Alignment stereotypes


3.5/d20/OGL

Silver Crusade

The paladin thread got me thinking (and I don't want to threadjack today)...

It seems like a lot of parties have run into issues between paladins and other non-good characters. It seems like not many people play LG unless they have to (paladins, some clerics, the occasional monk, maybe).

Does anyone have experience with staunchly LG wizards, rogues, or other characters with no alignment restrictions?

What about other unusual alignment/class combinations? I'd love to hear some stories.


I don't have any particularly good stories, but our group tends to be dominated by the leadership and priorities of the LG characters.

As far as the paladin goes, this class has irritated us since we began playing (1970s for me). We are very loose in interpreting rules for paladin behavior.

Regards,

Jack

Silver Crusade

Somehow I double posted. I usually don't do things like that...

Liberty's Edge

I blames it on Demogorgon!


heh how did we get two of these threads? guess we get to be our own alter egoes and can argue with ourselves now :)

I ran a great game where a LG paladin and an LE assassin went round and round; the assassin had an amulet of LG so he appeared to have a LG alignment unless it got dispelled or some such for a bit; the assassin constantly hid his deeds and the paladin kept trying to correct his behavior and catch him in the act; over the years and some fancy finagiling on the part of the assassin, he became the paladins squire, hehe then things got really interesting. It was always the classic I know your dirty and evil scum, but cant prove a thing; they both believed in laws and were both rigidly lawful with written rules and everything

Silver Crusade

I posted once, and then I couldn't my thread anywhere. I waited, to make sure it wasn't just temporary, but it never showed up, so I posted again, and THEN the original thread appeared.

I vote we let the other thread pertain to my original post, and make this one a petition to make Chaotic Snarky an official alignment.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

Tatterdemalion wrote:
As far as the paladin goes, this class has irritated us since we began playing (1970s for me). We are very loose in interpreting rules for paladin behavior.

I tend to adhere pretty strictly to the rules for paladins. Coincidently, I have never had a paladin survive one of my campaigns for more than 10 sessions. They have either been killed or have violated their oaths and decided that being a paladin was 'not their thing' and consequently chose to pursue a different class rather than atoning.

Weird.


I was thinking abour creating a fighter LG who wanats to be a knight(let's just say like Sturm brightblade)...


Celestial Healer wrote:
It seems like not many people play LG unless they have to

Why would you? Everyone knows Han Solo is cooler than Luke ;)


kahoolin wrote:
Celestial Healer wrote:
It seems like not many people play LG unless they have to
Why would you? Everyone knows Han Solo is cooler than Luke ;)

There you go C.H., the perfect example of Chaotic Snarky - Han Solo...


Celestial Healer wrote:
I vote we let the other thread pertain to my original post, and make this one a petition to make Chaotic Snarky an official alignment.

Hear, hear! :D


I dont think most people play chaotic alignments very well; some do of course; but most don't. this seems to be the catch all alignment and most people confuse it with neutral alignments; I actually have more people violate chaotic alignments more than other alignments. You might ask how this can be possible; but consider for a moment how hard this alignment should be to play; most of us have patterns in our behavior and uphold laws and do things for the group benefit; a chaotic person doesn't in general and desires individual freedom and some like CE will pay any cost or rule by force. Choas is the mob mentality of random actions. Most people who play CG or CE are really playing NG or NE with quite a bit of law put in; at least this is true for my experience; your groups might be quite different.


Fatespinner wrote:
Tatterdemalion wrote:
As far as the paladin goes, this class has irritated us since we began playing (1970s for me). We are very loose in interpreting rules for paladin behavior.

I tend to adhere pretty strictly to the rules for paladins. Coincidently, I have never had a paladin survive one of my campaigns for more than 10 sessions. They have either been killed or have violated their oaths and decided that being a paladin was 'not their thing' and consequently chose to pursue a different class rather than atoning.

Weird.

Personally, I think most failures with Paladin in games is because there is not clear understanding of their ethics and the dieties expectations between players and gm's; there are of course, lots of people who just cannnot play the class as they are just personally illsuited to putting others before themselves and always persueing rightousness and good. The general hack and slasher usually falls into this category as well as those who like to cause a bit of strife, even playful, between characters. There is a gm in our group that I would never play a monk or cleric or paladin in his game as his dieties are, in my understanding of them, wishy washy and not well founded; been playing in his game for many years and with lots of religious characters and have no idea what any of them stand for or expect. Not at all suggesting that this is your case, but it might help to really script out a paladins eithics and his dieties expectations. What seems to happen with most people who want to change classes is that the paladin is often the good guy and nobody else really is no matter what alignment is on their character sheet so many feel that they would not stay with this group and be true to their class; so they leave and change characters, or drop the class.

