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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Elan, along with his alignment, are absolutely not heading south. The furthest south his alignment went was Azure City, during which time he was Southern Chaotic Good.
    Now, the mechane is flying north, and soon Elan will return to being Northern Chaotic Good.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by jogiff View Post
    That's not the issue. The issue was Elan's reason for turning it down. "I don't want you to get what you want! Forget it!"

    It wasn't "I don't trust you!"
    Distinction practically without a difference. It's been firmly established to this point that Tarquin getting what he wants is generally bad for people. Just because what Tarquin claims to want looks good to Elan doesn't mean Elan has any reason to deviate from his heuristic that "What Tarquin wants = Bad," because Elan doesn't trust Tarquin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2323mike View Post
    Um ... I wouldn't take Tarquin's promises that seriously.
    I would.

    Tarquin has very few redeeming qualities, but one of them is that he will stick to the letter of his promises.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Nope. Elan's common sense - heading north.
    That's, like, THE SAME THING as becoming evil.
    Just a heads-up: That coffee we gave you earlier had fluorescent calcium in it so we can track the neuronal activity in your brain. There's a slight chance the calcium could harden and vitrify your frontal lobe. Anyway, don't stress yourself thinking about it. I'm serious. Visualizing the scenario while under stress actually triggers the reaction.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FujinAkari View Post
    I would.

    Tarquin has very few redeeming qualities, but one of them is that he will stick to the letter of his promises.
    Considering Tarquin all but said he would be a Hannibal Lecter type prisoner, I don't exactly find this point reassuring.
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  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Yeah...I think the question is not, would he have screwed over Elan if Elan had gone with any of his suggestions or, indeed, if Elan had shifted out of "you fall off airship now, GOODBYE, DAD" mode for a second, but how would he inevitably have screwed over Elan if Elan had gone with any of his suggestions or, indeed, if Elan had shifted out of "you fall off airship now, GOODBYE, DAD" mode for a second.

    Beyond that, complaining that Elan didn't look at the big picture may be expecting Elan to be more Lawful than he's ever been. It may be expecting him to have higher Wisdom than he ever has. It may (as I, and I believe Math_Mage and Porthos, argue) be expecting him to have lower Wisdom than he ever has. But it's certainly not a complaint about him showing less goodness than he ever has.
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    "The really unforgivable acts are committed by calm men in beautiful green silk rooms, who deal death wholesale, by the shipload, without lust, or anger, or desire, or any redeeming emotion to excuse them but cold fear of some pretended future. But the crimes they hope to prevent in the future are imaginary. The ones they commit in the present--they are real." --Aral Vorkosigan

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This, in a nutshell.
    Yes, exactly.

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    When I think of how cruel Elan was to poor, sweet Tarquin, it makes me angry.
    Quote Originally Posted by Porthos View Post
    You are presuming that Ridureyu is trying to be a troll.

    I tend to think of him more as a Performance Artist, myself.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    We have enough pragmatism and ruthlessness. I think we need more innocence.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    If there is a scale of goodness, on which Elan has slipped, he has slipped no more than from something around a 95 to something around a 93....

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by FujinAkari View Post
    Tarquin has very few redeeming qualities, but one of them is that he will stick to the letter of his promises.
    Imagine if Tarquin had a prisoner, and then said to the prisoner, "I won't kill you" -- followed by torturing him until the prisoner begged for death. And then Tarquin, when reminded that he had said he wouldn't kill the prisoner, responds, "I did, didn't I? And he's still alive, even though he clearly wants to die. I'm keeping my word. I won't kill him, but you'd be surprised both by what someone can live through and with how easy it is to drive someone to suicide."

    The point is, sticking to the letter of his promises can go horribly, horribly wrong in the eyes of the one he's making the promise to.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    No. Nor would it have negatively impacted Elan's alignment had he grabbed Roy's greatsword and lopped his father's head off--though it would have indicated a difference in how Elan viewed what it means to be good.
    This. Elan's willingness to accept surrenders before is a result of his alignment, but it is not the only possible interpretation of his alignment. This time, he chose a second, equally Good option. Shifting from one valid interpretation of Chaotic Good to another is not grounds for an alignment change, because there's no such thing as "degrees" of Goodness. You're either Good, or you're not.

    For example, Elan doesn't steal from people because he feels bad about it. If he suddenly decides to start stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, he doesn't change alignment at all because he's changed from one way of looking at CG (the Elan way) to another way (the Robin Hood way). It may seem like a huge shift from a character development angle, but alignment-wise, it's all the same.
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  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurashima View Post
    Even if his father is still the most evil man on the face of the planet, does intentionally allowing him to fall when he could easily have saved him, not count as an evil act, or taking into consideration the fact he knew he would survive, definetely not the act of a character with a good alignment?
    No.

