Author Topic: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad  (Read 392 times)

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D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« on: June 16, 2017, 05:21:47 PM »
EDIT --- sblocks didn't make it from Googlecache over to here.  See further down.

Here's how to end alignment arguments, with the whole darn thing ev'ry edition.
     
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Author Topic: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages  (Read 6532 times)
Offline Libertad

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D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Topic Start: December 14, 2012, 03:14:40 PM »
D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages

For a handy piece of reference, I've decided to take the official descriptions of Alignment in the various Editions of Dungeons & Dragons and compile them into one post.  As of now, I cannot find examples from Original D&D.  Tell me what you think!

Also, reprinted text from the Books of Vile Darkness and Exalted Deeds.  Thanks, FlaminCows!

Original D&D, with comments courtesy of Talysman (RPGSite):

(click to show/hide)

Holmes Basic

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Plus a graph, four corners and the Neutral centre, with example creatures marked how far from the centre circle they are.

Moldvay/Cook Basic (B/X):

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Mentzer Basic (BECMI)

Cut & Paste from Moldvay. Plus an earlier intro for the kids.
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1st Edition

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2nd Edition

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3rd Edition

(click to show/hide)

4th Edition

(click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: December 29, 2012, 05:38:07 PM by Libertad »
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #1: December 14, 2012, 03:43:47 PM »
2E, I believe:

Chapter 4:
Alignment
After all other steps toward creating a character have been completed, the player must
choose an alignment for the character. In some cases (especially the paladin), the choice
of alignment may be limited.
The character's alignment is a guide to his basic moral and ethical attitudes toward
others, society, good, evil, and the forces of the universe in general. Use the chosen
alignment as a guide to provide a clearer idea of how the character will handle moral
dilemmas. Always consider alignment as a tool, not a straitjacket that restricts the
character. Although alignment defines general attitudes, it certainly doesn't prevent a
character from changing his beliefs, acting irrationally, or behaving out of character.
Alignment is divided into two sets of attitudes: order and chaos, and good and evil. Bycombining the different variations within the two sets, nine distinct alignments are
created. These nine alignments serve well to define the attitudes of most of the people in
the world.
Law, Neutrality, and Chaos
Attitudes toward order and chaos are divided into three opposing beliefs. Picture these
beliefs as the points of a triangle, all pulling away from each other. The three beliefs are
law, chaos, and neutrality. One of these represents each character's ethos--his
understanding of society and relationships.
Characters who believe in law maintain that order, organization, and society are
important, indeed vital, forces of the universe. The relationships between people and
governments exist naturally. Lawful philosophers maintain that this order is not created
by man but is a natural law of the universe. Although man does not create orderly
structures, it is his obligation to function within them, lest the fabric of everything
crumble. For less philosophical types, lawfulness manifests itself in the belief that laws
should be made and followed, if only to have understandable rules for society. People
should not pursue personal vendettas, for example, but should present their claims to the
proper authorities. Strength comes through unity of action, as can be seen in guilds,
empires, and powerful churches.
Those espousing neutrality tend to take a more balanced view of things. They hold that
for every force in the universe, there is an opposite force somewhere. Where there is
lawfulness, there is also chaos; where there is neutrality, there is also partisanship. The
same is true of good and evil, life and death. What is important is that all these forces
remain in balance with each other. If one factor becomes ascendant over its opposite, the
universe becomes unbalanced. If enough of these polarities go out of balance, the fabric
of reality could pull itself apart. For example, if death became ascendant over life, the
universe would become a barren wasteland.
Philosophers of neutrality not only presuppose the existence of opposites, but they also
theorize that the universe would vanish should one opposite completely destroy the other
(since nothing can exist without its opposite). Fortunately for these philosophers (and all
sentient life), the universe seems to be efficient at regulating itself. Only when a
powerful, unbalancing force appears (which almost never happens) need the defenders of
neutrality become seriously concerned.
The believers in chaos hold that there is no preordained order or careful balance of
forces in the universe. Instead they see the universe as a collection of things and events,
some related to each other and others completely independent. They tend to hold that
individual actions account for the differences in things and that events in one area do not
alter the fabric of the universe halfway across the galaxy. Chaotic philosophers believe in
the power of the individual over his own destiny and are fond of anarchistic nations.
Being more pragmatic, non-philosophers recognize the function of society in protecting
their individual rights. Chaotics can be hard to govern as a group, since they place their
own needs and desires above those of society.
Good, Neutrality, and Evil
Like law and order, the second set of attitudes is also divided into three parts. These partsdescribe, more or less, a character's moral outlook; they are his internal guideposts to
what is right or wrong.
Good characters are just that. They try to be honest, charitable, and forthright. People
are not perfect, however, so few are good all the time. There are always occasional
failings and weaknesses. A good person, however, worries about his errors and normally
tries to correct any damage done.
Remember, however, that goodness has no absolute values. Although many things are
commonly accepted as good (helping those in need, protecting the weak), different
cultures impose their own interpretations on what is good and what is evil.
Those with a neutral moral stance often refrain from passing judgment on anything.
They do not classify people, things, or events as good or evil; what is, is. In some cases,
this is because the creature lacks the capacity to make a moral judgment (animals fall into
this category). Few normal creatures do anything for good or evil reasons. They kill
because they are hungry or threatened. They sleep where they find shelter. They do not
worry about the moral consequences of their actions--their actions are instinctive.
Evil is the antithesis of good and appears in many ways, some overt and others quite
subtle. Only a few people of evil nature actively seek to cause harm or destruction. Most
simply do not recognize that what they do is destructive or disruptive. People and things
that obstruct the evil character's plans are mere hindrances that must be overcome. If
someone is harmed in the process . . . well, that's too bad. Remember that evil, like good,
is interpreted differently in different societies.
Alignment Combinations
Nine different alignments result from combining these two sets. Each alignment varies
from all others, sometimes in broad, obvious ways, and sometimes in subtle ways. Each
alignment is described in the following paragraphs.
Lawful Good: Characters of this alignment believe that an orderly, strong society with
a well-organized government can work to make life better for the majority of the people.
To ensure the quality of life, laws must be created and obeyed. When people respect the
laws and try to help one another, society as a whole prospers. Therefore, lawful good
characters strive for those things that will bring the greatest benefit to the most people
and cause the least harm. An honest and hard-working serf, a kindly and wise king, or a
stern but forthright minister of justice are all examples of lawful good people.
Lawful Neutral: Order and organization are of paramount importance to characters of
this alignment. They believe in a strong, well-ordered government, whether that
government is a tyranny or benevolent democracy. The benefits of organization and
regimentation outweigh any moral questions raised by their actions. An inquisitor
determined to ferret out traitors at any cost or a soldier who never questions his orders are
good examples of lawful neutral behavior.
Lawful Evil: These characters believe in using society and its laws to benefit
themselves. Structure and organization elevate those who deserve to rule as well as
provide a clearly defined hierarchy between master and servant. To this end, lawful evil
characters support laws and societies that protect their own concerns. If someone is hurt
or suffers because of a law that benefits lawful evil characters, too bad. Lawful evil
characters obey laws out of fear of punishment. Because they may be forced to honor an
unfavorable contract or oath they have made, lawful evil characters are usually verycareful about giving their word. Once given, they break their word only if they can find a
way to do it legally, within the laws of the society. An iron-fisted tyrant and a devious,
greedy merchant are examples of lawful evil beings.
Neutral Good: These characters believe that a balance of forces is important, but that
the concerns of law and chaos do not moderate the need for good. Since the universe is
vast and contains many creatures striving for different goals, a determined pursuit of
good will not upset the balance; it may even maintain it. If fostering good means
supporting organized society, then that is what must be done. If good can only come
about through the overthrow of existing social order, so be it. Social structure itself has
no innate value to them. A baron who violates the orders of his king to destroy something
he sees as evil is an example of a neutral good character.
True Neutral: True neutral characters believe in the ultimate balance of forces, and
they refuse to see actions as either good or evil. Since the majority of people in the world
make judgments, true neutral characters are extremely rare. True neutrals do their best to
avoid siding with the forces of either good or evil, law or chaos. It is their duty to see that
all of these forces remain in balanced contention.
True neutral characters sometimes find themselves forced into rather peculiar alliances.
To a great extent, they are compelled to side with the underdog in any given situation,
sometimes even changing sides as the previous loser becomes the winner. A true neutral
druid might join the local barony to put down a tribe of evil gnolls, only to drop out or
switch sides when the gnolls were brought to the brink of destruction. He would seek to
prevent either side from becoming too powerful. Clearly, there are very few true neutral
characters in the world.
Neutral Evil: Neutral evil characters are primarily concerned with themselves and
their own advancement. They have no particular objection to working with others or, for
that matter, going it on their own. Their only interest is in getting ahead. If there is a
quick and easy way to gain a profit, whether it be legal, questionable, or obviously
illegal, they take advantage of it. Although neutral evil characters do not have the everyman-for-himself attitude of chaotic characters, they have no qualms about betraying their
friends and companions for personal gain. They typically base their allegiance on power
and money, which makes them quite receptive to bribes. An unscrupulous mercenary, a
common thief, and a double-crossing informer who betrays people to the authorities to
protect and advance himself are typical examples of neutral evil characters.
Chaotic Good: Chaotic good characters are strong individualists marked by a streak of
kindness and benevolence. They believe in all the virtues of goodness and right, but they
have little use for laws and regulations. They have no use for people who "try to push
folk around and tell them what to do." Their actions are guided by their own moral
compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of
society. A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an
example of a chaotic good character.
Chaotic Neutral: Chaotic neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything,
including their own actions. With this as a guiding principle, they tend to follow whatever
whim strikes them at the moment. Good and evil are irrelevant when making a decision.
Chaotic neutral characters are extremely difficult to deal with. Such characters have been
known to cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything they have on
the roll of a single die. They are almost totally unreliable. In fact, the only reliable thingabout them is that they cannot be relied upon! This alignment is perhaps the most
difficult to play. Lunatics and madmen tend toward chaotic neutral behavior.
Chaotic Evil: These characters are the bane of all that is good and organized. Chaotic
evil characters are motivated by the desire for personal gain and pleasure. They see
absolutely nothing wrong with taking whatever they want by whatever means possible.
Laws and governments are the tools of weaklings unable to fend for themselves. The
strong have the right to take what they want, and the weak are there to be exploited.
When chaotic evil characters band together, they are not motivated by a desire to
cooperate, but rather to oppose powerful enemies. Such a group can be held together only
by a strong leader capable of bullying his underlings into obedience. Since leadership is
based on raw power, a leader is likely to be replaced at the first sign of weakness by
anyone who can take his position away from him by any method. Bloodthirsty
buccaneers and monsters of low Intelligence are fine examples of chaotic evil
personalities.
Non-Aligned Creatures
In addition to the alignments above, some things--particularly unintelligent monsters
(killer plants, etc.) and animals--never bother with moral and ethical concerns. For these
creatures, alignment is simply not applicable. A dog, even a well-trained one, is neither
good nor evil, lawful nor chaotic. It is simply a dog. For these creatures, alignment is
always detected as neutral.
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #2: December 14, 2012, 03:47:27 PM »
Clean that shit up percival.   :P

I'll double check on that 2E when I get home.  Also, 2E Dark Sun had a pretty good one, I'll dredge that up too.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #3: December 14, 2012, 04:17:24 PM »
This page supports Percival's claims.
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Offline Nanshork

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #4: December 14, 2012, 04:18:33 PM »
Quote from: Libertad on December 14, 2012, 04:17:24 PM

    This page supports Percival's claims.


I didn't doubt him.  I was just saying that I'd check since he said "I believe".  I'm more concerned with the horrible lack of editing he did on his post.   :p
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #5: December 14, 2012, 04:29:54 PM »
Put it into my original post, but edited up.  I think that it reads pretty well.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #6: December 15, 2012, 02:37:19 PM »
Niice.
4e was an intentional simplification.

The various Outer Planes from 1e to 3e
get down and dirty with the subtleties.

iirc - one of the non AD&D products had
the Neutral plane Concordant Opposition
closed to everyone and everything.
Sort of a neutral ultra- Xenophobia.
There should be differing varieties of N.
True Believing Neutral is very different
from Don't Give A Darn Neutral.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #7: December 16, 2012, 08:45:39 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Chaotic Neutral

Let us look at the most controversial alignment, and how it has changed over the years.

Quote

    1st Edition: Above respect for life and good, or disregard for life and
    promotion of evil, the chaotic neutral places randomness and disorder.
    Good and evil are complimentary balance arms. Neither are preferred,
    nor must either prevail, for ultimate chaos would then suffer.

    2nd Edition: Chaotic neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything, including their own actions. With this as a guiding principle, they tend to follow whatever whim strikes them at the moment. Good and evil are irrelevant when making a decision.
    Chaotic neutral characters are extremely difficult to deal with. Such characters have been known to cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything they have on the roll of a single die. They are almost totally unreliable.  In fact, the only reliable thing
    about them is that they cannot be relied upon! This alignment is perhaps the most difficult to play.  Lunatics and madmen tend toward chaotic neutral behavior.

    3rd Edition: A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.


All 3 versions have some problematic behavior, with 2nd Edition being the most so.

1st Edition CN is that of an ideologue to unpredictability.  Interestingly it implies dedication to a larger role within the Multiverse, that of preventing Good and Evil alike from growing too dominant.  The idea of being beyond concern for life (either its promotion or destruction) sounds close to apathy.  Beyond that, we're left with "I value disorder," which doesn't make for interesting, well-developed characters.

2nd Edition CN is definitely my least favorite.  It pretty much leaves room for only two concepts: that of someone who lives for the short-term and follows things without rhyme nor reason, and somebody afflicted with mental illness.  How many problem players used this description as an excuse for disruptive behavior, or to engage in acts which most would describe as Evil?

3rd Edition CN also goes for the "lives by their whims" description, but they also use it to describe characters who generally just resent authority.  The final two sentences were much needed, a direct rebuke to the whole "totally random!" stereotype which the previous Editions supported.

What are your thoughts?
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 01:21:14 AM by Libertad »
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Offline Concerned Ninja Citizen

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #8: December 16, 2012, 10:43:46 PM »
My problem with many conceptions of Chaotic Neutral, including the 1st and 2nd ed descriptions above, is that they hit the Chaotic but ignore the Neutral.

To wit, the 3.5 SRD on neutrality on the G/E axis

Quote

    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. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.


The "compunctions against killing the innocent" and "committed to others by personal relationships" aspects tend to get ignored in the classic "CN means I can do whatever I want" character.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #9: December 17, 2012, 02:05:53 AM »
Ever get the odd feeling that someone used your post for reference?

Just a guess, guys.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #10: December 17, 2012, 02:28:14 AM »
Along with completely missing the point of this thread?

Yep.

Jeese, man, what did you do to grognards.txt? They seem to irrationally hate you for some reason.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #11: December 17, 2012, 02:47:48 AM »
I think (hope?) the guy who reposted your "Edition Comparisons: CN" was being satirical when he said it was totally verisimilitudinous and that confusion over it is a sign of intellectual immaturity.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #12: December 17, 2012, 11:09:12 AM »
Quote from: linklord231 on December 17, 2012, 02:47:48 AM

    I think (hope?) the guy who reposted your "Edition Comparisons: CN" was being satirical when he said it was totally verisimilitudinous and that confusion over it is a sign of intellectual immaturity.


Yes, they were being satirical.  Part of the thread is making fun of gamers who insist that the flaws of pre-4E games weren't really flaws.  In regards to alignment, some of these gamers argue that stupid "Chaotic Neutral" PCs are playing the alignment wrong.

Personally I'd guess that LightWarden read the thread, read how dumb and inconsistent Chaotic Neutral has been over the years, and provides the inconsistent examples to make fun of people who defend the alignment system.  If he did read it, he didn't quote my analysis or thoughts, just the text from the PHBs.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 12:38:30 PM by Libertad »
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #13: December 17, 2012, 12:29:10 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Lawful Good

This alignment is of particular importance for one major reason: Paladins.  Before 4th Edition, they could be of only one alignment.  Playing as a holy warrior definitely has its appeal, despite heavy role-playing restrictions, tough prerequisites, and relative lack of power in 3rd Edition.  I'd make an educated guess that about half of Lawful Good PCs were Paladins.  Over time, the class' values and the alignment's values became interchangeable in the minds of many gamers, even if this was not always the case.

