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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    I think, ultimately, that the OP disproves itself.

    The OP takes as a given that Good is a tangible, cosmic force, and that it is objective. By definition, then, when you have an ostensibly Good antagonist taking objectively Evil actions, you cannot call him Good for very long. You cannot. Evil is objective, and a willingness to engage in an objectively Evil course of action is the mindset of an Evil character, not a Good character.

    You most certainly can have a Good antagonist. You can have, as was described upthread, a Good versus Good conflict, where the clash is one of ideals. You can also have a Good versus Evil conflict, where the "villain" is a Good character trying to stop the Evil protagonists.

    But the Good character must be Good. A Good character who, to use the OP's example, converts other characters to his religion under threat of death in a misguided attempt to save them is not doing Good; he is engaging in armed coercion and murder, which is decidedly Evil (and with very few exceptions, not likely to earn his deity's approval). Good is an objective force, and this conduct is not Good; this character is not a misguided Good character, but an Evil character in denial.

    And don't get me wrong! Evil characters in denial can be awesome. The "I thought I was doing the right thing" angle can be compelling when done right. It makes a villain disturbed or tragic, or both. But that's still an Evil character.

    In short: You can have a Good antagonist, set in opposition to the protagonists while still Good. You can have a "Good" BBEG, who appears or believes himself to be Good, but is in fact Evil. But you cannot have a Good BBEG - at least, not one who remains Good.
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  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    No-one asked you to give a damn about the game's rules outside the game. Meanwhile, while discussing of the game, and of things within the game, not giving a damn about the game's rules is just failure to engage. Like, everyone gets it, you don't like the setting(s) painted by the alignment system. This continues to not be aan impressive criticism of either the system or the settings.
    I call BS on every argument in these threads claiming that "mass slaughter of innocents" can be 'good', and the rules support that assentation. This isn't about the rules. This is never about the rules. This is about how people interpret the rules.

    People are twisting and contorting the rules to say something horrid is justified, because in game morality is "objective"... which again is a BS statement, because "greater good" is a completely subjective statement. If in game morality was objective, it would have rules like "slaughtering innocents is ALWAYS evil, even if it is for the greater good", because that is a clean and objective, binary rule. Saying "working for the greater good is always the right thing to do, even if innocents have to be slaughtered in the process"... that is subjective. How do you define "greater good"? Where do you draw the line? Greater good for whom? How do you measure the value of this good vs that good?

  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    If, as was stated above, D&D morality is deontological as opposed to consequentialist, "doing Evil for the greater good" is still likely Evil, no matter how much "good" was accomplished. Thus, murdering someone because death is better is still evil and would be judged as such by the universe.

    Same goes for a lot of what's been brought up here.

    Now you certainly can have settings where the setting's definition of "Good" is abhorrent or head-scratching. But that's a separate issue.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    If, as was stated above, D&D morality is deontological as opposed to consequentialist, "doing Evil for the greater good" is still likely Evil, no matter how much "good" was accomplished. Thus, murdering someone because death is better is still evil and would be judged as such by the universe.
    Yeah, pretty much. We kind of accept that killing can be justified as a matter of course here Because D&D, but once you're killing someone, specifically against their will, "for their own good" arguments to that effect kind of fall apart.

    (Literally the only exception I can think of appears in Schlock Mercenary, where a society of benevolent mind-uploaders took to forcibly mass-uploading civilizations before their enemies could gray goo the whole planet. "Convert people to digital format to prevent them from being murdered outright by disassembly nanomachines," is a pretty niche case requiring a pretty high level of contrivance.)
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2018-02-06 at 02:35 PM.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel View Post
    I think, ultimately, that the OP disproves itself.

    The OP takes as a given that Good is a tangible, cosmic force, and that it is objective. By definition, then, when you have an ostensibly Good antagonist taking objectively Evil actions, you cannot call him Good for very long. You cannot. Evil is objective, and a willingness to engage in an objectively Evil course of action is the mindset of an Evil character, not a Good character.

    You most certainly can have a Good antagonist. You can have, as was described upthread, a Good versus Good conflict, where the clash is one of ideals. You can also have a Good versus Evil conflict, where the "villain" is a Good character trying to stop the Evil protagonists.

