in the dungeons & dragons fantasy role-playing game, alignment is a categorization of the ethical and moral perspective of people, creatures and societies. early editions of dungeons & dragons allowed players to choose between three alignments when creating a character: lawful, implying honor and respect for society's rules; chaotic, implying the opposite; and neutral, meaning neither. advanced dungeons & dragons introduced a second axis of good, neutral and evil, offering a combination of nine alignments.
How is Alignment Applied in RPG?Edit
well, seeing as it's a representation of the character's ethical and moral principles, it fits very well in rpg. it tells people how they operate, what is more important to them and the things they stand for in one glance. it's a generalization, however, so it's saying, "in general, my character is..." instead of giving particular situations, or exceptions to things or people.
Law versus ChaosEdit
the law versus chaos axis in dungeons & dragons predates good versus evil in the game rules. in esoteric greyhawk setting lore, too, the precepts of law and chaos predate good and evil in the world's prehistory. players often consider law and chaos less relevant to their character than good and evil. confusingly, a lawful alignment does not necessarily mean that a character obeys a region's laws, nor does a chaotic alignment necessarily mean that a character disobeys a region's laws.
- law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. on the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
- chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. on the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
- someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. they are honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.
Good versus EvilEdit
the conflict of good versus evil is a common motif in dungeons & dragons and other fantasy fiction. although player characters can adventure for personal gain rather than from altruistic motives, it is generally assumed that the player characters will be opposed to evil and often fight evil creatures.
- good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
- evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master.
- people who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.
lawful good is known as the "saintly" or "crusader" alignment. a lawful good character typically acts with compassion, and always with honor and a sense of duty. a lawful good nation would consist of a well-organized government that works for the benefit of its citizens. lawful good characters may sometimes find themselves faced with the dilemma of whether to obey law or good when the two conflict—for example, upholding a sworn oath when it would lead innocents to come to harm—or conflicts between two orders, such as between their religious law and the law of the local ruler. lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honour and compassion. lawful good can be a dangerous alignment because it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.
- sensitive to the feelings of others.
- respectful of "life, love, and the pursuit of happiness."
neutral good is known as the "benefactor" alignment. a neutral good character is guided by his conscience and typically acts altruistically, without regard for or against lawful precepts such as rules or tradition. a neutral good character has no problems with co-operating with lawful officials, but does not feel beholden to them. in the event that doing the right thing requires the bending or breaking of rules, they do not suffer the same inner conflict that a lawful good character would. neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. neutral good can be a dangerous alignment because it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.
- protective of life.
chaotic good is known as the "beatific," "rebel," or "cynic" alignment. a chaotic good character favors change for a greater good, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself, but for others as well. they always intend to do the right thing, but their methods are generally disorganized and often out of alignment with the rest of society. they may create conflict in a team if they feel they are being pushed around, and often view extensive organization and planning as pointless, preferring to improvise. while they do not have evil intentions, they may do bad things (even though they will not enjoy doing these things) to people who are, in their opinion, bad people, if it benefits the greater good. chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment because it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.
- free spirited.
- easy going.
- respectful of personal liberties.
lawful neutral is called the "judge" or "disciplined" alignment. a lawful neutral character typically believes strongly in lawful concepts such as honor, order, rules and tradition, and often follows a personal code. a lawful neutral society would typically enforce strict laws to maintain social order, and place a high value on traditions and historical precedent. examples of lawful neutral characters might include a soldier who always follows orders, a judge or enforcer that adheres mercilessly to the word of the law, and a disciplined monk. characters of this alignment are neutral with regard to good and evil. this does not mean that lawful neutral characters are amoral or immoral, or do not have a moral compass, but simply that their moral considerations come a distant second to what their code, tradition, or law dictates. they typically have a strong ethical code, but it is primarily guided by their system of belief, not by a commitment to good or evil. lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot. lawful neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all freedom, choice, and diversity in society.
- respectful of authority.
neutral alignment, also referred to as true neutral or neutral neutral, is called the "undecided" or "nature's" alignment. this alignment represents neutral on both axes, and tends not to feel strongly towards any alignment. a farmer whose primary overriding concern is to feed his family is of this alignment. most animals, lacking the capacity for moral judgment, are of this alignment. many roguish characters who play all sides to suit themselves are also of this alignment. some neutral characters, rather than feeling undecided, are committed to a balance between the alignments. they may see good, evil, law and chaos as simply prejudices and dangerous extremes. neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.
chaotic neutral is called the "anarchist" or "free spirit" alignment. a character of this alignment is an individualist who follows his or her own heart, and generally shirks rules and traditions. although they promote the ideals of freedom, it is their own freedom that comes first. good and evil come second to their need to be free, and the only reliable thing about them is how totally unreliable they are. chaotic neutral characters are free-spirited and do not enjoy the unnecessary suffering of others, but if they join a team, it is because that team's goals coincide with their own. they invariably resent taking orders and can be very selfish in their pursuit of personal goals. a chaotic neutral character does not have to be an aimless wanderer; they may have a specific goal in mind, but their methods of achieving that goal are often disorganized, unorthodox, or entirely unpredictable. chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society's restrictions and a do-gooder's zeal. chaotic neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.
lawful evil is referred to as the "dominator" or "diabolic" alignment. characters of this alignment see a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit, and show a combination of desirable and undesirable traits; while they usually obey their superiors and keep their word, they care nothing for the rights and freedoms of other individuals and are not averse to twisting the rules to work in their favor. examples of this alignment include tyrants, devils, undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct, and loyal soldiers who enjoy the act of killing. lawful evil characters may sometimes find themselves faced with the dilemma of whether to obey law or evil when the two conflict. however, their issues with law versus evil are more concerned with "will i get caught?" versus "how does this benefit me?" lawful evil creatures consider their alignment to be the best because it combines honor with a dedicated self-interest. lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.
- respectful of authority and power.
neutral evil is called the "malefactor" alignment. characters of this alignment are typically selfish and have no qualms about turning on their allies-of-the-moment. they have no compunctions about harming others to get what they want, but neither will they go out of their way to cause carnage or mayhem when they see no direct benefit to it. they abide by laws for only as long as it is convenient for them. a villain of this alignment can be more dangerous than either lawful or chaotic evil characters, since he is neither bound by any sort of honor or tradition nor disorganized and pointlessly violent. examples are an assassin who has little regard for formal laws but does not needlessly kill, a henchman who plots behind his superior's back, or a mercenary who switches sides if made a better offer. neutral evil beings consider their alignment to be the best because they can advance themselves without regard for others. neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.
chaotic evil is referred to as the "destroyer" or "demonic" alignment. characters of this alignment tend to have no respect for rules, other people's lives, or anything but their own desires, which are typically selfish and cruel. they set a high value on personal freedom, but do not have any regard for the lives or freedom of other people. they do not work well in a group, as they resent being given orders, and usually only behave themselves out of fear of punishment. it is not compulsory for a chaotic evil character to be constantly performing sadistic acts just for the sake of being evil, or constantly disobeying orders just for the sake of causing chaos. they do however enjoy the suffering of others, and view honor and self-discipline as weaknesses. serial killers and monsters of limited intelligence are typically chaotic evil. chaotic evil beings believe their alignment is the best because it combines self-interest and pure freedom. chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.