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Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!

D&D Beyond has provided yet another of it's data dumps of 12 million characters -- this time telling us character alignments are most popular in D&D. Chaotic Good wins, followed by my least favourite as a DM, Chaotic Neutral. Chaotic Evil is the least popular.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 23.14.00.png



The developer does say that this does not count the percentage of characters with no alignment selected. You can see the original video here.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Because it falls apart when you apply it to groups smaller than a country. The Mafia is a classic lawful evil group that does not benefit society as a whole. They only work to benefit their smaller society.
You’re trying to build definitions for the alignments to accommodate characters and groups being the alignments you’ve already decided they should be, which is going about it backwards in my opinion. The alignments should be defined with a consistent set of standards, and characters and groups’ alignments should be determined based on those standards.

That said, I still think the mafia is an ideologically Lawful Evil organization. Its members are expected to behave according to its rules, for the betterment of the organization as a whole. Individual members’ behavior may or may not be consistent with those ideals, but the fundamental principles of organized crime fall on the authoritarian side of the political spectrum, and the egoistic side of the ethical spectrum.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Nope. Not what I said. I only pointed out that the existence of the Mafia and other LE small groups disproves the claim that LE "sacrifices itself for the benefit of society as a whole."
And that’s not what I said. I said that the ideology represented by lawful alignment is a willingness to sacrifice individual liberty for the benefit of society as a whole. It’s not about sacrificing your safety for others, that’s what Good is about. It’s about accepting certain restrictions placed on you (for example, having to pay taxes) for the betterment of society (for example, having paved roads).

That's an untrue statement. Hell, when push comes to shove, a LE individual will often fail to sacrifice himself for the Mafia. A belief in law does not mean that a LE individual gives up on his survival.
Yeah, because the Lawful isn’t about giving up on safety, it’s about giving up a certain degree of freedom.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
Because it falls apart when you apply it to groups smaller than a country. The Mafia is a classic lawful evil group that does not benefit society as a whole. They only work to benefit their smaller society.
It really depends on what "group as a whole" means and there's no reason to suppose it would represent the nation as a whole. IRL nationalism is actually a pretty new concept, only really dating to after the Napoleonic era. The Mafia and other similar ethnic criminal organizations are actually not all that uncommon in terms of being hierarchically structured groups that think of themselves as being part of the only "tribe" that matters. The societies they live in are viewed as outsiders or prey, primarily. Revolutionaries often engage in organized crime, first to fund their activities and then over time they become criminals. The fact that they are an in group makes them function well. I think many of these organizations end up as essentially being Lawful Evil groups within the overall society.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
Thanks, I didn't understand what you were trying to say. As far as sacrificing themselves for the cause, that's going to depend on a lot of factors. During WW II kamikaze pilots willingly sacrificed themselves for Imperial Japan on a regular basis. There are many stories of soldiers (and civilians) sacrificing themselves for their country.
My understanding of what military psychology has found is that for the most part soldiers don't really sacrifice themselves "for their country" but do for their buddies or small units, although larger concerns often are what get the soldiers into the smaller units in the first place. I'm sure there are counterexamples, but that's what the research suggests. In the case of the kamikaze, I also believe there was a substantial degree of "grooming" and deception going on, along with use of shame (a powerful motivator in Japanese society especially). The same things happen with other cases of essentially suicidal violence.

Certainly the calculus of what a life is worth in an environment of total war really changes one's views. If you think you're going to die anyway, you might decide to take as many with you as possible. However, even as late as World War II there are many, many examples of soldiers refusing to fight, often passively by not shooting.

Humanity is complicated. Fortunately, most of the faceless minions found in an RPG don't require such nuance.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think we said mostly the same thing, and agree on the basic point that people are complex. I don't want to get too far into a discussion of real world cosmology, theology, or normative ethics that would have to be a part of talking about applying the idea of alignment to the real world, because invariably that would get religious or political or otherwise get people triggered.

Well, those actions are far more detailed and spectacular than your original statement, which was only: "an upstanding citizen who would sacrifice himself to save the community, helps little old ladies across the road, donates money to help orphaned children". To be honest, you complain about how someone who is perfect being a caricature, but I'm not sure that Dudley Doright is less of a caricature than your upstanding heroic person who is also and at the same time a depraved serial child abuser, and who is quintessentially lawful good but also and at the same time engaged in repeated acts of depravity. I'm not convinced such a person is more realistic than someone whose worst faults are so minor, most people wouldn't even consider them flaws in their own character.

