Slaads are failures as exemplars of Chaotic NEUTRAL

I agree with the general gist that slaad as presented make no sense. However, I would also assert that demons in D&D lore do a poor job of being CE, devils do a poor job of being LE, modrons do a poor job of being LN, and the others probably only avoid this observation simply because they've never been very much represented. Also true, Drow do a poor job in fiction and D&D lore of being CE, and Paladins do a poor job in fiction of being LG.

There's some truth to this but I think there have always been takes on those other beings that work pretty well, and not all of those are meant to be supernatural planar exemplars. Drow aren't exemplars, for, um, example. I'd further point out that it's a common but I think illogical and slightly unreasonable take that because a race has a complex social order or societal systems it cannot be individually usually Chaotic. Not saying you're saying that but it's a common objection to the Drow and I feel a very weak one. Chaotic just, to me, may just mean they're not very keen on sticking to the rules, even as they might push the fiction of them when it advantages them. Still I do think NE would be a better average alignment based on lore, so I'm not entirely disagreeing!
 

Celebrim

Legend
Drow aren't exemplars, for, um, example. I'd further point out that it's a common but I think illogical and slightly unreasonable take that because a race has a complex social order or societal systems it cannot be individually usually Chaotic.
It's possible to have a complex social order and be Chaotic. In fact, for highly populous societies we would expect that chaotic influences would lead to a more complex social order than strictly lawful ones. The reason for this is that we'd expect a highly lawful society to produce a universal social order, but more chaotic one we'd expect to have multiple competing social orders which have arisen at least in part organically and "bottom up" through the interactions of numerous individuals. But none of those things are true of the social order of the Drow, which is "top down", universal, singular, and rather poorly rebelled against. Individuality is heavily suppressed. Rules and the overall social order are rigorously enforced. And while the society does foster competiveness and ruthlessness, nothing about that competitiveness and ruthlessness differentiates it from a lawful evil society. It's clearly evil, but the "law" and "chaos" descriptors are meaningless.

Not saying you're saying that but it's a common objection to the Drow and I feel a very weak one. Chaotic just, to me, may just mean they're not very keen on sticking to the rules...
Except, what we see in the fiction is a society which is rather keen on sticking to the rules. They may bend the letter of the law, but everyone is afraid of cheating because breaking the rules or abandoning them gives society the excuse to collectively persecute the rebel. This situation is enforced on the society top down through a feared and beloved authoritarian lawgiver.

The big problem I have with this is that it confuses the motivations of a mortal actor with an immortal actor. So suppose we have an evil society with a charismatic powerful mortal figure who is chaotic evil. That mortal figure has the motivation to organize society around themselves and so they may well desire to publically promote the values of law in order to increase the loyalty of society to them and thereby increase their personal power. The more lawful their minions, the more loyal they will be to their leader provided that the leader can present a public face of lawfulness and continue the masquerade and charade that they exemplify the lawful principles that they are teaching. And this is a very chaotic evil thing to do.

But, supposing the leader is now an immortal deity that is supposed to exemplify chaos and they have a similar motivation to increase their personal power, they cannot behave in the same manner and encourage the values of law even if doing so increases their temporal power in the short term. There are numerous reasons for this. First, to do so would be philosophically conceding that law is the best way to organize society and that organization and suppression of individuality has value. Secondly, because as an embodiment of chaos, promoting law ought to be so distasteful to them as to be actually painful. Even if the resulting society served them, the resulting society would be too distasteful to bear. As an exemplar of chaos, promoting law for chaotic ends would be as distasteful to them as promoting evil for good ends. The ends do not justify the means here. Finally, in most cosmologies this practice would actually end up decreasing the personal power of the immortal in the long run, since the majority of the chaotic evil deities followers would actually be lawful, we would upon death expect those lawful followers to end up in the camp of a different deity. The charade couldn't continue forever. All that promoting of law in the long run has consequences, in that the power of law over both life and the afterlife would increase to your detriment. Certain available facts would inherently contradict the charade. You hold over your power would be tenuous at best.

Still I do think NE would be a better average alignment based on lore, so I'm not entirely disagreeing!
Sure, but traditional Drow depictions have been centered on exclusive rule of a CE immortal, so even NE represents a bizarre departure. Where is this LE influence coming from and why does Lolth tolerate it?

