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What Alignment?

What Alignment?

Postby Ardan Styyx » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:00 pm

Foreword
First and for all, I rapidly checked the forum and did not find mention of this subject (at least as a main topic) in previous posts. Nevertheless, if the 'old salts' of the forum highlight that all of this has been already discussed ad nauseam 10 years before mine registering, I will happily dive into the Great Rift to go see if I can find Kharla'ggen down there. 8P

Alignment
Although Drow are collectively depicted in RPGs and fantasy novels as almost systematically Chaotic and usually Evil, Drowtales offers a wide variety of characters, often ambivalent. Hence, based on a more or less classical DD frame, what current alignment would some of our favorite fictional heroes and villain have?
I know the main protagonists already have a list of major traits that largely helps characterize their personality. One could then consider the following as a vast exercise in futility but, hey, what the hell?

Here is my list:

Main protagonists
Ariel : Lawful Good, although her tendency to sometimes break the rules and follow her instincts or her heart could make her lean to Neutral Good.
Faen : Neutral Good
Chirinide : Lawful (very...) Good
Shan'naal : Lawful Good
Kiel : Chaotic (very...) Good (lean to)
Chrys'tel : Lawful Neutral... but she seemed to lean toward a more Neutral Good-ish before she was appointed head of the Imperial Guard. What about now, remains to be seen.
Kyo'nne : this one is hard... I'd say Neutral strict now, after having been Chaotic Neutral or even leaning Evil
Shinae : also difficult... Lawful leaning to Evil before her merging but now... Chaotic Neutral I'd say. And very twisted.
Naal'suul : Lawful leaning to Good before her sacrifice, she probably is Chaotic leaning to Good under her demon form.
Kel'noz : Lawful Neutral, leaning to Good

Major characters
Snadhya'rune : Lawful Good... oops. Chaotic Evil (very evil)
Ash'waren : Chaotic Neutral
Zala'ess : Neutral Evil (or Chaotic Evil?)
Mel'arnach : Not simple either. Neutral strict ?
Diva : Lawful Neutral, although her desire to repair her mistakes as an Empress (and a mother) could make her lean toward Good.
Sil'lice : Lawful Evil, however her recent tainting and her following introspection could make her lean to Lawful Neutral
Ana'hid : Neutral Good (very), considering she broke the mold of the rigid Kyorl
Nau'Kheol : Neutral strict
Kau : Chaotic Neutral
Nishi'kanta : Difficult... probably Neutral strict.

The Graveyard
Quain'tana : Chaotic Evil
Kharla'ggen : Chaotic (very) Evil (very)... but so much fun, what a shame.
Shimi'lande : Lawful Good
Sarv'swati : Chaotic Evil

What is yours?
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Shgon Dunstan » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:25 pm

I'm dubious of any of them actually qualifying as having a "Good" alignment. I mean, "nice relative to the rest of their kind" isn't how that kind of thing works.

If it took an individual races morality into question, there wouldn't be any such thing as an always Evil race. It's more like a cosmic club. One that both can and will kick you out if you don't meet it's standards. And... None of them really do when it comes to Good.
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Ardan Styyx » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:34 pm

Shgon Dunstan wrote:I'm dubious of any of them actually qualifying as having a "Good" alignment. I mean, "nice relative to the rest of their kind" isn't how that kind of thing works.

If it took an individual races morality into question, there wouldn't be any such thing as an always Evil race. It's more like a cosmic club. One that both can and will kick you out if you don't meet it's standards. And... None of them really do when it comes to Good.


Ok I admit I might have a vision biaised by the overall violence and darkness of the Moonless Age drow society. However, I don't think that only "nice relative to the rest" is enough to define some of the "good-ish" characters I listed, and that they actually have this "good soul" that links them to the kind of "cosmic" alignment you were refering to.

Take Anahid for instance. One can't deny her to be genuinely soft and forgiving, even for those who tried to kill her.
And I don't remember Faen using violence, unless when she snapped. And it is not only because she is over-sensitive to suffering, she is also caring and nice.
Ariel may have evolved while growing up, but it's not toward an enthousiastic blood-thirsty warrior. On the contrary, she is more and more reluctant to provoke unecessary death and suffering, and at the same time she refuses to bind in front of tyranny and oppression. Her idealism and behavior could very well define her as a sort of Paladin, would she actually be worshiping any god.
Naal has been a parangon of non-violence and understanding, even while she was growing less and less sensitive due to her corruption. Her soul was strong enough to remember her love for Kiel, even after letting the demon overwhelm her. She sacrificed herself twice to save her friend(s). Difficult to do more than that in terms of selflesness.

