It’s the start of the new semester, and what better way to kick off the new than with a new little series to do? Now, you may look at the title and think, “Jessi, what does that mean? Are you a prophet?” To that, I’d say no, I’m just a nerd writing for the Driftwood. This has nothing to do with the end times or anything magical. No, the roots are much more nerdy than that.
In recent times, the table-top role playing game (TTRPG) “Dungeons and Dragons,” or DnD for short, has become more and more popular. This is thanks in part to many podcast-style streams such as “Critical Role” and “The Adventure Zone.” In this TTRPG, there is a morality system called alignments. (See where the title comes from now?) These alignments are a combination of lawful, neutral, chaotic and good, neutral, and evil. These alignments should, in theory, determine the choices of players as they play their characters. In this series, I’ll be taking a look at popular characters, and determining what alignment they are based on how they act, their morals and their end goals. In this first issue, I’ll be explaining my versions of the alignment system, as it can differ from person to person. I’ll try to go as objectively as possible.
How the alignment system works
Before I explain alignments, I need to explain how it works. Alignments are split into two parts, which are as I’ve stated before. There are nine possible alignments. They are lawful good, lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral good, true neutral, neutral evil, chaotic good, chaotic neutral and chaotic evil. It’s commonly thought that the first half (lawful, neutral, chaotic) is based on the means to get to your goal, while the second half (good, neutral, evil) is based on your morals or end goal. I will be explaining each part with this in mind, and this is also how each character will be judged.
The first part of the first half of the alignment system we’ll be looking at is Lawful. Lawful, typically speaking, is a characteristic of one who follows the rules and laws in order to get what they want, even if that goal is immoral. This is the direct opposite to Chaotic, where the ends justify the means, as long as they don’t conflict with one’s own morals. Neutral is, well, neutral. This half of the alignment is most closely related to the methods the character takes to get their goal or spread their morals. Is it legal, does it follow the rules? Or maybe it goes against everything society stands for. Maybe it just kind of happens with no significance.
The first part of the second half of the alignment system is Good. Good is the typical idea of what good is, helping others, being nice, doing the right thing. This is, obviously, juxtaposed by Evil, where harming others for personal gain is the idea. Neutral is, again, in the middle, neither good nor evil inherently. This half can mean anything from the morals of the character, to the goals they have, or the actions they perform. Do they do it to harm others, or to help? Do they just stand there and watch things happen, or do they follow the law or their own code no matter what?
A quick summary of all alignments would look something close to this:
Lawful Good: Someone who does good, and does it by the books. They follow the law, calling police when bad things happen, changing unfair laws to help oppressed peoples. They’re usually paragons of justice.
Neutral Good: Someone who does good in any way possible, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience themselves or others. They prefer to stay out of the way, picking up litter, cleaning up after themselves or others, or even posting wholesome memes.
Chaotic Good: Someone who does good by any means necessary. They’re rebels and fighters. Your typical YA novel protagonist would fall under this category. Maybe they have to kill a corrupt leader to free the village? Maybe they steal to help others?
Lawful Neutral: Someone who follows the law, regardless of who it helps or harms, assuming it doesn’t harm them. They stay out of the way as long as the law isn’t broken. They can be seen as hypocritical at times.
True Neutral: As long as it doesn’t mess with them, it doesn’t matter. Monks, sages, elders. These people just want to live alone and in peace.
Chaotic Neutral: People who do what they want, when they want. Rulebreakers, thieves and pranksters. These people won’t go out of their way to help anyone, but also won’t actively harm others.
Lawful Evil: Evil people who follow the laws and rules established to crush people beneath their thumbs. They won’t do anything that can get them in trouble, but they will make your life a living hell. Working in technicalities and lies, corrupt politicians, police and lawyers find themselves in this alignment.
Neutral Evil: People who do small evils, regardless of how exactly they do it. They could do anything from litter and not care to manslaughter and brag. They might also see nothing wrong with injustices such as discrimination.
And finally, Chaotic Evil: This is your villain, evil for evil’s sake. Harm people for whatever reason, destroy the world because who cares? They are the scum of the earth, the purest of all evils.
Now that the alignments have all been explained, starting next week, I’ll be looking at characters from popular media and categorizing them into these alignments as they are written here.