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Fhaolan
2009-12-15, 03:15 AM
You know, sometimes it doesn't really work when you play a character with a radically different personallity from yourself. It's an interesting exercise, and a good one for aspiring actors and the like, but it doesn't always work.

For example, in my gaming groups the general alignment of the players (not the characters) tend towards Chaotic. We're the kind of people who make things up on the fly, follow whims rather than plans, and generally make a mess of structured plot games with silly by-play.

However, we sometimes like to play characters like Paladins, Monks, and the like. Disiplined and plotting types. And usually we as individuals can pull it off, but if we're *all* trying to do it, things tend to go a bit weird.

For example, tonight's game where I'm playing and someone else is DMing: We have four very low-level characters, all Lawful Good. We were trying to research the history of this city that was being overrun by monsters to see if there was some explanation for the sudden arrival of a seemingly random yet huge horde of creatures. The city had a library as part of the mage's academy, but it was in the territory controlled by the monster horde. So the party sneaks in, finds a book with all sorts of info that we need. We read it, make notes, and head back to friendly territory to consult with what's left of the leadership of the city. Here's the conversation:

"Did you find anything?"
"Yes, there was a book with some very interesting information."
"Let's see it!"
"Oh, we didn't bring it with us." (Mainly because it was over several sessions with RL weeks between each one due to unfortunate scheduling. We basically forgot to mention taking it with us, and once we realized we had forgotten, we ran with that.)
"Uh.... why not?"
"We couldn't check out the book. We don't have library cards here."
DM sits there blinking for a moment.
"Did you copy the relevant passages, at least?"
"We paraphrased them." (All we had was the notes we had taken.)
"Why?"
"They're very strict about plagerism in the academy. Even in times of crisis, we need to be good examples to the students."
*twich*

A group of truely Chaotic players don't really run very good Lawful characters...

Temotei
2009-12-15, 03:27 AM
Sounds fairly lawful to me, except for the breaking in part. Maybe I'm just tired. :smallbiggrin: Funny story.

averagejoe
2009-12-15, 03:27 AM
Heh, good story. Very, 'cuz I'm evil. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_31sAAL7nc)

I tried to do this playing the evil guy in a party of good guys, but my group's characters tend to naturally gravitate toward evil anyways, so it didn't work. They just kind of acted genuinely evil anyways. :smallsigh:


Sounds fairly lawful to me, except for the breaking in part. Maybe I'm just tired. :smallbiggrin: Funny story.

I think the point is that they were playing lawful to the point of absurdity. See my link above.

Temotei
2009-12-15, 03:30 AM
Heh, good story. Very, 'cuz I'm evil. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_31sAAL7nc)

I tried to do this playing the evil guy in a party of good guys, but my group's characters tend to naturally gravitate toward evil anyways, so it didn't work. They just kind of acted genuinely evil anyways. :smallsigh:



I think the point is that they were playing lawful to the point of absurdity. See my link above.

Miko is absurdly lawful, too. Just saying. Pain-in-the-butt-type.

I think I've seen that video somewhere. Where's that from?

Shademan
2009-12-15, 03:55 AM
nonono, this is a good way of playing lawful. why? because this was a discworldsque pun that made me laugh thats why!

Sir.Swindle
2009-12-15, 08:46 AM
I am of the opinion you're doing it wrong. 5 characters of Lawful alignment all likely have different Laws they conform to not the written law of the city or library in this case.

For example, Your Lawful thief (if you had one) might follow a strict code of conduct witch robbing a public library would likely not violate. What the fighter who was originally from the city guard has to say about that is another story but generally your rouge won't care what he says any way.

That being said if that is the case and all of your characters are former librarians or some such then that is a perfectly fine way to play it. Morals and ethics are not convenient they strictly limit your actions but they also give your characters motivation. Just because the most logical thing to do is purge the plagued town of all life it doesn't mean you should. In fact Id yell at my paladin for not trying to save at least some of the uninfected people.

