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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook


    My Country, Right or Wrong
    A Guide to Lawful Neutrality

    "Justice? -- You get justice in the next world. In this one you have the law."
    --William Gaddis.


    There has been a profusion of handbooks in relation to alignment. Handbooks espousing both Lawful Good, and (by the pen of one of the Heavens' most fearsome opponents) Lawful Evil have been promulgated. For a more complete and orderly list of alignment handbooks, see here. In any event it is necessary in the interests of order and discernment that this handbook exist: the handbook of lawful neutrality.

    The goal of this guide is similar to those of other alignment handbooks: to help DMs and players alike cope with, referee, and play Lawful Neutral characters.



    What is Lawful Neutrality?

    Wizards of the Coast has an orderly and succinct definition of Lawful Neutral as follows:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawful Neutral, "Judge"
    A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government.

    Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.
    This description is deceptively simple, although it does contain the real heart of a Lawful Neutral character. However, there are some important things that need to be borne in mind when you create such a character.

    1. Lawful Neutral is an amoral alignment at heart. Unlike a Lawful Good or Lawful Evil character where you can easily orient yourself to a particular moral point of view, Lawful Neutrality is focused on order and organisation first, with the question of whether that order is morally right or wrong a secondary consideration if indeed it's a consideration at all. It is very simple to confuse an amoral position with an immoral one, and lawful neutral characters are distinctly in the former category.

    2. Lawful Neutral is a judgmental alignment. Don't mistake these characters for a moral relativist or a live-and-let-live type. That's the realm of those disorganised types sitting down the Chaotic end of the alignment pool, or indeed the weird hippie sitting at True Neutral. The difference is that Lawful Neutral judges others' behaviour according to his own code, not according to moral standards of good and evil. Conversely, though, if certain behaviour falls outside the Lawful Neutral's code -- the private behaviour of citizens of the city of Digport when said Lawful Neutral is a guardsman devoted to the laws of the city of Dagport -- then that behaviour is simply not a matter of interest or judgment for the Lawful Neutral character.

    3. Lawful Neutral depends on Authority. Whether it's a code given by external sources (e.g. the law of the land, the traditions of the tribe, a professional set of ethics) or a code given by internal sources (e.g. the will of the ancestors, my own personal sense of honour), lawful neutrals depend on some form of authority for their actions, and they are fully cognisant that they are living examples of whatever authority to which they have given their allegiance. Lawful Neutral is an alignment that understands that real freedom comes from discipline and cleaving to particular, defined standards, and those standards must come from somewhere. When the standard comes from an external source, it's typically reflected in the character's belief in the external source compared with the alternative (for example, the quote that begins this article: "I believe in my country, right or wrong, because even if it gets it wrong from time to time it is still far better than any other alternative.")

    4. Lawful Neutral might mean Balance. There is another way to look at neutrality - rather than being amoral, it can be seen as sitting right at the middle of a continuum stretching between good and evil, striving to maintain a balance between the two extremes. This is the basic philosophy run in the Dragonlance series of novels - the idea that rampant good or evil are both equally bad for the world, and neutrality must be there to restrain their impulses. This is what I would call a more interventionist form of neutrality, while picturing neutrality as amoral allows a good deal more passivity and independence from moral battles. It is probably a more complex way to run a character since the moral decisions involved are going to be trickier both to play and for a DM to adjudicate.

    5. Lawful Neutral often looks like good or evil from the outside. One big challenge with Lawful Neutral is that the perception of the character's actions as evil or good are more or less outside his control. The paladin can ride around on his gleaming white charger and lay hands on people and generally appear an upstanding person at face value. The blackguard need only kick a few kittens to identify as a Bad Guy (tm). The Lawful Neutral knight who brings in the head of the local rebellion against the crown ... well, it depends entirely on the DM or his fellow players about whether this is going to be seen as an evil or good act, since it's only the DM or other players who can tell us whether the local crown is a tyranny or a peace-loving society. But in either scenario, the Lawful Neutral is behaving within the bounds of his alignment because he is upholding order, law, organisation, tradition - whichever standard he adheres to. That is, the Lawful Neutral knight should not give one iota of care about the morality of his actions. It is his devotion to order which counts, at least in his mind.

    6. Lawful Neutral is emotional! The stereotype of lawful neutral is the gliding, passionless robot who doesn't act like a human being, one who can't get angry or compassionate. This comes as a result of confusing a character's morality with their emotions. (It's also confusing lawful neutral with obsessive-compulsive disorder, but that's another matter.) The key is to realise that the Lawful Neutral character's code is not dictated by morality - it's a code personal to him - but that does not make it any less a subject of passionate commitment for him. Just as there will be lawful good characters who get angry about and decide to tear up the local temple of Hextor, there will be lawful neutral characters who get angry about the chaos and destruction left in the wake of an invasion and decide to remove the invading army and rebuild the shattered homes around. Just as a lawful evil character may earnestly work towards the downfall of a good king, a lawful neutral character can earnestly work towards the establishment of fighting pits in a lawless city if convinced that course will result in a reduction in lawlessness and a channelling of the city's violent impulses. Lawful Neutral characters, like almost no other alignment, can happily fight on the philosophy that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; Lawful Neutral characters have as much reason if not more to go into the wilderness killing random monsters and bands that are tearing up local farms and thus causing disorder in the region.

    Next up: some archetypes of lawful neutrality for fun and profit.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Archetypes




    1. The Lawman

    1. Serve the public trust. 2. Protect the innocent. 3. Uphold the law. 4. (Classified)


    The simplest and most iconic of Lawful Neutral archetypes, the Lawman follows strictly a well-defined code of conduct closely allied with the aims of law and order. Robocop takes the cake for perhaps the most obvious example of the archetype, but there is a wide variety of Lawmen who follow this archetype without being automatons. Indeed, Robocop's entire character arc is devoted to exploring where lies the human under the machine. Indeed this questioning of the code of conduct or the system that imposes it is archetypical for this archetype: Judge Dredd has his resignation over the death of a child; Robocop struggles against the fourth directive; in the Mass Effect series, Samara the asari justicar must come to terms with her code of justice against family relationships in particular. Consider Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, a single-minded pursuer of the guilty to such an extent that he leans on the wall of Lawful Evil (singing).

    The Lawman does not need to be a functionary of the system to occupy this archetype in an interesting way. As Red Fel points out: consider Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes' brother, who ruthlessly crushes any threat to the Commonwealth for the sake of order, without taking particular pleasure in it. More simply, consider the Judge system in Mega-City One, with Joe Dredd being the most straight-shooting and violent exemplar of its Lawful Neutral, cruel-so-as-to-be-kind legal and political system. The Lawman, elevated to high rank, arguably becomes the kind of king Tyrion Lannister would find best in Game of Thrones:
    DANERYS: Why did you travel to the other side of the world to meet someone terrible?
    TYRION: To see if you were the right kind of terrible.
    DAENERYS: Which kind is that?
    TYRION: The kind that prevents your people from being even more so.
    The Lawman does not necessarily have to be in a governmental position, either. Merchantmen, bankers, and traders of all kinds can fit under the Lawful Neutral label as well. Again from Game of Thrones, consider when Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth visit the Iron Bank in Braavos to ask for a loan. Stannis and Davos begin by telling the bankers that the Iron Throne is Stannis's by right, that the current occupier is illegitimate. Tycho Nestoris's response to these assertions?

