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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Personality vs. Alignment

A little something to think about, sparked by a conversation about separating alignment from personality. Assume you are using alignment as philosophical position and political alliance, as I do, but for the sake of this discussion, we'll go with the ninefold alignment system. So, under this scheme, personality -- whether you are cruel or kind, scheming, selfish, hateful, or whatever -- has nothing to do with alignment.

Can a good person be Lawful Evil?

That is, can someone be a kind, helpful person, willing to live and let live, but throw in his lot with people who believe in a strict hierarchy of dominance, crushing resistance, torturing enemies in the name of the state? Because that person believes that kind of ideal state would be the best, even though he doesn't have the stomach for that kind of behavior himself?


  1. It depends entirely on whether you view alignment as a personal ethos or as a side in a cosmic struggle. If the former, than you can have someone who's affably evil or noble but ruthless, but not really "good" in any sense. One of my favorite characters back in the day was like this: Brave, loyal, and honorable, but utterly ruthless in the "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" sort of way.

    If on the other hand, alignment is a side (as I'm inclined to interpret it these days), then clearly you can have genuinely good people who for reasons of birth or circumstance are devoted to an evil side--or else trapped in it. Think of a nice peasant girl who, in a moment of rage and desperation, sold her soul to Chaos in return for the power to save her family from bandits.

    I think there's a lot of potential for some redemption stories that way.

  2. You describe what TvTropes would call an Affably Evil character

  3. Evil folks just aren't good people. They can be complex people but they aren't good people. They have chosen to align themselves with forces that promotes some of those elements you don't want to discuss.