Major Divisions Law And Chaos Good And Evil
Neutrality Neutral Evil Neutral Good
Lawful Good Lawful Neutral Lawful Evil
Chaotic Good Chaotic Neutral Chaotic Evil
Alignment With Respect To The Planes Graphing Alignment Alignment Languages
Changing Alignment The Underground Environment: Alignment < DMG.23 >

Alignment describes the broad ethos of thinking, reasoning creatures --
those unintelligent sorts being placed within the neutral area because they are totally uncaring.
Note that alignment does not necessarily dictate religious persuasion,
although many religious beliefs will dictate alignment.
As explained under ALIGNMENT LANGUAGES (q.v.) this aspect of alignment is not the major consideration.
The overall behavior of the character (or creature) is delineated by alignment,
or, in the case of PCs,
behavior determines actual alignment.
Therefore, besides defining the general tendencies of creatures,
it also groups creatures into mutually acceptable or at least non-hostile divisions.
This is not to say that groups of similarly aligned creatures cannot be opposed or even mortal enemies.
Two nations, for example, with rulers of LG alignment can be at war.
Bands of orcs can {hate} each other.
But the former would possibly cease their war to oppose a massive invasion of orcs,
just as the latter would make common cause against the lawful good men.
Thus, alignment describes the world view of creatures and helps to define what their actions,
reactions, and purposes will be.
It likewise causes a PC to choose an ethos which is appropriate to his or her profession,
and alignment also aids players in the definition and role approach of their respective game personae.
With the usefulness of alignment determined,
definition of the divisions is necessary.

Major Divisions:

There are two major divisions of four opposite points of view.
All four are not mutually exclusive, although each pair is mutually opposed.

Law && :

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.

Donblas (god of law)
Tyr (god of law)
Pholtus (god of law)

Azathoth (god of chaos)
Arioch (god of chaos)
Pyaray (god of chaos)
Xiombarg (goddess of chaos)

richardstincer wrote:
Well, thanks Gary, but there is one thing I know for sure. I don't agree with lawfulness in the game and in real life because lawful implies the group over the individual. All of my life, I have been living subordinate to society's laws because the group or society of real life has been subordinating my needs and desires. I don't see anything even or equal about that. It is more decent to be neutral or chaotic because those alignments are less inclined to be corrupted to evil.

No question law if force.

Any organized state needs laws to govern its actions and those of its peoples.

Whatever you choose to make of the matter is up to you.
I am not concerned hereon beyond the gaming standpoint of the subject.


Good && Evil:

Basically stated,
the tenets of good are human rights,
or in the case of AD&D,
creature rights.
Each creature is entitled to

  • life,
  • relative freedom, and
  • the prospect of happiness.

  • Cruelty && suffering are undesirable.

    , on the other hand,
    does not concern itself with rights or happiness;
    purpose is the determinant.

  • Camazotz (god of evil)
  • Set (god of evil)
  • Hiisi (god of evil)
  • Arioch (god of evil)
  • Xiombarg (goddess of evil)
  • Kali (goddess of evil)
  • Abbathor (god of evil)
  • Urdlen (god of evil)
  • Incabulos (god of evil)

  • There can never exist a lawful chaos || an  good.
    These, and their reverses,
    are dichotomous.
    This is not to say that they cannot exist in the same character or creature if it is insane or controlled by another entity,
    but as general divisions they are mutually exclusive pairs.
    Consider also the alignment graph.
    If law is opposed to chaos,
    and good to evil,
    then the radically opposed alignments are LN -- CN,
    NG -- NE, LG -- CE, and LE -- CG.
    Lawful groups might,
    for xample,
    combine to put down some chaotic threat,
    for example,
    just as readily as good groups would combine to suppress some powerful .
    Basic understanding and agreement, however,
    is within the general specific alignment,
    i.e. one of the nine categories. These are defined as follows:

    Originally Posted by Whitey
    Let's rewind time to 1986 - I was eight years old at the time. My friend's older brother was playing D&D [Palace of Silver Princes, IIRC] and I've been fascinated ever since. Thanks for fifteen + years of entertainment, and for your contributions to the RPG community as a whole. I have just one question to pose here, out of the thousands that've come up since then, and have been the root of great RP experiences - it's a tricky epistemological one, and may not have a simple answer. Do evil Outsiders or creatures listed as 'always evil' think of themselves as doing wrong? Or do they think everyone else is being naive or weak? I suppose Good subtyped beings raise a similar issue.