I can imagine a hero like you suggest with dark secrets, but not to the degree of depravity you suggest. Your upstanding citizen who is quintessentially lawful good cannot be quintessentially lawful good unless he knows both what honor and depravity are, and therefore cannot both be who you say he is and not know who he is. The mental stress he would be in trying to live his life when the poles of his life are so far apart would be lethal. I don't think there is any real world person who can endure the degree of division you are talking about.
I know you want to avoid a real world discussion, and this is not to start one, but... All the time we hear stories of a pastor or other upstanding citizen who gets arrested for something like this. And many times those interviewed talk about how kind and upstanding the person was, and how he was constantly doing good deeds. The good person with a dark secret is a pretty common happening.

I think we both agree that people are nuanced and complicated. If you'd introduced that quintessentially lawful good hero, and then suggested his dark secret was something like he had engaged in affairs in betrayal of the vows he made to his wife three times in the last five years, I'd have believed this was a realistic character with a realistic flaw. But nuanced and complicated doesn't even necessarily mean flaws as obvious as that, and indeed the very word nuanced suggests something radically different than your caricature of actually a saint but who is actually also a monster.
I agree that the flaws typically won't be as severe as the one I described in this thread. I went with the more severe one to illustrate the point and because it was a realistic one, having heard similar stories many times in my life.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You’re trying to build definitions for the alignments to accommodate characters and groups being the alignments you’ve already decided they should be, which is going about it backwards in my opinion.
Um, no. I'm not. The Mafia is the classic example of a LE group. One used in many, if not most alignment threads that I've seen, yet rarely brought up by me.

That said, I still think the mafia is an ideologically Lawful Evil organization. Its members are expected to behave according to its rules, for the betterment of the organization as a whole. Individual members’ behavior may or may not be consistent with those ideals, but the fundamental principles of organized crime fall on the authoritarian side of the political spectrum, and the egoistic side of the ethical spectrum.
And yet they will not sacrifice for society as a whole. They don't give a rats fig about society as a whole, except for how it can benefit them. The biggest thing that most people can sacrifice for society is money, and the Mafia routinely avoided paying taxes. Tax evasion was the one thing that they could usually pin on a mob boss.

And that’s not what I said. I said that the ideology represented by lawful alignment is a willingness to sacrifice individual liberty for the benefit of society as a whole. It’s not about sacrificing your safety for others, that’s what Good is about. It’s about accepting certain restrictions placed on you (for example, having to pay taxes) for the betterment of society (for example, having paved roads).
Except it's not. Virtually none of the LE mafia would sacrifice individual liberty for the benefit or society as a whole. If they believed in doing that, they would have all turned themselves in to the authorities and confessed their crimes, giving up their liberty for the benefit of society as a whole. Clearly they didn't do that.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It really depends on what "group as a whole" means and there's no reason to suppose it would represent the nation as a whole. IRL nationalism is actually a pretty new concept, only really dating to after the Napoleonic era. The Mafia and other similar ethnic criminal organizations are actually not all that uncommon in terms of being hierarchically structured groups that think of themselves as being part of the only "tribe" that matters. The societies they live in are viewed as outsiders or prey, primarily. Revolutionaries often engage in organized crime, first to fund their activities and then over time they become criminals. The fact that they are an in group makes them function well. I think many of these organizations end up as essentially being Lawful Evil groups within the overall society.
This person gets it.

Um, no. I'm not. The Mafia is the classic example of a LE group. One used in many, if not most alignment threads that I've seen, yet rarely brought up by me.
That is exactly what you’re doing. You’ve decided that the mafia is a LE group because it is classically used as an example of one. But your interpretation of the standards that define Lawful don’t allow for them to be. Rather than revising your interpretation of what alignment best describes the mafia, you propose a revision of the standard that defines Lawful. Personally, I don’t see a conflict between Lawful defined as “sacrifices individual liberty for the benefit of society” and the mafia being LE, but if I did, I would change the alignment I attribute to the mafia, not the standards by which I assess whether or not something is Lawful.