Quote

    1st Edition: While as strict in their prosecution of law and order,
    characters of lawful good alignment follow these precepts to improve the
    common weal. Certain freedoms must, of course, be sacrificed in order to
    bring order; but truth is of highest value, and life and beauty of great
    importance. The benefits of this society are to be brought to all.

    2nd Edition: Characters of this alignment believe that an orderly, strong society with a well-organized government can work to make life better for the majority of the people.  To ensure the quality of life, laws must be created and obeyed. When people respect the laws and try to help one another, society as a whole prospers. Therefore, lawful good characters strive for those things that will bring the greatest benefit to the most people and cause the least harm. An honest and hard-working serf, a kindly and wise king, or a stern but forthright minister of justice are all examples of lawful good people.

    3rd Edition: A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

    Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

    4th Edition: An ordered society protects us from evil.

    If you’re lawful good, you respect the authority of personal codes of conduct, laws, and leaders, and you believe that those codes are the best way of achieving your ideals. Just authority promotes the well-being of its subjects and prevents them from harming one another. Lawful good characters believe just as strongly as good ones do in the value of life, and they put even more emphasis on the need for the powerful to protect the weak and lift up the downtrodden. The exemplars of the lawful good alignment are shining champions of what’s right, honorable, and true, risking or even sacrificing their lives to stop the spread of evil in the world.

    When leaders exploit their authority for personal gain, when laws grant privileged status to some citizens and reduce others to slavery or untouchable status, law has given in to evil and just authority becomes tyranny. You are not only capable of challenging such injustice, but morally bound to do so.

    However, you would prefer to work within the system to right such problems rather than resorting to more rebellious and lawless methods.


1st Edition is sort of vague, in that it mentions law and order being used to promote safety and happiness for the majority of people, and that everyone deserves to benefit from things society creates.  It mentions truth as the ultimate good, followed closely by life and beauty.  I find this odd, because there are times when lying might be necessary to prevent violence and panic (and little white lies, like telling a doubting, down-trodden kid that Santa's real).  Life is understandable, although this would not go well with the whole "holy warrior" angle: what about the lives of evil folk?  And beauty is an odd thing to include, as it is mostly an aesthetic standard instead of a moral one.

1E LG is sort of authoritarian, in that it mentions that certain freedoms must be gotten away with, although it doesn't mention what these freedoms are.  Of course, my mind jumps to extreme examples, like guys dumping toxic waste on their own property (which then affects the property of others), although I do not know if the developers had this in mind.

2nd Edition is basically utilitarianism, in that programs and goals which help reduce misery and promote wellness on the largest scales are an ultimate good.  In order to do this, it requires that people be in the same boat to strive for this, and emphasizes a common regard for the rules of the society which strives to do this.  It strives for maximum standards of living balanced by the least amount of harm done.

This raises questions, like if a Lawful Good character will permit short-term harm for long-term prosperity for the majority, or when the line is crossed in regards to "too much harm."  But it provides an interesting and admirable ideal, which in itself can do a lot of good if implemented properly (remember, many of history's greatest heroes had high ideals).  It kind of reminds me of the Nordic Model of Scandinavian social democracy, a system well-known for producing a happy, healthy, and educated populace while still maintaining civil liberties for all.

This explanation is the most well thought out in my opinion.

3rd Edition is brief and not well explained.  It mentions that Lawful Good characters act as a good person is expected to act.  When you've got Neutral Good and Chaotic Good people, this just doesn't hold water; the Archon is just as Good as the Eladrin, who is just as Good as the Guardinal.

We go back to the "truth" thing, which is probably where the "do not lie" part of the Paladin's Code comes from.  Its other descriptors can be logically applied to other alignments: helps those in need (Good in general), speaks out against injustice (Chaotic Good), and hates to see the guilty go unpunished (Lawful Neutral).

We are left with nothing unique at all about this description in comparison to the other alignments, at all.  This is my least favorite description.

4th Edition is interesting, in that it's the most leader-driven of the descriptions.  It puts important emphasis on rulers being wise and just to benefit the group, and that obeying the laws and edicts of such leaders helps promote harmony for all.  It mentions that leaders who abuse their power or declare certain people non-entities must be removed, making it distinct from the "obey rules for the sake of it" Lawful Neutral guy, and the tyrannical "some people deserve to be oppressed" Lawful Evil.  It does leave the question of how Lawful Good views the monstrous races, such as Orcs.  Couldn't one argue that such people are declared non-entities by civilized lands?

What I'm getting from 4E LG is that of a system with a omnipresent government, yet one controlled by checks and balances, with the power spread out so that leaders corrupted by power can be brought in line by the others.

2nd and 4th are the most specific, and lay out their ideologies in more concise terms.  Even if we can't imagine people who are this way all the time, we can get a clear picture of the mind of a person driven by these ideals and how they'd react in moral situations.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2012, 01:25:05 AM by Libertad »
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #14: December 17, 2012, 06:42:53 PM »
Edition Comparisons: True Neutral

Quote

    1st Edition: The "true" neutral looks upon all other alignments as facets
    of the system of things. Thus, each aspect - evil and good, chaos and law
    - of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for
    things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even
    then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were
    meant to be, provided the "wheel" surrounding the hub of nature does
    not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces - such as
    human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be.

    2nd Edition: True neutral characters believe in the ultimate balance of forces, and they refuse to see actions as either good or evil. Since the majority of people in the world make judgments, true neutral characters are extremely rare. True neutrals do their best to avoid siding with the forces of either good or evil, law or chaos. It is their duty to see that all of these forces remain in balanced contention.  True neutral characters sometimes find themselves forced into rather peculiar alliances.  To a great extent, they are compelled to side with the underdog in any given situation, sometimes even changing sides as the previous loser becomes the winner. A true neutral druid might join the local barony to put down a tribe of evil gnolls, only to drop out or switch sides when the gnolls were brought to the brink of destruction. He would seek to prevent either side from becoming too powerful. Clearly, there are very few true neutral characters in the world.

    3rd Edition: A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil—after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.

    Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

    Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

    4th Edition: Just let me go about my business.

    If you’re unaligned, you don’t actively seek to harm others or wish them ill. But you also don’t go out of your way to put yourself at risk without some hope for reward. You support law and order when doing so benefits you. You value your own freedom, without worrying too much about protecting the freedom of others.

    A few unaligned people, and most unaligned deities, aren’t undecided about alignment. Rather, they’ve chosen not to choose, either because they see the benefits of both good and evil or because they see themselves as above the concerns of morality. The Raven Queen and her devotees fall into the latter camp, believing that moral choices are irrelevant to their mission since death comes to all creatures regardless of alignment.


1st Edition is some kind of karmic activist.  Far from the stereotypical apathy of Neutrality, True Neutral characters work to ensure that the forces of Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos do not gain an upper hand in the cosmic struggles.  They also have a reverence for "nature," and believe that sapient creatures such as humankind are a threat to this state.  I believe that this is meant as a tie-in to the Druids, who in this Edition could only be True Neutral.

2nd Edition is much like the first, minus the nature reverence.  They take things a step further and refuse to view actions and people in moral terms (good, evil, etc).  They also go beyond working against cosmic forces, and usually side with the underdog in all conflicts to ensure as universal balance of power as possible.  This... does not make for a good alignment to have for the typical adventuring party.

3rd Edition takes a unique turn by splitting the alignment into two definitions.  The first refers to somebody who does not have strong commitments or ideals to any of the four cosmic forces.  The second is that of one who views Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil as dangerous, destructive forces, with Neutrality being the most reasoned and proper moral pathway.

I personally like 3rd Edition, as it is more suitable to adventuring parties, and is flexible as it gives a common alignment to the people who are unswayed by the extremes of Law and Chaos, Good and Evil.

4th Edition (known as Unaligned here) is similar to the former description of 3rd Edition alignment, except that it generally refers to people who wish to attend to their own affairs instead of meddling about.  It also defines people who view themselves as beyond morality.

I disagree with the last part of 4th Edition's definition: people to place themselves beyond morality (in real life and fiction) generally come off as callous, cold individuals who use this mind-set as a rationalization or excuse for selfishness and mean-spirited actions.  Other than that it's a fine description.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #15: December 20, 2012, 12:47:03 AM »
Edition Comparisons: Chaotic Evil

Quote

    1st Edition: The major precepts of this alignment are freedom,
    randomness, and woe. Laws and order, kindness, and good deeds are
    disdained. life has no value. By promoting chaos and evil, those of this
    alignment hope to bring themselves to positions of power, glory, and
    prestige in a system ruled by individual caprice and their own whims.

    2nd Edition: These characters are the bane of all that is good and organized. Chaotic evil characters are motivated by the desire for personal gain and pleasure. They see absolutely nothing wrong with taking whatever they want by whatever means possible.
    Laws and governments are the tools of weaklings unable to fend for themselves. The strong have the right to take what they want, and the weak are there to be exploited.  When chaotic evil characters band together, they are not motivated by a desire to
    cooperate, but rather to oppose powerful enemies. Such a group can be held together only by a strong leader capable of bullying his underlings into obedience. Since leadership is based on raw power, a leader is likely to be replaced at the first sign of weakness by
    anyone who can take his position away from him by any method. Bloodthirsty buccaneers and monsters of low Intelligence are fine examples of chaotic evil personalities.

    3rd Edition: A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him.

    Chaotic evil is sometimes called "demonic" because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil.

    Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.

    4th Edition: I don’t care what I have to do to get what I want.

    Chaotic evil characters have a complete disregard for others. Each believes he or she is the only being that matters and kills, steals, and betrays others to gain power. Their word is meaningless and their actions destructive. Their worldviews can be so warped that they destroy anything and anyone that doesn’t directly contribute to their interests.

    By the standards of good and lawful good people, chaotic evil is as abhorrent as evil, perhaps even more so. Chaotic evil monsters such as demons and orcs are at least as much of a threat to civilization and general well-being as evil monsters are. An evil creature and a chaotic evil creature are both opposed to good, but they don’t have much respect for each other either and rarely cooperate toward common goals.


1st Edition is brief in comparison to the others, but it gets the point across well enough.  They care not for others but themselves, and seek to destroy society by eliminating precepts of safety and security so that they can gain power.  One part I find peculiar is the "freedom, randomness, and woe," indicating that there's little rhyme or reason to the actions of a Chaotic Evil individual.  From the description, the unfettered selfishness does have a form of reason (personal power and freedom at the expense of others), albeit one hard to predict by others.  There is talk of dedication to some twisted ideals, in regards to the spread of chaos and evil, indicating that the alignment may be motivated more than just sociopathic selfishness.

2nd Edition is very similar to the above, except with strong themes of Social Darwinism.  A Chaotic Evil individual views the world solely in terms of individual strength and skill.  Relying upon others, be it through government protection or dedication to a superior, to be signs of a worthless individual.  It's slightly different than 1st in that there is a sort of "code" to the alignment as described before.  Low Intelligence monsters are given as good examples of Chaotic Evil behavior, paving the way for the stereotype of it being an "irrational" form of Evil.

3rd Edition portrays the alignment in similar terms to the above, except the wording use makes Chaotic Evil come off as, well, just plain incompetent.  Haphazard plans, poor organization, hot-tempered, unpredictable.  It rules out brilliant forms of "Chaotic Evil," such as Hannibal Lecter, who could remain cool under pressure and enact well thought out schemes, yet still be utterly selfish and uncaring of others.  It's definitely a step backwards in comparison to earlier examples.

4th Edition is pretty much a throwback to 1st Edition, of an individual dedicated to eliminating people and obstacles in the name of personal empowerment.  It also brings up the "avatar of destruction" angle, as a force dedicated primarily to spreading misery and entropy (like the active spreading of chaos and evil).

I really like the 2nd Edition description.  It fits in perfectly with most of the iconic Chaotic Evil villains in D&D, and frames the alignment in terms beyond "mindless destruction" through a doctrine of "survival of the fittest."  It allows for a great variety of characters, from the mastermind serial killer to the insane cultist hoping to achieve ultimate power through communion with Lovecraftian horrors.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #16: December 20, 2012, 01:01:49 AM »
+1
It might be a good idea to add the alignment descriptions in the Book of Exalted Deeds and the Book of Vile Darkness. They aren't as widely read, but their are still considered an authority and they expand on the definitions of good and evil.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #17: December 20, 2012, 07:28:00 PM »
The subtle (or not) differences of the Planes, are probably not
what you're going for with alignments, instead of planes
that have alignments, or the alignment of a specific plane.


2e CN is a dirt cheap but Mean, understanding of Mental Illness.
Of course the game isn't really delving into all that.
Still Pandemonium as the dumping point of almost all the insane  :pout
iirc - Joan Of Arc was a full on hallucinator = LG champion of battle jesse.

hmm ... the 4th level of Pandemonium was closed off bubbles
where ultra dangerous stuff and monsters got dumped.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #18: December 20, 2012, 09:05:02 PM »
Quote from: FlaminCows on December 20, 2012, 01:01:49 AM

    It might be a good idea to add the alignment descriptions in the Book of Exalted Deeds and the Book of Vile Darkness. They aren't as widely read, but their are still considered an authority and they expand on the definitions of good and evil.


Perhaps, but how long are the descriptions?  If I can't easily copy-paste it, I'll hold off until I'm done, as I could do another comparison instead of manually typing a long entry.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #19: December 21, 2012, 02:47:38 AM »
+1
That's fine. I'll do it for you, here you go.

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2017, 05:22:41 PM »
PART 2

     

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Offline Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #20: December 21, 2012, 04:13:33 AM »
Thank you very much.  That's very helpful.  They can't fit into the 1st post (60,000 character limit), so I'll just link to them in the OP.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 04:17:34 AM by Libertad »
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #21: December 21, 2012, 03:38:51 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Chaotic Good

Quote

    1st Edition: While creatures of this alignment view freedom and the
    randomness of action as ultimate truths, they likewise place value on life
    and the welfare of each individual. Respect for individualism is also great.
    By promoting the gods of chaotic good, characters of this alignment seek
    to spread their values throughout the world.

    2nd Edition: Chaotic good characters are strong individualists marked by a streak of kindness and benevolence. They believe in all the virtues of goodness and right, but they have little use for laws and regulations. They have no use for people who "try to push folk around and tell them what to do." Their actions are guided by their own moral compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of society. A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an
    example of a chaotic good character.

    3rd Edition: A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.

    Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit.



1st Edition believes that universal welfare is best promoted through letting people be free to do what they want, provided that their actions aren’t do not result in inhibiting life or diminishing individualism.  In keeping with the early views of alignment as part of a cosmic struggle, the description implies that Chaotic Good individuals are influenced by the teachings of deities with the same alignment; in fact, it’s the only alignment in the Edition which explicitly mentions allegiance to a god.  I don’t know why they included “randomness of action” in the description, as to me the alignment has a set of predictable behavior in regards to moral circumstances.  A Chaotic Good Cleric isn’t going to willingly cooperate with a tyrant for selfish gain, nor is he going to sacrifice civil liberties in the name of safety and security.  Randomness of action conjures up the image of Two-Face flipping a coin to decide whether or not he saves an enemy out of mercy, not a freedom fighter sheltering dissidents from the Church of Hextor.

2nd Edition is similar to the above, except with skepticism towards the use of laws and regulations in any medium.  Unlike some of the more selfish individualism of Chaotic Evil, a Chaotic Good character seeks to help others in the belief that one does not need a hierarchy or organized group to do good in the world.  I sort of disagree with the “guided by their own moral compass” part, as it appears that the virtues and values of such individuals have many principles in common.  It also implies that Chaotic Good people created the moral code out of whole cloth, which does not appear to be the case with cosmic forces of Good and Chaos performing consistent behavior.

3rd Edition is pretty much a copy of 2nd Edition, so there’s nothing new that I can add.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #22: December 22, 2012, 03:06:36 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Lawful Neutral


Quote

    1st Edition: Those of this alignment view regulation as all-important, taking a middle road betwixt evil and good.
    This is because the ultimate harmony of the world -and the whole of the universe -
    is considered by lawful neutral creatures to have its sole hope rest upon law and order. Evil
    or good are immaterial beside the determined purpose of bringing all to
    predictability and regulation.

