Law, Chaos, Monks and Barbarians


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It was previewed that Paladins retain the alignment restriction in their creation. I thought this was a relatively curious choice, but one I can accept thematically to an extent.

However, I fear the alignment restrictions will remain for both Barbarians and Monks, and I think this would be to the detriment of the game.

I will expand as follows, for each case:

Lawful Barbarians:

It is my understanding that Barbarians are chaotic for two reasons: their tribalism, and their willingness to surrender to their primal instincts.

The former is the easiest one to unpack and dismiss. Tribalism is seen as isolationist and individualist, thus chaotic. But this is, in the most part, a fetished notion by civilized societies – the whole notion that our society's communalism and altruism bring about weakness, while tribal peoples can be closer to base emotions due to their individualism is... uh... problematic. So let's do our work and toss it aside.

Now, there's the second component to this – that Barbarians are barred from Lawfulness because of the inherent chaos of the act of raging.

My problem with this idea is the cut-off point. Emotions aren't antithetical to lawfulness. A Paladin's fervor is a similar experience – they submit to the glory of a pure, unadulterated beatific vision. How is that not ecstasy for the Paladin? How is it not a paroxysm of emotion to be a vessel of magnificence?

Both the Barbarian and the Paladin choose to submit to different powers. The Paladin has faith in that power, and believes that power to have an intelligence and reason, yes, but the Barbarian knows the power they submit to as well. Barbarians know its reasons, but the Lawful Barbarian could use this power as a tool to achieve something else.

To illustrate the idea of Lawful Barbarians, consider the samurai. Honorable, loyal, submissive to higher powers. But the fantasy of the samurai is deeply connected with the idea they are able to exert themselves beyond the limits of common human capacity out of sheer mettle.

I'll expand on Chaotic Monks if there's any traction to this thread :P


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I agree with some of what you are saying, but not why you are saying it. It all leads in to my opinion that "barbarian" is a poor name for the class though.

First, Barbarians are not chaotic. What they are is "not lawful." Devotion to the Chaotic spectrum of alignments is not needed.

Second, tribalism is irrelevant. I'm not even going to address it because it is so unnecessary to my opinion that I don't even have a starting point.

Third though is the important point, that I have a slightly different take on. Barbarians are barred from lawfulness because lawfulness implies discipline and self control and as you point out, a Barbarian has a willingness, or even desire, to surrender to their primal instincts.

That is the key. Surrendering to instinct, not merely having powerful emotions. The Barbarian class thrives (or should) on instinct. A character that is chosen to be a member of this class can go full bore into a Chaotic outlook, temper their abandon with discipline and become Neutral, but to become Lawful is to me to lose the wildness necessary to tap into the primal power that fuels and drives them.

So clearly, I don't support lawful barbarians. I don't even support the class being called that though, not if the class is going to keep the power called "rage" as a key feature. That abandonment of control and wildness of spirit is the needed quality, not any disdain of civilization that the name Barbarian implies.

Unfortunately, I don't have a better name.


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I have a similar opinion on Chaotic Monks. The Monk and the Barbarian do the same thing from different angles. Where the Barbarians (still not a fan of the name) empower themselves through surrender of control and riding the wave of instinct into battle, the Monks focus on control and dedication to esoteric techniques and mystic exercises.

I'd say that "any lawful" is a bit much for the Monk though. "Not Chaotic" would mirror the Barbarian nicely and allow for more freedom of character types. Where the Barbarians can't be Lawfully aligned or lose the ability to abandon themselves to the power they seek, the Monk can't be devoted to Chaos or they would lose the discipline to develop their power.

There should be plenty of space for mundane martial artists though. People who are just phenomenal hand to hand fighters without mucking about with all that "Ki" or possibly "Monk Adjacent" classes like the old Battle Dancer from the 3.5 Dragon compendium.

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Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies is a LG Barbarian IMO

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I don't think you need any real philosophizing to justify this. Bloodragers have no Alignment restrictions and rage every bit as much as a Barbarian, while Monks have been able to be non-Lawful in several ways for some time.

Just remove the restrictions.


Stone Dog wrote:
There should be plenty of space for mundane martial artists though. People who are just phenomenal hand to hand fighters without mucking about with all that "Ki" or possibly "Monk Adjacent" classes like the old Battle Dancer from the 3.5 Dragon compendium.