    There will always be questions regarding alignment and dealing with powerful opponents who surrender. Let's review some options:

    a) Execute him on the spot
    Killing Tarquin, especially if they keep 100% of his body to prevent his return, would be the closest thing the Order could do to end his tyrannical influence. Considering how powerful he is, and how he spent the last, what, hour or so, trying to murder the PCs (most of them, at least) this could be called self-defense: possibly the ONLY time killing someone has no alignment issues. However, leaving aside whether Elan can actually kill Tarquin on his own with his weapon recently sundered, the death penalty is pretty defendably lawful, but not necessarily good. Arguably, killing someone in a weakened position just so you don't have to deal with him later could possibly be lawful evil. (Hey: I did say there will always be questions Alignment is tricky.)

    There's also the issue with the Empire of Blood with both Malack and Tarquin permanently removed. What happens next? Is the administrative situation solid enough that things would continue for a while largely intact? Or, under the (CE?) childish dragon without guidance, would there be increasing disorder leading to riots and mayhem?

    b) Imprisonment
    Tarquin has more or less control of the surroundings for hundreds of miles in all directions. With the possible exception of Reptilia, nobody nearby could be relied on to be both willing and legally allowed to take him. It's not like they have a "Get Into Jail Free" coupon to Azure City's anti-magic cells anymore. And even past that, Tarquin is highly intelligent and charismatic, has (if not limitless) massive funding, and high-level party members, including at least one teleporter and at least one assassin, who would probably spring him. Imprisonment is definitely a lawful concept (subjugating the few in favor of the many), but in this case, not necessarily a good one. There is the forseeable result of Tarquin escaping, possibly killing some people on the way, and returning to his palace to continue his literal reign of terror.

    c) Cripple him
    Effectively useless, given the heal spell and other high-powered divine magic.

    d) Banish to another plane
    See b) above. Admittedly, it would probably take longer for his party to find him and rescue him, but there's no way to be sure he'd never come back...without banishing him to a death trap dimension, which is just execution.

    e) Forced enslavement or domination
    Again, this is probably lawful more than anything else, but it's hard to defend the "good" here. And, again, there's the strong likelihood of him being sprung.

    f) Taking his possessions
    I suppose it could be possible to not just strip Tarquin of his magic items, but also force him to hand over a large chunk of his treasury as well. This would make it much harder for Tarquin to either continue fighting the Order, or oppress his people. The Order could potentially Robin Hood the money to the people as well. Sounds Chaotic Good at first, but there are still issues here. Firstly, what's the fine for mass murder? I don't think setting a gold value on human life is a good act. Second, what if Tarquin routinely uses that money to pay for things like infrastructure or defense? Reptilia or the elves could invade, killing untold innocent citizens.

    g) Torture him
    Not in any way defendable as good.

    h) That Thing That Happened

    The end result is basically this: there is no specific right way to handle a powerful opponent who surrenders. None of the options are 100% good, especially in this case. Elan chose a method that would allow them to continue to their destination, saving the entire planet, forever, while preventing Tarquin from meaningfully stopping them. I think he did alright.

    EDIT: Aaaaaaaaaaand the Giant posted while I was writing this, making this response kinda moot.
    Last edited by Breccia; 2014-01-11 at 11:59 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    This. Elan's willingness to accept surrenders before is a result of his alignment, but it is not the only possible interpretation of his alignment. This time, he chose a second, equally Good option. Shifting from one valid interpretation of Chaotic Good to another is not grounds for an alignment change, because there's no such thing as "degrees" of Goodness. You're either Good, or you're not.

    For example, Elan doesn't steal from people because he feels bad about it. If he suddenly decides to start stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, he doesn't change alignment at all because he's changed from one way of looking at CG (the Elan way) to another way (the Robin Hood way). It may seem like a huge shift from a character development angle, but alignment-wise, it's all the same.
    How does this work with characters like Haley (commonly regarded to be less Good and more Chaotic than Elan; she even describes herself as Chaotic Goodish) or Miko (more Lawful and less Good than Roy, according to Roy)?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RossN View Post
    I do think Elan is shifting alignment, but more in that he is shifting from Chaotic Good to Neutral Good.
    I disagree. Elan has become more pragmatic, but that's not incompatible with being Chaotic - just think about Lord Shojo.

