Alignment Question


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Have a question about an alignment for an NPC I'm making. In the setting, he's a "Judge" wherein they are empowered to have full authority over being judge, jury, and if need be, executioner. As judges are appointed by the King personally, their word IS the law. Guy loves his country and is fiercely dedicated to protecting it against the denizens of the lower planes. However he ONLY shows a "respect for life, and concern for the dignity of sentient beings" if they are his countrymen. He DOES "make personal sacrifice to help others" if they are his countrymen, or anyone at all against the legions of hell.

However, he has no qualms of killing any one deemed heretical, and will kill children of heretics if he feels they are old enough to understand that his country murdered their parents - as they "will grow up to be an enemy of the Queen", even if they had done nothing wrong of yet. His guiding philosophy is he is willing to damn himself if it means no one else has to, and there are some things that the Queen is better off not knowing.

So... thoughts?


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Lawful Evil.


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I was leaning towards Lawful Neutral until the second paragraph.

Yeah that's evil.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Lawful Evil, full stop. It was Lawful Neutral until murdering children because they know his country murdered their parents.


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Add me into the side whom say this would be lawful evil.


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Pretty much all alignment discussions come down to personal preference. This does sound evil though.

I think there's something in the core rulebook that gives guidelines:
Good = helps others (altruism).
Neutral = won't help others but doesn't like killing (selfish)
Evil = willing to kill innocents to see goals achieved

Since what you wrote is pretty much exactly what they wrote for Evil that seems like a good bet.

You could absolutely write/play this character in a sympathetic manner, even having them be charitable, worship a good god, put others on a holy path etc, but taking that evil role himself so that others don't have to (and because he thinks it's necessary.

Evil seems right though (even he's otherwise a great guy).


Okay good, thank you all. I want him to be Lawful Evil, but a fairly great guy. I just wanted to make sure that the whole "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" still pans out. He takes no pleasure in anything he's doing - and wishes it wasn't necessary, but he feels it is.

And MrCharisma you basically hit the guy on the head - he worships a goddess that is essentially a goddess of justice and magic - and the faith's biggest sin is allowing evil through inaction. The thought of standing by and doing nothing nauseates this guy. His adopted daughter is a paladin, and his greatest wish is for a world where people like him aren't necessary (though he finds his own wish idealistic and best, and naive at worst).

EDIT:

He also, in some twisted thinking, feels that murdering the children isn't only practical, but the MORAL thing to do. In his logic, he slays them while they are still pure as opposed to waiting until revenge has lead them down the same devil dealing path as their parents. By killing them, he's saving their souls. Whether or not that's actually true is irrelevant- he believes it with every fiber of his being.


I'm honestly not seeing the lawful here.

He has different standards for behavior based on nationality. He is happy to circumvent the queens wishes. He is willing to punish without any guilt (let alone requiring evidence of guilt) because of his own prejudice.

One concept of 'Lawful' for a society is expressed by the phrase 'Rule of Law'. One pillar of this concept is that everyone is accountable to the law, even the government 'I am the Law' is not a lawful sentiment. Another is that the laws are just, clear, known and apply to everyone equally. A third is that the processes of law are accessible understandable by the people (no secret police, star chambers etc.) Finally, Rule of Law requires justice be delivered by competent, ethical and independent justices.

It appears that the legal system this NPC servers, and the way the NPC serves it fails on all of these points. It is 'rule of man' not 'rule of law' and based on his personal whims and prejudice with no accountability.

Having the power of the state behind you to enforce your whims doesn't make you lawful.


Lawful doesn't require that you follow any specific national laws. It mostly requires you to be rigid in your outlook and habits, and be willing to suffer substantial hardship rather than change your ways.

Well, at least in my interpretation, but, y'know... Alignment.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

Lawful doesn't require that you follow any specific national laws. It mostly requires you to be rigid in your outlook and habits, and be willing to suffer substantial hardship rather than change your ways.

Well, at least in my interpretation, but, y'know... Alignment.

Pretty much this, yes. An orderly approach to life and situations. Kind of like you have an answer for every situation, rather than react impulsively (or in response) to the situation itself. While it doesn't have to be a 'law', rules are generally considered a beneficial thing and not simply ignored for expedience sake. Good and Evil really don't come into play here, except as flavoring to the choices.

