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    The Alignment Thread [ 1, 2  Next]

    Which alignment is the most misunderstood?
    A) Lawful Good
    22%
     22%  [ 7 ]
    B) Chaotic Good
    3%
     3%  [ 1 ]
    C) Neutral Good
    0%
     0%  [ 0 ]
    D) Lawful Neutral
    0%
     0%  [ 0 ]
    E) Chaotic Neutral
    45%
     45%  [ 14 ]
    F) True Neutral
    16%
     16%  [ 5 ]
    G) Lawful Evil
    3%
     3%  [ 1 ]
    H) Chaotic Evil
    9%
     9%  [ 3 ]
    I) Neutral Evil
    0%
     0%  [ 0 ]
    Total Votes : 31

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    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 14, 2009 2:36 pm  
    The Alignment Thread

    Feel encouraged to discuss misunderstood aspects of how alignment is and should be used within the game. Personal motives and how people within societies should behave in a believable manner. Provide tips to encourge better roleplaying of alignment. Do you use alignment or is it a waste within the game. Favorite alignments and hated alignments within the game.

    Alignment within the GH has always been an important but often misunderstood aspect of the game. Some consider alignment as merely a set of rules. Others simply a requirement for certain magic items. Fortunately for myself the earilest exposure to the concept stressed the rationale philosophical tone behind the alignments as a point of view. Characters of different alignments had reasonable motives and reasons behind their actions rather then slipping into bland stereotypes.

    As I have started the topic;

    Discuss: Chaotic Neutral
    From the birth of the game, the CN alignment has been misunderstood. The alignment has been termed insane and given to include unreliable fanatics. The PH within the alignment section has the CN representative blindly charging a gorgon for no rationale reason. However entire nations within GH are governed and populated by the CN alignment that function.

    My interpretation:
    CN believe in personal trusted relations to achieve their common goals. CN distrust distant authority figures with power over their lives. CN espouses the benefits of local authority and champion individual rights. So societial abuses can be quickly discovered and resolved. The judgements of CN are based upon personal relationships.

    Doesn't seem the ethics of an insane madman that charges a gorgon to me.

    Discuss or propose your own intrepretation...
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:43 pm  

    I had never thought about CN that much. And to come from a philosophical view of the alignment is something that had never much occurred to me. CN is not an alignment I have seen played very often. The basic underpinning of your assertion: that alignment is a description of, or an analysis of, real life values/positions (on the world, certain philosophical views, etc.)/and points of view on the world, is something I very much agree with. Certainly, letting the rulebooks be the beginning and ending of each and every discussion of the rules is intellectually very poor, in my opinion. Something like alignment is a series of philosophical viewpoints that really do need to be discussed in a deep way to gain an understanding of what they mean, especially as a way to better role-play your character.

    With that said, I don't have anything new to add to your commentary on the alignment of CN. I have normally taken it to describe someone who doesn't give a damn about society and its rules, someone who is truly a maverick, and not necessarily someone who is insane, although it is an ad hoc moral category to throw them into.

    Speaking of that, it does occur to me that CN and N are two alignments where you throw people with certain viewpoints that don't fit anywhere else.

    In the greater discussion of Good vs. Evil I have observed a bias that Good is the norm and Evil is very much the exception. The book Lord of the Flies asserts that human nature is basically evil. That people, when not held to account by a respected authority (the Church, God, the police, elders, etc.) will do whatever they want no matter who it hurts and will dominate and exterminate anyone or anything that gets in their way. I am purposely leaving the discussion of deities out of that one, 1) to make it discussion easier and 2) I can also argue that the existence of Good, Evil, and Neutral deities existing in a balance of power will not upset that paradigm. But I digress.

    What I experienced is that what most people say is good, is having empathy with other humans, or experience empathy with another. Good and empathy are connected, but are not the same. You can have empathy with the local blacksmith, but if you're butt is on the line and you're about to be run through by the local badguy, unless that blacksmith comes out and stands at your side, he can't possibly be good because he is not making a stand for the village to be a better place (I know, simplistic scenario, but it illustrates my point). Check it, being Good takes something, getting involved for the sake of getting involved irregardless of how you may profit from it. Being Good means making a difference and confronting your own fears. Fear is an element most players don't take into account when playing their characters because the inherent removal from the circumstances that your character is in. Its easier to think about what kind of pizza to order than to put yourself in your character's shoes and look at the world going on around him/her/it.