    But the Good character must be Good. A Good character who, to use the OP's example, converts other characters to his religion under threat of death in a misguided attempt to save them is not doing Good; he is engaging in armed coercion and murder, which is decidedly Evil (and with very few exceptions, not likely to earn his deity's approval). Good is an objective force, and this conduct is not Good; this character is not a misguided Good character, but an Evil character in denial.

    And don't get me wrong! Evil characters in denial can be awesome. The "I thought I was doing the right thing" angle can be compelling when done right. It makes a villain disturbed or tragic, or both. But that's still an Evil character.

    In short: You can have a Good antagonist, set in opposition to the protagonists while still Good. You can have a "Good" BBEG, who appears or believes himself to be Good, but is in fact Evil. But you cannot have a Good BBEG - at least, not one who remains Good.
    I think there are two "Goods" in D&D:

    1) The (in)tangible, objective force of [Good] is simply energy - it is present in every [Good] spell and is part of the makeup [Good] creature. Both of these can nevertheless perform (or be used to perform) very evil acts. Some actors (like classes) are forbidden from using this energy, while others are not. It is this energy that alignment detection and similar effects pick up on, which is why Solars register as Good even if they become corrupt and immoral, however rare such an occurrence might be.

    2) Moral good is the kind we normally think of when we hear the word; helping others, being altruistic, respecting life etc. Performing good deeds causes the universal energy (the first bullet) to accumulate within you, represented mechanically by your alignment. This is what causes a simply good person, with no subtypes or magic at all, to detect as being Good.

    The important thing to remember is that these are separate. The latter leads to the former, but not necessarily the reverse; and though it is rare to find [Good] subtype creatures that do evil things, or [Good] subtype spells being used in evil ways, it is possible.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2018-02-06 at 03:36 PM.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    I think there are two "Goods" in D&D:

    1) The (in)tangible, objective force of [Good] is simply energy - it is present in every [Good] spell and is part of the makeup [Good] creature. Both of these can nevertheless perform (or be used to perform) very evil acts. Some actors (like classes) are forbidden from using this energy, while others are not. It is this energy that alignment detection and similar effects pick up on, which is why Solars register as Good even if they become corrupt and immoral, however rare such an occurrence might be.

    2) Moral good is the kind we normally think of when we hear the word; helping others, being altruistic, respecting life etc. Performing good deeds causes the universal energy (the first bullet) to accumulate within you, represented mechanically by your alignment. This is what causes a simply good person, with no subtypes or magic at all, to detect as being Good.

    The important thing to remember is that these are separate. The latter leads to the former, but not necessarily the reverse; and though it is rare to find [Good] subtype creatures that do evil things, or [Good] subtype spells being used in evil ways, it is possible.

    Which is why some have suggested using different terms for [Good] and [Evil], so that they don't get conflated with anything to do with actual morality.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-06 at 04:35 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Which is why some have suggested using different terms for [Good] and [Evil], so that they don't get conflated with anything to do with actual morality.
    I wouldn't be opposed to it. Though whatever terms we ended up with, the stronger tie between [Evil] and evil than [Good] and good would need to be captured as well.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    I call BS on every argument in these threads claiming that "mass slaughter of innocents" can be 'good', and the rules support that assentation. This isn't about the rules. This is never about the rules. This is about how people interpret the rules.
    {{scrubbed}} All interpretation of the rules is about the rules, and the rules require interpretation in order to create a functional game. More, the rules themselves call out for a specific person to serve as in-game final interpreter of the exact meaning of alignment terms.

    In practice, this means that while alignment doesn't necessarily justify viewpoints akin to Immaculate Morning for all settings and all games, a game where the rules do support them can be constructe, and same goes for the reverse.

    Or, to give an example: you can interprete alignment so that Immaculate Morning would be justified if death was objectively better than life...but death is not objectively better, making Immaculate Morning's actions based on an objectively false premise. As an even more specific example, Wall of the Faithless in Forgotten Realms setting invalidates a good chunk of their philosophy: people cannot reach a "perfect" afterlife untill and unless they have been given a chance to know of and worship the gods. So killing a person without giving them an option to choose a faith cannot lead to the best outcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid
    People are twisting and contorting the rules to say something horrid is justified, because in game morality is "objective"... which again is a BS statement, because "greater good" is a completely subjective statement. If in game morality was objective, it would have rules like "slaughtering innocents is ALWAYS evil, even if it is for the greater good", because that is a clean and objective, binary rule. Saying "working for the greater good is always the right thing to do, even if innocents have to be slaughtered in the process"... that is subjective. How do you define "greater good"? Where do you draw the line? Greater good for whom? How do you measure the value of this good vs that good?
    The answer to the your questions is, by the rules, "the GM codifies the exact values of alignment terms for their game", based on whatever arbitrary principle that can fit the rough definitions in the game book. Though we also have specific rule and setting books to do that work for the GM, and I'm sure hamisphence is willing to give you a list.