    (By the way, I think the most blatantly Lawful act Elan has done in the comic was staying committed to Haley in the Therkla arc. But he's still as Chaotic as they come.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Breccia View Post
    a) Execute him on the spot
    Killing Tarquin, especially if they keep 100% of his body to prevent his return, would be the closest thing the Order could do to end his tyrannical influence. Considering how powerful he is, and how he spent the last, what, hour or so, trying to murder the PCs (most of them, at least) this could be called self-defense: possibly the ONLY time killing someone has no alignment issues. However, leaving aside whether Elan can actually kill Tarquin on his own with his weapon recently sundered, the death penalty is pretty defendably lawful, but not necessarily good. Arguably, killing someone in a weakened position just so you don't have to deal with him later could possibly be lawful evil. (Hey: I did say there will always be questions Alignment is tricky.)
    From a Moral Standpoint, "He Needed Killing" is a perfectly valid excuse to straight-up murder someone and have it count as a Good act. It just happens to be heavily frowned upon because there's very little way to prove that "He needed killing" was both true and the motivation of the murder. According to the BoED, it's not just self-defense that justifies killing - It's also justified to protect others, or avenge greater wrongs.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by oppyu View Post
    How does this work with characters like Haley (commonly regarded to be less Good and more Chaotic than Elan; she even describes herself as Chaotic Goodish) or Miko (more Lawful and less Good than Roy, according to Roy)?
    I think those probably come down to the fact that they're stated by the characters. Those are their takes on the situation, and not necessarily indicative of their reality.
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by oppyu View Post
    How does this work with characters like Haley (commonly regarded to be less Good and more Chaotic than Elan; she even describes herself as Chaotic Goodish) or Miko (more Lawful and less Good than Roy, according to Roy)?
    Hayley may describe herself as "Chaotic Good-ish", but the rules presumably plant her firmly in the Chaotic Good alignment--otherwise she'd be Chaotic Neutral, and wouldn't have any grounds for claiming to be Good-ish. The fact is, with only nine possible alignments, of course there's going to be a huge range of potential viewpoints and personalities in each one, which is what the Giant is saying--Elan's actions are still Chaotic Good, they're just taken from a slightly changed view.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    I took the Giant's statement to say that "If you're chaotic good, taking Chaotic Good actions" (Such as dropping a despot off an airship) will not change your alignment, no matter how radically different your action is from your previous interpretation of Chaotic Good.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by oppyu View Post
    How does this work with characters like Haley (commonly regarded to be less Good and more Chaotic than Elan; she even describes herself as Chaotic Goodish) or Miko (more Lawful and less Good than Roy, according to Roy)?
    Facts about cosmological forces are largely unrelated to what people feel about themselves and others. Haley feels she is not "Good enough" based on a complex set of personal experiences and insecurities; the universe still dumps her in the Chaotic Good box, next to Elan and Shojo.
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  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    I'm guessing getting my experience of D&D from videogames is giving me the wrong impression of alignment here. I always assumed that there was a sort of points-value system going on behind the scenes.

    E.g, you could have a True Neutral Warrior character who just had a revelation and converted to Lawful Good, and a Cleric who had been Lawful Good all their lives. The Warrior would be considered significantly less Lawful Good than the Cleric, and would have to be significantly more careful with their actions to prevent from "slipping" and getting immediately cast back into True Neutral. The Cleric meanwhile would have a lot more leeway in the actions they could commit before changing alignment, but would have a much heavier roleplaying burden on justifying why their character suddenly started punting puppies.

    That's kind of what I assumed was going on with Haley - being Good was hard for her, and so she was more likely to slip out of that alignment. On a numerical scale, Haley was high Chaos, low Good, while Elan was moderately low on the Chaos scale but very high on Good.

    Is that just a wholly incorrect way of looking at alignment, or is there some merit to it?

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by Porthos View Post
    Depending on just how genuine they felt Tarquin's offer to surrender was. Rejecting mercy, and all that. But that would take a pretty hardcore read of that book, from what I remember.
    Given that Tarquin suggested trying to subtly psychologically manipulate his son from his prison cell? Theres being merciful and then theres being flat out stupid.

    Letting Tarquin fall can readily be justified as a Good action and a good action.

    Good for sparing him, even if it stung a little.
    'good' because otherwise we would've had a hundred pages of 'what to do with Tarquin', ending with Thog and the Fruit Pie Sorcerer bursting through the airship wall like the Kool Aid Man(men?) and then everything would be COMPLETE MADNESS.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    I also consider that elan's reply to tarquin "and you're not the real villain" was not just a burn (awesome burn that it was... it was the shock of hearing that from his own son that caused tarquin's fingers to slip), it was also a justification for elan's letting tarquin fall.

