Let's Start An Argument About Alignment! We'll start with Lawful Good.


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Lawful Good. Paladins. The bane of many players. The foe of many DMs. The catalyst of many a game table argument. But what constitutes lawful good? What constitutes a Paladin's fall?

Just a couple guidelines:
1. Let's avoid strawman fallacies. My favorite comes from the "Weirdest Justification of a Ruling" thread in the form of what is essentially "Eating Breakfast is not Good. Paladin falls."
2. Let's avoid personal attacks. Alignment varies from table to table and player to player. Just because someone has a different LG from you does not make them stupid or crazy. Unless they think burning down a town and killing the residents as they flee is LG. In this case, you may call them stupid or crazy.
3. Don't be a Shelyn/Calistria-shamer. Seriously. Uncool.

So, I'm going to kick this off woth that famous Paladin quandry: "What in Baator do I do with these Goblins?"

I personally think that the Paladin is in the right if he executes them in battle/on the spot.

1. It's more than inconvenient to transport a caravan of Goblins to the nearest town- it's a liability to the Paladin, his allies, and the townspeople.
2. The Goblins are likely out of any jurisdiction of a nearby town, and must thus transport them to the county/national seat to legally detain them.
3. The Goblins are almost certainly not citizens of the jurisdiction, which removes any protection by the law. If they are mentioned in the law at all, they are either likely outlawed via racial profiling or considered vermin, in which case the law likely encourages their extermination.
4. Any "trial" the goblins may recieve is likely a sham, and likely to result in a painful, extended, and torturous death. Killing them on the spot is more humane.
5. Given the fact that it's unlikely that Goblins are in a heavily trafficked area, and ergo near any city of significant size, it's fairly likely that, in a religious nation, the paladin is the ranking authority in the area, giving them the legal right to hand down a sentence on the spot.

So. Yeah. Let the yelling begin.


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Sure, that's one way that one paladin could handle it. Other paladins might do otherwise, depending on their code, their god, and their values.


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Well, what kind of justice does the LG Paladin support.

If he fights for Need-based Justice then he might be more concerned about attempting to redeem these goblins from their disadvantaged position, and give them the fair shot at life that he relieved from his position of privilege. (Ever seen a goblin paladin? Wonder if that has anything to do with systematic oppression?)

Or perhaps he espouses Negative Rights and feels he has no obligation to aid these goblins with their struggle, his only obligation is to not prevent them from achieving prosperity (don't harm them). Which was going just fine until they raided Sandpoint and failed their negartive rights obligation to not harm the people of Sandpoint.

Or is this just a question of Retributive Justice? Eye for and eye is easy, given that they are guilty of crimes within a degree of confidence supported by his God or Nation. (Ignoring the topic on if he is a Lawful distributer of justice).

But he is not just just Lawful, he might be a good utilitarian and support Welfare Maximization. No good comes for propagating the cycle of retribution, so he seeks rehabilitation for these goblins. Providing these Goblins with education and training in marketable skills so they no longer have to rely on banditry. Or maybe Restorative Justice, and he forces the Goblins to aid the rebuilding of Sandpoint fixing the damage caused by the fire. This will right the past wrongs and foster a sense of community between the goblins and Sandpoint.

But what if he sees Deterrence as the function of justice and punishment. He will kill these goblins and put their heads on pikes as a deterrence to others that would partake in banditry and murder. These few goblins draw the short straw and he takes no joy in the task but it is for the greater good.

Inspired by Crash Course


Personally, I think actions boil down into 5 basic types per axis.

Saintly: This is good taken to the extreme. This is being a 20th level paladin with leather armor and a longsword because he donated all his money.
Helpful: This is good that costs you little, or is tempered by law or chaos. Helping the little old lady across the street. "Good" falls between this and saintly.
Neutral: You brush your teeth.
Sketchy: This is unpleasant. It borders on evil, but has some redeeming factor. Passively sacrificing (i.e. allowing them to die) 20 to save 200.
Vile: Eating babies for pleasure. "Evil" comes into play between here and Sketchy.

Paladins, in my opinion, should perform 15% Saintly actions, 40% Helpful actions, 30% Neutral actions, 5% Sketchy actions (at most), 0% Vile actions.

Rigid: The letter of the law. If eating ice cream on Tuesday is illegal, then you MUST arrest the offender.
Legal: The spirit of the law. If a law is either obsolete or ridiculous, it can be ignored or lobbied for change.
Neutral: You brush your teeth.
Erratic: Doing your own thing. It doesn't bother you if other people are lawful, but if you want ice cream on Tuesday, you're gonna eat ice cream. This is the type of chaos that most CG characters are, I find.
Anarchic: Rage against the machine. Do what you want. And everybody should do what they want.