The truth here I think is somewhat more simple and can be found in the meta and not the fiction. Gygax tended to have the bias that LG was "more good" or "most good" where as CE was "more evil" or "most evil". This shows me that Gygax was not fully certain where he stood on the "law" vs. "chaos" axis, especially once it had been complicated (somewhat against his wish) by the "good/evil" axis. Consider how in BD&D "law" does seem to mostly represent "good" and "chaos" mostly represents "evil", which again is a confusion compared to the source material for the "law/chaos" axis (where neutrality represented life and thus was "good" relative to mortal existence). This bias persists in other people both for the same root reasons and because of the precedent Gygax set. But modern society trends "chaotic" (individualistic) and so if you ask a modern person to imagine the "most evil" thing that they can imagine, they will almost invariably answer by describing some form of fascism and not some form of anarchy. This bias persists in Gygax as well, so having identified "CE" as the most evil thing, when describing it he ironically tended to describe it in terms of LE. And again, this confusion in presentation tends to persist in a wide number of sources, hence the LE nature of Drow society despite supposedly being a society that is universally or nearly universally CE.
 
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MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
You can recognize that you benefit if few others have your alignment. I think you could probably define NE as thinking the world is a cruel place and you need to be cruel to get ahead, and one of the best ways to get ahead is to take advantage of all the sheep and suckers out there. If you were to "wise them up", it wouldn't be to your advantage.

It seems to me that Tiamat in 5e has adopted a "being CE is great, having CE servants is not" idea (although that may be as much out of trying to make the best of a bad situation).

That being said, I think the issue with most exemplars is that they are either good at spreading their alignment (slaadi do it by infection) or representing the alignment, but not both. Devils are the only ones who do it consistently (the more intelligent the demon, the better chance they can do both, but low level demons are too much into their own fun).

In order to justify the good exemplars not showing up to rescue everyone, they have long been saddled with "never leave the home plane" (Archons and Guardinals) or "have to remain secret" (Eladrin) with a side of "outsourced being symbols of good" to others (usually angels or for NG, moon dogs), which I think is part of the reason so few good exemplars have been stat'd out. If they will show in 5e, there needs to be a reason for them to be involved. For the Archons, maybe make them a warlock patron--they are more combat, less utility than other celestials, so the celestial patron warlock doesn't really fit. They could be looking for "secret agents", maybe they have an arrangement with the gods of FR not to compete for souls (and I would totally be good with Archons running around the city of the dead trying to recruit lawful and good souls that haven't been claimed by a god--no reason devils should be the only ones to do it).

For Guardinals, they should actually guard something. It could be like sphinxes, but PC's have to demonstrate goodness in some tangible fashion (not just "it says 'good' on my PC's sheet) maybe something specific related to what is being guarded or pick a fight with them .
 

Celebrim

Legend
@MechaTarrasque: The lack of symmetry between the exemplars has always bothered me, and again I think it is best explained by the meta rather than the fiction.

The fictional inspiration for 'demons' is the pulp fiction of the famous N appendix that represents the stories that Gygax is trying to recreate. In that context such as the Conan stories or Leiber's 'Swords' stories, a 'demon' is not a demon as we usually use the term, but rather some sort of far realms Lovecraftian horror that magicians lure into this realm and force them to serve them. As such, it's not at all surprising that there is in the source stories no symmetry between demons and anything else. There are no good exemplars and the 'demons' of these stories are not necessarily related to each other in origin, and are not evil exemplars either. They are demons only in the sense that something like a Mind Flayer is a demon.

Unfortunately, when actually describing demons, D&D made the regrettable decision to take inspiration not mainly from the pulps, but from occult demonology. And it wasn't long before people were importing in angels/celestials in various forms to resist the demons/fiends/infernals. However, there has always been a reluctance to actually let the angels do this, because it doesn't happen (much) in the source material that supernatural powers of good show up and save the day, and there is always a fear of deprotagonizing the PC's if they aren't the ones who are ultimately representing the forces of good.

For my part, I tend to employ symmetry and resolve the problem by making all the exemplars relatively rare (but equally common) on the material plane, and use a lot of native outsiders or 'spirits' to fill in the gap in encounter design. This gives up certain plot elements, like the classic portal to hell through which demonic hordes threaten to invade, but in the context this plot element to me never made much sense anyway outside of a strictly Moorcock spectrum where all the exemplars are equally hostile to mortal life and so the DM is explicitly anointing neutrality as the correct and right moral and ethical system.
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
@MechaTarrasque: The lack of symmetry between the exemplars has always bothered me, and again I think it is best explained by the meta rather than the fiction.

The fictional inspiration for 'demons' is the pulp fiction of the famous N appendix that represents the stories that Gygax is trying to recreate. In that context such as the Conan stories or Leiber's 'Swords' stories, a 'demon' is not a demon as we usually use the term, but rather some sort of far realms Lovecraftian horror that magicians lure into this realm and force them to serve them. As such, it's not at all surprising that there is in the source stories no symmetry between demons and anything else. There are no good exemplars and the 'demons' of these stories are not necessarily related to each other in origin, and are not evil exemplars either. They are demons only in the sense that something like a Mind Flayer is a demon.

