LG Lawmakers


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


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Here's a fun discussion topic: Lawful Good lawmakers. For example, a Paladin who becomes a king (say in the Kingmaker AP, or in some other fashion becomes a ruler), or another LG character who becomes a ruler of some kind, or in a position of power where they make the laws.

Lawful Good, in its basic form, means they try to be as good (to the morally right thing) as they can within the letter of the law.

But what happens if that Paladin (or other LG character) is in a position to say what is and is not legal; what is law and what isn't?

So long as it's within the realm of what is good, could they not just make up laws that support what they do in the land?

Discuss...


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KingGramJohnson wrote:
So long as it's within the realm of what is good, could they not just make up laws that support what they do in the land?

As in, arbitrarily? No, I don't think so. "I am the law, there whatever I say, goes", is more of a Lawful Evil thing. A Lawful Good character would probably meditate a lot about the right laws to impose and then follow those laws himself. Though, probably, there would be some clause for revision/distinction if said laws were later found insufficient or too overbearing.

All in all, I think a LG Paladin would generally impose a softer level of their own deity's statutes upon their nation.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What is to discuss? Lawful alignments enjoy hierarchies, defined rules, and systems of authority. Paladins are individuals, so one paladin ruler would have different laws than another - though both would still be motivated to do the best for the populace. Differences in their wisdom, background, and overall ability may measure how well said paladin ruler will succeed in their efforts.

Most people in the US would be lawful neutral. We follow major laws and feel we are "good" because we usually don't steal, murder, etc. A true good person would aid others even if it was hazardous to do so and not their job (such as first responders). Evil people enjoy causing suffering in others. Lawful evil people are those that love to do so "by the rules". The point here is that we already tend to see lawful people run governments and kingdoms, though such individuals largely tend to be lawful neutral or even evil (power is a magnet for the corruptible) and equate lawfulness with good. A true lawful good lawmaker would be more motivated with helping others rather than in their own comfort or career.

In the end, your mileage would vary. There are many paladins unqualified to lead ants to a picnic, yet some could make incredibly charismatic and benevolent rulers. In other words, your qualities as a politician go beyond class, level, and alignment. They include experience, background, confidence, and so many other qualities that make a person what they are.

If this is about paladins falling because of power, I find that power doesn't corrupt, it is merely a magnet for those that are corruptible.


Dot.


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A Lawful Good person in a position to dictate law would consult with respected community leaders and reference precedents to determine future laws. They would not hold themselves above the law, since that's part and parcel of being Lawful Good. Since they are Paladins, they would probably have a certain level of transparency or legal obligation for officials to not lie, since this is part of the general code. Their government would have some sort of police force, militia, and/or army, authorized to use lethal force when necessary. Capital punishment is on the table, although its use and implementation would vary from paladin to paladin.

The key takeaway is not just the letter of the law, but the reason why they follow the law. Paladins are necessarily LG, which means they respect tradition (L) and use humane methods to act in the interests of others over themselves (G). This is opposed to LE, who exploit laws and tradition (L) and use inhumane methods to act in the interests of themselves over others (E). Being lawful means respecting (to some degree) tradition, precedent, law, and community. So in lieu of an existing law, a LG person will refer to precedent, community, and tradition to determine law.

As for the nature of their laws, they will likely require general civic participation (L), and promote the welfare of as many people as feasible (G). They will err on the side of "too specific" over "use your common sense" and "talk to a judge/officer/jury/other people" over "figure it out yourself". General security would be more important than personal freedom, although (under good implementation) the greater security would allow more personal freedom.


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Most lawful characters also follow some sort of code of behavior. A European King for example would probably be following the code of chivalry, where a Japanese Shogun would be following the code of bushido. So even though they may be the highest legal authority there are still moral authorities that they would follow. This is particularly true in the case of a paladin. What it would do is to shut down the often silly arguments about a paladin falling for disobeying an evil ruler or law.

They do have the authority to change laws, but will be very careful about doing so. They will not do it just to make their lives easier; they will do it when they think the law needs to be changed. Also keep in mind that as the head of the government they do have authority to do something that ordinary citizens do not have. For example a king has the authority to pass judgement and sentence a criminal. More often than not they will go through the formality of a trial, but they pretty much have total control over the legal system. It could be a simple as reading the charges and asking how they plead, after which the king passes judgement.


Isn't declaring yourself to be equal to, or above the law inherently not Lawful?
Good or Evil is not relevant to the above.
Doesn't mean that everyone agrees on what the laws mean, or even whose laws are valid.


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You're going to find a lot of answers, but not a lot of correct answers. It depends on the paladin, the code, and society.