Silver Crusade

Fyraxis wrote:
kahoolin wrote:
Celestial Healer wrote:
It seems like not many people play LG unless they have to
Why would you? Everyone knows Han Solo is cooler than Luke ;)
There you go C.H., the perfect example of Chaotic Snarky - Han Solo...

He's got nothing on Heathy.


Valegrim wrote:
I dont think most people play chaotic alignments very well; some do of course; but most don't. this seems to be the catch all alignment and most people confuse it with neutral alignments; I actually have more people violate chaotic alignments more than other alignments. You might ask how this can be possible; but consider for a moment how hard this alignment should be to play; most of us have patterns in our behavior and uphold laws and do things for the group benefit; a chaotic person doesn't in general and desires individual freedom and some like CE will pay any cost or rule by force. Choas is the mob mentality of random actions. Most people who play CG or CE are really playing NG or NE with quite a bit of law put in; at least this is true for my experience; your groups might be quite different.

Remember, a Chaotic person is more likely to cross a bridge than jump off it. I personally feel that taking it to the extreme of being completely random is too much and the real abuse of the alignment. A chaotic person, in my eyes, is moved by passions and spur-of-the-moment inspirations, typically without any further consideration or planning. There is a difference between this and rejecting any and all norms of behavior. If it were the latter, then all Chaotic people would literally be insane, which is not something you want to convey to your players.

Silver Crusade

In our little dysfunctional " gaming group " we only have 2 different stereotypes. 1) Lawful good characters have to be self righteous morons who would endanger the whole group for the sake of their honor. One interesting argument for these types is; is it the actions that make you honorable or the end to which you work. 2)Choatic Neutral Characters are just out to screw the party and see how much they can get away with before the Dm gets mad and awakens the Tarasque. For some god forsaken reason, we have a player that thinks its actually fun to try to screw up a campaign, he calls them Monkey wrenches. A fine example of this is as follows; the party being hired to rescue a recently kidnapped monarch. They start along the adventure and then this player decides that since he isnt getting paid enough that he is going to steal party treasure and then leave. Its all under the " Hey, I'm Chaotic Neutral." clause. Its actually gotten so bad, that our other DM has totally outlawed CN's in his game.

Silver Crusade

Zealot wrote:
Its all under the " Hey, I'm Chaotic Neutral." clause. Its actually gotten so bad, that are other DM has totally outlawed CN's in his game.

That's not an excuse for ANYTHING. I wouldn't ban Chaotic Neutral, I'd ban the player.

Silver Crusade

Oh dont worry about that, we conveniently are forgetting to include him in the Savage Tide Adventure Path. BTW PRAISE PAISO


I tend to not have LG characters with those stereotypes because I tend to foster a more 'ends justify the means' mentality to alignment-you can lie, cheat and steal (and even kill) if you are good, if it results in a greater good. On the other hand, I try to punish the "It's an Ork, kill it! Kill it with fire!" reaction to creatures. Being good means you dont get to use the 'detect and smite' behavior. That's blackguards.


Saern wrote:
Valegrim wrote:
I dont think most people play chaotic alignments very well; some do of course; but most don't. this seems to be the catch all alignment and most people confuse it with neutral alignments; I actually have more people violate chaotic alignments more than other alignments. You might ask how this can be possible; but consider for a moment how hard this alignment should be to play; most of us have patterns in our behavior and uphold laws and do things for the group benefit; a chaotic person doesn't in general and desires individual freedom and some like CE will pay any cost or rule by force. Choas is the mob mentality of random actions. Most people who play CG or CE are really playing NG or NE with quite a bit of law put in; at least this is true for my experience; your groups might be quite different.
Remember, a Chaotic person is more likely to cross a bridge than jump off it. I personally feel that taking it to the extreme of being completely random is too much and the real abuse of the alignment. A chaotic person, in my eyes, is moved by passions and spur-of-the-moment inspirations, typically without any further consideration or planning. There is a difference between this and rejecting any and all norms of behavior. If it were the latter, then all Chaotic people would literally be insane, which is not something you want to convey to your players.

ARGH! this site at my post again. Sigh.