Paladins, in my opinion, should perform 15% Rigid actions, 40% Legal actions, 30% Neutral actions, 5% Erratic actions and 0% Anarchic actions.


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The purpose of the paladin code, and alignment itself is to get players to think about the moral implications of their actions. At the point where the Paladin is stopping to think "wait a minute, should I kill those goblins? They're no threat to me" and is working through the ethical questions of the scenario, you let that player talk it out and whatever set of actions they justify internally is probably okay. But ask them to explain why it's a good, or at least permissible, action if it's not obvious to you.

Since the resolution of almost all alignment questions is highly contextual.

If you're looking for a premise for another thread, I would suggest:

"What, in practice, is the meaningful difference between neutral good and chaotic good, as both tend to manifest as 'I do whatever I want in the service of what is right and good'. Should these even be two different alignments? How can we better differentiate them?"


I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
The purpose of the paladin code, and alignment itself is to get players to think about the moral implications of their actions. At the point where the Paladin is stopping to think "wait a minute, should I kill those goblins? They're no threat to me" and is working through the ethical questions of the scenario, you let that player talk it out and whatever set of actions they justify internally is probably okay. But ask them to explain why it's a good, or at least permissible, action if it's not obvious to you.

This runs into the fact that the alignment system taken to its logical conclusion is extremely far removed from the morality that governs real life. In the classical D&D view of alignment it is a tangible and fundamental force pf the universe.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
"What, in practice, is the meaningful difference between neutral good and chaotic good, as both tend to manifest as 'I do whatever I want in the service of what is right and good'. Should these even be two different alignments? How can we better differentiate them?"

"I do whatever I want" is not really an appropriate manifestation of neutral. That is basically the definition of chaotic. The most chaotic good mindset is to be thinking about what purpose a rule or cultural more serves and be balancing out that against the other effects it has. The difference is that NG characters do this to a lesser extent. They are also far less likely to do something radical to remedy an injusice or ingrained social wrong. Changing society is a fight which is very difficult for the Lawful or Neutral.


But let's consider what a CG and a NG character actually do. In the case of someone who isn't in a position to fundamentally change their society (which is most people). Both a CG and an NG character are going to sometimes disregard laws and social norms (because they're unnecessary, counterproductive, or silly) but more often they're going to observe laws and social norms since a whole lot of laws and norms exist to promote good.

So the CG character sometimes follows laws and norms, but sometimes does not.
The NG character sometimes follows laws and norms, but sometimes does not.

So if you were just to follow somebody around without talking to them, reading their mind, or magically detecting alignment how could you tell the difference between an NG person and a CG person who live in the same village? Is this just an issue of "count the number of normative/legal infractions and the person with the most is probably the chaotic one"? After all, both the NG and the CG person feel comfortable disregarding laws and norms when they believe this leads to a positive outcome.


PossibleCabbage wrote:


So the CG character sometimes follows laws and norms, but sometimes does not.
The NG character sometimes follows laws and norms, but sometimes does not.

I think the difference between someone who casually breaks the rules (and enjoys doing it), and someone who occasionally breaks the rules (and feels a bit bad about it) is significant enough.

Even a LG Paladin will probably sometimes follows laws and norms, but sometimes not. In their case they might only break the rules in drastic situations after much soul-searching.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
So if you were just to follow somebody around without talking to them, reading their mind, or magically detecting alignment how could you tell the difference between an NG person and a CG person who live in the same village? Is this just an issue of "count the number of normative/legal infractions and the person with the most is probably the chaotic one"? After all, both the NG and the CG person feel comfortable disregarding laws and norms when they believe this leads to a positive outcome.

The difference is that the NG person would see it as sometimes necessary but undesirable, whereas the CG person would consider the ability to think critically about whether a given rule or norm serves a worthy propose to be the mark and duty of a good citizen or even person in general.

A paladin would virtually never do something like this, and would instead try to apply the rules in a more humane way, but apply the rules nonetheless.

I frankly think that trying to change unjust laws and cultural norms to be a bad situation for a paladin, likely to lead to terminal alignment conflict between Law and Good. And this is completely ok, since paladins are supposed to lead to tough choices, sometimes choices between Lawful and Good, which from a paladin's perspective would be the choice between bad and worse.


I don't think an NG character would necessarily feel that breaking laws/rules/norms is undesirable; it's entirely valid to disregard these things on the basis of being archaic, counterproductive, pointless, actively destructive, immoral, not of any actual value (e.g. almost never enforced), etc. and not feel bad about it at all.

