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Discussion: Alignments - Lawful Evil

Tags: #Alignments  #Zonnonn 
  • Member
    September 26

    The third installment in the surprisingly popular Alignments series is a little darker than the others (or is it?), as we're now focussing on the

    Lawful Evil

    ways to roleplay. Is this the traffic rozzer who insists on pulling you over 1 mile over the speed limit? Or how about a Daedra Priest, who cuts out hearts and munches on their tendon-y goodness? It's up to you to decide people, so get discussing! Oh, and the usual request applies, try and comment on someone else's reply after you've made one of your own, to be sociable and all that.

  • Member
    September 26

    Lawful Evil is also one of my favourite alignments - actually, Lawful itself is basically my favourite thing ever in alignments. LE is frankly a thing of beauty - to quote one RP guide I've seen, Lawful Evil values tradition, loyalty, and order, but not freedom, dignity, and life.

    I think a side discussion into what makes a character Evil is probably worth the text, here. Simplistically speaking, I'd like to posit that Evil takes two primary forms: Evil means, and Evil ends (clearly not mutually exclusive) (there may be some worth considering evil intentions but for now I'm not going to discuss anything less than concrete action). The latter, I think, is quite self-explanatory. You're seeking to empower some evil Daedra, or whatever - consider a stereotypical Dark Brotherhood Assassin, whose goal is the murder of some unsuspecting probably-innocent. The end goal in itself, then, is evil, arguably even if you're killing a violent, degenerate outlaw. Arguably an open and shut case (ever think about a character with childlike innocence in blind obedience to some evil superior, never quite aware of just how evil they are? Chilling).

    Evil means... can arguably serve good ends. For an in-universe discussion, assumption of which ends are Good and which are Bad can be taken for granted. The Evil god is Evil, and serving him is an Evil end, even if you end up helping people along the way. The Good god is Good, and serving him is a Good end... even if you end up slaughtering villages along the way...? Where would you put a zealot like this? You can make a strong argument for Lawful Evil in this scenario (excepting every other part of the zealot's life, that is).

    So what are we looking at when it comes to Lawful Evil? Setting aside stereotypical comedic portrayals of lawyers, we're looking at characters which value law, but not good. More than anything else the words cold and dispassionate can come to mind, and that is an excellent start, but it is nowhere near the end. Because make no mistake, a fiery zealot can be as LE as a calculating mastermind.

    Gonna leave you with a quote here. The ends justify the means.

  • Member
    September 26

    Continuing with my normal alignment ideas I posted on the Lawful Good discussion I'd have to say Lawful Evil is akin to a corrupt politician or dictator, someone who will use the laws to their advantage and use every loophole they can find in order to gain as much power as possible, uncaring as to what they do to others. A prime example of this in the Elder Scrolls games is Jagar Tharn and (to a lesser extent) Abnur Tharn. The Thalmor are a great example of a group or organization following this alignment.

  • Member
    September 27

    soly said:

    Lawful Evil is also one of my favourite alignments - actually, Lawful itself is basically my favourite thing ever in alignments. LE is frankly a thing of beauty - to quote one RP guide I've seen, Lawful Evil values tradition, loyalty, and order, but not freedom, dignity, and life.

    I think a side discussion into what makes a character Evil is probably worth the text, here. Simplistically speaking, I'd like to posit that Evil takes two primary forms: Evil means, and Evil ends (clearly not mutually exclusive) (there may be some worth considering evil intentions but for now I'm not going to discuss anything less than concrete action). The latter, I think, is quite self-explanatory. You're seeking to empower some evil Daedra, or whatever - consider a stereotypical Dark Brotherhood Assassin, whose goal is the murder of some unsuspecting probably-innocent. The end goal in itself, then, is evil, arguably even if you're killing a violent, degenerate outlaw. Arguably an open and shut case (ever think about a character with childlike innocence in blind obedience to some evil superior, never quite aware of just how evil they are? Chilling).

    Evil means... can arguably serve good ends. For an in-universe discussion, assumption of which ends are Good and which are Bad can be taken for granted. The Evil god is Evil, and serving him is an Evil end, even if you end up helping people along the way. The Good god is Good, and serving him is a Good end... even if you end up slaughtering villages along the way...? Where would you put a zealot like this? You can make a strong argument for Lawful Evil in this scenario (excepting every other part of the zealot's life, that is).

    So what are we looking at when it comes to Lawful Evil? Setting aside stereotypical comedic portrayals of lawyers, we're looking at characters which value law, but not good. More than anything else the words cold and dispassionate can come to mind, and that is an excellent start, but it is nowhere near the end. Because make no mistake, a fiery zealot can be as LE as a calculating mastermind.