I am not at all saying that a choatic person acts in a completely random fashion; I am saying that because they do act upon their passions and spur of the moment inspirations and greatly desire freedom from constraining laws and rules that they are likely to swim rather than take the bridge just for the enjoyment of it; or perhaps swim for the personal challenge of it and to spike the all conformists that follow like sheep and cross the bridge. A choatic person is not good in a group; does not like to tow the line; wont accept the party line; will not like having his personal initiative or desires constained; will resist the party leader's ideas of marching order or treasure divison or whatnot. Although a CG person can certainly be altruistic; they dont like rules or impediments to their passions and ability to do what they want when they want to do it. A chaotic person would likely not want to have the same group leader two days in a row as that would lead to to much consolidation of power to one individual. These character are not insane; just hard to play as thier individual identity is always going to conflict with the identity of the group mind.


I don't consider LG to be any more difficult to play than any of the other three extreme alignments, and I don't set the Paladin's moral standard any higher than any other LG character. Personally I'm very easy going with the chaos-law axis because 90% of the time, a character could be either one. Your character is lawful? Fine, until he/she starts preaching anarchy or lusting after lovers mid-adventure. Your character is chaotic? Fine, until he/she starts preaching the sanctity of Universal Unity or refusing to show the least bit of emotion to anyone.

Players that screw over their entire party are playing neither good nor evil, neither lawful nor chaotic; they're just stupid because their characters have animal intelligence.


That's a good point, TS. A player may say that they are alignment XY, but in fact they may well be playing Chaotic Stupid... or Lawful Stupid or Stupid Evil, or even Stupid Good, but this seems to be a rarity; oh, and let's not forget the one in the middle of the chart, Truly Stupid.

I see what you're saying now, Valegrim. My personal reading of the alignments isn't that they are quite that pronounced, but it's just that: my personal reading of them. I would think that you'd run the risk of player abuse by styling Chaotic in that light, but since you have a stable, long-term group that you seem to really agree with, that risk might well be a non-factor after all. The pro of your interpretation is that I wouldn't guess it to have nearly the "grey zone" and difficulty defining individuals as the more "passive" interpretation of alignments would.


Playing Lawful Good as the "ends justify the means" is not accurate to the alignment. That would be Neutral Good.
What people need to remember is that there are two sides to each alignment (even true neutral) that are distinct and yet interdependent. Whether you are lawful or neutral or chaotic is based simply on your attitude toward rules,restrictions, conformity and the status quo. If your character is going to "believe" (and by that I mean act accordingly) that all laws, even "unfair" ones, exist to the benefit of all and need to be respected & obeyed; then he/she is lawful by definition. If the character is going to believe that no laws/very few laws, even "fair" ones, benefit anyone and only serve to repress the natural spirit and should therefore be ignored &/or rejected; then he/she is chaotic by definition. If the character believes that laws are profitable and should be obeyed only when they are "fair" or serve the "greater purpose" (whether that's good or evil), then that character is neutral. This is represented by the character who steals the key in order to free the wrongly-imprisoned friend. As I said earlier, the ends justify the means mentality is by definition a neutral mentality. That character is disregarding the law when its necessary to achieve a greater goal.
Good and evil is an easier distinction to make (generally) but taking either one to extreme is often *not* good for game play. Not every evil person is a sadistic murderer and not every good person is a saintly zealot. Most evil (or good) people are not easily identified as such upon first meeting. Evil people have mostly selfish motives and are greedy for gain (whether that means accumulation of wealth, power, or influence varies). Good people consider the needs/desire of others and seek to meet those needs.
A Lawful Good character seeks to help others within the accepted "rules". A Neutral Good character seeks to help others regardless of the rules. A Chaotic Good character seeks to help others by "freeing" them from the restrains of rules. A Lawful Evil character seeks to gain for self within an organized set of standards. A Neutral Evil character seeks selfish gain regardless of the rules. A Chaotic Evil character seeks selfish gain by disrupting rules.
Seems pretty simple and straight forward to me but I'm surprised at the number of players who struggle with the entire concept of alignment.


I forgot to include that a truly neutral character obeys laws he/she views as "fair" and disregards others that are "unfair" in an effort to maintain a balance where neither the good nor the evil motivations are in superiority but where every creature has an equal chance to live and thrive.

P.S. Just one more complaint I have with the "new" Star Wars trilogy. Anakin/Darth Vader does *not* bring "balance" to the universe! By destroying the Sith and converting to the good side of the force at the end, he removed evil and put the good in a position of power/authority. That's not balanced!


