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Discuss the "Allignment" of various characters (might be fun)


Dec 28 2012, 7:21pm

Views: 1903
Discuss the "Allignment" of various characters (might be fun) Can't Post

I started off thinking about "how evil are the orcs?" Treebeard says they cut down trees wantonly, but from the passages where we hear the orcs speak, I get the impression that if sent out to cut down as many trees as possible they would soon be grumbling and bickering about the unwanted work. I can imagine them enjoying some casual vandalism while it remained fun, but that would pall soon, and they would not really have a motive force to guide them towards consistent vandalism (unless some bigger bully is making them do it). Just as likely, the trees were supposed to be dragged off as furnace fuel, but someone didn't turn up, then there was a violent quarrel about who was going to do the hauling...

This led me to thinking about the "alignment" system which the Dungeons and Dragons game used to have. A quick summary of it (as I understand it) might help: This had Good/Evil (and also neutral) but also Lawful/Chaotic (and again neutral). That gives 3 x 3 = 9 "pigeonholes" to put your characters in (from Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil). To explain the Lawful/Chaotic axis briefly, a Lawful character likes to -or feels compelled to - obey society's laws (as opposed to "higher" moral laws which define good and evil) , whereas a chaotic character likes -or feels compelled to- break the rules. A neutral character will obey or disobey rules as suits them.

There's a Wikipedia article about the system here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_%28Dungeons_%26_Dragons%29

I guess that makes orcs mostly Neutral Evil

Neutral Evil [from that Wikipedia article]: "Characters of this alignment are typically selfish and have no qualms about turning on their allies-of-the-moment, and usually make allies primarily to further their own goals. They have 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 to it."

With some points of Chaotic evil - expending energy and taking risks to do bad things "for sheer badness" when there is nothing to gain from it.

Of course, someone has been here before me - I found this chart: http://fc00.deviantart.net/...ymadness-d37wxzx.jpg (best seen in hi-res).

For those not wanting to download a big image, the suggestions are:
  • Lawful good - Faramir
  • Neutral good - Galadriel
  • Chaotic Good - Tom Bombadil
  • Lawful Neutral - Gimli
  • Neutral neutral - Treebeard
  • Chaotic Neutral - Smeagol (or is it Gollum? )*
  • Lawful Evil - Mouth of Sauron
  • Neutral Evil - Wormtongue
  • Chaotic Evil - Balrog

I should add that they are not my suggestions, so I don't have any inside knowledge as to how these conclusions were reached.

* Smeagol might end up in one pigeonhole, and Gollum in another - or you could try to "average" them.

I should warn that, in this game, there tend to be no absolutely right answers, just interesting ones! So we might get bogged down in stubborn disagreement (but I hope not - the only trolls I have so far encountered here are the characters in the stories).There are 3 reasons I can think of which prevent absolutr answers in a work as sophisticated as Tolkien's:
First: I don't see why a character shouldn't behave as more than one "type", according to circumstances; but perhaps there is a characteristic type to which characters naturally.

Second: the two axes can run into conflict, forcing a character to choose between impulses. For example, consider two similar scenes -
  1. Eomer first encounters Aragor, Gimli and Legolas
  2. Faramir first encounters Frodo and Sam

Both are under instructions to detain any strangers (which makes that the Lawful thing to do). Each decides to set the law aside (and to face severe personal consequences if needed), because speeding the strangers on their way is the Good thing to do. So I'm seeing them as Lawful Good.
Thirdly and lastly, I think characters might change over time - I see Saruman descending down the Neutral column over his career - at the time of Helm's Deep he seems pretty Neutral Evil (I think his evil is calculated to bring about goals he now desires. Isengard is a polluted industrial wasteland because he wants industry and can't be bothered to clear up, not because he likes squalor). But by the Sharkey phase, I think he's gone Chaotic Evil - his goal is a revenge one; he just wants to make the Shire as miserable a place as possible to get back at Frodo & Co. Though interestingly, he does this by imposing a lot of pointless petty rules and inconveniences on the poor Hobbits, exploiting what I see as their innate Lawfulness.

This 2008 thread (is Morgoth Chaotic Evil versus Sauron as Lawful Evil?) is the only other one I've found here on this theme. It's a good demonstration of how there can be multiple interesting answers, but nothing can, in the final analysis, be settled.

Is that useful or fun? Anyone want to play? Let the games begin Wink

Subject User Time
Discuss the "Allignment" of various characters (might be fun) noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 28 2012, 7:21pm
    Wrong! Wrong! (just kidding) CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 28 2012, 10:09pm
        Movin' up, movin' down noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 28 2012, 10:44pm
            Rating the Ring and Boromir CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Dec 28 2012, 11:44pm
        Regular elvish trick noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 28 2012, 10:56pm
        My RP background is not D&D Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Dec 28 2012, 11:48pm
            Which law? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 29 2012, 9:06am
                Rulers? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 29 2012, 10:35am
                Law and culture Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Jan 1 2013, 8:05pm
                    Such as the Mafia CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 1 2013, 9:01pm
    Not much is lawful... Mim Send a private message to Mim Dec 29 2012, 5:19pm
        How awful to be lawful? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Dec 29 2012, 10:17pm
            Not totally convinced Mim Send a private message to Mim Jan 1 2013, 7:55pm


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