    NESTORIS: Across the Narrow Sea, your books are filled with words like "usurper" and "madman" and "blood right." Here, our books are filled with numbers. We prefer the stories they tell. More plain. Less... open to interpretation.


    2. The Guardian
    Fletcher 'Fletch' Marron: What are you afraid of?
    Frank: I'm af - I'm afraid of not being there. ."

    The Guardian's reason for existence is the protection and preservation of another. There are Guardians of people, offices, institutions; from Ser Barristan Selmy of the Kingsguard through to the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, what distinguishes these men and women is a personal devotion without judgment to something entrusted to their protection and their keeping. Such individuals are not to be confused with ordinary street thugs or mercenaries for hire, mainly because of their principles. It is not the money or the sadism or pride that drives the Guardian: it is because keeping another safe is their entire identity. To this archetype, few things are more anathema than one who would harm or by omission of action allow to be harmed those within their charge.

    Chroniclers, timekeepers, and librarians of all stripes fall under this archetype, too; they may be protecting the abstract concept of knowledge, but they are no less devoted or organised about their activities as a result of doing so. Adventurers pursuing knowledge for its own sake are easily found under this archetype, too.

    Such individuals are not to be confused with zealots, either. Religious fanaticism is ultimately belief in the moral force of what they do, that what they do is good (or evil). The bodyguard does what he does -- as with Lawful Neutrals at large -- out of a personal code which is amoral. Guardians do not judge their charges or generally question the morality of what they do. If they question that morality, they either suborn the moral question to their own principle or bear their duty as a burden which they must.


    3. The Patriot

    "Surround yourself with human beings, my dear James. They are easier to fight for than principles."

    While the Guardian is generally in a defensive role, the Patriot is invariably engaged in offensive protection of something entrusted to his keeping. Covert agents across history are generally conditioned and expected to engage in all sorts of questionable or immoral behaviour in pursuit of the interests of their faction, or country, or group. It would be simple to just group the Patriot in with your average gangster, but again what sets such Lawful Neutral characters apart from their thuggish peers is their professionalism and the codes they generally live by, whether that be 'no innocents are to be harmed', or 'the mission matters more than anything else.'

    Such characters are often one and the same with their jobs; whether it's lust, money, power, or any combination of these things offered to subvert their mission, the spy remains loyal to that power which created him. Such characters are, of course, going to be the target of any amount of histrionic breast-beating about whether they are on the side of the angels or the devils, but this misses the point: for a Lawful Neutral character, the good or evil of their task is immaterial so long as it advances the interests of the group in whose interests he acts.



    4. The Monk

    "There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside yourself."

    While the bodyguard is probably the strongest archetype of devotion to an external ideal, the monk is the archetype that most strongly draws on devotion to an internal code. All forms of loners devoted to perfection of a form, be they sword saints, spiritual gurus, monastic priests, or even monks, can easily fit within this archetype. They are devoted to improving themselves, recognising that the only person worthwhile to compete against is one's self, that self-mastery is paramount, and the personal codes they follow reflect this.

    These codes may or may not appear understandable or moral to outsiders; again, it matters not, for following the code itself is what defines the monk. Incremental improvement and daily practice and focus are the hallmarks of the Lawful Neutral monk.



    5. The Lawyer

    "But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States or the humblest JP court in the land, or this honourable court which you serve. Our courts have their faults as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal."

    Wait, isn't this a Lawful Neutral handbook? Surely a scum-sucking lawyer type belongs in Red Fel's handbook? Nothing could be further from the truth; again, lawful neutrality can look a lot like evil or good from the outside when in fact it is neither. The Lawyer archetype is a Lawful Neutral character who knows the ins and outs of the code which he abides by, knows its flaws, knows its strengths, utilises all of them, and believes that in doing so an acceptable life can be reached. It is perfectly possible for a Lawful Neutral character to also be a pragmatist: there is no sin in a Lawful Neutral being aware of the shortcomings of the code by which he lives but trying to live with them in any event. The lawyer who behaves according to a code of ethics, who advances a cause that does not convince him personally, is a lawful neutral type. In a way, the Lawyer is really a subtype of the Guardian, since invariably the lawyer has a client -- someone he has sworn to represent to the best of his ability, remembering always that the worst client cannot force a lawyer to deny his oath to uphold the law.

    The only essential difference between the Lawyer and the "Judge" that WOTC pronounces an example of Lawful Neutral is the level of power held. A judge character invariably believes in the system that he administers, even with its flaws, and within that system he does what he can to both live and administer the lives of others in an orderly and organised way.

    This archetype is not limited to lawyers. Individuals in power at many levels, be it bureaucracy or at the king/emperor level, can be lawful neutral.



    6. The Delusional

    "“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!”

    This archetype is a walking proof that a code by which a Lawful Neutral lives need not be a rational one. That, indeed, is the point of Don Quixote; while Cervantes wrote the book as a parody on chivalric romances, Don Quixote is a sympathetic character who manages to live and prosper by the insane code he resolutely follows through both literal adherence to it and lunatic subversion of it. The personal code or standard by which a character behaves need not follow good or evil closely; that indeed is one of the powerful attractions of the alignment, that it can freely mix and match among the moral categories so long as the character follows the code consistently.

    Delusionals are convinced in themselves that they are quite rational. Mad characters are never terribly easy to play, but this is one of the strongest backbones for such a character: an irrational code which the character follows rationally and faithfully. As with the windmill-tilting Don Quixote, these sorts of characters are best for comedy or parody purposes.



    7. The Accursed
    "I'm gonna own this curse, and I'm gonna use it against you. Whenever innocent blood is spilled, it'll be my father's blood. And you'll find me there, a spirit of vengeance fighting fire with fire."

    Not all Lawful Neutral characters follow a personal code willingly. This archetype regards a particular code they are bound to follow at best as equivocal, at worse a positive burden upon their lives. Oddly enough, there is a solid example out of D&D history of this archetype: the Lyonsbane Curse, foisted upon Kelemvor Lyonsbane in such a way that unless he performed a particular deed for a reward, he was transformed into a beast. Characters of this kind are more apt to try and seek loopholes in the codes they are bound to follow, much more likely to strain towards a particular moral point of view typically opposed to the general morality of the personal code they are compelled to follow. The Accursed is not an archetype bound to supernatural figures at all: the good cop in a bad town, the bureaucrat forced to 'play the game' and act like an empty suit when his inclination is to be independent -- these are all Lawful Neutral characters as defined by their actions as opposed to their intentions.

    Under this archetype we find a number of Lawful Neutrals who lean on the walls of other alignments: consider Anakin Skywalker, subject to the Jedi Code and who chafed constantly at it due to his own obsessions, finally falling through to Lawful Evil upon his seduction to the Dark Side. Of particular interest are Lawful Neutrals whose personal internal code is in direct opposition to an external code they are bound to follow: Anakin's code was to want, need, and desire Padme Amidala, but his external code was bound to the Jedi. Or as a counterexample, consider Obi-Wan Kenobi, who went against the Jedi Council and obeyed his master Qui-Gon to even train Anakin at all.

