This may sound odd but does the lawful alignment inherently mean I respect authority?


Rules Questions


Now I know the alignment is LAWful, but I seem to remember reading something that also described lawful as simply having a code of conduct you adhere to rather than just doing whatever ya feel like. I'm thinking of making a monk and frankly I feel there are a lot of misconceptions about the law/chaotic axis and was kind of wanting to clear that up and maybe ease my wariness of the lawful alignment.

Scarab Sages

I'd say it means you acknowledge and internalize the concept of authority - who you regard as a source of "authority" depends on where you're coming from, and what's more, some behaviors that appear "disrespectful of authority" are actually Lawful on the foundational level because they acknowledge the concept, like a dog growling at another dog while its tail is between its legs (whereas a truly Chaotic individual doesn't respect or disrespect authority, they simply don't believe in the concept at all).


Might want to see what your DM's interpritation is

for me Lawful means my character likes structure, order, disciplin, everything in it's place and a place for everything. He likes to plan things out a ahead of time, he is unlikely to just wing it on his own. He doesn't like surprises.

He might get upset when someone jumps the gun and abandons the plan. Maybe he's in a bit of a panic for the first round or two of a sudden combat. Once things have started he'll try and move things into a pattern he's familiar with and get himself into a comfortable role like protecting the wizard or the cleric.

Does than mean I have to respect authority. No. He might respect it when it works. When it provides structure to things and makes the world run smoothly. But the rule of a tyrant who could randomly issue orders for no reason other than to maintain his hold on power. Hell no I'm not going to like that.


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Think of Law instead as Order and you're on the right track (Order vs Chaos).

You would likely respect "legitimate authority". But what is legitimate in the eyes of you character could vary. Your teacher or religious leader who brought you into the monk world, very probably. Queen Abigail of House Thrune, Infernal Magestrix of Cheliax. Maybe not. Depends on how you feel about evil and associations with devils, specifically Asmodeus.


Well it's PFS so a single dm's opinion probably won't matter much, it'll have to be something most people would just agree on.

Sovereign Court

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one."
- Said every Lawful character ever.

"Live, and let live."
- Said every Chaotic character ever.

Lawfulness is about maintaining tradition. It's big on thinking there's a natural order to things.

Chaos is about individualism. It's about thinking it's ok to challenge the status quo.


The terms usage in the rules is "respect legitimate authority".

If you leave out terms it changes the meaning....

Grand Lodge

bowser36 wrote:
Now I know the alignment is LAWful, but I seem to remember reading something that also described lawful as simply having a code of conduct you adhere to rather than just doing whatever ya feel like. I'm thinking of making a monk and frankly I feel there are a lot of misconceptions about the law/chaotic axis and was kind of wanting to clear that up and maybe ease my wariness of the lawful alignment.

You respect an authority that does not hinge upon yourself and your whims only.

Sovereign Court

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The most eloquent explanation for Chaos is that it's not a pit, it's a ladder.

Granted it's arguably got an evil slant on the interpretation, and by extension that view would view Lawfulness as stagnation.


So when is it considered still lawful for my character to not respect an authority figure? Or disobey the law? I usually stick to neutrality on this axis so forgive me if these questions are remedial.

Sovereign Court

It's all about the "Why".

Do you break the laws because they don't apply to you? Chaotic.

Do you break the laws because you're pretty sure you'll get away with it? Neutral.

Do you break the laws because they're invalid and you're bound to higher laws? Lawful.


So what if I break a law because good will come of it? Perhaps obstructing authority figures such as guards who are enforcing something I disagree with on a moral level? Or simply hey the (insert chaotic stealth character here) has a shady way to do something beneficial such as steal a document that will lead us to (insert villain here) so we can stop him sort of deal.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Don't think of laws. At least, not legal ones.

Law is deontological ethics. There is an objectively correct standard to life.

If the law or authority is in line with that standard, they are to be followed. If not, they are to be opposed.


