What would be the alignments of the GoT characters?

I’ve been thinking a little bit how the 3 alignment system can perfectly allow Lawful characters be sympathetic yet violently opposed to each other. It occurred to me that determining the alignments of the GoT characters could be an interesting exercise. To start off with I’m going to list some of the characters by the 3 alignments. I’d welcome discussion as to what I may have gotten wrong, or additions to the lists below. (The lists are starting short as I’m posting this in between bites at lunch.)

Nedd Stark
Stannis Baratheon
Daenerys Targareon
Brienne of Tarth

Jaime Lannistert
Arya Stark
The Hound

Ramsay Bolton
The White Walkers
Petyr Baelish

The Night’s Watch
Jon Snow
Nedd Stark
Bran Stark
Stannis Baratheon
Daenerys Targareyn
Brienne of Tarth
Jaime Lannister (End of Book 3+)

Tywin Lannister
Jaime Lannister (Books 1-2, Early Book 3)
Arya Stark
Caetlyn Stark
Robert Baratheon
Renly Baratheon
Khal Drogo
The Hound

The White Walkers
Ramsay Bolton
Petyr Baelish
Joffrey Baratheon
Cersei Lannister

Tyrion Lannister

I agree with most of your list with the possible exception of Cersei Lannister. While she is certainly self-centered and evil, I didn’t get the feeling that she wants to destroy society, she wants to preserve society with her at the top end. Nor do I think that she enjoys cruelty for it’s own sake, but rather that she tries to inflict it on those she considers rivals/enemies. Petyr Baelish does seem to be aligned with CHAOS because he uses chaos as a means to increase his position. However, both do see most people as means to an end.

However, if treating people as a means to an end outside of one’s ‘in group’ (the way Cersei sees her children) makes one aligned with CHAOS then could that include Khal Drogo to The Hound?

Kind of hard for me to argue that you’re wrong in your listings, but I guess I don’t quite get why Cersei would listed as CHAOS. She is my 2nd most hated character after Theon Greyjoy, but I haven’t seen her as being aligned with CHAOS.

Speaking of Theon would you say that he was someone that started out as NEUTRAL who transitioned to CHAOS once he rejoined his family? The Ironborn seem like orcs in human skins in terms of their ethics.

Interesting how the Night’s Watch as an organization is clearly aligned with LAW even though many of its members are murderers and rapist. Some of whom wouldn’t mind returning to murder and rape if the opportunity presented itself.

Finally, what makes Tyrion Lannister a hard case? I see him as a NEUTRAL transitioning to LAW similar to his brother, but even earlier. He’s not perfect, but he seems to have picked up an interest in actively working towards not having people treated horribly. Admittedly, he’s my second favorite character after Brienne, so maybe my personal feelings are colorIng my analysis of his alignment.

My thought with Cersei is that she was Chaotic because she had purposefully subverted Law in order to get ahead, and the sort of rule she would institute would be Chaotic rule, tyranny. But it’s definitely arguable that she’s Neutral. The line between “Neutral Awful” and “Chaotic” can be thin.

I initially had Tyrion as Neutral to Lawful, but his behavior at the end of Book 3 and into 4-5 seemed like a step back toward Neutral as the world failed to reward him for his virtue.

It would make sense that the Iron Islanders are Chaotic. There are even hints that the Drowned God is aligned in some way with the Others or is opposed to the Lord of Light. Theon would thus go from Neutral to Chaotic.

This doesn’t work because the opposing cosmic forces in the GoT universe aren’t Law and Chaos; they are Fire and Ice. Hence the actual title of the series, “A Song of Fire and Ice”. We know that the Walkers are aligned with Ice, and the dragons and the followers of R’hllor are aligned with fire. And we’ve had hints from the House of Black and white that the Seven, R’hllor, the Drowned God, the various other deities worshipped in the world are just aspects of a single entity they call Death. But we don’t really know what any of this means, and neither do the characters. There is a recurring theme that Fire consumes and Ice preserves, but that’s about it.

I see your point about how Cersei’s rule would effectively be Chaotic, but I guess I’m still tending to nudge her slightly into the “Neutral Awful” space. To a peasant under her rule that may be a distinction without a difference, but in terms of ethics it could make a difference. It would be interesting if we could listen to Martin Luther and Pope Leo X argue whether Cersei’s alignment was Chaotic or Neutral.

Personally, I agree with Cersei as Chaotic because she believes rules and laws are all good for other people, but they don’t apply to her. She believes she can do whatever she wants and it’s everyone else’s job to stay in their boxes to let her.

That’s a pure Chaos attitude in my opinion.

The incest and “signing off on the construction of some sort of monster golem made from people” things are kinda personally chaotic, though.

I largely agree with this; lots of characters in GoT may be good or evil, but few are aligned in any cosmic sense.

