A New Alignment Chart

Discussion in 'Space Battles' started by SICON_Reaper, Jul 11, 2011.

  1. darthdavid Solidarity

    Not really. Look: if you accept that there's a god, and that he was responsible for the creation of a given book, and you accept a given interpretation of that book that says that killing people who don't follow the rules of that book is a good and moral thing to do (which, in any event, is often explicitly stated in various holy texts, no interpretation necessary) then by the system of morality you've chosen to ascribe to killing those people is a good thing to do.

    If you choose to believe that people should generally be allowed to live their lives how they choose then killing people for being sinners or what have you would, by that system of morality, be evil.

    How, without invoking arguments internal to a specific system of morality, can you ascertain which one is objectively correct? You can determine which system better accomplishes a given goal, you can determine the truth of factual claims made by any associated philosophy, but how do you determine what set of morals is 'correct' in an objective fashion?

    And no, 'gut feelings' and the like do not count, given that different people's guts lead them to different moral codes they're clearly not connected to any sort of overarching system.

    If you're following a set of rules solely because a god has passed them down to you what can you use to objectively classify one god's rules as evil and one god's rules as good?


    Postulate such a system then. This I want to hear...
  2. Instead of law and chaos, I like to use the Greek notions of Nomos and Physis. Nomos is rationality and order and artifice. It is the way of reason imposed on nature. Physis is the way of nature unfettered by any logic or order beyond itself. It's the way of the wolf, and law of the jungle. According to that scale, A Paladin would tend towards community and Nomos, whereas Conan would tend towards individuality and physis.
  3. magic9mushroom BEST END.

    The system suggested in the OP is identical to that used in 3.5 D&D except for different labels (for the same ideas). Lawful is explicitly stated to be about wanting order, not necessarily about following the law, Chaotic is basically exactly what you said (there is even an explicit statement that chaotic beings do not act randomly, and a few cases of inscrutable action being classed as Lawful - Illithids and Aboleths being the two most obvious), Evil is defined as valuing yourself over others, and Good is defined as valuing others over yourself.

    Oh, also, everything Yitzi said is pretty much true.

    For just a random example, the patron I've given my PCs in the D&D campaign I'm DMing is Evil (either Neutral or Chaotic, haven't quite decided yet). This doesn't mean that they're ever going to tangle with her, or that she'll do something cartoonishly villainous, but it does mean that she looks out for number one first.

    The PC I ran in the preceding campaign was Neutral Evil and played it to the hilt (hell, she was out for lichdom, and at one point murdered someone solely so she could get information out of him with speak with dead), yet only twice has PvP ever become a possibility.


    Both of these are entirely within the bounds of Evil as defined in the D&D rules. Perhaps quoting them would help.

    The Lawful Evil section is quite a bit longer than the others, so I posted only the first bit of it.

    So:

    Evil = being out for yourself.

    Lawful Evil = being out for yourself, liking order, and having an ordered approach to one's life.

    Neutral Evil = being out for yourself, and being indifferent to order or its lack.

    Chaotic Evil = being out for yourself, doing so in a haphazard, spur-of-the-moment, passionate way, and hating restrictions.
  4. It seems to me that the way SICON set it up, Order & Community cover a lot of the same ground, as does Chaos & Individuality.

    How would you define a Chaotic Community-oriented person? Or an Orderly Individualist?
  5. magic9mushroom BEST END.

    The former: Someone who helps others, but won't force others to do the same, and doesn't give a damn about ethics (either it helps people, or it doesn't).

    The latter: Someone who wants there to be a hierarchy, and is willing to ascend through such a hierarchy by any means necessary. They have a personal set of rules for how to exploit, destroy, and despoil (for an example of this, see: Ferengi Rules of Acquisition).

    (Those are my views on Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil, actually, but since there's no difference between the OP's proposal and D&D's alignment system...)
  6. I was going to point this out.

    Communities can only exist if there is some order. That's what society is, a group of people who've agreed on some sort of ordered system to live with.

