Thursday, March 06, 2008

Character - Good, Evil and Otherwise

This is my last Dungeons and Dragons related post for a while, so the non-role playing folk in my readership (and there are a few) can relax. While wandering the web the other night I, unsurprisingly, ran across a lot of other memorials to Gary Gygax. I found that my "Gary Gygax failed his saving throw" line to be outstandingly non-unique. I also stumbled across a blog meme quiz from, of all people, Michelle Malkin. She too was a gamer in high school which explains some things. Not everything, but a lot. This quiz is very long, but worth it because it does ask some intriguing questions.

I Am A: True Neutral Elf Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Elves are known for their poetry, song, and magical arts, but when danger threatens they show great skill with weapons and strategy. Elves can live to be over 700 years old and, by human standards, are slow to make friends and enemies, and even slower to forget them. Elves are slim and stand 4.5 to 5.5 feet tall. They have no facial or body hair, prefer comfortable clothes, and possess unearthly grace. Many others races find them hauntingly beautiful.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

As I mentioned in my last post, my favorite character was a half-orc fighter, which is nearly the exact opposite of an elf wizard. Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy game. If I wanted to be a tall, pasty, wimpy nerd, I could have stayed home. I also found on the web this article from The Believer which is as good a exegesis on the role playing phenomenon as I have ever seen. Paul La Farge also is amazed by the thought and obsessive detail that went into the manuals. He uses the following example as just one case where nothing, or rather everything, is left to chance in the game.

01-10slovenly trull
11-25brazen strumpet
26-35cheap trollop
36-50typical streetwalker
51-65saucy tart
66-75wanton wench
76-85expensive doxy
86-90haughty courtesan
91-92aged madam
93-94wealthy procuress
95-98sly pimp
99-00rich panderer

D&D was more than a game, it was a primer on mythology, culture, and morality. One of its great innovations is the alignment axis. It includes good and evil which is as hard to define as it was in the times of St Augustine or of Nietzsche. It also uses the concept of lawful vs. chaos. A lawful character was a goody-goody that followed rules no matter how unfair. A chaotic character believed the ends justified the means. Here are my archetypes for the different alignments:

Lawful Good: Superman
Chaotic Good: Batman
Lawful Evil: Adolf Hitler
Chaotic Evil: Charles Manson

You can quibble with the nuances, and you are expected to. The game concept of a moral alignment was, of course, shamelessly stolen from other sources, but that is what made the game unique. It invited thought and exploration in the wider world where the players lived when they aren't casting spells or atacking trolls.

BlatantCommentWhoring™:What is your alignment or character type?

Credits: Elf image from DPI Studios


Anonymous said...

Man, yesterday I wrote this long comment, but it got eaten and I felt too sick to recreate it. Basically, I have exactly that orange D20 and a couple of D12s like that. I acknowledged Gygax's contribution, but likened him to Bill Gates and TSR to Microsoft (because I played the Cal Tech Warlock system), and summarized that the system matters less than the person running the game.

Anyway, I came out as a True Neutral Human Wizard (4th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 9
Dexterity- 10
Constitution- 12
Intelligence- 15
Wisdom- 14
Charisma- 11

I rarely played wizards, but always humans and mostly true neutrals. I favored thieves, with the occasional cleric thrown in, though usually as a secondary. This still affects the way I play computer RPGs.

Looking at the details, I see that I scored a -6 as a thief and -2 as a cleric. But then, isn't part of role-playing to go a little outside of yourself for a while?

yellojkt said...


I'm sorry I missed out on your much longer comment. I'd love to hear what you had to say.

Dave2 said...

If memory serves, the last character I played was a chaotic-evil magic-user dark-elf that was altered to become chaotic-neutral for some reason. Those were the days.