    1- the oots could not waste any more time with tarquin, the real villain is on his way to the final gate.
    2- this story arc has been long enough and capturing tarquin would make it even longer
    3- only real villains get the privilege of being captured by the heroes and then psychologically manipulate them from behind bars.

    I think these three statements are packed inside elan's burn, and they fully justify elan's decision not to capture tarquin.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    I'd like to say that Elan dropping Tarquin meant that Elan became smarter... well, it's smarter than if he had gone with T's ideas, but it would be even smarter if he killed him on the spot. Once again, short-term Good gets in the way of long-term Good.

    On the other hand, the dungeon of Dorukan was mentioned, and it was that one time when Elan was actually right. Had he not pressed "self-destruct", Xykon would just regenerate, return to the dungeon and keep looking for the way to access the Gate. Sooner or later, given that both he and Redcloak had unlimited time, he would have succeeded. It was the explosion that alerted the Azure city that bad things were happening and started the current chase. Had Elan not blown up the dungeon, the first book would have had no positive result at all, save for the level-ups.

    And yes, there actually was valid logic behind Elan being right, it wasn't just a freaky coincidence. Logic between blowing up the enemy's base is that it's something the villain needs, it is presumably there to serve Evil goals (doubly so on case of the sorcerer lich), therefore, destroying it will likely prevent many possible bad things. And that's what happened.


    Elan has an intuitive grasp of narrative casuality which, combined with his sense or right and wrong, lets him make correct decisions at times when he actually gets to making them and not just going with the flow while trying to have as much fun as possible. His character development is about making his own decisions more and more often, and about learning to choose correct tropes of the long possible list (something Tarquin hasn't mastered).

    His alignment would have turned South if his motivation changed so he stopped caring for Good, But it never did.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scow2 View Post
    From a Moral Standpoint, "He Needed Killing" is a perfectly valid excuse to straight-up murder someone and have it count as a Good act.
    I think you and I disagree on what "murder" means.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    Elan=too dumb to realize that explosions kill? Well, I guess so (he did it to himself too, after all). That being the case, however, I have to wonder about his classification as smarter than Thog.
    Elan always knew that explosions can kill. That knowledge is inherent in his statement that "you can't jump to safety until the explosion is right behind you". It's not jumping to safety unless the explosion can kill.

    ----------

    Oh, and on another tyopic - Tarquin had lost all perspective. He wasn't going to stop trying to kill Roy. It's quite possible that Elan saved Tarquin's life by letting him fall.

    In any event, nobody is required to go out of his way to save his enemy's life during a battle. It kinda misses the point of a fight to the death, really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Elan always knew that explosions can kill. That knowledge is inherent in his statement that "you can't jump to safety until the explosion is right behind you". It's not jumping to safety unless the explosion can kill.
    Yeah. I'd say Elan was smart/genre savvy enough to know that there wouldn't be any really bad damage from the explosion and no-one would die. He just left it up to his friends to care about how exactly this comes true.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    ----------

    Oh, and on another tyopic - Tarquin had lost all perspective. He wasn't going to stop trying to kill Roy. It's quite possible that Elan saved Tarquin's life by letting him fall.

    In any event, nobody is required to go out of his way to save his enemy's life during a battle. It kinda misses the point of a fight to the death, really.
    First if all, I'd like to point out that Elan isn't a fan of the concept of fight to death. Neither am I, by the way.

    But... yeah, it's possible that Elan saved Tarquin's life. And that's what worries me in that decision. Could Elan not see the big picture again, or will it turn out to be like blowing up the Gate - the seemingly inane action that was the only right one?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    I'm guessing getting my experience of D&D from videogames is giving me the wrong impression of alignment here. I always assumed that there was a sort of points-value system going on behind the scenes.

    E.g, you could have a True Neutral Warrior character who just had a revelation and converted to Lawful Good, and a Cleric who had been Lawful Good all their lives. The Warrior would be considered significantly less Lawful Good than the Cleric, and would have to be significantly more careful with their actions to prevent from "slipping" and getting immediately cast back into True Neutral. The Cleric meanwhile would have a lot more leeway in the actions they could commit before changing alignment, but would have a much heavier roleplaying burden on justifying why their character suddenly started punting puppies.

    That's kind of what I assumed was going on with Haley - being Good was hard for her, and so she was more likely to slip out of that alignment. On a numerical scale, Haley was high Chaos, low Good, while Elan was moderately low on the Chaos scale but very high on Good.

    Is that just a wholly incorrect way of looking at alignment, or is there some merit to it?
    That's not completely incorrect, depending on your DM. I've never played any D&D videogames, but I have played Knights of the Old Republic, which does have a point-based system of alignment in it. For instance, if you steal from someone or attack an innocent person, your character gets closer to the dark side, while giving someone money or saving someone who needs help can get you closer to the light side. Since Bioware was the developer of that game as well as some very highly regarded D&D videogames, I assume the system you speak of is similiar.

