Main Page » Domain and Regency » Law and alignment

Alignment affects the nature of law holdings just like it affects a character. When a player chooses an alignment for his character, he chooses a pattern of behavior for that character to follow. For regents, this pattern will influence the law holding he controls. It is also useful to consider the alignment of the majority of citizens. While the alignment of the law holdings will have some impact, the culture of the people and the influence of the temple holdings are important as well.

[top]Lawful Good

Lawful good regents want an ideal set of laws everyone can understand and respect. They don't want to be above the law, or even the main focus of it. They believe the province's order and good to be more important than anything else. The law regent who is lawful good uses his holdings to protect his subjects from harm, crime, and treachery.
The alignment most often associated with law and order, lawful good actually can prove a difficult alignment for players of law regents. Players often associate the lawful good alignment with 'good guys' and 'heroes' thinking of such characters as self-sacrificing, noble, and kind. But enforcing the law in a lawful good realm isn't always
easy and often doesn't win friends.

The lawfulness of a lawful good regent inspires him to set up a code of rules he expects his subjects to live by. Both his lawfulness and his goodness means he'll probably expect himself to live by these rules, which isn't always easy for a ruler who is also an adventurer. Both law and good restrict the ruler from action, so that he has two limits on his action. Sometimes these limits are in conflict with one another.

For example, King Arthur's wife Guinevere has an affair with his champion, Lancelot. Their affair is exposed and Arthur find his compassion and goodness opposed by his obligation to uphold the law he has established and serve as a model of selfless obedience to the law. Arthur reluctantly sentences his queen to burn at the stake. Knowing Lancelot and his family will try to stop the execution, Arthur sends many of his knights to defend the pyre.
See Also: Honor Paradoxes
Lawful good characters often become hampered by their strict observance of the law on one hand, and their general desire to do good on the other. Add to that the fact that they hold all their subjects (even the non-lawful, non-good ones) to the same moral and legal standards and problems can arise.

This is why the alignment of the majority of the population is important. Suppose for the sake of argument that as in the above example, Arthur's people are one third Lawful Good, one third Neutral Good, and one third Lawful Neutral. As a society they are Lawful Good. Normally everyone is generally happy, but when law is pitted against good, a third of the people will be unhappy at the compromise. Arthur chose lawfulness over compassionate goodness, and his Neutral Good subjects would be outraged at his willingness to kill his own wife, his setting goodness aside in favor of law. However, consider if Arthur's realm was mostly Chaotic Good. Every one of his Lawful acts would displease his people, and when he compromised the good to serve the lawful, as he did in punishing Guinevere, he would make his people very unhappy indeed.

For another example, a lawful good character is the one most likely to defend an evil character when everyone else wants to punish or destroy him for being evil even if he has not committed a crime. Lawful good characters tend to set up fair legal systems and a series of checks and balances that prevent 'witch hunts', lynch mobs, and other disorders, prohibiting any citizens (even themselves) from taking the law into their own hands. When they encounter a character known to be evil, but who has committed no crime, they do not violate the law in order to serve good, though they may act against him within the bounds of the law.

On the plus side, when a lawful good regent rules up his law holding high enough to dominates the law of the province, there is a strong tendency for most people in the realm feel fairly well-disposed toward the law and the regent, unless the native alignment or the temple teachings conflict. They recognize that even if the regent?s laws are strict, they tend to be enforced fairly and equitably, even when it isn't convenient.

If the subjects of a lawful good law regent share his alignment, they will do their best to obey the law, trusting that it will serve both justice and mercy, protecting them from harm. At its best this produces an ideal of the whole community helping one another.

[top]Neutral Good

The most important thing to a neutral good law regent is the achievement of good ends. Anything that promotes good, works; anything that does not promote good, doesn't work. As a law regent, the neutral good character won't let the law get in the way of doing good. So in general the law regent will use to law do good, and when it can't he will set the law aside and do what is best. Such law holdings do not have strict sentences for specific crimes, but give justices wide latitude to do what is best for the community and the criminal. If the criminal is cruel and unrepentant, he may receive a harsh penalty, including death, if the crime is a felony. If the criminal is a normally good person in desperate circumstances, and is repentant, the court will seek some kind of restitution rather than punishment.