Well I have no idea what deintological means but I think I get what you are saying there.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The ends do not justify the means versus the ends justifying the means. This is how I see Law and Chaos.

Sovereign Court

TriOmegaZero wrote:
The ends do not justify the means versus the ends justifying the means. This is how I see Law and Chaos.

See, I'd call that good vs evil.

But the difference of opinion is fine, because that's what alignments really are, anyway. They mean 11 different things to any 10 gamers.

To the OP: If you're going to play a character class with alignment restrictions, the best advice you're going to get is hash out with your GM to find out what he thinks alignments mean.


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The term "lawful" has decades of baggage attached to it, so you are forgiven for thinking that the questions are remedial.

Here's a quote from a video game called Skyrim: "The security in Whiterun is terrible. Shameful is what it is!" The character speaking this (a warrior named Sinmir) is not chaotic for lacking respect toward the Whiterun city watch; rather, he thinks that the watch are inefficient and lazy, and don't do a good job.

So you can certainly disrespect an authority figure because you believe they suck at handling authority, or are mishandling it, or are corrupt. You can disagree with a law that offends your ethics, and work against it. Outright disobeying a law wouldn't be your first choice; but a smart lawful might try to find loopholes in order to weaken it in practice.

Of course, if you find out that the law is completely arbitrary and doesn't do jack to strengthen the society? Well, now you've got a nice ethical conflict on your hands, don'cha.

-----

Or consider someone from a caste system society who's used to being upper rank (eg, a samurai,) who's on a mission to a more "typical roleplaying game" land. He's used to being respected by virtue of his rank, and to what amount of respect must (and may) be given to both lessers and betters. Now, there are lessers offending his moral code in the name of their disordered society. He's not going to have much respect for their feeble authority; but the respect he has for his own society demands that he at least begrudgingly suffer the fools for his mission's sake.

He's no less lawful than they are; he may well be MORE lawful than they, which is the source of his conflict with them.

-----

As for "deontological," it means duty-based. It means you have a particular code that imposes duties (tasks) on yourself, and that you must obey for the sake of an ordered and happier life. This might be the same as society's laws, or the ethics and rituals of a lawful deity, or even a superstitious philosophy.

You also have the idea that groups of people, each having a mutually compatible (if not the same!) set of duties to the group and its members, establish the most robust societies.


While I know I wasn't going to get a definitive this is exactly what it is answer I really just wanted some help getting a general feel for the alignment. As I said I always pick neutral on this axis so I really didn't have a real frame of reference than the Paladins can't do jack cuz there lawful notion.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

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A lawful person believes in rules, structures and authorities that extend beyond himself.

A Chaotic person believes in rules set only by those he believes personally in, that he sets himself, and authority is the reach of your arm, no more.

YOu believe in authority and laws, but you may not believe in specific laws or specific authorities (like, say, an illegitimate ruler, or laws allowing slavery). You do not have to have a personal investment in an authority or legal body to regard it as valid. Even if it goes against your personal desires, you might still regard a law or authority figure as correct and defer your judgement to them.

A chaotic person always decides these things incident by incident, person by person. They may not respect the law, but they may respect an honest cop who enforces it fairly, and try not to cause him a hassle. They may respect family as an authority figure, and stop absolutely right there, but it will still be based on personal respect and blood ties, not simply "Obey Dad."

But being lawful does not mean you unwaveringly do what the local law or authority says. Your personal code can easily override lesser strictures, and this is why multiple LN countries can very, very easily go to war with one another.

==Aelryinth

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
deusvult wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
The ends do not justify the means versus the ends justifying the means. This is how I see Law and Chaos.
See, I'd call that good vs evil.

Law and Chaos used to BE the names for Good and Evil.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Aye, it used to be that if you weren't in a country ruled by a king with landed aristocracy, you were a barbarian and inherently evil savage trying to tear down the walls of civilization. Absolute obedience to your monarch, adherence to his laws and customs of your people, those were Good Things.

