Moral Compass of RPG Characters

What kind of morality you find interesting for a character?


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Kupotepo

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Update Questions: How do you create a relative moral system or personal philosophy of each character in your writing or your game system?
What I saw the morality system is either based on the political alignment of each character, psychology mindset or whatever deity the character worship like D&D or WoW.



First of all, I apologize. I have thought stuck in my head. I would like to discuss this with you if you are not busy.
Thank you @trouble time for introducing me to this ideation. It is just a new concept to me. Thank you @MushroomCake28, @Wavelength, and @Finnuval for touching on this topic about the mind of characters.

Everyone here if you would like to test for fun. It shows your alignment.
[100 questions]
Another one if you do not long test:

https://www.quotev.com/quiz/12844554/What-is-your-DnD-alignment 7 Questions if you do not want a long test. lol

Background:
D&D co-creator Gary Gygax credited the inspiration for the Dungeons & Dragons alignment system to the fantasy stories of Michael Moorcock and Poul Anderson.
[40 questions]

Each alignment represents a broad range of personal philosophies, so two characters of the same alignment can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent with their morale.
  1. A lawful good character typically acts with compassion and always with honor and a sense of duty. However, lawful good characters will often regret taking any action they fear would violate their code, even if they recognize such action as being good. Such characters include righteous knights, paladins, and most dwarves. Lawful Good creatures include the noble golden dragons.
    [*]A neutral good character typically acts altruistically, without regard for or against lawful precepts such as rules or tradition. A neutral good character has no problems with cooperating with lawful officials but does not feel beholden to them. In the event that doing the right thing requires the bending or breaking of rules, they do not suffer the same inner conflict that a lawful good character would.
    [*]A chaotic good character does what is necessary to bring about change for the better, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself but for others as well. Chaotic good characters usually intend to do the right thing, but their methods are generally disorganized and often out of sync with the rest of society.
    [*]A lawful neutral character typically believes strongly in lawful concepts such as honor, order, rules, and tradition, but often follows a personal code in addition to, or even in preference to, one set down by a benevolent authority. Examples of lawful neutral characters include a soldier who always follows orders, a judge or enforcer who adheres mercilessly to the letter of the law, and a disciplined monk.
    [*]A neutral character (also called "true neutral") is neutral on both axes and tends not to feel strongly towards any alignment, or actively seeks their balance. Druids frequently follow this dedication to balance and, under Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, were required to be this alignment.
    [*]A chaotic neutral character is an individualist who follows their own heart and generally shirks rules and traditions. Although chaotic neutral characters promote the ideals of freedom, it is their own freedom that comes first; good and evil come second to their need to be free.
    [*]A lawful evil character sees a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit than to necessarily follow. Examples of this alignment include tyrants, devils, corrupt officials, and undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct.
    [*]A neutral evil character is typically selfish and has no qualms about turning on allies-of-the-moment, and usually makes allies primarily to further their own goals. A neutral evil character has no compunctions about harming others to get what they want, but neither will they go out of their way to cause carnage or mayhem when they see no direct benefit for themselves. Another valid interpretation of neutral evil holds up evil as an ideal, doing evil for evil's sake and trying to spread its influence. Examples of the first type are an assassin who has little regard for formal laws but does not needlessly kill a henchman who plots behind their superior's back, or a mercenary who readily switches sides if made a better offer.
    [*]A chaotic evil character tends to have no respect for rules, other people's lives, or anything but their own desires, which are typically selfish and cruel. They set a high value on personal freedom, but do not have much regard for the lives or freedom of other people. Chaotic evil characters do not work well in groups because they resent being given orders and usually do not behave themselves unless there is no alternative. Examples of this alignment include higher forms of undead, such as liches, and violent killers who strike for pleasure rather than profit.
    [*]Creatures not sapient enough to make decisions based on moral choices, but operating purely on instinct, are described as "unaligned". Sharks are savage predators, for example, but they are not evil: they have no alignment.
 