Now maybe Chiri and Shan are more LN than LG. And Kiel... well she is Kiel so totally chaotic, both caring and violent... yeah CN instead of a mild CG. As for Chrys'tel, she is a very complexe character (like most of the protagonist of this saga :] ) so, she is also evolving, but I feel a real craving for truth and an attachment to friendship that transcend a lot what one would expect from one of the noble heir of the dominant clan. Finding the cure for her mother was not only loyalty to her : she has a larger vision, and this vision is not so far from the kind of idealism Ariel has.
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Moric » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:02 am

Ah, DnD alignments...

Okay, so I've read a few alignment rules in my day. 1st Edition also included alignment languages too - rather odd, but whatever. Now, I've always chafed at a number of the arbitrary rules, as have many players and DM's. Even so, the rules have to be a starting place, as not every thirteen year old is going to have a deep appreciation for philosophical ethics, and systematic moral theology is really not going to happen in game (and you thought grapple rules were painful...).

Even so, let's consider:

1. A small child appears at the counter of a merchant's shop. The merchant is courteous and sells to the child, who cannot count money yet, honestly. Now, the merchant could be a good and virtuous merchant, acting out of the kindness of his heart. Also, the merchant could be selfish, but believes that his good reputation is better for business in the long run than cheating a single small child.

2. A notorious outlaw is robbing the nobility and killing their knights. Surely this is chaotic! ...Unless he is obedient to the law of a king away in foreign lands, and fighting the oppressive regime of a usurper. (Adventures of Robin Hood [1939])

3. I once played a paladin, and as we were about to resume a battle to retake a warship from some pirates from the previous session, I bet the DM that I could make an LG case for enslaving any pirates that we capture. He, of course, agreed to the bet. We won, and he looked at me with a challenging smirk. My paladin paced before the prisoners and said, "As representative of the Crown, and by his majesty's authority, I hereby find all of you guilty of piracy. The penalty for this crime is hanging." The DM nods, as there are no juries for commoners. I resume, "However, since this vessel is a warship belonging to his majesty, the crime of treason supersedes that of mere piracy. The penalty for treason is... that each of you shall be drawn and quartered." The DM explodes at this time, as such a hideous, torturous method of execution would be far outside the paladin's vows. So I continue, "Let it be known that I am not without mercy, especially to the penitent. Any who seek to amend their lives and return to the righteous path will be given the much lesser punishment of five years' labor." ...Oh how I love eating free pizza.

4. Poisoned weapons are an evil exclusive act, but weapons enchanted with fire and acid are totally legitimate for an exalted character. Let's get this straight. Pulling out a weapon and killing someone is situationally judged, and enhancing that weapon to make really nasty wounds while killing them is also legitimate, but even a sleep poison is diabolical? I get that poisons are probably illegal and viewed as dishonorable, and therefore chaotic, but more evil than killing outright?

5. If an NPC or PC changes sides, is the alignment change a clean break with the old ways, or is it more muddled and erratic? How does this play out with respect to alignment based effects?

6. There's a fair amount of overlap that is in play between alignments as far as actions go, but motives play a part. I've penalized evil characters for being too altruistic with their evil comrades. When he confronted me out of shock, I responded that there's no such thing as "Team Evil". If you wanted to have friends, you should have chosen a neutral or good alignment.

7. One quick way to piss me off is to go all "Neutral Balance" on me. If Balance is an ideal greater than oneself, then it becomes a higher good than Good. As such, the player's selfish actions are selfless, while good actions are performed heedless of their ramifications in tipping the scales of the Grand Balance, and thus fails to be either good or neutral, ever.

8. True Neutral is also irritating, even when not being used for Balance. Adventurers are the active players in a story. They do grand things for big reasons. True neutral, however, isn't about anything. It just kinda sits there. If you aren't playing an animal, a construct, or a potted plant, I suggest against True Neutral.

P.S. - Shinae went CE. Sure, she has reason to hate her bitch of an adoptive mother, but flower poison in her drink is going too far.

