Law versus chaos[edit | edit source]
- Lawful implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
- Chaotic implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
- Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to follow rules nor a compulsion to rebel. They are honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others if it suits them.
Good versus evil[edit | edit source]
- Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
- Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master.
- People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.
Alignments[edit | edit source]
The nine alignments can be shown in a grid, as follows:
|Good||Lawful good||Neutral good||Chaotic good|
|Neutral||Lawful neutral||(True) neutral||Chaotic neutral|
|Evil||Lawful evil||Neutral evil||Chaotic evil|
A lawful good character typically acts with compassion and always with honor and a sense of duty. However, lawful good characters will often regret taking any action they fear would violate their code, even if they recognize such action as being good.
A neutral good character typically acts altruistically, without regard for or against lawful precepts such as rules or tradition. A neutral good character has no problems with cooperating with lawful officials, but does not feel beholden to them. In the event that doing the right thing requires the bending or breaking of rules, they do not suffer the same inner conflict that a lawful good character would.
A chaotic good character does what is necessary to bring about change for the better, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself, but for others as well.
A lawful neutral character typically believes strongly in lawful concepts such as honor, order, rules, and tradition, but often follows a personal code in addition to, or even in preference to, one set down by a benevolent authority.
A neutral character (also called "true neutral") is neutral on both axes and tends not to feel strongly towards any alignment, or actively seeks their balance.
A chaotic neutral character is an individualist who follows their own heart and generally shirks rules and traditions. Although chaotic neutral characters promote the ideals of freedom, it is their own freedom that comes first; good and evil come second to their need to be free.
A lawful evil character sees a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit than to necessarily follow. Examples of this alignment include tyrants, devils, corrupt officials, undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct, blue dragons, and hobgoblins.
A neutral evil character is typically selfish and has no qualms about turning on allies-of-the-moment, and usually makes allies primarily to further their own goals. A neutral evil character has no compunctions about harming others to get what they want, but neither will they go out of their way to cause carnage or mayhem when they see no direct benefit for themselves.
A chaotic evil character tends to have no respect for rules, other people's lives, or anything but their own desires, which are typically selfish and cruel. They set a high value on personal freedom, but do not have much regard for the lives or freedom of other people. Chaotic evil characters do not work well in groups because they resent being given orders and usually do not behave themselves unless there is no alternative.