The Neutral Good regent generally seeks the greatest good for the greatest number. Generally the Neutral Good law regent is reluctant to put justice aside to do good, but he is willing if no other alternative exists. Other such rulers adhere to the principle "first do no harm" and as such do very little aware that every act that helps one group hurts another. All Neutral Good regents try to gain a consensus before acting, confident that if everyone agrees that an action should be taken, any harms involved are taken voluntarily as a sacrifice for the greater good. Such a ruler would be reluctant to use the law to harm anyone.

Neutral good law regents rank an idea 'good' above everything else. They are idealists. Without some clear direction, neutral good regents unintentionally can promote general apathy in their provinces. Their laws often don't make a lot of sense to the common man, because they are crafted to serve an ideal, not a person or a province. Many laws get ignored or misinterpreted not out of malice, but ignorance. In short, neutral good law holdings serve good. While the regent tries to treat his people fairly and equitably, he always looks toward the ideal, rather than the concrete.

[top]Chaotic Good

The chaotic good regent may have a little trouble being a law regent. However, when the alignment of the population and of the dominant temples are similar to the ruler's alignment, things will be much easier. Chaotic good law regents tend to emphasize the circumstances of the individual over the abstract principles of law or good when they make and enforce laws. They often sacrifice strict interpretations of the legal code in favor of moral judgements made in light of the individuals and the specific situation of the case. Chaotic good regents leave a lot of room for individual discretion within their laws and legal systems.

A chaotic good law regent will avoid legal practices like precedent, tradition, and officials. They don't want to invest power and be limited by the past both in terms of practices and persons. Every case should be decided only on its own merits, not because of the was a merely similar case was decided some time ago. Chaotic good rulers know that people tend to decide the same issues the same way, and consider the accumulation of institutional power in particular individuals to be an impediment to good law.

Where a lawful legal system relies on expert, objective officials, the chaotic legal system prefers amateurs who are involved with the issues to settle cases. Where a lawful legal system involves appeals to higher courts if procedures are not followed, chaotic legal systems have no such set of procedures nor would they approve of moving the case farther away from the principles and those with intimate knowledge of the particulars of the case. They believe law should not be decided in the abstract.

A chaotic good law regent will always try to act in accordance with his conscience and protect his subjects from harm and hurt. Unfortunately, any law regent is often called upon to make judgements regarding legal issues and established traditions and a chaotic good regent could end up contradicting himself based on personal feelings during given instances. When the populace is also chaotic, this is no problem, as they would expect the case to be satisfied on its own merits. A lawful or neutral populace, however, want to give some respect to established ways of doing things.

The regent's agents have the same power, which allows for more contradictions. Since a chaotic regent tries to avoid investing individuals with institutional power, selecting assistants for their usefulness in the situation at hand, it is very likely that the regent's agents will contradict one another without concern for the problem. In short, the populace may like and respect the chaotic good regent, but they won't always know where they stand under the law.

Chaotic good regents shy away from creating wide-sweeping laws and permanent decrees. They much prefer analyzing specific situations and reacting accordingly. Individuals should have their say under the law, and the good of the province should not outweigh the good of the individual.

Such law regents are also not constrained by what is generally considered fair or just. If circumstances out of the control of individuals occurred, he would not feel obligated to respect "rights" to settle matters of serious import. The chaotic good regent does not desire to do harm to specific individuals to aid others, but he may not see certain acts as harms (such as violating property rights, tribal traditions, or privacy) if there is good to be done. After all these legal protections are not goods, the are legalisms. Each case should be assessed on its own merits, not according to such principles as rights, tradition, or justice.

[top]Lawful Neutral

Like the neutral good regent, the lawful neutral regent focuses on an ideal. He wants his domain to achieve justice and fairness, and he'll use the order of law to accomplish this objective. As with a true neutral leader, the moral aspects of good and evil do not enter into the equation. The lawful neutral regent devotes his law holdings to establishing balance through order.

Quite often, lawful neutral law holdings have extensive legal systems and an amazing set of checks and balances set up so that no one remains above the law. Their enforcers are the 'eye for an eye' folks who make certain that the correct 'eye' gets paid to the rightful recipient. Circumstances play no role in proper justice. If the law has been violated (and it is the law not people who are injured, just because you don't complain doesn't mean a crime is not committed), it must be satisfied according to the law's own terms. Substitutions of punishment or judgement by officials is not justice, its favoritism and corruption.

Subjects of a lawful neutral realm always know where they stand. The lawful neutral regent does may or may not welcome change in his laws, but change must be implemented in an orderly fashion according to the law. Lawful neutral law regents don't decree justice, they have hearings, follow procedure, and have the i's dotted and the t's crossed before legislation is promulgated by official institutions.