Unfortunately, when actually describing demons, D&D made the regrettable decision to take inspiration not mainly from the pulps, but from occult demonology. And it wasn't long before people were importing in angels/celestials in various forms to resist the demons/fiends/infernals. However, there has always been a reluctance to actually let the angels do this, because it doesn't happen (much) in the source material that supernatural powers of good show up and save the day, and there is always a fear of deprotagonizing the PC's if they aren't the ones who are ultimately representing the forces of good.

For my part, I tend to employ symmetry and resolve the problem by making all the exemplars relatively rare (but equally common) on the material plane, and use a lot of native outsiders or 'spirits' to fill in the gap in encounter design. This gives up certain plot elements, like the classic portal to hell through which demonic hordes threaten to invade, but in the context this plot element to me never made much sense anyway outside of a strictly Moorcock spectrum where all the exemplars are equally hostile to mortal life and so the DM is explicitly anointing neutrality as the correct and right moral and ethical system.

My solution is more about the battlefield the players don't see.

Out in the Astral there are Angels, Demons, Devils, and Abominations in a 4 sided war over the multiverse.

Demons are infinite, so you are more likely to see Angels and Devils ignore each other in favor of stopping demonic forces from wiping everything out. And everything hates abominations, but they are coming in from outside of reality and very few things can follow them outside of reality and deal with them.

I then made a sort of rock-paper-scissors set up.

Demons eat everything. That is why they are dangerous, whatever they consume they destroy. This even applies to the corruptive forces of the Far Realms. Demons can just eat it and be fine.

Devil gather souls and "strengthen them" to resist demonic destruction and Far Realms corruption. But, they have the smallest relative force. They are trying to set up their own way for the universe to run, and rule everything so they can finally stamp out the Demons and Abominations.

Gods have the biggest force it seems, and work through volunteers and champions. They are vulnerable to the corruption of the Far Realms and destruction by Demons, but they also field the most forces and are prepared for the waves that come at them. They've also survived fighting this fight for a long time, so they can generally outmaneuver the enemy.

Far Realms stuff is wierd, and it can eventually corrupt whatever they target, but they don't really work together and they all have different goals. As a single side, there are probably more of them. But the Slaad are trying to harvest magic, the Mindflayers want to eat and spread and rule, the Beholders seem to have no unified purpose, the Aboleths are working some grand scheme involving multiple dimensions and chessmaster style fighting. They are essentially a league of loosely aligned city states stepping into a war between two empires and a mid-sized kingdom. All together, a problem, but individually easy enough to contain and counter.

And since all that is going on, it is really hard for the various forces to deal with the mortal world. Devils and Abominations are the most common. Devils because they need to actively recruit to build up their numbers, and Abominations because they can just slip into the gaps and set up shop, then spread like a disease.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
My solution is more about the battlefield the players don't see.

Out in the Astral there are Angels, Demons, Devils, and Abominations in a 4 sided war over the multiverse.

Demons are infinite, so you are more likely to see Angels and Devils ignore each other in favor of stopping demonic forces from wiping everything out. And everything hates abominations, but they are coming in from outside of reality and very few things can follow them outside of reality and deal with them.

I then made a sort of rock-paper-scissors set up.

Demons eat everything. That is why they are dangerous, whatever they consume they destroy. This even applies to the corruptive forces of the Far Realms. Demons can just eat it and be fine.

Devil gather souls and "strengthen them" to resist demonic destruction and Far Realms corruption. But, they have the smallest relative force. They are trying to set up their own way for the universe to run, and rule everything so they can finally stamp out the Demons and Abominations.

Gods have the biggest force it seems, and work through volunteers and champions. They are vulnerable to the corruption of the Far Realms and destruction by Demons, but they also field the most forces and are prepared for the waves that come at them. They've also survived fighting this fight for a long time, so they can generally outmaneuver the enemy.

Far Realms stuff is wierd, and it can eventually corrupt whatever they target, but they don't really work together and they all have different goals. As a single side, there are probably more of them. But the Slaad are trying to harvest magic, the Mindflayers want to eat and spread and rule, the Beholders seem to have no unified purpose, the Aboleths are working some grand scheme involving multiple dimensions and chessmaster style fighting. They are essentially a league of loosely aligned city states stepping into a war between two empires and a mid-sized kingdom. All together, a problem, but individually easy enough to contain and counter.

And since all that is going on, it is really hard for the various forces to deal with the mortal world. Devils and Abominations are the most common. Devils because they need to actively recruit to build up their numbers, and Abominations because they can just slip into the gaps and set up shop, then spread like a disease.
I have long been fond of Shavarath in Eberron, and I could see this working like that.