    2nd Edition: Order and organization are of paramount importance to characters of this alignment. They believe in a strong, well-ordered government, whether that government is a tyranny or benevolent democracy. The benefits of organization and regimentation outweigh any moral questions raised by their actions. An inquisitor determined to ferret out traitors at any cost or a soldier who never questions his orders are good examples of lawful neutral behavior.

    3rd Edition: A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government.

    Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.


1st Edition is, in essence, the attempt to create a harmonious society where every individual action is in line with that of the community and follows specific procedures.  Lawful Evil and Lawful Good societies emulate this as well, but Lawful Neutral differs in that it views collectivism for its own sake as a virtue.  Lawful Evil uses collectivism to oppress others for the benefit of the privileged or to bend others to their will, Lawful Good uses it to help improve the standard of living for as many people as possible.  Admittedly, this makes it less interesting than the other Lawful alignments, as the means and the end are one and the same: order for the sake of order.  I do find it interesting that the description lists Good and Evil as immaterial, while Chaotic Neutral views them as a threat to ultimate Chaos.  Why would the forces of Law feel less threatened by the moral factions than Chaos?

2nd Edition is similar to 1st Edition, except it's more blatant in its pursuit of order.  It goes to the extreme that morality doesn't matter in the course of this goal.  Never questioning orders, punish traitors at any cost, and indifference towards tyranny and democracy as long as the government is strong and centralized conjures up images of unthinking nationalism and zealotry.  The description coincides with the "Lawful Stupid" label of characters who adhere to "the Law" to such an extent that they disregard other extenuating circumstances.

3rd Edition keeps up the pace of regulated collectivism, except that it includes adherence to a personal code in addition to that of government, religion, and/or community.  This inclusion is strange, because 3rd Edition Chaotic Good individuals are described as following their own moral compass irrespective of society's laws, while Chaotic Neutral prizes individualism.  What is the difference between a Lawful Neutral individual who created his own moral code to live by, and an individualist who feels that their own judgments are better informed than that of groups?
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #23: December 22, 2012, 11:58:44 PM »
Added descriptions for Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer Basic D&D, courtesy of Tussock from The Gaming Den.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #24: December 23, 2012, 06:54:52 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Neutral Good

Quote

    1st Edition: Neutral Good: Unlike those directly opposite them (neutral evil) in
    alignment, creatures of neutral good believe that there must be some
    regulation in combination with freedoms if the best is to be brought to the
    world - the most beneficial conditions for living things in general and
    intelligent creatures in particular.

    2nd Edition: These characters believe that a balance of forces is important, but that the concerns of law and chaos do not moderate the need for good. Since the universe is vast and contains many creatures striving for different goals, a determined pursuit of good will not upset the balance; it may even maintain it. If fostering good means supporting organized society, then that is what must be done. If good can only come about through the overthrow of existing social order, so be it. Social structure itself has no innate value to them. A baron who violates the orders of his king to destroy something he sees as evil is an example of a neutral good character.

    3rd Edition: A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them.

    Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order.

    4th Edition: Protecting the weak from those who would dominate or kill them is just the right thing to do.

    If you’re a good character, you believe it is right to aid and protect those in need. You’re not required to sacrifice yourself to help others or to completely ignore your own needs, but you might be asked to place others’ needs above your own.... in some cases, even if that means putting yourself in harm’s way. In many ways, that’s the essence of being a heroic adventurer:

    The people of the town can’t defend themselves from the marauding goblins, so you descend into the dungeon—at significant personal risk—to put an end to the goblin raids.

    You can follow rules and respect authority, but you’re keenly aware that power tends to corrupt those who wield it, too often leading them to exploit their power for selfish or evil ends. When that happens, you feel no obligation to follow the law blindly.

    It’s better for authority to rest in the members of a community rather than the hands of any individual or social class. When law becomes exploitation, it crosses into evil territory, and good characters feel compelled to fight it.

    Good and evil represent fundamentally different viewpoints, cosmically opposed and unable to coexist in peace. Good and lawful good characters, though, get along fine—even if a good character thinks a lawful good companion might be a little too focused on following the law, rather than simply doing the right thing.



1st Edition takes a middle path in comparison to the other two good alignments.  While Lawful Good and Chaotic Good encourage collectivism and individualism (respectively) as an end to help the spread of Good in the world, Neutral Good believes that going too far in either direction acts as a detriment to encouraging welfare.

2nd Edition is similar, except it takes a more versatile approach.  Neutral Good acknowledges that circumstances in one society might be very different from another, and in some cases maintaining societal order might be preferable to depowering it (and vice versa).  What ultimately remains is that the works of Good are promoted in said situation.  I find the last two sentences as better examples for Chaotic Good than Neutral Good (no innate value to social structure, disobeying orders).

3rd Edition is pretty much true altruism irrespective of collectivism and individualism.  Aside from a shorter description and a different example, it’s not really any different fundamentally than 2nd Editor.

There is no Neutral Good alignment per se in 4th Edition, but the “Good alignment” best reflects its principles.  It encourages alternatively following the law when it is just, and civil disobedience when it becomes oppressive; basically, the prime concern is placing one’s needs above one’s own, be it accomplished through preserving or rebelling against the status quo.  The alignment is in favor of non-hierarchal collectivism (authority shared equally by the community as a whole is ideally optimal), probably because they believe that it encourages altruism and selflessness while preventing the formation of exploitative hierarchies.  At least that’s my take on things.

Neutral Good has been the most consistent across Editions, changing little in both form and ideology.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #25: December 24, 2012, 11:06:42 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Lawful Evil

Quote

    1st Edition: Creatures of this alignment are great respecters of laws and
    strict order, but life, beauty, truth, freedom and the like are held as
    valueless, or at least scorned. By adhering to stringent discipline, those of
    lawful evil alignment hope to impose their yoke upon the world.

    2nd Edition: These characters believe in using society and its laws to benefit themselves. Structure and organization elevate those who deserve to rule as well as provide a clearly defined hierarchy between master and servant. To this end, lawful evil characters support laws and societies that protect their own concerns. If someone is hurt or suffers because of a law that benefits lawful evil characters, too bad. Lawful evil characters obey laws out of fear of punishment. Because they may be forced to honor an unfavorable contract or oath they have made, lawful evil characters are usually very careful about giving their word. Once given, they break their word only if they can find a way to do it legally, within the laws of the society. An iron-fisted tyrant and a devious, greedy merchant are examples of lawful evil beings.

    3rd Edition: A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.

    This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains.

    Some lawful evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

    Lawful evil is sometimes called "diabolical," because devils are the epitome of lawful evil.

    Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.

    4th Edition: It is my right to claim what others possess.

    Evil characters don’t necessarily go out of their way to hurt people, but they’re perfectly willing to take advantage of the weakness of others to acquire what they want.

    Evil characters use rules and order to maximize personal gain. They don’t care whether laws hurt other people. They support institutional structures that give them power, even if that power comes at the expense of others’ freedom. Slavery and rigid caste structures are not only acceptable but desirable to evil characters, as long as they are in a position to benefit from them.


1st Edition holds collectivism and societal traditions as virtues like the other Lawful alignments, except it seeks to use these ends to benefit themselves at the expense of other groups through control and oppression.

2nd Edition is selfish in that it seeks to use rules and regulations for personal empowerment.  What makes it different than the other Evil alignments is that it views such a social system as a necessity for maintaining an oppressive hierarchy and status quo which they benefit from; unlike Neutral Evil which follows an “every man for himself” mentality, or the “those who fall deserve to die” Social Darwinism of Chaotic Evil.  Lawful Evil people are very aware of the benefits collectivist action can bring in regards to personal empowerment, and in a sense this makes them better team players (provided that the team is following the same rules).

3rd Edition is very similar to 2nd Edition, except that it’s sort of “Evil-lite.”  Unlike their other Evil counterparts, Lawful Evil people are more likely to have taboos and lines that they won’t cross.  Unlike 2nd Edition, it’s implied that these restrictions are not done for selfish reasons so much as to separate them from the more “banal” forms of Evil.  Thusly, they’re portrayed as a more rational and competent form of Evil, in contrast with the emotional and incompetent portrayal of Chaotic Evil in this Edition.

4th Edition’s Evil alignment bears the most in common with Lawful Evil than Neutral Evil, which is interesting given the placement of Law with Good and Chaos with Evil.  It has the most in common with the personal empowerment aspect of 2nd Edition, although Evil people more likely to rebel against laws of society which do not benefit them (probably a blend with Neutral Evil).

Fitting with its emphasis on traditional power structures, Lawful Evil remained the most consistent across Editions.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #26: December 26, 2012, 04:59:38 PM »
Edition Comparisons: Neutral Evil

Quote

    1st Edition: The neutral evil creature views law and chaos as unnecessary
    considerations, for pure evil is all-in-all. Either might be used, but both are
    disdained as foolish clutter useless in eventually bringing maximum
    evilness to the world.

    2nd Edition: Neutral evil characters are primarily concerned with themselves and their own advancement. They have no particular objection to working with others or, for that matter, going it on their own. Their only interest is in getting ahead. If there is a quick and easy way to gain a profit, whether it be legal, questionable, or obviously illegal, they take advantage of it. Although neutral evil characters do not have the everyman-for-himself attitude of chaotic characters, they have no qualms about betraying their friends and companions for personal gain. They typically base their allegiance on power and money, which makes them quite receptive to bribes.  An unscrupulous mercenary, a common thief, and a double-crossing informer who betrays people to the authorities to protect and advance himself are typical examples of neutral evil characters.

    3rd Edition: A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has.

    Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.

    Neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.


1st Edition is pretty much the guy who lives solely to make as many people suffer as possible.  Neutral Evil isn’t so much a middle path between Law and Chaos so much as it is apathy towards the two extremes, and thus is not beholden to advancing Evil a certain way.  This actually makes them the most flexible of the three Evil alignments.

2nd Edition is less focused on making the world a worse place so much as they care solely for themselves.  If 1st Edition is the depraved serial killer who hates seeing other people happy, then 2nd Edition is the guy who wants to get onto the top of the pile and keep everyone else down.  While this mentality shares much in common with 2E’s Chaotic Evil, it is not as averse towards group formation, laws and governments.  Lawful Evil views a strong government as the best tool for enforcing their will, Neutral Evil may or may not get on board, and Chaotic Evil will avoid “indebting” itself to another group or entity unless faced with no other option.

3rd Edition, like 2nd Edition, is motivated by pure selfishness.  It also has a throwback to 1st Edition, mentioning that some Neutral Evil characters seek to commit Evil for its own sake.  It shares this in common with some aspects of this Edition’s Lawful Evil, who may also view Evil as an end unto itself.   It also shares much in common with Chaotic Evil, in that the alignment has no love for laws, traditions, or codes, but is described as not being as “restless” or conflict-seeking.  This makes Neutral Evil come off as a “smarter” version of Chaotic Evil, for without the latter’s defective personality types, would be a near-mirror copy.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #27: December 27, 2012, 03:50:01 PM »
I caught The Hobbit and the CircDSolei (wtf spelling) movies,
I started tallying up the semi d&d references so I wouldn't fall asleep.

Dwarfs doing dishes + cartoons = ridiculous whimsy.
Hobbit !@#$-ing about the that's-not-how-WE-do-things.

and
Carny circus of the strange, meets I'm in LOVE with a Buomann.

This all feels kinda Ysgard-ish to me.  Chaotic Neutral but not evil,
but still Off to be local "lawful".  Far Realms things that
aren't immediately dangerous.  Dreamscape things that would be
nightmares to children, and too strange for adults.  Refugees from
the Arcadia LN straitjacket.

I'm thinking Ysgard could have a Demi-plane of The Carnival.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #28: December 28, 2012, 07:17:55 AM »
Quote from: Libertad on December 16, 2012, 08:45:39 PM

    Edition Comparisons: Chaotic Neutral

    <snip>

    What are your thoughts?

It looks like, as the editions went on, the designers realized that playing lolrandom is usually only fun for one person at the table, and they should probably stop promoting that as a supported concept.

Then again, they did turn halfings into pseudo-kender in 3E, so there's that.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #29: December 29, 2012, 03:57:28 PM »
Reality Has a Lawful Bias

The Law/Chaos axis has its origins in Michael Moorcock stories, particularly the Eternal Champion.  Law represented humanity, nature, justice, and order, while Chaos represented its opposite (sorcery, reality unburdened by rules, monstrous beings).  The Cosmic Balance, or Neutrality, kept the extremes in check, for both could be inimical to life.

Throughout many Editions of D&D, Lawful alignments overall got better portrayal and treatment than their Chaotic opposites.  Depending upon the Edition, Law has been associated with honor, selflessness, and rationality, while Chaos has been associated with unpredictability, selfishness, and destruction.  In some interpretations, Chaos is objectively flawed or even villainous.

Why is this?  Well, there are many reasons: one is the sources of inspiration, where the forces of Chaos in literature at the time were often the bad guys, representing the anti-thesis to civilization and monstrous horrors.  Another is due to the fact that we live in societies created consisting of laws, traditions, and social protocol to encourage cooperation.  It’s much easier for people to imagine a functioning totalitarian police state than a plausible anarchist society (unless you’re really into political theory).

In Original Dungeons & Dragons, Law and Chaos were pretty much your allegiance to one of the three groups.  Races like Dwarves and Halflings were Lawful, while many monsters were Chaotic.  The Greyhawk supplement suggested that Chaotic characters were less likely to work together, and that special consideration should be taken for PCs with this alignment.  Other than this, in-depth descriptions were non-existent, making alignment more of a faction choice than anything else.

Holmes D&D had a five-fold alignment system, and Chaotic characters could be heroic as well as villainous, the same for Lawful people.  However, the text said that there are more Chaotic Evil people than Chaotic Good people, and that Chaotic people in general cannot be relied upon for much of anything.

Moldvay and Mentzer went back to the three-fold alignment system, except with more specific examples of behaviors and motivation for Law, Neutrality, and Chaos.  The forces of Law cared about helping out their communities and valued cooperation; the forces of Chaos were highly individualistic and selfish.  Neutral guys are usually concerned with personal survival, but occasionally help others out of sympathy and do care about others.

Lawful people were dependable, willing to make sacrifices for the good of the group, and generally practiced behavior seen as “good.”  Chaotic people were the opposite, and made for poor friends and adventuring partners (considering that they care for nobody’s welfare but their own).

With the addition of the nine-fold alignment axis in 1st to 3rd Editions, the distinction between Law and Chaos as “moral” and “immoral” muddied somewhat.  Chaos could lead to sociopathic selfishness (Chaotic Evil), but it could also give rise to the promotion of civil liberties (Chaotic Good).  Law could encourage cooperation and altruism (Lawful Good), but it just as easily be used to promote oppression (Lawful Evil).  Even then, the influence of Original and Basic Editions were still present, as I discussed before under Edition Comparisons: Chaotic Neutral and the 3rd Edition contrasts between Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil.  It was preferable to have a Lawful Neutral person as a friend or neighbor than a Chaotic Neutral one, while the plans of Lawful Evil people met with a higher success rate than Chaotic Evil people.

4th Edition sort of met in a halfway point between the nine-fold and three-fold axis.  If you were Lawful, you were Good.  If you were Chaotic, you were Evil.  One could still be Good without being Lawful, or Evil without being Chaotic, but just like in Original and Basic, Law and Chaos were folded into “good guy/bad guy” territory.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #30: December 30, 2012, 10:20:57 PM »
Finally, I got around to including the 1st Edition DMG's description of alignment.  Here it is!

Quote

    ALIGNMENT

    Alignment describes the broad ethos of thinking, reasoning creatures — those unintelligent sorts being placed within the neutral area because they are totally uncaring. Note that alignments does not necessarily dictate religious persuasion, although many religious beliefs will dictate alignment. As explained under ALIGNMENT LANGUAGES (q.v.) This aspect of alignments is not the major consideration. The overall behavior of the character (or creature) is delineated by alignment, or, in the case of player characters, behavior determines actual alignment. Therefore, besides defining the general tendencies of creatures, it also groups creatures into mutually acceptable or at least non-hostile divisions. This is not to say that groups of similarly aligned creatures cannot be opposed or even mortal enemies. Two nations, for example, with rulers of lawful good alignment can be at war. Bands of orcs can hate each other. But the former would possibly cease their war to oppose a massive invasion of orcs, just at the latter would make a common cause against the lawful good men. Thus, alignment describes the world view of creatures and helps to define what their actions, reactions, and purposes will be. It likewise causes a player character to choose an ethos which is appropriate to his or her profession, and alignment also aids players in the definition and role approach of their respective game personae. With the usefulness of alignment determined, definition of the division is necessary.