And yet they will not sacrifice for society as a whole. They don't give a rats fig about society as a whole, except for how it can benefit them. The biggest thing that most people can sacrifice for society is money, and the Mafia routinely avoided paying taxes. Tax evasion was the one thing that they could usually pin on a mob boss.
Tax evasion is an unlawful act, certainly, but the ideology of organized crime is still one of individual members of the organization willingly submitting to the authority of the organization for the good of the organization as a whole. That’s political authoritarianism. That’s Lawful. That they don’t care about those outside the group except in how they can be taken advantage of is ethically egoistic. That’s Evil. Tax evasion is certainly an unlawful act, and certainly many mob bosses’ actions would probably be more consistent with Neutral in regards to law vs. chaos. But that doesn’t stop the mafia as an organization from being Lawful Evil.

Except it's not. Virtually none of the LE mafia would sacrifice individual liberty for the benefit or society as a whole. If they believed in doing that, they would have all turned themselves in to the authorities and confessed their crimes, giving up their liberty for the benefit of society as a whole. Clearly they didn't do that.
By willingly participating in a hierarchically structured group, every single member of the mafia is inherently sacrificing individual liberty for the benefit of that group. The mafia, or any other organization, is a society. That the interests of the mafia are in conflict with the interests of a broader society in which they exist does not change this fact. That the mafia puts its interests above the interests of the society in which it exists makes it Evil, not Chaotic.
 

BlivetWidget

Villager
I feel like some of us have taken a suggested definition of Lawful and are arguing really hard for or against it as if it's the given definition. From PHB122, while they do say the first attribute refers to:

attitudes toward society and order
Let us approach this with 5e eyes and take specific over general. The general description mentions both society and order, but for the specific description, let us consider the Lawful Neutral writeup (being Neutral on the morality side means we should just get a definition of Lawful):

Lawful neutral (LN) individuals act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes.
"Or" means only one of law, tradition, or personal codes has to be true to be Lawful. I agree the general description muddies the waters, but the specific definition seems pretty clear and it doesn't have to be tied to society.
 
I know you want to avoid a real world discussion, and this is not to start one, but... All the time we hear stories of a pastor or other upstanding citizen who gets arrested for something like this. And many times those interviewed talk about how kind and upstanding the person was, and how he was constantly doing good deeds. The good person with a dark secret is a pretty common happening.
Yeah, but people are not only really bad at evaluating their own alignment; they are really bad at evaluating the alignment of their friends and neighbors as well. Most people will identify as good people whom they like, and who are friendly. But a person who is amazingly friendly and cheerful and who makes you feel good and who is nice to you doesn't have to be good.

Fundamentally, your alignment is revealed by what you do in secret when you have to make a choice about what you believe and making the choice like what you say you believe is costly. Alignment is something that is only revealed by the testing. A person who is comfortable and reasonably wealthy does not reveal their alignment by being generous. A person who has nothing to lose doesn't reveal their alignment by telling the truth. A person who is poor doesn't reveal their virtue through their austerity. Most people will never know whether or not they are a thief until they don't have anything. Alignment isn't how you treat upstanding members of the community who can reward you with status, respect, and financial remuneration. Alignment isn't what you say you believe or what you do that gets you rewarded, it's what you do when you think you can get away with it. So the fact the neighbors respected the guy and thought he was a good person tells us nothing about his alignment. And real evil doesn't look like snarling villains. It looks like the person in the mirror. Above all, people assume goodness of people who are like themselves. It's the old monkey hind brain talking.

There is a line in Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn who looks like homeless ruffian is trying to win the trust of Frodo - an aristocratic hobbit. Frodo's servant is telling him that it's beneath him to have anything to do with a person like Aragorn, and Frodo has a gift of discernment and says that Aragorn "Seems foul, but feels fair" but a servant of the enemy would go out of his way to look fair, but would feel foul. Most people are not as wise as Frodo, and what seems fair feels fair to them.

Many good and wise stories teach this lesson - practically the complete works of Jane Austin, and of course The Good Samaritan come to mind.

I agree that the flaws typically won't be as severe as the one I described in this thread. I went with the more severe one to illustrate the point and because it was a realistic one, having heard similar stories many times in my life.
What I'm trying to get at is that the superficial aspects of a person like his charisma and his personality are not a person's alignment. Without knowing the person I couldn't say what they were really like, but there is a saying that you only see a real man when he's behind closed doors. And there is the old saying that if you want to do a good deed, make sure to do it in secret. Good deeds done before others don't cultivate a good heart.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I feel like some of us have taken a suggested definition of Lawful and are arguing really hard for or against it as if it's the given definition. From PHB122, while they do say the first attribute refers to:



Let us approach this with 5e eyes and take specific over general. The general description mentions both society and order, but for the specific description, let us consider the Lawful Neutral writeup (being Neutral on the morality side means we should just get a definition of Lawful):



"Or" means only one of law, tradition, or personal codes has to be true to be Lawful. I agree the general description muddies the waters, but the specific definition seems pretty clear and it doesn't have to be tied to society.
I also, uh... Don’t really like what little 5e has to say about alignment. It’s vague enough that you can argue pretty much any character you want is whatever alignment you want them to be, and it has basically no effect on the game anyway, so it might as well not be there.
 

