Roll The Dice: What’s Your Moral Alignment?

By Isaac H.

You’ve got your rations and pack set. Your potions and weapons are secured. Your spell and incantations prepared. Adventure beckons. Now to decide what type of wayward adventurer you want to be. The character moral alignment system is a set of classifications for a character’s actions, ideals and ethical views. If you’ve ever played Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40k or other tabletop games, you might find this system familiar. It can generally be applied to almost any character in any story telling medium. The alignments are cross sectioned in moral classes of good, neutral and evil, with social categorizations of lawful, neutral and chaotic.


Below are a few examples from one of the more traditional moral alignment charts from a few popular fantasy series.

The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson: Lawful Good

Lawful good characters strive for the greater good by adhering to a law or code of justice. Former warlord and current leader Dalinar Kholin struggles to unite his people with a codex written by the holy incarnation of Honor itself. Kholin strives to atone for his past as a bloodthirsty tyrant by strictly adhering to the tome of The Way of Kings.

The Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan: Neutral Good

Neutral good characters act for a greater good, but only within the law when it suits them. Field Marshal Tamas has lost his wife to war, conscripted his children to battle, deposed his seditious king and organized an overall coup. He’ll sacrifice whatever it takes to keep his country safe. As a neutral good character, the powder-mage will follow the law and adhere to bureaucracy when necessary, but isn’t afraid to ignore it when he deems necessary.

The Final Empire: Chaotic Good

Chaotic good characters act towards goals of benevolence or to help others with no regard for (or in spite of) the law. As with most chaotic good characters, the former street urchin and allomancer Vin has no use for the law. This suits her, being a member of a people the law deems without rights. Vin uses her talents and training with a crew of thieves to dodge the law while working to overthrow the empire of the Lord Ruler.

The Magos, by Dan Abnett: Lawful Neutral

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.” Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn of the Warhammer 40k universe is charged with protecting humanity from alien threats across the stars and the maelstrom forces of the chaos god. As a lawful neutral, he must occasionally act outside the bounds of humaneness but within the constrains of imperial law to halt these threats. Those unyielding threats, demons, aliens, heretical rebels and corrupted officers, all require objective approaches to stop.

The Blood of Elves, by Andrzej Sapkowski: True Neutral

A true neutral, Geralt from the novelizations is a little different than his Netflix and video game counterparts. The Witcher Geralt may follow or ignore laws of the lands he travels. He generally acts for an altruistic good, but will act otherwise for the safety of his friends regardless of the moral implications. He is even known to indulge in selfish endeavors of benefit to no one else from time to time.

The Bloody Crown of Conan, by Robert Howard: Chaotic Neutral

Born to a warrior nomadic people, Conan has lived as a mercenary, pirate, thief, brigand, soldier, ranger, tyrant and King. As a chaotic neutral, Conan shows eternal disdain and contempt for law and civilization. On the other hand he has shown loyalty to his friends and will treat those he deems honorable with decency. Or at least, he will when it’s practical to do so.

Before They Are Hanged, by Joe Abercrombie: Lawful Evil

A disfigured and discarded war hero turned state torturer, Glokta is delegated to administer a besieged city. The assignment is a death sentence. The location is untenable to hold, its defenders are undisciplined reprobates and its locals are allied with the invaders. While he would love nothing more than to preside over the slow, painful demise of the locals, his superiors and the invaders, Glokta will follow his duty. Like most lawful evil characters, Glokta acts under the accordance of the law delegated to him, but will do so in the cruelest manner possible.

The Prince of Fools, by Mark Lawrence: Neutral Evil

While not actively seeking out heinousness, neutral evil characters won’t hesitate to engage in nefariousness when it protects their interests, lawful or no. Prince Jalan Kendeth is such a man. Gambler, loiterer, cheater, liar, drunk, backstabber, debtor, philanderer and infrequent murderer, the prince is dedicated to his vices but shirks real responsibility. Being far from the crown and without aspirations of power, he isn’t worth the attention of his grandmother: the ruthless Red Queen. Unfortunately for him, he isn’t out the sights of her witch sibling, the Silent Sister.

The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King: Chaotic Evil

Finally we come to the worst of the worst. Chaotic evil characters have no regards for the law, empathy or decency and will often act in the sake of facilitating cruelty for it’s own sake. Villains that have no goal other than harm and with no consideration for any but themselves. The Court Magician in Stephen King’s fantasy tale is such a person. He’ll work to overthrow or assassinate monarch’s who might limit his fiendish amusements. He rules as the despot behind the throne and acts with a natural malice that even he can’t understand.

Roll The Dice: What's Your Moral Alignment?

 

What’s the moral alignment that you prefer to read about the most? Or better yet, what moral alignment would your ideal character be identified by? Let us know below.

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Comments

2 responses to “Roll The Dice: What’s Your Moral Alignment?”

  1. I have never heard of this system of moral alignment classification and it’s very intriguing. (It would be kind of fun, but not very constructive, to sort the various presidential candidates into these classifications!) 🙂 I now want to make a reading challenge to read a book representative of each category. Thanks for the food for thought!

    • Isaac H says:

      Thanks for the compliment Ruth! That would make for a great reading challenge, it can fit into almost any kind of story. And I absolutely agree you can definitely apply it (fairly easily in some cases) to politicians and political candidates.

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