Since I know there are people here who do not believe that that is how the Lawful alignment works and to avoid further posts on the subject. I cite the Astral Stalker (MM 2 or 3). Its an outsider with the Lawful subtype whose code of conduct contains only 3 rules, none of them being "Follow the law of the land."

Roderick_BR
2009-12-15, 08:51 AM
Yeah, and last time I played a chaotic character, I ran around throwing random fireballs around, saying random one-liners like a crazy person, and getting into fights with every single guard or authority figure I met :smallamused:

Seriously though, my friends say that I play paladins even when I'm not playing a paladin :smalltongue:

Fhaolan
2009-12-15, 09:21 AM
I am of the opinion you're doing it wrong. 5 characters of Lawful alignment all likely have different Laws they conform to not the written law of the city or library in this case.

*laugh* Perhaps I'm being too obscure with my point. What I'm saying is that we're still 'playing' Chaotic, because that's who we are as players. But because the characters themselves are supposed to be Lawful, we're all retroactively making excuses for our actions to give the appearance of Lawful.

It's like a Lawful-type player who uses random die rolls to play a Chaotic character. He's not actually playing Chaotic really, because that's not how being a Chaotic-type person works, but it's the only way he can simulate it from within his own Lawful personallity.

Sir.Swindle
2009-12-15, 09:27 AM
Well thats a horse of a different color. But if you are looking for RP advice for lawful i usually layout my characters rules (the reason they are laful in the first place) and stick to them no matter what. It's crude but it works till you get the hang of it.

Rhiannon87
2009-12-15, 09:28 AM
Heh, I have this "problem" in my party as well. I have a pair of very Chaotic players who decided to play LG dwarven twin brothers. Let's just say... not so much with the lawful. Starting brawls in the streets/bars/public fountains for no reason at all, throwing each other into the paths of enemies, etc. It was hilarious and funny but if they weren't switching out their characters I would seriously start talking to them about alignment shifts.

And I have an exceptionally Lawful player who's trying her hardest to play a CG cleric of Selune. She has to constantly remind herself that "authority is not always good, you do not automatically have to obey, you can be disrespectful". The Chaotic players are trying to help. :smallbiggrin:

ChrisFortyTwo
2009-12-15, 10:07 AM
I have a player who wants to be a paladin, but the player is completely chaotic (one of those, if bored, will do something "interesting"...i.e. crazy). I like the character, and it adds to some of the more boring choices the other characters make.

The player is a CG, native outsider (based on Rich's Fenixborn (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/nb9xLIF0cTkkplYUSRC.html)), but wants to try to join a LG church as a paladin. In game, I will have them cast Detect Good and Detect Chaos, and after finding the character chaotic, will only allow them to join after some sort of test is given. My plan is, if they pass the test they will move to NG, Then they can be an apprentice.

Any ideas for an appropriate test of discipline? This should be something difficult for a chaotic player to do, since the player will know its a test and I don't want the player to say "Ok, I spend several days copying the manuscript." or whatever. I've looked for some modules and adventures, and haven't found anything. Any ideas?

hamishspence
2009-12-15, 10:14 AM
Fiendish Codex 2 had a few "obesiant" acts- ones that are strongly Lawful- some of which may fit.

"Abiding by a court ruling that goes against you"
"obeying someone you do not respect"
"obeying an order you think is stupid"
"aiding a superior to your own detriment"

Ryumaru
2009-12-15, 01:11 PM
I've never quite understood why people jump to the 'oooh, I'm so crazzzy and unpredictable!' with Chaotic, really.

Take the example in the book, Robin Hood; sure, the guy had his random moments in specific things (challenging random people to duels solely to feed his inflated ego), but other than that, all that made him Chaotic was his refusal to accept the obviously corrupt people's in charge's laws. I've not exactly seen him go 'I'm Chaotic, and dislike authority... hey, random guard who does his job to feed his family! Kidneyshot lawl! -Stab-'

Sir.Swindle
2009-12-15, 01:34 PM
I've never quite understood why people jump to the 'oooh, I'm so crazzzy and unpredictable!' with Chaotic, really.

