How To Redeem D&D’s Worst Alignment, Which Is Obviously Lawful Good

How To Redeem D&D’s Worst Alignment, Which Is Obviously Lawful Good
Facebook may have decided that you shouldn’t see the news, but we think you deserve to be in the know with Kotaku Australia’s reporting. To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, features and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Kotaku Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a news fix.

Enter the tavern. Bite the plot hook. Go on your righteous journey. Kill the monsters. Fight the boss. Free the town. Rinse, repeat, and rejoice in those experience points. There you have it: the life of a lawful good Dungeons & Dragons character.

This article was originally published in July 2017 and has since been updated.

Let’s face it. “Lawful good” in D&D is shorthand for “obedient and boring.” Our hero is an upright, honourable knight who slays dragons or pious cleric of the Good God of Justice, Bahamut. When there’s evil, he must fight it, uncritically, like a wind-up automaton in shining armour. He never lies. He never cheats. And he never says bad things about his mother or forgets to wash his hands before eating.

It makes me want to vomit.

In role-playing scenarios, the lawful good hero might as well repeat verbatim canned lines scraped from 1950s superhero movies until either the adventure runs its course or somebody accidentally lights him on fire. There is no more two-dimensional personality than “likes good things, hates bad things.”

So after over half a decade of encountering almost exclusively lame lawful good D&D characters (sorry, friends), I wanted to find out whether it’s possible to play the blandest of alignments in a way that is dynamic, unpredictable or, at the very least, tolerable. The trick, it turns out, is to give your good guy some great flaws.

In the latest edition of the Player’s Handbook, alignment is described as “the moral compass that guides” a character’s decisions. Lawful good creatures, reads the handbook, “can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society.” There is a dichotomy in D&D between altruism and a complete disregard for life — good versus evil.

And unlike neutral good or chaotic good alignments, lawful good heroes are required by some moral code or oath to vanquish bad things and empower good ones. A lawful evil character, for example, will “methodically take what they want, within the limits of a code of tradition, loyalty, or order.”

To make a coherent ruleset, this type of cookie-cutter morality is necessary. Say your character is Arthur Gallant, a lawful good Paladin. If there’s a damsel in distress in yonder room separated by a guard and a door, Arthur likely will attempt to reason with the guard — because society says killing is bad — before doing whatever it takes to rescue the woman. Differently-aligned heroes might say, Well, whatever, I don’t know that woman, time to go practice some hymns; or simply kill the guard without thinking twice.

Rage of Demons, Wizards of the Coast

Rage of Demons, Wizards of the Coast

“Being lawful good means treating your enemies better than your enemies treat you, and inflicting harm only as a last resort,” said Chris Perkins, a game designer and Dungeon Master who works on D&D at Wizards of the Coast. Perkins is familiar with the stigma against our friend Arthur, he said, and characterises the worst-case archetypical lawful good hero as “narrow-minded, uptight, and oh, so serious — like some cardboard do-gooder from a 1950s action serial.”

It’s a lack of creativity that locks lawful good characters into that stereotype. Adhering to fantasy norms like medieval knights or Amazonian warriors hurts more than it helps, even if it’s the path of least resistance.

Look outside Lord of the Rings or The Princess Bride or Conan for inspiration — lawful good exists in sci-fi (Star Trek‘s Captain Jean Luc Picard), video games (Overwatch‘s Mercy) and daily life (the recently-deceased Portland hero who stood up against a bigot harassing a Muslim girl).

“There are plenty of kickass lawful good figures in pop culture who don’t fit the ‘white hat’ stereotype,” Perkins said, name-checking Batman, Indiana Jones, The Dark Tower‘s Roland Deschain and Wonder Woman. “Being lawful good means treating your enemies better than your enemies treat you, and inflicting harm only as a last resort.”

“If that seems too nice to be cool, don’t forget that a lawful good character can be twisted into any shape, be it a psychologically damaged night prowler, a rogue in archaeologist’s clothing, a murder hobo hardened by the cruelty of existence, and a god living among men.”