Lawful neutral regents may be change agents, as administrative reformers, but often they are conservatives who value tradition. They may prefer order, tradition, or efficiency as the first principle of the law, but it will be no secret and everyone will be able to adapt. This leads subjects of lawful neutral realms to believe that, as long as they act in certain manner and pay attention to every new order or modification in the law, they can get by without any real difficulty. The law may interfere and intrude in their lives, but because its predictable, it won't disrupt their existence as long as they pay attention to it.

The regent wants things to be orderly, predictable, and enduring. His laws promote justice and order, without bothering with moral standards or disputes. The lawful neutral regent is satisfied to simply consider the will of the governed as far as morality is concerned. If the people want murder to be more serious than theft, petitions, hearings, and due consideration will see this implemented in an orderly way. If they do not regard murder as more serious than theft, the regent won't impose it on them.


The true neutral alignment does not lend itself to law regency. As in the case of neutral good characters, law regents with true neutral alignments tend to serve an ideal, but that ideal is often not ethical, but purpose driven. For example, the druid seeks to preserve nature rather than achieve some kind of ethical aim. As a law ruler, the neutral regent will generally make the preservation of his domain the central purpose of his ruler, plus any others he may peruse.

Neutral law holdings and their laws generally do not try to restrict anyone or anything, except when that person or thing interferes with the law itself. The ultimate arbiter, the neutral regent tries to posit himself, and his law holdings, as compromiser in the broad social arena, but does not compromise the law itself. The law becomes an end in itself.
When a population is also neutral, the law regent is mostly interested in maintaining a limited order to satisfy his subjects, but is mostly concerned with his political or other ideological objectives. For instance, Rogr Aglondier, as a neutral law regent, is interested in preserving the Free County of Ilien, maintaining his position in the politics of Ilien to his satisfaction, and protecting his magical interests on the South Coast. Rogr pretends to neutrality in politics as well as ethics.

When the population is not neutral, the law will reflect their desires and alignment, but without much enthusiasm and with some greater understanding of the interests of minority ideologies. If Jaison Raenech had a neutral law regent, he would attempt to balance the interests of the followers of the Impregnable Heart of Haelyn, the Church of Storm's Height, and evil of Raenech and the One True Church of Vosgaard. Such a figure, if he existed, would have to become a master of balance to survive and prosper. They would need weigh their actions against counteractions and try to walk the line between them. Osoerde is a realm in civil war, so the task would be particularly difficult. It is doubtful Raenech would have the judgement to find such a figure.

In general, neutral law regents try to leave things alone until they need some adjustment to protect the domain or to improve the loyalty of the people, or cleave more closely to a rising temple domain. Very few law regents make a balanced neutral alignment the ideological position of the law holdings. Much more often, they serve the ruler's other concerns.

[top]Chaotic Neutral

The law holdings of a chaotic neutral realm may appear to be in disarray. The regent sees no advantage in regulations and legal structures. The chaotic neutral law ruler follows his whims in matters of law, when it seems necessary to even bother. Such a ruler does not strive to protect the freedom of others, and regards notions of justice as a fraud. The law may shift unpredictably as the ruler or some assembly changes their mind on an issue. Such a law holding is quite fickle. For the most part people just ignore the law and either do as they please or abide by some tradition that has no legal weight any more.

The chaotic neutral regent's subjects have to react moment-to-moment to the law holdings' dictates. They may be left alone for years at a time, then suddenly be asked to embark on a major change of lifestyle in order to promote the balance of the domain. Usually, whatever he does affects everyone, and that could mean lots of little decrees and new laws rather than one or two big ones.

[top]Lawful Evil

A lawful evil realm may appear lawful neutral or even lawful good at the beginning, but as the regent grows in power and influence, the darker nature of the law becomes apparent. The lawful evil regent desires laws that promote his interests without regard to his subject's wishes. Any other interests become subservient to his own and then they become illegal. Such realms are the least likely to have consultative, let alone legislative assemblies. The ruler is master, everyone is a slave of one kind or another.

Lawful evil law holdings become tools of terror. While the lawful evil regent may not care one way or another about his subjects' happiness (as long as they do what he wants), his desires and interests almost always conflict with their general well-being. Subjects who play along and follow the lawful evil regent's dictates and desires nearly always end up using the law of the land as he does - to oppress and destroy their fellow subjects.