    Gonna leave you with a quote here. The ends justify the means.

    Hellovah post, Soly. A Morag Tong assassin could be Lawful Evil as she may consider the Execution Writ and the codes of conduct they operate under to be the absolute law, while still murdering a target just because a higher-up demands it. That murder could stop a House war before it begins and so prevent a greater evil from happening, yet the person murdered could have just cause to start said House war and be a real sweetiepie. 

    The subject of evil in fantasy sometimes gets watered down, or even glammed up to appear attractive. Not sure how that came to be. Playing a necromancer vampire in an RPG seems fun and exxciting, but when we stop and tink about it, it's actually pretty bad. Same as the Dark Brotherhood I suppose. If we discovered a secret sect of sadistic serial killers living nearby, we'd be horrified by their crimes. Ha, different subject. Apologies, getting sidetracked :D 

    Ebonslayer said:

    Continuing with my normal alignment ideas I posted on the Lawful Good discussion I'd have to say Lawful Evil is akin to a corrupt politician or dictator, someone who will use the laws to their advantage and use every loophole they can find in order to gain as much power as possible, uncaring as to what they do to others. A prime example of this in the Elder Scrolls games is Jagar Tharn and (to a lesser extent) Abnur Tharn. The Thalmor are a great example of a group or organization following this alignment.

    Abnur Tharn is an upstanding citizen and honourable Chancellor. The very thought he could be a scheming and coniving butthole using his political sway to increase his own power is unthinkable...Oh, wait :D 

  • September 27
    I think it might be worth noting how the game mechanics of Skyrim can support a LE playthrough. You can commit genocide against dragons, forsworn, and afflicted, and be a serial killer and eater of bandits, as well as aquiring every daedric arrifact to this end, and still be than of every hold.
  • Member
    September 27

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions 

  • Member
    September 27

    I'm seeing some great points here (too many to quote, actually xD) that are helping make this alignment a little more clear to me. Based on what I'm hearing from you all, I get the feeling that the difference between LN and LE is that LN follows the law in furtherance of her/his code, whereas LE follows the law expressly to further his/her own self interest or ego.

    I'll be honest, from a story-telling point of view, there is something kind of appealing about a character that is fully investied in their own self interest, but who still insists on living by a code of honor (corrupt or askew as it may be). A character who feels compelled to always choose evil seems rather unrealistic because it can often go against that character's own interests. But an evil character who insists upon a code based on loyalty and order makes sense... without it they limit their ability to effectively enjoy the fruits of their own evil.

    Also, that they personally follow the code as well is admirable and denotes a twisted kind of honor. I like to feel conflicted by my bad-guys--find things about them that are honorable. Pure mustache-twisting, stealing-candy-from-babies villains feel rather flat to me... even (dare I say it?) boring.

  • Member
    September 27

    Raikage said: I think it might be worth noting how the game mechanics of Skyrim can support a LE playthrough. You can commit genocide against dragons, forsworn, and afflicted, and be a serial killer and eater of bandits, as well as aquiring every daedric arrifact to this end, and still be than of every hold.

    Good point, Raikage! I think Soly summed it up perfectly - the end justifies the means for these characters.

    Ebonslayer said:

    Continuing with my normal alignment ideas I posted on the Lawful Good discussion I'd have to say Lawful Evil is akin to a corrupt politician or dictator, someone who will use the laws to their advantage and use every loophole they can find in order to gain as much power as possible, uncaring as to what they do to others. A prime example of this in the Elder Scrolls games is Jagar Tharn and (to a lesser extent) Abnur Tharn. The Thalmor are a great example of a group or organization following this alignment.

    Can't say I'm very familiar with the lore of these characters, but I agree that LE is a great fit for the corrupt higher-ups of society. They use the laws to their advantage to gain power, and abuse all the perks that come with it, but when they're restricted by such laws they can always find a way around it.

    soly said:

    I think a side discussion into what makes a character Evil is probably worth the text, here. Simplistically speaking, I'd like to posit that Evil takes two primary forms: Evil means, and Evil ends

    I really like this, Soly. It's easy to remember that not every bad deed is malicious or part of some greater overarching plan to end the world. I reckon any time someone has to be killed, ie to contain a plague or stop a secret getting out that could topple an empire, it falls close to this category. Sometimes you have to do evil deeds to keep the peace I guess.

  • Member
    September 27

    ShinJin said:

    I'm seeing some great points here (too many to quote, actually xD) that are helping make this alignment a little more clear to me. Based on what I'm hearing from you all, I get the feeling that the difference between LN and LE is that LN follows the law in furtherance of her/his code, whereas LE follows the law expressly to further his/her own self interest or ego.