To cite a real world example in my state it's illegal to stand around a building without any good reason to be there, to ride a motorcycle without a shirt on, to own a bathtub with feet, or to cross state lines with a duck or chicken on my head. If I just blithely disregard all of those laws in my day to day life, need I be chaotic?


A NG person would find little reason to do any of those things, although they might find there to be a purpose for loitering laws, or point out that riding a motorcycle without proper safety gear is just stupid from a personal risk standpoint. So I don't quite know if blithely ignore is the best characterization.

A CG person might flagrantly break them just for the purpose of highlighting the fact that certain laws are ridiculous, or merely for s@%*s and giggles.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I don't think an NG character would necessarily feel that breaking laws/rules/norms is undesirable; it's entirely valid to disregard these things on the basis of being archaic, counterproductive, pointless, actively destructive, immoral, not of any actual value (e.g. almost never enforced), etc. and not feel bad about it at all.

This is what I am arguing is inherently chaotic, even when a neutral person does it. Neutral people can do plenty of chaotic things, just not as a first response or usual course of action. Unenforced/unenforceable laws on the other hand a neutral person would not feel really bad about breaking, whereas a lawful person probably would. If you are neutral you would probably jaywalk in a reasonably safe place to do so. If you are lawful, your instinct would be to find the crosswalk.


But to circle back for a minute, the CG character is going to end up following the laws/rules/norms a lot of the time. Not because they believe there is any inherent value to these things, but because the CG character believes in things like fairness, justice, and not harming innocents because they're "good" and also because sometimes following the rules is expedient. They may cross a busy street at the crosswalk with a group of people because it's the fastest and safest way to get across the street not putting any inherent value on traffic control, but they're still using the crosswalk.

So my question is that since a NG character and a CG character will both disregard laws/rules/norms when it is "Good" or harmless and convenient, and will both follow laws/rules/norms when it is "Good" or harmless and convenient, how different are these alignments really?


Why do I get the impression every time that LG alignment is brought up people seem to think only paladins take it?


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Alni wrote:
Why do I get the impression every time that LG alignment is brought up people seem to think only paladins take it?

Because proper murderhobos avoid it like the plague otherwise.


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KujakuDM wrote:

I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.

Ooh, a paladin trap! Lose/Lose!


PossibleCabbage wrote:

But to circle back for a minute, the CG character is going to end up following the laws/rules/norms a lot of the time. Not because they believe there is any inherent value to these things, but because the CG character believes in things like fairness, justice, and not harming innocents because they're "good" and also because sometimes following the rules is expedient. They may cross a busy street at the crosswalk with a group of people because it's the fastest and safest way to get across the street not putting any inherent value on traffic control, but they're still using the crosswalk.

So my question is that since a NG character and a CG character will both disregard laws/rules/norms when it is "Good" or harmless and convenient, and will both follow laws/rules/norms when it is "Good" or harmless and convenient, how different are these alignments really?

I think the difference is primarily comes in their desired end state for society as a whole. CG's fundamental are idealistic in the belief that laws, rules and traditions are ultimately unnecessary in creating a good and believe that it does the opposite more enough than not. A CG wants individuals to do good not because a law or a rule forces them too but because they just have a natural individual desire to do so. In essence, CG's perfect society would be something like a stateless/anarchist nation where people organically come together to do good without law, tradition or hierarchy to determine who they go about it. NG's on the other hand just want to do, and see other people doing, good regardless of whether it happens because laws are in place.

Basically they just adopt whatever system or philosophy seems the most effective at the moment without much a concern over whether it's chaotic or orderly.


Delightful wrote:
I think the difference is primarily comes in their desired end state for society as a whole. CG's fundamental are idealistic in the belief that laws, rules and traditions are ultimately unnecessary in creating a good and believe that it does the opposite more enough than not.

Exactly this. A chaotic good viewpoint would say that rules, laws, and traditions are usually more likely to cause problems and/or cause normally good people to get stupid or do evil things.


I'm failing to come up with real world examples but I remember thinking about law vs chaos and our political and judicial system. In my perspective chaotic actions are often characterized similarly with evil actions,typically with the words "blatant disregard" attached to them. It doesn't matter if the intention was good or bad, selfless or selfish, doing things "against the law" is just plain "bad". So real world examples from an American standpoint might not be the clearest examples available to apply to an alignment argument.


I prefer to think of law as being honourable, keeping your word, holding to bargains and not lying to people. Being lawful as literally law or the land means what you are allowed to do according to your alignment can change dramatically from state to state.