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Daw wrote:

Isn't declaring yourself to be equal to, or above the law inherently not Lawful?

Good or Evil is not relevant to the above.
Doesn't mean that everyone agrees on what the laws mean, or even whose laws are valid.

Declaring yourself equal to or above the law is not Lawful unless...

- You do not recognize a particular regime (and its laws) as legitimate (although you recognize laws in general as legitimate)
- The law declared you equal to or above itself before you did
- The law contradicts itself and you cannot act within the law without acting outside of the law
- There is no law (or functionally none), so you must become a law unto yourself

This is not even the case described, however. This is about what a LG person in a position to dictate laws could do. This is not about if it is LG to get to a position to dictate laws.


My Self wrote:
Daw wrote:

Isn't declaring yourself to be equal to, or above the law inherently not Lawful?

Good or Evil is not relevant to the above.
Doesn't mean that everyone agrees on what the laws mean, or even whose laws are valid.

Declaring yourself equal to or above the law is not Lawful unless...

- You do not recognize a particular regime (and its laws) as legitimate (although you recognize laws in general as legitimate)
- The law declared you equal to or above itself before you did
- The law contradicts itself and you cannot act within the law without acting outside of the law
- There is no law (or functionally none), so you must become a law unto yourself

This is not even the case described, however. This is about what a LG person in a position to dictate laws could do. This is not about if it is LG to get to a position to dictate laws.

A LG paladin has to have Laws that he believes to be sacrosanct. He does not make them up, he enforces them. All of your examples are examples of invalid laws, so the are not, The Law. The paladin does not hold every law sacrosanct, but those he does hold sacrosanct are above his own discretion. Lesser laws are only relevant in how they support The Law..

Paladins waver, and sometimes fall away from their Lawful Certainty, sometimes they will be swayed to a different set of laws, but if they are still a paladin, they Must have laws that they hold sacrosanct. That is what a paladin is.


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I generally think "law" is the most misleadingly named of the alignments. It's better understood as some gestalt of "order" and "tradition." Chaos is more "individualism." Do you do something because society or your tribe expects it of your, or because you personally think it should be done?

If you want to jump off a bridge because you think it's cool, you're chaotic. If you want to jump off a bridge because everyone else is jumping off a bridge or expects you to jump off a bridge, but you'd really rather not, you're lawful. Whether there is a law mandating or forbidding bridge jumping is mostly only relevant to the chaotic guy depending on the risk of being caught and punished, it's only relevant to the lawful guy to the extent his group recognizes that law as valid or serving the group's goals.

The chaotic guy will change his bridge jumping philosophy according to personal whim and preference. The lawful guy will change his based on what's best for (his in-group) society or their changing preferences. That may involve changing the law, but it need not.

Chaotic guys can totally want to fight over the laws and make laws to the extent they preserve their own freedom from others interfering or forcing social mores on them. I can make laws that force the constabulary to arrest anyone trying to hassle me for selling drugs or running a brothel? Sweet!

So I regard libertarian philosophies that are stickler for laws and property rights as chaotic, while revolutionaries attempting to overthrow existing legal regimes to impose totalitarian social control can be lawful.


PP,
Umm, kind of all over the place there. I'll do my best.

Yes, how Lawful and Chaotic manifest in individuals vary, a lot, and are further affected by Good vs Evil. Less variation on Paladins, because they have specific requirements to gain their powers.

Quibbles:
Your Chaotics arguing over laws, and enacting laws to give themselves an advantage are rather more Nuetral than Chaotic, even bending towards Lawful in the second case. Now an extreme Chaotic would consider the whole business of laws to be rather irrelevant. Jumping of the bridge is more deranged in either case than Lawful or Chaotic.
Libertarians are quite lawful, they do believe that those laws that should exist should be fair, and that there are areas that laws don't belong.
Your revolutionaries are far more Nuetral than Lawful.


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Daw wrote:
My Self wrote:
Daw wrote:

Isn't declaring yourself to be equal to, or above the law inherently not Lawful?

Good or Evil is not relevant to the above.
Doesn't mean that everyone agrees on what the laws mean, or even whose laws are valid.

Declaring yourself equal to or above the law is not Lawful unless...

- You do not recognize a particular regime (and its laws) as legitimate (although you recognize laws in general as legitimate)
- The law declared you equal to or above itself before you did
- The law contradicts itself and you cannot act within the law without acting outside of the law
- There is no law (or functionally none), so you must become a law unto yourself

This is not even the case described, however. This is about what a LG person in a position to dictate laws could do. This is not about if it is LG to get to a position to dictate laws.