The characters Perkins brings up each have different moral codes, but dedication and altruism are the two common throughlines. So, when you’re looking to play a lawful good cleric, be more choosy about their flavour: Do they have a fraught relationship with their god? Did their god’s fanbase exile them because of their interpretation of some tome? Are they constantly martyring themselves and thereby inconveniencing their party-members by hogging all the potions?

What makes these fictional characters three-dimensional are not their ideals, but their flaws. Think of moments in your life when you were a do-gooder. Probably, you weren’t unthinkingly altruistic. The stuff of life makes always being charitable very difficult. Focus on what those difficulties are. Is lawful good Arthur obsessed with hygiene and can’t handle dungeons? Does he have a weakness for fine dining and often eats until he’s sick? Does some deviant behaviour inspire his perhaps over-eager worship of a lawful good god?

Be flexible. Lawful stick-up-your-butt is no fun to play and less fun to play with. “Lawful” is an alignment, not a mandate to be an unyielding goody-two-shoes.

Dice, Camera, Action

Dice, Camera, Action

Performing artist Anna Prosser Robinson plays the human Paladin Evelyn on the D&D show Dice, Camera, Action. Evelyn is devoted to Lathander, the Morning Lord, who blesses fertility ceremonies and stands for renewal and youth. Lathander has a whole mythos (thankfully for lawful good characters, D&D has lots of lore for inspiration) in which he loves Chauntea, the goddess of the agriculture, and despises the Cult of the Dragon, an evil organisation founded by a necromancy-worshipping wizard.

Robinson’s interpretation of her character’s religion comes from her belief that commitment to a god should be treated like a relationship. “Relationships are almost always complicated,” Robinson said over email, “whether with other people or with ideals, and complexity is what truly brings great, three-dimensional characters to life.”

“Sometimes, thinking in terms of relationships can also help a player identify with a character they might not otherwise have much in common with,” Prosser said. “Identifying with a character on some level (even if it’s to identify that they have opposite reactions to yourself) is often one of the best ways to make them relatable to others in turn.”

On Dice, Camera, Action, Evelyn has unwavering faith. But what that faith means for her is something fluid. Sometimes, Robinson said, Evelyn has doubts about herself, wondering whether Lathander is the only being who could love her. Perhaps no human ever could.

“The dichotomy between such a pitiable earthly loneliness and an outward disposition that is incorrigibly sunny has been heart-rending and thrilling to play with,” Robinson said.

Unearthed Arcana, Wizards of the Coast

Unearthed Arcana, Wizards of the Coast

The best thing is to show, not just tell, that dichotomy. More interesting than a brief and self-effacing confession at a tavern is a long, rewarding narrative arc full of back-and-forth with an adventure’s world or NPCs. Let your lawful good character’s struggle for perfection play out in actions, slowly, over time.

Nobody in real life is going to come up to you and lay out all of their bonds, ideals and flaws. You will realise these things about them through extended interaction.

“The challenge is to find ways to share an internal monologue like that in a way that is genuine to the action of role-play,” Robinson said. “I’ve found great success in adding things like letters she writes or songs she sings to the story, in order to give background without injecting personal declarations into dialogue where they might not yet be called for.”

The quest to kill the boring ’50s superhero stereotype of lawful good characters is daunting but, ultimately, rewarding. Despite the potential for major cheese, a martyr archetype can be pretty necessary to advance an adventure’s plot.

When your poor Dungeon Master is tossing out plot hook after plot hook — help the helpless maiden! Cure the plague! Raid the nearby goblin den! — and more self-involved characters can’t bother with strangers’ plights, the lawful good character often bears the burden of convincing the party to play along. They’re a necessary evil, but that evil doesn’t have to be totally insufferable in its pursuit of good.


  • I wouldn’t call Batman Lawful Good. He’s a criminal who deliberately injures people for good reasons.

