From: Unclefes
Subject: In Defense of Lawful Evil
Date: Saturday, September 02, 2000 10:36 PM

Gentlemen, and Ladies:

Much hay has been made in this forum concerning the relative aspects of the
various alignments. Overall, most have exemplified the strengths and
intricacies of the Good alignments, while in general deriding as near
useless the Evil alignments. While there are some problems with playing evil
characters, in my opinion there are significant opportunities for great
roleplaying, party teamwork, and successful adventuring for LE characters,
both as overall party alignments and as individual party members in parties
made up of other alignments.

I choose Lawful Evil primarily because of the problems associated with
Chaotic Evil are usually too much to surmount when confronted with the need
for collective effort. CE is too wantonly destructive to allow for
successful group accomplishment and, often, even successful group
interaction. However, I believe that ALL chaotics, across the G-N-E
spectrum, are problematic in the group dynamic necessary. Think Elric: his
unpredictability made him dangerous (as did Stormbringer, but really the
sword only exacerbated the previous condition), and that dangerousness made
him a loner.

In my experience, many players play Chaotic Good characters as Lawful Good
with a slight element of eccentricity. Accurately played Chaotic Neutrals
would, I think, be swiftly booted out of any party - they simply wouldn't be
capable of working together with the other party members for any goal,
however short-term. The tenets of chaos, I contend, preclude effective
action as a member of a team.

Lawful Evil's, on the other hand, are primarily LAWFUL, and their "evil" is
indicated as typical of the Nietzschean "will to power," whereby they use
Evil as a method for generating, building and exercising power over others
and their environment. A well-played LE could easily be a successful member
of an adventuring party: they can work as a part of team toward a common
goal, take and give orders, and would not be instantly inclined to murder
everyone in the party; whereas Good is not required to be stupid, neither is

One can, fairly easily, consider LG and LE as very similar of outlook. Both
admire and make use of order, and from that order they are inclined toward
rationality; both see and employ the benefits of teams and group behavior;
both ascribe value to the status quo; both tend to seek, acquire and
exercise personal power, and both tend to seek to become the center of group
dynamics, leaders within their respective teams.

The difference is one, really, of motivation. LG is motivated by a desire to
bring about the safety, protection and common weal of all good creatures.
LE, on the other hand, is simply about power - gathering, collecting, and
exercising power over all creatures, good or evil. When boiled down to
effects, the two are not dissimilar. To protect, one must have power; to
hold power, one must provide protection. In either case, the requirements
for adventuring are the same: teamwork, goal-seeking, and a willingness to
give and follow orders, or at the least play one's designated part in
pre-planned activities.

This said, I think it is a good thing for DMs to remember the differences
between the alignments are not so much levels of rational behavior as they
are differences in world view. For example, a person who sells drugs: evil?
They certainly could be, but they could also be someone who sees the
illegality of drugs as an infringement on the personal rights of the
individual. Such as person would certainly not see themselves as evil, nor
would people who hold similar beliefs regarding personal liberty. In short,
it is unlikely that hobgoblins sit around the campfire each night chanting
"EVIL! EVIL! EVIL!" any more than the followers of Cuthbert sit around their
temples yelling "GOOD! GOOD! GOOD!" Rather, each sees themselves as rational
creatures seeking goals. Since both organization's goals include the
accumulation and exercise of power, these organizations would naturally come
to conflict if proximal to each other.

This taken into account, I believe that LE should be more prevalent in
adventuring parties than any of the Chaotic alignments. The 'requirements'
of chaos - unpredictability, changeability, and variance - are too at odds
with the collective behavior required of most adventuring groups. Certainly
chaotics could join and be productive members of adventuring parties; but
just as certainly, I feel, LE characters could also, and in fact be far more
integral to the overall success of the party.

Comments and critiques are, as always, welcomed.


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