Take the example in the book, Robin Hood; sure, the guy had his random moments in specific things (challenging random people to duels solely to feed his inflated ego), but other than that, all that made him Chaotic was his refusal to accept the obviously corrupt people's in charge's laws. I've not exactly seen him go 'I'm Chaotic, and dislike authority... hey, random guard who does his job to feed his family! Kidneyshot lawl! -Stab-'

Chaotic Evil could get away with that.

Chaotic is because i can
CG= Do good things because i can
CE= Do bad things because i can
CN= Do what i need to because i can

Fhaolan
2009-12-15, 02:02 PM
I've never quite understood why people jump to the 'oooh, I'm so crazzzy and unpredictable!' with Chaotic, really.

Take the example in the book, Robin Hood; sure, the guy had his random moments in specific things (challenging random people to duels solely to feed his inflated ego), but other than that, all that made him Chaotic was his refusal to accept the obviously corrupt people's in charge's laws. I've not exactly seen him go 'I'm Chaotic, and dislike authority... hey, random guard who does his job to feed his family! Kidneyshot lawl! -Stab-'

What I've been able to figure out is that Lawful-type people equate Chaotic with Braindead Insanity, in the same way Chaotic-type people equate Lawful with Mindless Adherence to Rules. Neither is right, but humans have a tendency to view 'not like me' as 'stupid'.

There are as many cases of people playing 'kill the random guard' as Chaotic rogues as there are of 'we must fill out forms in triplicate' as Lawful paladins. :smallsmile:

Grifthin
2009-12-15, 02:08 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

Sliver
2009-12-15, 02:17 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

Sounds CN with evil tendency to me..

Grifthin
2009-12-15, 02:18 PM
*sad panda*

Sigh.

Rhiannon87
2009-12-15, 02:19 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

Lawful Neutral, I'd say, with the "law" being preservation of humanity/life. Sacrifice one for the benefit of the many. Depending on the act, it can be good or evil, but whether it is good or evil doesn't seem to matter to this kind of character, you're not serving one of those causes. It's just about maintaining a certain order. Thus-- LN.

The Glyphstone
2009-12-15, 02:23 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

I'd say Neutral with strong Evil tendencies, and either Lawful or Chaotic depending on how impulsive or methodical your ends-justify-the-means actions are.

valadil
2009-12-15, 02:32 PM
I've never quite understood why people jump to the 'oooh, I'm so crazzzy and unpredictable!' with Chaotic, really.


My explanation for that has been the word 'chaotic'. I wish they'd taken something a little less extreme. Loner, individual, black sheep, freebird, etc. I admit they're not great alternatives but they would help lose the random connotation. I think the orphan slaughtering group of players who call themselves 'evil' suffer from similar confusion that could have been avoided had the alignment been called 'self-centered'.

Back to Fhaolan, the only time this disparity really bothers me is when the player isn't self aware. I've seen a lot of players who I would consider evil try to play paladins and fail miserably. I've even seen a paladin murder someone in cold blood and complain when the guys friends, who witnessed the murder, attacked him. He seemed to think they'd just sit there and let their buddy die. We don't play with him any more.

But most players I play with have a decent idea of who they are, especially with regard to the law/chaos axis. When your personal grounding is accurate it's easier to know how much more lawful you have to be to run a paladin.

Grifthin
2009-12-15, 02:35 PM
yeah I must say it's annoying when characters do completely random things because:" I'm chaotic/good/neutral/evil". There's no reason to have circus music and dancing lights above the half-ork paladin just because you think it would make him more "approachable".