    Chaotic Good at best.

    • But he follows his own code of honor and ethics with extreme devotion. The ‘law’ in lawful alignments need not refer to the laws of a society.

      Also, he does frequently work with the powers that be, when circumstances make it possible for him to do so.

        • Nope, Trobulecat is describing a Chaotic Good character.

          Batman (his modern interpretation) is Chaotic good. He has his own moral compass which, although good, may not always agree with that of society; basically he just follows his own conscience and moral code and just one rule, its own “not to kill” law, not the restrictions imposed by society laws and morals; he has no problems with the latters as long as they don’t limit personal freedom (especially its own freedom); he’s benevolent but he makes his own way (e.g.: he has no problem using force to get the informations he needs from criminals), he simply do what is right when necessary dealing out his own justice without regards to what others think. For these reasons Batman can go where the law can’t go and and do what Lawful Good characters simply can’t.

          Lawful Good characters believes in an society with a well organized law system and follow his government as soon as it promotes collective good (no matter if it is a republic or a monarchy); they will never break the law, no matter what, they work inside the law to solve the problems and bring justice.
          Moreover they feel themselves obligated to always do what is morally good without breaking the law and for this reason they have a strict code of conduct (self-imposed or coded by law) to which they resort whenever they have to take an ethical decision or solve a moral dilemma (e.g.: obeying good orders, keeping their word or generically doing good things lead to an unforeseen evil or the unpredictable harming of others).

          Examples of Lawful Good characters are: Superman (classic version), Benton Fraser (Due South), Optimus Prime (Transformers – almost all its incarnations), Ned Flanders (The Simpsons) Finn (Adventure Time), Captain America (comic version – before “Civil War”), Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Hot Fuzz).

          Examples of Chaotic Good characters are: Robin Hood, Green Arrow, Han Solo (Star Wars – during Episode V), Tony Stark (Iron Man – movie version), Captain America (comic version – during “Civil War”), Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry).

          Said that, whoever thinks Lawful Good is the worst aligment is a really sad person or never met gamers who played Lawful Good characters correctly.

          • Sorry, Batman has never been chaotic on the scale. Lawful characters believe society benefits from laws, not necessarily the laws currently in place, and certainly not with implied loyalty to government. Batman is a quintessential lawful good character, he has a strongly established personal code of conduct and believes that if society adhered to the same code it would be a better place.

            Your other examples of lawful good and chaotic good are largely correct, although Han Solo is chaotic neutral – his interest in helping the Rebellion was always personally motivated, not ethically motivated.

          • Complete Scoundrel, an officially-licensed and published book for the Dungeons & Dragons game that invented the very alignment system we’re talking about and is, therefore, the official and canon final say on this matter within the confines of its ruleset, has stated officially that Batman is lawful good:

            Lawful Good: Lawful good scoundrels have their own personal, implacable code of honor and righteousness. They have good intentions, but they aren’t above breaking minor rules that get in the way of the greater good, especially when helping the downtrodden. Such scoundrels are likely to form far-reaching plans to benefit themselves and others. The former law enforcer who challenges a corrupt government or an adventurer who wants to liberate great works of art for the enjoyment of the world is a lawful good scoundrel.
            Examples: Batman, Dick Tracy, and Indiana Jones.
            ” — Complete Scoundrel, page 8.

      • Not disputing your comment, its perfectly fair (like the post below, I think Batman is what you want him to be, and is all alignments) but by that logic, Doctor doom is Lawful Good as well.

        He does what he thinks is right, for the greater good. In that regard he’s essentially no different to Batman. At least one hero was powerless to stop him because he perceived himself along those lines.

        • Naw. He’s certainly lawful. But motivation doesn’t factor into character alignment in that way in DnD. Believing that you’re working for the greater good is insufficient for a character to be good. Absolute objective morality exists as far as the DnD alignment system is concerned; Generally speaking, good is defined as actions which are altruistic, merciful and constructive/protective/restorative whereas evil actions are selfish, cruel or needlessly destructive. The ends can justify the means for good characters in extreme circumstances, but usually don’t.