A LG paladin has to have Laws that he believes to be sacrosanct. He does not make them up, he enforces them. All of your examples are examples of invalid laws, so the are not, The Law. The paladin does not hold every law sacrosanct, but those he does hold sacrosanct are above his own discretion. Lesser laws are only relevant in how they support The Law..

Paladins waver, and sometimes fall away from their Lawful Certainty, sometimes they will be swayed to a different set of laws, but if they are still a paladin, they Must have laws that they hold sacrosanct. That is what a paladin is.

...

so...

Capitalized/italicized law aside, you think that Paladins must hold a set of ideals above themselves. And this thread assumes that a Lawful Good character (probably a Paladin) is more or less legally in a position of power. So the logic follows: Since they are in a position to dictate laws (my words), and they must have laws they hold sacrosanct (yours), they should dictate laws that uphold their ideals (i.e. The Law). We can excise the tangent about lawfulness in relation to human law, since it is not entirely relevant to the initial question. If all this is the case, then there is no argument.

No?


I'm ok with that. Remember that, per the Paladin Rules, it is more specific than just ideals.

Paladin Rules wrote:
...paladins seek not just to spread divine justice but to embody the teachings of the virtuous deities they serve. In pursuit of their lofty goals, they adhere to ironclad laws of morality and discipline.


Paladins tend to make lousy rulers by the way.

1. Living by Laws is ok if you can't think for yourself all that well.


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Daw wrote:

Paladins tend to make lousy rulers by the way.

1. Living by Laws is ok if you can't think for yourself all that well.

Why would Paladins be necessarily lousy rulers? The way I see it, Paladins would probably implement laws that...

1. Do not violate your deity's code
2. Respect your deity's guidelines
3. Work for the common good
4. Adhere to tradition (have existing precedents or are communally accepted)

Unless your deity's code says you can't think for yourself, there's no reason that a theoretical Paladin cannot be a good ruler. Working for the common good and respecting tradition are not thought as detrimental to leadership. Although your code may personally restrict you, you do not need to enforce your code upon a whole population. And most Paladin codes are not so restrictive as to prohibit sound governance. So long as you make solid laws and implement them well, you can be an effective ruler.

In practice, INT and WIS are Paladin dump stats, and you don't get a whole lot of skill points.


Paladins are about strict adherence to the rules. Rulers have to find balances.
A ruler who dumps Intelligence and Wisdom isn't ideal either.


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Daw wrote:

Paladins are about strict adherence to the rules. Rulers have to find balances.

A ruler who dumps Intelligence and Wisdom isn't ideal either.

You know the last part was an aside about how people tend to build Paladins, right? Not as a necessary Paladin trait, since there is such thing as a WIS-based Paladin with more skill ranks. If we just looked at ideal combat stat distribution, all the best rulers would be Shamans and Arcanists.

Paladin Code of Conduct wrote:

Code of Conduct

A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class features except proficiencies if she ever willingly commits an evil act.

Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Associates: While she may adventure with good or neutral allies, a paladin avoids working with evil characters or with anyone who consistently offends her moral code. Under exceptional circumstances, a paladin can ally with evil associates, but only to defeat what she believes to be a greater evil. A paladin should seek an atonement spell periodically during such an unusual alliance, and should end the alliance immediately should she feel it is doing more harm than good. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.

Paladins are primarily servants upholding Good and Law, in that order. Adherence to rules is fairly important, but unless the rules are the Paladin code, it need not be to-the-letter-strict. Notice how you do not fall if you commit Chaotic or Law-Chaos Neutral acts, while you do fall if you commit Evil acts. These rules may be difficult to follow as a leader of a mixed-alignment country, but hardly impossible. As for the question the OP brought up- I suspect a Paladin-King might even have a little more leeway in this matter, since you can denounce other countries as illegitimate authorities. Although the true test of legitimacy would be if the GM believes the authority is legitimate. Regardless, I don't see anything that suggests Paladins are wholly incapable of ruling well. And Paladins aside, Lawful Good characters are definitely capable of ruling well.

I guess if you dived into some sort of strange mindset mentality, you could justify Paladins being fundamentally less capable of ruling. This would be the case if you think that you would be most effective if: "you must be willing and unhesitatingly eager to exploit others' kindness/civic duty/concern for fellow human beings/etc. to maximize your personal benefit" (i.e. Evil) and "you must be adaptable - able to constantly change and reinvent yourself to improve" (i.e. Chaotic). If you think these particular mentalities are inherently more effective than Good "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" and Lawful "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentalities, then maybe Paladins would be less capable. But then again, so would all Lawful Good people.

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