In my homebrew, when Far Realmers broke into the multiverse (when the modrons blew up part of Mechanus to keep a devil invasion out [Modrons have a deathly fear of cultural contamination by "uncouth" types, and by modron standards, devils are uncouth] that created Archeron; the outer planes at a shell instead of a wheel and this made a hole in the shell) and the outsiders discovered aberrations have souls, they were overjoyed. The Abyss has been the most successful at harvesting the aberration souls (even though the original hole was far away from the Abyss), with Demogorgon being the most successful (and thus the Demon Prince of Aberrations, rather than the Demon Prince of Demons)
 

Chaosmancer

Adventurer
I have long been fond of Shavarath in Eberron, and I could see this working like that.

In my homebrew, when Far Realmers broke into the multiverse (when the modrons blew up part of Mechanus to keep a devil invasion out [Modrons have a deathly fear of cultural contamination by "uncouth" types, and by modron standards, devils are uncouth] that created Archeron; the outer planes at a shell instead of a wheel and this made a hole in the shell) and the outsiders discovered aberrations have souls, they were overjoyed. The Abyss has been the most successful at harvesting the aberration souls (even though the original hole was far away from the Abyss), with Demogorgon being the most successful (and thus the Demon Prince of Aberrations, rather than the Demon Prince of Demons)

LOL, I also made Demogorgon focused on Aberrations.

With my "demons eat everything" I realized I could have each demon lord focus on an plane of existence where they famously go to eat/did eat.

Orcus got Shadowfell
Graz'zt got Nine Hells
Demogorgon got Far Realms
Vaprak got the Heavens (only once, but it was enough)
Yeenoghu and Baphomet got the Material Plane
 
@Celebrim I agree with most of that, though I feel like the idea that Chaotic is necessarily bottom-up and Lawful universal and top-down isn't very convincing, I think there's more going on there. Also not sure Lolth's grip is that tight in most takes on Drow (YMMV). Nor do I think being an immortal being necessarily means you seek out your alignment, as it were. I do also agree that much of the problem is the LG = most good and CE = most evil mindset, which seems a distinctly 1E proposition. Virtually everyone I know who started with 2E or later sees NG and NE as "most" good/evil because those are the ones where its potentially the priority.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
But modern society trends "chaotic" (individualistic) and so if you ask a modern person to imagine the "most evil" thing that they can imagine, they will almost invariably answer by describing some form of fascism and not some form of anarchy. This bias persists in Gygax as well, so having identified "CE" as the most evil thing, when describing it he ironically tended to describe it in terms of LE. And again, this confusion in presentation tends to persist in a wide number of sources, hence the LE nature of Drow society despite supposedly being a society that is universally or nearly universally CE.
1. No.

2. This sounds like something you might find in one of those current on-line tests designed by people that really, really want you to believe what they believe.

3. This presumes that all lawful/chaotic distinction have to go with government; they don't. Or, at least, it doesn't have to. A tribal society might be generally lawful (rules and strictures tend to favor survival); a highly structured society could be chaotic depending on the beliefs of the individuals.

People can view the arbitrary alignment system however they want, remembering that it descended from Anderson/Moorcock (and older; the idea of law as civilization, chaos as the madness that lurks in the wild is fairly old) and then got complicated by adding in the additional good/evil.

That said, I find it useful to think of the law/chaos distinction in the nine-point alignment system as having to do with the distinction between utilitarianism, and rule utilitarianism.

In other words, a chaotic individual is seeking to maximize utility (whether it's for good or evil) on an individual basis, whereas a lawful individual is seeking to maximize utility based upon a rule. An easy way to think of this is as follows:

You have a rule (say, a Monk's vow of silence). Assume that there is a situation wherein it would be best for the monk to say something (he witnesses a crime and could cry out). The chaotic view would be that the rule could be discarded on an ad hoc basis; the lawful view is that the rule has value for the rule itself, and should not be discarded- otherwise, why have the rule? That might seem simple, but apply it to the various rules, norms, etc. in life and you understand (following commands in the military or mafia; following ethical rules for professions or protecting confidential information, and so on).
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
4e definitely had CE being the most evil, it was basically nihilistic evil. I don't remember 3x, but in PF, NE is nihilistic evil (there were nihilistic LE and CE outsider groups in PF1, but they were minor ones, the big NE group, daemons, was strongly nihilistic).

Maybe it is just a 1e thing, but I figure wherever they stick angels (because of the Solar) feels like the "best good." In PF2, angels are primarily NG and in 5e, they are primarily LG. On the other hand, Empyreans have a higher CR than Solars, and they are CG........
 

Celebrim

Legend
Not an argument.

2. This sounds like something you might find in one of those current on-line tests designed by people that really, really want you to believe what they believe.
Not an argument either.

3. This presumes that all lawful/chaotic distinction have to go with government; they don't. Or, at least, it doesn't have to. A tribal society might be generally lawful (rules and strictures tend to favor survival); a highly structured society could be chaotic depending on the beliefs of the individuals.
No I don't presume anything of the sort. I can fully agree that a tribal society might be generally lawful, or that a highly structured society could be chaotic. Since you think you are disagreeing with me here or otherwise providing some useful insight, my suspicion is that you don't understand me nearly as well as you think you do.