That's my take on it.


Long John wrote:


He also, in some twisted thinking, feels that murdering the children isn't only practical, but the MORAL thing to do. In his logic, he slays them while they are still pure as opposed to waiting until revenge has lead them down the same devil dealing path as their parents. By killing them, he's saving their souls. Whether or not that's actually true is irrelevant- he believes it with every fiber of his being.

This acutally sounds similar to what some real life conquistadors did: they would baptize the local children and then kill them because they figured the kids would go to heaven for sure that way


Dave Justus wrote:

One concept of 'Lawful' for a society is expressed by the phrase 'Rule of Law'. One pillar of this concept is that everyone is accountable to the law, even the government 'I am the Law' is not a lawful sentiment. Another is that the laws are just, clear, known and apply to everyone equally. A third is that the processes of law are accessible understandable by the people (no secret police, star chambers etc.) Finally, Rule of Law requires justice be delivered by competent, ethical and independent justices.

I don't think that's inherently true. Otherwise Cheliax wouldn't be a Lawful Evil society. Laws most certainly do not have to be just - Cheliax has a mind boggling amount of fine print and "it was public record, you could have found your house was scheduled to be demolished if at any point you went to the courthouse"

I would actually argue that a True Neutral society would not have rule of law the way you explained it either - the burden of knowing the laws would be entirely on the people. They wouldn't go out of their way to make sure the laws are easily understood, but they also wouldn't make the needlessly convoluted. It would probably have very harsh punishments because morality would have no place in their courts. The man who stole food from a starving family would be punished just the same as the man who stole food to FEED his starving family.

Everyone being equal under the law has a few IRL assumptions that would not particularly work in a fantasy world, for example, freedom of religion. Even if my homebrew country wasn't a theocracy, devil worshipping would probably strip more than a few people of any legal "rights" as we would presume them to have.


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For True Neutral legal system, I think about a council of druids. They probably don't have many written laws, and in most minor cases the judgment is based more on the opinion of the ruling judge rather than the written law. But they would be strict about major offenses, and punishment for those could be very severe.


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Sounds alot like the Agent (Operative? Whatever he was called) in Serenity, who is one of my favorite examples of lawful evil.


Adjoint wrote:
For True Neutral legal system, I think about a council of druids. They probably don't have many written laws, and in most minor cases the judgment is based more on the opinion of the ruling judge rather than the written law. But they would be strict about major offenses, and punishment for those could be very severe.

That sounds more like a Chaotic society actually. A neutral one would have a set of laws that are highly respected but acknowledged as the 'common sense' of a judge (and maybe jury) overrides the law and its more important to be fair than to follow the law. I'd suspect any serious accusations would go before a tribunal rather than a single judge, and the judges sitting on the tribunal would confer with each other quite a bit to reach a decision.


Definitely meant to write Lawful Neutral.


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Now imagine they're goblins. : D


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blahpers wrote:
Now imagine they're goblins. : D

I was unsure who to imagine as a goblin, so I imagined every sentient being in my head as one. I was not disappointed.


From the OP's description, I'd say he's pretty clearly Lawful Evil.

He seems to be about respecting the lives of his countrymen and following the laws as established by his king. This seems to imply a respect for proper authority and doing things in order, hence "Lawful." But the second paragraph clearly shows that he's evil.


Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

Lawful doesn't require that you follow any specific national laws. It mostly requires you to be rigid in your outlook and habits, and be willing to suffer substantial hardship rather than change your ways.

Well, at least in my interpretation, but, y'know... Alignment.

My opinion is that "lawful" doesn't imply rigidity of habit or outlook at all... just the belief that there are "right ways" and "wrong ways" of getting things done.

For example:

Soneone who follows protocol, tradition, or societal norms primarily because they think such norms have intrinsic value and should be followed is probably lawful.

Someone who follows the norms because they don't think to question them, is afraid of the consequences of breaking them, or considers them nothing more than useful guidelines is probably neutral.

Someone who follows the norms when it suits their purposes and ignores them when it doesn't is probably chaotic.

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