Grumman
2009-12-15, 02:38 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.
Lawful evil. Murdering innocent bystanders on the basis of your Omniscient Morality Licence is not a good thing.

Grifthin
2009-12-15, 02:40 PM
I find it interesting how what I perceive to be "ends justifying the means" is labeled as Chaotic by some and others as lawful, but almost universally as evil. Here's I thought I was one of the good guys :smalleek:

Anonymouswizard
2009-12-15, 02:42 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

I'd say either LN, CN with some evil tendencies, CN with some good tendencies or CG with some evil tendincies depending on how you play it.

Grumman
2009-12-15, 03:01 PM
I find it interesting how what I perceive to be "ends justifying the means" is labeled as Chaotic by some and others as lawful, but almost universally as evil. Here's I thought I was one of the good guys :smalleek:
Here's my reasoning:
It is lawful because he's apparently gone to the trouble of deciding the plan justifies what would appear to be poor decisions in the short term. And if the character perceives himself to be good, it is because he values the long-term consequences of his actions more than the short-term.

However, he's evil because he's willing to murder innocent people for doing non-evil things, solely on the basis of consequences they could not reasonably have been expected to foresee. It cannot be a good act to slaughter an orphanage full of innocent people for the "crime" of helping people just because they didn't take that particular kid out the back and stomp on it.

Sir.Swindle
2009-12-15, 03:05 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

Well well, BoED states converting people to good is a good act if it is done through kindness (how "the light" in warcraft works actually)

Because you need to or because it's better for me but not taking from others are neutral. Killing all the orcs and goblinoids in the world is evil. Killing the gods has an inevitable assigned against it so that is generally chaotic. The orphanage thing is also evil only acceptable if it is an issue with the building it's self, but then it should be evacuated.

I assume you hold very strongly to a certain set of beliefs, hence being able to define who needs to be saved.

You are Lawful Evil. or lawful neutral you never stated how good you are willing to go. Sacrifice your self to rid more evil from the world than you other wise would? That would let you pass as LN.

Grifthin
2009-12-15, 03:13 PM
Facinating stuff. My character is willing to end himself if it means in the long term that means stopping his opponent for good. I don't tend to see anything as good/evil. No guy has ever started a war thinking god was on the opponents side. Thus my characters reflect this to a certain degree - if the BBEG can convince me what he's doing is for the greater good I will help him. If he decides to punt all the kittens in the world through a plate glass window just because he can - He's going down. I don't punch out orphans or steal just because I can. I don't see the point - it just inconveniences me in the long run. Far better to have balance. If that means that I make unpopular decisions then so be it.

Mando Knight
2009-12-15, 03:17 PM
What alignment would "I Will save you all even if it kills you" be ? That's the character I tend to veer towards automatically. Genocide - it's a option. Killing the gods if it's for the greater good ? ok - lets do that. Burn down the orphanage because in 10 years time they will produce a Evil bastard ? Watch me torch the place before you finish speaking.

It depends on what the "Greater Good" is, and how your "I will save you all even if it kills you" is applied. Your examples are rather more towards Neutral than Good at best, and outright Evil without discussing the consequences of the actions. I'd say closer to "Dystopian Stupid" if it doesn't account for any other factors before beginning, and LN otherwise. Ends justifying the means is tricky at best, and a straight path to corruption at worst.

Now, saving all even if it kills them is an LG mindset, but it only remains Good if it first looks for a way to bring victory without harming the innocent, and sacrifices itself before it sacrifices its wards.

hamishspence
2009-12-15, 03:36 PM
It's listed in Champions of Ruin as one of the common evil tropes.

Primarily because evil is more to do with acts than ends- if a person is routinely doing evil acts "for the greater good" they are evil regardless of why they are doing it.

There is room for the "flexible neutral" character, who sees the "evil methods" as a last rather than a first resort, but is willing to do them- Heroes of Horror mentions this.

But it seems to be a general rule in D&D that "the greater good" rarely remains Good for long.