    There are two major divisions of four opposite points of view. All four are not mutually exclusive, although each pair is mutually opposed.

    Law And Chaos: The opposition here is between organized groups and individuals. That is, law dictates that order and organization is necessary and desirable, while chaos holds to the opposite view. Law generally supports the group as more important than the individual, while chaos promotes the individual over the group.

    Good And Evil: Basically stated, the tenets of good are human rights, or in the case of AD&D, creature rights. Each creature is entitled to life, relative freedom, and the prospect of happiness. Cruelty and suffering are undesirable. Evil, on the other hand, does not concern itself with rights or happiness; purpose is determinant.

    There can never exist a lawful chaos or an evil good. These, and their reverses, are dichotomous. This is not to say that they cannot exist in the same character or creature if it is insane or controlled by another entity, but as general divisions they are mutually exclusive pairs. Consider also the alignments graph. If law is opposed to chaos, and good to evil, then the radically opposed alignments are lawful neutral — chaotic neutral, neutral good — neutral evil, lawful good — chaotic evil, and lawful evil — chaotic good. Lawful groups might, for example, combine to put down some chaotic threat, for example, just as readily as good groups would combine to suppress some powerful evil. Basic understanding and agreement, however, is within the general specific alignment, i.e. one of the nine categories. These are defined as follows:

    NEUTRALITY: Absolute, or true, neutral creatures view everything which exists as an integral, necessary part or function of the entire cosmos. Each thing exists as a part of the whole, one as a check or balance to the other, with life necessary for death, happiness for suffering, good for evil, order for chaos, and vice versa. Nothing must ever become predominant or out of balance. Within this naturalistic ethos, humankind serves a role also, just as all other creatures do. The may be more or less important, but the neutral does not concern himself or herself with these considerations except where it is positively determined that the balance is threatened. Absolute neutrality is the central or fulcrum position quite logically, as the neutral sees all other alignments as parts of a necessary whole. This alignment is the narrowest in scope.

    NEUTRAL GOOD: Creatures of this alignments see the cosmos as a place where law and chaos are merely tools to use in bringing life, happiness, and prosperity to all deserving creatures. Order is not good unless it brings this to all; neither is randomness and total freedom desirable if it does not bring such good.

    NEUTRAL EVIL: Similar to the neutral good alignment, that of neutral evil holds that neither groups nor individuals have great meaning. This ethos holds that seeking to promote weal for all actually brings woe to the truly deserving. Natural forces which are meant to cull out the weak and stupid are artificially suppressed by so-called good, and the fittest are wrongfully held back, so whatever means are expedient can be used by te powerful to gain and maintain their dominance, without concern for anything.

    LAWFUL GOOD: Creatures of lawful good alignment view the cosmos with varying degrees of lawfulness or desire for good. The are convinced that order and law are absolutely necessary to assure good, and that good is best defined as whatever brings the most benefit to the greater number of decent, thinking creatures and the least woe to the rest.

    LAWFUL NEUTRAL: It is the view of this alignment that law and order give purpose and meaning to everything. Without regimentation and strict definition, there would be no purpose in the cosmos. Therefore, whether a law is good or evil is of no import as long as it brings order and meaning.

    LAWFUL EVIL: Obviously, all order is not good, nor are all laws beneficial. Lawful evil creatures consider order as the means by which each group is properly placed in the cosmos, from the lowest to the highest, strongest first, weakest last. Good is seen as an excuse to promote the mediocrity of the whole and suppress the better and more capable, while lawful evilness allows each group to structure itself and fix its place as compared to others, serving the stronger, but being served by the weaker.

    CHAOTIC GOOD: To the chaotic good individual, freedom and independence are as important to life and happiness. The ethos views this freedom as the only means by which each creature can achieve true satisfaction and happiness. Law, order, social forms, and anything else which tends to restrict or abridge individual freedom is wrong, and each individual is capable of achieving self-realization and prosperity through himself, herself, or itself.

    CHAOTIC NEUTRAL: This view of the cosmos holds that absolute freedom is necessary. Whether the individual exercising such freedom chooses to do good or evil is of no concern. After all, life itself is law and order, so death is a desirable end. Therefore, life can only be justified as a tool by which order is combated, and in the end it too will pass into entropy.

    CHAOTIC EVIL: The chaotic evil creature holds that individual freedom and choice is important, and that other individuals and their freedoms are unimportant if they cannot be held by the individuals through their own strength and merit. Thus, law and order rends to promote not individuals but groups, and groups suppress individual volition and success.

    Each of these cases for alignment is, of course, stated rather simplistically and ideally, for philosophical and moral reasonings are completely subjective according to the acculturation of the individual. You, as Dungeon Master, must establish the meanings and boundaries of law and order as opposed to chaos and anarchy, as well as the divisions between right and good as opposed to hurtful and evil. Lawful societies will tend to be highly structured, rigid, well-policed and bureaucratic hierarchical. Class, rank, position, and precedence will be important, so they will be strictly defined and adhered to. On the other hand, chaotic areas will have little government and few social distinctions. The governed will give their consent to government, acknowledging leaders as equals serving those who allowed them to assume leadership. Obedience and service in a chaotic society is given only by those desiring to do so, or by dint of some persuasion, never by requirement.


You heard it here: the US system of government is ideally Chaotic.  Makes sense.

This presents new aspects of 1st Edition alignment.  Good is defined as maintaining the rights of sapient creatures (life, relative freedom, and happiness), while Evil believes in "the ends justify the means."

Law and Chaos are defined primarily as collectivism and individualism instead of "order versus randomness."

Each of the Evil alignments has some aspect of Social Darwinism.  LE believes that Good only holds society's strongest back through the "equal" sharing and enforcement of mediocrity, NE believes that altruism is a zero-sum game (bringing aid to all makes the truly smart/powerful/etc. suffer), while CE insists that anybody weak enough to get hurt, oppressed, and killed has no right for better treatment that they cannot personally take for themselves.  The description of Neutral Evil here is much more informative than its PHB counterpart; nothing has any meaning beyond personal empowerment.

Chaotic Neutral gives off a weird death obsession vibe, viewing life as order and entropy as a desirable outcome.  Ygorl, a Slaadi Lord, was an avatar of Entropy.  Maybe it's a reference to this.

Also, a guy who wrote an essay on AD&D alignment.  Check it out.
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Re: D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages
« Reply #31: September 08, 2014, 05:36:55 PM »
bump
 :)

5e PHB Chapter #4, has one sentence for each of the 9 alignments.
Then it has 3 paragraphs about free will issues, but ends with a somewhat
stricter definition of "unaligned" ... effectively a 10th alignment.

Looks like they weren't trying to cut in on your action, Libertad.
 ;)
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awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2017, 05:26:47 PM »
Only caveat I'll add, to my small comment just above ...
5e Backgrounds have a whole Pile of things with
a possible 5 alignment tag included.  So those are
examples  of parts of 5e d&d alignments.


The other general gripe on my part, is CN = crazy.
As a non-joke I littered a few seeming ridiculous posts
about Bytopia being crazy, here and there.
Most of those are not findable (sad) , but consider
a Vow Of Peace dude hanging out on Archeron.

Post away.

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2017, 04:04:29 PM »
SBLOCK biff , post 1


D&D Alignment Throughout the Ages

For a handy piece of reference, I've decided to take the official descriptions of Alignment in the various Editions of Dungeons & Dragons and compile them into one post.  As of now, I cannot find examples from Original D&D.  Tell me what you think!

Also, reprinted text from the Books of Vile Darkness and Exalted Deeds.  Thanks, FlaminCows!

Original D&D, with comments courtesy of Talysman (RPGSite):

(click to show/hide)
Men & Magic, p 9:
" Character Alignment, Including Various Monsters and Creatures: Before the game begins it is not only necessary to select a role, but it is also necessary to determine what stance the character will take - Law, Netrality[sic], or Chaos."

[This is followed by a table showing which creatures can be of which alignments. Elves and dwarves can be either Lawful or Neutral, for example, and orcs can be either Neutral or Chaotic. There are other scattered notes about clerics needing to choose either Law or Chaos before becoming Patriarchs, and the effects of a couple spells like Quest (but, notably, not Detect Evil or Protection from Evil, which have no reference to alignment.) Magic & Treasures talks about damage from picking up a magic item of a different alignment. Underworld & Wilderness Adventures breaks down some wilderness encounters by alignment type, but otherwise the above paragraph is all the explanation given. OD&D alignment originally had nothing to do with behavior or morality, but was more like factions in a cosmic battle.]

Supplement I (Greyhawk), pp 6-7:
"Chaotic Alignment by a player generally betokens chaotic action on the player's part without any rule to stress this aspect, i.e. a chaotic player is usually more prone to stab even his lawless buddy in the back for some desired gain. However, chaos is just that -- chaotic. Evil monsters are as likely to turn on their supposed confederates in order to have all the loot as they are to attack a lawful party in the first place. While there is no rule to apply to groups of chaotic players operating in concert, referees are urged to formulate some rules against continuing co-operation as fits their particular situation, but consideration for concerted actions against chaotic players by lawful ones should be given."

[Greyhawk starts us down the road of interpreting alignment as a behavior guideline. However, Chaotic alignment sounds more like the True Neutral of later editions, and there's still a hint of alignment mainly determining reaction of monsters to other alignments.]

Holmes Basic

(click to show/hide)
CHARACTER ALIGNMENT

Characters may be lawful (good or evil), neutral or chaotic (good or evil). Lawful characters always act according to a highly regulated code of behavior, whether for good or evil. Chaotic characters are quite unpredictable and can not be depended upon to do anything except the unexpected -- they are often, but not always, evil. Neutral characters, such as all thieves, are motivated by self interest and may steal from their companions or betray them if it is in their own best interest. Players may choose any alignment they want and need not reveal it to others. Note that the code of lawful good characters insures that they would tell everyone that they are lawful. There are some magical items that can be used only by one alignment of characters. If the Dungeon Master feels that a character has begun to behave in a manner inconsistent with his declared alignment he may rule that he or she has changed alignment and penalize the character with a loss of experience points. An example of such behavior would be a "good" character who kills or tortures a prisoner.
Plus a graph, four corners and the Neutral centre, with example creatures marked how far from the centre circle they are.

Moldvay/Cook Basic (B/X):

(click to show/hide)
Character Alignment.

Three basic ways of life guide the acts of both player characters and monsters. Each way of life is called an alignment. The three alignments are named Law, Chaos, and Neutrality. Each alignment has a language that includes hand signals and other body motions. Player characters always know how to speak their alignment language in addition to any others they may know. If a monster is able to speak, it will also use its alignment language.

Players may choose the alignments they feel will best fit their characters. A player does not have to tell the other players what alignment he or she has picked, but must tell the DM. Most Lawful characters will reveal their alignment if asked. When picking alignments the characters should know that Chaotics cannot be trusted, even by other Chaotics. A Chaotic character does not work well with other player characters.

The alignments give guidelines for other characters to live by. The characters will try to follow these guidelines, but may not always be successful. If the DM feels a player is not keeping to a character's chosen alignment, the DM may suggest a change of alignment or give the player a punishment or penalty.


Law (or Lawful) is the belief that everything should follow an order, and that obeying rules is the natural way of life. Lawful creatures will try to tell the truth, obey laws, and care about all living things. Lawful characters always try to keep their promises. They will try to obey laws as long as such laws are fair and just.

If the choice must be made between the benefit of the group or an individual, the Lawful character will usually choose the group. Sometimes individual freedom must be given up for the good of the group. Lawful characters and monsters often act in predictable ways. Lawful behaviour is usually the same as behaviour that could be called "good".


Chaos (or Chaotic) is the opposite of Law. It is the belief that life is random, and that chance and luck rule the world. Everything happens by accident, and nothing can be predicted. Laws are made to be broken, as long as a person can get away with it. It is not important to keep promises, and lying and telling the truth are both useful.

To a Chaotic creature, the individual is the most important of all things. Selfishness is the normal way of life, and the group is not important. Chaotics often act on sudden desires and whims. They cannot be trusted, and their behaviour is hard to predict. They have a strong belief in the power of luck. Chaotic behaviour is usually the same as behaviour that could be called "Evil".


Neutrality (or Neutral) is the belief that the world is a balance between Law and Chaos. It is important that neither side get too much power and upset this balance. The individual is important, but so is the group; the two sides must work together.

A Neutral character is most interested in personal survival. Such characters believe in their own wits and abilities rather than luck. They tend to return the treatment they receive from others. Neutral characters will join a party if they consider it in their own best interest, but will not be overly helpful unless there is some sort of profit in it. Neutral behaviour may be considered "good" or "evil" (or neither!), depending on the situation.


Example of Alignment Behaviour

THE SITUATION: A group of player characters is attacked by a large number of monsters. Escape is not possible unless the monsters are slowed down.

A Lawful character will fight to protect the group, whatever the danger. The character will not run away unless the whole group does.

A Neutral character will fight to protect the group as long as it is reasonably safe to do so. If the danger gets too great, the character will try to save himself (or herself), even at the expense of the party.

A Chaotic character might fight the monsters, or might run away. The character will not care what happens to the rest of the party.

Mentzer Basic (BECMI)

Cut & Paste from Moldvay. Plus an earlier intro for the kids.
(click to show/hide)
Alignment: How characters an monsters behave

Take a moment, now, and think about how your character behaved. The fighter was one of the “good guys.” You wanted to do the right things; for example, you brought the cleric back home with you. On the other hand, the magic-user and the goblin were the “bad guys.” They didn’t care whether you lived or died, just what they could get from you -- selfish, and nasty besides.

There is a way to describe how your character behaves in the game; it is called Alignment. Your fighter’s Alignment is called Lawful, he tries to protect others and defeat monsters.

Aleena the cleric was also Lawful. This is one reason why you became friends. Your Charisma helped when you first met her, but if your Alignments were different, you probably wouldn’t have been so friendly to each other.

Bargle, the magic-user, had a different Alignment than yours. He was Chaotic, the opposite of Lawful. He was selfish, cared only about himself and steals from others. Most people don’t like Chaotics. You two wouldn’t normally become friends at all (except for the spell he cast, that magically forced you to be his friend for a short time).

Monsters have alignments, too. The goblin and the ghouls were Chaotic. But the snake wasn’t really bad or good (although it certainly was dangerous). Its Alignment is called Neutral. It will fight to protect itself and will help others, if that will help it, but is mostly concerned with surviving. Neutral doesn’t mean stupid (Alignment has nothing to do with Intelligence); it means a balance, an average between the Law and Chaos. The snake was just a typical animal, trying to stay alive and get something to eat.

1st Edition

(click to show/hide)
ALIGNMENT

After generating the abilities of your character, selecting his or her race,
and deciding upon a class, it is necessary to determine the alignment of
the character. It is possible that the selection of the class your character
will profess has predetermined alignment: a druid is neutral, a paladin is
lawful good, a thief can be neutral or evil, an assassin is always evil. Yet,
except for druids and paladins, such restrictions still leave latitude - the
thief can be lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, chaotic evil, chaotic
neutral, neutral, or even neutral good; and the assassin has nearly as
many choices. The alignments possible for characters are described below.

Chaotic Evil: The major precepts of this alignment are freedom,
randomness, and woe. Laws and order, kindness, and good deeds are
disdained. life has no value. By promoting chaos and evil, those of this
alignment hope to bring themselves to positions of power, glory, and
prestige in a system ruled by individual caprice and their own whims.

Chaotic Good: While creatures of this alignment view freedom and the
randomness of action as ultimate truths, they likewise place value on life
and the welfare of each individual. Respect for individualism is also great.
By promoting the gods of chaotic good, characters of this alignment seek
to spread their values throughout the world.