          Doctor Doom thinks his actions are justified (who doesn’t?) but in reality he’s generally excessively cruel and destructive and only helps other people when he stands to gain something from it personally.

          • It depends of the point in the character’s growth. First iteration of Batman is indeed Neutral and not good, following his own agenda of the elimination of criminals as a goal in and out of itself, fuelled by his personal tragedy. But the Batman who joined the Justice League is one that believes in the greater good, so much that he’d betray personal friendships or fight other heroes if he believes that greater good is threatened.

    • It’s additionally worth pointing out, Batman almost always aims to disarm rather than kill. A chaotic character would not hold such a strong moral regard. One could claim him neutral good, particularly due to his occasional cases of seemingly careless killing of his adversaries, but it’s also very apparent he fights crime because nobody else in Gotham will or can, and holds a certain level of guilt for being partially responsible for the problem in his own way. That’s pretty darn lawful.

    • NG, Batman will do anything and go to any extreme to fight for the good of his fellow man. That is the definition of neutral good in a comic book universe. CG would be more wolverine or Arrow from season one imo.

  • Lawful good and roll a really low int score.

    The Evil Emperor conscribes all of the eldest boys into the army to conquer other nations.

    The good hero goes on a quest to get women into the army.

    The following quest line would be to achieve pay equality.

    • Um…yeah they found that the greater the percentage of military, the less inequality exists in a state. So basically Doom? Ends inequality by providing military service, training, and employment. I think total employment all your citizens will eliminate numerous issues of inequality.

  • LG characters make good villains as well. we faced a paladin who followed his religion to the letter that said people were to be given a option to join the religion to save themselves from damnation, while certain groups were seen as evil heretics and beyond redemption.

    a convert or die for the good of the world

    • That character is Lawful Evil. Widespread murder or inciting same of innocent people is not ‘good’ even if you incorrectly believe that they pose some kind of threat to you. Motivation doesn’t factor into character alignment that way – if it did, basically every villain would be good-aligned. Few people see themselves as evil and even the most reprehensible of villains have some kind of justification for their actions.

      • So true.

        We actually played a couple of stories with a Lawful Evil Mage… only, we didn’t get told our alignments. The DM was kinda messing with us, and it turns out virtually everyone had a different perspective. We wouldn’t stop bIckering, and got wiped out by Illithids.

        It was great 🙂

        All it took was a comment about justifiable slave labour practices, and I had his number lol

      • On the other hand, motivation does factor in when a character is confronted with a decision that may be outside their alignment. Evil is not dumb (unless they rolled very badly). Evil usually knows the things they believe or do are seen as ‘wrong’. They either do not understand why, or do not care. But smart Evil characters also know that if they go around kicking puppies and burning down orphanages, they will not be successful in life, because it’s hard to get away with being a moustache-twirling evil supervillain without running into trouble. In fact, presented with a burning orphanage full of puppies, a Chaotic Evil character could be just as prepared to dive in and save the occupants as a the archetypal Lawful Good Paladin. The only difference is their motivation. The Lawful Good Paladin jumps in because their order says to protect the weak and innocent. The Chaotic Evil character does it because they’re an adventurer, there were a ton of people standing around expecting them to do it that would be very upset if he didn’t, and if they do they’re likely to be regarded as a hero and able to press for favors or rewards. Same decision, different motivation. Motivation is very important in that case.

        In @pookie101’s case there are definitely situations where that could be Lawful Good. If the Paladin’s order said that, say, all the followers of a dragon-worshopping death cult that abducted people and sacrificed them were beyond redemption and must be eradicated, I think that could absolutely be supported by a Lawful Good character. The Paladin believes that by killing those people he protects the innocent. Assuming that that is one of his order’s precepts, of course. If they were instead part of an order that values life and peace over everything, then a directive like that should be seen as contradictory and should cause the character a lot of moral anguish about whether the core of their faith or the directives of their order are more important.