The whole tribal/clan thing was a nasty, savage relic from dark times that had to be expunged. So, yes, Law was civilization going forwards and lighting up the darkness, and Chaos all the savages that brought in the Dark Ages since the fall of Rome and an evil meant to be overcome by all right-thinking men.

==Aelryinth


deusvult wrote:
Lawfulness is about maintaining tradition.

The trouble with that is that tradition is content neutral.

Suppose you're a Lawful Dwarf. Great, you honor your traditions, work hard, respect your elders, and all is well.

But suppose you're a Lawful Orc. You honor the tradition of doing whatever you want to whomever you want just like your CE fathers and forefathers did? How are you different from your CE cousin who does the exact same thing?

Respect for tradition can be lawful if the *tradition* is lawful. An American who is into traditional American values like small government, distrust for authority, and individual rights is both traditional *and* chaotic. A religious funadmentalist who believes that his scripture is the one right way for everyone everywhere to live is traditional and lawful.

Tradition per se isn't lawful or chaotic. The tradition might be "everyone joins the civil defense force at 18 for the good of the nation" or it might be "society can't execute individuals, no matter how good a reason they think they have."


Aelryinth wrote:

Aye, it used to be that if you weren't in a country ruled by a king with landed aristocracy, you were a barbarian and inherently evil savage trying to tear down the walls of civilization. Absolute obedience to your monarch, adherence to his laws and customs of your people, those were Good Things.

The whole tribal/clan thing was a nasty, savage relic from dark times that had to be expunged. So, yes, Law was civilization going forwards and lighting up the darkness, and Chaos all the savages that brought in the Dark Ages since the fall of Rome and an evil meant to be overcome by all right-thinking men.

==Aelryinth

Lawmakers twist the rules to make themselves richer and others poorer. The order they espouse is one where they rule massive estates with the rest of us as slaves.

The whole nation/state thing is a nasty, savage relic from dark times that must be expunged. Chaos is the true source of civilization. People working together of their own free will, not petty commands.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

Ah, but in a chaotic society, people do NOT work together at generally anything above the family level. And even Neutral societies often have problems organizing and heading in the same direction (the Celts are a great example of this).

No, Lawful societies do build civilization, because they allow people to specialize in tasks, and this leads to greater knowledge in areas. In a Chaotic society, everyone relies on themselves, and everyone must know anything and everything they wish to use. Makes it hard to improve.

==Aelryinth

Shadow Lodge

There's no consensus. Law and Chaos are very poorly defined in the rulebook, which leads to a lot of variation. From what I hear people are very unlikely to hassle you for not being lawful enough in PFS - they're much more concerned about evil acts. So you can take what you like from this thread and probably be fine.

My personal take on lawfulness:

  • Values order - likes plans, lists, regulations. They want a sense that things are under control. In the absence of outside authority they will create these things.
  • Respects authority. Not necessarily all authority, but the idea that someone should be in charge. Most but not all lawful characters will recognize at least one authority that they personally follow. For a monk, this is often their teacher(s), or possibly the church or Irori.
  • Believes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and that each person should support the collective. Value for tradition for its own sake can fall in this category since it reflects a respect for the continuity of the collective.

While chaotics:

  • Do not want to feel restricted - they play it by ear and respond to the situation.
  • Do not think that anyone has a right to speak for, make decisions for, or control others.
  • Believe that loyalty to a group is a distraction, whether from your own desires or from the needs of the other individuals in the group.

EDIT: I can see the argument for deontological vs consequentialist ethics but it doesn't quite feel right to me.

Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
Respect for tradition can be lawful if the *tradition* is lawful. An American who is into traditional American values like small government, distrust for authority, and individual rights is both traditional *and* chaotic.

Are they in favour of small government and individual rights because they think these are good things, or because that's the American Way and it says so in the Constitution? If the latter, they're espousing a chaotic value for a lawful reason, which is an amusing paradox.

deusvult wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
The ends do not justify the means versus the ends justifying the means. This is how I see Law and Chaos.
See, I'd call that good vs evil.

Many people who think deontologically would.