    Also under this archetype can be found the most fatalistic Lawful Neutrals -- consider the fate of Cassandra, the mythic Greek seeress, doomed to tell the future with perfect accuracy but never be believed. Such characters don't need to promulgate order or organisation; they already see with wearying clarity the lines of cause and effect to which everyone is bound, and understand they are bound to the order of existence as much as anyone else.



    8. The Principled Mercenary

    "We're a rescue team. Not assassins."

    Most images of Lawful Neutrals amount to someone who is subject to a vast array of constricting principles and precepts, squashing all choice out of the character. But a code of conduct which amounts to a single, strict principle/compulsion/prohibition is still a code of conduct which a Lawful Neutral can validly follow. Example A - this archetype: the mercenary or operative whose actions are constrained by one principle he follows. "I would do anything for money/love/the crown/the party, but I won't do that" is the watchword of such a character.

    The principle could be "No killing", "No killing children", "No innocents can be harmed", "I don't work for multinationals" -- whatever. The Principled Mercenary acts as freely and pragmatically as any situation requires -- subject to his one rule, or subject to one small group of principles he feels are his standard. Compare this to the mercenary, an archetype that figures in alignments towards the evil end of the pool. Even then, an unprincipled, truly ruthless mercenary may well be very close to a Lawful Neutral character anyway, depending on how the player constructs and/or the DM interprets the character's personal code.

    This form of Lawful Neutral is simple to mistake for the principled villain or the principled hero - consider Batman's rule against using handguns in view of his otherwise arbitrary lawbreaking and violent ways. But in this archetype, the Lawful Neutral is standing by one or two particular rules for no particular greater moral imperative; the reason can be anything from being a bulwark against the character falling into monstrosity or equally against being duped right through to them being the one or two rules that define him as a person. Just because the character will not kill innocents does not mean they are a good character, any more than an assassin whose murders must always be single clean blows to the back is an evil character. Either way: a short, simple code of conduct addressed to one or two scenarios -- followed faithfully -- is as much the hallmark of the Lawful Neutral as the complete knightly code of chivalry that constrains a knight's conduct. And the joy of a short code of conduct is exploring and answering why the character follows this seemingly-insignificant, seemingly-irrational code.



    9. The Hunter

    “You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after.”

    Hunters hunt. It's their identity. Lawful Neutrals under this category fall into a strange symbiosis with those they kill; they are strangely devoted to their prey, understand them at a fundamental level. But this understanding does not lead them to think of what they do as good or evil. They do what they do for a higher reason -- to wit, for a personal code. Consider the titular alien from the Predator films. The Yautje are amoral creatures that slaughter sentient beings in a bloodthirsty manner, but follow a clear and coherent set of principles, demonstrated beautifully on film. They won't kill unarmed targets ("No sport"), won't kill pregnant targets, hunt alone, kill themselves if defeated, and will face an opponent in hand to hand combat without resort to their technological advantages under certain circumstances. Whether because they sit somewhere in the middle of a good-evil axis or whether their code is entirely amoral, the Predators -- if not indeed all predators -- are a prime example of this archetype.

    The Hunter is a related archetype to the Monk, except that the hunter has an external focus, an external competitor. The sportsman or indeed the sniper competing with a well-known adversary also fall within this archetype.

    That said, Hunter may well lean towards Chaotic or Evil alignments simply because of what he does. Someone killing entirely for pride is dangerously close to doing so for evil, and indeed killing something you love borders on both chaotic and evil. On the other hand, it is all a matter of degree and the personal code followed; recall the first post in this thread, that what appears Lawful Neutral may appear good or evil when viewed from the outside.


    10. The Anti-Hero

    "You can look the other way once, and it's no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that's all you're doing; compromising, because that's the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren't, they weren't bad guys, they were just like you and me. Except they compromised… once."

    This archetype at first blush sits a little uncomfortably in the halls of Lawful Neutral, but belongs there nonetheless. The Anti-Hero is a sort of Janus, one face being the pragmatist and the other being the hypocrite.

    The pragmatist Anti-Hero has a set of personal ideals, but does not live up to them, due to necessity. Or he may go about meeting them in a manner decidedly at odds with those principles. In the case of Jack Bauer, notionally a Lawful Good type given the principles he clings to, the way he goes about his work reveals something entirely different: torture, assassination, the whole nine yards.

    The hypocrite Anti-Hero departs from his ideals due to personal weaknesses. Perhaps he is too selfish or greedy to actually make sacrifices for others. He believes in charity of course, but he tells other people to help the poor instead of helping them himself. He cares about the downtrodden, but why should he be miserable. The best rooms at the inn cost money, and so do magic adamantine swords. It's different for people who are used to living in hovels and who don't have his needs. The peasant won't miss that silver piece--what's it going to buy them? Another leg of mutton? But a thousand gold could be a cloak of resistance. If I die because I didn't have it, what will the peasants do then? Anyway, one person doesn't make a difference. It's collective action by thousands that changes the system.

    The character who believes in certain principles but, due to personal weakness or an inability to comply, makes one (or one million) compromises too many to actually be personally virtuous is a fairly common character and will often fit into the Lawful Neutral category. Why is Jack Bauer Lawful Neutral? Because his actions are lawful but not good. His intentions may be good, but his actions are not. Characters change alignments by taking actions that are not in accordance with their alignments. That's how paladins fall. But what happens when a paladin falls? Do the paladin's ideals and beliefs have to change because he didn't live up to them? Of course not. But the first evil action cost him his paladinhood. Then he was a Lawful Good ex-paladin. After the fifth non-good action, what happened? Did he become Lawful Evil? Maybe, but let's imagine it wasn't quite that bad. He kicked a puppy and snarled "get a job, you leech!" to the beggar. So it is the ex-paladin's actions that make him an ex-paladin, just like they make him Lawful Neutral rather than Lawful Good.

    As said, some players or DMs at first blush might regard this archetype as sitting uncomfortably in Lawful Neutral. If so, however, objections won't be coming from DM's or players who believe that alignment is an expression of a person's actions, but rather from players or DMs who believe one of the following:

    1. That a character's alignment is an expression of their intentions rather than their actions. The anti-hero's intentions are not Lawful Neutral. It's his actions that are Lawful Neutral.
    2. That a character's ideals and actions must always align.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Motivations

    "Ah, Ryan...I don't know anything about Ryan. I don't care. The man means nothing to me. He's just a name. But if...you know, if going to Ramelle and...finding him so he can go home, if that earns me the right to get back to my wife, well then, that's my mission."

    Why would someone adhere to a personal code, or law, or tradition, to the exception of morality? Some thoughts:

    1. Order, out of chaos. A Lawful Neutral character believes in the paramountcy of order and organisation. Why? The simplest motivation is because they've seen the alternative and, whether as an ideal or in practice, order is vastly preferable in practice if not in ideal. Consider the exchange of Marcus Aurelius and Maximus in the early parts of Gladiator:
    Maximus: Five thousand of my men are out there in the freezing mud. Three thousand of them are bloodied and cleaved. Two thousand will never leave this place. I will not believe that they fought and died for nothing.
    Marcus Aurelius: And what would you believe?
    Maximus: They fought for you and for Rome.
    Marcus Aurelius: And what is Rome, Maximus?
    Maximus: I've seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark. Rome is the light.
    This belief need not be an informed opinion. In the very next line Marcus Aurelius points out that Maximus has never actually been to Rome and has not seen what it has become.