Or the martial artist archetype in Ultimate Combat. Somehow it's often overlooked...


Deadmanwalking wrote:

I don't think you need any real philosophizing to justify this. Bloodragers have no Alignment restrictions and rage every bit as much as a Barbarian, while Monks have been able to be non-Lawful in several ways for some time.

Just remove the restrictions.

Probably okay in the long run too.


The Raven Black wrote:
Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies is a LG Barbarian IMO

Yes he certainly never does what he thinks best and always looks to tradition to solve problems...

The Raven Black wrote:
To illustrate the idea of Lawful Barbarians, consider the samurai. Honorable, loyal, submissive to higher powers. But the fantasy of the samurai is deeply connected with the idea they are able to exert themselves beyond the limits of common human capacity out of sheer mettle.

wut?


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To be frank, any rule that makes it impossible to build Sun Wukong as a Monk is a failed rule.

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The Martial Artist archetype can handle the CN Sun Wukong ;-)


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Are you suggesting that Sun Wukong is a variety of Monk with all of the supernatural stuff stripped out?


Secret Wizard wrote:

It was previewed that Paladins retain the alignment restriction in their creation. I thought this was a relatively curious choice, but one I can accept thematically to an extent.

However, I fear the alignment restrictions will remain for both Barbarians and Monks, and I think this would be to the detriment of the game.

I will expand as follows, for each case:

Lawful Barbarians:

It is my understanding that Barbarians are chaotic for two reasons: their tribalism, and their willingness to surrender to their primal instincts.

The former is the easiest one to unpack and dismiss. Tribalism is seen as isolationist and individualist, thus chaotic. But this is, in the most part, a fetished notion by civilized societies – the whole notion that our society's communalism and altruism bring about weakness, while tribal peoples can be closer to base emotions due to their individualism is... uh... problematic. So let's do our work and toss it aside.

Now, there's the second component to this – that Barbarians are barred from Lawfulness because of the inherent chaos of the act of raging.

My problem with this idea is the cut-off point. Emotions aren't antithetical to lawfulness. A Paladin's fervor is a similar experience – they submit to the glory of a pure, unadulterated beatific vision. How is that not ecstasy for the Paladin? How is it not a paroxysm of emotion to be a vessel of magnificence?

Both the Barbarian and the Paladin choose to submit to different powers. The Paladin has faith in that power, and believes that power to have an intelligence and reason, yes, but the Barbarian knows the power they submit to as well. Barbarians know its reasons, but the Lawful Barbarian could use this power as a tool to achieve something else.

To illustrate the idea of Lawful Barbarians, consider the samurai. Honorable, loyal, submissive to higher powers. But the fantasy of the samurai is deeply connected with the idea they are able to exert themselves beyond the limits of common human capacity out...

This discussion reminds me of something Catholic monks would talk about w.r.t. ethics. I can't remember who said it originally but the argument goes as follows:

A person who always submit to their instincts and desires is essentially a slave because they never make a decision (more specifically, they are a slave to the devil). Meanwhile, one who submits to god's law is constantly making decisions to either follow their own desires or submit to a code that is free of their desire. As such only people with a code to follow can be viewed as free.

So yeah. That is a whole thing to muddy your waters even more.

To respond to you more specifically:
I am not sure raging is submitting to a higher power so much as it is submitting to brutal desires and passions that society and decorum would ask us to suppress. Frankly, if you look at the way Japan depicts a lot of Sengoku warriors in their media, some of those dudes are definitely "barbarians" in Pathfinder rules terms, reveling in the bloodlust that peacetime society denies them. However, I think that more points to the fact that Samurai weren't really unimpeachable fonts of honor. That is really more of a romanticized western conceit propagated by one ethnically Japanese author at the turn of the last century (This Dude) and that was sort of written as a way to push back against anti-Japanese racism that was prevalent then. Fun fact: Japanese immigrants in the late 1800s were stupidly great farmers compared to American natives and American born farmers did not care for that one bit.


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i wrote my rant at 5am while in the hospital because my gf was sick (she's fine!)

please take it as a launching pad for a discussion, in general.