Silver Crusade

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The standard D&D definitions of Lawful and Chaotic are incoherent and nonsensical. They combine a number of ideas that are mutually incompatible.(Good and evil do too to a lesser extent, but since they are important real-world concepts, most people are able to supply a more-or-less coherent meaning to them from outside the core rulebook and harmonize the inconsistent bits. They've already done so IRL; all it takes is applying it to the gameworld).

Lawful=traditional, strong personal code of conduct, respect for authority, collectivist, civilization, organization, honorable

Chaotic=individualistic, live for the moment, anti-authoritarian, non-traditional, barbarism, disorder, shameless

Except that the force of tradition is strongest in primitive (barbarian) societies and weakest in urban (civilized) societies.
Except that strong personal codes of conduct are primarily manifested and understood in opposition to the surrounding society and their accepted authorities.
Except that respect for authority is at its strongest in relation to legitimate authority that is personally known to the individual and legitimacy (either in terms of consensus, the "will of the people", "the consent of the governed", or divine right is easiest to come by in small, homogeneous, "barbaric"/tribal settings and is virtually impossible to come by in large, heterogeneous, urban/civilized settings.
Except that technological civilization corresponds very strongly to individualistic disorder and primitive tribalism corresponds very strongly to social order. (That is why people leave the "constraints" of the small town for the "freedom" of the big city and why people have been complaining of the wickedness of cities, commerce, and civilization since Plato).
Except that the force of the honor/shame dynamic is strongest in primitive (traditional--see the first entry) societies, and weakest in "civilized" urban societies. Except that shamelessness is famously enabled by civilized urban environments.

The only real way to deal with it is to ask your DM if your concept is an acceptable version of Lawful Neutral, Lawful Good, Chaotic Evil, Etc for his world and run with the justification he gives you for that particular scenario. This will generally work because most people have come up with more specific and more coherent interpretations of each individual alignment and will generally work outward from there. So, for example, a lot of people would interpret a person who professes Lawful Good ideals but does not believe in mercy or forgiveness as Lawful Neutral (or possible Lawful Evil in certain circumstances), even if his ideals do not clearly fall into the Lawful or Chaotic categories. Why? Because he is Lawful Good minus (or at least willing to compromise on) the [Good] bit.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 16

small government, distrust for DISTANT authority, and individual rights are not inherently Chaotic. Such things can be quite lawful if adhered to by the community and respected in other communities as well. If you go into every town in your state, and nobody pays much attention to the governor, but everyone respects the mayor and local sheriff, that can be quite lawful. Empires don't make people lawful, although lawful people love making empires.

It's when you get the will of the individual being seen as more important then the will of the state/community/whatever that you have chaotic. "I'm pissed and gonna burn down my house despite the risk of setting the town on fire" is pretty chaotic, but Chaotics tend not to think about the reasons behind laws, or disregard them entirely.

==Aelryinth

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Lawful Alignment means that you believe that mechanisms of authority, an established hierarchy are the essential tools to make a society that works. A society with an established chain of command, fixed rules to govern behavior assure stability. If you're Lawful Good, you believe this to be the means for equitable, fair, and humane treatment for the society's citizens. If you're Lawful Evil, hierarchy is the tool to power and your aim is to get yourself as high in the pecking order as you can. Lawful Neutral means your main concern is fair play without too much regard for the consequences.


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deusvult wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
The ends do not justify the means versus the ends justifying the means. This is how I see Law and Chaos.
See, I'd call that good vs evil.

Well, then, you're pretty lawful yourself personally. <evil grin>

Seriously, though.... "The ends justify the means" isn't evil, merely pragmatic, and, frankly, either side of the debate can be used to justify evil behavior.