P.P.S. - Kharla could be argued as True Neutral. Moral evil requires moral choice. As Kharla has an extremely limited understanding of her actions, she cannot reach the conclusion that turning someone into a doll is a bad thing, no matter how horrible it really is.
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Shgon Dunstan » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:19 am

Ardan Styyx wrote:
Shgon Dunstan wrote:I'm dubious of any of them actually qualifying as having a "Good" alignment. I mean, "nice relative to the rest of their kind" isn't how that kind of thing works.

If it took an individual races morality into question, there wouldn't be any such thing as an always Evil race. It's more like a cosmic club. One that both can and will kick you out if you don't meet it's standards. And... None of them really do when it comes to Good.


Ok I admit I might have a vision biaised by the overall violence and darkness of the Moonless Age drow society. However, I don't think that only "nice relative to the rest" is enough to define some of the "good-ish" characters I listed, and that they actually have this "good soul" that links them to the kind of "cosmic" alignment you were refering to.


That... Isn't really the what I meant by that at all. What I mean is, in DnD "Good" and "Evil" aren't mere cultural concepts. They are actual immutable things. As set in stone as gravity... More so really given that you could just magic away gravity.

It isn't about their internal morality, their "good soul". It is an external cosmic judgment being passed upon that internal morality as to whether or not it hits the check boxes as to be labeled "Good". You don't get to be 85% Good, and have that judgment simply ignore the 15% Evil because it is culturally acceptable where you come from.

So... Yeah, if you think it is perfectly fine to go on raids to enslave non-Evil people, who mind you might then eat if you get hungry... You ain't getting into the "Good" alignment club. Same goes for it being OK to straight up murder one of those slaves for no other reason then you felt like it. And mind, that is "to be OK with" not "personally do yourself" just so we are clear.

Hell, just being fine with the drow "the ends justify any means" sense of honor in and of itself would likely make it a nonstarter.

"Natural"? Sure. "Good"... Yeah, I don't think so. *hmmm*
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Dalvyserran » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:49 am

Snadhya and Zala'ess' alignments are Lawful Evil, for thr fact that they both have that control freak/alpha female personality that Diva exhibited during her rule.

Nishi is Neutral Good because of the nature of her goals.
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Ardan Styyx » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:49 pm

Shgon Dunstan wrote: That... Isn't really the what I meant by that at all. What I mean is, in DnD "Good" and "Evil" aren't mere cultural concepts. They are actual immutable things. As set in stone as gravity... More so really given that you could just magic away gravity.

It isn't about their internal morality, their "good soul". It is an external cosmic judgment being passed upon that internal morality as to whether or not it hits the check boxes as to be labeled "Good". You don't get to be 85% Good, and have that judgment simply ignore the 15% Evil because it is culturally acceptable where you come from.

So... Yeah, if you think it is perfectly fine to go on raids to enslave non-Evil people, who mind you might then eat if you get hungry... You ain't getting into the "Good" alignment club. Same goes for it being OK to straight up murder one of those slaves for no other reason then you felt like it. And mind, that is "to be OK with" not "personally do yourself" just so we are clear.

Hell, just being fine with the drow "the ends justify any means" sense of honor in and of itself would likely make it a nonstarter.

"Natural"? Sure. "Good"... Yeah, I don't think so. *hmmm*


I think I pretty understood what you meant. Maybe my lack of vocabulary in a foreign language made my comment unclear, sorry for that :S

We are not here to discuss DnD rules, obviously, however I find your approach of Good/Evil a little extreme and rigid.

Good/Evil as well as the Chaotic/Lawful are not a strict code of conduct but represent a combination of moral and ethic principles, creating a frame within which the characters personality can evolve and be defined. This test is for example an interesting way to check toward which alignment you lean the most.

There is also a good summary detailing the concept on this page.

Following your examples, if you look carefully, most of the protagonists I qualified as Good or leaning to Good are precisely not in the frame of the "goals justify any means" and other recurrent traits of drow society. It does not mean they are angels, mind you. But broadly discarding any possibility of having Good or leaning to Good characters because of a general perception of drow nature seems a little simplistic to me, and does not pay tribute to the complexity of the characters' personality in this story. After all, the main protagonists ARE main protagonists mainly because they are outsiders, are they not?
If you check DnD archetypes or NPCs, how can one consider Anahid other than Good, for example? Or Faen?

Moric wrote:P.S. - Shinae went CE. Sure, she has reason to hate her bitch of an adoptive mother, but flower poison in her drink is going too far.

