log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General The Problem with Evil or what if we don't use alignments?


log in or register to remove this ad



Yaarel

Mind Mage
The relationship of Apprentice and Master is lawful. One serves the other faithfully, but is expected to eventually kill and replace him. One chaotic rule doesn't make it a chaotic relationship. Vader also showed personal loyalty to those who served well under him and treated them fairly well. He is LE through and through.
In the case of the Sith specifically, I am unsure the relationship is Lawful. Strictly, they are each others competitors. The temporary acquiescence of the Sith apprentice is useful to further the influence of the Master. But the Master can kill an apprentice who no longer appears useful. Moreover, the relationship is a one-on-one relationship, which is individualistic.

The Sith tradition itself seems individualistic in its Evil. Whence a Chaotic philosophy.

Yet, in the case Darth Vader and Palpatine, both of them are interested in running an empire, which is definitely a Lawful ambition.

Neutral Evil mixes Chaotic and Lawful.
 

In the case of the Sith specifically, I am unsure the relationship is Lawful. Strictly, they are each others competitors. The temporary acquiescence of the Sith apprentice is useful to further the influence of the Master. But the Master can kill an apprentice who no longer appears useful. Moreover, the relationship is a one-on-one relationship, which is individualistic.

The Sith tradition itself seems individualistic in its Evil. Whence a Chaotic philosophy.

Yet, in the case Darth Vader and Palpatine, both of them are interested in running an empire, which is definitely a Lawful ambition.

Neutral Evil mixes Chaotic and Lawful.
You're having this disagreement because lawful and chaotic are not coherent concepts.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
But why cannot you just say the bolded part?
Because if Vader is Chaotic Evil, but somehow furthering an Empire, then I would read that information as him being internally conflicted.

Saying Vader is Neutral Evil, helps me get a clear sense of where he is at with regard to his conflictive behaviors.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
In the case of the Sith specifically, I am unsure the relationship is Lawful. Strictly, they are each others competitors. The temporary acquiescence of the Sith apprentice is useful to further the influence of the Master. But the Master can kill an apprentice who no longer appears useful. Moreover, the relationship is a one-on-one relationship, which is individualistic.

The Sith tradition itself seems individualistic in its Evil. Whence a Chaotic philosophy.

Yet, in the case Darth Vader and Palpatine, both of them are interested in running an empire, which is definitely a Lawful ambition.

Neutral Evil mixes Chaotic and Lawful.
It doesn't work that way, though. Neutral evil is evil for the sake of evil. Alignment isn't a straightjacket, so the two LE Sith can have chaotic tendencies and still be LE. Nobody falls completely within 1 or even 2 alignments. It's where they primarily sit that decided alignment, and both are primarily lawful and orderly about how they go about things and what they want to accomplish.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
You're having this disagreement because lawful and chaotic are not coherent concepts.
Heh, I agree, the official descriptions are confused, especially when assuming literal "laws" and "personal code".

But my understanding of the L and C alignments as group versus individual, is reasonably disambiguous.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
It doesn't work that way, though. Neutral evil is evil for the sake of evil. Alignment isn't a straightjacket, so the two LE Sith can have chaotic tendencies and still be LE. Nobody falls completely within 1 or even 2 alignments. It's where they primarily sit that decided alignment, and both are primarily lawful and orderly about how they go about things and what they want to accomplish.
I dont think anyone does something "for the sake of Evil".

I feel everyone does something for the sake of their own self-interest.

Good and Evil depend on whether someone helps someone elses self interest, and at what price.

Chaos and Law depend on who the "self" is: me or us.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
No. We're having a disagreement, because personalities are complex, and a detailed character will not fall within a single alignment. However, when running generic NPC/Monster #47626, alignment more than suffices to help me run it.
I think alignment is a more useful DM tool than PC tool. Maybe that's where the biggest divide is?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I dont think anyone does something "for the sake of Evil".

I feel everyone does something for the sake of their own self-interest.

Good and Evil depend on whether someone helps someone elses self interest, and at what price.

