I came across this excellent article on magical ethics at Gnome Stew and it got me to thinking about rules and laws. If I can possibly avoid this degenerating into another round of the endless D&D alignment debate, let me ask a question:
How many of you have players that play lawful characters?
It has been my experience in 29 years of gaming that the overwhelming majority of gamers wish to be freed from the fetters of rules, laws, and morals for the 3-4 hours they play. The single most popular alignment I’ve seen is Chaotic Neutral (an alignment I tend to equate with toddlers and the Rum Tum Tugger). Outside of D&D, PCs tend towards activities that would be illegal away from the gaming table.
Why is that? Is it simply a component of gaming escapism? Is it a conscious rejection of society and its norms? Is it, perhaps, as close as one dares to go in rejecting a society that you find oppressive but also allows you to live in the relative comfort that includes having enough free time to engage in role-playing games?
For my own part, I have had a requirement in my last two D&D games that the PCs’ alignments must end in “-good”, but I’ve made no requirements on the Law-Chaos axis (The “good” requirement was driven by having new players in the group – a subject for another post). As a result, of the 10 PC’s I’ve reviewed, 1 has been Lawful Good. On the other hand, a quick flip through my own character book reveals that 6 of the 11 characters I have in there (only one of which is in an active game) are Lawful Neutral or Lawful Good. I’ll be the first to tell you that I lean towards Lawful characters and that is a component of my upbringing and worldview.