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D&D General Alignments of real world societies

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Redwizard007

Explorer
There is an ongoing thread about alignment where I repeatedly saw comments along the lines of, "I can't recall any evil or chaotic cultures," and that frigging bugged me. Off the top of my head I can name several. So, I'd like to see what real world cultures, or subcultures, we can come up with that might be mined for ideas in fleshing out fantasy cultures. Id particularly love some examples of Chaotic without being Evil. Lets try to be careful around modern examples.

Chaotic (but not Evil)
Allegedly, the modern Kurdish territory(?) of Rojava is as close to anarchy as a state can be. That would certainly fall under the chaotic header. Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of information I can find at the moment to flesh out what society is actually like there.

Native American tribes could have easily been lumped into the chaotic pile. Yes, that is a huge generalization covering hundreds if not thousands of separate groups. Many tribes obviously don't fit that narrative, and my knowledge of specifics is no where near complete enough to say anything but "some of them, probably." I'm trying to filter out all the garbage pop culture stuff I absorbed as a child, but some apparently solid sources talk about how independent individuals and families could be. Leadership was fluid and could pass between individuals based on backing and popular sentiment. Even treaties the US government agreed to with native tribes were considered, in some cases, to be just an agreement between that specific guy and Washington DC. I would hazard a guess that most pre-bronze age societies were similar to this.


Evil (but not Chaotic)
Rome engaged in forceful expansion, widespread slavery, non-consensual gladiatorial combat. I shouldn't need to go past that.

Sparta actually subjugated their closest neighbors into slaves so that they could focus on martial pursuits. Then they systematically culled the population

The Mongol hordes. "Submit or be remembered only for how creative we made your death," is metal as hell, but it isn't exactly nice behavior from your neighbors.

The Aztecs were at war constantly. Expansion was the original reason, but once their empire reached a certain size, small scale local conflicts were used to keep subjugated territories from successfully rebelling. The captives were then used as human sacrifices.

Mafia/Yakuza families are known for their brutality and disregard for the law, but both also have the reputation as traditional. How much of that is reality and how much is Hollywood is another story.

Other Notes
I would even theorize that otherwise good and orderly societies have been turned to chaos and evil under the right, or rather wrong, circumstances. I didn't live through the McCarthy hearings in the US, or in Soviet era Poland, but neighbors and family turning on their own probably falls into the realm of CE even if it is done under the guise of the law. At best, those societies are Lawful Evil.


I didn't even scratch the surface. What other Evil or Chaotic societies can you think of?
 

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Iry

Hero
Are you Chaotic if you merely have little in the way of government? Or does it require intentionally keeping your government light?
 


Redwizard007

Explorer
Are you Chaotic if you merely have little in the way of government? Or does it require intentionally keeping your government light?

That is actually a really good question. For the purposes of this little brainstorming session let's say that either could qualify.
 

So...you are taking dnd's alignment system not just as an element of fantasy gaming, and not only as an accurate and coherent system of moral philosophy, but one that applies transcendentally and universally across geography, historical era, and a multitude of cultures? And you are using it to characterize entire societies existing in various forms over hundreds of years, some of which still exist (!!), as a particular alignment?

Please don't do this. This is reductive and offensive and not ok. If anything, it demonstrates the shallowness of the alignment system and the way that fictional characterizations of fantasy groups (orcs, goblins, etc) actually do prompt at least some people to characterize real world societies in similar ways. If I was gaming with someone and they said this, I would no longer want to play a game with that person.
 



payn

Hero
I have never liked using good and evil to describe entire societies. I can see Lawful/Chaotic, but citizens will fall into any bucket under any aligned society so its at best a general statement.
 


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