That said, I find it useful to think of the law/chaos distinction in the nine-point alignment system as having to do with the distinction between utilitarianism, and rule utilitarianism.

In other words, a chaotic individual is seeking to maximize utility (whether it's for good or evil) on an individual basis, whereas a lawful individual is seeking to maximize utility based upon a rule.
I don't think that is particularly out of line with the normal distinctions drawn between law and chaos, or the way I've been using the terms. I'm not at all sure where you are going with this line of argument though.

You have a rule (say, a Monk's vow of silence). Assume that there is a situation wherein it would be best for the monk to say something (he witnesses a crime and could cry out). The chaotic view would be that the rule could be discarded on an ad hoc basis; the lawful view is that the rule has value for the rule itself, and should not be discarded- otherwise, why have the rule?
Allow me to attempt to clarify, because I think I know what you were aiming at, but I think you've slightly missed the target. (And if it turns out you were aiming at something completely different, that will at least clarify why I don't understand you.) The chaotic view is that each situation is so distinct that no rule could provide a reasonable basis for judging the situation. The chaotic may have several axioms and maxims that are supposed to inform their thinking, but they are expected (by themselves and by whom they hold themselves accountable to, if anyone) to use their judgment over any given rule. The chaotic believes that fundamentally all situations are unique, all persons are unique, and no general rule applies to every situation.

The lawful view on the other hand is that their own judgment is not to be trusted, but rather that someone or something higher and wiser than themselves have created rules for living that will result in the best outcomes overall, and that those higher and wiser rules are what is to be trusted even in cases when you can't see how or why obeying them results in the best end. Thus, the rule can not and should not be discarded, because to do so would be to suggest that your own wisdom was greater than the law, an action that in and of itself disproves the validity of your judgment.

That might seem simple, but apply it to the various rules, norms, etc. in life and you understand (following commands in the military or mafia; following ethical rules for professions or protecting confidential information, and so on).
Yep, fully on board with the complexity of the application of either philosophy. For example, in the case of the Monk, if he's actually a part of some sort of lawful philosophical school, they've probably thought the rules out far enough to have considered this very case, and so the wise, learned, and well studied monk will know that there is a hierarchy of duties and obligations that a person has, and will know in this situation what duty or obligation under the law has the higher stature and first claim on his behavior. So for example, the Monk may well know that under the law his vow of silence and his own personal well being and honor comes lower than the life of another, and that under the law he must speak out even if it means suffering the consequences of breaking his vow. What might surprise the chaotic in this situation, is the Monk and the rest of his lawful society might still feel the Monk deserves to pay the penalty of breaking his vow of silence despite having acted in the manner that everyone agrees was right and honorable.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Allow me to attempt to clarify, because I think I know what you were aiming at, but I think you've slightly missed the target. (And if it turns out you were aiming at something completely different, that will at least clarify why I don't understand you.) The chaotic view is that each situation is so distinct that no rule could provide a reasonable basis for judging the situation. The chaotic may have several axioms and maxims that are supposed to inform their thinking, but they are expected (by themselves and by whom they hold themselves accountable to, if anyone) to use their judgment over any given rule. The chaotic believes that fundamentally all situations are unique, all persons are unique, and no general rule applies to every situation.

The lawful view on the other hand is that their own judgment is not to be trusted, but rather that someone or something higher and wiser than themselves have created rules for living that will result in the best outcomes overall, and that those higher and wiser rules are what is to be trusted even in cases when you can't see how or why obeying them results in the best end. Thus, the rule can not and should not be discarded, because to do so would be to suggest that your own wisdom was greater than the law, an action that in and of itself disproves the validity of your judgment.
No. That's not it at all.

The lawful person might also think that situations might be unique. The chaotic person might not. The lawful person may value their own judgment. The chaotic person might not. That is completely irrelevant.

Instead, it has to do with the benefit of having a rule.

Attorney-client privilege/confidentiality- or another ethical rule, such as priest/penitent. A murderer tells their attorney/priest that they know where the corpse is. The rule is that the attorney/priest cannot tell anyone else.

The chaotic good view is that the rule is stupid. The attorney/priest should break the rule, because the most good (utility) comes from revealing the information.

The lawful good view is that the rule has value. Even though in this specific case the rule might cause individual harm, the greater good is served by not breaking the rule, because if the attorney/priest breaks the rule, then no one would trust attorneys and priests in the future. In other words, the overall societal good is enhanced by maintaining the rule precisely because people know it will not be breached even when it is convenient.

