Rome at its best, as embodied by Cicero or Marcus Aurelius, is Lawful. The following thoughts, from a forum post some years ago, will help clarify…
Law and Chaos
Law and Chaos in my own campaigns are much closer to their portrayal in Three Hearts and Three Lions than to their portrayal in the Eternal Champion series.
Premises in the Auran Empire setting are:
The nature of man means man flourishes in a civilization.
Civilization must be forged by struggle against uncivilized forces.
Civilization is inherently fragile because the flourishing life enjoyed by the citizens of a successful civilization erodes the virtues which give the strength needed to defend the civilization against uncivilized forces.
Civilization in this context means “rule of law” in the sense that term was understood in classical Greece and Rome, medieval England, etc. - as compared to the despotic rule of godkings or the capricious rule of a bandit chief.
300 is an example of Law (the free Greeks) opposed to Chaos (the despotic Persian God-King).
Lawful characters are those who struggle to build or sustain civilization* against uncivilized forces.
Neutral characters are those who seek to enjoy the fruits of civilization, and have no wish to see it torn down, but do not personally struggle to support it, though they might admire those who do.
Chaotic characters are those who actively struggle to tear down man’s civilization, either because it will benefit them personally, because they are innate enemies of man, or because they just want to see the world burn.
Law, as a metaphysical force, explains why the world follows natural laws; why man has a nature; and because that nature is reasonable and social, why he flourishes in a society of reason. Lawful gods are gods of civilization, nobility, knowledge, reason, justice, etc. It is theistic humanism.
Chaos, as a metaphysical force, appears in the unpredictable randomness in nature (fire, earthquakes, storms); and in those personal vices which destabilized civilization. It also encompasses all that is alien and inimical to man. It is nihilism in its original sense - “no being”, constant change.
The Auran Empire is the most successful polity in the world’s history, and as such represents what is best in Law. However, its very success has corrupted it - soft senators and ruthless merchants indulge in idle luxury in Aura while the borders grow weaker. Scions of noble houses prefer to watch the chariot races than become cavalry officers. Chaos seduces from within (through vice) while menacing from without (through physical destruction in the form of beastmen and similar creatures).
All of this is a simplification of the classical thinkers like Aristotle in the Ethics and the Politics, much of Cicero, and Machievelli’s Discoures, combined with Anderson’s explanation of Law and Chaos.
Nature, Law, and Chaos
I thinqk law, neutrality, and chaos would all claim “nature” to be on their side, but in a different way.
Law would claim that “natural law” exists, that humans are born with an innate moral sense, that by nature, humans are social animals designed to live in civilized polities, and that as such we should claim and tame wilderness as a moral good. "I have built a city on this mountain top because it is right and proper that the domain of man conquer and tame the frontier. It is a grand accomplishment testifying to the power of civilization.”
Neutrality would claim that while there is “natural law,” it’s look out for yourself; that nature is amoral, and dangerous, and that whether you think wilderness should be claimed will depend on whether you enjoy living in the wilderness. "I built a city on this mountain top because I like the view. If you enjoyed skiing here, too bad.”
Chaos would claim that nature is red in tooth and claw, violent, and that the supreme destructive power of nature shows that what Law considers “the proper order of things” is an aberration. "Your city on the mountain top exists only because you were strong enough to build it. But when an avalanche destroys your little city, you’ll see you weren’t strong enough to keep it.”
The idea of “druids versus wood cutters” is not something that the Auran Empire setting concerns itself with. The idea of progress versus environmentalism is a very modern idea. Of course Modern ACKS (MACKS!) might have an “alignment system” of “techno-capitalists” and “environmentalists” as the two opposed factions…
Let me address two other points of likely contention. First, for various reasons, slavery today is viewed as a social horror, man at his utter worst, in a way it simply was not in the past. To keep the Auran setting somewhat more compatible with modern ethics, Aura does not have slaves (it has indentured servants instead) but in an authentic historical setting, I would not say that slaveholding and Law are contradictory.
Second, late modernity and postmodernity tends to deny the existence of human nature and natural law, and deny that there is really any such thing as civilization versus barbarism. Without entering into the merits of this contemporary debate, I will simply say that the Greeks and Romans took concepts such as natural law, man’s nature, and the civilizing mission as real, and I have adopted such notions as the moral basis of ACKS.