One thing Deadmanwalking and Excaliburproxy seem to miss is that my approach then to the concept Barbarian as something entangled with a specific fantasy upon its creation, reflected on its name.

I don't see "Barbarian" that way, I see it as a bunch of mechanics that can be applied to many things.

In Excaliburproxy's reply, he mentions that I'm mixing up actual Samurai with a Westernized fantasy of them. This is done on purpose – my whole point is that the less we *impose* fantasies, the more freedom to explore concepts we have.

Excaliburproxy wrote:
A person who always submit to their instincts and desires is essentially a slave because they never make a decision (more specifically, they are a slave to the devil). Meanwhile, one who submits to god's law is constantly making decisions to either follow their own desires or submit to a code that is free of their desire. As such only people with a code to follow can be viewed as free.

Of course, I'm sure that if we had a Lawful Barbarian here he could also make an argument saying the opposite – but the idea is, is either of you more Lawful than the other?

I think one of the codifiers for Lawfulness is willingness to exact blind justice, to the detriment of one own's interests, and in the name of their own convictions.

I think a Lawful Barbarian, who is able to fly into a rage, is also the owner of that instrument, and its manner of application and its objectives could serve a Lawful mindset.

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Oh, I don't disagree that you can use the Barbarian Class for a variety of stuff other than the stereotypical. I just don't think delving into all that is necessary to justify the removal of the Alignment restriction.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
To be frank, any rule that makes it impossible to build Sun Wukong as a Monk is a failed rule.

Sun Wukong is a supernatural being and his legends are based on him being a supernaturally strong and quick warrior. The fact that he used a staff and martial arts does not a monk make. Most of his supernatural abilities stem from stealing things he had no right to.


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We can say pretty definitively that self-control and discipline are *not* Lawful-exclusive in Pathfinder, though. If that were the case, Wizards, Samurai/Cavaliers, Alchemists, hell, even *Fighters* would have to be Lawful given the depth of focused training that goes into their skills. Fiction is replete with master mystical martial artists who nonetheless indulge in vices, are bad-tempered and aggressive, or use their powers in selfish and self-centered ways, and with berserkers who nonetheless keep to a code of honor and myriad tribal traditions and taboos.

For that matter, rage does not have to be pure instinct-driven frothing fury. Indeed, evidence is arguably firmer that it's not, as a raging barbarian is still perfectly capable of tactical consideration and distinguishing friend from for. One could just as easily think of it as ancold, focused 'battle trance'.

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What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this distinction ?


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Revan wrote:
For that matter, rage does not have to be pure instinct-driven frothing fury. Indeed, evidence is arguably firmer that it's not, as a raging barbarian is still perfectly capable of tactical consideration and distinguishing friend from for. One could just as easily think of it as ancold, focused 'battle trance'.

I've considered just today to make an elvish barbarian that classifies himself more as a 'Battle dancer' and reflavoring the rage as a battle trance - should work just fine without mechanics tweaking


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Ryan Freire wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
To be frank, any rule that makes it impossible to build Sun Wukong as a Monk is a failed rule.
Sun Wukong is a supernatural being and his legends are based on him being a supernaturally strong and quick warrior. The fact that he used a staff and martial arts does not a monk make. Most of his supernatural abilities stem from stealing things he had no right to.

So Sun Wukong is a rogue?


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Sun Wukong is an example from classical sources, but even the ones that are more prevalent in media – such as any Jackie Chan character, chaotic drunken masters, Kung Fu Panda, etc., all show several chaotic sides to them.

Even Kenshiro cannot be firmly rooted as Lawful.


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The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this distinction ?

The only times I've seen people agree on distinguishing differences is in the extremes. So this leaves me to conclude that around 1% of characters are Chaotic or Lawful and the rest are neutral. There shouldn't be any focus on mechanics to represent such a tiny amount of cases.


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I think the sheer number of workarounds for lawful barbarians (including characters of other classes who can rage) and non-lawful monks have already been seen by the Paizo folks as a sign that they would want to reconsider the alignment restrictions on these classes.

We can be sure that they reached similar conclusions about the D&D 3rd edition restrictions on advancing in the monk and paladin classes after taking levels in other classes, and for very similar reasons.