    What complicates this even more, with regards to Evil, is that most people don't consider themselves Evil. The kind of 'evil' (and I use the quotes on purpose) that you see in the Book of Vile Darkness, some of it truly is horrendous, but ultimately what passes for 'evil' in 3rd Edition is comic-book and has no impact because it is so, well, comicish (I know, not a real word, but comical didn't really seem to fit to me). I was recently looking at From the Ashes and I ran into the Thassaloss and some of the other machinations of Iuz and that stuff is what strikes me as truly Evil. Christ, his priests hunt paladins for sport and mount them in the offices! Dude, isn't this supposed to be the other way, champions of good smiting the hordes of evil?? Crap, talk about turning the tables. In case you might be wondering what I'm going on about, this is it, and you'll see this in Lord of the Rings: the forces of Good are relatively small in number, but individually quite strong, while the forces of Evil are legion and individually quite weak. One of the other tropes you'll sometimes see in fantasy (of any kind) is how evil hides and must be rooted out. As Merlin said in Excalibur, "evil is always where you least expect it." This kind of evil Iuz represents is NOT AT ALL like that. This is the kind of evil that is powerful, scary, can and is anywhere you least expect it, and makes a sport out of being cruel and inhuman and revels in it. Yes, i'm still tripping over that right now.

    Ok, so back to where I was before regarding Good and Evil. Try looking at being Good as the exception and Evil being the rule of human endeavor. The laws we have in our society were created because there have been countless people over the years who can't operate in a respectable way and respect others. These are people who try any and every way they can to get a leg up. People who either don't care how their actions affect others or who are just unconscious to it. Personally, I don't see people as either good or evil, I make no judgments on the human condition.

    So, one of many things that Good and Evil have in common is that they exist in a paradigm. There are many philosophies that I have come across that look at the world in different ways. The Manichean Good v. Evil, is just one. I have looked at Neutral as a kind of catch-all category for looking at the world in a way that does not encompass the Goood v. Evil paradigm. Its not that people of Neutrality don't act in the world and prefer to live their own life over making a difference in the world (if they are Good) or harming the world and society (if they are Evil), its just how they do operate is not along those lines. For people like that, Alignment is what others evaluate them as. Someone may not look at themselves as Good, but thats not to say that others don't see them as such. Druids do fall in that. They may get involved with a resistance movement, but it may not be for the motive to help the people, but rather to help the chipmunks or save the forest from being slashed and burned, whatever, but their saving a village from being devastated would make them appear Good in the eyes of the people. Yes, I know, all of this is along the lines of Relativism, and D&D is not about that, but more objective things. Truth be told, Good and Evil are labels and referring to people by a label dehumanizes them and constricts them, that is whats so. Consider that when thinking about alignment and you will see things differently.

    The Hackmaster PHB and GMG has some wonderful insights into alignment. They defined Good as standing up for 'creature rights', that everyone and every thing has certain rights, like the right to live, to be heard, etc. And that Evil is defined through purpose. They went ahead and talked about Neutrality in a way I had never heard of before that made so much sense I nearly fell over. They talked about Neutrality not just about how it is defined in the 1st and 2nd Edition PHs (which, by the way, would classify a person as insane because people DO NOT act like that). TN was also described as adherence to a particular skill, objective or goal that is outside of Good or Evil. For example, the thief who only wants to improve his skills or is competing for fame and honor. The warrior who is devoted to doing everything he said he would do. The wizard who is dedicated to finding some lost knowledge or the cleric who seeks to spread his faith through preaching. These are behaviors that are not alignment-specific outside of TN.

    I trust you got something out of my ramblings.