      • thats the thing.. they took their view of “good” to an extreme.. they were generous, helpful, yet would slaughter a bunch of evil heretics before they corrupted others

    • That sounds more along the lines of a Cleric or Divine Champion. A paladin puts code first, deity second. I’d have disagree, that’s not LG.

    • “LG characters make good villains as well”
      Agreed. The best example I can think of is the Kingrpiest from the lore of the Dragonlance setting.

      His fanaticism to lawful good turned the place into a police state and his ego was responsible for the Cataclysm.

      • comically late reply, but by his actions he was lawful neutral at -best-or lawful evil,at bare minimum by the point istar got whacked with that meteor,if not all along-
        dispite whatever the fuck Weiss claimed, from his actions its blatantly clear he WASNT LG by that point- i mean, come ON! one of his chief advisors was literally a blackhat-wearing evil mage >.<

        -though a lot of the morality/alignment stuff in dragonlance completely disintegrates into gibberish/self-contradictory nonsense when you look with a critical eye-

        for example,Paladine,and the entire “good” branch of the parthenon, personally murdered, in cold blood,and entirely without regret or hesitation, hundreds of thousands to millions of innocents and CHILDREN by helping throw that fucking meteor at Istar, instead of.. i don’t know. killing a single tyrant who had proven to be literally so self-absorbed he couldn’t be reasoned with-i point-blank refuse to believe there was nothing else the entire Parthenon, good, neutral and evil,who between each other created ALL life on the planet, united against a common threat, could have dont other then “murder a few million of our worshipers as collateral damage for a single king”….

        and then had the ego to blow his stack and ABANDON the entire worlds population to sulk when the populace started turning away from him and all the others for their horrifically disproportionate actions…
        in a aborted timeline where the kingpriest managed to brute-force the gods into giving him a powerboost against their well, he forceably depowered EVERY other god and either murdered or tortured them into insanity after binding them into a mortal body (paladine/fitzbin for a bare minimum of one)-lawful good my scaly ass >.<

        …. or look at the stupid stuff with the war of the lance- Paladin KNEW Takhesis was an oathbreaker- and the agreement to stay out of things, both for himself and his children, was null and void- it would have taken him MINUTES at most to inform his children that the chromatics were butchering/mutilating their- arrrgh *headdesks* the entire thing was entirely preventable with a single warning that the oath had already been…..
        *grumbles about Takhesis also being blatently CE when WOG insists she’s still LE*

  • We stopped making LG characters because our DM would use it as an excuse to throw us moral conundrums where we were damned if we did, damned if we didn’t. Good fun, but bloody hell, it led to some extremely long philosophical arguments.

    • This has always been my approach as a DM. If somebody wants to play a Lawful Boring character that’s all well and good, but I’m not going to make it easy for them.

    • I played a lawful good cleric in a long-running campaign we had that was set in a high-magic, evil-aligned country. It took me a while to work out how to be ‘lawful good’ in that setting, but I think the GM really liked that we avoided both the lawful stupid trap and stayed true to the alignment. Essentially, I played it like a rights movement leader: this country’s laws need to change, and you might strike me down but I will not be silenced. (Because I can just heal myself.)

