismatic people would always seek to lead, believing themselves highly competent for such positions. They'd flow readily from good to evil, but their ethics would be contingent on their place in society. Those that were given places of leadership in society would accept more lawful alignments(clerics and standard paladins or the LE variant). Those that were raised as outcasts or peasants would tend chaotic(bards, sorcerers and chaotic variant paladins).

Murdim
2009-04-24, 03:58 PM
Harry Potter is by no means Lawful. CG-CN.

And yes, as long as your Int is above 2, you can be any alignment.The consensus seems to classify him as Neutral Good (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NeutralGood), actually. Too self-sacrificing despite his jerkish behavior to be anything else than Good, and too disrespctful toward authority to be Lawful, but significantly less Chaotic than the twins, Luna, or even Ginny for that matters. Hermione, on the other hand, would be an excellent exemple of high-Int Lawful Good.



Intelligent people tend to understand their views well, and thus are less likely to fall into zealotry than others. Hence, I suspect that a high int would result in one of the 4 half neutral alignments. They would prefer classes other than druid or paladin(but more so, prefer against paladin).I don't think "neutral-less" alignments (and especially, the "less traditional" and once contradictory CG and LE) are more prone to be moral or political extremists, except maybe from the warped viewpoint of those crazy True Neutral keepers of Balance. And I don't think Intelligence has anything to do with moderation. Maybe in conjunction with Wisdom, to know when you can be enthusiastic about some idea, and when you should be more sceptic...

lsfreak
2009-04-24, 05:24 PM
Intelligent people tend to understand their views well, and thus are less likely to fall into zealotry than others. Hence, I suspect that a high int would result in one of the 4 half neutral alignments. They would prefer classes other than druid or paladin(but more so, prefer against paladin).

A high Int person can easily fall into zealotry, because they know exactly what the outcomes will be. I know that when the government eventually falls, I will be in a position to take over, or alternatively I know where to strike to weaken the government to the point where it can be reclaimed for good. I *know* they will fall. It's an inevitability. So we push on for the cause, whether selfish or selfless, because it will happen.

snoopy13a
2009-04-24, 05:31 PM
My thoughts:

Intelligent people tend to understand their views well, and thus are less likely to fall into zealotry than others.
.

Actually, understanding one's views very well is what often causes one to be a zealot. A more moderate position could be seen as contradictory and the intelligent person may end up at an extreme.

oxybe
2009-04-24, 05:40 PM
even intelligent people, as V him(?)self has shown, can have a single-minded goal and would be willing to sacrifice everything and walk over anyone they need to reach that goal. zealotry isn't always due to religion:

-in Eberron the Silver Flame killed lycantropes left and right during their inquisition as they were sure that the disease could lead people to evil. while they did kill a lot of evil 'tropes, they also killed a lot of good & neutrals.

-the more radical [group X] people. animal rights activists, religious people, warmongers, ect...

if anything a smart person might have an easier time "rationalizing" the "why", regardless of how horrible their actions actually are.

JaxGaret
2009-04-24, 05:47 PM
One more in the pile-on Godskook!

LN, NG, CN, and NE characters can be just as zealous as LG, CG, LE, and CE characters. So can True Neutral characters, for that matter.

Anyone can be a zealot.

Godskook
2009-04-24, 05:55 PM
Actually, understanding one's views very well is what often causes one to be a zealot. A more moderate position could be seen as contradictory and the intelligent person may end up at an extreme.

I was using this definition of zealot:

A fanatically committed person.

With this definition of fanatical:

Possessed with or motivated by excessive, irrational zeal.

Admittedly, there are other definitions of a zealot, but that's the one I'm using. By that definition, a moderate person and a zealot are mutually exclusive.

-----------------

To further my point, I see an intelligent person who isn't wise as someone who chooses which cause he pursues when contradictions appear between ideals. A wiser person would keep both ideals and find the necessary balance between them. For instance, I see Shojo as being very intelligent, but not very wise. I'd place his alignment firmly in NG. He isn't lawful, but he still prefers it to chaos.

Essentially:
High int characters see that ethics and morality will conflict, but how they deal with this is dependent on their wis score. A high wis will allow for compromise, but a low score will lead the character to choose which he follows, and the other is merely the way his neutrality leans.

Low int characters won't notice the conflict.

------

All that said, I wasn't being restrictive. I didn't say, nor did I mean, that an intelligent person would never be an extremist, just that I felt it less likely than the half-neutral views.

-----------------------


One more in the pile-on Godskook!

LN, NG, CN, and NE characters can be just as zealous as LG, CG, LE, and CE characters. So can True Neutral characters, for that matter.

Anyone can be a zealot.

Druids, clerics and paladin variants are the only 'zealot' classes in the SRD. Notice that an int score isn't very useful in any of them, relative to other classes.

KevLar
2009-04-24, 06:47 PM
How does mental ability affect alignment? How does alignment affect mental ability?
It doesn't and it doesn't, respectively. At all.

But if not, why would anyone ask that, even as a thought experiment? I think the reason is the abundance of stereotypes in D&D (and fantasy roleplaying in general).

For example, everyone's familiar with the super-powerful wizard/mad scientist type who is so smart, that he cares only about becoming smarter and accumulating even more knowledge and progressing science at the expense of everything else under the sun. Of course, this is not in fact a tendency, and makes no real sense (as in cause/effect) if you think about it. It's just a stereotype, something that happens all the time in the stories and in your game sessions. Too many of those, and your mind creates a false association:
High Intelligence => Neutral , or even Evil. Rarely Good.