Grifthin
2009-12-15, 03:48 PM
Holycrap - how am I ever going to play a paladin ? I think I'll set the world record for making a paladin fall by doing it 5 minutes into the session. All in the name of God/Goddess

hamishspence
2009-12-15, 03:56 PM
Depends on the DM and how much leeway you get.

Killing things in self-defense- fine.

Killing a small child because a diviner told you they'd grow up to be the next Big Bad- less fine.

Killing an entire orphanage because a diviner told you one of the children would grow up to be the Big Bad, but couldn't narrow it down- immediate alignment shift all the way into Evil would be the norm.

Its not like a general antipathy for extreme "greater good" thinking is anything new in D&D-

the example in 2nd ed and possibly 1st ed PHB, is destroying a village full of people to contain a plague outbreak- it may minimise lives lost, but according to the book "the DM is justified in calling an immediate alignment shift from Good to Evil"

In Harry Potter, the wizard second only to Voldemort in Worst Dark Wizard of the Century awards, had "For the Greater Good" as his motto.

Sir.Swindle
2009-12-15, 04:32 PM
Holycrap - how am I ever going to play a paladin ? I think I'll set the world record for making a paladin fall by doing it 5 minutes into the session. All in the name of God/Goddess

It's called a Gray Gaurd.

LG is always doing it the hard way.

hamishspence
2009-12-15, 04:37 PM
And even they have to cope with Falling- they just get easy atonements.

Unless they are high level- in which case they don't fall unless their transgression is especially severe.

Grumman
2009-12-15, 04:52 PM
Holycrap - how am I ever going to play a paladin ?
Here's a simple guide: Does your plan involve murdering, stealing from or otherwise harming people who haven't done anything evil enough to deserve your wrath? Does your plan show a callous disregard for innocent people who your actions will harm? Then don't do it.

hamishspence
2009-12-15, 04:59 PM
That is a pretty fair summary.

Though for some players, as long as they are upset by the harm they feel they have to do, its OK.

For example- the Operative from Serenity is willing to do horrible things- but he does get a little upset by doing them, and considers himself a monster for being able to do them.

Yet, by most D&D standards, his actions would be deemed evil, and possibly enough to put his Alignment into Evil.

For people who believe that "necessary" acts are not Evil, by definition, the Operative would be a Neutral or even Good guy.

Mando Knight
2009-12-15, 07:49 PM
The path of the true Paladin is a long and narrow one. Except for the Paladins in 4e, since they can worship other gods. :smalltongue:

"Classic Paladins" have to be considerate, kind, merciful, and just. It's tough to capture the mindset correctly unless you've been raised to think that way, since most people default to other, less "paladin-y" mentalities.

Gensh
2009-12-15, 08:36 PM
Alignment systems are always vague and typically don't ever fit just right, but some characters don't fit at all. Take for example, a favorite npc of mine: he gives money to the poor, heals the sick (with medicine and surgery), will take the shot for a friend, is (usually) a good husband and uncle/adoptive father, but he rebels against authority nine times out of ten, simply because submitting to someone else hurts his pride. CG/CN, right? Wrong: he's always LN because he has, on more than one occasion, raised an army of the dead, recruited an army of evil mercenaries, and literally raised hell in order to methodically kill the gods one at a time, while weaning humanity off their powers. Of course, I tend to avoid using him most of the time, but in my current campaign, he's the - once again- LE god of atheism. He doesn't believe in himself, fyi ;)

If we're going to use a Moorcock-ian alignment system, then alignment should be based on actions rather than intentions like Roldero commented in the Eternal Champion.

Ormur
2009-12-15, 08:58 PM
Raising armies and methodically killing gods doesn't have to be lawful.

Fiery Diamond
2009-12-16, 06:30 AM
Depends on the DM and how much leeway you get.

Killing things in self-defense- fine.

Killing a small child because a diviner told you they'd grow up to be the next Big Bad- less fine.