    I'd say that the chart is muddied because there's no real reason why "community" stands opposite "Individuality". Even in real life, look at most modern constitutions. They balance the rights of the individual against the needs of the community. You have a lot of libertarians who feel greater commeraderie and community with one another than you do ethnically/culturally similar neighborhoods.

    EDIT: Also, in most fantasy settings there are clearly "Good" and "Evil" things because that's what the game rules say. They've imposed an objective moral set on the worlds. So saying it's "Flawed" is disingenious. I'd say more that they were restricted moral/ethical views.
  7. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    I'm going to respond to this post instead of some of the bajillion others (this is what I get for sleeping) because the answer is a pretty simple yes.

    I completely agree. This is largely a relabeling and clarification of the old system. This is because the old system had an interpretation that basically came down to this - but it was just that, an interpretation. There were others that worked just as well, which focused on taking good and evil quite literally. What's worse, WoTC seemed to take the "literal good and evil" attitude quite a bit more seriously than an interpretation like mine - despite the fact that it doesn't work at all and it's horrible.

    Anyone who doesn't believe me about the artificial standards of good and evil need only look at the Book of Vile Darkness and the Book of Exalted Deeds. These are official books from WoTC. One contains only "good" classes, feats, and such, while the other contains only "evil" things.

    The thing is, there isn't really anything distinguishing the two besides an arbitrary line, and the fact that one is kinda gross. Every bit of definition is entirely subjective.

    At times it seems like WoTC flirts with a definition like this one, and at others it seems to knee-jerk back to stereotypical fantasy "good" and "evil", where the primary difference is that one side wears white, and the other black.

    Just look at D&D based games like, say, NWN2. In the very beginning they give you opportunities to embrace your chosen alignment. Running around the village and trying to save people to rally to your militia, you are given a few options. The good option is to rally people and heal them, and the evil option is to slit their throat on the spot. Wait, what? Yeah. Realistically, even evil people would want to save them and rally the militia - because they have as much to gain by not having their village burn down as anyone else. The implication is that evil is stupid and self destructive.

    Well okay. Evil is. So why would anyone choose to play evil, then? And that is a good question. I've known plenty of groups that prohibit evil characters from the campaign because good and evil don't play well together.

    When you come right down to it, evil is all about actively deciding to hurt people. Not necessarily for any gain, but because you enjoy it. It can be applied any number of ways, but it basically comes down to being a sadist. And that is why evil campaigns are often so cartoonish.

    Why is Lawful Evil called, "The Tyrant", rather than "The self-made man"? Because Lawful Evil is out to hurt people.

    My system carries no such implications. Individualist/Order People are not necessarily Tyrants, though they can be. Two better, and more classical examples of this type of person would be a wealthy merchant, or a self-made man who worked his way to the top.

    Let's examine this. A Lawful Evil merchant would clearly be someone who scams his customers and gives them shoddy goods by twisting the wording of his contracts to benefit him. Or perhaps he gets them through unethical means. His concern is his own money, and nothing else. Perhaps he is a slaver, or some other unsavory fellow.

    A merchant of Individualist/Order bent isn't necessarily like that at all. A far more reasonable interpretation is that he is someone who believes in benefiting himself, and likes to use the system to do it. He'll make good deals with people because it makes him money. Absolutely nothing says he's out to hurt people. The one important proviso is that when he has to choose between helping himself first or helping the community first, he will almost always choose to help himself. That's not evil - that's just considering your own comfort and wellbeing to be top priority. Could he still be a slaver? Sure. But he could also be someone who reviles slavers.

    I view the archetypical Individualist/Order character as the Self-Made Man. And individual that started off low and worked very hard using the system to improve their own lot in life. Nothing keeps them from helping others - they are probably generous with their friends. But their top priority is enriching and improving themselves. We've all seen people like this - hell, it's the American dream. And because he isn't restricted to being evil, only being out for himself first, he is freer to explore roleplaying options.

    Because it isn't a good/evil divide, it allows anyone of any part of the spectrum to be good OR evil, as your ethics dictate - without losing the core of what their alignment is. Community can become fascist or kind, helping all or hurting a few to help the many. Individualist can be callous and cruel, or be kind in their own turn.

