Friday, March 17, 2017

Spells for Crossbow Lovers

A slim volume of spells, with notations in gnomish, the slate front cover is etched with a picture of a weasel throwing itself at a goblin, while the rear cover depicts a badger launching its own feces at an orc. The spells purport to be the work of Fobor Cainfort, gnomish fighter/illusionist, who was rather fond of the crossbow as a weapon. Not possessing the skill to properly, permanently, enchant a crossbow, he instead created a handful of spells to aid in his use of it, making it a more versatile weapon, and himself a more able defender of his clanhome on Mount Kevypar-Urtha.

Argue Alignment With Me

An alignment thread on another website had me sitting down and carefully lay out my personal definitions of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil, and how they look. I'd like y'all's input on my definitions:

Good v. Evil (the moral axis) is concerned with life; primarily sophonts, but extending to other life, to a lesser degree, including artificial life (robots and warforged and such). Good people seek to support life; that is a goal in and of itself. Good is not necessarily completely self-effacing nor above being paid for their work... a good person can still want glory for their deeds and accept rewards for them; folks still have to eat, after all. But they won't want a reward that the person can't afford. Nor does Good always mean non-violent... Good can fight evil, even in a proactive fashion, if they are working to reduce the potential pain others will cause (i.e. "We went out and killed orcs because, unchecked, they would kill many people.")
Evil people are not necessarily malevolent, but they are self-centered, seeking to advance themselves, often at the expense of others. An evil person might heal people, or give to charity, but they don't do that because they want to help people, but because it serves their ends... it is useful for this person to be healthy (or they have a personal investment in that person; an emotional connection, for example), or to appear to be charitable.
Neutrality, on this axis, is self-centered, but not quite as willing to sacrifice others for their goals. For an evil person's death, a random stranger's death is almost always an acceptable price; for a neutral person, it has to be really worth it.

Law v. Chaos (the ethical axis) is concerned with property, including ideas and institutions. Lawful people hold that property, including the mores of others, are important, so in the pursuit of their goals, they try not to violate them. They maintain their own oaths, don't put people into positions where they have to violate their ethical precepts if they can avoid it... they may not agree with them, they may try to change them, but they respect that other people HAVE those precepts and that they are important to them. A lawful person has a personal code, even if it's not fully articulated, and though they might violate it, it will not be without careful thought.
Chaotic people don't care a fig for other folks property and mores... they don't necessarily steal willy-nilly, but that's less out of respect for property as respect for consequences. A Chaotic person may have a personal code, but that code is almost always flexible and, even then, they'll discard that code if it gets in the way of their goals.
Neutrality on the ethical axis, again, is a balance between these two... their personal code may be important to them, but they don't care about the mores of others, for example. Conversely, they might respect the mores of others, but find themselves unable to really commit to an ethical standard.

So, the traditional Robin Hood is Chaotic Good. While he had personal loyalty to Richard the Lionheart, he had no such loyalty to John, and was happy to violate the laws of the land (external code) to achieve his personal goals... not just opposition to John, but also improving the lives of the poor. If he'd primarily kept the money, he'd slip to Chaotic Neutral. If he'd been a bit more about killing (rather than humiliating) tax collectors, then he'd be moving towards Chaotic Evil. The Errol Flynn/Disney Animated version of Robin Hood didn't want to KILL John or the Sheriff, he wanted to humiliate them.

Update: Slight rewording of the first substantive paragraph.