Killing an entire orphanage because a diviner told you one of the children would grow up to be the Big Bad, but couldn't narrow it down- immediate alignment shift all the way into Evil would be the norm.

Its not like a general antipathy for extreme "greater good" thinking is anything new in D&D-

the example in 2nd ed and possibly 1st ed PHB, is destroying a village full of people to contain a plague outbreak- it may minimise lives lost, but according to the book "the DM is justified in calling an immediate alignment shift from Good to Evil"

In Harry Potter, the wizard second only to Voldemort in Worst Dark Wizard of the Century awards, had "For the Greater Good" as his motto.

Actually, the whole plague thing makes me think of Arthas from Warcraft - remember how it was a BAD THING that Arthas went on that "Purge the town" mission, yet Arthas thought he was doing good? And how did Arthas end up, hmm??? (Jaina = much better example of a good character, btw. My favorite human in Warcraft 3 for sure).


I find it interesting how what I perceive to be "ends justifying the means" is labeled as Chaotic by some and others as lawful, but almost universally as evil. Here's I thought I was one of the good guys :smalleek:

Yeah, "the ends justify the means" is an evil perspective, not a good one. I'm a little bit stunned that anyone would think that it was good.

hamishspence
2009-12-16, 06:37 AM
I'm not.

Having seen various "ends justify means" arguments, it sometimes seems that D&D is a bit out of the ordinary in tending to rule them out.

Also, on Lawful and Chaotic- its worth remembering that alignment is very much a guideline- a person can have a few Lawful traits and still be Chaotic overall.

Chaotic Honorable isn't exactly an oxymoron- plenty of fictional guys who fit quite well into the Chaotic archetype are famous for keeping their word, even if they tend not to respect authority in general. The more benevolent type of "barbarian hero" would be a good example.

Grifthin
2009-12-16, 07:11 AM
Actually, the whole plague thing makes me think of Arthas from Warcraft - remember how it was a BAD THING that Arthas went on that "Purge the town" mission, yet Arthas thought he was doing good? And how did Arthas end up, hmm??? (Jaina = much better example of a good character, btw. My favorite human in Warcraft 3 for sure).



Yeah, "the ends justify the means" is an evil perspective, not a good one. I'm a little bit stunned that anyone would think that it was good.

I'm stunned that you would think that it's a evil perspective :smallconfused:
Sometimes "Good" People do "bad" things. But if it improves everyone's life even if it means a one/a few/everyone need suffer in the short term how is that bad ? I mean you end up in a better position than you where before.

Sliver
2009-12-16, 07:15 AM
I'm stunned that you would think that it's a evil perspective :smallconfused:
Sometimes "Good" People do "bad" things. But if it improves everyone's life even if it means a one/a few/everyone need suffer in the short term how is that bad ? I mean you end up in a better position than you where before.

Most of the time, when "for the greater good" comes up, it is not a case of few suffering in the short term.. Trampling the minority so that the rest live better isn't good most of the time. The "end justifies the means" attitude is one that the BBEG sometimes take..

hamishspence
2009-12-16, 07:16 AM
Except for the persons who are suffering in the short term and being told:

"other people's needs, justify your being sacrificed"

That said, good people doing bad things for good reasons is a common trope. But in D&D, routinely doing bad things causes alignment slippage even if you believe your reasons are good.

This may depend on how bad the things are, and how routinely the "good" guys do them.

Going by Heroes of Horror, "Flexible neutral" is a possibly if the means are not terribly evil and the ends are sufficiently good, but its a difficult balancing act.

Ormur
2009-12-16, 08:23 AM
Also in real life you rarely know the results of your actions and invoking "the ends justifies the means" is usually just a way of rationalizing your evil actions because "you couldn't possibly be wrong". It's often just a short cut, it's convenient for you to throw morals out the window at the time and you think you have a right of judging what's ultimately wrong and right. But nobody is omniscient or should take the right to decide just who the few are that need to suffer for the benefit of the many.

