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Law vs Chaos

DavetheLost

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Chaotics as pure random entropy never really appealed to me either. There is a reason a certain alignment is nicknamed "Chaotic Stupid". Moorcock gave a good critique of our Chaos ultimately being as sterile as pure Law. I see Chaos as being the force for creativity, spontaneity, freedom and individuality at least as much as the force for entropy. It is diverse, that's why it's Chaos.
 

Grumpygoat

Give a damn
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My own take on Law vs. Chaos boils down mostly to Institutions vs. Individuals. A LN person doesn't magically become CN upon entering a different country with laws that are at odds with the LN person's home country's laws, after all. Similarly, barbarians are often presented as Chaotic. But a so-called "Chaotic" tribe still has plenty of laws and taboos that they will obey. If we define lawfulness as having respect for and a desire for institutions, and chaos as favoring forming individual, person bonds, and individual, personal freedom, it becomes a lot easier to be consistent. The LN diplomat who's visiting a foreign nation will try to respect its laws and customs - if contracts are signed by spitting on your hand in this country, they'll do it. By contrast, the CN merchant visiting the LN diplomat's city really doesn't care about local institutions and customs - if it's polite to take your shoes off before entering someone's home, they'll tramp in with their boots on.

This allows for a good deal of consistency with how D&D has often portrayed Law vs. Chaos (particularly the "Civilization" vs. "Barbarian" divide). It allows individuals fighting for freedom - typically shown as Chaotic in D&D - to organize and plan, and it allows lawful individuals visiting a foreign city with different laws to not turn into some lawbreaking aberration simply because the person doesn't know the laws. This leads to problems with some pre-existing outsiders - modrons sure as hell aren't going to march across the planes and cause chaos if their overriding philosophy favors institutions and working within a system - but can also make them more ideologically consistent and understandable.
 

LordofArcana

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If it were up to me, I'd have the community be Lawful and wilderness be Chaotic. Bards would be Neutral or Lawful (depending on if they spend most of their time travelling). Druids, being associated with the wilderness are Chaotic. Clerics are inevitably Lawful (even "dark" gods would be fundamentally reflections of civilizations' views of things beyond its reach). Rogues are also generally Lawful as they are generally closely tied to urban areas and civilization.

Monsters are generally Chaotic, though the "evil" races would generally be Lawful as they have their own civilizations.

Basically if you live in a city you are Lawful, if you live in the wilderness you are Chaotic and if both or neither applies you are Neutral.

Unfortunately it is not up to me.
 

DavetheLost

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LordofArcana that is a very interesting take on it. I could see that working for a game, although would probably name the poles something other than Law and Chaos, just because of the baggage those two terms have accumulated. Not sure what would be better, but the idea of civilization vs the wilderness seems very fitting for a lot of fantasy gaming. Especially if the intelligent, evil monsters were classes as part of civilization/Law recognizing that they have societies, just not friendly to most of the characters' home societies.

Law and Chaos do fit. It's just that I would rather avoid constantly having to explain why Rogues are classed with Law, Druids with Chaos, and Orcs with Law. I suppose Rangers would probably be Chaotic then?
 

Grumpygoat

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A system like that would receive more complaints than the 4E system, and the 4E system was just a mildly tweaked version of the typical system. And there are probably better terms to use than Law or Chaos if that's how one wants to make being from a city or the wilderness part of one's moral/ethical axis.
 

junglefowl26

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Certainly it runs into issues concerning civilizations built in harmony with nature, as elven civilizations tend to be.
 

LordofArcana

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A system like that would receive more complaints than the 4E system, and the 4E system was just a mildly tweaked version of the typical system. And there are probably better terms to use than Law or Chaos if that's how one wants to make being from a city or the wilderness part of one's moral/ethical axis.
For the first part, definitely. There would be calls for my head. For whatever its worth the Lawful planes are more urbanized than the chaotic ones, but that would never be enough to justify such a huge change.

For the second part there is a fair bit of tradition regarding associating wilderness and chaos. The other side's naming varies more. "Order" is more popular than "Law", though. Either way "Lawful", "Orderly", and "Chaotic" all have a lot of connotations that don't belong.

Certainly it runs into issues concerning civilizations built in harmony with nature, as elven civilizations tend to be.
Then you'd have animals and/or monsters associated with Law (or at least Neutral) because they are related to the elven civilization.
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
Of course, even chaos follows rules. A chaotic system is one where a tiny change results in radically different effects down the line, but all while still being purely deterministic. Even if you consider entropy and other "truly random" processes, there are statistical rules that become nearly as hard as true laws at sufficient sample sizes. Or, if you want to go for maximum generality, if "chaos" can be defined at all, it has some element of rule-ness to it (as you've given it a boundary).

For me, one of the key differences on this spectrum is deliberation vs. spontaneity. A Lawful being is cautious, precise, and regularly self-checking for consistency. Chaos is impromptu, impulsive, and continuously discretionary, doing whatever seems effective in the moment. I think M:TG did a very good job of characterizing "Law" via the Azorius Senate, for example. But hierarchy is not the only valid organizing principle, nor does it need to be a particularly formal thing; many hierarchies in the natural world arise from "who can beat up whom," which isn't exactly a stable or consistent system. After all, an order relation ("x is greater than y") is just about the weakest form of organizing principle you can have.
 

DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
Well, slaadi are really way too consistent themselves to be truly "embodiments of pure chaos" either. So how stringent a standard do we want to hold their "lawful" nemeses to?
IIRC the consistency is on purpose. The lore of the Spawning stone is that it is a shard of pure law that one of the Primuses shoved into the chaotic maelstrom to inject some order into chaos, but the chaos energies warped the shard and transformed it into the spawning stone.
 
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