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Malk_Content wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this distinction ?
The only times I've seen people agree on distinguishing differences is in the extremes. So this leaves me to conclude that around 1% of characters are Chaotic or Lawful and the rest are neutral. There shouldn't be any focus on mechanics to represent such a tiny amount of cases.

Then we can erase the Chaotic-Lawful axis and everyone will be happy ? Somehow I doubt it


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Not everyone will be happy no matter what is decided, as we've all seen. Aiming for "everyone will be happy" is kind of useless.

Also, the opinions of what constitutes "law" and "chaotic" behaviors are so divergent and individual that they are functionally meaningless, so I wouldn't want to base any mechanics at all on that particular dichotomy. Why try to build a house on quicksand?

Edit: I wouldn't mind Law and Chaos remaining in the game as a spring-off point for RP though. Defining what lawful and what chaotic behavior means to your player is something that can make for an interesting story. But due to the table by table variance, and heck even person to person variance, I wouldn't want it as more than an RP system.


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Azih wrote:
Ryan Freire wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
To be frank, any rule that makes it impossible to build Sun Wukong as a Monk is a failed rule.
Sun Wukong is a supernatural being and his legends are based on him being a supernaturally strong and quick warrior. The fact that he used a staff and martial arts does not a monk make. Most of his supernatural abilities stem from stealing things he had no right to.
So Sun Wukong is a rogue?

Given that most of his feats involve either tricking, lying, or defeating people with physical prowess, probably fighter/rogue.

Its just easy for people to go MONK! cause martial arts, forgetting that it isn't just a monk thing in the culture that envisioned sun wukong.

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Really, this discussion just makes me want an Archetype that makes you viable and effective at unarmed and unarmored combat. That sounds cool and like a valid Archetype, and lets you make an epic martial artist of any Class.

That sounds neat. Call it Brawler or Martial Artist and it seems fun and can probably be made balanced fairly readily.


I made a staff slayer who used ascetic style. It was a lot of fun whaling on people with 2d6 quarterstaff strikes.

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Well, we now know for sure that Barbarian, at least, has no Alignment restriction. So that's cool.


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Yep, keeping my hopes up for Monk too.


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Feels like Monk might have similar anathema options as the Barbarian instead of alignment restrictions.


Meophist wrote:
Feels like Monk might have similar anathema options as the Barbarian instead of alignment restrictions.

I can see that happening, and I'm all for it presuming they come bundled in a similar way to the Barbarian Totems.

Schools / Orders of Monks each with a particular Anathema (including the possibility of a religious Order who take their Anathema from their Deity), who focus on some particular tree of whatever the Monk encompasses.

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Meophist wrote:
Feels like Monk might have similar anathema options as the Barbarian instead of alignment restrictions.

Yeah, if this done similarly (via School/Style or something like that), I'm totally down with it.


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The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this distinction ?

Why do there need to be mechanical distinctions? What distinctions actually exist now? Off the top of my head, all I can think of are Detect/Protection/Smite type abilities and alignment restrictions. Arguing that alignment restrictions are arbitrary and unnecessary, at least for base classes, is fundamentally the point here, and the others *target* an alignment, but require no consistent definition of *why* someone is that alignment.

Law and Chaos have pretty much never had a singular definition of the duality that they embody. Is it Tradition vs. Innovation? Collectivism vs. Individualism? Authoritarianism vs. Egalitarianism? Legalism vs. Anarchy? Means vs. Ends? Kantian Moral Imperative vs. Utilitarianism? In practice it seems that it means one or more of these for various different Lawful and Chaotic characters and societies, often mutually contradictory amongst them.

And maybe that's a feature, not a bug, if you do away with alignment restrictions asmuch as possible. Whatever else, Law and Chaos seem to be descriptors especially concerned with *motivation* more than action. As a descriptor that helps a player think about their character's ideals without being a straitjacket, they can be useful. As hard-and-fast, precisely defined binaries, however, they seem to have a very hard time describing characters who actually act like people.