It's not necessarily about whether the law (or rule, or custom, or norm) is better than your own judgment, but simply about the overall benefit from following the rule. Which is why, IMO, lawful characters are much more interesting to play ... because chaotic characters are fundamentally boring.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
No. That's not it at all.

The lawful person might also think that situations might be unique. The chaotic person might not. The lawful person may value their own judgment. The chaotic person might not. That is completely irrelevant.

Instead, it has to do with the benefit of having a rule.

Attorney-client privilege/confidentiality- or another ethical rule, such as priest/penitent. A murderer tells their attorney/priest that they know where the corpse is. The rule is that the attorney/priest cannot tell anyone else.

The chaotic good view is that the rule is stupid. The attorney/priest should break the rule, because the most good (utility) comes from revealing the information.

The lawful good view is that the rule has value. Even though in this specific case the rule might cause individual harm, the greater good is served by not breaking the rule, because if the attorney/priest breaks the rule, then no one would trust attorneys and priests in the future. In other words, the overall societal good is enhanced by maintaining the rule precisely because people know it will not be breached even when it is convenient.
You say "That's not it at all.", but I feel like that then you agree with 99% of what I'm saying. None of the above clarification actually distinguishes what you are saying from what I'm saying. I fully agree that all of what you say is true, and necessary, but I'm just going one small step in the logic beyond where you seem content to stop, and that is to rationalize why the rule exist in the first place. While the lawful would certainly agree that there is value in people knowing that a rule will not be breached even when it is convenient, I don't agree that this is the only reason that the lawful person will assert as to why the law should be followed. Something must justify why attorney/client confidence should exist in the first place, even in situations where it isn't obvious why it serves a good purpose. While it is sufficient to tell a child, "Because it is the rules and I say so.", this isn't the extent of how law can rationalize itself.

It's not necessarily about whether the law (or rule, or custom, or norm) is better than your own judgment, but simply about the overall benefit from following the rule.
Because the law is better than individual judgment, and not just because that it gets everyone on the same page. It's not just that you obey the coach because otherwise the team couldn't work together - true though that statement may be - but also because the coach in the ideal knows more about the game than any of his students and they do not yet have the discernment and understanding to know how to play the game. They need to obey him not just to be on the team, but because he knows best.

Which is why, IMO, lawful characters are much more interesting to play ... because chaotic characters are fundamentally boring.
We'll make a true Paladin out of you sooner or later.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Because the law is better than individual judgment, and not just because that it gets everyone on the same page. It's not just that you obey the coach because otherwise the team couldn't work together - true though that statement may be - but also because the coach in the ideal knows more about the game than any of his students and they do not yet have the discernment and understanding to know how to play the game. They need to obey him not just to be on the team, but because he knows best.
But there is the distinction that I don't agree with you on; a lawful character does not have to believe that the rules are like a coach that has been there before (the Burkean conservative view); instead, the view is simply that there can be value in rules qua rules. To move it up a level, a soldier might truly know better than the CO, but there is value in following the chain of command. Everyone needs to be on the same page. There is not only a concern that someone might (incorrectly) believe that they know better when they don't due to (say) incomplete information, but even if they do know better, it is important for many reasons to follow the chain of command.


We'll make a true Paladin out of you sooner or later.
Never. But in terms of RPing, chaotic characters are boring. It's all, IMA DO GOOD (CG), or IMA DO EVIL (CE), or IMA DO WHATEVERS (CN).

Lawful characters, however, have interesting motivations and conflicts; specifically, what happens when there is a conflict between their rules/laws/code and what they perceive as the correct course of action? That is the meat of good RPing.
 

Aebir-Toril

Is lukewarm on the Forgotten Realms
Never. But in terms of RPing, chaotic characters are boring. It's all, IMA DO GOOD (CG), or IMA DO EVIL (CE), or IMA DO WHATEVERS (CN).

Lawful characters, however, have interesting motivations and conflicts; specifically, what happens when there is a conflict between their rules/laws/code and what they perceive as the correct course of action? That is the meat of good RPing.
But, this rests on the 1e assumption that CE evil is more evil than LE, right? Or, in fact, that Chaotic means more "absolute", which doesn't seem to be the case, correct?
 

Celebrim

Legend
But there is the distinction that I don't agree with you on; a lawful character does not have to believe that the rules are like a coach that has been there before (the Burkean conservative view); instead, the view is simply that there can be value in rules qua rules. To move it up a level, a soldier might truly know better than the CO, but there is value in following the chain of command. Everyone needs to be on the same page. There is not only a concern that someone might (incorrectly) believe that they know better when they don't due to (say) incomplete information, but even if they do know better, it is important for many reasons to follow the chain of command.
So I have two objections to this argument.