  • Dungeons and Dragons has always struggled with the “Ethical” axis on the 3×3 alignment grid. There’s a confluence between orderly vs disorderly and lawfulness vs lawlessness that makes definitions difficult. Consider the following characters:
    Danny Ocean, suave con-man and thief. He is a career criminal, with no regard for the (property) laws of the land but greatly loyalty to those in his inner circle. He minimises personal risk through meticulous planning, and he lives by three rules: Don’t hurt anyone, only steal from those who deserve it, and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose.
    Robin Hood, folk hero, outlaw and former soldier. A devoutly loyal (perhaps lord, otherwise freeman) to King Richard, Robin was forced into the life of an outlaw after a Sheriff loyal to Prince John takes his lands. He lives by a strict code of honour, foiling the Sheriff’s attempts to exploit the local populous or to expand his influence. Despite being a master archer and expert swordsman, Robin avoids bloodshed whenever possible.
    Harold “Dirty Harry” Callaghan, SFPD Inspector. A detective with an extreme concept of justice, he works to create situations where lethal-force is justifiable even when they’re not necessary. He often clashes with other officers, and has repeatedly been accused of breaking the law by assaulting, intimidating or torturing those he’s identified as criminals.
    All the can be identified as chaotic good. Now, Robin Hood is clearly “good”; Danny Ocean and Dirty Harry less clearly. In terms of lawful-chaotic though? It’s a mess.
    Robin Hood, under a different lord and sheriff? Not a criminal. Many tales have him biding his time until King Richard returns and his lands are restored, simply trying to restrict the Sheriff and Prince John’s power in the mean time. He has a strong personal code, acts honourably (to a fault) and is largely predictable in his actions. Without the lawlessness, as a charming, slightly roguish archer in the King’s army, he’d almost certainly be lawful good.
    Danny Ocean has an extremely ordered personality, but is clearly lawless and not simply as a result of other factors. He has a strong moral code, and only steals from “those who deserve it”. He’s probably a character who creates the least debate with a label of “chaotic good”, despite his highly organised personality traits.
    Dirty Harry has the “chaotic” label thrown at him, because he doesn’t follow “the rules”. But his version of not following the rules is completely different to Danny Ocean’s. His unwavering drive to enforce his particular form of justice leads him to (decidedly not good) actions to achieve what he sees as a just outcome. He creates a situation where he can, in effect, summarily execute someone when he sees that they won’t suffer a sufficient punishment otherwise. How does the lawful-chaos axis even work here? Is he lawful neutral? lawful good? true neutral? chaotic good?

    • Ocean is probably Lawful Neutral, by that description (don’t know the character, so just basing off what your wrote there). It sounds like he follows a strict, clearly defined code and meticulously plans everything. The way he chooses his targets and the fact that he goes out of his way to make sure nobody gets hurt makes it hard to call him evil, but he’s not really ‘good’ either – he’s just trying to make himself and his friends rich, right?

      Dirty Harry is definitely not good-aligned – he’s sadistic and excessively violent. The fact that most of the people he kills would’ve likely caused more harm if he had done nothing means you could maybe argue for him being neutral on the good/evil axis, but definitely not good.

      • Danny Ocean is George Clooney’s character in the Ocean’s series of heist movies (and Sinatra’s, previously, in the original Ocean’s Eleven).
        In a multiverse that has strict alignments, you need to pigeon-hole these characters in order for alignment-based spell effects to be practical, and that’s my point. It’s not even an argument between one step on the grid, looking at these characters from different perspectives can yield alignments that are two or more steps away.
        A solution is to make all the alignment-based spells only affect clerics, paladins, outsiders and undead, then drop the alignment system completely for humanoids.

  • IMO Lawful alignment is only a bad archetype because both players and DMs don’t understand what it means. It doesn’t mean they’re a goody two-shoes, it means they have a personal code of ethics that they don’t wish to break. It also doesn’t mean they can never break that code, just that they should resist trying to do so.

