WORMSKIN

8/31/2011

Alignment: How autocrats can shape the local setting

It stands to reason that a powerful king in command of a wealthy kingdom -- one with all the usual subordinates and connections and intellect that a powerful king must have -- would set the tone for his kingdom. His personal standards would be reflected in the way he ruled, I imagine. Thanks to Gary Gygax we have a useful shorthand way of expressing those standards.

THE RULING BODY'S ALIGNMENT
AND ITS POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON SOCIETY

Lawful Good: A stern but just approach to legal matters. Cities are policed, property rights are enforced, and evil deeds are punished. [Drawbacks: Individual liberties may be suppressed in favor of the group. Codes of conduct likely to be seen as overweening by outsider standards.]

Neutral Good: A laissez-faire environment that serves the common weal. Characterized by a high degree of social independence and innovation. [Drawbacks: Society tends to have pronounced stratification of power according to the wealth or merit of the individual. Less protection for the common man than that found in an LG milieu.]

Chaotic Good: Hands-off leadership approach. A community that runs itself without the need for edicts and mandates. [Drawbacks: Little in the way of public services. Small (if any) public/community-owned space. Public disputes settled at street-level.]

Lawful Neutral: A rigid, arbitrary bureaucracy. Laws are clear and defined and -- while occasionally ridiculous -- must be upheld to sustain a paradigmatic sense of order. [Drawbacks: Little tolerance for spontaneity and therefore bland and unartistic. Curfews are likely and night-life is non-existent.]

True Neutral: What happens in Neutral Land stays in Neutral Land. Government is passive and disinterested. What few laws exist are not enforced. [Drawbacks: Thievery quite common. Low productivity and corresponding low standard of living.]

Chaotic Neutral: Ruling body is likely to be insane. Urban areas resemble war zones. Most people impoverished. Only a civilization in the loosest sense of the term. [Drawbacks: Only the most foolhardy merchant would come to such a place. Scavenging is a way of life.]

Lawful Evil: Dystopia. Inflexible laws that serve the ruling class and punish those on the bottom. A police state with well-stocked dungeons. Public excruciations a common form of entertainment. Dangerous to be a stranger here. [Drawbacks: Anything worth taking will be taking from you -- legally. The common man is furtive and untrustworthy.]

Neutral Evil: A society where all vices may be indulged if you happen to be wealthy. The commonfolk live in wretched squalor and are subject to the whims of their fickle and cruel masters. What rules there are can be altered at a moment's notice to suit the needs of those in power. [Drawbacks: Compassion and honesty are not considered virtues here. Outsiders are generally unwelcome.]

Chaotic Evil: A hellish, depraved and disorganized mess. Not a true civilization at all but rather a common space where evil things congregate. [Drawbacks: High mortality rate. Probably few resources or none at all.]

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