    The Grey Mouser

    "I drank what?" -Socrates
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    Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:51 am  

    Neutrality may just as often mean simple indifference to Evil and Good as it does maintaining a balance among anything; with True Neutrality meaning an indifference to both Law and Chaos and Good and Evil.

    There is no madness in this, just a lack of favoring one over the other in either case. As to Chaotic Neutral and madness(in very general terms), I'd say that the madness means that a Chaostic Neutral individual will irrationally have tendencies towards any combination of alignments along either axis in any given situation. Something may just set them off or not.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Master Greytalker

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    Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:28 pm  

    I can't agree Cebrion; the decisions a CN person makes are not based on randomness or "set him off"

    Within another thread I gave this example:

    The local tanner would prefer the local mayor have more authority and would support him in this endeavor.

    CN Reasons (Support Mayor)
    1) He knows the mayor - he trusts him.
    2) He doesn't know the local lord; he could be a decent fellow or not.
    3) His family is harmed but he believes the mayor will help.
    4) The lord is unfamilar with his problems and may not care.

    It is in his interest to support the mayor.

    CN Reasons (Oppose Mayor)
    1) He knows the mayor - he distrusts him.
    2) He doesn't know the local lord; he could be a decent fellow or not
    3) His family is harmed but he believes the mayor will ignore his pleas.
    4) The lord is unfamilar with his problems and may not care.

    In this scenario: the tanner may leave to bring his concerns to the local lord. If the lord is unconcerned; the tanner will return to the village and oppose the mayor. If their isn't sufficent local support to form an opposition; the tanner would leave the village and settle elsewhere.

    Both are CN mindsets dependant upon his personal evaluation of the people around him. If he does trust the local authority he feels secure and supports it. However if he distrusts the local authority; he opposes the authorities or leaves to settle elsewhere.

    For a CN individual authority has no intrinsic value what is important are the people that hold it and potentially abuse it.

    I agree with the comments about empathy;
    CN appears random because we do not understand his reasons for his behavior. However if the reasons are known his behavior is rationale.

    CN walks down a road and sees three separate men being beaten;
    A) He saves the man
    B) He walks past the man
    C) He calls for help for the man

    Seems pretty random from a distance but lets look at his reasoning.
    A) He knows the man and he is a friend
    B) He knows the man and he has threatened a friend.
    C) He does not know the man so he will call for help and allow those within the village that do know the man to aid him rather then place himself in danger.

    The CN makes decisions based on his personal flesh and blood relationships not some arbituary allegiance to a social concept. He likes his friend so he intervenes but he doesn't like the man that threated his friend so he doesn't intervene in scenario B.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:18 pm  

    Crag wrote:
    I can't agree Cebrion; the decisions a CN person makes are not based on randomness or "set him off"...


    Wha??? Did you read what I posted?

    Cebrion wrote:
    As to Chaotic Neutral and madness(in very general terms), I'd say that the madness means that a Chaotic Neutral individual will irrationally have tendencies towards any combination of alignments along either axis in any given situation. Something may just set them off or not.


    It is pretty clear that I am talking about people who are Chaotic Neutral AND who are nutballs, wackos, loonies, etc. and not just Chaotic Neutral people in general. It is the *madness*(of which there are many kinds) and not the CN alignement that causes the *random behavioral tendencies* and not the alignment. Madness can be attached to any alignment, but it would seem that it would be the most unpredictble across the behavior spectrum when attached to the CN alignment. Alignement is not just a political thing, it is a moral and ethical thing; it is a reactionary thing. Madness can blur some or all of those factors, and when attached to an already self serving(chaotic) mind could be very dangerous, or not, as the player/DM decides.

    You characterization of *non-crazy* Chaotic Neutral people seems perfectly suitable to me, but I didn't address non-crazy Chaotic Nerutals at all; only crazy Chaotic Neutrals.

    And I don't mean "crazy" as in "cooky neighbor crazy". I mean "crazy" as in "straight jacket, Arkham Asylum/One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest crazy". Happy
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 16, 2009 12:23 pm  

    I remember early on in my gaming career (8th or 9th grade) my friends tended to view Neutral Good as a watered-down form of Good, so that they could get away with more, rather than Pure Good, which is how I view it. The Neutral Good individual is willing to adopt or reject laws as needed in order to bring about the most good (life, beauty, happiness).