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Trihan

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I think D&D's alignment system works well as a gentle nudge towards how your character would handle situations, but it cannot be an absolute indicator because people tend not to be wholly one thing or another. Anyone is capable of good or bad actions, for good or bad motivations. You can do the right thing for the wrong reasons, or the wrong thing for the right reasons. It's a guideline towards what a character *might* do, but even the most evil villain in the land might help the hero temporarily if he's up against someone even worse than he is.

In terms of whether a protagonist/antagonist *chooses* to be so...that's a nuanced question. The protagonist is simply the character the story is predominantly following, and doesn't necessarily mean they're a good person (Vance in Three the Hard Way for example is quite an arrogant bastard and a pretty terrible person, but he's the guy you play as). Similarly, the antagonist is simply the character whose goals and actions run contrary to the protagonist's. If you play a game where you play as the evil overlord, the antagonist is the hero.

These roles are not necessarily chosen, and IMO the best antagonists are the ones who are only incidentally at odds with the protagonist(s) and are following their own goals, which from *their* perspective are perfectly fine. Muahahahaha evil-for-evil's-sake villains tend to be one-dimensional and difficult to write for, because everything they do boils down to "I'm doing this because I'm evil."

Consider a hero who has to acquire a particular magical item which is rumoured to be able to save the kingdom from a great evil. His goal is obvious: get the item. The antagonist might be a down-on-his-luck fellow who needs the same item to save his dying parent from a degenerative disease. To the hero, that guy is the villain. To that guy, the hero is the villain. Each has a valid reason to seek the item, but they cannot both achieve their goals. They are necessarily going to clash at various points, and each will be trying to stop the other from achieving his goals simply because that's the only way to achieve their own. It could even be that along the way the man's desperation to save his mother leads him to ever more desperate means of doing so, and he ends up dabbling in dangerous magic rituals which warp his mind and transform his body.

If I were telling a story like that, I would have the hero's initial meeting with the fellow be pre-transformation but in a totally inocuous way, like you just see him wandering around a town or something in the early game. And then later, you meet him post-transformation and don't make the connection. Then throughout the game there would be tidbits of information (maybe diary entries or something) explaining who the man is and why he was always fighting the hero.
 

Kupotepo

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@Trihan, thank you for the discussion with me.

Muahahahaha evil-for-evil's-sake villains tend to be one-dimensional and difficult to write for, because everything they do boils down to "I'm doing this because I'm evil."
I like the discard that idea, but LUCA BLIGHT (SUIKODEN II) lol @Finnuval.

To the hero, that guy is the villain. To that guy, the hero is the villain. Each has a valid reason to seek the item, but they cannot both achieve their goals.
I agree with you about the ancient powerful motivation of any humans: the competition for resources.
 

Trihan

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I mean also Kefka but still. :p
 

Kupotepo

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It could even be that along the way the man's desperation to save his mother leads him to ever more desperate means of doing so, and he ends up dabbling in dangerous magic rituals which warp his mind and transform his body.
lol spoiling the plots of Fullmetal Alchemist.
 

trouble time

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The article is uses the modern conception of alignment. Originally AD&D alignment represented the characters religion, it was the character of the god they worshiped, not a relative morality, but an objective cosmic force.

This is because every character was meant to be religious in some way, this was diluted when the paladin was added to the game though. This is because paladins represented a specific specialized order, and clerics were basically preists. Clerics before this were basically everything the paladin is now, just better at casting and a bit worse at fighting. The reason I say diluted is that it implies religiousicy confers divine spell casting whereas before Clerics were specifically chosen champions of the faith where adding paladins to fill that roll meant clerics were less "The choosen ones" and more "yeah I guess anyone that believes hard enough can have magic"

This was even more true with the single axis Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment where each alignment was a force unto itself that was generally above the gods and demons.

For Moorcock, alignment was largely neutral, as in they were passive to the maintaining of the cosmic balance.
 

Kupotepo

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@trouble time, thank you for clarification.
Ok, it is just an objective cosmic force to explain how the universe work.
Like @The Stranger said the gods in the D&D universe exist.