    D&D Paladins were always Lawful Good because they are supposed to follow the precepts of their particular order. That doesn’t mean they follow the law of the land at all, necessarily – that line in the rulebook assumes that the laws are compatible with their beliefs. To use the example given in the article, if a paladin was a follower of Lathander in the Forgotten Realms setting then they should absolutely refuse to follow all the laws in a region that had sexually repressive laws, for example, because this would be against the precepts of their order. Lathander is actually a Neutral Good-aligned deity, so a Lawful Good paladin following his precepts would actually generally act like a Neutral Good character, but is being Lawful by following the articles of their faith. An even better example from Forgotten Realms is Tempus, a Chaotic god that is focused on honorable battle and use of force. A Lawful Good Paladin of Tempus would be all about winning honor and glory on the battlefield and couldn’t really care less if he saw, say, a theft in the act, and if they did interject themselves into a situation it would be to do something like arm the thief to make sure they can fight the city guard well. A Lawful Neutral follower might attack the guards to even the fight, and a Lawful Evil would simply ignore it or side with the guards – the weak and cowardly deserve what they get, and if they don’t like it they should be stronger.

    What it really means is that if you choose a lawful alignment you need to spell out exactly what your code of ethics is, and agree with the details of them with your DM to ensure they’re actually a decent and consistent code. The DM should try and set up situations where that is challenged.

  • I wish that WoTC had the “Lawful/Chaotic” scale as “Order/Chaos: instead to prevent the constant mistranslation of what it means to play a Lawful Good character.

    Put a LG character in a location such as Thay or Amn and he will be actively going against the law and while his/her code will sometimes run parallel to the law of an area, he will always stand against injustices and bias laws, no matter where.

    Paladins are great fun to play simply because of their extreme outlook. Anyone that finds them boring or predictable needs to start thinking outside the box a bit more. Don’t forget, they are just mortals and make mistakes/flaws just like anyone else, that’s where the fun comes from.

    • Fun to play, sure. Fun to play with? Not so much. Maybe it’s just the people I play with, but imagine the worst possible confluence of Lawful Dumb and Overbearing Zealot. It doesn’t matter what you decide as a party, or where the story is going, once your Paladin of Saranrae has decided there are strong moral compulsions not to do whatever the rest of you want to do. Every Bloody Time.

      I realise this is more likely a player-aligned Lawful Asshole problem, but the system invites such abuses.

  • Wow. I played an LG Paladin for years, and even lost my Paladin status due to being forced into a morally difficult situation where there was no truly ‘LG’ choice available to make that the character’s God would accept. Then my guilt-ridden character had to tread a horribly ruinous and costly journey of redemption (not formalised, he was given no clear pathway back to Grace, which was appropriate because his God was very unhappy with him) that took many levels and months of real time play to achieve, that eventually and organically led to re-acquiring his Paladin-hood. That was some fun stuff! My GM loved throwing morally dubious situations at my character and seeing how I would react. If I’d just always acted as a ‘lawful good’ character who slavishly and unthinkingly followed an ideology I’d have lost out very quickly because a lawful good person is not someone who can (remain) an ideologue! That would be lawful neutral or lawful evil who thinks they are good!

    Since no-one else played LG, my character also ended up acting as a kind of (annoying, but sometimes wise) ‘shepherd’ to the other characters who had an, um, looser moral compass.
    That meant he’d try to lead them to the good path or gently educate them about there flaws, while tolerating a certain amount of ‘grey’ morality from them (and they got quite good at ensuring the goody-two shoes was happily oblivious to some of their dodgy dealings, which was amusing). ‘Unfortunately’ there was eventually one PC who eventually turned really dark (he started out a bit like Jack Bauer and went significantly downhill from there) and my PC and that one eventually ended up in a fatal battle (my Paladin won), but even that was really cool because it kind of became a struggle for the moral soul of the party.

    Eventually my Paladin died (heroically, naturally) and I started a new character who was a miserly, misogynistic, selfish, alcoholic b*st*rd, but that is another story (but it was fun to see the other players try to get their head around it after I’d been playing a shining example of flawed nobility for several years, hehe).

    Anyway, good times. Don’t write off LG, just play it smart and thoughtfully, and GMs, make ’em work for it rather than being a stereotype.