    Thanks again,


    Semantics can be a problem.
    "Outsiders" is a prooblem term with me, as I don't think it appropos in describing creatures and entities of unusual sort.
    Ah well, that aside, semantics is a problem in regards to defining "evil" and "wrong."

    In my view those wholly evil creatures are malign and purposefully wicked.
    To their way of thinking, "wrong" is desirable, mainly when they are doing it to others, not being done themselves.
    Of course they consider all others not of the same mindset as naive, weak, foolish, and gullible.
    "Wrong" is subjective, something the non-evil creatures have invented, and a weakness connected to conscience, something the evil ones do not have.

    A W.C. Fields line is a working axiom for evil: "Never give a sucker an even break." 

    That's how I see it


    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 for 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.

    elementalawe (phasedoor) wrote:
    Gary, thanks for your reply, but I want to know what you think about generality and true-neutral.
    Can generality be related to the alignment of true-neutral instead of nature connected to true-neutral?

    Well Amigo...

    I think my definition of Neutral alignment in the DMG is sufficient, and the neutral isn't a generalist but one who belioeves in the harmony of creation and a balance between all of its forces.
    It's up to you to rationalize any changes you wish to make in the alignment for your own campaign.


    richardstincer wrote:
    Gary, when you mentioned dichotomies in the neutral paragraph of the alignment section in your 1979 ADandD DMG, does that mean the opposite things of nature or TN-alignment can exist at the same time? I mean if purity and defilement, good and evil, life and death can all exist at the same time so that I can be a TN-alignment undead PC.

    With all your learning get understanding...

    Any creature or person centered on one aspect of balance, True Neutrality, cannot perforce, be of that ethical belief. That the True Neutral holds that there must be opposites does not by any leap of imagination mean that one is of any such opposing forces it in itself of balance, only that the True Neutral understands their role in the cosmos.

    A graphic example might be darkness and light. both are necessary for balance, but neither is balance per se.


    phasedoor wrote:
    Have a happy and safe holiday time, Gary. There is one more important thing to know that I have in mind about the neutral or true-neutral alignment. Your 1979 ADandD 1st edit. DMG has it printed that neutral or true-neutral is narrowest in scope. By narrowest in scope, what do you mean?

    Christmas Cheer!

    That alignment has less moral, ethical, and philosophical leeway in their adherance to what they believe than do the other alignments. It is as simple as that. Those of that alignment are promoting no particular aspect--Law or Chaos, Good or Evil--but rather seeking to maintain a balance between those polar opposities.

    Yuletide best wishes,

    NEUTRAL GOOD: Creatures of this alignment see the cosmos as a place where law and chaos are merely tools to use in bringing life,
    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.


    Similar to the neutral good alignment,
    that of neutral  holds that neither groups nor individuals hove great meaning.
    This ethos holds that seeking to promote weal for all actually brings woe to the truly deserving.
    Natural forces which are meont 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 || desire for good.
    They are convinced that order && 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.


    Hi Alan,

    Indeed, the quote hit my games list yesterday.
    I am quite indifferent to the author's opinions, believe his perjorative "imfamous" sounds pretty much like like sour grapes, and appreciate the name mention.

    As for minions of Good, especially Lawful Good, it seems to me that most people fail to understand that Law if the prime operative word in the consideration of the alignment.
    They should consider the Mosaic Law for the best example of how rigid and demanding the strict adherants of LG are as the system was devised.
    Good MUST come from adhering strictly to Law. the corellary is: Law is force. the latter is, of course, a matter of actual fact, while what is good is a subjective thing.

    Other than that I really don't have any comment 


    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.


    Obviously, all order is not good,
    nor are all laws beneficial.
    Lawful  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.

    Howdy Edena

    SuStel hit the nail on the head IMO.
    What you need are a lot of LE humans in the mix, for they are the worst of the worst, if you will.
    For "color" I like to add in renegades from otherwise Good races--dwarves, elves and halflings of malign and wicked sort.

    The detailing of the humans dwelling in the area should bring a lot of life and substance to it.