    2. To function as an example. The Lawful Neutral's code may be seen by him -- again, rightly or otherwise, morals do not come into it -- as a standard by which others can be inspired. To borrow again from a film with Russell Crowe, consider Jor-El's speech in Man of Steel:
    You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.
    In this scenario, the Lawful Neutral sees himself as a symbol, an ideal, of how people should or ought behave. The Lawful Neutral does not seek to teach others except by his example and the way he lives, trusting that his code will shine through him to others.

    3. Reverence for, or preservation of, the past. Particularly in the case of characters whose race/tribe/ethnicity in the world are rare, a Lawful Neutral character may abide by codes or traditions in order to keep his people alive, either in his own memory or otherwise. The character sees himself as a living Ark for a people and time that is dying out or has died out, and his identiy is wrapped up in keeping that tradition alive.

    4. Duty. As opposed to Lawful Evil or Lawful Good types who can obtain personal satisfaction in their jobs when it happens to harmonise with their worldview, the satisfaction for the Lawful Neutral character is doing one's duty, period. In the case of characters upon whom duty is placed as a condition of their class -- e.g. samurai -- this is the entirety of their reason for being. A character who commits ritual suicide because it is his duty is the very epitome of a Lawful Neutral character (albeit that character probably won't be much fun to play after that.)

    5. Love. Is love good or evil? Do we give a damn who or what we love, who or what we have an attachment to, who or what we have an obsession for, or does it only matter that we are devoted to that we love? Lawful Neutrals are perfectly able to feel devotion to a person, a cause, a thing. Consider the quote attributed to Judge Dredd: "Mega-City 1... 800 million people and every one of them a potential criminal. The most violent, evil city on earth... but, God help me, I love it." Consider Matthew Stover's penetrating insight about everybody's favourite stoic Jedi, Mace Windu: "Because Mace Windu, too, has an attachment. Mace has a secret love. Mace loves the Republic. ... He has given his life in service of his love. He has taken lives in its service, and lost the lives of innocents."

    6. Rehabilitation. Sometimes people adopt a personal code or creed in order to keep themselves from becoming something horrible to themselves. Consider the sort of resolve, discipline, the sort of absolute rules a former drinker or drug addict must adopt in order to keep themselves from falling down the wrong path again. Lawful Neutral is a nice place for a former paladin or a former blackguard to stop - someone who distrusts moral arguments and has resolved to follow a few simple rules, thereby working out their own salvation.

    Methods

    Possibly not this method for resolving alignment debates.


    1. Irreverence, or, removing the stick. When you announce you're playing Lawful Neutral, everyone (both OOC and IC) will be expecting you to be a cold, emotionless robot who will not tolerate any divergence from statute #4239. You'll be expected to be playing a Paladin without the rescuing orphans thing. Therefore, the first thing to do in order to humanise your character is consider how far your character is willing to make fun of himself and/or the code he follows:

    Capt. Miller: I don't gripe to you, Reiben. I'm a Captain. We have a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, and so on and so on and so on. I don't gripe to you. I don't gripe in front of you. You should know that, as a Ranger.
    Pvt. Reiben: Well, I'm sorry, sir, but let's say you weren't a Captain, or maybe I was a Major. What would you say then?
    Capt. Miller: Ah, well, in that case, I'd say this is an excellent mission, sir, with an extremely valuable objective, sir, worthy of my best efforts, sir. Moreover, I feel heartfelt sorrow for the mother of Private James Ryan and am willing to lay down my life, and the lives of my men — especially you, Reiben — to ease her suffering.
    Pvt. Mellish: He's good.
    Pvt Caparzo: I love him.
    On the other hand, this doesn't mean that you waver from the terms of your code. We'll discuss that shortly.

    2. Reliability. Lawful Neutrals, as far as their code is concerned, are meant to cleave to order and organisation. The easiest way to characterise this personality trait is to be a creature of habit. Every morning, before you get dressed, you dribble some oil into your hair. Precisely one small vial, which you placed on the nightstand the night before. In a more general sense, you characterise reliability by consistency of action -- without getting obsessive-compulsive about it.

    3. Intransigence, or, how to kill the Lawful Stupid Monster. This is perhaps the most tricky aspect of Lawful Neutral to play, simply because most people do it horribly badly, thus giving birth to the trope, nay, the cliche, of Lawful Stupid.

    Like it or not -- and you have to like it in some way, since you're playing Lawful -- a Lawful Neutral character stands for something, and it's a particularly powerful betrayal of his innermost being if he betrays that standard or that principle by which he really abides. Being unwavering on a subject is not without its attractions: Lawful Neutrals are most capable of making the hard choices that have no easy moral solution.

    Captain Miller: Caparzo, get that kid back up there!
    Private Caparzo: Captain, the decent thing to do is at least take her over to the next town.
    Captain Miller: We’re not here to do the decent thing, we’re here to follow ****ing orders!
    As with Lawful Good, where Lawful Neutral becomes Lawful Stupid is when your adherence to your code starts to compromise the party's interests in a fashion that it betrays straight "common sense". (No, I don't like this reasoning either. 'Common sense' is a highly mutable term depending on who you're playing with. Some people -- particularly those who want to 'win' the campaign, or D&D at large -- won't appreciate the nature of roleplaying means that characters don't always behave according to what we, sitting in comfortable rooms in comfortable armchairs, would regard as common sense. Others will. Even Rich Burlew has bluntly shut down people who second-guess the logicality or "common sense" of the actions of the fictional, imperfect beings that are his characters. But one ventures into these murky waters at the risk of losing entire gaming sessions to alignment debates, so take this as an editorial comment rather than a souce of authority for arguing the point across the table.)

    There are a few practical ways to avoid these problems:

    (a) Have a personal code. It is not a class feature of the Lawful Neutral that the code they follow says "Always obey the local authorities." Even WOTC's definition of Lawful Neutral allows for someone who has a regard for order and organisation without necessarily being bound to law: the lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or personal code directs her. This gets you neatly around having to turn in your comrades because they're broken a city ordinance about carousing. Careful choices of code can form wonderful contrasts with established law: consider how in Game of Thrones, the Night's Watch allowed its recruits to swear an oath either by the Seven Gods or before a Heart Tree in front of the Old Gods.

    (b) Be lawyerly with your code. If you are intending to play a character who clings to a comprehensive code such as the local book of laws, your orderly, organised character should be damn well aware of its loopholes, where it applies, and where it doesn't. This is the great advantage the Lawful Neutral has over both Lawful Good and Lawful Evil alike: if the law has a loophole that permits stealing in time of war and there's a war on, it doesn't matter either that stealing is wrong or that those damn do-gooders are stealing the Eye of Horeb which is essential to Lord Gooberfeld's plans for world domination: moral considerations do not enter into the equation at all.