    That is why this is so much less restrictive.

    I'll try to get to some of the other responses later.
  8. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    Well I've already defined an Orderly Individualist - the Archetype is the "Self-Made Man". I might come up with a better one later, but I think that's the most appropriate.

    A Chaotic Community individual is someone who puts the needs of the community before their own, and is willing to sacrifice for the good of others. They are also a passionate person, who acts upon their feelings rather than law or tradition. They do not consider the laws and rules of the community to ultimately serve the best good for it (although they probably follow most of those rules most of the time), and when push comes to shove they'll do what they feel is right over what they are told is right.

    They are the sort of people that will gladly smother a tyrant in his sleep - or a halfbreed child who is disturbing the community. At their best, they are the Robin Hood type, who will rob a few of the rich to save the many poor. At their worst, they are intolerant soccer moms, with a violent bent. They will murder or banish a few unpopular outcasts for the good of the whole.

    These sorts of individuals can be organized, but they tend to be organized around a single, charismatic individual who holds everyone together through sheer force of personality.

    Like the others, they are not good or evil. I would characterize this archetype as the "Religious Prophet". They see wrong in the world and stand up to fight it, winning others over through sheer force of personality. Though this is always ostensibly for the benefit of all, nothing prevents this from being at the expense of some unpopular group or underclass. Hitler would have undoubtedly have been of this group, but so would President John Adams. And of course, this still works for the classical Robin Hood types.

    Different words, very similar concepts.
    Sure. Let's not lose the forest for the trees, here. Yes, chaotic individuals can be organized. The difference is HOW they are organized.

    Rather than large organizations based on rules, tradition and structure, Chaotic organizations work on the moment, based on passion and feeling. They tend to be dominated by a single individual with great charisma or force of personality. Communities and indeed whole societies can work like this - on the tribal level. Indeed, that is typically how they work. One "big man" leads the tribe. Should he become old, weak, or infirm, someone else can step up to challenge him and take his place.

    As for the difference between Individual/Community - really? You don't see the difference?

    Alright, well here's the difference. When asked to choose, one will choose the good of the community over their own wellbeing. They will sacrifice - and ask others to sacrifice - for the sake of everyone's good. They would be the type to let one die to save a thousand.

    The individualist would do the opposite. When asked to choose, they'll choose their own wellbeing above that of the community. They would refuse to sacrifice a single life to save a thousand if that person matters to them. They will not give up their friends and allies for any reason.

    Another difference is the outcast. Community minded individuals tend to want harmony. They do not like outcasts. Anyone unpopular with the community is making waves, and they hate that. They may seek to banish or purge them, or just mistreat them to force them to leave.

    Individualists LOVE outcasts. They usually are outcasts - seeking to stand apart from the group and if possible, stand above it. When they see the group picking on someone, if that someone is a person they like - they are almost certainly going to be willing to stand up to all of them.

    In either case, this can be good or bad. The community could decide to get rid of all of those Jews who are making them disturbed - or all of those Necromancers that are making them disturbed. It could be a group of legitimately bad people or just people who are different. That is why community will tend towards fascism if a person is evil.

    The individualist is someone who will stand up for those that matter to them no matter what, and they'll choose their values over the group every time. This could be great - someone in Nazi Germany who hid their Jewish friends (but not anyone else) could be said to be an Individualist. It could also be bad if they have bad values, by hiding and helping that group of evil necromancers.

    The differences are pretty clear, really.


    Call it whatever you like, I say it doesn't do anything to help the game, and seriously stretches your suspension of disbelief.

    Why the hell would anyone worship an evil god, really? That's the question that keeps coming up.

    But an individualist god? One that says, "worship me to protect what's yours"? Yes, I could see a hell of a lot of people being okay with that.
  9. I understand the Community/Individuality axis. It's the whole "Needs of the Many/Few" argument.