Lady Aurora wrote:
By destroying the Sith and converting to the good side of the force at the end, he removed evil and put the good in a position of power/authority. That's not balanced!

Reminds me of the end of the Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragons of Spring Dawning, where Fizban speaks of the balance as a pendulum, swinging from one side to the other.


Lady Aurora wrote:

I forgot to include that a truly neutral character obeys laws he/she views as "fair" and disregards others that are "unfair" in an effort to maintain a balance where neither the good nor the evil motivations are in superiority but where every creature has an equal chance to live and thrive.

P.S. Just one more complaint I have with the "new" Star Wars trilogy. Anakin/Darth Vader does *not* bring "balance" to the universe! By destroying the Sith and converting to the good side of the force at the end, he removed evil and put the good in a position of power/authority. That's not balanced!

I heartily disagree :P. Anakin DID bring balance. The good jedi were swarming everywhere, he brough them more in line with the sith by taking out the temple, leaving Obi-wan and Yoda pretty much, 2 for 2, with 2 good jedi on the way. That's more of balance than a temple swarming with jedi and one sith lord.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

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Whenever I explain alignments to people (especially new players), I always use the 'spitting on the sidewalk' analogy.

Let's say there is a city where there are posted signs that say: "No Spitting on the Sidewalk Under Penalty of Death."

LG - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. He will go to said person and say "Hey! You know they kill people for that here? If I were you, I would get away from here and never, ever do that again. If I catch you doing it again, I'll have no choice but to turn you in."
NG - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. He will go to them and say "Hey, you should be careful with that around here. I know its silly, but the guards will kill you if they find out. Best not to tempt fate."
CG - Spits on the sidewalk right in front of the guards, tears down the signs forbidding it, and plans to oust the oppressive regime.
LN - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. He will go to them, inform them of the crime they've committed, and carry them to the nearest guards for punishment. He will testify against them if need be.
N - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. Does not concern himself with this petty matter unless he believes that his apathy will get him in trouble.
CN - Spits on the sidewalk and will likely fight any guards who approach him to the bitter end.
LE - Is the one who wrote the law in the first place. Avoids spitting on the sidewalk at all times and turns in anyone he catches gleefully.
NE - Probably avoids spitting on the sidewalk unless it suits his needs. May blame his own spitting on others in order to see them incarcerated.
CE - Spits on the sidewalk, blames it on other people, and kills anyone who tries to call him a liar.

I know its not perfect, but for someone who's just learning the alignment system, its been pretty effective for me thus far.


Check out Dragon 327 as applicable stuff about those hard on the group characters because of beliefs like the paladin and the rouged rogue :)


I think Valegrim has a point about chaotic alignments. I also tend to think that most people play their good characters neural good and their evil PCs neutral evil, whether they know it or not. I reckon alot of people avoid neutral offcially though because it makes people think "emotionless balance servant," even though the PH says something like "neutral also means undecided."

I've found a good way to play CG characters is to have them as a well-meaning revolutionary. You know the type, the sort of person who thinks change is ALWAYS good and every tradition should be abandoned just because if it was good enough for our grandparents then it's not good enough for us. They are still good, (they want the best for everyone) but they are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and will always get into fights with the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" conservatives, which is how I see LG people (at least those living in a good society).

So yeah, back when I used alignments my CG PCs always acted like college kids who want to bring down the corporations, man. And annoying bastards they were, too!


this just reminds me of the way one of our DM's tried to explain the alignments to us a few years ago--

"I'll kill you because--"

LG-your evil you orc!
NG-its the right thing to do!
CG-i think your evil!
LN-you broke the law!
N-because i can!
CN-its tuesday!
LE-your in the way of my plans for superiority!
NE-i want your stuff!
CE-it makes my spine tingle! ooh!


Fatespinner wrote:

Whenever I explain alignments to people (especially new players), I always use the 'spitting on the sidewalk' analogy.

Let's say there is a city where there are posted signs that say: "No Spitting on the Sidewalk Under Penalty of Death."

