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D&D General Discussion thread - Alignments and society


I know we've beaten Alignments to death, over and over. This one is a bit different.

There are creatures in the D&D worlds that have an "Always Chaotic Evil" type label, though the alignment referenced may change.

So let's think about what a society would look like for creatures like that.

For example I recently ran an adventure that took place on the Plane of Fire, home of the Efreet. Because I think pure combat adventures are boring as hill, I had to include the City of Brass, and the people that lived there.

Efreet are in the "Always Lawful Evil" category. I had to build a credible backdrop for the people/creatures that lived in that city, and how PC interaction would look.

1) Because the society as a whole is Lawful Evil, even the guys on the bottom of the socio-economic heap will support "the system" that keeps them among the downtrodden. Why? Their dream is to one day climb to the top of that heap, to advance in rank and power. If "the system" is broken or not even there then they can't do that.
2) Nothing is free, not even directions to the corner store. Anything you get for nothing is worth nothing.
3) No one is ever "friendly", unless you have something they want. In fact the very idea of a "friend" is almost completely alien to them. A friend is, when all is said and done, someone you might do nice things for without any arranged payment. They are also someone that you might help out or do nice things for, without receiving or even expecting payment. With that idea in mind I determined (for my game at least) that the word "Friend" doesn't really exist in the Ignan tongue (language of the Plane of Fire). After all, do you invent a word for a concept that doesn't really exist?

Now your take on this sort of thing may be very different from mine, so feel free to pitch in.

Now I titled this as a "Discussion thread", meaning that all of these ideas are open to discussion. So feel free to discuss.

If you haven't got good answers then ask some good questions. If your imagination is taking a break then feel free to try to stir up someone else's.

What have you got?

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I would say child rearing is contractual in a LE society (the parent agrees to provide X, and the child "agrees" to provide Y after reaching adulthood), it is Janissary style (which would fit the Efreet pretty well), where children are raised by the State, or (my favorite), a combination of the 2, where children are raised by the State and then can sign a contract to join a House upon reaching adulthood. The more skills (or one strong skill) the child has, the better a contract it can negotiate (and the more a House would want to sign a contract with the youth). If contracts were nearly impossible to get out of (unless say the House is broken up), then the youth is strongly motivated to see the House succeed (since he/she has no other real options).


House or clan affiliations... Hadn't really occurred to me. Cool.

I had an odd thought: Would a Lawful Evil society have "laws", in the written sense? Or just the rules laid down by custom and tradition, and of course the current ruler.

I'm thinking that the words "Chaotic Evil" and "Society" may not belong in the same sentence. Or paragraph. Or time zone. Almost by definition there couldn't be a society, could there?


Personally, I don't consider any being not from the outer planes to be 100% "always." IIRC, even in the 1E DMG or MM it stated that even "always" might have very rare aberrations. However, assuming you have to design a LE society for the Efreet, here's my suggestion.

Efreet are powerful elemental creatures, with even the weakest among them having servants (elemental creatures) and possibly slaves, so they would be akin to nobility. Like nobility, they're certainly going to look to advance their own standing at the expense of their rivals. Like devils, they have no qualms about destroying their rivals and superiors... so long as they don't get caught. Order is absolute, with harsh penalties for those that are caught. There is the key, for society would have a lot of intrigue, and even friends must be carefully watched (lest they get a better offer).

1) Low ranking efreet would accept the order, because they're still higher up than most creatures. They'd desire to move up the social ladder, and would use treacherous methods that can't be traced back to them.

2) Value is relative. Information that is of minor value (directions) in exchange for goodwill with potential pawns/allies would be a good exchange for a LE character. That said, in such a treacherous society, everything should be carefully examined. If you've read the Wheel of Time think of the Aes Sedai, who cannot lie, but can twist the truth in knots.

3) Friends exist, but the meaning of it would be closer to "ally" than "affection." A friend can be trusted more than a regular ally, but you could never fully trust anyone, even a child or parent. If your goals ever diverge, you may become a liability to them.


Agreed. I can't imagine an entire society of people like the Joker or Hannibal Lector or Alex and his Droogs.
You can, but it requires a super powerful overlord that everyone fears enough to keep in line. The drow, for example, are held in place by their fear of Lolth and her priestesses. There's a lot of backstabbing and chaos, but a thin veneer of civility is required, or else the offender gets turned into a drider.


Personally, I don't consider any being not from the outer planes to be 100% "always." IIRC, even in the 1E DMG or MM it stated that even "always" might have very rare aberrations.
Still the planes native inhabitants are most true to their alignments, much more than some prime humanoid society could ever be. Efreeti being situated in the city of brass in Avernus, correct me if I am wrong, should be archetypes of lawful evil.

They would eagerly make contracts with mortals, like devils I think.

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