    It's the Order/Chaos axis I have problems with. You seem to be conflating several different kinds of order into one definition. For example:

    You use the example of Robin Hood as a Chaotic Communtarian... but he WAS orderly. His opposition wasn't to the concept of order, but to the specific laws of his time (which you already said wasn't what Order was about).

    Another example would be Batman. Acts to defend the community, but acts outside the law. However, since he's devoted to a "higher" notion of order, he can't be called chaotic.

    Really, the only reason Law & Chaos get involved in these discussions at all is because Gygax was a Moorcock fan. :)
  10. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    Ah, I understand your confusion.

    Again, this alignment chart works based not upon what they do, they why they do it. Robin Hood wanted to restore the rightful king of England to his throne - and he did it by becoming an outlaw, and garnered support by robbing the rich and giving to the poor. This is a man acting upon his feeling of what is right and wrong, more than just someone who is acting on the rules.

    George Washington was also a revolutionary, but he was clearly an individual of Order. He fought for congress, following their requests (a proper legal authority) in a "lawful" revolution backed by proper legal documents.

    He didn't fight as an outlaw; he fought as a general. He constantly lamented the lack of organization and order in his army. He followed rules. He wanted rules. He always worked through legal channels.

    The two men and their approach to their revolutionary actions is very different, as you can see.

    Each led a revolutionary action. They did so very differently. What it came down to was not what they did, but why they were doing it - and how.
  11. Frankly, in fantasy, I find the ethical set you devised less belivable since the truly memorable/epic fantasy settings/stories are all about the struggle of good vs evil and not individuality vs. community. In fact most epic fantasy tales are about a good community vs a bad one.

    ALL communities are ordered ones in some way. Your example of a tribal community being chaos is just flat wrong. Often they have the most rigid hierarchies and laws. And a lot of the examples of "individualists" to me would be community types (A person who hid Jews from Nazis would be putting the wellbeing of a community ahead of their own). You also say community minded individuals tend to want harmony. Which, would be order.

    You've basically replaced one arbitrary ethical set with vague relativist notions, with another just as vague.

    If you want to keep the "Law" vs. "Chaos" aspects, I'd say replace individual and community with selfish and altruistic respectively.

    This way Law is someone who either twists the law to their own ends (selfish), or uses it as justice (altruistic) or degrees in between.
    Chaos would be someone who is either a might makes right type (selfish) or a freedom above all else for all (altruistic) type or any degree between.


    Or just go with this as it sums up ppl better really:
    [IMG]
  12. Leaving aside the fact that Robin is fictional...

    They really aren't as different as you may think. Washington was a general, sure... for a rebellion against a legal authority who, due to extreme acts, had driven the populace to revolt.

    You seem to have this idea that because Washington had a title, he was somehow "legal". He wasn't. I'm sure if he'd been captured by the British, they'dve been more than happy to hang him for treason, as he'd originally been a commissioned officer in the British militia.

    And Robin's band had rules, in many tales. Indeed, they were probably more organized than the Colonial army, at least initially. They even had uniforms. :)
  13. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    See, this is the problem, Mobiboros. You are focused on exactly what I eliminated. You see the alternate axis of "is a douchebag" and "is not a douchebag", instead of, "community focused" and "individual focused".

    A big part of the point of changing this was to eliminate that particular interpretation. You're basically saying that you want half of the alignment spectrum to be douchebags. I'm saying that I don't want ANY of the alignment spectrum to be typecast as good or evil, but instead to use the alternate interpretation, which has nothing to do with morals.

    Here's the thing: Nothing makes an individualist a douchebag, and nothing makes a community focused individual a nice person. Either can be a douchebag, and either can be a nice person.

    THAT is why this is a superior alignment system.

    I think you also missed the point of my using a tribal society as an example of a chaotic society. I think we can get into a big long argument about the issue, and we'll have a dozen pages of thread spaghetti before one of us calls it quits, without anything determined.

    Needless to say, I'm going to skip all of that and simply give a comprehensive definition of a Chaotic society and let you fit it to whatever you think is best.