The article is uses the modern conception of alignment. Originally AD&D alignment represented the characters religion, it was the character of the god they worshiped, not a relative morality, but an objective cosmic force.
I am going to mince words.:LZSevil: Isn't the character in D&D rely on their fantasy religion to their moral guidance?
How about if the character does not worship the alignment religion? What happens to his or her? [Confusion]

This is because every character was meant to be religious in some way, this was diluted when the paladin was added to the game though. This is because paladins represented a specific specialized order, and clerics were basically preists. Clerics before this were basically everything the paladin is now, just better at casting and a bit worse at fighting.
So you say the characters just accept being whatever roles they have assigned to Divergent movies? I mean yeah by the writer design that lol.
 
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The Stranger

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Aren't good and evil very real things in the D&D universe? There's actually good and evil gods, beings, and whole races that are one alignment or another. Is killing an evil aligned thing, regardless of cicumstance, always a good thing? There's no subjective morality when good and evil actually exist as cosmic forces influencing the world, and refusing to pick a side, or worship any god, lands you a comfy spot as a brick in a great, ghostly wall in the afterlife.

I'm not a fan of these moral alignment things, I think it pigeonholes characters too much. The only sensible alignments are the neutral ones, in my opinion. The others always sound so polarising and extreme in my mind.
 

trouble time

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@trouble time, thank you for clarification.
Ok, it is just an objective cosmic force to explain how the universe work.


I am going to mince words. Isn't the character in D&D rely on their fantasy religion to their moral guidance?
Yes they generally do, but the reason is to kinda show that the usual critique that good and evil are subjective do not apply.

To expand a bit though I do not like D&D alignment, or I should say I don't like AD&D's alignment. I vastly prefer the Basic D&D Law-Neutral-Chaos alignment, and even more so the Moorcock version. This is because Law and Chaos make more sense as cosmic forces to me and both are above good and evil. For example Lucifer is a Lawful character, but his aspect as the Black Sword, a chaos greatsword made in hellfire, is a creature of chaos that serves the Eternal Champion who is the champion of the Cosmic Balance itself, and can be incarnated to serve law OR chaos (there are very, very few characters that directly serve the cosmic balance). The total victory of either force leads to unending stagnation (law) or eternal formlessness (chaos).

In Basic DnD the law neutral chaos alignment is slightly different in that it is a mortal understanding of the universe. Immortals instead are aligned to spheres of power. Thought, Time, Matter, Energy, and Entrophy. Each of them is in a more nuanced than Law or Chaos, but they're also more abstract, and unlike Moorcock's cosmic forces, besides Entrophy sometimes, they self regulate since their representatives, the various Immortals, tend to talk with each other.

In my own setting, Law and Chaos are also objective forces in the universe, and like Moorcock both are above good and evil. The difference is that no one knows if the gods of the setting are real or not, as there's nothing like divine magic. There are extremely powerful magic creatures or psionic creatures, but no one can claim to have created the universe, and no one knows where human souls that aren't claimed by demons or something go (while the other races souls go to specific afterlife). That and most mortals don't know what Law or Chaos really are, they might recognize it as Society vs. The Wilderness, but don't understand the cosmic significance of this stuff.

EDIT: Adding a bit. A character that doesn't have a religion in D&D back when alignment was equal to religion, pretty much wasn't something that was supposed to happen. At best they could be true neutral, but recall, in AD&D alignments have their own languages, which is passed down from their religions, which is why I assume an atheist character wasn't supposed to happen. If someone doesn't accept the teachings of their alignment, then they are punished by the divine. This is because ANY character that changed alignment in AD&D lost one of their character levels, not just Paladins. So a 2nd level character that went from, say, lawful good to chaotic good became a level 1 character, and if they were a paladin or cleric lost access to their magic powers as well.
 
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Kupotepo

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Ok, let just make thing short. Do you ever read World of Warcraft comic or Warhammer 40,000 comic?
The representative of law and chaos exists in the mortal world. I agree with you that the silent majority has the most memberships. Status Quo[Lawful] and Rebel[Reforming] is most visible in the RPG universes or dimensions.