    Originally Posted by Dracuwulf
    Hi Gary,

    In the 1st edition monster manual, kobolds, goblins, and orcs are all lawful evil and of low intelligence. Besides their particular hates (i.e., elves, gnomes, etc) What should differentiate these creatures tactics-wise when a party encounters each of them?


    The named humanoids are not particularly different in their method of attack, only in the weapons they employ, their AC, and the chance to hit. The LE alignment means that they are well-organized and can plan ambushes, fight in formation, and will likely obey orders from a superior.


    Lawful Evil means that the particular race is organized, cooperative within its own boundaries, and capable of training and discipline. Those are the principle qualities in regards to the aplication of the LE alignment. the rest is mainly window dressing--the deities, social organization, heirarchy, dress, etc.

    CE forces do not advance in formation but atack in a wild mass. think of LE as somethink akin to the Roman Legion, CE as the swarm of screaming barbarians, and NE as something in betwee,



    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.


    This view of the cosmos holds that absolute freedom is necessary.
    Whether the individual exercising such freedom chooses to do good ||  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.


    The chaotic  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 && merit.
    Thus, law and order tends to promote not individuals but groups,
    and groups suppress individual volition && success.

    Originally Posted by Gray Mouser
    Heh, I never understood people who wanted fantasy beings who were evil by nature to go through some great, existentialist struggle. Man, next thing you know Demogorgon will have his twin heads on some shrink's couch looking for some catharsis. I have news for you Demo: you are evil and your lot is to be set upon by every two-bit PC party that can make their way to the Abyss! Die! Die! Die!

    Heh, sorry 

    No need to apologise to me for that! I loathe the self-centered angst-ridden crap that gets passed off as suiitable fare in a game of heroic action-adventure.

    CE forces do not advance in formation but atack in a wild mass.
    think of LE as somethink akin to the Roman Legion, CE as the swarm of screaming barbarians, and NE as something in betwee,


    <copy and paste 2 to BATTLESYSTEM>
    <as well, this will help for the Dungeon Craft AI scripts>

    Each of these cases for alignment is, of course,
    stated rather simplistically and ideally,
    for philosophical and moral reasonings are completely subjective according to the acculturation of the individual.
    You, as Dungeon Master,
    must establish the meanings and boundaries of law and order as opposed to chaos and anarchy,
    as well as the divisions between right and good as opposed to hurtful and evil.
    Lawful societies will tend to be highly structured, rigid, well-policed and bureaucratic hierarchical.
        Class, rank, position, and precedence will be important, so they will be strictly defined and adhered to.
    On the other hand, chaotic areas will have little government and few social distinctions.
        The governed will give their consent to government,
        acknowledging leaders as equals serving those who allowed them to assume leadership.
        Obedience and service in a chaotic society is given only by those desiring to do so,
        or by dint of some persuasion, never by requirement.

    Alignment With Respect To The Planes:
    Obviously, the material planes have no set alignment, nor do the other "inner planes" or the ethereal or astral ones either.
    However, the "outer planes" show various alignments.
    This is because they are home to creatures who are of like general alignment.
    If the curves of the alignment table are carried outwards to the planes,
    only those planes at the corners will correspond to non-neutral alignments,
    i.e., lawful good, chaotic good, chaotic evil, and lawful evil.
    Similarly, those on the horizontal and vertical axes correspond to the neutral-based alignments which support an ethos,
    i.e. neutral good, chaotic neutral, neutral evil, and lawful neutral.
    The remainder of the outer plane areas are "gray" areas where alignments shade into each other.
    Inhabitants of these planes will generally have the same world-view as their fellows on the Prime Material Plane.

    richardstincer wrote:
    Gary, I think I remember reading in your 1979 DMG, in the section about alignment and the planes, that the inhabitants of the gray area planes between the nine alignment-planes have a world view similar to the inhabitants of the prime physical material plane. Does that mean those gray area planes with the inhabitants can be considered true-neutral? For example: if I am a PC human nondruid cleric of early ADandD 1st edit., can I be between LN and LG for my alignment or does being between LG and LN make me have the TN-alignment and thereby disallowing me to be a nondruid cleric?

    What it means is that those areas have much the same nine alignments as are found on the PMP :wink: The location on the alignment azis indicates the predominant alignment of the area, be that tendency slight or considerable.


