• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General Alignment: the problem is Chaos

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Part of the problem is that in OD&D, we had Law and Chaos, which basically meant Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil. For some reason, we understand how to disentangle Law from Good (authoritarian regimes as Lawful Evil), but separating Chaos from Evil is harder. I think the reason is that, in real life, there aren't any "real" Chaotic societies (I'll explain below).
I think this is a bit of an over simplification. Maybe this was the fault in presentation in early D&D, as the inspiration was Paul Andsrson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions from 1961 where Law was the side of human civilization and Chaos was nature and the inscrutable faerie.

I know growing up as a kid reading BECMI I always assumed Law equated = good and Chaos equated evil. (I always kind of brushed right past elves’ association with chaos). Much much later I learned the inspiration was Three Hearts and Three Lions and civilization vs. nature. And that makes SOOO much more sense.

I used to favor what AD&D presented, the 9 alignment grid, because of the addition of evil vs good, but now I vastly prefer the storytelling potential of BECMI/3 Hearts 3 Lions’s cosmic duality of civilization vs. nature/faerie.

You can start muse what other assumed experiences the creators of the game have of future customers that customers just are not coming to the game with and end up missing out on the context!
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I know growing up as a kid reading BECMI I always assumed Law equated = good and Chaos equated evil. (I always kind of brushed right past elves’ association with chaos). Much much later I learned the inspiration was Three Hearts and Three Lions and civilization vs. nature. And that makes SOOO much more sense.

I used to favor what AD&D presented, the 9 alignment grid, because of the addition of evil vs good, but now I vastly prefer the storytelling potential of BECMI/3 Hearts 3 Lions’s cosmic duality of civilization vs. nature/faerie.

Elric was also an influence too though. And while the later Elric had L-C clearly different than G-E (like Anderson), the earliest Elric books certainly read to me like L was closer to G and C closer to E, matching with most of the OD&D books and the Moldvay B/X.
 

Aging Bard

Canaith
I think this is a bit of an over simplification. Maybe this was the fault in presentation in early D&D, as the inspiration was Paul Andsrson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions from 1961 where Law was the side of human civilization and Chaos was nature and the inscrutable faerie.

I know growing up as a kid reading BECMI I always assumed Law equated = good and Chaos equated evil. (I always kind of brushed right past elves’ association with chaos). Much much later I learned the inspiration was Three Hearts and Three Lions and civilization vs. nature. And that makes SOOO much more sense.

I used to favor what AD&D presented, the 9 alignment grid, because of the addition of evil vs good, but now I vastly prefer the storytelling potential of BECMI/3 Hearts 3 Lions’s cosmic duality of civilization vs. nature/faerie.

You can start muse what other assumed experiences the creators of the game have of future customers that customers just are not coming to the game with and end up missing out on the context!
As these comments suggest, I think a lot of people are giving the original Law-Chaos axis a positive reassessment. That's not the scope of the original post, but that's fine and it's an interesting result.
 

Aging Bard

Canaith
Elric was also an influence too though. And while the later Elric had L-C clearly different than G-E (like Anderson), the earliest Elric books certainly read to me like L was closer to G and C closer to E, matching with most of the OD&D books and the Moldvay B/X.
And don't forget "Doc" Smith's Lensmen! The war between Civilization and Boskone was an epic Law-Chaos fight on some Prime Material Plane.
 





Sepulchrave II

Adventurer
I apologize to the OP for this digression of mine.

But I would posit that the problem is not the existence or framing of Chaos as a conflict, but, rather, it's Good.

The existence of Good as an Alignment fundamentally invalidates a lot of actual moral and philosophic complexities in the 5e D&D mythos and cosmology. What is Good? Let's ask Neutral Good, which some would regard as the purest manifestation of Goodness.
I agree.

By framing the cosmos with a Law/Chaos axis in mind, the question of what is Good? can be sidestepped, or avoided entirely. Given how much thought and energy has been devoted to wrestling with this question, that's probably a good (small "g") thing.
 

I agree.

By framing the cosmos with a Law/Chaos axis in mind, the question of what is Good? can be sidestepped, or avoided entirely. Given how much thought and energy has been devoted to wrestling with this question, that's probably a good (small "g") thing.
would it not make the question of good super important as now no one knows what the answer is?
 



UniformProcess

Villager
Perhaps contemplate the word "arbitrary" as an equivalent in this context?
All chaos has hidden order for those of such conditional states of being that makes it impossible for them to grasp "it".

What do you think my alignment is? ;P hurrdurr
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top