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And yet deities will allow and forbid Clerics based on their full alignment, including this axis

So, there must be a clear definition of Chaotic and Lawful at the table, even if it is the GM's own


Seisho wrote:
Revan wrote:
For that matter, rage does not have to be pure instinct-driven frothing fury. Indeed, evidence is arguably firmer that it's not, as a raging barbarian is still perfectly capable of tactical consideration and distinguishing friend from for. One could just as easily think of it as ancold, focused 'battle trance'.
I've considered just today to make an elvish barbarian that classifies himself more as a 'Battle dancer' and reflavoring the rage as a battle trance - should work just fine without mechanics tweaking

Honestly thats why i preferred UBarb. The stances seeming more fighter than barbarian aside its a more versatile class as far as fighting style and even theme. You can go dex build without taking a rage nerf, Its strictly superior for TWF (frenzybarb ftw) which is a thing that kind of blows me away that people weren't more into as barb was the only real martial with pounce. Its only big greatweapon that takes much of a hit and its not THAT big of a hit given how prone barbs are to dramatic overkill anyway.


The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this disinction ?

What about an option for doing away with L & C, and having Selfishness and Altruism, instead? Or Individualism and Collectivism?

Surely we could do something better?


MuddyVolcano wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this disinction ?

What about an option for doing away with L & C, and having Selfishness and Altruism, instead? Or Individualism and Collectivism?

Surely we could do something better?

If we go that route, just jetison alignment altogether...

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MuddyVolcano wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this disinction ?

What about an option for doing away with L & C, and having Selfishness and Altruism, instead? Or Individualism and Collectivism?

Surely we could do something better?

Selfishness and Altruism are already in the game as Good and Evil (Good is Altruism and Evil is Selfishness...most people have a fair bit of both and are Neutral).

And, frankly, going with Individualism vs. Collectivism for Chaos and Law is well supported by the text and you can probably stick strictly to it without telling anyone and they won't notice anything out of the ordinary.

The actual game doesn't stick strictly to that because other things get thrown in as Lawful or Chaotic, but Individualism is pretty universally defined as Chaotic while Collectivism is pretty universally defined as Lawful.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
MuddyVolcano wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
What then distinguishes Chaotic from Lawful and what mechanics could be based on this disinction ?

What about an option for doing away with L & C, and having Selfishness and Altruism, instead? Or Individualism and Collectivism?

Surely we could do something better?

Selfishness and Altruism are already in the game as Good and Evil (Good is Altruism and Evil is Selfishness...most people have a fair bit of both and are Neutral).

And, frankly, going with Individualism vs. Collectivism for Chaos and Law is well supported by the text and you can probably stick strictly to it without telling anyone and they won't notice anything out of the ordinary.

The actual game doesn't stick strictly to that because other things get thrown in as Lawful or Chaotic, but Individualism is pretty universally defined as Chaotic while Collectivism is pretty universally defined as Lawful.

I really wouldn't mind a terminology switch. When it comes down to it, folks play L & C fairly similarly, even when in our hearts, we want them to be different, you know?

They're just old terminologies, I guess? Also, I think we as humans want to see certain traits in them that we ourselves like. So, it colors them. I don't know that that's the case. I just suspect it.

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MuddyVolcano wrote:
I really wouldn't mind a terminology switch. When it comes down to it, folks play L & C fairly similarly, even when in our hearts, we want them to be different, you know?

This isn't actually my experience. My groups tend toward Chaotic Alignments, with some Neutral Alignments thrown in and those can play fairly similarly sometimes. Every Lawful character I've seen played has been distinctly different from that norm, however.

MuddyVolcano wrote:
They're just old terminologies, I guess? Also, I think we as humans want to see certain traits in them that we ourselves like. So, it colors them.

Well sure, but that's gonna happen regardless of what terms you use. It's human nature.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
MuddyVolcano wrote:
I really wouldn't mind a terminology switch. When it comes down to it, folks play L & C fairly similarly, even when in our hearts, we want them to be different, you know?

This isn't actually my experience. My groups tend toward Chaotic Alignments, with some Neutral Alignments thrown in and those can play fairly similarly sometimes. Every Lawful character I've seen played has been distinctly different from that norm, however.

MuddyVolcano wrote:
They're just old terminologies, I guess? Also, I think we as humans want to see certain traits in them that we ourselves like. So, it colors them.
Well sure, but that's gonna happen regardless of what terms you use. It's human nature.

I like to think it'd happen a little less with terminology that matches modern language. >.>

And yeah, I get you. I have this image of Chaos and Law in my head. I've learned here though, that everyone's interpretation is very different, when discussion comes out. Even at my own tables.