Chaotic Neutral: Above respect for life and good, or disregard for life and
promotion of evil, the chaotic neutral places randomness and disorder.
Good and evil are complimentary balance arms. Neither are preferred,
nor must either prevail, for ultimate chaos would then suffer.

Lawful Evil: Creatures of this alignment are great respecters of laws and
strict order, but life, beauty, truth, freedom and the like are held as
valueless, or at least scorned. By adhering to stringent discipline, those of
lawful evil alignment hope to impose their yoke upon the world.

Lawful Good: While as strict in their prosecution of law and order,
characters of lawful good alignment follow these precepts to improve the
common weal. Certain freedoms must, of course, be sacrificed in order to
bring order; but truth is of highest value, and life and beauty of great
importance. The benefits of this society are to be brought to all.

Lawful Neutral: Those of this alignment view regulation as all-important,
taking a middle road betwixt evil and good. This is because the ultimate
harmony of the world -and the whole of the universe - is considered by
lawful neutral creatures to have its sole hope rest upon law and order. Evil
or good are immaterial beside the determined purpose of bringing all to
predictability and regulation.

Neutral Evil: The neutral evil creature views law and chaos as unnecessary
considerations, for pure evil is all-in-all. Either might be used, but both are
disdained as foolish clutter useless in eventually bringing maximum
evilness to the world.

Neutral Good: Unlike those directly opposite them (neutral evil) in
alignment, creatures of neutral good believe that there must be some
regulation in combination with freedoms if the best is to be brought to the
world - the most beneficial conditions for living things in general and
intelligent creatures in particular.

True Neutral: The "true" neutral looks upon all other alignments as facets
of the system of things. Thus, each aspect - evil and good, chaos and law
- of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for
things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even
then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were
meant to be, provided the "wheel" surrounding the hub of nature does
not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces - such as
human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be.

Naturally, there are all variations and shades of tendencies within each
alignment. The descriptions are generalizations only. A character can be
basically good in its "true" neutrality, or tend towards evil. It is probable
that your campaign referee will keep a graph of the drift.of your character
on the alignment chart. This is affected by the actions (and desires) of your
character during the course of each adventure, and will be reflected on
the graph. You may find that these actions are such as to cause the
declared alignment to be shifted towards, or actually to, some other.

Changing Alignment:
While involuntary change of alignment is quite possible, it is very difficult
for a character to voluntarily switch from one to another, except within
limited areas. Evil alignment can be varied along the like axis. The neutral
character can opt for some more specific alignment. Your referee will
probably require certain stringent sacrifices and appropriate acts -
possibly a quest, as well - for any other voluntary alignment change. In
fact, even axial change within evil or good, or radial movement from
neutrality may require strong proofs of various sorts.
Further voluntary change will be even more difficult. Changing bock to a
forsaken alignment is next to impossible on a voluntary basis. Even
involuntary drift will bring the necessity of great penance.

2nd Edition

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Chapter 4:
Alignment
After all other steps toward creating a character have been completed, the player must choose an alignment for the character. In some cases (especially the paladin), the choice of alignment may be limited.  The character's alignment is a guide to his basic moral and ethical attitudes toward others, society, good, evil, and the forces of the universe in general. Use the chosen alignment as a guide to provide a clearer idea of how the character will handle moral dilemmas. Always consider alignment as a tool, not a straitjacket that restricts the character. Although alignment defines general attitudes, it certainly doesn't prevent a character from changing his beliefs, acting irrationally, or behaving out of character.

Alignment is divided into two sets of attitudes: order and chaos, and good and evil. By combining the different variations within the two sets, nine distinct alignments are created. These nine alignments serve well to define the attitudes of most of the people in the world.

Law, Neutrality, and Chaos
Attitudes toward order and chaos are divided into three opposing beliefs. Picture these beliefs as the points of a triangle, all pulling away from each other. The three beliefs are law, chaos, and neutrality. One of these represents each character's ethos--his
understanding of society and relationships.  Characters who believe in law maintain that order, organization, and society are
important, indeed vital, forces of the universe. The relationships between people and governments exist naturally. Lawful philosophers maintain that this order is not created by man but is a natural law of the universe. Although man does not create orderly structures, it is his obligation to function within them, lest the fabric of everything crumble. For less philosophical types, lawfulness manifests itself in the belief that laws should be made and followed, if only to have understandable rules for society. People should not pursue personal vendettas, for example, but should present their claims to the proper authorities. Strength comes through unity of action, as can be seen in guilds, empires, and powerful churches.

Those espousing neutrality tend to take a more balanced view of things. They hold that for every force in the universe, there is an opposite force somewhere. Where there is lawfulness, there is also chaos; where there is neutrality, there is also partisanship. The same is true of good and evil, life and death. What is important is that all these forces remain in balance with each other. If one factor becomes ascendant over its opposite, the universe becomes unbalanced. If enough of these polarities go out of balance, the fabric of reality could pull itself apart. For example, if death became ascendant over life, the universe would become a barren wasteland.
Philosophers of neutrality not only presuppose the existence of opposites, but they also theorize that the universe would vanish should one opposite completely destroy the other (since nothing can exist without its opposite). Fortunately for these philosophers (and all
sentient life), the universe seems to be efficient at regulating itself. Only when a powerful, unbalancing force appears (which almost never happens) need the defenders of neutrality become seriously concerned.

The believers in chaos hold that there is no preordained order or careful balance of forces in the universe. Instead they see the universe as a collection of things and events, some related to each other and others completely independent. They tend to hold that
individual actions account for the differences in things and that events in one area do not alter the fabric of the universe halfway across the galaxy. Chaotic philosophers believe in the power of the individual over his own destiny and are fond of anarchistic nations.
Being more pragmatic, non-philosophers recognize the function of society in protecting their individual rights. Chaotics can be hard to govern as a group, since they place their own needs and desires above those of society.

Good, Neutrality, and Evil
Like law and order, the second set of attitudes is also divided into three parts. These partsdescribe, more or less, a character's moral outlook; they are his internal guideposts to what is right or wrong.  Good characters are just that. They try to be honest, charitable, and forthright. People are not perfect, however, so few are good all the time. There are always occasional failings and weaknesses. A good person, however, worries about his errors and normally tries to correct any damage done.

Remember, however, that goodness has no absolute values. Although many things are commonly accepted as good (helping those in need, protecting the weak), different cultures impose their own interpretations on what is good and what is evil.  Those with a neutral moral stance often refrain from passing judgment on anything.  They do not classify people, things, or events as good or evil; what is, is. In some cases, this is because the creature lacks the capacity to make a moral judgment (animals fall into this category). Few normal creatures do anything for good or evil reasons. They kill because they are hungry or threatened. They sleep where they find shelter. They do not worry about the moral consequences of their actions--their actions are instinctive.  Evil is the antithesis of good and appears in many ways, some overt and others quite subtle. Only a few people of evil nature actively seek to cause harm or destruction. Most simply do not recognize that what they do is destructive or disruptive. People and things that obstruct the evil character's plans are mere hindrances that must be overcome. If someone is harmed in the process . . . well, that's too bad. Remember that evil, like good, is interpreted differently in different societies.

Alignment Combinations
Nine different alignments result from combining these two sets. Each alignment varies from all others, sometimes in broad, obvious ways, and sometimes in subtle ways. Each alignment is described in the following paragraphs.

Lawful Good: Characters of this alignment believe that an orderly, strong society with a well-organized government can work to make life better for the majority of the people.  To ensure the quality of life, laws must be created and obeyed. When people respect the laws and try to help one another, society as a whole prospers. Therefore, lawful good characters strive for those things that will bring the greatest benefit to the most people and cause the least harm. An honest and hard-working serf, a kindly and wise king, or a stern but forthright minister of justice are all examples of lawful good people.

Lawful Neutral: Order and organization are of paramount importance to characters of this alignment. They believe in a strong, well-ordered government, whether that government is a tyranny or benevolent democracy. The benefits of organization and regimentation outweigh any moral questions raised by their actions. An inquisitor determined to ferret out traitors at any cost or a soldier who never questions his orders are good examples of lawful neutral behavior.

Lawful Evil: These characters believe in using society and its laws to benefit themselves. Structure and organization elevate those who deserve to rule as well as provide a clearly defined hierarchy between master and servant. To this end, lawful evil characters support laws and societies that protect their own concerns. If someone is hurt or suffers because of a law that benefits lawful evil characters, too bad. Lawful evil characters obey laws out of fear of punishment. Because they may be forced to honor an unfavorable contract or oath they have made, lawful evil characters are usually very careful about giving their word. Once given, they break their word only if they can find a way to do it legally, within the laws of the society. An iron-fisted tyrant and a devious, greedy merchant are examples of lawful evil beings.

Neutral Good: These characters believe that a balance of forces is important, but that the concerns of law and chaos do not moderate the need for good. Since the universe is vast and contains many creatures striving for different goals, a determined pursuit of good will not upset the balance; it may even maintain it. If fostering good means supporting organized society, then that is what must be done. If good can only come about through the overthrow of existing social order, so be it. Social structure itself has no innate value to them. A baron who violates the orders of his king to destroy something he sees as evil is an example of a neutral good character.

True Neutral: True neutral characters believe in the ultimate balance of forces, and they refuse to see actions as either good or evil. Since the majority of people in the world make judgments, true neutral characters are extremely rare. True neutrals do their best to avoid siding with the forces of either good or evil, law or chaos. It is their duty to see that all of these forces remain in balanced contention.  True neutral characters sometimes find themselves forced into rather peculiar alliances.  To a great extent, they are compelled to side with the underdog in any given situation, sometimes even changing sides as the previous loser becomes the winner. A true neutral druid might join the local barony to put down a tribe of evil gnolls, only to drop out or switch sides when the gnolls were brought to the brink of destruction. He would seek to prevent either side from becoming too powerful. Clearly, there are very few true neutral characters in the world.

Neutral Evil: Neutral evil characters are primarily concerned with themselves and their own advancement. They have no particular objection to working with others or, for that matter, going it on their own. Their only interest is in getting ahead. If there is a quick and easy way to gain a profit, whether it be legal, questionable, or obviously illegal, they take advantage of it. Although neutral evil characters do not have the everyman-for-himself attitude of chaotic characters, they have no qualms about betraying their friends and companions for personal gain. They typically base their allegiance on power and money, which makes them quite receptive to bribes.  An unscrupulous mercenary, a common thief, and a double-crossing informer who betrays people to the authorities to protect and advance himself are typical examples of neutral evil characters.

Chaotic Good: Chaotic good characters are strong individualists marked by a streak of kindness and benevolence. They believe in all the virtues of goodness and right, but they have little use for laws and regulations. They have no use for people who "try to push
folk around and tell them what to do." Their actions are guided by their own moral compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of society. A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an
example of a chaotic good character.

Chaotic Neutral: Chaotic neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything, including their own actions. With this as a guiding principle, they tend to follow whatever whim strikes them at the moment. Good and evil are irrelevant when making a decision.
Chaotic neutral characters are extremely difficult to deal with. Such characters have been known to cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything they have on the roll of a single die. They are almost totally unreliable.  In fact, the only reliable thing
about them is that they cannot be relied upon! This alignment is perhaps the most difficult to play.  Lunatics and madmen tend toward chaotic neutral behavior.

Chaotic Evil: These characters are the bane of all that is good and organized. Chaotic evil characters are motivated by the desire for personal gain and pleasure. They see absolutely nothing wrong with taking whatever they want by whatever means possible.
Laws and governments are the tools of weaklings unable to fend for themselves. The strong have the right to take what they want, and the weak are there to be exploited.  When chaotic evil characters band together, they are not motivated by a desire to
cooperate, but rather to oppose powerful enemies. Such a group can be held together only by a strong leader capable of bullying his underlings into obedience. Since leadership is based on raw power, a leader is likely to be replaced at the first sign of weakness by
anyone who can take his position away from him by any method. Bloodthirsty buccaneers and monsters of low Intelligence are fine examples of chaotic evil personalities.

Non-Aligned Creatures
In addition to the alignments above, some things--particularly unintelligent monsters (killer plants, etc.) and animals--never bother with moral and ethical concerns. For these creatures, alignment is simply not applicable. A dog, even a well-trained one, is neither
good nor evil, lawful nor chaotic. It is simply a dog. For these creatures, alignment is always detected as neutral.

3rd Edition

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Alignment
A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, or chaotic evil.

Alignment is a tool for developing your character’s identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting your character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two characters of the same alignment can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent.

Good Vs. Evil
Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

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. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.

Being good or evil can be a conscious choice. For most people, though, being good or evil is an attitude that one recognizes but does not choose. Being neutral on the good-evil axis usually represents a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a balanced view. While acknowledging that good and evil are objective states, not just opinions, these folk maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people, or at least for them.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral rather than good or evil. Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior.

Law Vs. Chaos
Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties.

Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.

"Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.

"Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

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.

Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but more often it is a personality trait that is recognized rather than being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful-chaotic axis is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots and drawbacks.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.

The Nine Alignments
Nine distinct alignments define all the possible combinations of the lawful-chaotic axis with the good-evil axis. Each alignment description below depicts a typical character of that alignment. Remember that individuals vary from this norm, and that a given character may act more or less in accord with his or her alignment from day to day. Use these descriptions as guidelines, not as scripts.

The first six alignments, lawful good through chaotic neutral, are the standard alignments for player characters. The three evil alignments are for monsters and villains.

Lawful Good, "Crusader"
A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

Neutral Good, "Benefactor"
A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them..

Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order.

Chaotic Good, "Rebel"
A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.

Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit.

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

Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.

Neutral, "Undecided"
A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil—after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.

Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

Chaotic Neutral, "Free Spirit"
A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.

Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.

Lawful Evil, "Dominator"
A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.

This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains.

Some lawful evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

Lawful evil is sometimes called "diabolical," because devils are the epitome of lawful evil.

Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.

Neutral Evil, "Malefactor"
A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has.

Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.

Neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.

Chaotic Evil, "Destroyer"
A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him.

Chaotic evil is sometimes called "demonic" because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil.

Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.

4th Edition

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If you choose an alignment, you’re indicating your character’s dedication to a set of moral principles: good, lawful good, evil, or chaotic evil. In a cosmic sense, it’s the team you believe in and fight for most strongly.

Alignment

A character’s alignment (or lack thereof) describes his or her moral stance:

Good: Freedom and kindness.
Lawful Good: Civilization and order.
Evil: Tyranny and hatred.
Chaotic Evil: Entropy and destruction.
Unaligned: Having no alignment; not taking a stand.
For the purpose of determining whether an effect functions on a character, someone of lawful good alignment is considered good and someone of chaotic evil alignment is considered evil. For instance, a lawful good character can use a magic item that is usable only by good-aligned characters.

Alignments are tied to universal forces bigger than deities or any other allegiance you might have. If you’re a high-level cleric with a lawful good alignment, you’re on the same team as Bahamut, regardless of whether you worship that deity. Bahamut is not in any sense the captain of your team, just a particularly important player (who has a large number of supporters).

Most people in the world, and plenty of player characters, haven’t signed up to play on any team—they’re unaligned. Picking and adhering to an alignment represents a distinct choice.

If you choose an alignment for your character, you should pick either good or lawful good. Unless your DM is running a campaign in which all the characters are evil or chaotic evil, playing an evil or chaotic evil character disrupts an adventuring party and, frankly, makes all the other players angry at you.

Here’s what the four alignments (and being unaligned) mean.

The Good Alignment

Protecting the weak from those who would dominate or kill them is just the right thing to do.

If you’re a good character, you believe it is right to aid and protect those in need. You’re not required to sacrifice yourself to help others or to completely ignore your own needs, but you might be asked to place others’ needs above your own.... in some cases, even if that means putting yourself in harm’s way. In many ways, that’s the essence of being a heroic adventurer:

The people of the town can’t defend themselves from the marauding goblins, so you descend into the dungeon—at significant personal risk—to put an end to the goblin raids.

You can follow rules and respect authority, but you’re keenly aware that power tends to corrupt those who wield it, too often leading them to exploit their power for selfish or evil ends. When that happens, you feel no obligation to follow the law blindly.

It’s better for authority to rest in the members of a community rather than the hands of any individual or social class. When law becomes exploitation, it crosses into evil territory, and good characters feel compelled to fight it.