    (c) If you have to break your code, ham it up when you do. Pre-empt the DM doing silly stuff like blasting a level or so off you for breaking out of your alignment by taking the chance to roleplay your character's personal BSOD. (And if you're a DM, you're being an Official Snot if you do something like this anyway to your lawful characters.) Have him flash back to his childhood, cry, wail, beat your breast, roll around on the floor, monologue how existence is meaningless and how you just wished you had only learned to read. Then get up, dust yourself off, swear to the audience that you have failed your code once, but will not fail it again ... and move on. Typically (and again, unlike all those Paladins and Blackguards) there are no in-game mechanical consequences for falling out of a lawful alignment bar some isolated classes, and this approach allows you to get away with a code breach at least once.)

    4. Seeing the good and bad in every situation. The Lawful Neutral is the one character alignment where you can be unwaveringly objective about a situation you're presented with and then choose the course that most promotes order. It's harder for both the paladin and blackguard in the party to argue against organisation when you can point out the flaws in both their worldviews, where you can point out rescuing the maiden is going to cause a war with Guilder, but failing to rescue her is going to cause an even bigger war with Florin. The most fatalistic of the Accursed archetype have this as their defining trait; they see with perfect objectivity and recognise the near-despair (or outright despair) that arises from trying to see a situation in terms of good or evil. This method brings "order out of chaos" as your motivation into sharp relief: both good and evil are going to result in suffering, and therefore the course that promotes order, on balance, is the most appropriate to choose.

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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Relationships with other alignments

    "A man who can't bear to share his habits is a man who needs to quit them."

    Everything and everyone has a place and purpose. It's just that some of them are not very orderly.

    Lawful Good: Order, tradition, and stability are all paramount considerations to Lawful Good, and from a purely pragmatic point of view good is probably preferable to evil if only because there's less bloody messes to clean up at the office on a daily basis. That aside, their handwringing over the fate of one evildoer seems at best a waste of time with overcrowded and inefficient soup kitchens down in Tin Pan Alley.

    Neutral Good: We can respect someone who tries to help others in the sense of it being a devotion. However, Neutral Good's disregard for established hierarchies is just inefficient, a major point against them, and a reason to keep a careful eye on them. Lawful Neutrals have to take a wider view of things, and while a Neutral Good may have a moral conviction, a moral conviction that flies in the face of established authority is rebellion, not enfranchisement.

    Chaotic Good: Possibly one of the most frustrating alignments to get along with of the lot. They just don't think. Or even contemplate that maybe that sign that says "You can't park there" was there for a reason other than bloodyminded bureaucratic fiat. While there's just a hint of perhaps some sort of habit-ish behaviour in their obsession with unlocking birdcages and grabbing purses off fat men in expensive clothes, they just don't have any regard for the downstream consequences or the sodding inefficiency caused when you unleash thousands of slaves on an unprepared economy. These guys have probably been responsible for more deaths in our alignment pool than any other, save Chaotic Evil.

    Lawful Neutral: An orderly, harmonious relationship. Unless, of course, the lawful neutral's code is inconsistent with, and opposed to, that of the lawful neutral he meets. Then you will see two enemies so implacably opposed the standard good vs. evil battle will look like a fight in a kids' playground by comparison.

    True Neutral: Well, there are true neutrals and there are true neutrals. The ones who are steadfastly neutral as a philosophical position at least are saying something definitive about where they stand. But the others, those who just want to "act naturally"? Bloody fools, the lot of them. Such people are gateways for anarchy and for the chaotic evil types. They're nowhere near as dangerous as chaotic evil and chaotic good, but they're a bunch of wishy-washy nobodies who refuse to take responsibility for themselves or others' lives.

    Chaotic Neutral: The lawful and chaotic sides of the neutral coin have more in common than might initially be thought. Lawful Neutral can at least respect the Chaotic Neutral's courage of their convictions; adherence to a code is a fundamental part of a Lawful Neutral's life, and while it's a made-up, internal code that just throws away all the good work and thinking that went into the law and traditions they rebel against, at least the Chaotic Neutral believes in something. It is also encouraging, to say the least, that their convictions are not anchored to tired old memes of good and evil. Chaotic Neutral thinks for itself, which is laudable; all we have to do now is demonstrate that somebody already thought of what they did and figured out how to do it in a more orderly fashion.

    Lawful Evil: Well, they got the trains running on time again, even if they're being pulled by slaves. But all these frequent rebellions and six-man adventuring parties carrying big glowing swords can't be good for KPIs around here. Lawful Evil lies somewhere between tolerable and acceptable to Lawful Neutrals, although the boss's constant cackling about the doom of men can get a bit irritating when one is trying to tidy up the office.

    Neutral Evil: These are the sort of people laws, tradition, and authority were made to shield against. Self-interest is fine and well so long as it is within and does not imperil the organisation that allows it sufficient freedom. These individuals more than any other know how to use Lawful Neutral's own desire for rules and order against them. They are to be regarded with great circumspection and associated with at the Lawful Neutral's own peril.

    Chaotic Evil: Lawful Neutral shares Lawful Evil's assessment of this alignment as its most fearsome enemy, albeit for different reasons. While Lawful Evil sees CE primarily as a threat to its supremacy, Lawful Neutral regards Chaotic Evil as a threat to order and organisation themselves, coupled with a lack of any regard for others to temper that inclination. Imprison according to law when found; kill on sight if legally permitted.

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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Illustrations and Resources

    Lawful Neutral tends to be a transitional alignment in fiction. That is - protagonists in this alignment generally don't stay there for the entirety of a fictional work's run, mainly because the point of fiction is character change, and that change is invariably stereotyped as moral challenge to the Lawful Neutral's worldview, which he then falls prey to. As with the way we must glimpse a distant star by looking out of the corner of our eye, Lawful Neutral types are often found among the supporting cast of works of fiction.

    That said, there are some examples. The ones quoted in the handbook work well for them, which are--
    Judge Dredd, out of 2000 AD comics
    Robocop
    Sherlock Holmes
    Game of Thrones
    The Bodyguard (film)
    James Bond
    A Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi
    To Kill A Mockingbird
    Don Quixote
    Ghost Rider
    Star Wars
    The Avatar Trilogy (the 2nd edition D&D series of books)
    Predator
    The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
    Saving Private Ryan
    The Gunslinger, and indeed the entirety of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series.

    In terms of some specific texts and examples:

    The Indiana Jones series (film) "It belongs in a museum!" We've already talked about the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, but there is a much more potent example of Lawful Neutral in these films: the protagonist, Indiana Jones. Indy doesn't pursue recovery of antiquities for selfish or moral reasons as such: he's devoted to the recovery of knowledge and the recovery of history largely for their own sake. When given the opportunity to destroy the Ark of the Covenant, Belloq talks him out of it by simply pointing out that the Ark is history, that it's a priceless historical treasure. A Chaotic, Good, or Evil character perhaps would ignore such compunctions and "blow it back to God", but Indy, the Lawful Neutral? No. He is in pursuit of an ideal beyond good or evil. Indy's saving women does not put him into good territory; romantic entangements of themselves do not define a character. Indiana Jones might appear to be a Good character by reason of the opposition he generally runs into -- Nazis, Thuggees, Nazis, and Russians -- but invariably the motivation he follows is knowledge for its own sake. By contrast, his father Henry would appear to be Lawful Good: "May he who illuminated this, illuminate me." Henry's lifelong quest for the Holy Grail has transformed him. He explicitly explains the quest for the grail as "not about archaeology", but as "a race against evil."