For example Lucifer is a Lawful character, but his aspect as the Black Sword, a chaos greatsword made in hellfire, is a creature of chaos that serves the Eternal Champion who is the champion of the Cosmic Balance itself
I think it is relating to comparative ethics. How do you know if something is a shadow if there is no light or darkness? How to you know you're happy if you do not know sadness?
 
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The Stranger

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World of Warcraft has comics? lol. The backstory for that setting is all over the place. There was a time when the Holy Light was once just goodness, but now it's simply the opposite extreme of the void. I think it represents extreme order, things unchanging, but I honestly don't know because the writers love to change things so much.
 

trouble time

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Ok, let just thing short? Do you ever read World of Warcraft comic or Warhammer 40,000 comic?
The representative of law and chaos exists in the mortal world. I agree with you that the silent majority has the most memberships.



I think it is relating to comparative ethics. How do you know if a shadow if there is no light or darkness? How to you know you're happy if you do not know sadness?
I'm a HUGE Warhammer 40,000 fan, and it borrows heavily from Micheal Moorcock (to the point they use the exact same Chaos symbol, the eight pointed star.) In Warhammer's case, Chaos is a necessary, but destructive force, but it also represents EVERYTHING. For example, though it isn't that powerful, there is a Chaos God of Law and a seperate Chaos god of Atheism (a GOD of ATHEISM). This is because Warhammer chaos represents thought and emotion and is reflective of the collective thoughts and beliefs of all living things where as Moorcock's conception of it has Law as a seperate force from Chaos, and neither is powered by people's belief in them. The other thing is that in 40k Chaos is inherently self sabotaging, because the chaos gods know that if they ever win they'll die as the real world (BTW the real world is what represents Order in Warhammer) won't exist, and neither can exist without each other.

Warcraft makes things up as it goes along. For example, the Light was added in world of warcraft, before this Warcraft priests worshiped God, as in the Christian God or at least a parallel to it and demons weren't Aliens like they are in modern WoW they were from literal Hell which is never mentioned again after Warcraft 3. in WoW the light became a philosophy of self improvement, not a cosmic force, but some power within. Then they went back on that and decided it is a cosmic force but there is no god that represents it, then they went back on that and said the Naru were space gods of the light, then they went back on that and now the Naru are just representations of the cosmic force that is the light, despite the fact that its technically still canon that the Light ISN'T a cosmic force cause the old dialogue is still in the game. Basically, don't look to Warcraft for themes, they change it and it doesn't seem like the writers even talk to one another. The void was added to WoW later on and how it fits in I don't know cause apparently now the demons are aligned with The Shadow but opposed to The Void and it's all nonsense. I don't even know what The Shadow is anymore.
 

Kupotepo

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@trouble time, thank you for explaining WoW progression and Warhammer 40,000 sequence.

In Warhammer 40,000, I reflect on the creation of the plots. It is not the big evil thing that impacts the protagonist the most, but the small instinct creatures like Tyranids, ok when they are born.
The Lawful Chaos only cares about their self-interest, not destruction for the sake of destruction like @Trihan thinking.
 
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The Stranger

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I wouldn't call the Tyranids small instinct creatures. They're a hive mind, part of an innumerable swarm. Each creatures allows itself to be digested once it's no longer needed on a planet so its bimass doesn't go to waste. The swarms themselves are so vast that they have a psychic presence; can't remember if they can be felt in the Warp, though.

The main theme of 40k is everything is kinda crappy, and no one has any sort of moral high ground. In my opinion, the Tau are perhaps the closest you can get to reasonably good in that setting, and they're a caste based society that conquers others, assimilating other species and civs into the empire for the greater good. lol.
 