    "A Chaotic Society is one in which passion rules over reason. There may be laws and rules, but they can be subsumed by those with enough charisma and force of will. Generally, these are led by a single individual or small group of individuals who lead through will alone, appealing to the passions of their followers."

    Make of that what you will.

    And again, societies aren't people.

    As a final note, the "selfish/altruistic" angle is still carrying the connotations of "douchebag/Nice guy". That's what I'm trying to remove, if you're paying attention.

    I think you completely missed the point of what I was saying.

    I'll tell you what - why don't you tell me what you THINK I said, the point I was trying to make, and I'll correct you. Because clearly, the words you read don't actually resemble the ones I wrote.

    You seem far more interested in arguing with the analogy than with the idea behind it.

    I suppose I'll ask a separate question. "Is there anything which I could say which could possibly change your opinion on this matter?"

    If not, we're not having a discussion.
  14. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    That's the whole point. And I get a distinct impression that almost all of the criticism of this chart boils down to this.

    And my only response to that is, "Then use the old system."

    This is designed to remove morality from the chart, because in my opinion it was the cause of the issues with the old one.

    But some people DO prefer that, and I'm cool with that. Just understand - this chart was clearly created for people who were looking for something different than you.
  15. Luke Danger That would be so cool if it wasn't going to hurt

    Build a setting with this alignment chart.

    It'll be hard to design classes with this kind of alignment, but it could go somewhere. Lot of potential over the usual cookie cutter NG/CG/NE/CE/TN affairs
  16. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    Dude, what is with the thread spaghetti? Seriously? I posted a one paragraph argument. This shit is crazy.

    Because it is arbitrarily defined by the game creators, instead of by the players.

    So?



    As others have pointed out, the chart is usually played with good=nice guy, and evil=douchebag.

    I have simply replaced it with a system that does not carry such expectations of the player, and thus does not encourage someone to be a complete tool just because they chose a particular alignment to play.

    Instead, everyone is now free to be a complete tool entirely on their own. :p


    I changed the term because the old one causes confusion over what "lawful" actually means.


    And I've never heard less arguments about anything else. Particularly those "no win paladin falls" situations. Which this chart fixes by clarifying the alignment system. (Although again, I don't support using it as a mechanic.)



    Alignment is roleplaying shorthand to help you adopt a personality different than your own quickly. That's how I use it, anyway.

    As such, the alignment system should be made as clear as possible. With this, we don't get the same misunderstandings we did under the old one.

    Although, if it didn't sound kinda dumb, I would replace "chaos" with "passion". I'm still looking for a better word. One in English, mind you. Not Greek.

    Yeah, but the old books didn't like to just come out and say it. I do.
  17. That's what I was getting from it to.
  18. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    Before I start this, I should point out that this guy's arguments are pretty well written. I like that.

    Generally speaking, societies decide good and evil on the "it's good for me" and "it's bad for me" lines. Also, pretty things are generally good and ugly things are generally evil.

    That certainly isn't true in the real world. Different societies have different values. In the west, religious satire is considered good - it's an expression of freedom. In the middle east, it's considered heresy, an attempt to corrupt men's souls.

    In the west, capitalism is mostly seen as good. In the USSR, capitalism was seen to be as bad as the Nazis. I have some cartoons made in Russia that make this point, actually, and I'll post them if you like.

    In Japan, it's seen as perfectly okay for someone to sacrifice lifelong prospects (such as romance) for the sake of their family. In America, people would see a family that demands such a sacrifice of someone to be evil.

    In some locations of the world where they still practice arranged marriage, it's seen as good. The family ensures their child gets a good spouse. In the west, it's seen as evil to force someone to marry someone they do not love.

    Good and evil are entirely subjective, and based upon the society in which you live. The idea that a society working on entirely different principles from our own, with different culture and traditions would hold our exact same modern values is bullshit.

    Not to say that it is bad for a game to have those standards defined. I just believe it's best not to have that be a part of the character alignment system.
    Got me there. Sure, people will probably play it badly no matter what. I still see it as better than the good/evil divide, however, because one half doesn't automatically carry the "douchebag" label, encouraging players to act like, well, douchebags.