Gryphon04

Villager
:blush:Chaotic Good wins, because players can't be anything else, it's too hard, and your DM won't let you be evil.
 
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Staffan

Explorer
Fundamentally, your alignment is revealed by what you do in secret when you have to make a choice about what you believe and making the choice like what you say you believe is costly. Alignment is something that is only revealed by the testing. A person who is comfortable and reasonably wealthy does not reveal their alignment by being generous. A person who has nothing to lose doesn't reveal their alignment by telling the truth. A person who is poor doesn't reveal their virtue through their austerity. Most people will never know whether or not they are a thief until they don't have anything. Alignment isn't how you treat upstanding members of the community who can reward you with status, respect, and financial remuneration. Alignment isn't what you say you believe or what you do that gets you rewarded, it's what you do when you think you can get away with it. So the fact the neighbors respected the guy and thought he was a good person tells us nothing about his alignment. And real evil doesn't look like snarling villains. It looks like the person in the mirror. Above all, people assume goodness of people who are like themselves. It's the old monkey hind brain talking.
Agreed. Or, to take an example from The Good Place:
[sblock]In life, Tahani was a world-famous philantropist, raising billions and billions of dollars for charity. Objectively, the world was a better place because of her. But the main reasons she did that was to impress her parents and to outshine her sister - not because of a sincere desire to help. And that is why she went to the Bad Place after death.[/sblock]
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Agreed. Or, to take an example from The Good Place:
[sblock]In life, Tahani was a world-famous philantropist, raising billions and billions of dollars for charity. Objectively, the world was a better place because of her. But the main reasons she did that was to impress her parents and to outshine her sister - not because of a sincere desire to help. And that is why she went to the Bad Place after death.[/sblock]
Well, in all fairness
[SBLOCK]Everyone is going to the bad place and has been for a while now[/SBLOCK]
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
I also, uh... Don’t really like what little 5e has to say about alignment. It’s vague enough that you can argue pretty much any character you want is whatever alignment you want them to be, and it has basically no effect on the game anyway, so it might as well not be there.
Agreed, it's exceptionally brief, much like the almost total lack of description of skills. On one hand this gives the DM freedom but on the other hand it provides essentially nothing to work with. The only parts of the game that got solid attention (in the PHB especially) were the classes, combat, and spells.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Fundamentally, your alignment is revealed by what you do in secret when you have to make a choice about what you believe and making the choice like what you say you believe is costly. Alignment is something that is only revealed by the testing. A person who is comfortable and reasonably wealthy does not reveal their alignment by being generous. A person who has nothing to lose doesn't reveal their alignment by telling the truth. A person who is poor doesn't reveal their virtue through their austerity. Most people will never know whether or not they are a thief until they don't have anything. Alignment isn't how you treat upstanding members of the community who can reward you with status, respect, and financial remuneration. Alignment isn't what you say you believe or what you do that gets you rewarded, it's what you do when you think you can get away with it. So the fact the neighbors respected the guy and thought he was a good person tells us nothing about his alignment. And real evil doesn't look like snarling villains. It looks like the person in the mirror. Above all, people assume goodness of people who are like themselves. It's the old monkey hind brain talking.
Well, if you want to get down to it, everything everyone does is motivated by selfishness. Good deeds make the person doing the feel good about themselves. You work so you can survive. You eat to live and avoid hunger pains. Loving others makes you feel happy. People will even gives up their lives, because it makes them feel good about themselves to sacrifice for others. It's all about self.

Now, I also don't really agree with the blanket assessment that alignment is revealed by the secret self or through testing. Many people genuinely enjoy helping others and doing good deeds, so who they are in public is also who they are in private and when tested. What they do in private or under duress(testing) can confirm it, but it was revealed prior to that.

There is a line in Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn who looks like homeless ruffian is trying to win the trust of Frodo - an aristocratic hobbit. Frodo's servant is telling him that it's beneath him to have anything to do with a person like Aragorn, and Frodo has a gift of discernment and says that Aragorn "Seems foul, but feels fair" but a servant of the enemy would go out of his way to look fair, but would feel foul. Most people are not as wise as Frodo, and what seems fair feels fair to them.
Some of us can read people fairly easily. We're essentially human Frodos.