The more moral version of it means the character stays mostly the same, then treat the literal law with intelligence.

For the record I've never played lawful good it seems like hard work to me.

Shadow Lodge

Legal systems, being Lawful constructs, do tend to treat chaotic behavior as inherently bad.

I see law and chaos as a spectrum from "Laws/Rules/Hierarchies are inherently valuable" to "Laws/Rules/Hierarchies are tools that can be used in many ways" to "Laws/Rules/Hierarchies are inherently undesirable." (I'll also note that thinking laws are inherently valuable doesn't mean that you always agree with all laws - lawful characters prioritize their own rules and are willing to violate other rules if the two conflict, eg "god's law before man's law.")

Because they not only don't value laws but are actively uncomfortable with them, chaotics are much more likely to break rules or traditions even when there's no advantage to doing so - sometimes even when there's negative consequences in the form of social disapproval. They talk back to authority figures, or marry the person they love even when their whole family disowns them (because who cares about a family that would do that anyway?).

They're also likely to avoid putting themselves in positions where they have formal obligations, or where others have authority over them - they gravitate towards self-employment or flit between short-term jobs. They won't see the point of marriage even if they do get into a serious long-term relationship, because why would you want to make a formal commitment in front of everyone you know? You know I love you, isn't that enough?

PossibleCabbage wrote:
So if you were just to follow somebody around without talking to them, reading their mind, or magically detecting alignment how could you tell the difference between an NG person and a CG person who live in the same village? Is this just an issue of "count the number of normative/legal infractions and the person with the most is probably the chaotic one"?

Is that really a bad way to go about it?

If I'm trying to figure out who might be evil by following them around, I'll look for people who commit an unusually high number of petty cruelties - minor evil acts. Conversely, if I'm trying to spot the good villager I'll look for someone who seems to help others the most, especially when it's costly or when no one else is interested in helping.

Why not say that the chaotic person is probably the one who engages in the most petty lawbreaking, who tends to defy norms even when it's costly and even - if we're looking at the CG vs NG - even when the norm isn't getting in the way of any particular good result?


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Alignment is not a straightjacket.

It is descriptive, not prescriptive.

A paladin falling has to do with the tenants of their code, not their alignment. Paladin codes are based on the commands of gods and churches, not alignment. There's no "one-size-fits-all" paladin code.

If you want to talk about alignment and it's effects on the game, great. Let's not muddy the subject by cramming paladin codes into the mix.


DrDeth wrote:
KujakuDM wrote:

I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.

Ooh, a paladin trap! Lose/Lose!

I technically would not have made her fallen for letting the minor villain escape.

I let her know that I considered it a fall able offence ahead when she declared the action too.


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The difference between the neutral and chaotic good lies more obviously in your premise. You state that few are in a position to change society, but I believe that a chaotic would likely disagree with you. My view of law vs chaos is that law is tradition and conformity, while chaos is change and individualism. As such, the chaotic would see society as in need of change, and motivated by good they would seek to create change for the better. They would believe that the individual has the power to create change.

The neutral meanwhile simply focuses on doing good without concern for either tradition or change. They might adhere to tradition or bring about change, but either is incidental to their goal.


In keeping with the topic, Lawful Good, in my estimation, is best represented by the stereotype of the village elder. From being lawful they believe in tradition, and value the strength of community. From good they believe in altruism and compassion. When combined, the outcome is one who believes that a strong and just society is beneficial to all.

They're unlikely to favour change, instead preferring the status quo. If the status quo is deemed unjust or harmful, they will be more likely to prefer working within the system to enact steady improvement rather than supporting sudden and potentially dangerous change.


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pretty sure this was already talked to death in that thread.

But to respond to your numbers.

1.) Inconvenience is not an excuse to not be good. Thats neutral talk. Calling them a liability is just an excuse to back up the inconvenience excuse. Honoring life is more difficult than just killing all your enemies, but the life of the exalted is not easy.

2.)If the goblins are out of any jurisdiction and havent committed any crimes against any towns, then the only person they wronged is you and its your right to try them. If you decide they deserve death (and Pathfinder Goblins probably do, but not all of them) then you have a right to execute them as per your duties as Lawful. If they have committed crimes against a town or are in a countrys jurisdiction then it is your job to make sure the appropriate punishment is carried out. The key word is appropriate. If they stole bread and the local law is thieves are skinned alive, you dont do that. If the local law is all thieves get a trial, you take them to trial. If you cant do that because Archoriak the forsaken is 2 hours away from raising a dark god onto the mortal realm, you can tie the goblins up and get them later. If you think theyre likely to escape being tied up, then you are free to kill them if you think they will be an immediate danger to others. This should be your last thought, not your first.