First, if it is not necessary for a lawful to believe that the rules represent higher wisdom than themselves, then you will not find a hard distinction between being lawful and being chaotic. The implication of your argument that rules utilitarianism itself is the essence of lawfulness is that chaotic cannot believe that there is value in rules qua rules, for the purpose of coordinating individual activity. Yet you can have a football team or an army composed of chaotic individuals, and you can as a chaotic see relative value in having a rule for a specific circumstance or purpose. What you cannot believe and be chaotic is that the following the rules ought to override one's own judgment. Because that is the sine qua non of being lawful.

Secondly, lawful societies have rules for more reasons than just rules utilitarianism, and in particular they have rules that tend to place people in a hierarchy whereby certain persons hold the right to make and pass judgments over others. For example, I was talking with a Graduate Student from Korea, and she told me that she wanted to go home to Korea so that her parents could "find her a boy [to Marry]". This is a lawful rather than chaotic perspective not because the society has a rule that parents arrange the marriage, but because in her own mind parents would do a better job of arranging for her happiness than she would herself and this made perfect sense to her and seemed perfectly logical. But in a chaotic society, the idea that someone else might better judge your own happiness over such a personal decision as marriage seems ridiculous and even abusive. (A lawful on the other hand might wonder why you thought marriage was a primarily personal decision at all.)

I'm good at wearing people down.

Lawful characters, however, have interesting motivations and conflicts; specifically, what happens when there is a conflict between their rules/laws/code and what they perceive as the correct course of action? That is the meat of good RPing.
I very much agree, and do rather regret that both modern players are rarely attracted to playing a lawful character and even if they put it on their character sheet are rarely actually good at it.

However, I invite you to look at that statement again, "what happens when there is a conflict between their rules/laws/code and what they perceive as the correct course of action", and contemplate just how much you are actually in disagreement with me.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
But, this rests on the 1e assumption that CE evil is more evil than LE, right? Or, in fact, that Chaotic means more "absolute", which doesn't seem to be the case, correct?
Nope. Not at all.

It means that many people who choose to play CG, CN, or CE (aka, one of the Chaotic alignments in the nine-point system) choose that because they believe that chaotic = freedom = no constraints on their choices.

Hence, CN = IMA DO WHATEVS, MAN, U CAN'T STOP ME!
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
So I have two objections to this argument.

First, if it is not necessary for a lawful to believe that the rules represent higher wisdom than themselves, then you will not find a hard distinction between being lawful and being chaotic. The implication of your argument that rules utilitarianism itself is the essence of lawfulness is that chaotic cannot believe that there is value in rules qua rules, for the purpose of coordinating individual activity. Yet you can have a football team or an army composed of chaotic individuals, and you can as a chaotic see relative value in having a rule for a specific circumstance or purpose. What you cannot believe and be chaotic is that the following the rules ought to override one's own judgment. Because that is the sine qua non of being lawful.
So I think we are talking past each other. But here's the crux of the difference:

In my conception, a lawful character would follow the rules even though they don't necessarily believe that they always represent a wisdom higher than themselves. In other words, they might value having ... rules. Order. There can be a benefit to following a a set of rules, even if you don't necessarily think that a particular rule is correct in the instant application, or even in general.

To put it in terms of law & economics, sometimes it is better to have a known, bad rule that you can plan around, than to have a capricious and arbitrary rule that is sometimes good, and sometimes bad. Because there is value in constancy (following the rules); everything from reliance interests (knowing that other people also follow the same rules and have relied on those rules) to planning for the future.

Secondly, lawful societies have rules ...
I think that there is very little value in talking about overall human societies in D&D in terms of alignment, and none whatsoever when it comes to RL.

Human complexity, and society, cannot be captured solely by the D&D alignment system.
 
I have to say I think it'd be hard to fit a credit-card between what you're saying re: Lawful, @lowkey13 and what @Celebrim is saying. Yeah there's a minor difference but it is very much the same overall message - that the Lawful character thinks "rules are there for a reason", which doesn't necessarily equate to mindlessly following them in all situations, but does mean they strongly lean towards following them unless there is a strong G/E or personal reason not to.

However I think this is a bit off:

Never. But in terms of RPing, chaotic characters are boring. It's all, IMA DO GOOD (CG), or IMA DO EVIL (CE), or IMA DO WHATEVERS (CN).
Actually, I'd suggest all three are "I'ma do whatevers", it's just that Mr CG isn't willing to do things that harm others (unless those others are harming people), Mr CN probably has some kind of moral compass or moral code, even if it's not very consistent, and probably isn't just "down with murder" or the like unless there's a "good reason" (whatever that might be to him), whereas Mr CE may well present identically to Mr CG 90% of the time, but when it would benefit him to murder an innocent or set a boat full of nuns on fire or whatever, he'll just go right ahead and do it. Just because you're CE, for example, doesn't mean you go around looking to do evil (unless you're a supernatural exemplar of some kind). It just means that when it seems like a good idea to you to do something horrible, nothing is stopping you, I would suggest. CG is particularly unlikely to be going around looking to do good - many CG characters are the type of people who actively hide in the woods or the like. It's just that when they find a weeping halfling-child wandering in the woods, they'll probably at least take them back to society and not rob them, whereas the CE character may well ignore them, or rob them, or even take them back to society (if that has the most benefit to them - which could be financial, or in terms of self-image, or whatever).