    The error in your entire argument is the notion that subjective and objective are necessarily antonyms. Where as, in actuality, once a GM has decided and codufued what the game values will be based on their subjective opinion, those values will then be objective rules for their game's setting. Meaning, for example, that there is a specifc set of physical actions which will lead to the greatest good, and all other notions of "greater good" the characters could have are false.

    As for your "clean and binary" tangent... "objective" never meant "simple", it never meant "binary", it never meant "clean", it never meant easy. If a GM was feeling mean, they could make graphing alignment reliant upon non-linear differential equations, implying small changes in initial conditions may lead to radically different moral conclusions. When and where alignment is simple, it's for convenience of the game's players. I find it ironically hilarious that a lot of people complain how alignment is "too simple" in one breath and then express complete dislike and unwilligness for any actual complexity in the system in the next, saying that those are proofs of how the system is "broken".

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    If, as was stated above, D&D morality is deontological as opposed to consequentialist, "doing Evil for the greater good" is still likely Evil, no matter how much "good" was accomplished. Thus, murdering someone because death is better is still evil and would be judged as such by the universe.
    The alignment system actually has both deontological and consequentalist elements. Also, despite the fact that deontological and consequentalist systems are often contrasted, in actual moral philosophy it's not a given that they're 100% mutually exclusive. For example, Kantian categorical imperatives can be influenced by utilitarian thinking, and Rule Utilitarianism resembles a deontological system in practice even when built upon consequentalist principles.

    For a game like D&D, it's entirely possible to have an iron-clad set of moral rules which also will lead to greatest possible utility in the game setting. This will make all consequentalist systems which are based on objective truth to eventually approximate a deontological one, making the question of deontology versus consequentalism a matter of opinion and method. In practice, this would lead to deontologists and consequentalist being split along the Law-Chaos-axis, and objectively wrong deontologists being spread across Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil etc. alignments.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre
    Now you certainly can have settings where the setting's definition of "Good" is abhorrent or head-scratching. But that's a separate issue.
    It's not really an issue in the sense of being a problem. Remember, D&D has elements of the horror genre, including cosmic horror, spread all over it like certain bodily fluids over an adult film actress's face. The potential for morally horrifying settings is a feature, not a bug.

    ---

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Yeah, pretty much. We kind of accept that killing can be justified as a matter of course here Because D&D, but once you're killing someone, specifically against their will, "for their own good" arguments to that effect kind of fall apart.

    (Literally the only exception I can think of appears in Schlock Mercenary, where a society of benevolent mind-uploaders took to forcibly mass-uploading civilizations before their enemies could gray goo the whole planet. "Convert people to digital format to prevent them from being murdered outright by disassembly nanomachines," is a pretty niche case requiring a pretty high level of contrivance.)
    All cases of "death is objectively better" are contrived niche cases, even in D&D. An entity like the Immaculate Morning being Good is not an inherent trait of tr alignment system, it's only possible through the interplay between alignment and a highly esoteric setting.

    ---

    @Psyren: detaching [Good] from good is possible, but just as valid and simpler is just to remove the elements which would allow a character's supernatural alignment to conflict with their moral alignment. Because quite often, those elements are add-ons and tack-ons which are not essential to the game working.

    For example, something like a Succubus Paladin, who can appear as any alignment at once, is a result of a convoluted mix-and-match character creation system where clauses about contradictory character traits cancelling out were poorly thought-out or omitted. There may be game design failure involved there, but it's dubious if it's a flaw in the alignment system.

    Now, enforcing the connection between cosmic and moral alignment may still lead to a setting that's morally horrifying, but as said, I'm not convinced this is a problem that needs solving. Let's face it: you can't please everybody, any game or setting with any kind of codified morality will be horrifying to some. Just as well a game or setting without codified morality will be horrifying to some. So that's a poor standard for how it should be.