Frostorm

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Ever think about where you or your friends lie on the D&D 2-axis alignment compass? I have a friend who's actually "Lawful Good". He's basically a real-life Paladin, except he practices Kendo instead of HEMA and is an atheist lol. We're often at odds since I'm literally "Chaotic Neutral". Not gonna lie, I break a lot of laws, but for the right reasons. I also tend to make utilitarian choices. I noticed is pretty rare to find genuinely Evil people, whether it's Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil, or Chaotic Evil. I mean even Hitler probably felt his actions were justified and for a "pure" cause lol. I think most people that are labeled "evil" are really just Chaotic Neutral. Oh crap, I hope people don't think I'm a bad person... -.-

On another note, I find it really hard to define a truly Neutral-Neutral character. They either just don't care about anything or are at zen-levels of enlightenment. That or they're nihilistic. If anyone could expand on Neutral-Neutral, I'd love to see some examples of such characters. The best example I can think of is Kreia from KotOR 2. Even in her "Darth Traya" form, her philosophy of destroying the force is really just to save the galaxy from endless war and bloodshed.
 
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Kupotepo

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The Stranger

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Couldn't even be bothered to finish that quiz. lol. So many questions and not enough answers.
 

Frostorm

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@Kupotepo I'm genuinely surprised you haven't come across D&D's alignment system before. It's such a long-established concept, I figured it was as well known as Pokemon...guess I was wrong lol.

Anyways, this brings up something I've been wondering. If a game is a "create your own, blank-slate character" game, should the story force the protagonist into a certain alignment/personality? What if the way you write the protagonist doesn't fit what the player wants his/her character to portray?
 
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Kupotepo

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@The Stranger, https://www.quotev.com/quiz/12844554/What-is-your-DnD-alignment 7 Questions if you do not want the long questions. lol

If a game is a "create your own, blank-slate character" game, should the story force the protagonist into a certain alignment/personality?
Yeah, if you think the environment surrounds the protagonist impact the protagonist's way of thinking.
@Tai_MT, help me there, it is called learned behaviors and conditioned behaviors or @Finnuval if you are busy drawing.

What if the way you write the protagonist doesn't fit what the player wants his/her character to portray?
Just cut your loss, I guess. You are old and wiser than me. You should listen to yourself more.

If anyone could expand on Neutral-Neutral
True neutral is the philosophy that harmony and freedom are both important in society and that altruism and egoism are both legitimate ends.
I think it is like @trouble time thinking about the master of both worlds for positive aspects, but the negative is your NPCs. This philosophy holds that people should pursue a rational self-interest while balancing the needs of the state or social order with the freedom of individuals to pursue their own agenda.
Still, True Neutral's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.
Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality.

That or they're nihilistic. If anyone could expand on Neutral-Neutral, I'd love to see some examples of such characters.
Druids frequently follow this dedication to balance and ordinary people do not care much about the outside world.
 
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gstv87

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should the story force the protagonist into a certain alignment/personality?
reminds me of a session in Oblivion:
I was playing a character who largely resembled a private detective, and my mission was to interrogate "the town's madman", who thought there was a conspiracy against him. I found him, I talked to him, and was given the option to leave him be, arrest him up front, or play along, so I chose to play along hoping to loosen his tongue.
He ended up recruiting me to spy on the town for him and try to figure out who was against him. He paid me some coin each time, so I didn't worry.
*I* was in control of the flow of the narrative there.... nothing would happen as long as I decided to not hurt anyone, and nobody suspected me.
Parallel to that, I was supposed to inform the watch commander if this guy became a problem, so, as long as I didn't think he was a problem, everything would be alright.
Until he decided to ask me to kill everyone who was involved in this "conspiracy". So that's where I drew the line, and blew the whistle on him. I went to get the guards, and they ended up killing him.
I thought they were going to arrest him, and when I saw them attacking him I tried to stop them, but I was too late.
I felt bad after that, because everything could have been solved without the guy dying.... he wasn't going to kill anyone by himself, he was just crazy.
My character had always been one to never use violence unless for defense, or as a last resource.... I was a spy, not an assassin. And I indirectly caused that guy to die, because nobody thought it would be adequate to make the guards *arrest* the guy instead of *killing* him on the spot, which is what a sane guard would do.
 

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