    I've always viewed Chaotic Neutral individuals as people who just didn't want to be pinned down or pigeon-holed. They valued their own freedom above all else. Similar to the amoral True Neutrals, but strongly opposed to any system of laws or social convention, and working towards anarchy and subversive behavior whenever possible. Fight the power! Don't trust The Man!
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 16, 2009 2:45 pm  

    I always had difficulty understanding a Lawful Evil society. I look at Hell as an example. It seems like everything is allowed as long as you don't get caught. If you do get caught, there is punishment. You could argue that the same thing occurs in a Lawful Good society, that those caught performing evil acts are punished. The only difference seems to be that everyone knows, and even expects, evil acts to occur in a Lawful Evil society, and punishment is there only to discourage the APPEARANCE of doing evil (all actions are justifiable retaliations to another's aggression or blame is always directed onto one's subordinates).

    I've tried to rationalize things by arguing that the laws of a Lawful Evil society maintain the status quo, and keep those in power in power, while keeping those without power powerless. But, if you look at, say, Furyondy, the monarchy is hereditary and (presumably) a serf remains a serf. So, again, no difference.

    Finally, I suppose that a Lawful Good society would strive for its citizens to be happy and healthy, while a Lawful Evil society wouldn't care, or may even delight in the suffering of its citizens. The latter does not seem to be a sustainable situation to me. Unhappy citizens defect, desert, or rebel. Perhaps it works in Hell because of the continuous influx of new citizens (souls of the damned).
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 16, 2009 4:59 pm  

    Cebrion; talking of a rational CN society Wink

    IronGolem; most use the Prince John model for an LE society but I think this is in error. The Prince John model has an evil ruler or ruling class imposes its rule and the populace has no means to fight back. As you say there is no widespread societal loyalty and as soon as cracks appear a popular rebellion can easily happen. Watch the movie Robin Hood.

    The LE society; creates a structure based upon the "Superior Abilities Mentality" the cream of the society should rise to the top and while the laws seem harsh the structure must be enforced to encourge the populace to struggle for achievement. The society while harsh does reward achievement. Of course those that have advanced have superior abilities and deserve to advance while those that don't deserve to remain where they are. Everyone can advance but the elite believe their superior abilities validate their rule.

    The elite support the laws because they have excelled under them and the populace support the laws because they believe their fair application is the avenue to advancement. No one is above the law; everyone plays by the same rules. So pull yourself up by your own bootstraps belief. Prove you can play the game better by the rules of the society and everyone will recognize you deserve to have power.

    The laws are harsh but everyone lives under them; so don't complain.
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    Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:55 am  

    Crag wrote:
    The LE society; creates a structure based upon the "Superior Abilities Mentality" the cream of the society should rise to the top and while the laws seem harsh the structure must be enforced to encourge the populace to struggle for achievement.


    I think both a LE and LG society would reward merit, but the positions at the top would be inherited. I'm thinking of Furyondy and the (former) Great Kingdom here. In each case the nobility should rule and the peasants should serve. In each case, those that buck the system and perform notable acts of service for the kingdom are promoted. It's still hard for me to see the difference. Maybe it's just that torture is legal in a LE society. ;-)
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Mar 17, 2009 1:24 pm  

    True an LG and LE soctiety both have a desire for structure and law; more alike then most within the LG would like to admit. The main difference are the motives and lack of empathy.

    Ideally; the LG elite wants to protect and will sacrifice themselves to defend those beneath them. Those beneath them inspired by the elites ideals support and seek to emulate them.

    Ideally; the LE elite want to achieve authority and will sacrifice others beneath them to defend their position. Those beneath them inspired by the need to improve their societal situation seek to prove themselves worthy of advancement and emulate those that have achieved success.

    The LG elites seek to gain power to use it to protect others and improve the lives of those around them. The LE elites seek to gain power to use it to protect themselves and exploit those around them.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:22 am  

    I think another way to look at the differences between LG and LE are how the individual and society as a whole are viewed.

