Talked up some D&D (3.5 Edition) with brother and the GSB this weekend, then thumbed through some game books. Though my playing years were all 2nd Edition (starting in 1979) I’ve got dozens of version 3-3.5 books.
Also have one 4th Edition book, which is more than enough.
Anyway, the 3rd Edition stuff eventually addressed many, many huge gaps and problems of its antecedent. 2nd Edition: it is physically impossible for a wizard to wear armor. Er…really? Is there, like, a magnetic repulsion? 3rd Edition: of course wizards can wear armor…if they want bulky gear interfering with complex and subtle gestures required to invoke magic. Ahh…that makes sense?
One more preface: in all their iterations, D&D sentient beings have always had “alignments”. Their personalitites, beliefs…what one would call their “nature” except that changes in alignment were possible. D&D alignment is an x/y chart with a “good and evil” axis and a “lawful and chaotic” one. If you don’t care to budge off the “0,0” center you are neutral. If you only move in one direction you’re “neutral something” or “something neutral”?
Actually, non-sentients always had an alignment too: pure neutral. This is old hat to most of you. This explanation is for any non-RPGers present.
2nd Edition morality and philosophy is a straight-jacket of legendary rigidity. And, as with the “wizards in armor” question, 3rd Edition ethics became more rationalized and nuanced.
It also explored organizational alignments. You want to join a club, an academy, a government? Are your beliefs compatible with the group’s tenets?
All of this post until now is to explain why Friday, in an epiphany, I realized the U.S. Congress is Chaotic Evil. Overwhelmingly. Yet (a very few) individual congresscritters are the polar opposite: Lawful Good. Allen West is the epitome of the stern Paladin.
So now the ol’ noggin is musing about the relationship between alignment and actual law. “Chaotic evil” and “chaotic neutral” characters aren’t opposed to laws. In fact, the more the merrier. Congress churns out an endless, ever-changing froth of rules…from which it exempts itself AMAP, as much as possible. When it isn’t exempt and a lawless congressman gets caught, the “punishment” is half-hearted finger-waggling, not the years in prison you or I would receive.
This is an entire field of inquiry. The Tea Partys? They massed together in public spaces, shared their views, and left the common areas cleaner than before they came. The only “incidences” were by infiltrators (renounced immediately by the surrounding crowd) or outright lies. So as far as I can tell, Tea Partyers are the most Lawful Good folks in secular history.
The OWS crowd? Obviously they’re far too tolerant of evil individuals in their midst. But as a firm believer in “never attribute to malice what can be put down to stupidity”, I don’t see OWS as Evil, not like Congress.
There’s a hoary D&D joke about the alignment of “Lawful Stupid”. A Lawful Good paladin is utterly opposed to evil. Ergo, a wimpy 1st-level knight who encounters a mighty chaotic evil balrog must do battle with it, accepting the 100% certainty of death. Riiiight.
The OWS as a whole is chaotic neutral. But its strategy is to beseech a chaotic evil organization to sacrifice on behalf of OWS. So…
…paladins like Allen West aren’t “lawful idiots”, but by God the OWS is definitely Chaotic Stupid.