    Like I said to some other posters by now, yeah. It's just a relabeling to clarify the confusion people have had over it. There's a little bit of difference, but that's about it.

    Wait, what the hell does "intersubjective" actually mean? :wtf:

    in·ter·sub·jec·tive
       /ˌɪntərsəbˈdʒɛktɪv/ Show Spelled[in-ter-suhb-jek-tiv] Show IPA
    –adjective Philosophy
    comprehensible to, relating to, or used by a number of persons, as a concept or language.


    I still have no idea what the hell idea you were trying to convey there. "Good and evil are sufficiently comprehensive to a number of persons as a concept" doesn't actually change my point about it being subjective based on culture.

    And yes again on the roleplaying extremes thing. There's nothing you can make that people can't screw up. I'll agree on that point.


    Yep.


    I would say that it does mostly because it is a mechanic with an arbitrarily designed definition of good and evil attached to it.



    See above.



    See above.


    Yes, yes. The fact of the matter is I don't care if he was right. This discussion isn't relating to MTG. The point is that he clarified what I was seeing in the way WoTC tried to define good and evil in their arbitrary standards of morality.

    As Community/Individualism are divorced from the baggage that black/white carry in MTG, there's nothing that makes them inherently evil. Nothing requires an Individualist to wear dark robes and sacrifice people for power. Nothing says a community minded individual can't become a necromancer so the zombies they raise can fight against a rival community.

    It inspired this chart, but it's far from the same thing.


    I think it is the point, though. That's the whole reason I divorced community/individualism from good and evil. Of course there'll be some fuzzy patches and vague boundaries on this, as well. But there are two main reasons for it:

    1: Do divorce the nice guy/douchebag dichotomy from the alignment system

    2: To prevent an arbitrary definition of good and evil from being created by the game designers, which limits players actions.

    So? I think you missed the point.


    See above, and my other posts to other people who've asked the same question.



    Actually, this is exactly what I want gone. I want the nice guy/douchebag dichotomy to be entirely up to the group; I do not want a "moral" system that mostly comes down to that.

    This system makes no determination about whether you are nice or a tool. Instead, it simply serves as a guide to say why you do the things you do, which will let players know how to roleplay certain actions - in a far more complex manner than the "nice/douche" dualist nonsense.

    Here's a simple question: Why do you WANT half of the alignment chart to consist of several flavors of douchebag, instead of just determining the character's interests?

    You've made a few good points here, but I think that again this all comes down to that - the dreaded dichotomy of nice/douche.
  19. SICON_Reaper Señor Seriouso

    I'd like to, but I don't think I have the time for a project like that right now. :(

    Anyway, I don't think classes should be designed from it. Rather, classes should be about mechanics, and alignment should be irrelevant. It just defines the flavor of the class when you play it.

    For instance, I think the mechanics of the Paladin class should be available to every class. It wouldn't really be a Paladin unless it was Order/Community, but they would be something else with their own distinct flavor. Variant paladin classes for other alignments already exist, of course, and I've already referenced them once. Paladins of Freedom are Chaotic Good paladins. You'd have something pretty similar if you had a Chaos/Community paladin.

    And really, there's no honestly good reason to tie a class to a particular alignment. It's just like the bullshit restrictions of 2e, when only certain races could be certain classes and certain races could only level up so much. It really doesn't need to be there.
  20. Unhappy Anchovy Torment

    Thank you! :)

    Well, first of all, all your argument here actually shows is that there is widespread moral disagreement. That does not show that good and evil are subjective: it shows that men and women think about them in subjective ways. We relate to concepts of good and evil in culturally conditioned ways, and there are different perceptions.

    However, I would contend, there are some basic commonalities, and these are enough to make concepts of good and evil effectively translatable across different cultures. There are common experiences of good and evil, with only very few exceptions. To choose an example at random, say, torture. I think you will find it very rare to encounter a person who genuinely believes that torture is morally good, or even morally neutral. Even people who believe that torture is justified rarely if ever believe that it, in itself, is a good act. (I am reminded of Chesterton's comment: Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.)

