Tiamat, 4e, and (Lawful) Evil

Atlemar

Explorer
So I'm running a 4e campaign which features chromatic dragons, leading up to Her Majesty. But I'm finding now that I'm having trouble putting together a picture of what it means to worship Tiamat.

• Tiamat, historically, was on the Lawful side of Evil. She was aligned with devils, not demons, the side that took things by tricking you into it, or by establishing rules that favored her. In 4e, she's Evil, not Chaotic Evil. (I tend to think of this in modern terms as LE = bad corporations, while CE = home invaders.)

• In the Dragon 370 article "Agents of Tiamat," there's a character who leads a mercenary band known for its rapaciousness. But the band follows a hierarchy within, only looting heavily from its enemies. It doesn't turn on its employers; any mercenary band that did so would find itself out of contracts pretty quick. It appears to follow a vicious form of LE.

• And yet, Tiamat is the goddess of greed. She teaches her followers that taking from the weak is acceptable. This doesn't follow the LE model at all; bullying is more CE. And yet having bullying, brutish-stealing followers of hers is handy; it's a good way to signal to the players that Something is Rotten.

Is there a way to reconcile the "might makes right makes it mine" and the "take what is ours and only what's ours" philosophies? Or should I ditch one aspect in order to make a more useful deity?
 

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Atlemar

Explorer
Regardless of whether 4e has LE or not, can't you just say 'She's LE' and be done with it?

Well, yes, I suppose I can. But then I'm also throwing out what's written about Tiamat in 4e, and I'm not sure yet I want to do that. And, like I said, the CE aspects have advantages.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Is there a way to reconcile the "might makes right makes it mine" and the "take what is ours and only what's ours" philosophies? Or should I ditch one aspect in order to make a more useful deity?
While Tiamat is greedy, I imagine that she's not Greedily Stupid.

One has to BOTH be strong enough to Take it - and strong enough to take care of it once you've taken it. If a warlord sweeps across the land, conquering all that he wants, but he doesn't have a strong enough force to keep what is he's conquered, then what has he accomplished?

If he's not strong enough to keep it, then he didn't have enough might in the first place, then he didn't deserve it. Wealth can't grow if you can't keep what you've got.

As you pointed out the article saying, mercenaries who take what they want and overtake their employers don't stay mercenaries long. So, the easiest way to reconcile it is: being selective and intelligent with what you take. Tiamat is the god of Greed and the accumulation of Wealth. With that comes, well, smart business sense.

So I'd condense it down to this: Take what you want, when you have the means to take it, keep it, and when you can get away with it.
 
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Snoweel

First Post
You should just roleplay Tiamat how you think she should be roleplayed.

Alignment is just a shorthand so that when you have to roleplay a character designed by somebody else you have a rough idea of how he/she was intended to be played.

Bullying is done in many ways and for many reasons. A Lawful Good character may not even realise they are bullying and in any case they will be convinced it is for the victim's own good - see authority figures using coercive means to enforce law and order amongst those under their care.

A Chaotic Evil character will bully others as their modus operandi, and they may do it for a multitude of reasons, one of those being simple pleasure of dominating and hurting others.

Ultimately you should look at the character's motivations as much as their actions. "Alignment is a guide, not a straightjacket."

Another point - when people are happy and safe and well-fed you may not even be able to tell the difference between a Good and an Evil person. That all comes out under pressure, or when they feel they have been wronged.
 

ProfessorCirno

Banned
Banned
Taking from the weak doesn't mean you have to do it physically, you know ;p

Tiamat would encourage her dragons to set up shop in a way to encourage tribute, but they would only take tribute - they wouldn't just spontaniously go rampaging throughout the village out of whim, but on the contrary, might even protect the village and protect their interests. They're taking from the weak as strong, but they're not doing it in a bully or brutish manner.

Think less high school bully, more extortion ;p
 

pawsplay

Banned
Banned
• And yet, Tiamat is the goddess of greed. She teaches her followers that taking from the weak is acceptable. This doesn't follow the LE model at all; bullying is more CE.

Not as far as I'm aware. Taking from the weak is just evil, or the nastier side of neutral. Chaotic Evil takes from the weak because they feel like it; Neutral Evil takes from the weak because the weak have stuff; Lawful Evil take from the weak because they are the strong. Nothing about taking from the weak really pings on the Law/Chaos axis. I'd suggest avoiding the temptation of thinking of LE as Evil Lite. Simply having a sense of order and integrity does not make them any more kind or rational. On the contrary, Chaotic Evil laughs at the pretense there is some justice to the universe; only Lawful Evil can bring to bear serious self-sacrifice to an evil end.
 