Chaos and Law depend on who the "self" is: me or us.
Even so, overwhelmingly Vader and the Empire are lawful and orderly in both their goals and actions. Their personal relationship doesn't alter that. Both lay careful plans and follow them. Both show loyalty to those who serve well. Both work within the rules for the most part to accomplish their goals.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I want to say that he said it 10-12 years ago, but yeah, it's still ancient alignment history and hasn't ever applied to alignment as written.
Unless he was speaking from the grave it was at least 13 years ago. Time flies ;)

In any case he hasn't been a primary contributor to D&D (I think he did some stuff after leaving TSR) for 35 years. I honestly don't know when he said the things about killing baby orcs, but I assume it was in the 70s.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I dont think anyone does something "for the sake of Evil".

I feel everyone does something for the sake of their own self-interest.

Good and Evil depend on whether someone helps someone elses self interest, and at what price.

Chaos and Law depend on who the "self" is: me or us.
"I want to do good that the world may be good". IMO, one can be self interested in goodness for it's own sake, even for selfish reasons. So, I don't buy that selfish vs. selfless is the driving line behind good and evil.
 

I would argue in 5e the problem typically isn't with alignment being played wrong in interpreting it, it's (1) the players or DM wanting more details and repercussions than the rules care about and (2) that expecting it to classify things perfectly is bizarre as it is only 9 discrete classes for all of human behavior. Even something with more word choices but only allowing a few of them could easily be made to give many different interpretations.
Yesterday, I purchased the Hell’s Rebels player guide for Pathfinder. It is a player guide for creating player characters for the Hell’s Rebels Adventure Path, which involves rebelling against the oppressive tyranny of the Chelish Empire. I have a lot of respect for Paizo staff and the idea for the AP is an excellent one, but the way the book treats alignment reinforces the stereotypes that in my opinion, make alignment more of a liabilty than a benefit as a rule. And these are professional writers, who clearly love tabletop games and the setting.

Now, Pathfinder is not 5e, but the interpretation of alignment in the book isn’t that different from the opinions I’ve seen in this thread and in similar threads.

For instance, it was suggested that playing a lawful character might be a challenge for the AP because the goal of the AP was rebelling against an evil tyranny of LE devil worshippers. As an example of the tyranny, the devils had outlawed many religions. Oddly, they did not outlaw the worship of Iomedae, Lawful Good goddess of valor, justice and honour. (Seems like the sort of goddess who who be opposed to devil-worshippers).

Overall, the effect is to reinforce a rather skewed cartoonish take of Good, Evil, Lawful and Chaotic.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
So again the alignment didn't tell us anything useful. Great.
Wait. But does. Saying one demon is CG is a big deal.

I view all the celestials and fiends as lacking freewill. Roughly speaking, they are personifications of human(oid) institutions. Thus, a shift of a demon from CE to CG, represents an alignment shift among the human(oid)s that are pertinent to this demon.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
"I want to do good that the world may be good". IMO, one can be self interested in goodness for it's own sake. So, I don't buy that selfish vs. selfless is the driving line behind good and evil.
I totally agree.

In my reallife opinion.

Every human has infinite desire. When one desire becomes fulfilled, we move on to new desires.

A human does Evil if harming other humans in order to fulfill ones own infinite desire. In other words, predation.

But a human who uses other peoples desires as an opportunity to benefit them in a meaningful way, does Good.

However, the Good must be sustainable. In other words, one must keep oneself alive and have enough personal power, in order to continue doing Good.

So ultimately, Good is about "sharing" ones own resources to the extent that one is able. It isnt about being "selfless". Indeed, altruism which loves the other as oneself, includes the need to love oneself as well.
 

This is why the Drow seem Neutral Evil to me. They are absolutely group-oriented (L) − Lolth above all else. But they betray each other which is individualistic (C).
I try not to get TOO involved into arguments about whether specific individuals or traits are a particular alignment, but to me, this is a good example of how alignment leads people to oversimplify.

Someone who is very lawful under certain measures and very chaotic under others does not “average out” to neutral. They just have several axes that are relevant to understand them, and forcing them into a single box leads to less interesting characters (PCs snd NPCs).
 
Last edited:

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Unless he was speaking from the grave it was at least 13 years ago. Time flies ;)

In any case he hasn't been a primary contributor to D&D (I think he did some stuff after leaving TSR) for 35 years. I honestly don't know when he said the things about killing baby orcs, but I assume it was in the 70s.
He says a lot of what has been argued here in the thread on this site. I'm not sure about baby orcs specifically, but he says here that a paladin can forcibly convert a captured evil creature and then kill it before it can backslide, as an example of a LG act.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top