It's at least, also what I've picked up through multithreaded forum entries lately.

Mind, maybe you can bring some insight to that. I'm referring to the multitude of posts we've had, and threads, that've come up like so many gardens, haha.


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In some ways a different terminology would be beneficial. I find that Pathfinder/D&D have a different definition of Law and Chaos than the common vernacular. When I speak to someone outside of the Tabletop RPG world about Chaos, they most often link it to the word "Anarchy" rather than "Individuality". Law tends to be linked "Order" rather than "Conformity". (at least I find) So there already is a disjunction taking place...
That being said, I do not have any alternatives. So I have no recommendations in that way. But I do know that generally speaking, if you use the terms Good=Altruism, Evil=Selfishness, Law=Collectivism, and Chaos=Individualism. People understand that. Especially when it comes to Good vs Evil, people know the differences in general. That is pretty easy. But the Law and Chaos spectrum?... That's more tricky. I myself am a LG person. I see Law as Order/Boundaries. I find one can have GREATER individuality within the confines of Order/Boundaries. So I don't personally see Chaos as Individuality, but that's me. This highlights the problems that we face at the table when we say the same words but mean different things. An open discussion at the table would be most beneficial to remedy any future problems... (understatement I know)


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It's all up to interpretation.

Take Robin Hood.

Is he Chaotic Good because he's a Libertarian hero, someone who spurns taxation from an oppressive regime?

Or is he Chaotic Good because he's a Socialist hero, someone who wishes to undermine an unfair hegemony to redistribute to the poor?

So no, I would not put Chaos vs Law as Collectivism vs Individualism.

To me, Chaos vs Law is simpler: the Lawful will suffer a detriment to their interests, or the interests of those they care for, in the name of an abstract conceit. The Chaotic would not.

Of course there is room for mercy, but it is for a Lawful creature to give unto others, NEVER unto itself or those that they consider to be intrinsically tangled with them.

For example, the Lawful Evil ambitious secret broker that cares deeply about the advancement of his nation. If they discover that their actions have undermined their nation, they will pay a burden of conscience.

The Chaotic character will always place the personal and material above the abstract.

That does not imply that the Chaotic is less collectivist, just less abstract about it.

IMHO.


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Secret Wizard wrote:

It's all up to interpretation.

Take Robin Hood.

Is he Chaotic Good because he's a Libertarian hero, someone who spurns taxation from an oppressive regime?

Or is he Chaotic Good because he's a Socialist hero, someone who wishes to undermine an unfair hegemony to redistribute to the poor?

So no, I would not put Chaos vs Law as Collectivism vs Individualism.

To me, Chaos vs Law is simpler: the Lawful will suffer a detriment to their interests, or the interests of those they care for, in the name of an abstract conceit. The Chaotic would not.

Of course there is room for mercy, but it is for a Lawful creature to give unto others, NEVER unto itself or those that they consider to be intrinsically tangled with them.

For example, the Lawful Evil ambitious secret broker that cares deeply about the advancement of his nation. If they discover that their actions have undermined their nation, they will pay a burden of conscience.

The Chaotic character will always place the personal and material above the abstract.

That does not imply that the Chaotic is less collectivist, just less abstract about it.

IMHO.

And yet...to not put you down at all, there are a million interpretations of these same scenarios.

I developed an 'alignment policy' once. It basically laid out some broad examples for L & C, then said, it is up to that person. Otherwise, folks fought over what it meant. No one either, was exactly wrong.

Many of them touched on things you said, but viewed it from the opposite angle.

Mind, I've seen the same thing echo'd in these forums, from reading other posters. I'm not putting you down; more saying yes, you've got a vision. I have one too, and so does Bob, or Mary. Along L & C though, those have trouble lining up.

Iron Matt expressed it better than I would.

A part of the issue is that the terms have to be explained to new players; they aren't intuitive. I'd rather just get to playing, you know?

A part of the issue is that the terms are outdated.

A part of the issue is that we're all 'just human.'

...but updating the dictionary would help, you know?


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The problem is that the game pushes for mechanical impact over those decisions.

I would be game for doing away with them too.