On the one side, torturing hundreds of innocents in order to find one guilty person is an example of "the ends justify the means" that I would consider to be, overall, evil. But by the same token, arresting a starving person for stealing a loaf of bread, knowing that the arrest will do much more damage than the theft, is an example of "the ends do not justify the means" that I would consider to be, overall, evil.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Thanks Orfamay. *fistbump*

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lawful is more apply described with the term Order. One that is lawful has a set of standards and rules related to their activity, not necessarily the laws of the region. A character that is lawful would be inherently more predictable as to their course of action in different situations. There is a consistency to their actions. The inherent good or evil of those things they live by is mostly dependent on perspective. Order and Chaos are much easier to define than Good and Evil. Some prominent religions in the world today profess to be good, but I see as having some pretty glaring evil properties, but that's a whole different bag of cats.


In general I would say that Lawful characters respect and approve of the idea of authority and probably hierarchy even if they do not approve or respect every single instance of it.

A highly chaotic character might well disagree with the very concept of anyone telling him (or anyone else, but especially him) what to do and this sort of thinking doesn't do well for any society.

A lawful character generally feels that a common set of strictures and required actions, applicable to everyone (with exceptions for various reasons), is necessary for any sort of society. They need not agree with every law or rule, they may think that some laws are too strict or too lax, too cruel or too kind, but that in general there should be rules and people should play by the rules. Whether or not the the rules should be 'fair' is a question of Good/Evil, not Law/Chaos.

Sovereign Court

Orfamay Quest wrote:
deusvult wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
The ends do not justify the means versus the ends justifying the means. This is how I see Law and Chaos.
See, I'd call that good vs evil.

Well, then, you're pretty lawful yourself personally. <evil grin>

That assessment presumes I consider myself "good" ;)


What the OP seems to be looking for is from the description of Lawful Neutral:

prd wrote:
A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government.

As a legacy from pre-AD&D days, the monk is a member of a hierarchy and committed to following the commands of their superiors in the order, but there was no obligation to follow commands from other authorities. WRT 3.X/PF, there is no order of monks anymore and the lawfulness can be used to represent the personal discipline needed to perform the supernatural abilities of the class and is the basis for those abilities - this is compatible with following a personal code.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I generally consider it a tendency or preference to respect authority - all other things considering. That doesn't mean that the current authority will always be preferred. I expect a lawful character to be uncomfortable with bucking legal authority without the justification of an authority with a higher priority. And even then, I expect them to try to reconcile them and respect both whenever they can.

That's my take on lawful as a GM.


Back in D&D there were whole planes of lawful types who thought there order was better than everyone else's, and at least one (Archeron) where they were willing to hurt/kill you to make their point. They were lawful, but I don't see a whole lot of generic respect for authority there.


Random thoughts (it's late and I ramble, sorry):
You can have a general respect for authority and still have a bad day leading you to bad mouth the overly officious gate guard, it doesn't make you non-lawful.

Your alignment isn't a single action, and single actions should not define you.

Actions can be defined both by the act itself and the motive behind it. So a chaotic character and a lawful character can each perform the same act, but for their own reasons, neither one acting outside their alignment.

A character in rebellion against a slave state and the head slaver can both be legitimately lawful, and both can be legitimately chaotic.

There is no cut and dried 'this is right, this is wrong' answer.

People aren't robots, or programmes where 'if this happens only this is the correct response'.

Sweeping generalisations are just that, a bit of variance is natural and can bring a character to life.

Which I think can be summed up as 'find a reason that is appropriate to your character, and if you can't don't sweat it unless it is happening all the time.'

Shadow Lodge

Aelryinth wrote:

small government, distrust for DISTANT authority, and individual rights are not inherently Chaotic. Such things can be quite lawful if adhered to by the community and respected in other communities as well. If you go into every town in your state, and nobody pays much attention to the governor, but everyone respects the mayor and local sheriff, that can be quite lawful. Empires don't make people lawful, although lawful people love making empires.

It's when you get the will of the individual being seen as more important then the will of the state/community/whatever that you have chaotic.

I agree - though I'd point out that there's a correlation. People who dislike big government and distant authority often do so because they think that these things are more likely to result in the will of the state overpowering the will of the individual.

Aelryinth wrote:
"I'm pissed and gonna burn down my house despite the risk of setting the town on fire" is pretty chaotic, but Chaotics tend not to think about the reasons behind laws, or disregard them entirely.

