Alignment question, not debate

In the rule system it's the classic Law/Chaos system but I notice that instead of law tending to being good and chaos tending to bad with exceptions, all law is good and all chaos is evil.

So what aligment are people who do vile evil tasks in secrecy in order to lead a group, such as Vedic Wynn from star trek ds9? Lawful because they want structure, or chaotic because they work against the group to get their way?

I would regard Wynn as Lawful at the start. She wants the best for Bajor, and believes she is that best. She is ruthless, but in her own mind she is on the side of the Prophets. However, when she is thwarted again and again, she is lured to the side of pah-wraiths and falls into Chaos.   In my campaign, the players are Lawful (lead by a paladin), but have made a minor enemy in the local head of the paladin's church. Both are Lawful and working towards the good, but have very different views on how that should be carried out.




All chaos is evil. Not all law is good.

When I consider alignement in ACKS, I tend to think in terms of (1) larger-than-daily concerns and (2) the civilization vs. anarchy axis. Anarchy is not the right word for what I'm trying to say... maybe entropy would be better.

Ultimately - I like Susan's answer and I think it is a good shorthand for using alignment in ACKS as long as you remember that all chaotic "evil" is not child-murdering, slave-taking, etc. A servant of chaos could be extremely kind and generous while still working to undermine civilization or achieve some nihilistic goal.

Not sure that helped at all.

Oh god, an alignment debate. if someone mentions Game of Thrones characters, set this thread on fire.

Susan's answer is a good summary. To add to it: ACKs is a game inspired by the period of the Roman empire in decline, except with the added assurance that their concept of law and chaos is demonstrably correct.

What I mean by this is that, while we have the benefit of history to tell us that the "barbarians" beating back the romans would ultimately form their own civilizations, in ACKs the barbarians are demonstrably evil, created by chthonic gods who have entropy as their goal.  Their servants may be distracted by things like plunder and conquest, which may satiate them to something resembling order for a bit, but they are being goaded to more destruction by their gods.

Take a look at the paladin's class abilities as well as the spells related to "protection from evil".  Even though there's no "evil" alignment as in a 9-pointed alignment system, there is a workable definition of evil, which hinges a good bit on the person casting the spell/using the ability.

Overall, though, the less you think about alignment as the sole motivator, the better. If the only reason you can think of for one kingdom not invading the other is "but they're both lawful!" then you'd better believe war should be on the horizon.

Keep in mind that something like 90% of characters are neutral.

I prefer to think of alignment as a cosmic allegiance. Any character that has actively sworn allegiance to the forces of Law or Chaos is Lawful or Chaotic, respectively. Anyone who doesn’t care is Neutral.

So I haven’t seen DS9, but it sounds to me like your example character is Neutral, because he is neither actively trying to build up civilization nor actively trying to tear it down.

The barbarians attacking the Roman Empire are a Chaotic civilization, with Chaotic leaders, but still, most of the actual people are Neutral (which is an explanation for why, in reality, they settled down and made their own civilizations afterwards; their leaders abandoned their Chaotic causes and became fat, lazy, and Neutral, and since most of the people themselves were Neutral, they shrugged and went with it).

The reason I use her as an example is she is a leader of a good based religion, but she gets the title by trying to assassinate, and then blackmailing the competition, she thinks she is the only hope of saving all of her people, even when the "gods" (called prophets in the series) tell her "hey, we said the other guys should be in charge and we don't like you." and yes, in the end she turns from the good gods to the evil gods. 

In her defense, it takes her like 15 minutes to make such a large life decision, but she does figure out that the evil gods are a lot more like her.

The reason I didn't know what she should be is because she does end up figuring out she likes the evil gods more, but spends 60 some years of her life trying to worship the good gods and even be the leader of the good religion, but she does it for personal power.

I like this answer. She is an evil person but she serves Law, but she eventually chooses to serve Chaos, and that is when her alignment would shift. So she could come up under detect evil spell because she "actively intends malace" to the characters.

These are literally the debates that flare up every time someone tries to apply the law/chaos axis to Cersei Lannister. I don't mean to rain on your parade but it's a really old discussion and a tiring one.  Pick an answer that satisfies you and call it a day, it really isn't important or necessary that every character in every TV show/book fits neatly into the Law vs. Chaos axis.

I understand you are tired of seeing debate, and I was not trying to turn this into one, and I certainly am not asking for "every fictional character" I wanted this because this is a very real thing that can happen in my campaign and I want to be ready for it and wanted an official answer from someone from a rules standpoint for things like detect evil. 

While you may be fed up with this "debate" please remember, I just spent 125 dollars on these products last friday, and I am just learning the system so I may have questions as someone completely new to it, and it does not incline me to purchase more books when someone with so many tags on their name is so short to me.

I won't let this end my eagerness to play the system, but please keep in mind negativity can drive away the new players that a indy game needs.

Overall, I want to say I have had a lot of help here one response excluded. Scott I think you have given me the most help of all and I really appreciate it.

Welcome to the forums and ACKS. You might find these threads useful as well, though they cover a lot of the same ground.

Hi Layander! Welcome to the community. Thanks for checking out ACKS.

I might start by dividing your world into two sides, and assign one side as Law and the other side as Chaos. Don't worry too much about the person's personal morality and instead focus on "which side are they on?" That is the initial assessment of their alignment. If the answer is "neither," then they are Neutral.

Then, if Lawful or Chaotic, ask "would they ever switch sides?" If the answer is yes, then they are Neutral. Done.