    I'll be honest, from a story-telling point of view, there is something kind of appealing about a character that is fully investied in their own self interest, but who still insists on living by a code of honor (corrupt or askew as it may be). A character who feels compelled to always choose evil seems rather unrealistic because it can often go against that character's own interests. But an evil character who insists upon a code based on loyalty and order makes sense... without it they limit their ability to effectively enjoy the fruits of their own evil.

    Also, that they personally follow the code as well is admirable and denotes a twisted kind of honor. I like to feel conflicted by my bad-guys--find things about them that are honorable. Pure mustache-twisting, stealing-candy-from-babies villains feel rather flat to me... even (dare I say it?) boring.

    Very nice points here, though I'm going to suggest that LE doesn't necessarily prioritise LE's own aggrandisement/ego/own power. You may suggest that it's usually the case, of course. But it's not just Evil ends (or even possibly Neutral/selfish ends via Evil means). Anything via evil means, consistently, could push a character to Lawful Evil (remember the Zealot), and I think it has incredible potential (in its base setting of DnD) when played alongside a predominantly Good group. You can trust this character not to backstab the party. You can trust them with your life, and your goals. But sometimes, they're going to remind you - viscerally and cruelly - that there's an E on their character sheet. This is a character who will kill (low-value) hostages in a hostage negotiation to get the jump on the (high-value) targets. This is the character who will threaten, during an interrogation, "If you talk, I'll kill you. Keep quiet, and I'll kill your entire family." And then carry it out. And through it all, you're horrified that this is a character who you trust to have your back in a fight.

    "...did you have to do that? Couldn't we have employed some non-Evil way of getting the information?"

    "We could have. How long would it have taken? Days, weeks? We have the information now. For the first time in months, we have the initiative. And that family was scum anyway."

    It's not just the Evil ends that define the Lawful Evil archetype. I mean, it can be. Egoistic goals work exceptionally, of course, especially when the character hasn't done anything legally wrong and is therefore technically untouchable. (Enter the Chaotic Good character, who will try to off them anyway.) But there's a huge amount of possibility on the Evil means side of the evil spectrum.

  • September 29

    Sorry I´m late for the party.

    Lawful Evil is referred to as the "Dominator" or "Diabolic" alignment. Characters of this alignment see a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit, and show a combination of desirable and undesirable traits; while they usually obey their superiors and keep their word, they care nothing for the rights and freedoms of other individuals and are not averse to twisting the rules to work in their favor. Examples of this alignment include tyrants, devils, undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct, and loyal soldiers who enjoy the act of killing.

    Like Lawful Good Paladins, Lawful Evil characters may sometimes find themselves faced with the dilemma of whether to obey law or evil when the two conflict. However, their issues with Law versus Evil are more concerned with "Will I get caught?" versus "How does this benefit me?"

    Lawful Evil. Am I the only one who just dislikes the word evil? Evil is very subjective in my opinion, because if a boss fires all his employees so that he could hire cheaper working force...that´s evil, ain´t it? But let´s stick to the concept. Evil. I´m of the mind that what can be defined as evil in most roleplaying games and such is the word "selfish".

    It´s all about me, not about others. About my own benefit, profit, pleasures and needs. This is what Lawful Evil character is about with the catch that the character has its own code of honor. Best example? Imagine an assassin killing for the money, with cold efficiency. Not because he enjoys killing, but because of the money, simple as that. Now that alone isn´t a Lawful Evil - unless killing and murder is automatically an act of evil - but add the certain code to that like... Never hurt a child, never hurt a woman. Kill only the target without collateral damage. But still killing for money.

    Lawful Evil is ultimately a selfish person who takes his/her word seriously. If the guy says "I won´t betray you" he won´t bloody betray you. It can be also a soldier who follows orders without any question and hesitation, even if it means killing children and women. The important part is that he follows orders, which are more important to him than deeds - as long as he gets his payment.

    Someone above mentioned Morag Tong being Lawful Evil and I can´t help myself but disagree. I´ve always seen Morag Tong as Lawful Neutral. Any means necessary for greater good. They´re not killing for money, they´re killing for balance between Houses. And they kill only with writs, and only their targets, no one else. It´s very strict.

    But back to Lawful Evil. Hmm. I would describe Mogrul from Raven Rock as Lawful Evil - at least that Mogrul I´m writing in my story. Guy who lends money to Redoran, getting them in his debt and once they are indebted he starts to take advantages of that, collecting exhortion money and stuff like that. Using law to his own advantage, but the fun fact is that once someone pays the exhortion money he´ll keep the end of his bargain. He´ll even save lives so that the people could pay off their debts.

    I don´t know. Everytime I try to play Lawful Evil character it always comes down to selfishness and money. Money money money, but with code of honor. Yeah.