    Simply put, there is nothing like that spelled out in the core rulebooks for D&D (I have no idea if some supplement like the Book of Exalted Deeds does contain something like this). That is one of the reasons that alignment of characters is often a hot topic on these forums. The rules in the rulebook are more like guidelines than anything else, and different DMs can and will determine what constitutes a good, evil or neutral action differently. It is often a DM's own personal guidelines about morality that determine how they rule, or even if they care about alignment. Different DM's will put more or less effort into tracking a character's alignment.

    In my opionion, the only reason that most players even care about alignment is that there are some powerful classes (paladins being the most common example) that have built in rules that care about alignment. For instance, a paladin must remain lawful good, or they lose their special paladin powers.

    I've never had a DM who took more than a casual approach to player alignment, and it would generally take a really extreme action to cause one of my DM's to force me to change my PC's alignment.
    Last edited by GKBeetle; 2014-01-12 at 01:56 PM.
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  28. - Top - End - #58
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scow2 View Post
    From a Moral Standpoint, "He Needed Killing" is a perfectly valid excuse to straight-up murder someone and have it count as a Good act. It just happens to be heavily frowned upon because there's very little way to prove that "He needed killing" was both true and the motivation of the murder. According to the BoED, it's not just self-defense that justifies killing - It's also justified to protect others, or avenge greater wrongs.
    However, Tarquin is an example where there is a great deal to prove that. He's a horrible despot who's above the law and can't be taken out through legal proceedings. He's demonstrated this repeatedly, including by burning a whole bunch of escaped slaves alive while detailing his horrible motives for Elan. He's the sort of character that basically doubles as an argument for assassination as a valid political tool for some circumstances. Given that he repeatedly attacked the Order of the Stick, a sword through the face would have been entirely reasonable.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by GKBeetle View Post
    It is often a DM's own personal guidelines about morality that determine how they rule, or even if they care about alignment. Different DM's will put more or less effort into tracking a character's alignment.
    That's a feature, not a bug. There's no way alignment can reasonably be based on anything but a DM's own understanding of it, given how closely connected it is to personal moral/ethical values.

    And that's exactly what makes it interesting.


    Quote Originally Posted by GKBeetle View Post
    In my opionion, the only reason that most players even care about alignment is that there are some powerful classes (paladins being the most common example) that have built in rules that care about alignment. For instance, a paladin must remain lawful good, or they lose their special paladin powers.
    I don't know about the majority, but I know many people who actually care about the alignment. It's fun, it offers a variety of fun options of quickly sketching a character. It has a lot of potential for complicated character-driven narrative built into it.

    I've seen a lot of advice across the web to stop using the alignment because it, specifically in the case with paladins, is silly and disruptive. Yet, for some reasons, people still use it.

    Hell, the sheer number and intense of alignment threads on this forum is very telling.


    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    However, Tarquin is an example where there is a great deal to prove that. He's a horrible despot who's above the law and can't be taken out through legal proceedings. He's demonstrated this repeatedly, including by burning a whole bunch of escaped slaves alive while detailing his horrible motives for Elan. He's the sort of character that basically doubles as an argument for assassination as a valid political tool for some circumstances. Given that he repeatedly attacked the Order of the Stick, a sword through the face would have been entirely reasonable.
    Yes, this. It's not even about the Order, it's about his Empire and his steel boot and approach to making omelettes.
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  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: Elan's Alignment - Heading South?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    ...there's no such thing as "degrees" of Goodness. You're either Good, or you're not.
    Is that really true? I think of someone like O-Chul, whose commitment to Good (and to his ruler, and to his paladinhood) is so intense that he will sacrifice his life without blinking, and compare him to someone like Haley, who describes herself as "good-ish" and is willing to steal from people if it's for a good cause, and I definitely think of O-Chul as more Good than Haley.

    On top of that, what about when a character changes alignment? Someone who changes alignment from Good to Neutral would gradually become less Good until at some point they're on the Neutral side of the line.

    Now, when someone dies and goes to their afterlife, they're going to wind up in one place or another; there's not a halfway house between Lawful Neutral heaven and Lawful Good heaven. But within Lawful Good heaven, you're going to find people who dedicated their entire lives to Lawful Good ideals, and people who with one or two additional Evil actions would have wound up somewhere else, right? Wouldn't the former be more Good than the latter, even though they're both Good?

    Are we just using different words to describe the same ideas, or is there an important part of your concept of alignment that I've missed?

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