3.) If they are not considered citizens they are neither protected nor directly bound by the laws. You can hold your own trial. If they are racially profiled as vermin you should take the time to explain to the citizens why this is unfair and does not allow the chance of redemption for goblins. Being hated without any recourse is only going to drive any who might not be completely evil farther towards evil. Showing mercy and the chance of redemption will draw them towards good.

4.) See above. If the towns reaction to goblins is "they deserve to be slowly tortured to death for the crime of not looking like us" then you should be working on removing the corruption from the town, not worried so much about routing the local goblins. You should capture the goblins, oversee their trial, oversee their execution, and explain exactly why youre doing what youre doing. If Angels took a view on humans that these humans are taking on Goblins heaven would be a terrible place.

5.) If the Paladin is the ranking authority in the area how are 3 and 4 concerns? If hes not then hes not. Either the Paladins word is law and the Goblins wont be tortured slowly to death, or his word is not law and he should bend to a just authority and work to better an unjust one.

Ive said it before, a Paladins primary role should be to make the world better. Sometimes, indeed often, that means ridding the world of darkness and evil. But if you kill an evil person youve removed their evil. If you inspire an evil person to be good, youve removed their evil and created one more protector to protect people you might not be able to.

Its also important to realize that sometimes even if the person youre trying to redeem isnt swayed, your actions wont always go unnoticed. A Necromancer might be fully devoted to undeath, but his cultists might decide theres a better life. Some creatures are evil just because they think being good is weakness, so showing them strength can change their mind. Some neutral bystanders might be inspired by you to move to good.

And conversely, ive said this before, any time you choose the evil or the neutral path when a good one presents itself, youre showing the people around you that good isnt always the answer, that the good path isnt always the best one. At the very best thats going to inspire people to become neutral. You want to show people that its possible to live a strong and fufilling life while still doing whats right at all times.

Note that I hold Paladins to a higher standard of good than your typical Lawful Good. Paladins to me are exemplars of what it means to be Lawful Good, thats why they are granted powers for it.

I may or may not respond to other things in this thread, because quite frankly I started the last discussion with essentially "It always amuses me when people decide a Paladins two choices are either be a naive idiot who forgives everyone or kill everything that even smells a little evil" and just today I saw people making fun of me for saying a Paladin should let a Succubus say "oh im going to redeem now" 8 times and still believe her. If people are going to completely ignore what I say and continue with this black or white, kill everyone or kill no one definition of Paladins then so be it. Wont affect my game.


DrDeth wrote:
KujakuDM wrote:

I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.

Ooh, a paladin trap! Lose/Lose!

How exactly is that lose/lose. A Paladin is not responsible for all the evil he failed to stop, but he is responsible for all the good he failed to do. He should have healed the dying person whos helping him on his quest to do good, rather than knowingly letting them die for petty reasons.


Scàthach Ulster wrote:

Personally, I think actions boil down into 5 basic types per axis.

Saintly: This is good taken to the extreme. This is being a 20th level paladin with leather armor and a longsword because he donated all his money.
Helpful: This is good that costs you little, or is tempered by law or chaos. Helping the little old lady across the street. "Good" falls between this and saintly.
Neutral: You brush your teeth.
Sketchy: This is unpleasant. It borders on evil, but has some redeeming factor. Passively sacrificing (i.e. allowing them to die) 20 to save 200.
Vile: Eating babies for pleasure. "Evil" comes into play between here and Sketchy.

You say there are 5 basic types, but you list 7. I would agree with your analysis though. I would argue your Paladin in your example is being "helpful" and I do not expect him to be "Saintly". I do however expect him to be "Good", or as defined by your definitions would be "Taking costs to do good without being a martyr"


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The problem with the example as a whole is it always uses goblins or demons or something else that either is too stupid to be likely to comprehend good easily or unlikely to change its ways even if its possible.

Put the same scenario but make it elves instead and suddenly when you hear "the town has a policy that all elves who commit a crime are to be tortured to death slowly" the Paladin wants to do something about it. But when its goblins its fine because "thats how the town is"

Dark Archive

Baval wrote:

The problem with the example as a whole is it always uses goblins or demons or something else that either is too stupid to be likely to comprehend good easily or unlikely to change its ways even if its possible.