Good and evil represent fundamentally different viewpoints, cosmically opposed and unable to coexist in peace. Good and lawful good characters, though, get along fine—even if a good character thinks a lawful good companion might be a little too focused on following the law, rather than simply doing the right thing.

The Lawful Good Alignment

An ordered society protects us from evil.

If you’re lawful good, you respect the authority of personal codes of conduct, laws, and leaders, and you believe that those codes are the best way of achieving your ideals. Just authority promotes the well-being of its subjects and prevents them from harming one another. Lawful good characters believe just as strongly as good ones do in the value of life, and they put even more emphasis on the need for the powerful to protect the weak and lift up the downtrodden. The exemplars of the lawful good alignment are shining champions of what’s right, honorable, and true, risking or even sacrificing their lives to stop the spread of evil in the world.

When leaders exploit their authority for personal gain, when laws grant privileged status to some citizens and reduce others to slavery or untouchable status, law has given in to evil and just authority becomes tyranny. You are not only capable of challenging such injustice, but morally bound to do so.

However, you would prefer to work within the system to right such problems rather than resorting to more rebellious and lawless methods.

The Evil Alignment

It is my right to claim what others possess.

Evil characters don’t necessarily go out of their way to hurt people, but they’re perfectly willing to take advantage of the weakness of others to acquire what they want.

Evil characters use rules and order to maximize personal gain. They don’t care whether laws hurt other people. They support institutional structures that give them power, even if that power comes at the expense of others’ freedom. Slavery and rigid caste structures are not only acceptable but desirable to evil characters, as long as they are in a position to benefit from them.

The Chaotic Evil Alignment

I don’t care what I have to do to get what I want.

Chaotic evil characters have a complete disregard for others. Each believes he or she is the only being that matters and kills, steals, and betrays others to gain power. Their word is meaningless and their actions destructive. Their worldviews can be so warped that they destroy anything and anyone that doesn’t directly contribute to their interests.

By the standards of good and lawful good people, chaotic evil is as abhorrent as evil, perhaps even more so. Chaotic evil monsters such as demons and orcs are at least as much of a threat to civilization and general well-being as evil monsters are. An evil creature and a chaotic evil creature are both opposed to good, but they don’t have much respect for each other either and rarely cooperate toward common goals.

Unaligned

Just let me go about my business.

If you’re unaligned, you don’t actively seek to harm others or wish them ill. But you also don’t go out of your way to put yourself at risk without some hope for reward. You support law and order when doing so benefits you. You value your own freedom, without worrying too much about protecting the freedom of others.

A few unaligned people, and most unaligned deities, aren’t undecided about alignment. Rather, they’ve chosen not to choose, either because they see the benefits of both good and evil or because they see themselves as above the concerns of morality. The Raven Queen and her devotees fall into the latter camp, believing that moral choices are irrelevant to their mission since death comes to all creatures regardless of alignment.

awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2017, 04:06:19 PM »
SBLOCK biff , post #19


Flaming Cows
« Reply #19: December 21, 2012, 02:47:38 AM »
+1
That's fine. I'll do it for you, here you go.

(click to show/hide)
“Evil” is a word that is probably overused. In the context of the game, and certainly of this book, the word should be reserved for the dark force of destruction and death that tempts souls to wrongdoing and perverts wholesomeness and purity at every turn. Evil is vile, corrupt, and irredeemably dark. It is not naughty or ill-tempered or misunderstood. It is black-hearted, selfish, cruel, bloodthirsty, and malevolent.


THE OBJECTIVE APPROACH
This is the straightforward approach taken in the D&D game, and it is the one stressed in this book as well. From this frame of reference, evil can be judged objectively. The evil nature of a creature, act, or item isn’t relative to the person observing it; it just is evil or it isn’t. This clear-cut definition allows spells such as holy smite to work. Conversely, an objective definition of evil exists because the detect evil spell works. Want to know what’s evil? Don’t study a philosophy book, just watch who gets hurt when the cleric casts holy smite. Those creatures are evil. The things they do, generally speaking, are evil acts. If your character still isn’t certain, he can summon a celestial creature or cast a commune spell and simply ask, “Is this evil?” The higher powers are right there, ready to communicate.

The Player’s Handbook says, “ ‘Evil’ implies hurting,oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualm if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.”
This objective approach to evil works well for fantasy roleplaying games. Evil is a thing that a hero can point at and know he must fight. An objective concept of evil allows players (and their characters) to avoid most ethical or moral quandaries, particularly the kinds that can derail a game session. If you run an adventure about fighting gnolls, you don’t normally want the entire session consumed by a philosophical debate about whether killing gnolls is a good thing or a bad thing.


DEFINING EVIL
Of course, even if you take an objective approach in your game, evil people might not always call themselves evil. They would be wrong or simply lying to do so, but they might still deny their evil nature. Even the most deranged mass murderer might be able to justify his actions to himself in the name of his beliefs, his deity, or some skewed vision of what is best for the world.

A killer might slay any children he deems weak or unfit to reach adulthood. Another might kill children he believes will grow up and become evil themselves. Perhaps such a killer once had a prophetic dream telling him that evil was growing among the children of the town.

On a larger scale, an evil priest might believe that to better serve his dark god, he needs to destroy an entire village and sacrifice all the residents. Is that evil? Yes. Does the priest see it as evil? No, he sees it as a demonstration of his unending devotion and an aspect of his faith. Or perhaps he does see it as evil and doesn’t care.

A dictator might order the elimination of an entire race of good creatures because she believes them to be evil. She might seek to dominate the world and bring its people under her unyielding fist. But such a despot could also believe that she is a good person and that the world will be better off with her guidance. This attitude makes her no less a villain.


INTENT AND CONTEXT
So, does the objective definition of evil imply that intent plays no part in determining what is good and what isn’t? Only to a degree.

Consider the paladin Zophas. When climbing to the top of a hill of loose rocks to get away from some owlbears, he triggers a rockslide that buries the owlbears and continues down the hill, crushing a hut full of commoners. Is Zophas an evil murderer who must suddenly lose his lawful good alignment? No, although Zophas might still feel guilt and responsibility. He might attempt to right the inadvertent wrong as best he can.

But what if Zophas’s friend Shurrin said, “Don’t climb up there, Zophas! You might start a rockslide that will crush the hut!” Zophas goes anyway. Now is it evil? Probably. Zophas was either carelessly endangering the commoners or so overconfident of his climbing prowess that he acted out of hubris. At this point, Zophas isn’t exactly a murderer, but he should probably lose his paladin abilities until he receives an atonement spell or otherwise makes amends. If Zophas can clearly see the danger of the rockslide but climbs up anyway because he wants to get away from the owlbears, that’s clearly evil. In a world of black-and-white distinctions between good and evil, killing innocents to save yourself is an evil act. Sacrificing yourself for the good of others is a good act. It’s a high standard, but that’s the way it is.

The foregoing text defines three levels of intent: accidental acts, reckless or negligent acts, and intentionally evil misdeeds. Sometimes, however, those categories are insufficient to determine evil intent. You are free to judge an act in the context of other actions.

A maniac puts poison in a town’s water supply, believing (wrongly) that all of the people in the town are demons. Is that evil? Yes. A glabrezu convinces a good character that the townsfolk are all fiends that must be destroyed, so the character pours poison into the town’s water supply. Is that evil? Probably not—at least, not in the context of the rest of the character’s actions and the circumstances involved. Still, good characters shouldn’t commit even remotely questionable acts on a large scale unless they’re absolutely sure there’s no other way to succeed. It’s rarely a good idea to destroy a town of evil people, because there might be at least a few good people in the town as well.

But let’s make it even more complicated. Another character witnesses the good character about to put poison in the town’s drinking water. Is it evil for the witness to kill the poisoning character in order to stop him? No. Again, the intent isn’t evil, and the context makes such an act preferable to the alternative. Standing by while a mass murder occurs—the other choice the witness has—is far more evil than preventing the poisoning.


GREY AREAS
Even with the most black-and-white, objective approach to good and evil, grey areas will always exist. Consider this example: A terrible disease has come to the village of Varro, and the cure lies in the heartwood of the sacred trees of the Varrowood. The villagers go into the wood to get the cure. The druids of the Varrowood believe that the trees are holy and should not be violated. They try to stop the villagers. Is either side truly evil in this scenario? Probably not.

Not all conflicts are based on good versus evil. It is possible for two good nations to go to war. It is likely that two evil nations will go to war. Is it evil for your character to kill a good character if your character’s kingdom is at war with his? That’s certainly a grey area. Characters who are extremely strict in their moral outlook should examine the reasons behind the war very closely. In general, quarter should be given and accepted. Such a character should cause no more damage and inflict no more harm than is necessary. If possible, he or she should find a different way to resolve the conflict.



EVIL ACTS
Examining the actions of the malevolent not only helps define what evil is, but it also gives an insight into the schemes of a villain. What follows is more than a list that defines evil as opposed to good. Read over the following sections to get ideas for villainous plots, schemes, motivations, and personalities.


LYING
Lying is not necessarily an evil act, though it is a tool that can easily be used for evil ends. Lying is so easy to use for evil purposes that most knightly codes and the creeds of many good religions forbid it altogether.


CHEATING
Cheating is breaking the rules for personal gain. When evil villains cheat, it’s not just at games. They create contracts with clauses that they can manipulate to trick others. Villains manipulate officials so that evildoers are set free instead of going to prison. They rig their enemies’ equipment so that it breaks or does not function properly. Cheaters may threaten the lives of a councilman’s family to make him vote for their plan. They may use spells and poison to ensure that a particular gladiator dies in the arena so that they can earn a profit by wagering on the survivor.

Cheating can take many forms. For example, a cheater might trick two enemies into fighting each other, or fool an enemy’s lover into betraying his or her loved one. A cheater might challenge an opponent to a rigged contest or a fight that is rigged, or simply make an agreement that he or she has no intention of upholding.


THEFT
Any child can tell you that stealing is wrong. Villains, however, often see theft as the best way to acquire what they want. Evil people pay only for things they cannot take. An evil character needs a reason not to steal. Fear of being caught is the most common deterrent, but sometimes a villain elects not to steal an item because he or she doesn’t want to incur the wrath of its owner. For example, a drow cleric might pay a rogue for a magic item. The cleric isn’t averse to stealing from the rogue, but she pays for the item so that the rogue will continue working for her.


MURDER
Killing is one of the most horrible acts that a creature  can commit. Murder is the killing of an intelligent creature for a nefarious purpose: theft, personal gain, perverse pleasure, or the like.

The heroes who go into the green dragon’s woodland lair to slay it are not murderers. In a fantasy world based on an objective definition of evil, killing an evil creature to stop it from doing further harm is not an evil act. Even killing an evil creature for personal gain is not exactly evil (although it’s not a good act), because it still stops the creature’s predations on the innocent. Such a justification, however, works only for the slaying of creatures of consummate, irredeemable evil, such as chromatic dragons.

Evil beings delight in murder. It is the ultimate expression of their power and their willingness to commit any sort of heinous act. It shows that they are either powerful enough or detached enough to do anything they wish. To particularly evil creatures, especially those with very alien outlooks, murder is itself a desirable goal. Some such creatures hate life and despise all that lives. They relish either death or undeath and thus seek to quench life wherever possible. Such creatures are usually (but not always) undead themselves.


VENGEANCE
Revenge is a powerful force. An act of vengeance does not have to be evil, but the evil mindset usually redefines the concept as “revenge at any price.” Vengeance without limits can quickly lead to all sorts of evil acts.

Forgiveness and mercy are not traits that most evil creatures possess. Vengeance for wrongs committed against them—or even for perceived wrongs—is the only appropriate response.


WORSHIPING EVIL GODS AND DEMONS
Priests who revere dark powers are as evil as the beings they serve. In the name of Vecna, Erythnul, or Lolth, these foul emissaries make living sacrifices, conduct malevolent rites, and put schemes in motion to aid their patrons. Sometimes, the activities of evil cultists are straightforward: kidnapping victims for sacrifice, stealing money to fund their temples, or simply following a dogma that requires murder, rape, or activities even more foul. Other times, their machinations are far subtler than such overt crimes.

Evil temples are sometimes secret places hidden within unsuspecting communities. Beneath an old barn, in a warehouse, or simply in a back room of someone’s home—an evil temple can be anywhere. Larger, more permanent shrines to malevolence are usually situated farther away from civilization—at least, far away from good-aligned communities. Such an evil church may be a towering structure of stone covered with macabre reliefs and filled with terrible statuary, standing alone in the wilderness. Other evil temples may be surrounded by towns or cities populated by foul creatures.


ANIMATING THE DEAD OR CREATING UNDEAD
Unliving corpses—corrupt mockeries of life and purity—are inherently evil. Creating them is one of the most heinous crimes against the world that a character can commit. Even if they are commanded to do something good, undead invariably bring negative energy into the world, which makes it a darker and more evil place. Many communities keep their graveyards behind high walls or even post guards to keep grave robbers out. Graverobbing is often a lucrative practice, since necromancers pay good coin for raw materials. Of course, battlefields are also popular places for grave-robbers—or for necromancers themselves—to seek corpses.


CASTING EVIL SPELLS
Evil spells may create undead, inflict undue suffering, harm another’s soul, or produce any of a slew of similar effects. Sometimes, a nonevil spellcaster can get away with casting a few evil spells, as long as he or she does not do so for an evil purpose. But the path of evil magic leads quickly to corruption and destruction. Spells with corruption costs (see Corrupt Magic in Chapter 6) are so evil that they take a physical and spiritual toll on the caster.


DAMNING OR HARMING SOULS
While harming one’s enemies physically is not inherently villainous, harming their souls is always evil. Only the foulest of villains could actually want to cause pain to another creature’s eternal aspect. Creatures without corrupt hearts simply dispatch their foes quickly, believing that sending a villain off to the justice of the afterlife is punishment enough. But evil beings like to capture foes and torture them to death, and some even prefer to torture the souls of their foes, never granting them the release of death. Worse still, some evil beings use their foul magic to destroy an opponent’s soul, ending his or her existence altogether.


CONSORTING WITH FIENDS
If characters can be judged by the company they keep, then those who deal with fiends—demons and devils—are surely evil beings themselves. Fiends are the ultimate expression of evil given animate form—literally evil incarnate. Destroying a fiend is always a good act. Allowing a fiend to exist, let alone summoning one or helping one, is clearly evil.

Occasionally, a spellcaster may summon a fiendish creature to accomplish some task. Such an act is evil, but not terribly so. However, some characters, particularly those who worship demons or devils or see them as valuable allies, may work with (or for) fiends to further their own ends. Worse still, some mortals sell their souls to fiends in order to gain more power or support. Although dealing with fiends or selling souls is risky at best, the lust for power is a temptation too strong for some to resist. But fiends have great power, infinite life spans, and a delight for double-crossing others, so it’s not surprising that most characters who ask for a fiend’s aid end up on the wrong end of the deals they make.


USING OTHERS FOR PERSONAL GAIN
Whether it’s sacrificing a victim on an evil god’s altar to gain a boon, or simply stealing from a friend, using others for one’s own purposes is a hallmark of villainy. A villain routinely puts others in harm’s way to save his or her own neck—better that others die, surely.

The utter selfishness of an evil character rarely leaves room for empathy. He is so consumed with his own goals and desires that he can think of no reason not to succeed at the expense of others. At best, other creatures are cattle to be used, preyed upon, or led. At worst, they are gnats to be ignored or obstacles to be bypassed.


GREED
Greed is so simple a motivation that it hardly seems worth mentioning. Yet it drives villains perhaps more than any other factor. Greed is tied into most of the types of evil behaviour mentioned here. Ambition taken too far—particularly advancement at the expense of others—can manifest itself as greed. Lust for wealth, power, or prestige can lead to jealousy, theft, murder, betrayal, and a host of other evils.


BULLYING AND COWING INNOCENTS
Bullying is simply a symptom of an obsession with power. A villain who has power over another likes to brandish that power to prove her own might, both to herself and to others. Such brutes feel that power has no worth if others do not know about it.

Although the archetypal bully is a strong and powerful thug, other kinds of bullies exist as well. Sometimes a bully uses magical might rather than physical prowess to cow those around her. Sometimes the power is political in nature. The ten-year-old princess who forces bards to sing songs of her beauty or else face the wrath of her tyrannical mother (the queen) is indeed a bully.