A case could be made for Tyrion as Neutral Perverse - he’ll act Lawful or Chaotic in opposition to whoever he’s talking to at the time (i.e. if dealing with a Chaotic character, he’ll be Lawful, and vice versa).

Maester Qyburn is clearly Chaotic, and the fact that Cersei supports his necromancy is good evidence she is, too. I’m swayed.

I must, respectfully, disagree, for two reasons.

First, ACKS does not require that Law and Chaos are cosmic forces; it merely demands that they be world-historical forces. I have written elsewhere that in World War II, one can equate the Allies to Law and the Axis to Chaos. I’ve re-pasted the alignment text from ACKS below.

Second, The Song of Ice and Fire was one of the very inspirations for my presentation of Law and Chaos in ACKS! And the story line for ASOIAF is the very model I use for my Auran Empire campaigns (where the political struggle of Lawful and Neutral leadership distracts them from the looming Chaotic threat).

Please note that I’m not arguing that GRRM intended to present his setting as one where Law and Chaos are in opposition, merely that it is easy to apply that framework to it.

In the Adventurer Conqueror King System, your character will enter a world of ceaseless violent struggle, where civilization is ever-assailed by forces intent on its destruction. In this perilous realm, he will be called to choose a side: Will he pledge to defend civilization and its allies against those who seek to destroy it? Will he sell his sword to any who can offer fame or fortune? Or will he become an agent of entropy and destruction undermining peace and order? This choice is called Alignment, and the three choices are Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic.

Law: Lawful beings believe that civilization is worth fighting for.
Neutrality: Neutral beings generally enjoy the benefits of law and civilization, but it is not something they directly fight for.
Chaos: Chaotic beings actively seek to destroy civil society. Chaotic characters are often madmen or cultists of forgotten, chthonic gods. To the extent they have any order at all, societies of Chaotic characters are ruled by force and fear, and are often characterized by all manner of corruption and vice.

Moreover, the Night’s Watch - filled with scum and criminals, yet nevertheless defenders of civilization - were the literal inspiration for this text:

Note that a character’s choice of Alignment doesn’t determine whether or not he takes care of his children, cheats on his wife, or steals from the merchant’s guild. It is concerned only with the weighty issue of where his allegiance lies in the grand struggles of existence. To have an alignment of Lawful or Chaotic is to have chosen a side in this perpetual struggle. Many people, choosing no side, are Neutral, although it is important to remember that most Neutrals still want the protection of Law even though they are not willing to die for it. (To paraphrase George Orwell, Neutral humans sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because Lawful heroes stand ready to do violence on their behalf.)

The signing off on the zombie/golem construction convinces me as well that Cersei is Chaotic, now that I’m reminded of that. Sometimes I search for shades of gray where there might be none.

OK, in that context, it looks like lawful human civilization in Westeros is about to be crushed between rival chaotic forces. I’d throw Stannis Baratheon on the chaotic side, with his willingness to overthrow the established religion and replace it with a religion that is obviously chaotic (since it promotes human sacrifice and summoning demonic creatures using sex and blood magic) in order to get what he believes to be his. Maybe Daenerys, too, since her most important contribution to history is most likely going to be using blood magic and human sacrifice to resurrect dragons after the very lawful maesters of the Citadel drove them to extinction.

That’s very interesting! We’ll have to wait and see, but I wouldn’t put it past GRRM to present a world where BOTh the Lord of Light and the Old Gods/Other are evil.

Could the situation with Stannis in some ways be the reverse of that of the Night Watch? He’s a man with a valid lawful claim to the throne, who tries to be honorable/fair and wants to do what he honestly believes is best for the kingdom as a whole. However, he has aligned himself with a religion that uses human sacrifice to achieve his ends. There are aspects to Stannis that are admirable, but if alignment is in terms of the big picture then I think there is a good argument that he is Chaotic.

Martin really does a good job of extracting tragedy from the contrast between means and ends. Stannis is far to the extreme of pursing Lawful ends through Chaotic means, and represents a sort of photographic negative of anti-hero characters (like Tyrion or Daenerys) who keep stumbling into Lawful behavior by the periodic emergence of an idiosyncratic moral compass that isn’t regulated by a good grasp of how to champion “civilization” on a philosophical level.

Per the text of the ACKS descriptions, it seems very possible to be both Lawful (“believing that civilization is worth fighting for” as an end) and also Chaotic (trying to preserve that civilization by means of “force and fear”). It requires a touch of insanity, but that’s an intellectual problem not a moral one.

Oh, good assessment.

Perhaps “Fighting for Lawful using Chaotic Methods” could also be considered a type of Neutral.

sounds a bit like either the 9-point alignment system or just generally behavior that kind of breaks the paradigm of lawful-neutral-chaotic.