Karameikos and Beyond
Alignment was an important feature of the original Dungeons & Dragons game and continued in importance through both the Basic/Expert rules as well as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Though much maligned, I think the D&D Alignment system adds a valuable element to game play. Among other things, alignments help players construct and play a character different from themselves, even in demeanor and motivation. While many people have viewed alignments as restrictive prisons, I view them more like playground monkey-bars establishing a framework for you to play your character on, around and with.
While the BFRPG rules lack alignments, this campaign is set in a Basic/Expert D&D setting. Alignment was an important factor in many adventures and in world interaction. As such I’ve opted to use alignment in this campaign as well. While Alignment in Basic D&D was a simple matter of Law, Neutrality and Chaos, it grew more complex in AD&D. Even though Karameikos was a Basic/Expert Rules world, I’ve opted to use the more robust AD&D Alignment sceme. What follows are descriptions of the various alignments and tips on playing a character of such an alignment.
Note: Even though no evil aligned characters are permitted (it’s counter productive and you guys are supposed to be heroes) I’ve included evil alignment descriptions for completeness and your better understanding of these competing world views.
There are two major divisions of four opposite points of view. All four are not mutually exclusive, although each pair is mutually opposed.
Law And Chaos
The opposition here is between organized groups and individuals. That is, law dictates that order and organization is necessary and desirable, while chaos holds to the opposite view. Law generally supports the group as more important than the individual, while chaos promotes the individual over the group.
Good And Evil
Basically stated, the tenets of good are human rights, or in the case of fantasy role-playing, creature rights. Each creature is entitled to life, relative freedom, and the prospect of happiness. Cruelty and suffering are undesirable. Evil, on the other hand, does not concern itself with rights or happiness; purpose is the determinant.
If law is opposed to chaos, and good to evil, then the radically opposed alignments are lawful neutral – chaotic neutral, neutral good – neutral evil, lawful good – chaotic evil, and lawful evil – chaotic good.
Lawful groups might, for example, combine to put down some chaotic threat, for example, just as readily as good groups would combine to suppress some powerful evil. Basic understanding and agreement. however, is within the general specific alignment, i.e. one of the nine categories. These are defined as follows:
NEUTRALITY: Absolute, or true, neutral creatures view everything which exists as an integral, necessary part or function of the entire cosmos. Each thing exists as a part of the whole, one as a check or balance to the other, with life necessary for death, happiness for suffering, good for evil, order far chaos, and vice versa. Nothing must ever become predominant or out of balance. Within this naturalistic ethos, humankind serves a role also, just as all other creatures do. They may be more or less important, but the neutral does not concern himself or herself with these considerations except where it is positively determined that the balance is threatened. Absolute neutrality is in the central or fulcrum position quite logically, as the neutral sees all other alignments as parts of a necessary whole. This alignment is the narrowest in scope.
NEUTRAL GOOD: Creatures of this alignment see the cosmos as a place where law and chaos are merely tools to use in bringing life, happiness, and prosperity to all deserving creatures. Order is not good unless it brings this to all; neither is randomness and total freedom desirable if it does not bring such good.
NEUTRAL EVIL: Similar to the neutral good alignment, that of neutral evil holds that neither groups nor individuals have great meaning. This ethos holds that seeking to promote weal for all actually brings woe to the truly deserving. Natural forces which are meant to cull out the weak and stupid are artificially suppressed by so-called good, and the fittest are wrongfully held back, so whatever means are expedient can be used by the powerful to gain and maintain their dominance, without concern for anything.
LAWFUL GOOD: Creatures of lawful good alignment view the cosmos with varying degrees of lawfulness or desire for good. They are convinced that order and law are absolutely necessary to assure good, and that good is best defined as whatever brings the most benefit to the greater number of decent, thinking creatures and the least woe to the rest.
LAWFUL NEUTRAL: It is the view of this alignment that law and order give purpose and meaning to everything. Without regimentation and strict definition, there would be no purpose in the cosmos. Therefore, whether a law is good or evil is of no import as long as it brings order and meaning.
LAWFUL EVIL: Obviously, all order is not good, nor are all laws beneficial. Lawful evil creatures consider order as the means by which each group is properly placed in the cosmos, from lowest to highest, strongest first, weakest last. Good is seen as an excuse to promote the mediocrity of the whole and suppress the better and more capable, while lawful evilness allows each group to structure itself and fix its place as compared to others, serving the stronger but being served by the weaker.
CHAOTIC GOOD: To the chaotic good individual, freedom and independence are as important to life and happiness. The ethos views this freedom as the only means by which each creature can achieve true satisfaction and happiness. Law, order, social forms, and anything else which tends to restrict or abridge individual freedom is wrong, and each individual is capable of achieving self-realization and prosperity through himself, herself, or itself.
CHAOTIC NEUTRAL: This view of the cosmos holds that absolute freedom is necessary. Whether the individual exercising such freedom chooses to do good or evil is of no concern. After all, life itself is law and order, so death is a desirable end. Therefore, life can only be justified as a tool by which order is combatted,and in the end it too will pass into entropy.
CHAOTIC EVIL: The chaotic evil creature holds that individual freedom and choice is important, and that other individuals and their freedoms are unimportant if they cannot be held by the individuals through their own strength and merit. Thus, law and order tends to promote not individuals but groups, and groups suppress individual volition and success.
Since the stock character sheet’s I provided have no place to record alignment, simply note your character’s alignment in a place that makes sense to you.
FINAL NOTE: If you are able, I heartily recommend finding an old copy of the 1st Edition AD&D Players Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide.
These books contain a massive amount of information not included in later editions of the game. In fact, I don’t know of any other game system which was so packed full of detailed information for both player and GM/DM.