As such, Chaotic characters are not always as boring to play as you suggest. Lawful characters have interesting conflicts, but they also (particularly LG characters) can end up being rather predictable, especially if the DM isn't putting challenging situations in their way, and can end up being sticks-in-the-mud, even in a good group when played well. I would go out and say CG is actually the most boring of the Chaotic alignments, in practice. CE at least keeps people on their toes!

Watching the Expanse at the moment and it's characters are fairly trope-y and straightforward but at the same time do work fairly well for D&D alignments. For example, Miller is basically CG, perhaps arguably CN, which is why he isn't a very good police officer, but he takes moral/ethical decisions which are quite sound morally/ethically (esp. from a utilitarian perspective bizarrely enough)/rational, just y'know totally illegal and unlawful, and he doesn't bother to check with anyone or listen to any advice or what the rules are supposed to be. Amos, on the other hand, is a good example of a very playable and kind of interesting CN, or even CE. He's almost completely amoral, but because he has just one rule - "What would Naomi think?" (or however you want to put it), he's actually very reasonable.

I think there's always the danger in alignment-related discussions of think people always pursue their alignments, are defined by them, but I suspect with mortals (or really anything but supernatural exemplars) that's very rarely true. People are driven by their motivations and personality, and their alignment should reflect that. Reflect what they value, what they're willing to do, what they're not willing to do. CN doesn't have to be "Captain Random McLulz". CN can be a largely amoral person who places no value on the rules of society, but is smart enough to follow them, and may have personal attachments or values that make him actually very reasonable. Honestly Amos is arguably more reasonable and interesting than Holden (who is in some sort of LG-NG zone depending on how he's being written this episode - even his initial action which starts the whole thing is both L and G strongly). Maybe you can blame this on bad writing or the Holden character being fundamentally dull, but his dilemmas are frequently the least engaging ones on the show.

So a Chaotic person who is RP'd properly may well be as or more interesting than a Lawful person, I would suggest. Bad RP, treating people just as alignments, not people, is where Chaotic starts to break down in terms of being interesting.

It means that many people who choose to play CG, CN, or CE (aka, one of the Chaotic alignments in the nine-point system) choose that because they believe that chaotic = freedom = no constraints on their choices.

Hence, CN = IMA DO WHATEVS, MAN, U CAN'T STOP ME!
This definitely happens, but it's bad RP that's the problem. A badly RP'd Chaotic character is likely to be more boring than a badly RP'd Lawful character. He's also less likely to cause the game to lurch to a sickening halt over some minor point of lawfulness, though. In both cases bad RP causes things to suck.

With good RP, where the personality comes first and the alignment emerges from that (or they're created in accord with each other), Chaotic can be very interesting.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
@lowkey13 and what @Celebrim is saying. Yeah there's a minor difference...
I'd always thought that lowkey13 was offended by Paladins primarily because he himself (pronoun?) leaned to individualism. I'm beginning to think that he's offended by Paladins because they are so seldom done well.

As for the rest, I've already got one nitpicky argument going and I'm not done with lowkey13 yet, so I'm not going to get into your discussion deeply.

I will however give what I think the distinction between the three Chaotics actually is.

Chaotic Good: Believes in the axiom, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.", and tries to arrange all of his choices around the ethic of reciprocity. Believes that other selves have value at least as great as their own value, and believes that this compels him to actively seek out the good of others as well as themselves, even to the point of placing the lives and happiness of others ahead of his own.

Chaotic Neutral: Believes in the axiom, "Harm no one; do as you will", and tries to live by that standard of ethical behavior. Believes that other selves have value that should be recognized, and that ones own happiness is best ensured by engaging in consensual mutual transactions with others. Everyone's personal freedom holds equal value, and one's own personal freedom is endangered when the personal freedom of others is endangered. Thus everyone has an interest in preserving the personal freedom of others, however no one has the right or responsibility to actively intrude into others affairs. Personal sovereignty extends to even self-destructive behavior, and while people can choose to value someone else ahead of themselves, no one is compelled to sacrifice their own interests for others.

Chaotic Evil: Believes in the axiom, "No one has anything unless they are willing to take it." Believes that life is ultimately a zero sum game and the most successful persons are those who acquire resources at the expense of others. Nothing has real value except ones own self, and the value of anything else is only what it can profit ones self. People exist to be used, and life is only about clawing ones way to the top of the heap.
 

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