EXAMPLE: In Lord of the Rings, the Free Peoples are Lawful and the Enemy is Chaotic. Gandalf, Aragorn, Frodo, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli are all Lawful. The Black Numenoreans, the Orcs, the Ring-Wraiths, Sauruman, and Sauron are Chaotic. The various fighters of the Easterners and Southrons are Neutral, but allied with Sauron. (Afterwards they make peace with Gondor.) The Ents begin as Neutral, but then become Lawful.  

Now, if your setting has a three way struggle, with shades of grey, then divide your sides into Law, Neutral, and Chaos. Then for each Lawful character, ask "would they ever fight for Neutral?" Then they are Neutral. For each Chaotic character, ask "would they prefer to fight for Neutral if the could?" Then they are Neutral. 

You could then go back and for particularly vicious people who, on a personal level, are motivated by psycopathy or marked by a level of cruelty and vileness unusual even for their society, and shift them one step towards Chaotic regardless of which side they are on at the moment. The argument would be that people like that destroy civilizations in the long term even if they help it in the short term. 

If your setting has more than three sides, then you'd have to bundle a few of the sides together in such a way that you end up with mostly L-N, N-C, and N-N conflicts.

EXAMPLE: In 1939, the sides are UK, France, Poland, and Finland v. the invading Germany and USSR. It seems like UK, France, and Poland is Lawful and Germany and USSR are Chaotic. But we know that later that USSR sides with UK against Germany, while Germany helps out Finland against USSR. So the sides really are Lawful (UK, France, Poland), Neutral (Finland, USSR), and Chaotic (Germany). From that we'd know that Erwin Rommel was Chaotic even though he was a fairly classy guy, and that the ficitonal Inglorious Bastards were Lawful, even though they were kind of awful. Stalin himself was 

EXAMPLE: In Game of Thrones, I'd say you have Lawful (those who fight for the good of the overall Seven Kingdoms), Neutral (those who fight for their own House), and Chaotic (those who would destroy the Seven Kingdoms - Grey Men, Others). That would lead to Lawful characters Ned Stark, Stannis Baratheon, and the various members of the Night's Watch; Neutral characters Tywin Lannister, Renly Baratheon, Littlefinger, the Hound, and the Mountain; and then Chaotic character the Night King and the Others. You could then perhaps say that Littlefinger and the Mountain are actually Chaotic as they are contributing to the destruction of the 7K even if that's not their "side". 

Anyway, it's all pretty much up to you - every campaign is a law unto itself - but that's at least how I think about it.








I really appreciate that, it helps out a lot. Thanks for taking the time to answer this. I am pretty excited to get my first game underway, I am trying to make a nice sandbox setting, I just occasionally have a few questions when trying to set it up. I appreciate that there is a community out here to help make that happen. 

I personally wanted a 3 alignment system (as opposed to the 9 point alignment system) because it works better with my version of clerics, and it matches settings I take a lot of inspiriation from, (Lord of the rings, star wars, moorecock, howard.) While I did have questions about what to do about people who obviously serve the wrong side, people who are right on the edge of betrayal from the begining, I think you cleared it up a lot for me.

I think the "people like that destroy civilization" statement really stood out to me. Thank you very much for your time in clearing it all up for me.

My pleasure! Thanks for giving ACKS a go. Cheers.

I'm sure this has been addressed but then how does detect and protection from evil work if everything is chaos or law? If it protects against Chaos because chaos is evil, then shouldn't is be detect/protect chaos?


I'm sure this has been addressed but then how does detect and protection from evil work if everything is chaos or law? If it protects against Chaos because chaos is evil, then shouldn't is be detect/protect chaos?


ACKs core, p.84, in protection from evil:

"For purposes of this spell, evil creatures include hostile creatures of an alignment other than the caster’s alignment, and inherently evil creatures such as undead and summoned creatures of Chaotic alignment. "


Greater detail is provided in detect evil:

"This spell allows the caster to detect evil; specifically, the caster can detect creatures with evil intentions, magic items with evil enchantments, undead, sinkholes of evil, and summoned creatures of Chaotic alignment. Note that normal characters, even if Chaotic, are not detected by this spell unless they have actively evil intentions against the caster. Poisons, physical traps, and natural animals are neither good nor evil, so they are not detected by this spell."


So the answer is that it's chaos + intent or chaos + summoned for the most part, with certain things being defined as inherently evil.

Just restating Alex's language:  Lawful is on the side of civilization, Chaotic is trying to tear civilization down.  My take on that is it's entirely possible to be ambitious, or proud, or cruel, or just an all-around bastard, and still be Lawful.  A character can even perform evil deeds, but as long as they're still protecting or advancing civilization they stay Lawful.  It's when their vile deeds serve to weaken civilization (as, say, a campaign of assassinations of able rivals might), then they've flipped to Chaotic.  (They need not know or accept this, it just happens.)  That's... still a GM call, ultimately, but at least it shifts the decision to the back burner for a while.

That aside, I'm leaning towards a more cosmic understanding for my current tabletop game.  Priests, monks and paladins are Lawful, mages, warlocks and witches are Chaotic, and everyone else is Neutral until they make some positive commitment to another force or power in play.

I am doing something similar, I have gods in the setting that are either law or chaos, but there are two gods that are "nuetral" but they are still on one side or the other, the druid god is nuetral but sits on the law pantheon, and the magic god is nuetral but sits on the chaos pantheon.