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Militant Neutrality

 
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:45 pm    Post subject: Militant Neutrality Reply with quote

One of the few notable features of GH that has never appealed to me is 'militant neutrality.'

When alignment is a cosmic conflict between Law and Chaos, Neutrality can be a valid intermediate position. Moorcock's Balance is like that. I can't see the point of 'True Neutral' with Good versus Evil added. Kicking a puppy today because yesterday you helped an old lady cross the street...
Betraying allies 'for the Balance'...
I certainly see plenty of room for morally ambiguous characters. Ditto gods whose concerns are so primal that they don't fall into the Good or Evil side of things, mainly nature deities.

Accordingly, I'm reverting to the older AD&D planar arrangement, PHB and not D&DG, with Upper and Lower Planes but no Concordant Opposition.


How much does ditching True Neutral in favor of what 4E calls Unaligned change the setting?

Does anybody else do this? Conversely, does anyone like and use True Neutral alignment?


Last edited by NorkerMedic on Fri Oct 25, 2019 9:32 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greetings,

Personally I DO use Neutral as an alignment and would not counsel ditching it. A Neutral character, or being, doesn't necessarily kick a puppy today b/c they helped an old lady yesterday. That's more in line with Chaotic Neutral.

There's the Druidic view of cosmic balance. I like how "The Complete Druid's Handbook" describes True Neutrality. If you have access to it, I suggest you read that section. It rather nicely describes how to play that alignment.

There's also the non-cosmic view, which I think most Neutral characters (and beings) follow. They aren't acting for any sort of balance in the world. They do what they do to survive, without regard to ethics necessarily, good or evil, chaos or law. They live and let live. Sure, they might kill you if their needs or lives depended on it, but they definitely wouldn't do it out of pure malice or wanton evil. Nor would they necessarily help you out just to help you (unless you were a friend, and YES, true Neutrals CAN have friends!) unless it was either in their vested interest, or it didn't overly tax them or hinder them in some way.

At least that's my take. I like the alignment and keep it. Granted, it IS a tough one to play, and in my opinion, role-playing a True Neutral Druid takes as much savvy as playing a Lawful Good paladin, meaning it's tough and not many people can do a good, convincing job.

-Lanthorn
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lanthorn wrote:
Greetings,

Personally I DO use Neutral as an alignment and would not counsel ditching it. A Neutral character, or being, doesn't necessarily kick a puppy today b/c they helped an old lady yesterday. That's more in line with Chaotic Neutral.

There's the Druidic view of cosmic balance. I like how "The Complete Druid's Handbook" describes True Neutrality. If you have access to it, I suggest you read that section. It rather nicely describes how to play that alignment.

There's also the non-cosmic view, which I think most Neutral characters (and beings) follow. They aren't acting for any sort of balance in the world. They do what they do to survive, without regard to ethics necessarily, good or evil, chaos or law. They live and let live. Sure, they might kill you if their needs or lives depended on it, but they definitely wouldn't do it out of pure malice or wanton evil. Nor would they necessarily help you out just to help you (unless you were a friend, and YES, true Neutrals CAN have friends!) unless it was either in their vested interest, or it didn't overly tax them or hinder them in some way.

At least that's my take. I like the alignment and keep it. Granted, it IS a tough one to play, and in my opinion, role-playing a True Neutral Druid takes as much savvy as playing a Lawful Good paladin, meaning it's tough and not many people can do a good, convincing job.

-Lanthorn


The non-cosmic view seems indistinguishable from 'Unaligned' to me.
I have no problem with keeping 'Neutral' on the alignment list. I just think I'm going to ignore 'True Neutral' as representing anything cosmic to which one can be aligned.

I will ask my buddy Tony about the Druid's book. He's got all those splatbooks.
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SirXaris
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Lanthorn regarding the two different types of True Neutral alignment.

I always figured there were a small number of sentient beings who made a conscious effort to balance their own actions and the cosmos in general by acting evil as often as good, lawfully as often as chaotically. Druids and some gods, for example. However, most of those I lable as simply 'Neutral' creatures subconsciously shrug at the idea of alignments and act in their everyday lives as societal norms and their personal needs dictate. That ends up being very middle ground when it come to law vs. chaos and good vs. evil. Such individuals generally view any other alignment as extreme and something only paladins, clerics, assassin's, and despots worry about.

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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing I will do is find new homes for any gods listed as living in Concordant Opposition, as I'm doing away with that plane.

I'll probably place them on the Prime if they are nature gods or the Elemental Planes if they show a strong elemental aspect.

Xan Yae might actually reside in the Shadowland/Plane of Shadow.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SirXaris wrote:
I always figured there were a small number of sentient beings who made a conscious effort to balance their own actions and the cosmos in general


I'd say they attempt to balance the cosmos in general. Trying to balance one's own actions is, from a cosmic perspective, irrelevant, and from a practical perspective insane.

I think there's certainly room in the cosmology for beings who work to prevent Good, Evil, Law, or Chaos from gaining so overwhelming an advantage that it brings disaster to the multiverse, and for a few mortals (like the Circle of Eight and the druidic Hierophants) who emulate them on the mortal plane (and beyond), attempting to maintain a balance of power among the various nations.

But there's no need for such beings to, as NorkerMedic put it, kick a puppy to balance out helping out an old lady. If their personal behavior is neither particularly altruistic nor malevolent, that's a separate issue. There are also characters like Tenser who are lawful good in their personal behavior but may philosophically believe that Evil exists for a valid reason and shouldn't be entirely destroyed, and on the mortal world even the most benevolent nations (like Furyondy and Veluna) could become corrupt if they gained too much power. Not by consciously balancing their own actions (they're just one person; the cosmos doesn't particularly care how many puppies they kick), but by strategically providing or denying support to the various factions around them.

The "problem of evil" is a complex philosophical topic, and by no means are even good characters required to believe that the sole problem of evil is that it exists at all. They may believe it provides an educational role, or that it strengthens and tests good, or that it's a vital component of free will. Evil might be checked and limited but Good should never grow so powerful that it destroys Evil entirely; there must, then, be a balance, even if it isn't universally agreed exactly where the line should be drawn.

True neutral outsiders like Planescape's rilmani add an interesting additional layer of intrigue among the cosmic factions, I think, as does the Circle of Eight. Their philosophical goals needn't force them to act like crazy people, though. They don't have to betray every ally or cause pain to balance out everyone they heal. Balance simply means that at some point the advance of Good, in a cosmic sense, must have a limit. Not everyone, or even many people, need to agree with this, but I think it's a reasonable philosophical position to hold.
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greedy tomb-robbers and wizards of questionable morals presumably prefer Good neighbors but need the Evil guys to provide certain services and opportunities...

But I have always seen the Circle of Eight as rather sinister.


Another possibility:


There's no Circle of Eight.
None existed in the game materials until 1988, right?

There might have been the original, Gygax home campaign, adventuring party, but not the Sargent-era wizard cabal.
Or maybe not even that.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NorkerMedic wrote:
There's no Circle of Eight.
None existed in the game materials until 1988, right?

There might be the original, Gygax home campaign, adventuring party, but not the Sargent-era wizard cabal.


The Circle of Eight was mentioned by that name in Isle of the Ape (1985) and Artifact of Evil (1986). They seem to be a wizard cabal in those sources. Recall your conversation with Vestcoat in this thread.
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dejavuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

Well, I've gone back over old ground, it seems.

Thanks as always for the answers and ideas, guys.
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NorkerMedic
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ignore this ms Evil Grin
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