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Law vs Chaos

Manitou

Emperor of the Americas
Validated User
Inevitables vs Slaadi
This could be an idea, the former proposing Order and trying to lead the other races, while the latter push for Chaos, sowing disorder and pushing races to war to see which one would win and prosper.
The rigid heirarchy of the monochromatic Slaadi(what happens if you are both a red and blue slaadi? eh, of right, that never happens..) seeks to encompass all, converting(through some variation of their disease) to the One True Slaadi Way/Form.
So it's up to the unpredictable Inevitables to defend the Great Diviersity of cultures and life throughout the megaverse!
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
If you want an example of what a deeply LAWFUL opponent looks like, you can take Darkness from the Stormlight Archive. He follows the laws of whatever land he is in scrupulously. But he's perfectly happy to pull out paperwork giving him legal authorization to execute a child if it suits his agenda. Assaulting an officer of the law, which he is, can carry the death penalty after all. He would consider cutting off a hand instead, but that leads to recidivism since it makes it hard to get honest work...

The Skybreakers in Stormlight Archive, in general, are also good examples. You find out most about them in Oathbringer.

Outside of that specific universe now:
A way this manifests in myth is, of course, the oldest story: Civilization overcoming nature. The Gods defeat the Titans. The heroes found the city. We impose a plan on the randomness and wildness of the world.

I think that in DND the Law-Chaos divide is better expressed in Pathfinder, but you can draw inspiration from it anyway. The Proteans are beings of Chaos, from the formless depths of the maelstrom. And as beings of chaos they embody change, creativity, transformation... they have a number of admirable and necessary qualities. The trouble is that they DEEPLY hate reality as we know it, because having things like consistent laws of physics and linear time is deeply existentially constricting. On the other hand, reality is maintained by Order as a bastion against the primordial chaos.

It's similar in egyptian mythology. Maat, Order, maintains the world in the Sea of Chaos. A description I really liked from The Kane Chronicles by Riorden, about the Apep the Chaos Serpent who wants to devour the sun? He hates the world exactly like we would hate being nailed to the floor. It's pinning him in place and it HURTS.

So enough about Chaos. Lets look at the first example of beings of Order that come to mind from fiction. In Sandman, when representatives of Order come to bargain for the Key to Hell? "Greetings, Lord Dream. I have the honor of being the personal slave of Olzar to the third circle, manifested here in the form of a cardboard box."

The takeaway from all this is that Order has two roles. First and most importantly, it is the fundamental bedrock of reality against entropy. Without Order, the world doesn't exist and dissolves into the Maelstrom. Secondly, it is structured hierarchy and organization. The difference between the hierarchy of Axiomites and the hierarchy of a Slaad? Axiomites have a chain of command and a procedure for changing it. Slaadi have people they will listen to or know will beat them up if they refuse, and if circumstances change so does the hierarchy.

As for whose laws cosmic beings of law follow? Well, whoever they decide (lawfully) has authority over them. Start with the universe. Then their own rulers. And then they will make further laws about how they should behave in other societies. Do they consider themselves to have 'diplomatic immunity'? Or do they follow the rules of others? Both, if possible? Does it vary by individual? Well, that's something you can decide. The point is that they are systematic about it.
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
Regarding Inevitables, I sort of consider them cosmic versions of the Skybreakers. They may have a greater agenda, and they will pursue that while following their other rules. They have their own laws, which they enforce whenever possible, even on other cosmic beings. And they are offended by people who break the laws of their own civilization as well, if they have time to deal with the small fry. They embody creating and enforcing written laws, and will serve as happily in Hell as in Heaven.

Formians are not cosmic police. They are an ultimate expression of lawful society. There's a place for everyone, and everyone is in their place, and they are all parts of a whole. Even conquered people have a place as well, though they are messier and need to be kept there more forcibly. What a particular colony of Formians wants and likes, and how they structure themselves, and even how they dress and organize, will vary. As much as one culture varies from another. Formians will happily tell you that they are Civilization, everyone is just mimicking them.

Modrons, on the other hand, represent the order of Physics. Their law, other than their leaders, is the universe itself. They keep the planar machinery running, and organize the process as much as they can. If this were Dominic Deegan they would be running the Elemecca, basically the cosmic machine that regulates the interaction between the elemental planes. They keep the cosmic processes ticking along, and will act to stop anyone who threatens that. Whether it's a wizard trying to overlay a chunk of the Plane of Fire on the Material or adventurers out to kill an elemental lord.
 

Lukas Sjöström

Society of Unity scholar
Validated User
Even Moorcock is never really clear about the creatures of Law, other than the Lords of Law. Unfortunately for those of us trying to add creatures of pure Law to our games.
In later books, he quite clearly associates Law with fascism, though, which certainly helps create suitable antagonists. Every now and then you see people disputing that, though, since they seem to want Law to mean legitimacy and not just hierarchy, which unfortunately tends to reduce the creative space available for Lawful villains.
 

Samiel

Registered User
Validated User
If Law is society without freedom or passion and Chaos is strife without end, who defends Balance?
 

Samiel

Registered User
Validated User
That’s not Order and Chaos, that’s Order and Discord. There’s a subtle but important difference.
how do you separate Discord from Chaos? The old EverQuest d20 actually used the world Discordant instead of Chaotic, but a DE and a CE were essentially the same.
 

DarkStarling

Brilliantly Crazed
Validated User
how do you separate Discord from Chaos? The old EverQuest d20 actually used the world Discordant instead of Chaotic, but a DE and a CE were essentially the same.
Discord is one aspect of chaos but it isn’t the whole picture. Chaos also includes change and transformation and randomness. Discord can include aspects of that, like an activist trying to overthrow the established social order. But it doesn’t have to be chaotic at all, like two very different but highly organized and strategic societies at war.

TLDR, Chaos and Discord are two elections on a Venn Daigrsm that mostly, but not completely, overlap.
 
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