Likewise, take the iconic bard. The happy-go-lucky fellow who doesn't really plan ahead or worry about the consequences, like the wise men do. But instead lives day to day, without a care in the world. Could be a rogue, too, or any other of your standard Chaotic scoundrels. See too many of those, and again your mind makes a false association:
Low Wisdom => Chaos.

So, the problem is that a huge number of D&D characters (heroes, villains, NPCs, whatever) are horribly stereotyped. Now, when you're a new player, that's not really an issue. That's what you came here for, in order to play and become the pre-existing stereotypes of the stories and myths, instead of just hearing about them. A totally new experience. Awesome. But do that too many times, and it becomes tedious.

However, even if you acknowledge the situation and want to try something new, ignoring the tropes is not as easy as it seems. Some of it is now ingrained in your head and you don't even realize it. Some of it has been stereotyped exactly because it makes for a good story and intriguing characters (so you should only change it if you can do better, one might argue). Or you might be tempted to subvert the trope instead of ignoring it, which is in fact just another, exotic way of incorporating it to your game. Optimization may also hold you back. It would be another awesomely new experience to play a totally chaotic scoundrel, who happens to be very insightful and street-wise, but if you put Bard or Rogue in the build, you'll probably end up dumping Wisdom anyway, won't you?

And thus, the stereotypes propagate ad nauseam.

But other than that, no, there's no connection whatsoever between alignment and abilities. :smalltongue:

SlyGuyMcFly
2009-04-24, 06:54 PM
My totally scientific conclusion: Mental abilities and alignment have jack-all to do with each other.

I support this totally scientific conclusion.

Shpadoinkle
2009-04-24, 07:03 PM
I support this totally scientific conclusion.

I third this.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 07:23 PM
I support this totally scientific conclusion.
How can you not support SCIENCE?

Dhavaer
2009-04-24, 07:37 PM
How can you not support SCIENCE?

It killed my bunny! Poor Mr Fluffers... :smallfrown:

Oracle_Hunter
2009-04-24, 07:51 PM
It killed my bunny! Poor Mr Fluffers... :smallfrown:
And SCIENCE can restore it!

*zap*

Behold! Frankenfluffers!

chiasaur11
2009-04-24, 09:04 PM
How can you not support SCIENCE?

You can't. Unless you're a smelly hippy.

Violent Science is even better.

lsfreak
2009-04-24, 09:24 PM
You can't. Unless you're a smelly hippy.

Plenty of hippies like science, it gave us LSD after all :smallwink:

chiasaur11
2009-04-24, 09:30 PM
Plenty of hippies like science, it gave us LSD after all :smallwink:

They're the only people able to, though.

Even the Amish like Science! (Even if not all of its applications.)

Well, a hippy or the makers of Blue Gender. But I assume they're hippys, so I'm being redundant.

JaxGaret
2009-04-25, 12:11 PM
Well, a hippy or the makers of Blue Gender. But I assume they're hippys

Even better - they're Violent Science Hippies!

imp_fireball
2009-04-26, 08:38 AM
In which case he ends up True Neutral, just like animals.

Or chaotic evil. It's all relative to the setting.

------
How does alignment in warhammer 40k add up? Where every commodore is given privilege to shoot their men?


That would mean low charisma too, and I doubt that anyone would have three dump stats!

Very low charisma actually reflects the inability to express your own emotions, not necessarily be unable to interpret those of others. If your charisma is zero, your view of the world becomes so construed that you can't even interpret the emotions of others let alone express your own (which is incomprehendable at that point). Mind you, a lower charisma also influences that person's opinions of strangers later on in life.

Also, you become incapacitated because you can't reason around this mind-screw. You can't convince your own limbs to move, and your mind and body are acting of their own free will.

In real life terms - severely autistic and paralyzed from it. That's how I look at it. :P


"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

The only issue with this is real life politics. Euthanasia? Is that good or evil?

A lot of real life politics are actually neutral (of course, with a semblance of logic to seed their popular upbringings), but then the question falls to how alignment affects people's beliefs in politics.

I'm sure a lot of it falls to personality in roleplay (which reflects belief which in turn reflects what political party a character will support; personality doesn't usually fully hold itself to alignment and shouldn't), but some people let their beliefs cloud their moral decisions as well.

A man might let his son die because he has a religious view towards said son receiving treatment for a disease, whether or not the son wants to live.

On reflection, the ultimate decision might seem like that of the result of a lower WIS (not necessarily low compared to the average) that influenced the decision - of course, one can also assume that religion played a major part in the man's life.

Finally, I'd like to say that realistically, rarely, if ever, does an evil person admit that they are evil (unless they're insane and acknowledge that fact as well... which might require wisdom to do so).


Even better - they're Violent Science Hippies!

Like the villains in Rainbow Six?

On that note: It'd be hilarious if people misinterpreted a druid's neutral alignment to mean that any character that revers nature HAS to be highly neutral.

So, kill the human race to save mother earth? We're not chaotic evil! We're true neutral, baby!

Again, alignment is relative under those circumstances.


Did you hurt someone for no reason? That's not Good. Did you hurt someone purely for personal advantage? That's Evil.

I would have thought the former is evil.

And for the latter - What if you were hurting someone so that you didn't die? What if it was like a saw situation? You might have little compunction not to decline hurting them (which would imply higher INT in deducing the hopelessness of the situation, or simply a non-good alignment).

Also, what if someone did you (and others) wrong and then you hurt them in return, but continued to hurt them long after wards, purely because you detested their lifestyle? What if you happened to be nice and willing to sacrifice yourself to anyone but them?

I'm sure people that are good can have vendettas and even take revenge just like others. It's all relative as to what is 'morally reasonable'.

Of course a situation where someone steals your bagel and you set them on fire years later as revenge would suggest hints of being slightly evil. That's just an example.