    I would point out that in most D&D games, playing a character of the evil alignment is forbidden.

    An intersubjective experience is an experience constituted by the subjective experiences of multiple individuals. The idea, put simply, is that my subjective experiences do not occur in a vacuum. They are affected and conditioned by the subjective experiences of everyone else around me.

    For example. When I read about the Holocaust, I have a subjective experience of evil. That is to say, I perceive an evil series of events, I have a negative emotional reaction (horror, disgust, etc.), I am motivated to oppose such behaviour in the future, I feel compassion towards the victims, and so on. In doing this, my subjective experience actually connects with the subjective experiences of others. My subjective experience incorporates elements of the subjective experiences of the victims: perhaps I was reading If This Is a Man, and part of my experience is constituted by Levi's experiences, by the experiences of the editors that helped put the book together, of the publishers, of the entire culture that led to such a book being published, by the experiences of everyone in my culture who helped to create my expectations about a book about the Holocaust, and so on.

    Human subjective experiences are dynamically inter-related. Part of my subjective experience involves sharing the subjective experiences of others, through the use of empathy, and when I put myself into the metaphorical shoes of another.

    Anyway. The relevance to this topic is that our experiences of evil are intersubjective. No one has a definition of evil that is completely isolated from that of everyone else. When we talk about evil, we're talking about a complex intersubjective concept, and even when we disagree about which fringe cases are truly evil or not, there is some mutual understanding. (When a vegetarian says to me 'I think that raising animals for slaughter is evil', while I disagree that it is, I understand the vegetarian's emotional reaction to raising animals for slaughter. I understand the property being ascribed to the act.)

    In this way, subjective perceptions of evil, and of good for that matter, are connected in a complex matrix. This matrix is meaningful and can be used in communication without too much confusion, as evidenced by the simple fact that good and evil are words that we use on a regular basis and we seem to know what they mean. If good and evil are meaningful concepts in everyday life; then I don't see any reason why they can't be meaningful in an RPG system.

    Now, sure, we can quibble about what character X's alignment is. But we can do that for any alignment system imaginable. Alignment exists to give a vague approximation of a character's overall value set, which will allow players and GMs to, at a glance, get an idea of what a certain character is out to achieve. When I say 'King Arthur is Lawful Good', that's an approximation that will tell someone who knows nothing about King Arthur how they should go about playing him. Our language, cultural background, etc., is enough for the statement 'King Arthur is Lawful Good' to be a meaningful one.

    Leaving aside for the moment that I think good and evil are actually objective concepts, albeit concepts we relate to subjectively (because we relate to everything subjectively)...

    Even for a complete moral relativist, definitions of good and evil aren't arbitrary. There are reasons, perhaps due to evolutionary history, social cohesion, and so on. And if this is the case, then the terms 'good' and 'evil' are understood sufficiently well for players outside the game to use them as shorthand approximations for value sets.

    You mentioned the Book of Exalted Deeds and Book of Vile Darkness before, and it is true that they are awful supplements. I just want to clarify here that I'm defending the alignment system only. I am not defending those two books, and I don't think they were the inevitable consequence of the alignment system. As you say, people can misunderstand anything.

    For what it's worth, in the context of the nine point alignment system, I don't think moral goodness equates to niceness (i.e. charm, personal magnetism, and general pleasantness to be around), nor do I think evil alignment equates to unthinking jerkishness.

    It is perfectly conceivable for a good-aligned person to be abrasive and sarcastic, or for an evil-aligned person to be charming and affable. Alignment does not cover all personality traits.

    I don't. I think that's a straw man.

    Paladins are a bit weird, since neither 3rd nor 4th really gets to the core of what they are, I think. Your archetypal paladin is someone like Sir Galahad, right? My feeling is that a paladin, definitionally, is a holy warrior. By that I mean a paladin must satisfy three criteria. 1) A paladin is a warrior. He or she is skilled in the martial arts and uses them in his or her profession. 2) A paladin is in the service of some sacred or divine cause. 3) A paladin is morally upstanding.