    LG: Believes that the road to greater good for society as a whole is for every individual to do their part to uphold and obey the just laws of the society. That is to say, individuals see themselves as part of a greater whole and feel its their personal responsibility to follow the laws of the society so that everyone can enjoy a better quality of life, no matter their role. Every role in society is important. Thus, individuals at the top see that they have a responsibility to society as a whole and those at the bottom don't feel overburdoned as they accept their role in society as a whole.

    LE: Believes that society is stratified and that it is essential for individuals to know their place to maintain order. Those that lead do so because they can, those that labor do so because that is their lot. Aspiring to cross such boundaries is acceptable, and in some ways even encouraged, but one does not leave their assigned lot readily. There are customs and traditions that hold the power of law about the specific mechanisms that an individual can employ to shift to a higher place in society. Thus, individuals wish to hold their place in society if they are at the top or move up if they are not.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:43 am  

    Nicely put Xilinar Wink

    Welcome to the board and the discussion Smile

    Anyone brave enough to tackle True Neutral Question
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    Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:53 pm  

    Sure. I elude to thoughts on this alignment in the Chaotic Neutral discussion.

    True Neutral is most often thought of as being the alignment most representative of Druids, or of The Balance. These very similar views are both based upon a rigid belief system of some sort. One maintains the balance of nature and the other the balance of the cosmos, but the idea of what constiturtes "balance" in either case is predetermined. There isn't a lack of law or chaos, good or evil, but an openess to all of them so long as none are favored overly much and that the favoring of any of them ultimately results in the maintaining of this pre-defined notion of "balance". There is a methodology here which lends this sort of True Netural a lawful aspect, if if only in a minor way.

    Then there is the other sort of True Neutral, which I characterize as idifference to most things. A character with this outlook on life will favor one or more alignment aspects based on the situaiton, and not neccesarily to favor themself all of the time. They are fully open to anything at any given time. There isn't a lack of purpose in them, but there need not be a defined purpose either(though most characters would hve some sort of purpose). They do not do good for good's sake, nor do they do evil for eveil's sake. Neither do they have some sort of belief system where they must uphold a balance of law and chaos, good and evil. Such a person might be seen as a pragmatist, doing what is deemed most suitable(or necessary) at any given time. This is an alignment outlook where the character's tendenices deifnes them more than anything else. They may be more likley to do good or evil perhaps, but not beacue they are good or evil. They may be self serving or follow laws, but not because they are chatoci or lawful. ths tituation at hjand just suited the character's actions at the time, from their point of view. the veis of the alignemtn oppsosed the more common ntion of True Netural in that there is more freedom due to a lack of a rigid beleif sytstem, so I characterize this form of True Neutral as having chaotic leanings.

    Either version of True Neutral will lean toward good or evil as the situation demands. What they define as being a good thing(as it may further their current goals, pre-defined or not) may be seen as evil by others, and what they see as evil(because it is counter to their current goals) may be seen as good.
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    Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:21 pm  

    I started to vote on an alignment, starting w/ CN, then thinking, maybe it's LG. As I was thinking I started reading down the posts (you all bring up very good points) when I realized...
    I "think" the most common misconception about alignment is that: it's a strict code or ideal a character lives by, only swaying under extreme duress or perhaps if one is chaotic, as part of the code or ideal itself. Some may indeed live by such a code or ideal but this person could be of any alignment, such as a Paladin of Heironious living the LG code or a C Evil priest, spreading the demonic teaching's of whatever demon lord he worships. BUT more often than not, it's more like we are when making any decision in our lives. We take many personal factors unrelated to alignment into account. Such as; how does this effect the ones I love? If I am honest about my mistake, will I lose my job? Sure an ethical code or other moral conscious is a part of the decision process... But a relatively small part in the scope of our decision.. Well, for me anyway.... and I would sure not be consider myself Lawful anything.

    Am I good? Probably not but seek to hurt you I would not.
    Chaotic seems a fit for me but if my kid disobeys, it's over my knee.
    Lawful I would be not, yet I certainly would pull over for a cop.