Put the same scenario but make it elves instead and suddenly when you hear "the town has a policy that all elves who commit a crime are to be tortured to death slowly" the Paladin wants to do something about it. But when its goblins its fine because "thats how the town is"

I hate to be that guy, but, well, duh. Stuff like Goblins has such a strong tendency towards Evil alignments that they are very rarely redeemed, and stuff like Demon redemption usually takes deific interference because they are literally the embodiments of an evil alignment. Comparing those to Elves with their tendency towards Chaotic Good is like comparing apples to cooked vegetables. Besides being plants they're nothing alike. Plus they usually taste bad and there goes the metaphor.


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A lawful good person will follow the law unless it is an evil law. So if there is a law that says you can’t wear the color red on Sunday they will obey it. If the law says you give 10% of your income to the government you do. If the law says you have to beat a helpless child the lawful good person does not obey the law.

A neutral good person will follow the law as long it is good, or does not prevent them from doing good. They will also tend to obey the law so that it does not inconvenience them. So if the law says you can’t wear red on Sunday they will usually obey it just to avoid the hassle, but if wearing red on Sunday will somehow increase the good they will wear it.

A chaotic good person will often break the law out of principle. The chaotic good person will obey only laws they personally agree with, but will often break laws out of principle. If the law says you can’t wear red on Sunday they show up in dressed head to toe in scarlet at the king’s court. If the law says you have to give 10% of your income to charity they refuse and then give more on the sly.


LuniasM wrote:
Baval wrote:

The problem with the example as a whole is it always uses goblins or demons or something else that either is too stupid to be likely to comprehend good easily or unlikely to change its ways even if its possible.

Put the same scenario but make it elves instead and suddenly when you hear "the town has a policy that all elves who commit a crime are to be tortured to death slowly" the Paladin wants to do something about it. But when its goblins its fine because "thats how the town is"

I hate to be that guy, but, well, duh. Stuff like Goblins has such a strong tendency towards Evil alignments that they are very rarely redeemed, and stuff like Demon redemption usually takes deific interference because they are literally the embodiments of an evil alignment. Comparing those to Elves with their tendency towards Chaotic Good is like comparing apples to cooked vegetables. Besides being plants they're nothing alike. Plus they usually taste bad and there goes the metaphor.

It shouldnt matter. The goblins might and probably do deserve to die, but not slowly tortured to death.

What if the town was regularly raided by elves, a camp nearby who have decided the humans are disrespecting the forest and so the elves kill any humans they find? Is it ok to slowly torture them to death then, or have a policy of doing so to any elf you find? What if all elves are like that in the whole nation? What if thats the policy for Drow?


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I sure do love these threads. It makes my job SO MUCH EASIER, I gotta tell ya.


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Pally shouldnt fall for doing any of the things in the first post, unless he literally never even asked them if they wanted to surrender or killed them for no reason


Scythia wrote:

The difference between the neutral and chaotic good lies more obviously in your premise. You state that few are in a position to change society, but I believe that a chaotic would likely disagree with you. My view of law vs chaos is that law is tradition and conformity, while chaos is change and individualism. As such, the chaotic would see society as in need of change, and motivated by good they would seek to create change for the better. They would believe that the individual has the power to create change.

The neutral meanwhile simply focuses on doing good without concern for either tradition or change. They might adhere to tradition or bring about change, but either is incidental to their goal.

Wouldn't the chaotic position be:

Not my social norms, not my problem. Later.


Scythia wrote:

In keeping with the topic, Lawful Good, in my estimation, is best represented by the stereotype of the village elder. From being lawful they believe in tradition, and value the strength of community. From good they believe in altruism and compassion. When combined, the outcome is one who believes that a strong and just society is beneficial to all.

They're unlikely to favor change, instead preferring the status quo. If the status quo is deemed unjust or harmful, they will be more likely to prefer working within the system to enact steady improvement rather than supporting sudden and potentially dangerous change.

An yet this statement is one I could've written.


Scàthach Ulster wrote:

Personally, I think actions boil down into 5 basic types per axis.

Saintly: This is good taken to the extreme. This is being a 20th level paladin with leather armor and a longsword because he donated all his money.
Helpful: This is good that costs you little, or is tempered by law or chaos. Helping the little old lady across the street. "Good" falls between this and saintly.
Neutral: You brush your teeth.
Sketchy: This is unpleasant. It borders on evil, but has some redeeming factor. Passively sacrificing (i.e. allowing them to die) 20 to save 200.
Vile: Eating babies for pleasure. "Evil" comes into play between here and Sketchy.

Paladins, in my opinion, should perform 15% Saintly actions, 40% Helpful actions, 30% Neutral actions, 5% Sketchy actions (at most), 0% Vile actions.