What I'm trying to get at is that the superficial aspects of a person like his charisma and his personality are not a person's alignment. Without knowing the person I couldn't say what they were really like, but there is a saying that you only see a real man when he's behind closed doors. And there is the old saying that if you want to do a good deed, make sure to do it in secret. Good deeds done before others don't cultivate a good heart.
None of them really do. All good deeds, public and private, are motivated by selfishness.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Registered User
Yeah, but people are not only really bad at evaluating their own alignment; they are really bad at evaluating the alignment of their friends and neighbors as well. Most people will identify as good people whom they like, and who are friendly. But a person who is amazingly friendly and cheerful and who makes you feel good and who is nice to you doesn't have to be good. <...> There is a line in Lord of the Rings, where Aragorn who looks like homeless ruffian is trying to win the trust of Frodo - an aristocratic hobbit. Frodo's servant is telling him that it's beneath him to have anything to do with a person like Aragorn, and Frodo has a gift of discernment and says that Aragorn "Seems foul, but feels fair" but a servant of the enemy would go out of his way to look fair, but would feel foul. Most people are not as wise as Frodo, and what seems fair feels fair to them.
Real life is filled with examples like that and I've used the Frodo meeting Aragorn story more than once to illustrate the difference of "seems fairer but feels fouler".


Alignment isn't what you say you believe or what you do that gets you rewarded, it's what you do when you think you can get away with it. So the fact the neighbors respected the guy and thought he was a good person tells us nothing about his alignment. And real evil doesn't look like snarling villains. It looks like the person in the mirror. Above all, people assume goodness of people who are like themselves. It's the old monkey hind brain talking.
This is all very useful IRL, but one huge difference between RL and fantasy is that, at least in many (but not all) fantasy games, there are supernatural forces of Good, Evil, Law, Chaos, etc., and, indeed, many characters are servants of these very powers.

Even in a setting where there isn't a supernatural evil is often signaled by some kind of serious violation of personal integrity and total submission. So, for instance, in Mass Effect: Andromeda (unfairly maligned IMO), the main adversary, the Kett, have goals that involve essentially a forced union of all other species with them, with the corresponding complete loss of identity. I think in D&D terms they're a good example of Lawful Evil. There's another adversary group, the Roekaar, that starts out as misguided whose methods go too far. Their primary motivation is fear of loss of identity after contacting aliens. However, things really get out of hand and they start going down the well-worn path that revolutionaries and resistance groups often have of fighting a dirty war. It's hard to say what their alignment is, exactly, but they're pushing towards Lawful Evil. Finally, the last set of adversaries, the various outcasts and pirates, are mostly motivated by selfishness and/or outright homicidal crazy. Many of them seem to qualify as Neutral or Chaotic Evil.

Where one can play with these ideas in a D&D context often lets Good metamorphose into Evil. For instance, a Lawful Good society can have the leader go bonkers, much as the Kingpriest of Istar did in Dragonlance. Indeed, Sauron's motivation to turn to serve Melkor in Tolkien's Legendarium comes primarily from an excessive love of order and keen results that Melkor seemed to accomplish.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
None of them really do. All good deeds, public and private, are motivated by selfishness.
IF, and this is a big "IF" you subscribe to that philosophy. It's biggest flaw is that it's a philosophy of projection, developed by capitalist thinkers, who from other philosophical standpoints appear to be simply trying to justify the core element of capitalism "greed is good".

I'm not going to engage in a deep ethics debate on real world philosophical systems. I'm just going to point out that like most philosophies it's as true as you believe it to be.

I much prefer to continue to talk about fantasy philosophical systems and fantasy morality.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
IF, and this is a big "IF" you subscribe to that philosophy. It's biggest flaw is that it's a philosophy of projection, developed by capitalist thinkers, who from other philosophical standpoints appear to be simply trying to justify the core element of capitalism "greed is good".

I'm not going to engage in a deep ethics debate on real world philosophical systems. I'm just going to point out that like most philosophies it's as true as you believe it to be.

I much prefer to continue to talk about fantasy philosophical systems and fantasy morality.
Name one thing that at the root, isn't motivated by what the doer wants or how it makes the doer feel. This isn't some nebulous philosophical question.
 

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