That's why I think being a genuinely good ruler is very hard. Even well intentioned rules of big countries are often responsible for decisions that cause great misery because they think they have to make them, for good of their country or the world. They may be right but they might also be wrong. Is it only evil/neutral when they are mistaken?

Utilitarianism may be fine in principle but it's very rarely that you can reduce morality to a clear cut mathematical problem.

snoopy13a
2009-12-16, 08:39 AM
Having seen various "ends justify means" arguments, it sometimes seems that D&D is a bit out of the ordinary in tending to rule them out.



I think the designers went with the "ends don't justify the means" when it comes to whether or not an action is good because it provides a bright line test. Instead of having to weigh future outcomes, DMs can just evaluate the immediate effects of an action. It makes things simpler for them and it precludes rationalization arguments from players that their seemingly evil acts are good in the long run.Whether or not the ends do justify the means is thus taken out the game's context.

Interestingly, "the ends justify the means" is actually a defense of justification in common law. Essentially, the harm avoided must be greater than the harm committed. The harm avoided must be immediate, there cannot be a suitable legal option and the harm committed must have a reasonable chance of averting the threat. For example, if there is a forest fire occuring, it is justified to break into a cabin to call 911.

However, the killing of an innocent is never justified even when it could save others (see Regina v. Dudley and Stevens).

hamishspence
2009-12-16, 08:54 AM
This tends to be the default- justifying it on a small scale rather than a large- justifying crimes against property when doing so saves lives.

The same applies to spying- acts normally considered immoral, like bribery, theft, blackmail, etc are justified on the grounds of "protecting the country" and so on.

The problem is how far justification gets pushed. And how serious a crisis needs to be before laws and moral rules get "set aside".

The principle of defining acts in terms of immediate consequences rather than long-term consequences makes sense in D&D because the DM themselves won't necessarily know the long-term consequences at the time.

On "being a genuinely good ruler" one or two of the Drizzt commentaries in Road of the Patriarch mention this- and how hard it is- and how he personally wouldn't be able to cope with the kind of problems such a ruler must solve.

KellKheraptis
2009-12-16, 09:13 AM
I find it interesting how what I perceive to be "ends justifying the means" is labeled as Chaotic by some and others as lawful, but almost universally as evil. Here's I thought I was one of the good guys :smalleek:

Bah, embrace the evil! I am unabashedly CN, with definite evil tendencies, and lemme tell ya...I have more fun with it than any stodgy paladin could ever DREAM of :P To the OP, as a very chaotic person who is also a black belt (requiring discipline and dedication), anyone who tries to tell you an unpredictable person is incapable of discipline is lying. The difference is I have no bounds in deciding when that discipline will be in the least bit binding (which effectively means it isn't), and further, my own moral compass always takes precedent over the view of society (i.e. absolutely zero ethics, as those are morals imposed by society, but I do have a select few morals). I guess that technically makes me a sociopath, but oh well...

Gensh
2009-12-16, 01:48 PM
Raising armies and methodically killing gods doesn't have to be lawful.

It wasn't the raising armies so much as the calculated methodology: "Okay, I've killed the death god; now I need to wait 3 and a half years to kill the war god, then another year to kill the love goddess...", combined with his formulaic approach to magic.

But outside of that, he acts rather CG. Regardless of how he acts when around his family, he's LE because his actions are horribly devilish and generally Machiavellian. Again, it goes back to Roldero : "You can only judge people by their actions, not by their protestations...For all I know they may be kind to their own children, love their wives and treat their animals well...It is what they do that must be judged. It is on the threat of their ambitions that we must base our attitude toward them."

As such, discipline is not a lawful trait - it is an aspect of personality. If a monk follows all the rules, he is lawful; if he goes on a Robin Hood-esque crusade against the powers that be, he is chaotic.