    (A better standard is that you can play different games with different archetypes in an environment where cosmic alignment =/= moral alignment, as you can play in an environment where cosmic alignment = moral alignment. But that's less of a reason to have the game as either one as a general rule, it's a reason to try and play both types.)
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2018-02-07 at 02:15 PM.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    For example, something like a Succubus Paladin, who can appear as any alignment at once, is a result of a convoluted mix-and-match character creation system where clauses about contradictory character traits cancelling out were poorly thought-out or omitted.
    Actually it's based on two simple facts established in the MM - that Outsiders with alignment subtypes, can change alignment, and that they "still detect as their subtype's alignment". Just looking under each alignment subtype section in the glossary, tells us this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Though we also have specific rule and setting books to do that work for the GM, and I'm sure hamisphence is willing to give you a list.
    This was the list of "alignment statements" with book name and page numbers:

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...ements-summary
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2018-02-07 at 06:30 AM.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    By the book of Exalted Deeds, if good characters are in conflict, put your swords down and talk it out. Good vs. Good violence is a failure of good that isn't helping anyone but evil.

    This is what diplomacy is for, and this is why Morwel and Zaphkiel don't challenge each other to Mortal Kombat. However annoying they find each other, there's 0 combat involved. Just long discussions between beings that have all century to talk if they have to.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    {{scrubbed}}
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    {{scrubbed}}
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2018-02-07 at 02:18 PM.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    {{scrubbed}}
    Last edited by Mark Hall; 2018-02-07 at 02:18 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    @Max: that gesture lost all it's signifigance the first time you did it and yet failed to completely ignore me afterwards.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    @Psyren: detaching [Good] from good is possible, but just as valid and simpler is just to remove the elements which would allow a character's supernatural alignment to conflict with their moral alignment. Because quite often, those elements are add-ons and tack-ons which are not essential to the game working.

    For example, something like a Succubus Paladin, who can appear as any alignment at once, is a result of a convoluted mix-and-match character creation system where clauses about contradictory character traits cancelling out were poorly thought-out or omitted. There may be game design failure involved there, but it's dubious if it's a flaw in the alignment system.
    I see value in both keeping these elements and making that distinction though. Take the "Succubus Paladin" for example - paladin itself is a hard road to walk, and hers is even harder than that, both due to prejudice (almost nobody is going to trust her right away) and metaphysics (she gets the worst of every alignment effect - smite evil and good both work on her, she detects as both, she's susceptible to both Holy Word AND Blasphemy AND Dictum AND Word of Chaos etc.) But a Succubus Paladin having the deck stacked so high against her is exactly what I'd expect in most any D&D setting, so I view the system as both elegant and working as intended. It helps explain why there are so few of them, and why the rare few who choose that route don't often survive very long.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Now, enforcing the connection between cosmic and moral alignment may still lead to a setting that's morally horrifying, but as said, I'm not convinced this is a problem that needs solving. Let's face it: you can't please everybody, any game or setting with any kind of codified morality will be horrifying to some. Just as well a game or setting without codified morality will be horrifying to some. So that's a poor standard for how it should be.

    (A better standard is that you can play different games with different archetypes in an environment where cosmic alignment =/= moral alignment, as you can play in an environment where cosmic alignment = moral alignment. But that's less of a reason to have the game as either one as a general rule, it's a reason to try and play both types.)
    I'm totally okay with settings where cosmic and moral alignment are separate (I believe Eberron comes closest to this in the major settings) too. But I like the idea of alignment mattering mechanically in "default D&D" just as much - in other words, that by being a good or bad person, you can actually cause different types of magic to react to you differently, or that magic can be used to provide an overall window into your deeds and their effects.
    Last edited by Psyren; 2018-02-07 at 05:16 PM.


    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelalex242 View Post
    By the book of Exalted Deeds, if good characters are in conflict, put your swords down and talk it out. Good vs. Good violence is a failure of good that isn't helping anyone but evil.

    This is what diplomacy is for, and this is why Morwel and Zaphkiel don't challenge each other to Mortal Kombat. However annoying they find each other, there's 0 combat involved. Just long discussions between beings that have all century to talk if they have to.
    That's what I said, too...there's no reason two truly good parties (idealized D&D good, not "real world good") At least how I play "good", they would be willing and ready to cease hostilities immediately, and likely would never have started hostilities in the first place.
    Last edited by Thrudd; 2018-02-07 at 11:02 AM.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Because our system places some people (children) in the near-total control of other individuals, that system also bears the moral burden of ensuring that the decisions made on the behalf of those people are actually to their benefit.
    It's still a society with laws that imposes life-or-death decisions on other people.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A "mercy killing" without the permission of the person being killed is usually still just murder with a nicer name slapped on it.
    On the other hand, is leaving someone alone to die in pain and agony a good act? Seems like it would be akin to torture just with the pretension of "I didn't cause this myself".