Andor

First Post
Being greedy and taking from the weak does not mean you can't discern between an ally and a victem. Tiamat is the god of greed, no kleptomania. So these reavers can still operate coherantly, they are just primarilly motivated by loot. As most armies have been historically. There have been some battles that were lost because the side that was winning didn't actually wait to finish the job before they started looting the baggage train, giving their foes time to rally, reorganize and destroy them.

If you want though you can make greed or covetousness into the primary weakness of team Tiamat so if a betrayal is going to occur it will probably revolve around the arkenstone ... errr, I mean some nice bit of loot. ;)
 

The_Fan

First Post
Like any philosophy, it is easy to skim off it and miss the details. Someone who pays lip service to the Great Mother while not truly understanding her philosophy would be a rapacious bandit, simply taking whatever he wants and unable to work with anyone.

Someone who really and truly grasps the philosophy of Tiamat is different. Tiamat has five heads, each different, with its own strengths and weaknesses. Together, the five are stronger than any one, and it is by the five that Tiamat is as strong as she is and able to hold on to what she has. And all five heads are connected to and subservient to her body, so we should follow hierarchies and work with our superiors to form an even stronger whole.
 

FourthBear

First Post
• And yet, Tiamat is the goddess of greed. She teaches her followers that taking from the weak is acceptable. This doesn't follow the LE model at all; bullying is more CE. And yet having bullying, brutish-stealing followers of hers is handy; it's a good way to signal to the players that Something is Rotten.

I'm afraid I can't agree that there's a conflict between bullying, greed and the 3e Lawful Evil descriptors. After all, who in the Great Wheel represent Lawful Evil? Devils. And I definitely see devils as being fully bullying and greedy. Heck, Mammon the Lord of Greed himself is a LE archdevil. Do you really think that the forces of Hell wouldn't take from the weak? Given their Lawful nature, I'd imagine that they would prefer to create a society where such transfer of property from the weak to the strong is codified and consistent, but being Evil they would likely be pretty flexible in excuses as to why any particular circumstance excuses grabbing when the opportunity presents itself.

In 4e, Evil pretty much contains both NE and LE from the nine grid (and some CE concepts). The 4e Chaotic Evil is more focused on destruction and the breakdown of order than simple selfishness. I would think that Tiamat is not Chaotic Evil in 4e because, like Bane, she's more interested in keeping the status quo of the cosmos largely the same, just rearranged to put herself on top and keep wealth flowing to her.
 

LostSoul

Adventurer
The NPC in Fallcrest who worships Tiamat - Armos Kamroth - is a good example of a Tiamat follower, I think.

He's a Dickensian slum lord.

Might makes right makes it mine: He has the ability to make rents whatever he wants, so he does. The rents are too high, so he's stealing from them, and they can't do anything about it. Exploitation at its finest. (It would be better if he was the only one who could buy whatever they produced, but he doesn't have that much power.)

Take what is ours and only what is ours: He only charges rent; he follows the "rules" (such as they are) and doesn't openly steal from his tenants. He doesn't just wander into someone's home and take their rabbit stew, not without counting it against rent owed.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
• And yet, Tiamat is the goddess of greed. She teaches her followers that taking from the weak is acceptable. This doesn't follow the LE model at all; bullying is more CE.

I have to say you are wrong there. LE believes in structures for power. Anyone higher in the structure can probably take from those below. Bullying people below you in the structure, as well, is entirely okay.

Lawful means there's some well defined method to your madness. You can't take from just anyone you want to at any old time - but that doesn't mean you can't be greedy. Consider the whole Robin Hood idea - the evil lord raises his taxes to the point where it is burdensome, well within the law and his rights, but still doing harm. That's LE. And his tax collectors beating the money out of the peasants, still LE, as it is within the acknowledged power structures of the culture. Robin steps outside that structure, so he's not so lawful.
 

Cam Banks

Adventurer
Takhisis, who the current Tiamat obviously has some feedback loop into, seeks to conquer everything. She basically wants to be the one in charge. This isn't a Chaotic Evil thing, it's a corporate villain kind of thing, and is therefore perfect for Evil. She's like Doctor Doom or Fu Manchu or any number of megalomaniacal arch-villains: she employs countless minions, takes what isn't hers because she thinks she deserves it, but follows the rules because she's bound by oaths and laws that transcend the gods. So she looks for loopholes all the time, and when she finds one, she exploits the heck out of it.

So given all that, I don't see any reason why Tiamat shouldn't be exactly the same.

Cheers,
Cam
 

Obryn

Hero
Don't stop and worry that there's some real, game-related difference between Evil and Lawful Evil. 4e "Evil" basically covers Lawful and Neutral Evils; it's just that not every Evil being goes about being bad in the same way.

There are Evil things that like hierarchy. There are Evil things who don't care about hierarchies. Tiamat can easily fill any of these roles. Just role-play her church in whatever way seems best... Unlike previous editions, 4e alignment has next to zero mechanical effect, other than a few stray and unusual powers and items.

-O
 

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