    The Fifth Profession by David Morrell. A 1990 novel by the guy who wrote First Blood, this book is about the Guardian on steroids -- the field of executive protection, known as the fifth profession, the four preceding it being hunting, farming, prostitution and politics. The story also devles into other brain-altering subjects, but it is a very solid picture of a Lawful Neutral occupation and the mentality of the man who practices it.

    Double Jeopardy (film). Tommy Lee Jones plays Travis Lehman, a parole officer, in this Ashley Judd movie, directed by Bruce Beresford. Why do I recommend this one over The Fugitive, where Jones plays a similar character? Because Double Jeopardy gives us considerably more by way of character development for Lehman and gives us a much better picture of his internal motives - which are crucial to understanding why a Lawful Neutral does what he does.

    Pyramids (book), Terry Pratchett. Bet you thought I was going to suggest Lord Vetinari. Sadly, no: Vetinari leans towards Lawful Neutral but remains firmly in Evil territory. No, in this book we have the High Priest Dios, practically immortal, whose only role -- explicitly -- has been to serve the kingdom of Djelibeybi and to preserve the status quo, a priest who knows and believes in every single religious superstition, creed, or faith that exists or once existed. Of course, THERE IS A CERTAIN OTHER CHARACTER IN THAT UNIVERSE WHO IS LAWFUL NEUTRAL. ONE MIGHT SAY LETHAL NEUTRAL.

    The Silmarillion (book), J.R.R. Tolkien. Mandos, in short. Perhaps not the most terribly useful example since he is a literal god, but of all the Vala he is the closest analogue to a neutral god. He illustrates how even clerics focusing on Divination or similar schools can behave as Lawful Neutral, unconcerned with good or evil -- because they can see the future. Which brings us to...

    Watchmen (comic), Alan Moore. Specifically, Doctor Manhattan. Having been made inhuman by the same process as that which made him a superhero, and being able to see timelines perfectly and himself in that timeline, Manhattan's detachment from human feeling, his omniscience if not omnipotence, is a prime example of Lawful Neutral played in a fatalistic manner: you don't have to demand that people follow order and organisation because you can see, in terrible detail, the order and relentless inevitability that surrounds all of their actions, and understand that there is no escaping the order that governs all living (and unliving) things. Manhattan, like Cassandra, falls under the archetype of The Accursed - he points out he is no less a puppet than anyone else, he is only blessed/cursed with the ability to see the strings.

    Yes, Minister (TV show). A Lawful Evil-leaning case, Sir Humphrey Appleby is an agent for the status quo, in seeing that the civil service remains unaffected by the silliness of Parliamentary changes. It's evil-leaning because Appleby often feathers his own nest at the expense of others, but again the series provides a (hilarious) example of a Lawful Neutral hard at work within the bowels of the system working towards a set of personal principles.

    Star Trek (TV show). In particular, Spock, if not Vulcans generally. Leonard Nimoy credited his portrayal of Spock to one directorial comment made early in Star Trek's run -- "When you see the thing on the screen, don't get emotional. Be cool and curious, like a scientist." With that moment, Nimoy said he 'got' the character at a fundamental level. Similar comments apply for Lawful Neutrals. Note in particular that Vulcans' adherence to logicality is not genetic: it is a positive code of conduct they adopt in order to hold back what they see (rightly or wrongly) as their species' violent tendencies. This is a potent example of Lawful Neutral in action: following a code for specific reasons.

    Dragonlance (D&D series of novels). As an exemplar of neutrality in this series we have Astinus of Palathus, who may be a god of neutrality in human form, but who fits into the Guardian archetype -- the thing he protects is knowledge of the years, his chronicle of events on Krynn. The series is also worth a review because it demonstrates how neutrality as an active force in the world works, as opposed to a passive, amoral force. Most of this guide assumes your character is not striving to hold a particular balance between good and evil in place, but is simply divorced from their struggle entirely, focusing on law. The neutrality of the Dragonlance novels is a distinct moral position: it strives to keep good and evil from excess, that keeps tolerance alive in the world, that accepts both good and evil have their place and wax and wane in their influence over time.

    Casablanca (film). Specifically, the protagonist, Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart at his best. Bearing in mind that fiction, and this brilliant film in particular, are about change, Rick is a solid example of Lawful Neutral leaning on and eventually crashing into Lawful Good. Rick starts off as a cynic -- "I stick my neck out for nobody" -- but he has an underlying code to him that, while not white-knight good, is not overwhelmingly evil either. Another character to watch around this is Blaine's friend and main foil in the movie, Inspector Louis ("I am shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on in this establishment!" "Here's your winnings, inspector.") who seems to be Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil and transitions (perhaps unwillingly) through to Lawful Neutral or even good.

    Back to the Future (film). Principal Strickland, avatar of all cheerless school heads the multiverse over, seems to have a personal code along the lines of "Slackers must be punished" as a racial feature, given he retains this resolute determination to keep order in alternative timestreams. Note also his grandfather, Sheriff Strickland, who implores his son to keep discipline. On the other hand, neither is Strickland in the evil end of the alignment pool given how he seems to tell Marty to stay away from Doc Brown out of a concern for his welfare and a belief the Doc is a real nutcase.

    The Matrix Reloaded (film). Specifically: the Architect. Once you get past his expositionary speech in which no word of less than four syllables seems to be used, it becomes apparent that the Architect is probably the most significant avatar of Lawful Neutral in the entire series (concordantly, the Oracle is a fascinating avatar of Chaotic Neutral with the paradox of a being able to predict the future who believes in change above all). While the mood and premise of the film is essentially that the Matrix is evil, the Architect is not motivated by evil or good - he is motivated by order. He has imprisoned all humanity -- but his first, and therefore preference for humanity, was to create a perfect world so they could all be completely happy. It is disorder that he is determined to keep under control, thus the creation of the cycle - whilst he could not remove disorder from the Matrix, he could keep it within acceptable bounds.

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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Acknowledgments


    Some thanks are due:

    • thealtruisticorc for getting this bandwagon moving.
    • Red Fel for the format of this handbook.
    • Elder Basilisk for the Anti-Hero archetype.
    • AvatarVecna for keeping the superthread list of all alignment handbooks, and suggesting the expansion of this one.
    • To all of you, for reading and commenting!

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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Please go ahead and reply
    As you command it.
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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    I would like to offer up Camus as one of the archetypal Lawful Neutrals.
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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    I would also like to point out that "Lawful Neutral" does not mean to blindly follow laws, nor does it mean they follow the word rather than the spirit of the law. Nor does it mean they abide by loop holes (or at the least, will try and fix it once discovered).

    It could similarly have nothing to do with the law, but just a generally strict personal code, though it has nothing to do with morality (good/evil-axis).