P.P.S. - Kharla could be argued as True Neutral. Moral evil requires moral choice. As Kharla has an extremely limited understanding of her actions, she cannot reach the conclusion that turning someone into a doll is a bad thing, no matter how horrible it really is.


You're probably right WRT to Shinae, although her saving her sister and the last pages where she appears could make her more "deeply confused" than strictly Evil. Which leads to your interesting point about Kharla : how do you define the alignment of a crazy person, or someone unable to be responsible for his or her acts?
DnD used to consider animals as true neutral, because they lack the capacity for moral judgment, guided by instinct rather than conscious decision. But then they introduced the "unaligned" concept for these. So I'd still say CE for Kharla. But it's questionable indeed.

Dalvyserran wrote:Snadhya and Zala'ess' alignments are Lawful Evil, for thr fact that they both have that control freak/alpha female personality that Diva exhibited during her rule.

Nishi is Neutral Good because of the nature of her goals.


You have a point on Snad and Zala probably believing in a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit. However, do they follow a strict code of conduct or their own instinct and personal freedom (at the expanse of others)? Zala is probably more lawful than Snad on that matter.
Following this, Quain would rather have been Lawfull in that case. And Evil, still. Very.

I'd be a little more temperate with Nishi, though. Her passivity and self focus, trying not to take any side until really forced to makes her deeply neutral to me. Now maybe her late action could eventually make her lean toward good (but a very tepid one :] ). But if Nishi's goal make her lean to Good, in that case Mel should also be.
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Moric » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:14 am

The designations of "good" "neutral" (I always liked Palladium RPG's "selfish" instead) and "evil" are pretty much divisions along a spectrum, or rather squiggly borders on a map. Here's some other random thoughts:

- Evil is seductive until it is coercive. Yes, you are given an easy way to bypass a tough or painful situation this time, but the repercussions of that choice will come to haunt you, leading you into an even harder situation later on, and performing another evil will be the only sensible way out. Eventually, that second evil will also need to be dealt with by yet an even worse deed. Sure, a sociopath may care less about this, and maybe enjoy it. Other people are burdened by the guilt or betray everything (and everyone) they ever cared about while pursuing evil. A good example of this are the Kyorl judicators, dealing treacherously with their descendants and each other, all just to survive at any cost.

- Good is swimming upstream. It takes effort just to stay good, let alone advance in goodness. It's also restrictive, and sometimes, even dangerous. That said, it is also rewarding in its own right. For those who intend to change to good, there's inevitably going to be lots of pain and sacrifice involved. Feelings of remorse, sympathy, etc. are merely temptations toward the good, but of themselves account for nothing. It's actions that count. As such, while Diva -might- be given the benefit of the doubt in going from LE to LN, but it's a very flimsy call. Is she behaving better simply because her lot in life has changed, or is this an honest change of heart?

- Neutral is best considered as a state of selfishness, ambivalence, flux, or even lack of judgement. A cow may give milk, but it has no moral will in doing so. A lunatic might have done something horrid, but doesn't realize what he's doing. A thief may support himself from petty stealing, but is unwilling to so something awful in order to get rich. Kyo'nne -wants- to be a good person fighting the good fight, but has lost her way. I haven't gotten into 5th Edition, but seriously, "unaligned"!? That's what "neutral" definitively IS!
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Re: What Alignment?

Postby Ardan Styyx » Tue May 01, 2018 3:30 pm

Moric wrote:- Neutral is best considered as a state of selfishness, ambivalence, flux, or even lack of judgement. A cow may give milk, but it has no moral will in doing so. A lunatic might have done something horrid, but doesn't realize what he's doing. A thief may support himself from petty stealing, but is unwilling to so something awful in order to get rich. Kyo'nne -wants- to be a good person fighting the good fight, but has lost her way. I haven't gotten into 5th Edition, but seriously, "unaligned"!? That's what "neutral" definitively IS!


I'd say there is a difference between deliberate choices - or an absence of decision/action which by itself is a choice - resulting in being neutral, and instinct or mechanical actions (animals, plants) not involving any kind of moral or ethical process, therefore "unaligned". But I admit the line between the 2 can be fine in some case.

I do agree though that most of Neutral characters usually tend to be indecisive or not to take action (when they could or should). The "plant in pot" qualification might be a little excessive, but Nishi or Mel did not particularly shine by their engagement in anything, unless really forced to. And some other nullify their previous did by acting the opposite way right after (Kyo for instance).

So any list anybody?
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