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Secret Wizard wrote:

The problem is that the game pushes for mechanical impact over those decisions.

I would be game for doing away with them too.

I don't want to be too controversial but... the alignment system is too ingrained into this game. Pulling it out would gut part of the game's core identity. Things like Planar Alignments, Deities/character motivations, alignment items, etc... Then you get into the Big stuff like the fight between Good vs. Evil. Alignments codifies the struggle. The decisions that the PCs make matters in Golarion, the Alignment distinguishes the TYPE of decisions they made.

Alignments are a tool; have been since the beginning. Problem is the tool is kinda awkward, and people have abused the tool. I'm saddened by those facts, and I'm sorry if anyone has been burnt by it. But that doesn't mean we should chuck the tool. They are great for character motivation/context, RP encounters, decision making, etc. It's a great guideline,not a straightjacket...

PS- Many times it's forgotten that people (PCs included) don't fit in boxes. I may be LG, but my decisions vary wildly on the alignment grid sometimes. I'm LG because MORE OFTEN THAN NOT I work from that standpoint.

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Iron_Matt17 wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:

The problem is that the game pushes for mechanical impact over those decisions.

I would be game for doing away with them too.

I don't want to be too controversial but... the alignment system is too ingrained into this game. Pulling it out would gut part of the game's core identity. Things like Planar Alignments, Deities/character motivations, alignment items, etc... Then you get into the Big stuff like the fight between Good vs. Evil. Alignments codifies the struggle. The decisions that the PCs make matters in Golarion, the Alignment distinguishes the TYPE of decisions they made.

Alignments are a tool; have been since the beginning. Problem is the tool is kinda awkward, and people have abused the tool. I'm saddened by those facts, and I'm sorry if anyone has been burnt by it. But that doesn't mean we should chuck the tool. They are great for character motivation/context, RP encounters, decision making, etc. It's a great guideline,not a straightjacket...

PS- Many times it's forgotten that people (PCs included) don't fit in boxes. I may be LG, but my decisions vary wildly on the alignment grid sometimes. I'm LG because MORE OFTEN THAN NOT I work from that standpoint.

I think the last point above hits it on the head. For some time now I have seen alignment as a statistical thing : a Good person's next significant action has a higher likelihood of being a Good action. Same thing for all alignment components

It helps predict how a given character will act without being an absolute certainty though

I agree that it is most useful as a tool for GMs impersonating NPCs though I can also see its value when you try to roleplay a personality strongly different from your own

Liberty's Edge

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Iron_Matt17 wrote:
But the Law and Chaos spectrum?... That's more tricky. I myself am a LG person. I see Law as Order/Boundaries. I find one can have GREATER individuality within the confines of Order/Boundaries. So I don't personally see Chaos as Individuality, but that's me.

The difference between Individualism and Collectivism isn't really about the suppression of individuality (though that can be one result), it's about a difference in priorities. A Collectivist believes that their primary focus should be on the good of the group as a whole, while an Individualist believes they should focus on maximizing the good of the individual.

There's some overlap there and the two aren't precisely the opposite of each other, but neither is really about suppressing individuality. It's a bout priorities.

The Raven Black wrote:
I think the last point above hits it on the head. For some time now I have seen alignment as a statistical thing : a Good person's next significant action has a higher likelihood of being a Good action. Same thing for all alignment components

Alignment is entirely a descriptive phenomenon. A character has an Alignment because historically the balance of their behavior has been most consistent with that Alignment.

Alignment is only predictive of how someone will act inasmuch as past behavior is a predictor of future behavior. That's usually a fairly good predictor, mind you, but there are certainly situations where it isn't.


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Yeah I view alignment as more of an average of the characters behavior. not an absolute. Now outsiders however I always consider them exactly that alignment without the option to do something not within there alignment.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
Yeah I view alignment as more of an average of the characters behavior. not an absolute. Now outsiders however I always consider them exactly that alignment without the option to do something not within there alignment.

Although even the latter falls down. At least unless you make even finer distinctions. Demons are, for example, demonstrably not 100% chaotic. They great rigid heirachies among themselves and attempt to impose those on others. Even ignoring that they can't be 100% Chaotic, despite having the Choatic descriptor because there are things described as being even moreso (Proteans for example.)

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