    Just stuff I wanted to point out that many people get wrong about the alignment.
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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Judge_Worm View Post
    As you command it.
    Wonderfully demonstrating the Lawful Neutral alignment. :)

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    I'd be interested to hear your take on the Lawful Neutral anti-hero and the hypocrite as a archetypes. They're different takes on Lawful Neutral than most that you are describing. Your takes on Lawful Neutral so far, focus on characters who live up to their ideals. The anti-hero or hypocrite is a character who does have moral ideals but either due to personality flaws or pragmatism does not live up to them.

    For a few debatable examples of the anti-hero consider Jack Bauer of 24 or the Operative from Serenity. The debate in both cases is different (for Jack Bauer, the argument is IMO Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, or True Neutral, for the Operative, it's Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil), but especially in the case of the Operative, they espouse a code which their actions do not measure up to. The code could arguably be described as Lawful Good, but their actions: torture, murder, assassination, and other variations of "doing what is necessary" as they see it, arguably prevent them from being Lawful Good.

    The hypocrite is different from the anti-hero but shares a commitment to ideals that he does not personally live up to. The difference is that while the anti-hero believes that personally departing from his moral commitments is necessary and does so out of a (possibly misguided) desire for a greater good, the hypocrite departs from his ideals due to personal weaknesses. Perhaps he is too selfish or greedy to actually make sacrifices for others. He believes in charity of course, but he tells other people to help the poor instead of helping them himself. He cares about the downtrodden, but why should he be miserable. The best rooms at the inn cost money, and so do magic adamantine swords. It's different for people who are used to living in hovels and who don't have his needs. The peasant won't miss that silver piece--what's it going to buy them? Another leg of mutton? But a thousand gold could be a cloak of resistance. If I die because I didn't have it, what will the peasants do then? Anyway, one person doesn't make a difference. It's collective action by thousands that changes the system.

    The character who believes in right and good but, for due to personal weakness or for the greater good, makes one (or one million) compromises too many to actually be personally virtuous is a fairly common character and will often fit into the Lawful Neutral category.

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Elder_Basilisk View Post
    I'd be interested to hear your take on the Lawful Neutral anti-hero and the hypocrite as a archetypes. They're different takes on Lawful Neutral than most that you are describing. Your takes on Lawful Neutral so far, focus on characters who live up to their ideals. The anti-hero or hypocrite is a character who does have moral ideals but either due to personality flaws or pragmatism does not live up to them.

    For a few debatable examples of the anti-hero consider Jack Bauer of 24 or the Operative from Serenity. The debate in both cases is different (for Jack Bauer, the argument is IMO Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, or True Neutral, for the Operative, it's Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil), but especially in the case of the Operative, they espouse a code which their actions do not measure up to. The code could arguably be described as Lawful Good, but their actions: torture, murder, assassination, and other variations of "doing what is necessary" as they see it, arguably prevent them from being Lawful Good.

    The hypocrite is different from the anti-hero but shares a commitment to ideals that he does not personally live up to. The difference is that while the anti-hero believes that personally departing from his moral commitments is necessary and does so out of a (possibly misguided) desire for a greater good, the hypocrite departs from his ideals due to personal weaknesses. Perhaps he is too selfish or greedy to actually make sacrifices for others. He believes in charity of course, but he tells other people to help the poor instead of helping them himself. He cares about the downtrodden, but why should he be miserable. The best rooms at the inn cost money, and so do magic adamantine swords. It's different for people who are used to living in hovels and who don't have his needs. The peasant won't miss that silver piece--what's it going to buy them? Another leg of mutton? But a thousand gold could be a cloak of resistance. If I die because I didn't have it, what will the peasants do then? Anyway, one person doesn't make a difference. It's collective action by thousands that changes the system.

    The character who believes in right and good but, for due to personal weakness or for the greater good, makes one (or one million) compromises too many to actually be personally virtuous is a fairly common character and will often fit into the Lawful Neutral category.
    I think this really opens the debate on: to what extent must your actions reflect a given alignment to be able to say you are of that alignment? If your declared alignment is Lawful Evil, but you fail terribly at the whole "domination of others" and "crush hopes" thing, you just can't help dropping coins into collection trays and saving innocent lives left, right, and centre -- then is your alignment really evil?

    If not, then how do we say the Lawful Good character who killing widows and orphans is actually still within that alignment, no matter how much he says he's a Good person?

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    I think this really opens the debate on: to what extent must your actions reflect a given alignment to be able to say you are of that alignment? If your declared alignment is Lawful Evil, but you fail terribly at the whole "domination of others" and "crush hopes" thing, you just can't help dropping coins into collection trays and saving innocent lives left, right, and centre -- then is your alignment really evil?

    If not, then how do we say the Lawful Good character who killing widows and orphans is actually still within that alignment, no matter how much he says he's a Good person?
    Because alignments are arbitrary.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    It's a solid start.

    Lawful Neutral is a difficult alignment to represent. It often comes across almost like an automaton - the stoic, dutiful knight, or the severe, withdrawn ascetic, or the literal robot. I look forward to seeing how you would suggest introducing an emotional dimension to, or otherwise humanizing, this alignment.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    It's a solid start.

    Lawful Neutral is a difficult alignment to represent. It often comes across almost like an automaton - the stoic, dutiful knight, or the severe, withdrawn ascetic, or the literal robot. I look forward to seeing how you would suggest introducing an emotional dimension to, or otherwise humanizing, this alignment.
    Lawful Neutral simply values order and rules above all else. He won't, or will rarely, break rules. Whether those "rules" are a self-made code of conduct or laws of the land or both depends on the person in question.

    Indeed, they may honestly try and help others, but will stick to the rules if it is a question between rules or doing good. Where as lawful good would choose to do good before upholding the law (though obviously tries to do both whenever possible). Obviously the scale of the question in question must be taken in to account. Breaking a minor rule to save thousands of lives is probably something that even a Lawful Neutral would try (if it doesn't risk them too much).
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    It's a solid start.

    Lawful Neutral is a difficult alignment to represent. It often comes across almost like an automaton - the stoic, dutiful knight, or the severe, withdrawn ascetic, or the literal robot. I look forward to seeing how you would suggest introducing an emotional dimension to, or otherwise humanizing, this alignment.
    Well, one thought I'm having at the moment is where the personal code is abided by but not done so willingly, where the code is a burden rather than a blessing. I had in mind maybe to introduce an archetype of The Ghost, or The Accursed -- where a certain behaviourial code is foisted upon a person and they must bear it even though they don't personally agree with it. Consider the Lyonsbane Curse?

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    While my advice as the author of the as-of-yet unfinished Chaotic Neutral handbook must, of course, be taken with a grain of salt, I'd like to offer my advice nonetheless: you seem to have covered the decidedly Lawful Neutral very well, but one must also consider the archetypes that...lean. If, as you insist, not every Lawful Neutral character is merely a cardboard cutout of their peers, then is a little deviation from the standard not an expected, or even required, part of the alignment? Show us the Lawful Neutral people who are just this side of True Neutral; show us the Lawful Neutral that's slipping into Lawful Good...or Lawful Evil.

    Do your duty as the creator of the Lawful Neutral Handbook: show us where the line is between Lawful Neutral and every alignment that drifts towards it. Define the limits, set the rule, show us what is and is not.

    If you please, of course. Wouldn't want to force you, you see; free country, free will, free internet. But I, for one, would appreciate it.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    We here at Lawful Neutral have nothing to say to you disorganised, godless heathens in CN.