    Graphing Alignment
    It if importance to keep track of player character behavior with respect to their professed alignment.
    Actions do speak far more eloquently than professions,
    and each avtivity of a player character should reflect his or her alignment.
    If a professed lawful evil character is consistently seeking to be helpful and is repecting the lesser creatures,
    her or she is certainly tending towards good,
    while if he or she ignores regulations and consistent behavior the trend is towards chaotic alignment
    Such dirft should be noted by you, and when it takes the individual into a new alignment area,
    you should then inform the player that his or her character has changed alignemtn (see CHANGING ALIGNMENT).
    It is quite possible for a character to drift around in an alignment area,
    making only small shifts due to behavior.
    However, any major action which is out of alignment character will cause a maior shift to the alignment which is directly in line
    with the action,
    i.e., if a lawful evil character defies the law in order to aid the cause (express or implied) of chaotic good,
    he or she will be either lawful neutral or chaotic neutral, depending on the factors involved in the action.

    It is of utmost importance to keep rigid control of alignment behavior with respect to such characters as serve deities who will accept only certain alignments,
    those who are paladins,
    those with evil familiars,
    and so on.
    Part of the role they have accepted requires a set behavior mode,
    and its benefits are balanced by this.
    Therefore, failure to demand strict adherence to alignment behavior is to allow a game abuse.

    Lawful good characters should not be allowed to ignore unlawful or shady actions by "looking the other way".
    If, for example, a party that includes a paladin decides to use poison on a monster that they know is ahead,
    the DM shouldn't let the paladin be distracted or "led away for a few rounds" when it is patently obvious that the paladin heard the plan.
    If the player does not take appropriate measures to prevent the action,
    the DM should warn the paladin that his lack of action will constitute a voluntary alignment change and then let the chips fall where they may!

    richardstincer wrote:
    Thanks for your response, Gary. In your 1979 DMG for ADandD 1st edit., it is printed that the TN alignment is narrowest in scope or focus. Does 'narrowest in scope' mean it is easy to follow the alignment of TN? I like a simple, tit-for-tat equality whereas Mordenkainen likes the alignment of TN to be complex.

    Simply put, alignments are for the use of the DM in the development of the nations and the peoples that inhabit them, principally the dramatis personae that will interact with the group of player characters. It is meant to serve the DM as a measuring stick against the performance of the PCs in the campaign, after each has elected an alignment as a general template for the ethical and moral views of their game persona. In the same secondary role, they are meant to be useful in regards use of magical spells and magic items that require the imbuing of some spirit (force) in their making.

    As compared to the reasons for which I created them, alignments are generally misused by DMs and I am sorry that I did not originally stress their principal meaning and uses.


    As i said, I blame blame myself for not fully elucidating the purpose of alignments, assuming that DMs would comprehend my thinking by some sort of osmosis :?


    Dragon Fire wrote:
    Well, don't feel to badly. I didn't put near the "stock" into alignments that other DMs have. So, maybe I absorbed some of your thinking.

    Those DMs that understand the whole of the AD&D system are likely to do just that sort of thing. Unfortunately, there aren't all that many of them. anyway, good show on your part :wink:


    Gary, do you think the following characterization of an AD&D situation involving alignments as per your concept of them is accurate?


    I chewed that cabbage in the DMG, and from then on it's up to the DMs to manage 

    That's the extent of my comment.


    serleran wrote:
    Just a general design question:

    I've been thinking of trying to emulate a true Pulp Sword and Sorcery "feel" to my fantasy games, and thought, one of the best, and simplest ways to deal with this would be to remove certain alignments, and go with something more basic. In my version, I would simply have Good, Evil, and Neutral. Granted, this is very much like the Lawful, Chaotic, Neutral pre-nine-alignment system with which most are familiar. Anyway... the real question is:

    Do you think that such a decision is too restricting, or allows for too much variation in PC actions?

    Alignments were placed into the game to assist players in maintaining the role that they assume when in game persona, for DMs to use as a measure of how well the players were doing that.

    I see nothing amiss with allowing characters a wide variety of ethical choices, and changing the alignment system should not be restrictive in that regard.

    If you can maintain such functionality in the game with a G-N-E axis, why not employ it?


    The alignments presented in the DMG are not meant to be psychologically correct not a guideline for comparative ethics. they are meant only to assist the player in assuming the role of the make-believe character playing in a fantasy game.

    In short I am not someone qualified to comment further.