You don't need to think about the reasons behind laws to realize that if you set your house on fire your neighbour's might go up, too. You know, old Widow Sally who watched your kids while your wife was sick and who makes such lovely apple fritters?


I'll take the plunge and put myself out there:

I consider myself Lawful Good, and aspire to follow the paladin code in practice. I still have a hard time not lying sometimes, but you'll see why below:

For the lawful component of myself:

o I feel the urge to create plans and grow agitated when they aren't followed. It takes a beneficial gain for me to find the changes better then "okay, I guess".

o I feel the urge to do as my bosses ask of me, even if I don't respect them (But it's much more palatable if I do.) even if it means more work for me, and less for someone else. It doesn't matter that it may not be fair: it's necessary, and I tell myself that I'm the better option to be considered (a little bit of self inflated pride, I admit). I experience a significant feeling of loyalty to my company, and often sigh when others complain about not being personally rewarded by the management. Sometimes I have to gloat that I get rewarded for following the rules more precisely or with more urgency. (Again, that pride shows up)

o I feel terrible guilt when I say or do something without really knowing it; because I fear consequences of reckless action. The thought: "What if this isn't the right way to do/say this" comes up often for me.

o I am concerned with how others view me, because I want them to know who I am more often then not, so I try to remain consistent.

o I don't appreciate judgments made by people that lacks forethought, experience, or are made as knee-jerk reactions. When people build their premises on whatever comes to their mind in the instant, it's not reliable.

This is my world view, and I advocate it only for myself. I believe others will be best rewarded by their OWN way of thinking. Even as a person who believes they are Lawful Good, I know that other people should live however their brains tell them to. Some Lawful organizations don't view it this way, but part of my beliefs are to consider the views of others and weigh them.

On the lying thing:
I try to tell a lie only for the benefit of other people. If it benefits just me, I feel horrible. If I call in that I am sick, when it's actually a friend needs me to be with them for the day because they are depressed; I feel no guilt. But, if it's because I'm depressed? Not enough for me.
I know it's technically hypocritical, but it's a kind of hypocrisy I'm okay with performing.


I'd like to take a stab at this as well.

A person who is committed to the traditions, laws and personal convictions of BURN THE WORLD DOWN TO THE GROUND, KILL AL LIFE AND RAMPAGE IN THE HONOR OF ROVAGUG! you'd still be chaotic evil.
So to the OP, a strict adherence to doing whatever the f&!! you want, is still chaotic.

The easiest way to test if you are a certain alignment is to see if you deviate from true neutral. True neutral is either ambivalence to the moral compass or the idea of balance. If you tend to favour one (or more)alignment(s) over the other, you are probably of that deviation. Regardless of views, it should not be that hard to determine. If you feel both freedom and restrictions are worth; fighting, arguing, standing up, living for, you are neutral.

Liberty's Edge

I like to think of Alignments not as straight jackets that restrict but more flexible and varying. There is lots of very good descriptions of how I see lawful alignment here. No two people are alike and no two people of the same alignment axis may be alike. One lawful may be a complaint worker drone who does what ever they are told and treats all authority figures as beings of respect. However Lawful person number two may have a mind and opinion of his own about what is right and orderly and how one should go about it. Point in fact I can see lawfuls as being rather rigid about the proper orderly ways things should be done.

That said there are many different ways you can follow an alignment while still retaining that alignment. Alignment is a role playing tool, one I prefer to apply after Ive decided how I want to rp a not before. So long as you stick to your code and don't go off doing anything too random, arbitrary, chaotic or undisciplined I can't see why a lawful can't disagree with authority.

Grand Lodge

Being a Lawful monk mostly means you live an orderly life, full of meditation, practice and discipline. You respect self-control. And you respect your sensei and teachers.


Being lawful means you habitually follow an authority, not all authorities. Trying to follow all sets of laws at once would actually make you rather chaotic. As well as inconstant.

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