    Kidding. :) I'll have a look into it!

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Always happy to help people throw off the shackles of stereotypes and tradition, no matter how much we may differ from them on a moral, ethical, or even existential level.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Provided it proceeds in an orderly fashion, of course.

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Precisely. Good luck with your handbook.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Well, one thought I'm having at the moment is where the personal code is abided by but not done so willingly, where the code is a burden rather than a blessing. I had in mind maybe to introduce an archetype of The Ghost, or The Accursed -- where a certain behaviourial code is foisted upon a person and they must bear it even though they don't personally agree with it. Consider the Lyonsbane Curse?
    Anakin Skywalker, maybe?

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by kalasulmar View Post
    Anakin Skywalker, maybe?
    Interesting call. He arguably leans on the wall between Lawful Evil and Lawful Neutral for that very reason (and indeed Fel's handbook lists The Dragon, featuring Darth Vader, as an archetype of LE anyway.)

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Interesting call. He arguably leans on the wall between Lawful Evil and Lawful Neutral for that very reason (and indeed Fel's handbook lists The Dragon, featuring Darth Vader, as an archetype of LE anyway.)
    Before he was Vader, I question whether he was Lawful at all. Part of his frustration with the Jedi Order was that they were too Lawful - too rigid, too rulebound, too unyielding. They prohibited love, or indeed many emotions. This frustrated and angered Anakin, and is a major part of what led him to Palpatine and the Dark Side to begin with. It is only after he indulged in his darker emotions - hatred, anger - and was deceived by Palpatine that he became Vader, and became Lawful. Being mostly machine gave him a greater degree of self-control, I suppose.

    So I'd actually paint Anakin as circling the arc between CG-CN-CE-NE-LE, really.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    Before he was Vader, I question whether he was Lawful at all. Part of his frustration with the Jedi Order was that they were too Lawful - too rigid, too rulebound, too unyielding. They prohibited love, or indeed many emotions. This frustrated and angered Anakin, and is a major part of what led him to Palpatine and the Dark Side to begin with. It is only after he indulged in his darker emotions - hatred, anger - and was deceived by Palpatine that he became Vader, and became Lawful. Being mostly machine gave him a greater degree of self-control, I suppose.

    So I'd actually paint Anakin as circling the arc between CG-CN-CE-NE-LE, really.
    At the risk of nerding out, the reason I'm attracted to Anakin as a failing LN is because he did freely accept the strictures placed upon him, but chafed under them because he already had a personal code, a personal principle he was following -- that of devotion to Padme, and this code clashed with the Jedi code which included nonattachment. Attachment, which is to say, obsession, was forbidden. Compassion was encouraged (and note how Anakin, in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes Clones, pulls the lawyerly stunt of defining compassion as unconditional love and therefore that Jedi are encouraged to love) but at the same time the Jedi had aspects to their code which shade them towards the line between Lawful Neutral and Lawful Good.

    There's certainly a good argument for him starting out CG - former slave, and is told by Qui-Gon Jinn to "feel, don't think" - but he then falls under Obi-Wan's tutelage, who shaves off aspects of his impulsiveness and brings him under the Jedi Code. If Lawful Neutral includes obeying an ideal while still chafing under it, then Anakin does still fit into Lawful Neutral territory until he's well off down the path of the Dark Side. Anakin's obsession with his mother and, later, Padme is also easily classed as a personal code that he follows. It is the gate by which Palpatine seduces him to the Dark Side: Anakin attacks Mace Windu specifically because he doesn't want Padme to die -- because he thinks Palpatine can stop her from dying. That is a personal, amoral code reduced down to one principle: I must keep my wife from dying; all other things are secondary to that. Someone looking at this code from the outside could easily conceive this as evil, because it's a fundamentally selfish desire, but again he's acting on a single guiding principle, even if that principle is irrational. After that point Anakin flips into true evil territory, since his actions are then to slaughter the Jedi wholesale rather than just trying to hide Palpatine or preserve Padme, and by the end of the film he's reduced to Dragon-style Lawful Evil, but I really don't think his actions are entirely chaotic. He wigs out once or twice across the series before finally turning to the Dark Side, but I'd class these as aberrations rather than demonstrations of a CN or CE alignment.

    But anyway: arbitrary alignment is arbitrary.

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Alright, then, try this one - Professor Henry Higgins, from the play/movie My Fair Lady. Prof. Higgins is, on the one hand, a wealthy, independent bachelor, and might be forgiven a number of indulgences, but on the other lives a fairly rigid, structured, inflexible academic life. He takes in a flower seller in order to prove his academic theory - that how one speaks can effectively determine one's social class. He then imposes a regimented set of rules, study, and training on his new ward, to his and his colleague's amusement. It is clear at times that she is suffering, but he lacks any particular empathy towards her, engaging in his academic study with at best a total lack of moral consideration. He alternates positive and negative reinforcement. And while he demonstrates a few Evil tendencies (misogyny, needlessly harsh words, a particular pleasure in some of her suffering) he does enjoy some very slight, arguably positive moral and emotional development over the course of the story. So not particularly Evil, but not particularly Good, either.

    Also, Rex Harrison, enough said.

    So I'd peg him at LN. You?
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Agreed: LN. Emotional development is certainly not inconsistent with LN; learning how to better cope with one's self-imposed code of conduct is a path of essential education for the Lawful Neutral. His internal code of conduct is essentially amoral, and whilst he develops a certain fondness for Eliza, he doesn't change his essential character as a principled man. A brusque or brutal exterior does not automatically make a character evil any more than occasional nice behaviour makes a character good.

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    Default Re: My Country Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Chaotic Neutral: The lawful and chaotic sides of the neutral coin have more in common than might initially be thought. Lawful Neutral can at least respect the Chaotic Neutral's courage of their convictions; adherence to a code is a fundamental part of a Lawful Neutral's life, and while it's a made-up, internal code that just throws away all the good work and thinking that went into the law and traditions they rebel against, at least the Chaotic Neutral believes in something.
    I think I've heard this glowing praise before.

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    Nihilists! **** me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
    It was charming the first time, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Lawful Evil: Well, they got the trains running on time again, even if they're being pulled by slaves. But all these rebellions and six-man parties with big glowing swords can't be good for KPIs around here. Lawful Evil lies somewhere between tolerable and acceptable to Lawful Neutrals, although the boss's constant cackling and monologuing about the doom of men can get a bit irritating.
    Oh, dear me. And here I thought we were friends.

    Please excuse me. I have some paperwork to fill out.
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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Look, it's not so much the cackling, it's really all those kegs of gunpowder elements you're storing in the cellar. The bat guano is giving off an odour that isn't permitting us up here in the scriptorium to copy out the daily death warrants at a maximally efficient rate. Luckily Brother Penman has come up with an alternative arrangement of the vault that should restore full operational capacity.

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    Default Re: My Country, Right Or Wrong: A Lawful Neutral Alignment Handbook

    Plus when you walk by, we can here your butt cheeks whistling from where you had the stick surgically removed.

    Yes, I've decided that italic yellow is the natural color of Chaotic Neutral. If you disagree, feel free to pick your own, but that's what I'm going with.
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