LG - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. He will go to said person and say "Hey! You know they kill people for that here? If I were you, I would get away from here and never, ever do that again. If I catch you doing it again, I'll have no choice but to turn you in."
NG - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. He will go to them and say "Hey, you should be careful with that around here. I know its silly, but the guards will kill you if they find out. Best not to tempt fate."
CG - Spits on the sidewalk right in front of the guards, tears down the signs forbidding it, and plans to oust the oppressive regime.
LN - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. He will go to them, inform them of the crime they've committed, and carry them to the nearest guards for punishment. He will testify against them if need be.
N - Sees someone spitting on the sidewalk. Does not concern himself with this petty matter unless he believes that his apathy will get him in trouble.
CN - Spits on the sidewalk and will likely fight any guards who approach him to the bitter end.
LE - Is the one who wrote the law in the first place. Avoids spitting on the sidewalk at all times and turns in anyone he catches gleefully.
NE - Probably avoids spitting on the sidewalk unless it suits his needs. May blame his own spitting on others in order to see them incarcerated.
CE - Spits on the sidewalk, blames it on other people, and kills anyone who tries to call him a liar.

I know its not perfect, but for someone who's just learning the alignment system, its been pretty effective for me thus far.

I was really impressed by this. Sorry to post without adding an opinion of my own, but I hope its OK if I use this to illustrate alignment with some of my group. It is very rare I agree with someone so wholeheartedly on this topic, but I do in this case. You have taken the basic descriptions of an alignment and put them in terms even a non-roleplayer could understand, and to a seasoned D&D vet, it exists in the realm of the circular manhole cover- it just makes sense. I hope that made sense. Thanks!

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

ZeroCharisma wrote:
I was really impressed by this. Sorry to post without adding an opinion of my own, but I hope its OK if I use this to illustrate alignment with some of my group.

Wow, Zero, I'm glad you approve! By all means, if my illustration makes things easier for you and your group, feel free to pilfer away!

Grand Lodge

Lady Aurora wrote:

Playing Lawful Good as the "ends justify the means" is not accurate to the alignment. That would be Neutral Good.

What people need to remember is that there are two sides to each alignment (even true neutral) that are distinct and yet interdependent. Whether you are lawful or neutral or chaotic is based simply on your attitude toward rules,restrictions, conformity and the status quo. If your character is going to "believe" (and by that I mean act accordingly) that all laws, even "unfair" ones, exist to the benefit of all and need to be respected & obeyed; then he/she is lawful by definition. If the character is going to believe that no laws/very few laws, even "fair" ones, benefit anyone and only serve to repress the natural spirit and should therefore be ignored &/or rejected; then he/she is chaotic by definition. If the character believes that laws are profitable and should be obeyed only when they are "fair" or serve the "greater purpose" (whether that's good or evil), then that character is neutral. This is represented by the character who steals the key in order to free the wrongly-imprisoned friend. As I said earlier, the ends justify the means mentality is by definition a neutral mentality. That character is disregarding the law when its necessary to achieve a greater goal.
Good and evil is an easier distinction to make (generally) but taking either one to extreme is often *not* good for game play. Not every evil person is a sadistic murderer and not every good person is a saintly zealot. Most evil (or good) people are not easily identified as such upon first meeting. Evil people have mostly selfish motives and are greedy for gain (whether that means accumulation of wealth, power, or influence varies). Good people consider the needs/desire of others and seek to meet those needs.
A Lawful Good character seeks to help others within the accepted "rules". A Neutral Good character seeks to help others regardless of the rules. A Chaotic Good character seeks to help others by "freeing" them from the restrains...

This is typically how I understand alignment. Thank you Lady for the clarification.


I always saw the good / evil scale as more of altruistic interests vs selfish interests. Not that an evil character can't do good things, just that they would do things others might perceive as good, only if there was a reasonable reward and would be just as likely to do the opposite if the reward was greater. If a monster believed that the only way to save his race is to fight back against the humans that were hunting him, he'd be of good alignment.

As for law / chaos. I always saw as one's willingness to accept social conventions. If a good character sees people of another nation being oppressed, whether they are lawful or chaos determines if they'll try and work within the law or to just break them out (risking a war). I've noticed there's usually a correlation between Wisdom and lawfulness...

Anyway, not everyone sees alignment the same way; I once played with a rogue/druid who was always going off and doing his own things at the expense of the party so he could have nice stuff. He thought he was playing Neutral Good, I saw what I could only describe as Chaotic Neutral.

Dark Archive

Ion Raven wrote:
I once played with a rogue/druid who was always going off and doing his own things at the expense of the party so he could have nice stuff. He thought he was playing Neutral Good, I saw what I could only describe as Chaotic Neutral.

Benefitting himself at the expense of others? That's not chaotic, that's selfish, which is evil.

Granted, players who want to play selfish jerks often glom onto Chaotic Neutral, but, a selfish jerk concerned only for their own welfare and to hell with everyone else, with no concern for obeying or flouting the law of the land, is pretty much a solid Neutral Evil.

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