    Anyway... that might not be the point of the original post but that's my vote!!
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:13 pm  

    To usurp a comment from the US Supreme Court: None of the alignments are a suicidal pact.

    I have always used the alignment plus tendancies interpretation for alignment combinations. LG (LN)

    But let us delve into the darkness shall we Wink

    Which evil alignment is truly the most destructive; NE, LE or CE Question

    State your opinions...Demon Lords could be listening Shocked
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    Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:08 am  

    I'll jump in on this. :)

    First, it was mentioned near the top of this thread that society leans towards evil, and that good is imposed on it. I will agree with that. I know far more selfish, and yes, evil people than I do good folks. I consider myself good, and like to think I know what it means, but that isn't guaranteed.

    People (as a whole) will lie, cheat, react blindly, persecute, and throw the next person under the bus for a moment more of uninterrupted existance. Individuals tend to be more varied, but the mob reaction is what I think is our true human nature is. The mob becomes its own individual, led by a few outspoken, and followed by those in fear.

    Is the life of anyone more important than anyone else? Does that only apply when it doesn't include me?

    Does the fact that anyone else is suffering give me mandate to act. Does it require that I act. Does it require I care if I am not suffering?

    The questions go on and on, but enough of that, back to the question actually last asked.

    Quote:
    Which evil alignment is truly the most destructive; NE, LE or CE


    Lawful evil is the opposite of destructive, although that is subjective. A lawful society keeps its people in line, and offers freedom from crime (usually), except for those perpatrated by the state. A chaotic evil society is one ruled by personal might, a Bully state. The strong harrass the weak, because they are weak, and because they exist to be the pawns of the bully. A neutral evil society is one that puts personal gain above everything else, including the greater good of society. They do not have a toltalitarian outlook on crime that says it must be stopped, save that which is allowed by law. They do not have a random need to punish and reward their prey so as to accomodate their own need to better themselves and demean others. They simply want more for themselves, at the expense of all others. This is the world portrayed in most cyberpunk realities, and to me is the most destructive. The poor, rivals, the planet itself are all secondary to getting ahead. Children are toys for the amusement of a group's greater need. Sometimes its sales of toys and the enjoyment of fun places that rake in a killing. Sometimes its more diabolic and unhealthy. The children have no intrinsic worth beyond their ability to provide a need for someone else. This is not to say that parents still aren't parents, but NE parents care only for their kids, not others...unless those other kids are part of their greater plan for self gratification.

    So in Short, Neutral Evil is the most destructive evil.
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    Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:57 pm  
    Most Misunderstood Alignment, and Evil tendencies

    I one way, I agree with the assertion that human nature is inherently inclined toward evil. In anothr, I disagree. The thing of it is that there is often more reward for evil. I believe (and this is a personal belief that is something that I hold in my personal life) that if people could get the exact same reward for doing good as doing evil, they would naturally be inclined toward that which is more in harmony with good. I firmly believe that if I give a person a strong reason to do good, which invalidates (or gives a balance or "wash" to) the reasons to do evil, they will follow that inclination.

    The problem that arises, is that in actuality, there is almost always more reward for doing evil, even if it is minute and fleeting. Our world (or those of our characters) is affected by the fact that people are sometimes motivated by the most trivial rewards. This is where bullies come from: the momentary gratification of strength. And by extension, where evil regimes come from.

    There is such a thing as a Benevolent Dictatorship, but in all examples that I can think of, it seldom happens. The Lawful Evil example leads to things like (in a contemorary example) Fidel Castro. It is, undoubtedly, a horrible regime to live under, but, IMO not the worst that there is.

    The Nuetral Evil example, is one in which the individual person is most interested in protecting themselves, as discussed above, by Mikel. This, IMO, is the catagory where the "Bully State" mentioned by Mikel would fall. Otherwise, I completely agree with Mikel's assessment of Nuetral Evil. This is people who care little about what they should or shouldn't do, this is people who are motivated by that which gives them the feeling or reward that they most want for their own personal gratification.