  • Lawful Good being boring says more about a lack of imagination on a player or DMs part than it does on the alignment. What if the society a LG character exists in is corrupt or tyrannical? What if a paladin of Ilmaetar (a deity all about mercy and compassion) comes into conflict with a “kill em all” paladin of another deity? What if you come across a camp of orc or goblin children? What should a LG character do then? LG is only boring if the player never bothers to think about what it means to be a righteous man or woman.

  • “Lawful Good is the worst alignment”
    I bet Cecelia exclusively plays Chaotic Neutral.

  • It seems to me that the article unwittingly made the argument that Lawful Good is not inherently bland or poor, but rather, that the author has only met crappy Lawful Good players. There are countless ways of making an interesting LG character, or conversely, a lame and trite Chaotic Evil one.

    (Original comment trapped in moderation limbo for editing a misspelled word, sheez.)

  • Neutral Good is far more boring to play – the most good for the most people, all the time.
    Lawful Good is the most good for the most people _within the bounds of the rules_. Making that interesting is easy; make fun rules. You’re playing a Lawful Good paladin, and it’s boring? Sign them up to a church that insists that the most good to the most people includes their spiritual well-being, and therefore you won’t save anyone who doesn’t shout out praise to your god first. Make them insist on the party tithing half of their loot to the church, as the laws of the church demand. Make them insist on “fighting fair” – so they’ll only use weapons when fighting others with weapons, and insist on fighting beclawed monsters barehanded. If you really find yourself stuck for ideas about stupid rules your church might impose on you, the real world is chock full of glorious examples.

  • I would say chaotic neutral is the worst. People screw the party and say well I had to I am just playing my alignment or i can do anything evil without been labeled evil
    I seen people pick chaotic neutral and be more lawful good then a paladin

  • Okay, that’s all fine and dandy, but Evelyn is NG, not LG. Not only is her official character sheet online which says she is NG, but it was even a point in the series when the waffle crew was trying to get past a barrier that only let LG characters through, and she was told she was not “pure of heart” e.g. not LG, so she wouldn’t have been able to make it through.

  • So are people of westboro baptist church LG? Think of that being the most flavorful, but annoying Paladin ever. Or even better a flaw like having a compulsion to hire Tran-sexual hookers every so often, and the relief/remorse over the weakness afterwards. Slide a totally polar opposite humanizing flaw like that into them.

  • This is a complete failure to understand the philosophy of lawful good and instead, this is Lawful stupid.

    Lawful stupid characters take situations and ruthlessly apply inflexible and absurd laws to them and end up with an absurd (although logical) solution.

    A lawful good character would apply a sensible moral code that recognizes that nothing is black and white in the world but that in the end, the cause of good must be the goal.

    Let’s take the situation of a prisoner being held by an unjust but lawful ruler in a guarded jail cell that the character must rescue.

    A lawful stupid character is paralyzed by indecision since the only way to rescue the prisoner is to attack a guard and attacking lawfully appointed guards is wrong.

    A lawful good character prioritizes good over law and recognizes that the guards are just doing their job and either tricks them into leaving or temporary incapacitates them with a sleep spell and then rescues the prisoner and escapes to a friendly country.

  • Lawful good has always been at odds with the violent and chaotic settings that D&D often has.

  • honestly more than anything here it sounds like you have gripes with people who just want to do the right thing. that’s basically it, do what you can to help others and inflict the least amount of to do it. of course if the evil wizard can’t be talked down and you can’t exactly lock him up, then he gets the sword through the guts.

    Can it be fun to play evil or morally dubious characters? well yeah it can. do some people have problems with that? well alone I do actually have difficulty playing an asshole in video games. easier to roleplay with friends of course but, I imagine others have the same issue even when with friends.

  • All player characters are neutral evil, regardless of what it says on their character sheet.

    Self serving pricks who will do what it takes to get the fat loots.

  • I find using the MTG colour wheel system much better for working out character motivations and inner workings. Especially when you throw multiple colours characters in the works.

  • Judge Dredd would be lawful good (I could see an argument for lawful evil but would ultimately disagree).

    Judge Dredd is not boring.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!