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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Evil" is not a necessary part of "antagonist".

    "Antagonist" and "villain" are not fully equivalent and synonymous.
    Oh, yes, absolutely. Evil is not a necessary part of antagonist, and nor is villain a synonym for antagonist. This is why I chose this word "good people can be antagonists". They typically can't be villains or BBEGs.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    It's still a society with laws that imposes life-or-death decisions on other people.
    Quite a few of those laws exist to protect one person from having their rights and freedoms violated by others.

    The idea of "chaos" vs "law" as somehow an easy summation of the very complex interplay between laws and freedoms, between rights and responsibilities -- or the blinkered notion that one can tell if a position is "Law" or "Chaos" based a simplistic reading of "Order" vs "Freedom" -- is one of the reasons I lose patience with the Alignment thing so easily.

    An anarchy with no laws doesn't result in greater freedom, but rather in the concentration of freedom in the hands of the powerful very few -- those who have the ability to enforce their will on others and thus act as they wish.

    A police state with endless legalisms and overwhelming enforcement doesn't result in greater freedom, either.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    On the other hand, is leaving someone alone to die in pain and agony a good act? Seems like it would be akin to torture just with the pretension of "I didn't cause this myself".
    If they ask you for that mercy, it's not wrong to give it to them.

    If you offer that mercy, and they say they want it, it's not wrong to give it to them.

    It's only wrong to kill them if they don't give their assent, or actively decline, but you go ahead and do it anyway, because you made the selfish and ego-driven decision that your judgement of their situation matters more than their own, and that "they're better off" or "you know better". Then, you've imposed your will on that other person, stolen their choice from them, and violated their right.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    That's what I said, too...there's no reason two truly good parties (idealized D&D good, not "real world good") At least how I play "good", they would be willing and ready to cease hostilities immediately, and likely would never have started hostilities in the first place.
    Time-limited decisions, rapidly approaching points of no return, or other sources of emotional tension. Good doesn't mean wise.

    Two good-aligned adventuring parties each with conflicting information about how to avert the end of the world arrive at the ritual site where all of the Lovecraftian horrors are being invited to make this plane their home. The cultists have done their part, the portal is growing, and there's only a few moments to spare. One adventuring group has a method they think will stop the summoning by unmaking the very weave of magic in the area, instantly collapsing the portal. The other adventuring group believes that the only way to avert destruction is to invoke the protection of a different Elder God who is, if not amicable towards people, more intent on screwing over the other horrors than it is making a snack of the world - at the same time, they believe the magic-warping thing will not only make their fix impossible, but will strip away some of the few remaining protections woven into the boundary of the crystal sphere long ago. Of course the first group is a bit leery of this whole 'summon an Elder God to fix our Elder God infestation' plan.

    Imagine these are PCs, and the DM has an eggtimer out. When it hits 15 minutes, unless the correct plan has been carried out, the world ends.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The idea of "chaos" vs "law" as somehow an easy summation of the very complex interplay between laws and freedoms, between rights and responsibilities -- or the blinkered notion that one can tell if a position is "Law" or "Chaos" based a simplistic reading of "Order" vs "Freedom" -- is one of the reasons I lose patience with the Alignment thing so easily.
    That may be because it's not really what Law and Chaos are about. Law is consistency, Chaos is spontaneity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    An anarchy with no laws doesn't result in greater freedom, but rather in the concentration of freedom in the hands of the powerful very few -- those who have the ability to enforce their will on others and thus act as they wish.
    You'll find that this is accounted for in the lore. The Abyss is ruled by squabbling tin-pot dictators. Ygorl, mightiest of the true slaad and likely the greatest being of pure chaos in the cosmos, helped his lawful counterpart Primus poison Limbo so as to prevent an even stronger slaad from rising up to displace him. Only CG really values freedom in the sense of "liberty." CE generally sees the concept as a symptom of weakness, and CN would probably see it as incoherent.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A police state with endless legalisms and overwhelming enforcement doesn't result in greater freedom, either.
    Which, it should be noted, Law doesn't necessarily do. Archons get by mostly on mutual respect, a sense of duty, and philosophical concordance. Modrons don't need a police state because their will is very nearly unanimous. Only Hell is really into horrific oppression.
    Last edited by gkathellar; 2018-02-07 at 01:50 PM.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    That may be because it's not really what Law and Chaos are about. Law is consistency, Chaos is spontaneity.
    Perhaps, but...