    A Chaotic Evil alignment, however, is a dangerous one, indeed. This is one in which people sometimes do things simply for the reasoning that there is no one to stop them. Not necessarily that they get personal gratification from it, or that there is any reward in it, simply that it was there and could be done. E.g: Theft, simply for the fact that it was unattended - not because it's valuable or can be sold; Murder not for vengance or punishing wrongdoings, but for the sake of simple violence. This is being mean just to be mean. In a choatic evil environment, there is complete anarchy, coupled with complete depravity. When a country is Chaotic Evil, it implies a total breakdown of social structure. There are not any groups fighting a coups d'etats ... this isn't a prison where gangs force their will on others ... this isn't vioence motivated by greed: Chaotic Evil is the utter antithesis of all of these. It is wild, uncontrolled, random violence, malevolence, and domination. The most fearsome thing about it, in fact, is inherent randomness. Unlike nuetral evil, wherein there is personal motivation for it, with chaotic evil, there is often little or no motivation at all - other than the enactor's sheer reveling in the act of evil itself.

    To me, there is safety in knowing that if I cross into the wrong neighborhood, I would be shot for being in the wrong "turf" (lawful evil , in this case defined by territory), because I can avoid that neighborhood. There is security in knowing that someone might shoot me for revenge or their own personal advancement (nuetral evil being defined, in this case, by personal motivation), I can account for that and predict their behaviour. The most truly frightening thing to me is that I might be shot for no reason at all... Some random act of violence that could happen to me or anyone else just as well. The most unimaginable horror is that someone could commit murder (or any other malicious act) simply for sake of the fact that they know they can get away with it, and that it would bring harm to someone.

    So, in sum, I believe that Chaotic Evil is the most destructive evil there is, becase it implies an utter lack of (or disdain for) social order, and it revels in pain, torment, and suffering for their own sake without personal motivation or greater directive.
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    Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:03 am  

    Interesting assertion Icarus. While I agree with your statement of which one I fear most - Chaotic Evil. I disagree (obviously) on which one is more destructive, namely because Chaotic Evil is as much self destructive as destructive of others. Neutral Evil tends to stick around more and be more widespread. While the Chaotic Evil is individually more frightening, the Neutral Evil threat is more widespread and more likely to actually affect the greater whole. The Joker is Chaotic Evil, and a wildly successful version of it. His antics and terror will hold the imagination of Gotham, but it is the mobs and thugs who keep Gotham's streets dangerous, even with the best work of Batman and the police. Evil holds sway not because of figures like the Joker, though they are the face that everyone looks at, but because of the more numerous and more selfish mobsters and their minions. Corruption and scandal do more to hurt the city than any single attack by the Joker - whcih jsut as often targets the criminals as it does the good people, Joker's chaotic randomness at work.

    But that's just my take. :)
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    Wed Apr 15, 2009 11:30 am  
    In defense of CE theory

    Mikel -
    You are absolutely correct that Neutral Evil tends to stick around more and be more widespread. This is because NE is based on having greed and other selfish motivations which are in turn, based on having others with which to intereact. Thus, one must have a society in which to gain power, influence, steal from, etc. If there is no organized society (or only remaining fragments of one) nuetral evil suddenly becomes less intimidating.

    In your example, the Joker is (as you said) a wildly successful version of Choatic Evil. He is but one sociopath in an otherwise Nuetral Evil society. Imagine if you will, a place where everyone was a Joker. Every single person as a freak like the Joker - truly and utterly demented. Then take him out of the city in which he thrives. There would be nothing left of the city itself if people were like that. That's another reason I believe that CE is the most destructive Evil. It destroys the civilization from which it springs, while NE thrives within that civilization.

    Ultimately though, an entirely CE culture is nealy impossible to maintain because it would fall from the inside, and not be lasting. Which is why we seldom see a truly Chaotic Evil government. In fact, Chaotic Evil is the antithesis to, and destroyer of government. So, as you said, it is as self-destructive of itself as it is of others. Is destroying society itself more destructive than a longer term Nuetral Evil that thrives on the society while it slowly eats away at its edges? That will have to be decided on one's own.