    To my mind, 3rd forget the second point (for paladins were totally divorced from religion in 3rd), and 4th forgot the third point (for paladins are totally divorced from morality in 4th). Both atheist-paladins and evil-paladins are missing something important. A paladin is not just a warrior with a cause, and not just a warrior who happens to be a nice guy or girl: a paladin is a warrior in the service of a divinely righteous cause.
  21. magic9mushroom BEST END.

    I hate to actually praise FATAL, but describing Lawful/Chaotic as Ethical/Unethical does help to explain it.


    @SICON_Reaper: Why do you insist that Good/Evil restrict players' actions and Community/Individualist do not, when they're exactly the same thing? Or that one set of labels forces people to be douchebags and nice guys, while the other does not?

    (Incidentally, people who care more about themselves than others are more likely to be douchebags, this is a simple fact.)

    Also, yeah, BoED is bad. Ignore it. BoVD, well, a bunch of the things don't seem very Evil (like Willing Deformity, which is more Squicky than Evil), but in general it's alright.

  22. I was partially arguing with the analogy, because I just can't get a handle on your definition of chaotic. In one post, you talk about passion vs structure, but in another you bring up the fact that Washington was fighting as part of a "properly legal" revolution. But the reason he joined the revolution was because he felt passionate about the freedom of the Colonies, no?

    It sounds like you are trying for a Jedi/Sith dichotomy, but the application isn't working for me.
  23. Yitzi Jew

    So? Why can't you create that character in the old alignment system? He'd probably be considered lawful neutral, but you certainly could create him.

    But who cares about that particular system? We're discussing what's objectively true.

    By fiat as to what "good" and "evil" mean.

    There is some ambiguity, to be sure (such as someone who is horribly misguided and does evil thinking it's good), but that's something for the DM (possibly with help from the players) to work out.

    "Which description in the PHB does this character most closely fit", however, should work.

    And in "classical fantasy" campaigns, that probably works better.

    Oh, no question that those are totally garbage...but that's no reason to eliminate the core system.

    Yeah...evil people would try to rally them, and then publicly kill anyone who refuses to be rallied in order to frighten the others into joining them.

    There are many ways to do that, though...some are LE, some are CE, and some aren't evil at all.

    Taken to an extreme, that is evil.

    Anyone's free to explore roleplaying options. The only question is what the resulting alignment will be.

    But why should every alignment to available to both good and evil?

    Barring classes with alignment restrictions (which aren't dealt with in your system), the old alignment system isn't restrictive at all. You can play whatever type of character you want; that'll just affect your alignment.

    Why is community/individuality more important to describing someone than good/evil?

    No, that's why it's different. To be superior, it has to describe people better.

    And in this case, it's arbitrarily defined by you, instead of by the players.

    People shouldn't be choosing an alignment to play anyway. They should be choosing a character, and then describing it with an alignment.

    Well, those are just stupid.

    It's more roleplaying shorthand to quickly sum up the most important things about a character.
  24. Because those focuses make no sense when contrasted with Order vs Chaos.

    And actually my point wasn't that at all, which is why I posited "Selfish" vs "Altruistic" rather than community vs individual.

    No, I posted the chart as a joke.

    No, but every extreme individualist has to be chaotic and every extremely community oriented person has to support order. You don't really have 2 axis, you have a spindle with the ends converging.

    Frankly, no it's not. It's a /different/ one that will result in a different look at a world but it's not inherently superior. Really, games that don't have alignment at all are superior because the concept of a single axial alignment system is rather an outdated and overly simplistic view of human interactions/motivations.

    So cults are basically your prime example of a "Chaotic Community".

    Only if you think of selfish as a bad thing (Which is a dumb way to think of it). Selfish just means your motivations are prompted by your desires to advance yourself in some way. That could be criminal who steals lollipops from babies, or it could be the person who works in the soup kitchen because helping others makes them feel good.
  25. Anyone who thinks cults are chaotic has never read stories of people who tried to leave one....

Share This Page