    * That's often not how they're presented, which is part of the problem. One source speaks of order vs disorder, another of law vs freedom, another of consistency vs spontaneity. And then add in all the opinions of the various players/GMs.

    * Some odd apparent contradictions then occur, such as an individual who consistently fights any authority.

    * My comment was in response to an assertion (mistaken assertion?) that it is about "order" vs "freedom".


    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    You'll find that this is accounted for in the lore. The Abyss is ruled by squabbling tin-pot dictators. Ygorl, mightiest of the true slaad and likely the greatest being of pure chaos in the cosmos, helped his lawful counterpart Primus poison Limbo so as to prevent an even stronger slaad from rising up to displace him. Only CG really values freedom in the sense of "liberty." CE generally sees the concept as a symptom of weakness, and CN would probably see it as incoherent.

    Which, it should be noted, Law doesn't necessarily do. Archons get by mostly on mutual respect, a sense of duty, and philosophical concordance. Modrons don't need a police state because their will is very nearly unanimous. Only Hell is really into horrific oppression.
    I was speaking specifically of human governments and organization, in refutation of the mistaken notion stated upthread that one's "law" or "chaos" alignment can be determined from one's political philosophy. That is, of how one's view on "freedom" is tangential to one's view of "Law" vs "Chaos".

    Of course, the lockstep opinions of those entities you mention makes one wonder just how much actual freedom or free will they have.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-07 at 02:55 PM.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    One thing you could do would be to make what is good ambiguous. For instance, maybe there is an order of Paladins who are deliberately trying to bring a super powerful demon into the world so that they can kill him forever as part of a plan. If they succeed in killing him then the demon is gone forever and that is a good thing. But what if they bring him in and their plan fails? They have just unleashed hell upon earth. I could easily see another group trying to interfere because they think taking such a risk is foolish.

    Both sides are legitimately good people who want what they consider best for everyone. But their mutual agendas are contradictory. One wants a decisive victory at great risk. The other wants to maintain the status quo.

    Good VS Good. And of course, there are plenty of bad factions who might not want the demon lord summoned either. And also bad factions who would want the demon lord to emerge victoriously.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    {{scrubbed}} All interpretation of the rules is about the rules, and the rules require interpretation in order to create a functional game. More, the rules themselves call out for a specific person to serve as in-game final interpreter of the exact meaning of alignment terms.
    You dismiss my point then validate it...

    Anybody who says "how I use alignments is right, and how you use it is wrong" is full of it, because alignment is vague and subjective. It is all a matter of interpretation. If you want vile things to be considered "Good" in your campaign due to technicalities and loopholes, then you are fully able to do that as a DM. But you can't say "This is how the rules say alignment should work" (unless you are specifically saying "the rules allow me to make alignment work any way I want")
    The error in your entire argument is the notion that subjective and objective are necessarily antonyms.
    I say they are, and that they are in this context. You can not objectively codify "greater good", it will always require a subjective interpretation. Always.
    I find it ironically hilarious that a lot of people complain how alignment is "too simple" in one breath and then express complete dislike and unwilligness for any actual complexity in the system in the next, saying that those are proofs of how the system is "broken".
    It is broken if you make it simple, and it is broken for other reasons if you make it complex. If you have it as a vague background idea for "fluff" and don't aggressively inforce it, then it is fine. If you don't run games where "Good" aligned PCs are constantly judged by ridiculous moral dilemmas, then it is fine.



    Quote Originally Posted by Lorsa View Post
    It's still a society with laws that imposes life-or-death decisions on other people.
    Your example of a child is a problem either way. One option has a parent making a life-or-death decision for the child, the other option has society making the decision. There can be a problem with each option, depending on the circumstances, and if the child is young, they are incapable of making the decision for themselves.
    On the other hand, is leaving someone alone to die in pain and agony a good act?
    If they want you to, and you agree to their wishes, it is probably just neutral. It isn't your call to decide if they should be in agony or not... if they are ok with that, then they are ok with it.