BRINGING DESPAIR
Evil creatures often enjoy spreading pain and misery to others. Some do this because breaking the spirits of others makes them feel superior; others sow despair for the sheer joy it provides them.

Sometimes encouraging misery runs counter to other evil goals. For example, a blackguard interested in bringing despair might leave his enemies alive but wounded, defeated, and broken (and maybe even cursed or magically corrupted). However, refusing to finish off one’s foes isn’t always the wisest course of action, because the blackguard’s enemies might heal themselves and oppose him again, witha vengeance.

Similarly, a misery-loving fiend might tell a captured foe his plans before he kills her, just to revel in his victim’s despair. Such a creature wants its enemies to realize how utterly defeated they are.

A villain with a love of misery may attempt to break his foes, either instead of or before killing them. Straightforward techniques such as torture can break an enemy, and so can more elaborate schemes, such as destroying the good aspects of an enemy’s life, one by one. If the villain’s foe delights in the beauty of an ancient forest, the evildoer might command fire elementals to burn it down. If the foe has a lover, the villain could capture and torture the loved one—or turn him or her against the foe. The villain might also frame the foe for others’ crimes, spread lies about him, destroy his home, or infect him with a disease. A crafty, despair-loving villain makes it unusual for the foe’s loved ones to speak his name except as a curse.

Despair-loving creatures delight in spells such as bestow curse, contagion, and sorrow. Such villains love using any magical effect that does more than simply kill their foes because they consider death too pleasant an end.


TEMPTING OTHERS
Temping good individuals to do wrong is an evil act. Plots with this goal are largely the purview of demons and devils that seek to corrupt mortals in order to taint their souls. The products of a tempter’s work are larvae, the physical manifestations of evil souls on the Lower Planes (see Chapter 7). Larvae are valuable to fiends; in fact, they are a form of currency in their own right. Some demons and devils, particularly erinyes, succubi, and glabrezu, spend almost all their time corrupting mortals with offers of sex, power, magic, or other pleasures.

When evil mortals tempt other mortals, often the temptation comes in the form of a bribe to get others to do what the villain wants. For example, a wealthy man might convince a woman to kill her father in return for a vast sum of money. Unlike a demon, the wealthy man doesn’t care about corrupting the woman’s soul; he just wants the father dead. Still other mortal evildoers might tempt someone to commit an evil act for the sheer pleasure of spreading temptation.

(click to show/hide)
Author’s Note: I didn’t expect this book to require a disclaimer like the one Monte put in front of the Book of Vile Darkness. I like to think I am a good person, and I strongly encourage others to be good people as well. Nevertheless, I feel the need to point out that this book attempts to define the morality of goodness in the context of the D&D® world, not the real world. While I’ve tried to explore some shades of gray in this book, the D&D universe is still much more black-and-white than the real world. I don’t advocate anyone killing someone they think is evil, to give just one example.
—James Wyatt

What is good?
Many characters are happy to rattle off long lists of sins they haven’t committed as evidence that they are good. The utter avoidance of evil, however, doesn’t make a character good—solidly neutral, perhaps, but not good.

Being good requires a certain quality of temperament, the presence of virtues that spur a character, not just to avoid evil or its appearance, but to actively promote good. As expressed in the Player’s Handbook, “‘Good’ implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.”

Good is not nice, polite, well mannered, prudish, self-righteous, or naïve, though good-aligned characters might be some of those things. Good is the awesome holy energy that radiates from the celestial planes and crushes evil. Good is selfless, just, hopeful, benevolent, and righteous.


EXALTED DEEDS
These acts of goodness are concrete, positive means by which the heroes of the world fight against the darkness of evil. They are the meat and drink of the exalted hero, and should serve as an inspiration for how to play a character of good alignment, suggesting not only common actions but also motivations and personality traits.


HELPING OTHERS
When a village elder comes to a good character and says, “Please help us, a dragon is threatening our village,” the good character’s response is not, “What can you pay?” Neutral characters might be that mercenary, and evil characters would certainly consider how to collect the most benefit from the situation. For a good character,
however, helping others is a higher priority than personal gain.

A good character might ask a number of other questions before leaping up from her seat and charging to the village’s aid: good characters aren’t necessarily stupid. A good character can be cautious, determining how powerful the dragon is and whether additional reinforcements are required, but she should never say, “Sorry, I’m out of my league. Go find another hero.” It’s just good sense to learn as much as possible about a foe before plunging into battle. Even more, a good character need not be naïvely trusting. Some might go to great lengths to verify that the elder’s story is true and not some villain’s attempt to lure them into a trap.

All her caution or suspicion still doesn’t undermine a good character’s responsibility to offer help to those in need. Altruism is the first word in the Player’s Handbook’s definition of good, and helping others without reward or even thanks is part of a good character’s daily work.

So who are these “others” a good character is supposed to help? Again, the “good is not necessarily stupid” rule comes into play. Obviously, a good character is not required by her alignment to help evil characters or those who are working at cross-purposes to a good character’s own goals. However, altruism often blends into mercy in situations where a villain asks for quarter and aid (see Mercy below). In any case, altruism is tempered by respect for life and concern for the dignity of sentient beings, and good characters balance their desire to help others with their desire to promote goodness and life.


CHARITY
One specific aspect of helping others is charity: providing material assistance to those in need, particularly those whose situation in life robs them of pride and respect. Offering food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, lodging to the homeless, care for orphans and widows, and hope to the hopeless are among the simplest and yet most profound of good deeds. Good characters offer this sort of assistance to needy people without regard for their moral character and with the utmost concern for their dignity.

The idea that creatures too weak to better themselves deserve their low position is a hallmark of evil dogma. Good characters reject this notion completely, recognizing that most poor and needy people are the victims of circumstance, not of their own weakness or failings.


HEALING
Healing wounds, removing disease, and neutralizing poison are a concrete embodiment of a good character’s respect for life. These deeds are not inherently good, since they can be performed selfishly or in the interests of evil. Even so, healing magic involves positive energy, which is closely linked to holy power.

Many good characters devote their lives to healing as an expression of their morality. Pelor is a god of healing, and his clerics with the Healing domain make it their mission to share Pelor’s beneficence with others through healing. Even paladins, whose mission is primarily to smite evildoers, have the innate ability to heal wounds and remove disease as a reflection of their pure goodness. A character devoted to healing views the power to heal as a gift of celestial powers and is generally careful never to use that gift in a way that would cheapen or taint it—by healing evil characters, for example. On the other hand, some view healing as a means of grace, believing that every cure light wounds cast on a blackguard cannot help but lead the villain closer to repentance and redemption.


PERSONAL SACRIFICE
A good character doesn’t just help others or fight evil when it’s convenient for him to do so. Even the most generous altruism, when it comes without sacrifice or even serves one’s own self-interest, is neutral at best. A character committed to the cause of good champions that cause in any circumstance, often at great personal risk or cost.

Forfeiting any claim on a reward for one’s deeds is a simple form of sacrifice touched upon in the previous section. Voluntarily donating money, goods, or even magic items to a temple, charitable institution (an orphanage or aid society), or other organization is another financial sacrifice often practised by good characters. Exceptionally virtuous characters might swear sacred vows, forever sacrificing the enjoyment of some worldly pleasure—alcohol or stimulants, sex, or material possessions—or course of action, including violence. True heroes of righteousness, all too often, sacrifice their own lives to save the lives of others.


WORSHIPPING GOOD DEITIES
The deities of good are the highest exemplars of the principles of virtue, righteousness, and purity. By offering them worship, sacrifice, and service, good characters cultivate their own personal virtue, assist the cause of good in concrete ways (supporting the charitable work of the church and strengthening the clerics and paladins who serve as the deity’s agents), and extend the deity’s reach in the world.

Not all good characters worship good deities. Some serve neutral deities like St. Cuthbert, Obad-Hai, or Olidammara, while others put the claims of good above the dogma of any deity. Nevertheless, virtually all good characters are willing to cooperate with the churches of good deities, recognizing them as allies with a common cause.

Unlike evil deities, good deities usually have temples and shrines in open, public places—often at or near the center of bustling cities. In fact, the worship of good deities is one of the forces that often helps to cement humanoid communities together, serving to unite the populace in a common activity and a common set of ideals. This is particularly common among nonhuman races of good alignment, including halflings, dwarves, and elves, where good alignment is the norm and a single deity often claims the allegiance of an entire community. However, it is common for even human cities to be drawn together in the worship of Pelor, who commands at least the
respect of neutral citizens as well as good. Of course, in evil cultures, the worship of good deities can be both a crime and an act of rebellion.


CASTING GOOD SPELLS
Good spells alleviate suffering, inspire hope or joy, use the caster’s energy or vitality to help or heal another, summon celestials, or channel holy power. Particularly in the last instance, good spells might be just as destructive—at least to evil creatures—as a fireball. Not all good spells involve only sweetness and light.

Good spells don’t have any redemptive influence on those who cast them, for better or worse. An evil wizard who dabbles in a few good spells, most likely to help him achieve selfish ends, does not usually decide to abandon his evil ways because he’s been purified by the touch of the holy. On the other hand, there are certain spells whose sanctified nature demands a concrete, physical sacrifice from the caster (see Sanctified Magic in Chapter 6). No character can draw upon such holy magic without being changed for the better as a result.


MERCY
For good characters who devote their lives to hunting and exterminating the forces of evil, evil’s most seductive lure may be the abandonment of mercy. Mercy means giving quarter to enemies who surrender and treating criminals and prisoners with compassion and even kindness. It is, in effect, the good doctrine of respect for life taken to its logical extreme—respecting and honoring even the life of one’s enemy. In a world full of enemies who show no respect for life whatsoever, it can be extremely tempting to treat foes as they have treated others, to exact revenge for slain comrades and innocents, to offer no quarter and become merciless.

A good character must not succumb to that trap. Good characters must offer mercy and accept surrender no matter how many times villains might betray that kindness or escape from captivity to continue their evil deeds. If a foe surrenders, a good character is bound to accept the surrender, bind the prisoner, and treat him as kindly as possible. (See Mercy, Prisoners, and Redemption in Chapter 2 for more about the proper treatment of prisoners.)

In general, it’s a good idea for the DM to make sure that the players aren’t punished unnecessarily for showing mercy to opponents. If every prisoner schemes to betray the party and later escapes from prison, the players quickly come to realize that showing mercy simply isn’t worth it. It’s fine for these frustrations to arise once in a while, but if they happen every time, the players will rightly give up in frustration.


FORGIVENESS
Closely tied to mercy, forgiveness is still a separate act. Mercy means respecting the life of an enemy, treating him like a being worthy of kindness. Forgiveness is an act of faith, a willingness to believe that even the vilest evildoer is capable of change. Good characters are not enjoined to “forgive and forget” every time someone harms them. At the simplest level, forgiveness means abdicating one’s right to vengeance. On a deeper level, if an evil character makes an effort to repent, turn away from evil, and lead a better life, a good character is called upon to encourage the reformed villain, let the past be past, and not to hold the character’s evil deeds against her.

Forgiveness is essential to redemption. If those she has harmed refuse to forgive her, a character seeking to turn away from evil faces nothing but hatred and resentment from those who should be her new allies. Isolated from both her former allies and her former enemies, she nurses resentment and quickly slides back into her evil ways. By extending forgiveness to those who ask it, good characters actively spread good, both by encouraging those who are trying to turn away from evil and
by demonstrating to evildoers that the path of redemption is possible.


BRINGING HOPE
If the most soullessly evil villains relish spreading despair and devouring every last shred of hope, it naturally follows that the cause of good involves rekindling hope in the face of despair. This might be the most nebulous of all good deeds, hard to define or measure, but it also might be the heart and essence of good. All the other good deeds discussed in this section, in addition to their often concrete and physical benefits to people in need, have the additional intangible benefit of increasing hope. A man whose body is wasting away from disease actually has two illnesses: the physical disease that consumes his flesh and the despair that gnaws at his soul. Healing him not only heals his body, it also restores his lost hope. A woman who throws herself on a paladin’s mercy and turns from her evil ways struggles along the difficult road to redemption. The paladin’s mercy and forgiveness offer the most important assistance along that road: hope, a vision of the reward that lies ahead.

Hope in its truest form is more than just a vague wish for things to be better than they are; it is a taste of things as they might be. When an exalted bard comes to a city that groans under the oppressive rule of a pit fiend, he may inspire hope by singing tales of liberation or by demonstrating force of arms against the pit fiend’s diabolic minions. But the best hope available to the oppressed residents of the city is when the bard simply shows them kindness, thereby reminding them of what it was like to live under a more benign rule. He brings them together in community, whereas the devils have been turning them against each other, sowing distrust alongside despair. By experiencing a taste of kindness and freedom, however small, the citizens are inspired with hope. That hope empowers them to resist the devils, with or without the bard’s force of arms.


REDEEMING EVIL
Perhaps the greatest act of good one could ever hope to accomplish is the redemption of an evil soul. Bringing an evil character to see the error of her ways not only stops her from preying on innocent victims, but helps her as well, winning her a place in the blessed afterlife of the Upper Planes instead of an eternity of torment and damnation in the Lower. While acts of charity and healing might help a person’s body, redeeming an evil character helps her soul.

Holding a sword to a captured villain’s throat and shouting, “Worship Heironeous or die!” is not a means of redemption. Sword-point conversion might be a useful political tool, but it is almost entirely without impact on the souls of the “converts.” Worse, it stinks of evil, robbing the victim of the freedom to choose and echoing the use of torture to extract the desired behaviour. True redemption is a much more difficult and involved process, but truly virtuous characters consider the reward worth the effort involved. The process of redemption is described in Chapter 2: Variant Rules.

Of course, good characters recognize that some creatures are utterly beyond redemption. Most creatures described in the Monster Manual as “always evil” are either completely irredeemable or so intimately tied to evil that they are almost entirely hopeless. Certainly demons and devils are best slain, or at least banished, and only a naïve fool would try to convert them. Evil dragons might not be entirely beyond salvation, but there is truly only the barest glimmer of hope.

On the other hand, a good character approaches every encounter with orcs, goblinoids, and even the thoroughly evil drow with heart and mind open to the possibility, however remote, that his opponents might some day be transformed into allies. Creatures that are “usually evil” can be redeemed. This is not to say that a good character’s first thought in an ambush should be, “How can I redeem these poor orcs?” However, if the ambushing orcs end up surrendering, there is ample opportunity to seek their redemption.



THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW
The choice to follow the path of exalted deeds means picking one’s way among complicated moral issues and painful dilemmas. It means questioning some of the common assumptions about what’s acceptable in the context of a D&D adventure. While the previous section outlined positive actions good characters can (and should) perform to improve the world and better the lot of those in it, this section discusses some of the difficult choices and decisions that characters trying to live up to high ideals are likely to face when those ideals make contact with reality.


ENDS AND MEANS
When do good ends justify evil means to achieve them? Is it morally acceptable, for example, to torture an evil captive in order to extract vital information that can prevent the deaths of thousands of innocents? Any good character shudders at the thought of committing torture, but the goal of preventing thousands of deaths is undeniably a virtuous one, and a neutral character might easily consider the use of torture in such a circumstance. With evil acts on a smaller scale, even the most virtuous characters can find themselves tempted to agree that a very good end justifies a mildly evil means. Is it acceptable to tell a small lie in order to prevent a minor catastrophe? A large catastrophe? A world-shattering catastrophe?

In the D&D universe, the fundamental answer is no, an evil act is an evil act no matter what good result it may achieve. A paladin who knowingly commits an evil act in pursuit of any end no matter how good still jeopardizes her paladinhood. Any exalted character risks losing exalted feats or other benefits of celestial favour if he commits any act of evil for any reason. Whether or not good ends can justify evil means, they certainly cannot make evil means any less evil.

Some good characters might view a situation where an evil act is required to avert a catastrophic evil as a form of martyrdom: “I can save a thousand innocent lives by sacrificing my purity.” For some, that is a sacrifice worth making, just as they would not hesitate to sacrifice their lives for the same cause. After all, it would simply be selfish to let innocents die so a character can hang on to her exalted feats.