    Originally Posted by Gray Mouser

    I recently had the opportunity to get all the OD&D books in pdf format! (Yee-ha!, btw. That really takes me back!). In these books I noticed that you use the Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic alignment system. I've heard from other people that when you first began designing AD&D (circa the MM) there were only 5 alignments (LG, CG, N, GE and LE) and that the other 4 were added in when you began working on the PHB.

    When did you move from the L-N-C alignments to adding the Good/Eveil component? And when did it become the full-blown 9 alignment system that was the end result?


    Gray Mouser
    Yet another missed post, and another apology from me.

    When I enlarged the alignment system from the three used in D&D because chaoric does not necassarily mean evil nor lawful equate to good, I worked up the nine alignments found in OAD&D as I began work in the MM in 1976. A five-alignment system was not used by me, as the various NX slots were integral to the system I devised.


    Originally Posted by MutieMoe
    Where the idea of alignments came from? I find this particulary interesting as it is one the game mechanics that directly describes personality of the character in question. When and why the need for alignments came in to play?

    In OD&D I used the Moorcock division of Law and Chaos to serve to describe the general motives of the persons and creatures involved in the game, the Good and Evil. It soom bacame evident to me that those descriptors were not synonyms, thet all that was lawful was not good, all that was chaotic was not evil, and animals were generally not concerned with any of those ethical mindsets.

    So when I began writing the OAD&D game rules in 1976 I decided on the nine alignment system. The why is as noted above, and the wherefor was to enable the DM to roleplay the "monsters" encoutered by the player party and judge the players' manner of enacting the role of their separate PCs; for the players to more easily determine the nature of and properly play their character. Thus the rather lengthy descriptions of each alignment.



    Originally Posted by Ron
    My intention was humour, but I missed placing a smile. Still, I don't think any society would be able to interpret itself as good or evil. That said, I agree that Roman legions were very organized, and thus lawful, compared to most of their opponents.

    In historical terms you are spot on when assert that no society would be able, or willing, to interpret its mores as those of malign sort. This is clearly not the case in fantasy--be it mythology, folklore, fairy tailes, or authored fiction. When a state is based on the worship of and service to evil entities, then there can be no doubt that it defines itself as evil 


    Originally Posted by Ron
    Nice try but wouldn't you agree that some real world politicians positions or alliances are quite close to service to evil entities?  I am pretty sure that some of the clearly evil men of history thought they were just using extreme methods to extreme situations but, still, they were working toward the greater good.

    Nice try nothing 

    We are speaking of actual historical societies here, not the individuals that have gheaded them up. without doubt many of them have been purely malign and wholly evil, but they does not mean that the populace at large believed that they were serving the malign and evil.

    If Caligula, Hitler, Atilla the Hun, Genghis Khan, Tammerlane, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot thought they were working for a greater good, then Lord save us all from such do-gooders 


    Originally Posted by the black knight
    A fascinating answer to be sure. I enjoyed reading about the respective characters quite a bit.

    Thanks, Gary!!

    Another question, if you don't mind. Have you ever seen a non-good party endure over any lengthy period of time? Do you feel the dynamics of such a group make for a different type of campaign? If so, are there any hidden benefits to such a party? have you ever played in one yourself?

    I ask because I'm currently in a group like that. We've held up for the last four levels (started mid-level, now we're 8th level or so), but we tend to tone down the malevolence in order to stay together. So far, so good.


    the black knight


    When my son Ernie became angry with me as DM he switched to playing an LE character, Erac's Cousin. That PC adventured fairly frequently with two othe LE ones, Robilar and either Terik or the monk PC that Terry Kuntz liked to play. Those three never attacked each other--mainly because each character was able to win in a fight, so why take chances when there are easier targets around.

    Mordenkainen would adventure with that lot, always with a strong henchman.
    He was never assualted or even threatened.

    I suspect that these players opted for Lawful Evil to avoid the necessity of random acts of evil nature against their fellows. Their strength was in cooperation--a pair of strong fighters and a mage, sometimes a monk replacing a fighter.


    Originally Posted by heirodule
    When you wrote up encounters with Orcs, goblins, etc, that included noncom females and infants, did you expect the Good PCs to put them to the sword, let them go, or have a moral dilemma?

    What did they tend to do?

    I expected the DM to decide how to handle such a situation, of course.