    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Which, it should be noted, Law doesn't necessarily do. Archons get by mostly on mutual respect, a sense of duty, and philosophical concordance. Modrons don't need a police state because their will is very nearly unanimous. Only Hell is really into horrific oppression.
    But with Modrons etc, they are all Lawful and they are all ok with living in harmony and trusting that the laws are in their best interest. It isn't a police state until you have people who don't want to mindlessly obey the rules without question...
    Last edited by Aliquid; 2018-02-07 at 03:04 PM.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    On the other axis, part of the problem is that (IMO at least) absolute Law is stagnation, and absolute Chaos is formlessness. Choosing either one alone leads to the end of everything. If you actually choose "good" over everything else, then you're looking at what... Neutral Good?

    The CG character and the LG character probably disagree about what "good" actually is. They both see their "thing" as more good, and the other "thing" as less good. For example, the CG character sees law as lacking judgement and discretion, curtailing freedom and choice -- the CG character probably doesn't see freedom and choice as "chaotic", they likely see freedom and choice as straight-up good.

    Real life is full of least-bad-option choices, when the choice isn't between "good" and "evil", but involves agonizing over which harmful option will do the least harm. Settings with nothing but easy choices and clear lines don't, IMO, ring true. Morality is hard. Ethics are hard.

    You can end up choosing between sticking by an original decision to expunge someone from your life / your awareness, or being open-minded & giving them a second chance... and either one can lead to regret later.

    Even a system that looks "lawful" can end up being "chaotic", when you're not actually looking at the rule of law but rather at trying to guess at the highly variable reactions of those given power to enforce the law however they see fit at any one moment. The idea of a Lawful Evil tyrant does't really work out, the law is whatever they say it is at any given time.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-02-07 at 03:30 PM.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    On the other axis, part of the problem is that (IMO at least) absolute Law is stagnation, and absolute Chaos is formlessness. Choosing either one alone leads to the end of everything. If you actually choose "good" over everything else, then you're looking at what... Neutral Good?

    The CG character and the LG character probably disagree about what "good" actually is. They both see their "thing" as more good, and the other "thing" as less good. For example, the CG character sees law as lacking judgement and discretion, curtailing freedom and choice -- the CG character probably doesn't see freedom and choice as "chaotic", they likely see freedom and choice as straight-up good.

    Real life is full of least-bad-option choices, when the choice isn't between "good" and "evil", but involves agonizing over which harmful option will do the least harm. Settings with nothing but easy choices and clear lines don't, IMO, ring true. Morality is hard. Ethics are hard.

    You can end up choosing between sticking by an original decision to expunge someone from your life / your awareness, or being open-minded & giving them a second chance... and either one can lead to regret later.

    Even a system that looks "lawful" can end up being "chaotic", when you're not actually looking at the rule of law but rather at trying to guess at the highly variable reactions of those given power to enforce the law however they see fit at any one moment.
    I've often thought that the alignment chart is actually a diamond--the neutral X or X neutral alignments care much more about X than about the other component. A strongly LN being (eg Modrons) really only care about Law, not about good or evil. NG people care about doing good--concerns of society, order, etc. are secondary if at all. That makes NG more "good" oriented than LG (who has to balance L and G when they compete).
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    On the other axis, part of the problem is that (IMO at least) absolute Law is stagnation, and absolute Chaos is formlessness. Choosing either one alone leads to the end of everything. If you actually choose "good" over everything else, then you're looking at what... Neutral Good?

    The CG character and the LG character probably disagree about what "good" actually is. They both see their "thing" as more good, and the other "thing" as less good. For example, the CG character sees law as lacking judgement and discretion, curtailing freedom and choice -- the CG character probably doesn't see freedom and choice as "chaotic", they likely see freedom and choice as straight-up good.
    Very much this.

    Both CG and LG can agree on general concepts like selflessness and altruism. They can generally agree on not crossing certain lines, like murder, rape, slavery, or talking in theater. But when it comes to the details of Good, they can differ wildly.

    A CG character might say, for example, that Good is encouraging an individual's growth and expression. That Good is like a garden, gently tended, but left to grow and bloom freely. By contrast, an LG character might say that Good is offering yourself to something greater, something nobler, and giving wholeheartedly of yourself to your cause. That Good is like a garden, full of carefully sculpted and pruned bushes and trees, that can only be admired after careful tending and diligent labor.