Unfortunately, this view is ultimately misguided. This line of thinking treats the purity of the good character’s soul as a commodity (like her exalted feats) that she can just give up or sacrifice like any other possession. In fact, when an otherwise good character decides to commit an evil act, the effects are larger than the individual character. What the character sees as a personal sacrifice is actually a shift in the universal balance of power between good and evil, in evil’s favor. The consequences of that single evil act, no matter how small, extend far beyond the single act and involve a loss to more than just the character doing the deed. Thus, it is not a personal sacrifice, but a concession to evil, and thus unconscionable.

Good ends might sometimes demand evil means. The means remain evil, however, and so characters who are serious about their good alignment and exalted status cannot resort to them, no matter how great the need.

Sometimes a situation might demand that a good character cooperate with an evil one in order to accomplish a worthy and righteous goal. The evil character might not even be pursuing the same goal. For example, a brief civil war has put a new ruling house in power in a drow city, and the new rulers start actively raiding the surface world. A party of good adventurers travels into the depths of the earth to stop the drow raids. At the same time, a party of evil drow loyal to the deposed house seeks to overthrow the new rulers and restore their house to its position of power. The two groups have different but mutually compatible goals, and it is possible—within certain limits—for them to cooperate with each other. However, the good characters must not tolerate any evil acts committed by an evil ally during the time of their alliance, and can’t simply turn a blind eye to such acts. They must ensure that helping the drow will put a stop to the surface raids, which might entail a level of trust the drow simply do not deserve. And of course they must not turn on their erstwhile allies when victory is in sight, betraying the trust the drow placed in them. Such a situation is dangerous both physically and morally, but cooperating with evil creatures is not necessarily evil in itself.


VIOLENCE
Violence is a part of the D&D world, and not inherently evil in the context of that world. The deities of good equip their heroes not just to be meek and humble servants, but to be their fists and swords, their champions in a brutal war against the forces of evil. A paladin smiting a blackguard or a blue dragon is not committing an evil act: the cause of good expects and often demands that violence be brought to bear against its enemies. That said, there are certain limits upon the use of violence that good characters must observe. First, violence in the name of good must have just cause, which in the D&D world means primarily that it must be directed against evil. It is certainly possible for a good nation to declare war upon another good nation, but fighting in such a conflict is not a good act. In fact, even launching a war upon a nearby tribe of evil orcs is not necessarily good if the attack comes without provocation—the mere existence of evil orcs is not a just cause for war against them, if the orcs have been causing no harm. A full-scale war would provoke the orcs to evil deeds and bring unnecessary suffering to both sides of the conflict. Similarly, revenge is not an acceptable cause for violence, although violence is an appropriate means of stopping further acts of evil (as opposed to paying back evil already committed).

The second consideration is that violence should have good intentions. Launching an incursion into orc territory is not a good act if the primary motivation is profit, whether that means clearing the treasure out of the ruins the orcs inhabit or claiming their land for its natural resources. Violence against evil is acceptable when it is directed at stopping or preventing evil acts from being done.

The third consideration is one of discrimination. Violence cannot be considered good when it is directed against noncombatants (including children and the females of at least some races and cultures). Placing a fireball so that its area includes orc women and children as well as warriors and barbarians is evil, since the noncombatant orcs are not a threat and are comparatively defenseless.

Finally, the means of violence must be as good as the intentions behind it. The use of evil spells, obviously, is not good even when the target is evil. Likewise, the use of torture or other practices that inflict undue suffering upon the victims goes beyond the pale of what can be considered good. Within these limits, violence in the name of good is an acceptable practice in the D&D universe.


RELATIONSHIPS
Implicit in D&D’s definition of good—altruism, respect for life, and making sacrifices for the sake of others—is a sense that good is about maintaining a certain quality of relationship with others. A good character’s relationships with other characters should be built on a mutual respect for one another, whether that relationship involves the companionship of an adventuring party or the intimacy of a marriage.

There is nothing inherently evil about human (or humanoid) sexuality, and being a good character doesn’t necessarily mean remaining a virgin. Certain religions and cultures in the D&D universe encourage or at least condone some people taking vows of chastity, but these are similar to vows of poverty or abstinence—rooted in the belief that giving up the enjoyment of a good and natural thing can have positive spiritual benefits, not derived from an attitude that sex is evil. However, a good character is bound to realize that sexuality is laden with traditions of exploitation and abuse, an area of interpersonal relationships where power dynamics are often manifested in unfortunate—really, evil—ways. A good character is not opposed to sex in principle, but will not condone exploitative or coercive relationships such as prostitution, the use of slaves for sex, or sexual contact with children or others without the power to enter freely and willingly into a relationship of mutual respect.

Also within the context of respectful relationships, good characters exercise caution in the use of compulsion magic to force others’ behaviour. Spells such as dominate person, geas, and suggestion allow a caster to control another person, robbing that person of free will. This may not be an inherently evil act, but it certainly carries a tremendous ethical responsibility. Forcing anyone to commit an evil act, of course, is evil. Furthermore, a creature under compulsion should be treated the same as a helpless prisoner, since that creature no longer poses a threat, at least for the duration of the spell. Once an enemy is dominated, for example, he should not be killed, but shown mercy and treated the same as a prisoner who had willingly surrendered. (The same holds true for charmed and compelled creatures.)

Perhaps the most important area of relationships for player characters involves a character’s interactions with the other members of the party. A good character respects the other characters, treats them fairly, and values their lives as highly as his own. That said, he is within his rights to expect the same treatment from them. Neutral characters are often joined to adventuring parties through bonds of friendship and loyalty to the other characters, and a good character respects those bonds and can trust a friend, even one who is not also good. Evil characters, however, typically join adventuring parties for purely selfish reasons. Paladins, of course, are prohibited from associating with evil characters, but other exalted PCs should also steer clear of evil companions, unless the evil character is attempting to reform herself and making progress toward neutrality at least.

Good characters in parties that also include neutral characters carry a weighty burden of responsibility. They should serve as examples of the good life, demonstrating the virtue and the rewards of following the righteous path. They must steer their neutral companions away from evil deeds, and ought to encourage them toward goodness, as gently or as bluntly as the individual case requires. Good characters can be guilty by association with neutral characters who commit evil deeds, and simply turning a blind eye to the questionable acts of their companions is not an acceptable option.

This important prohibition can cause a great deal of friction within an adventuring party. Some players build their characters on the idea of being roguish, unsavory, perhaps a little brutal. If the paladin in the party is constantly getting in the way of that character’s approach to things, everyone’s enjoyment of the game is at risk. Many of these problems can be eliminated at the outset by working to achieve a consensus among the players regarding what kind of game you are going to play. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to agree to play good characters and stick to the straight and narrow, but players who want to play neutral characters need to know up front what they’re getting into, and the whole group needs to decide to what extent ethical debate is going to be a part of every game session. If everyone’s happy with the paladin and the rogue constantly being at crosspurposes, and the group decides to make that a central part of the roleplaying experience, that’s fine—as long as the players treat each other with respect and the characters don’t split the party into two warring factions.


DIVIDED LOYALTIES
For better or for worse, a paladin is not just good: she is lawful good, sworn not just to uphold the principles of good but also bound by a code of conduct, and subject to local law as well. Many paladins are also members of a specific deity’s church, a knightly order of some sort, or both. At the best of times, these various loyalties—her code of conduct, her church’s laws, her order’s demands, the laws of her nation, and the abstraction of her alignment—are all in harmony, and her path is clear before her. When circumstances are not so ideal, she finds herself torn between conflicting demands: her superior in her knightly order commands her to kill a brutal murderer who has escaped punishment in court on a legal technicality, for example. Her personal code requires that she punish those that harm innocents, and this killer certainly falls in that category. However, her personal code also instructs her to respect legitimate authority, which includes both her knightly superior and the local law that has let the killer go free. The demands of her good alignment suggest she should punish the wrongdoer, but the demands of her lawful alignment insist that she obey the judgement of the court. It is entirely possible that either her superior or the magistrate in the case is corrupt or even possessed. Whom does she obey? How does she sort out the conflicting demands of her loyalties?

Paladins are by no means alone in this situation. Any character who tries consistently to do good eventually finds himself in a situation where different loyalties are in conflict. Chaotic good characters might care far less about a potentially corrupt or at least ineffectual court system, but they might have other personal standards or obligations that cause conflict in similar or different situations. In the end, however, many such conflicts boil down to a question of priorities, and for a character who aspires to exalted deeds, good is the highest priority. In the example above, the murderer must at least be captured, if not killed, before he can kill again. If she has reason to suspect corruption, either in the court or in her own order, the paladin must attempt to uncover it, though it might mean being cast out of her order, punished under local law, or both. Her paladinhood and her exalted status remain intact, since she acted in the cause of good even when that required questioning the legitimacy of authority. Magistrates or knightly superiors who serve the cause of evil while posing as agents of good are not legitimate authority, and the paladin is right for exposing their corruption.

What does a good character do when he is opposed by good? Two good nations might go to war, two good adventuring parties might be working toward opposite goals, or two good characters might become bitter enemies. As discussed under Violence, above, violence against good creatures is not good. When conflict arises, as it certainly will at times, good characters must use every diplomatic means available to avoid the outbreak of violence, whether between nations, smaller groups, or individuals. In the D&D universe, if one side’s goals are actually evil, a relatively simple commune spell can make that abundantly clear. Diplomacy might not always work, but the outbreak of violence is not just a failure of diplomacy, it is a failure of good and a victory for evil.


CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
When dealing with evildoers who are citizens of the realm specifically, or members of the civilized humanoid races (dwarf, elf, gnome, half-elf, half-orc, halfling, human) in general, it is often preferable to bring evildoers to justice in the form of legitimate legal authority rather than meting out that justice oneself. When fighting through a dungeon, characters needn’t switch to subdual tactics when they suddenly encounter evil dwarf minions. But if those minions surrender, it is best to take the prisoners back to town to stand trial for their crimes. When the adventure takes place in a city and the opponents are citizens of the city (rather than evil monsters from the sewers or deeper underground), subduing opponents and turning them over to the city watch is preferable to killing them and possibly being forced to stand trial for murder.

The principles of good make certain demands about how criminals are treated. The death penalty for serious crimes is commonly practices and widely accepted and does not qualify as evil, even if many good characters, firm in their belief that redemption is always possible, would rather see even the vilest criminals offered the opportunity to find their way to righteousness during their imprisonment. Torturing prisoners, either to extract information or simply as a means of punishment, is unequivocally evil, however.

This leads good characters (especially lawful good characters) into a dilemma: Is it wrong to turn a prisoner over to legitimate authorities knowing that the prisoner will be tortured and abused in captivity? Fortunately, the answer is straightforward, if sometimes difficult to implement. Yes, delivering a person over to be tortured, even if the person is thoroughly evil and the torturers are a legitimate authority, is evil. How to avoid being put in that position is a more difficult question, and one that depends greatly on the circumstances.


BEING AHEAD OF YOUR TIME
Heroic characters often end up at odds with their culture and society. The standards expected of good characters in D&D, especially those who lay claim to exalted status, bear much more similarity to modern sensibilities about justice, equality, and respect for life than to the actual medieval world that D&D is loosely based on, and that is quite intentional. It is certainly possible that your campaign world might be a more enlightened place than medieval Europe—a place where men and women are considered equal, slavery is not practised in any form, torture and capital punishment are shunned, and the various human and humanoid races live together in harmony. In such a case, an exalted character can live in relative peace with her culture, and focus her attention on slaying evil creatures in ruins and dungeons or rival, evil nations.

On the other hand, your campaign world might more closely reflect the realities of life in Earth’s Dark or Middle Ages. Perhaps women are not viewed as men’s equals or even sentient beings in their own right, slavery is widespread, testimony from serfs is only acceptable if extracted through torture, and humans of a certain skin tone (let alone nonhumans) are viewed as demonic creatures. It is vitally important to remember one thing: these factors don’t change anything else said in this chapter (or in the Book of Vile Darkness) about what constitutes a good or evil deed. Even if slavery, torture, or discrimination are condoned by society, they remain evil. That simply means that an exalted character has an even harder road to follow. Not only must she worry about external evils like conjured demons and rampaging orc hordes, she must also contend with the evil within her own society.

In all likelihood, most human (and halfling) societies fall somewhere between the two extremes described above. In game terms, humans tend to be neutral, neither good nor evil. Human societies might tolerate a variety of evil practices, even if some humans find them distasteful. In such a circumstance, an exalted character is still at odds with the norms of her society and may occasionally find herself in conflict with it, but she can devote her time and attention to dealing with evil acts, either inside or outside her society, rather than trying to reform an entire nation or culture.

In situations where a society’s practices put good characters at odds with it, a good character’s alignment is the strongest indicator of how she will deal with that conflict.


LAW, CHAOS, AND GOOD
Lawful good characters by no means have a monopoly on goodness. Though all paladins are lawful good, plenty of exalted characters of all character classes are chaotic good or neutral good, and they exemplify the ideals of good in the D&D universe no less than the paladin. There are differences between the goodness of a lawful good character and that of his chaotic good counterpart, just as there are marked differences between the archons and eladrins that embody those alignments in the celestial realms. Lawful Good characters possess a sense of discipline, honour, and community that other good characters do not necessarily share. Lawful good characters are members of monastic or knightly orders, church hierarchies, or organizations devoted to righteous causes. They believe that morality can be legislated, and promote the establishment of just societies whose laws and customs inculcate good behaviour in their citizens. Lawful good adventurers fight evil knowing that they have the support of legal systems behind them: they are bringing criminals to justice as well as opposing evil.
In an evil culture or one that tolerates evil, lawful good characters are in a difficult situation. On the one hand, they abhor evil and cannot stand to see it institutionalized. On the other hand, they believe in legitimate authority and will not overthrow a kingdom because of evil practices within it. Lawful good characters usually try to work to change flawed social structures from within, using whatever political power is available to them rather than toppling those structures by force.

Chaotic Good characters are strong-willed individualists who tolerate no oppression, even in the name of the common good. They usually work alone or in loose bands, rather than as part of some organization or hierarchy. They have no confidence in the ability of laws and social mores to train people in good behavior. Indeed, they have seen all too often how people hide behind rules and laws as an excuse for evil or at least irresponsible acts. While promoting a legal system that places few restrictions on individual freedom, chaotic good individuals look to other forces—religion, philosophy, or community, for example—to encourage good behavior and punish evil. Chaotic good adventurers fight evil because it’s evil, not because it’s illegal.
In societies where evil practices are tolerated, chaotic good characters are the most likely rebels, and they have few hesitations about overthrowing the existing order if it means eliminating those evils.

Neutral Good characters occupy an indistinct middle ground. They espouse the ideals of good and none other. As a rule, they don’t care whether good is imposed through laws and customs or encouraged by temples and philosophers; they simply want goodness to flourish. Legislating morality sometimes works, and is good as far as it goes. When lawful good societies begin legislating every detail of their citizens’ lives, however, passing laws on subjects that have no bearing on good and evil, the neutral good citizens become impatient. They support law when it promotes good, but not law for its own sake. Similarly, they like the idea of personal freedom, but they’re not sure everyone should have it: too much freedom gives evildoers too much room to prosper. Like chaotic good adventurers, neutral good ones fight evil because it’s evil, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have the backing of legal authority whenever possible.
Neutral good characters in societies that tolerate evil resist evil to the extent they can, without actively working to overthrow the government. They protest injustice, sometimes engaging in civil disobedience since unjust laws are useless and not binding in their view.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 05:06:44 PM by FlaminCows »

awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2017, 04:06:57 PM »
OK now  I got it all.


Needs clean up , and back-up.

Libertad

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2017, 03:59:55 AM »
Thanks for saving my work!

awaken_D_M_golem

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Re: D&D Alignment Through The Ages , by Libertad
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2017, 05:17:25 PM »
Your welcome, and thanks back ... but ...  :o
(btw I'll clean it up at some point)


But every forum has a little corner for people to introduce themselves! It's tradition! D:
Plus for most newcomers it'd be their single instance of being treated nicely before getting torn a new one from all the grumpy, stubborn old poops around here in the rules debates  ;D

Hi ketaro! Long time no see!

Howdy doody Libertoody~

See? We're clogging up your thread with casual pleasantries!  ::)

so ... umm ... (thinks) ... Libertad agglutinates to Libertoody now ?