Rigid: The letter of the law. If eating ice cream on Tuesday is illegal, then you MUST arrest the offender.
Legal: The spirit of the law. If a law is either obsolete or ridiculous, it can be ignored or lobbied for change.
Neutral: You brush your teeth.
Erratic: Doing your own thing. It doesn't bother you if other people are lawful, but if you want ice cream on Tuesday, you're gonna eat ice cream. This is the type of chaos that most CG characters are, I find.
Anarchic: Rage against the machine. Do what you want. And everybody should do what they want.

Paladins, in my opinion, should perform 15% Rigid actions, 40% Legal actions, 30% Neutral actions, 5% Erratic actions and 0% Anarchic actions.

I like this perspective.


Quark Blast wrote:
Scythia wrote:

The difference between the neutral and chaotic good lies more obviously in your premise. You state that few are in a position to change society, but I believe that a chaotic would likely disagree with you. My view of law vs chaos is that law is tradition and conformity, while chaos is change and individualism. As such, the chaotic would see society as in need of change, and motivated by good they would seek to create change for the better. They would believe that the individual has the power to create change.

The neutral meanwhile simply focuses on doing good without concern for either tradition or change. They might adhere to tradition or bring about change, but either is incidental to their goal.

Wouldn't the chaotic position be:

Not my social norms, not my problem. Later.

That sounds more like chaotic neutral than good.


Alignment definitions are very problematic and culturally biased, especially when trying to pin down "good" and "evil". IRL, Vikings, Crusaders, or the Conquistadores did HORRIBLE things to their fellow humans. Mind you, from their native cultural perspective, their acts were seen as perfectly justified, normal, or even noble.

So the way I personally approach alignment is on the more objective Law>Neutral>Chaos spectrum/axis rather than the comparatively subjective Good>Evil spectrum (this outlook is heavily influenced by my exposure to the old Planescape setting). A lawful character/race is predictable and set in their ways. A chaotic type is more--well--random. A neutral type can be counted on to behave consistently in either a lawful or chaotic manner in specific circumstances.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

So, I got into a discussion a few months ago that I felt summarized my thoughts regarding Lawful Good well, so I'll repeat it here. I call it the Captain America explanation.

Capatin America, as depicted in both the MCU and the (admittedly VERY few) comics I've read, is Chaotic Good. I get the distinct impression he's not supposed to be seen as such, but I see him that way. And the reason I see it is that the dude has never met an order or restriction that he felt really applied to him if he wanted to ignore said rule or restriction. Because he wanted to Be Good, and sometimes those restrictions got in the damn way. If he does follow someone, it's because he is personally loyal to that person. He also has a slight tendency to foment rebellion. It seems to be kind of a hobby, because I can think of at least four instances in which he caused one (once in each movie, and again in the Civil War comic run, which bore no particular resemblance to the movie).

Natasha Romanov, again as depicted in MCU, is someone that is LN that tries to be LG, and might end up NG eventually. She'll cheerfully break laws too, but only when she's ordered to. And she rarely questions those orders. In fact it seems to make her uncomfortable. The question she asks herself each morning is not "What do I need to do today?" but "What am I supposed to do today?", because an important aspect of her character is both accepting society expectations and learning how to use them to further her own goals. Prolonged exposure to Cap seems to be mellowing her on that topic, so we'll see how it goes I guess.

Edit: Also, I feel this article offers the best perspective on alignment that I've seen. I don't always agree with it, but it certainly makes me think, especial the author's point that the traditional way of describing alignments: Law vs Chaos and Good vs Evil, seems to be from a Lawful Good descriptive standpoint.


I'd argue the point on Captain America being Chaotic Good: I'd say he's Lawful Good, but with a pretty strict code of ethics that he holds above any other authority. Basically, he's a Paladin whose Paladin Code is "Idealized American Values."


Delightful wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:
Scythia wrote:

The difference between the neutral and chaotic good lies more obviously in your premise. You state that few are in a position to change society, but I believe that a chaotic would likely disagree with you. My view of law vs chaos is that law is tradition and conformity, while chaos is change and individualism. As such, the chaotic would see society as in need of change, and motivated by good they would seek to create change for the better. They would believe that the individual has the power to create change.

The neutral meanwhile simply focuses on doing good without concern for either tradition or change. They might adhere to tradition or bring about change, but either is incidental to their goal.

Wouldn't the chaotic position be:

Not my social norms, not my problem. Later.
That sounds more like chaotic neutral than good.

I can see that.

I was thinking one more level "deep" though.