    They'd both be right, in their own way. But CG could argue that LG's position would ruin the beauty of the garden, sacrificing the wildflowers to obey an arbitrary aesthetic; while LG could argue that CG's position would ruin the beauty of the garden, turning a symbol of tender dedication into a wild, chaotic mess. Both right; both wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Even a system that looks "lawful" can end up being "chaotic", when you're not actually looking at the rule of law but rather at trying to guess at the highly variable reactions of those given power to enforce the law however they see fit at any one moment. The idea of a Lawful Evil tyrant does't really work out, the law is whatever they say it is at any given time.
    ... Excuse your pathetic species?

    Granted, a whimsical dictator with absolute power and a tendency to change the law on impulse is not Lawful; I'll readily grant you that. But to say that this isolated example that you've created encompasses all tyrants is an insult to every hard-working iron-fisted ruler who toils over paperwork day-in, day-out, to make sure that the empire continues to run smoothly, thank you very much. That argument undermines the entire point of what you were saying mere sentences prior - that alignment is (or should be) nuanced and complex, a frequently confusing latticework of overlapping layers subject to multiple levels of interpretation. To suggest that, and then turn around and suggest, "Except for tyrants, because they're all whackjobs, am I right?" is just disingenuous.

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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I've often thought that the alignment chart is actually a diamond--the neutral X or X neutral alignments care much more about X than about the other component. A strongly LN being (eg Modrons) really only care about Law, not about good or evil. NG people care about doing good--concerns of society, order, etc. are secondary if at all. That makes NG more "good" oriented than LG (who has to balance L and G when they compete).
    To me, NG was always "just plain good", those who end up looking at it all "law" and "chaos" and saying that society, consistency, freedom, inconsistency, etc, it's all a mixed bag and at the end any of them can be of benefit or detriment depending on the circumstances.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    To me, NG was always "just plain good", those who end up looking at it all "law" and "chaos" and saying that society, consistency, freedom, inconsistency, etc, it's all a mixed bag and at the end any of them can be of benefit or detriment depending on the circumstances.
    Yeah, that too. The NX or XN alignments prioritize X over the other argument.

    I also tend to think that we treat the boxes as too homogenous--both axes are a spectrum with squishy boundaries, not discrete quantized states. Most mortal peoples are close to the TN dividing line--it's just too difficult to have true LAW or CHAOS (or GOOD or EVIL) in the mortal plane.

    I strongly dislike the mechanistic version of alignment presented in 3e--the more details you add to try to nail down all the edge cases, the more cumbersome and (in some cases) absurd/self-contradictory/abhorrent it becomes. But that's my opinion about 3e D&D generally, so I might be a bit biased.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Yeah, that too. The NX or XN alignments prioritize X over the other argument.

    I also tend to think that we treat the boxes as too homogenous--both axes are a spectrum with squishy boundaries, not discrete quantized states. Most mortal peoples are close to the TN dividing line--it's just too difficult to have true LAW or CHAOS (or GOOD or EVIL) in the mortal plane.

    I strongly dislike the mechanistic version of alignment presented in 3e--the more details you add to try to nail down all the edge cases, the more cumbersome and (in some cases) absurd/self-contradictory/abhorrent it becomes. But that's my opinion about 3e D&D generally, so I might be a bit biased.
    3.x is my final impression of Alignment before jumping ship entirely from the D&D-like/d20 "thing", so that's probably why I take so dark a view of it.
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    Default Re: If Good is a tangible and objective force, shouldn't a good BBEG be possible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    3.x is my final impression of Alignment before jumping ship entirely from the D&D-like/d20 "thing", so that's probably why I take so dark a view of it.
    I can see that reasoning. I really started playing (table-top anyway) with 4e; 4e and 5e have very different takes on alignment than 3e, and I like them a lot better.

    4e's is a single spectrum: LG->G->U->E->CE (U is for unaligned); the books make it very clear that the E and CE alignments aren't for players. Basically just an us and them dichotomy.

    5e is squishier and makes it clear that alignments are just your basic reflex pattern--do you default to sacrificing self for others? Good. Do you default to playing nice with society? Lawful. Etc. and make it clear that a good person can do evil things (and vice versa)--it's more about your default and habitual pattern of actions and beliefs.
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