Once he has created his laws to benefit himself, he now he uses them to expand his control to absolute ends. If he cannot extend his influence beyond the borders of his domain, he begins eliminating all those within his control who would oppose him.

He starts with those who actively hinder him, then moves on to the weak or innocent (especially if they are unpopular), and finally destroys his own loyal servants before they think to do the same to him. If left unchecked, the logic of the situation would leave the lawful evil regent, contained within a defined area, to eventually destroy everything within his domain so that nothing will ever bring him down.

Unfortunately, most lawful evil regents recognize at least the potential for this conclusion to their efforts and seldom confine their activities to their own lands. This may mean activities in neighboring realms, but it may also mean mastery of unusual powers or activities in the Shadow World. No servants are more loyal than the mindless undead, after all. No matter how they seek to guarantee the power, they seek exclusive power. If they are a mighty warrior, they eventually destroy anyone with a chance to one day defeat him. If a priest, no one may learn the secrets of the cult as well as he, and so on.

They expand, using fear and hatred to drive their subjects, and they employ prejudice and avarice as powerful motivational tools. With their command of their own legal structure, they can become impressive threats to their neighbors quickly and effectively, before their true natures are fully detected.

The laws oppress the subjects of the province rather than protecting them. The ruler does as he pleases and takes what he wants, subject only to the limits of his power or his own personal code of conduct. Values like tradition, loyalty, and order are important in a lawful evil legal system, but they are not balanced by compassion, freedom, or dignity. The powerful, wealthy, and clever use the law to their own ends, and there is no one as powerful, wealthy, or clever as the ruler (or such are his aspirations).

When the people and temples are lawful evil, the subjects of the realm fully accept that law is a means to an end. Such a society sees a great deal of conflict, but all according to specified and formalized norms. A killing in the street might be outrageous, but a poisoning in a man's own home while he dines is perfectly acceptable. Blackmail, graft, and treachery are all just part of the game. While it might be dangerous to live in such a realm without sufficient power to protect yourself (if even then), its much worse to be an outsider without benefit of a knowledge of the rules and laws of the society.

[top]Neutral Evil

Chaotic evil law holdings are terrifying and unpredictable; lawful evil law holdings bear the mark of despotism and tyranny. Neutral evil law holdings, however, maintain the purity of true evil.

The neutral evil regent revels in evil for its own sake. The balance between law and chaos takes a distant back seat to the promotion of the evil ideal. The most unselfish of the evil regents, the neutral evil law regent serves a more insidious master.

The subjects of this domain probably know that every law and every decree passed by their regent is intended to make their lives miserable. Only those who glorify evil can exist comfortably within an area dominated by a neutral evil law holding, and only for as long as they continue to serve evil consciously. One slip, and the neutral evil regent sacrifices them to the evil he serves.

A neutral evil regent seeks to actively create a legal structure that traps the individual and the province alike. The laws that do exist bend back on themselves, serving not the public good, but the public evil. They are not as obvious as the tyranny of the lawful evil province, nor as direct as the chaotic evil one, but more comprehensively evil than both. The law of a lawful evil domain is at least a respected power. In a neutral evil realm, there is no pretense that anything protects the subjects from the absolute power of the master.

A law code is really just a set of instructions to a body of servants, the agents of evil who serve the law ruler. They do what they are told out of fear, not out of duty, and their actions, no matter how brutal have no recourse in the law.

[top]Chaotic Evil

On the surface, there isn't much difference between a chaotic evil and a lawful evil law holding. Both put the good of the regent above the good of the province, but the lawful evil regent actually equates the good of the province with his own well-being. Chaotic evil regents harbor no such illusions. Where the lawful ruler sees the realm as a source of power, the chaotic evil ruler emphasizes individual strength and power.

The chaotic evil regent promotes the 'might makes right' ideal that got him where he is right now. Of course, the chaotic evil regent also defines what 'right' is, so one cannot expect a level playing field from him. The regent's subjects live in fear. They are afraid to act for fear of violating some 'law' they probably know nothing about. The regent's laws and decrees are often left intentionally vague, because he doesn't want to create the illusion of a way to fail him and claim obedience. Unlike even the lawful evil ruler, the chaotic evil law regent gains as much control over his realm through confusing his subjects as through terrorizing them.

Even the most devious chaotic evil regent must channel his desires into domain management. To an outsider, a chaotic evil realm may appear independent and well-managed, but anyone spending any time under the law holdings learns the truth. Fear and ignorance are the tools of this law regent.

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