How does a chaotic person change social norms? Changing social norms requires some degree of coercion. A CG person coercing people, who are otherwise good, seems a little hard to navigate. So maybe I should say,

Not my social norms. Do what I do, else I can't really help you. Later.

Is that better?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Chengar Qordath wrote:
I'd argue the point on Captain America being Chaotic Good: I'd say he's Lawful Good, but with a pretty strict code of ethics that he holds above any other authority. Basically, he's a Paladin whose Paladin Code is "Idealized American Values."

That was actually brought up last time I made those points. My take on that was that, as portrayed, he actually doesn't have a code of ethics. He just knows what is right and what is wrong, and sticks to that despite any and all opposition. If he has a code, its a moral one, not ethical.

I wouldn't even agree with "idealized american ethics." Because part of that was doing what you can, no matter how insignificant. And he chafed like hell when he was denied what HE wanted to do.

To bring it to the paladin, a paladin might follow that code of ethics even if he doesn't want to sometimes, when its inconvenient, when it causes him distress. He (probably) won't sacrifice the greater good over it, but anything short of that, yeah, code comes first. A chaotic person by contrast will say "Screw that," and do what they see as the right thing whatever their personal code or anyone's code says on the matter. Cap falls into the latter camp.

Quark Blast wrote:

So maybe I should say,

Not my social norms. Do what I do, else I can't really help you. Later.

Is that better?

That actually sounds Chaotic evil now. :p


Scàthach Ulster wrote:
Lawful Good. Paladins. The bane of many players. The foe of many DMs. The catalyst of many a game table argument. But what constitutes lawful good? What constitutes a Paladin's fall?

Never had a problem with Paladins or Lawful Goods.

More like:

Chaotic Neutral. Rogues. The bane of many campaigns and groups. The foe of many DMs. The catalyst of many group disbandings. The first alignment I outright ban solely on principle.


DrDeth wrote:
KujakuDM wrote:

I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.

Ooh, a paladin trap! Lose/Lose!

Not really. If I was the GM I wouldn't have made the Paladin fall. The Paladin did NOT perform an evil act.

The Paladin took down a villain. That is NOT evil. The party member not being healed? That is the party member's fault.

The party member chose to blaspheme and the GM punished the Paladin.

Grand Lodge

Along with the 9 places on the alignment grid there should also be a sliding bar of 'intensity' for each of those alignments.


I'm of the opinion that only the player should decide when their paladin falls. If that player abuses that and plays a baby eating psychopath than you probably should find another person to play with. Otherwise, leave that player's character concept to them like you would with any other class.


HWalsh wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
KujakuDM wrote:

I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.

Ooh, a paladin trap! Lose/Lose!

Not really. If I was the GM I wouldn't have made the Paladin fall. The Paladin did NOT perform an evil act.

The Paladin took down a villain. That is NOT evil. The party member not being healed? That is the party member's fault.

The party member chose to blaspheme and the GM punished the Paladin.

you skip the part where the paladin knew that the party member would not heal the dying ally. Knowingly allowing others to do evil when you could prevent it is evil


Baval wrote:

[

you skip the part where the paladin knew that the party member would not heal the dying ally. Knowingly allowing others to do evil when you could prevent it is evil

Refusing to help is not doing Evil. In fact it pretty much defines Neutral. Now, if the party Paladin knew that guy was gonna CdG the other party member, rather than heal (or not) then that would be different.


Baval wrote:
HWalsh wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
KujakuDM wrote:

I've only had one paladin fall in a game I ran. She had to choose between slaying a minor villain or healing a party member she didn't like.

She left the healing to a NPC who swore to never help that other party member again after a blaspheme.

She knew the NPC would not heal the other character.

Wrath made her fall.

Ooh, a paladin trap! Lose/Lose!

Not really. If I was the GM I wouldn't have made the Paladin fall. The Paladin did NOT perform an evil act.

The Paladin took down a villain. That is NOT evil. The party member not being healed? That is the party member's fault.

The party member chose to blaspheme and the GM punished the Paladin.

you skip the part where the paladin knew that the party member would not heal the dying ally. Knowingly allowing others to do evil when you could prevent it is evil

Negative. The reason the person wouldn't heal the party member is because the party member blasphemed.

Actions have consequences. Not the Paladin's fault. The character shouldn't have blasphemed.

"Not healing." Is not evil. Therefore there is no fall.

By this same scenario the Paladin falls if he heals. The villain escapes. In reality neither action causes a fall.

Letting the villain escape? Not evil.

Not healing a team mate because the team mate screwed up and made the other healer mad? Not evil.

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