    I can't wait until others chime in with us. This is turning into a rather interesting thread.
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    Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:37 pm  

    That's certain an interesting thought, and I agree, it will be interesting once others chime in and give their two cents. Obviously I think that NE is more destructive overall, because it will affect more (NE societies are self sustaining, even if they are hurtful to those in them) than a CE society. You take the understandable stance that the destruction of society is in fact a greater destruction.

    Part of my objection to CE as the greater destructive force is that it should be about as rare as LG. A few exemplars, but working against the very fabric of what makes societies thrive. I just don't see it being as prevelant or as insideously woven into the fabric of scoeity to allow it to have the same effect as NE. That and its just too easy. :D
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    Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:28 pm  

    I have never liked any flavor of neutral and feel it is most misunderstood, at least by me.
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    Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:45 pm  

    The sad truth while misunderstood most of humanity would be termed neutral. Most people can be made to compromise even their most core beliefs; if enough pressure or incentive is applied.

    As for the discussion of evil; an aspect that hasn't been discussed but is of concern is self-perpetuation.

    The truest CE tyrant does not care if the status quo continues after his demise as long as his immediate needs are fulfilled.

    The truest NE exploiter does not care if society suffers as long as he achieves his goals within it.

    However the truest LE regime seeks to install a brutal but self-perpetuating order within society that will ultimately entice or coerce other members of the society to support the structure.

    Which is more evil the random serial killer, wall street fraud or an oppressive society that coerces its citizens to compromise to survive.
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    Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:16 pm  

    I think most humans would be better described as unaligned.
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    Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:01 pm  
    "Unaligned" and the True Nuetral alignment

    cennedi wrote:
    I think most humans would be better described as unaligned.


    I can definately understand what you mean. It is a very common thing for many people to not understand what "true nuetral" is. The thing is, I think what you are describing as "unaligned, is - in the DD game - a fairly decent description of what "true nuetral" is the majority of the time. When it comes to the vast mass of humanity, they don't have compunctions that the adventuring class does. Most people (at least in the real world) don't have the kind of motivation or feelings that make them wholly support the kinds of things that alignments express or depict.

    One of the best things I have ever found that describes "true nuetral" is that "it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion." One of the key words here, I think, is "natural". It's how people act in their day-to-day lives. Most of the time most people do "what seems to be a good idea" at the time.

    Not that I am throwing quotes at anyone, but I think an example or two might help:
    "People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others." This is very true, because most people don't commit themselves to being overly righteous, noble and proactive about things ... nor purposely devious, hurtful to others or mean-spirited.

    "Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others." - I think that this is a particularly salient point, because normal people (yes, I know "normal" is difficult to define) even in real life will lie to protect themselves or those with whom they have personal relaitonships. People do minor things like break the dpeed limit sometimes. It doesn't make one chaotic to lie or speed every now and again.

    Thus, while I can definately understand that nuetral can be an oft-misunderstood alignment, I think that "unaligned" can be a good descroptive word to describe precisely what "true nuetral" really means.

    On a similar topic ...
    Another thing to consider for the sake of this forum in general is that "few characters perfectly embody their alignment choice." Every person may have little leanings that are notable, but don't result in a true "alignment drift". "Don’t just roleplay your alignment—roleplay your alignment exceptions, too."

    Also, alignment is not a perpetual standard. Things affect characters (and real people) that makes the subtley change their outlook. "People change over time, and characters do too. Some become more lawful (there’s nothing like amassing a stockpile of loot to make you want banditry and thieving to stop). Others relax their earlier strictures to embrace a more flexible approach. The alignment you choose while creating the character may not be the alignment that best fits how you play that character."

    (Quotes are from the 3.5 PHB, pp 104 - 105, and Hero Builder's Guidebook, pp. 54 -55)
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    Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:06 am  
    Sigh...

    I would have voted for Chaotic Good (Chaos is bad, so you're not really Good, but just misguided into thinking you are), but I'm too late...

    ~Scott "-enkainen" Casper

    Aha! You post first, and then you get to vote...
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