In yesterday’s blog post I said that Lawful Good was the best alignment. I didn’t go into much further detail, since it was meant for those who knew what I was talking about. But I’ve been thinking about that little statement since Tuesday, so I want to go into a little more detail here.
For those unfamiliar, Lawful Good is one of the Alignments made famous by Dungeons & Dragons. It’s meant to be a guideline for how your character acts. It’s one of many along the Good/Evil and Law/Chaos grid of choices, with Neutral choices right in the middle. Lawful Good, Neutral Evil, Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, and so on. The Alignments are open to interpretation and many tabletop RPG books describe them in many different ways. For me, Lawful Good is the best among them.
Lawful Good, at its best, contains the qualities of the heroes I admired in my youth. A Lawful Good character tells the truth, keeps their promises, and is incorruptible in their moral code (which is one of goodness, it’s right in the name). Lawful Good was the only alignment allowed for Paladins, and to me nothing was more noble, heroic, and pure of heart than the classic knight in shining armor. In my opinion, Lawful Good is the alignment of heroes, in both the standards it represents and the standards required to call yourself Lawful Good.
It also gets misrepresented. A lot. Many people I’ve played tabletop RPGs with either roll their eyes at the concept of Lawful Good or have outright argued with me about it. After reading some RPG books that describe the Alignments, I can see why! Lawful Good is sometimes described along the lines of, “Yeah, you’re a good person, but you’re probably also a stubborn jerk whose strict moral compass makes you incompatible with the awesomely rad rebels in your group. You probably also follow laws no matter how bad they are because the rule of law is more important to you than being a good person. You’re probably also a zealot whose crazed religious devotion is on-par with those crazy cultists of that evil god. Anyway, later down the page you’ll see why we think Lawful Evil characters are probably more open-minded than you, asshole.” (I may be paraphrasing.)
I get it. Rebels are awesome. Living by your own rules is a sweet fantasy. Following your whims is a dream. But not everyone has those dreams. Some of us still aspire to the ideal of the knight in shining armor, and try to make those ideals relevant in modern storytelling.
STAR POWER may not be a fantasy story with roots in tabletop gaming, but I definitely write Danica as Lawful Good. I think her most defining moment in that regard (and the page I’m most proud of) came in the last chapter of The Lonely War, where she regained her confidence and confronted the warring factions in defense of helpless refugees. Her statement to them was not only character-defining, but my definition of the Lawful Good character:
“Go back to your armies, your barracks, your headquarters. Tell whoever told you that I was your adversary that they were right. As long as you commit senseless murder and refuse to listen to reason, I am your enemy. And I will defend those who cannot defend themselves from you.”
Lawful Good may not be the alignment of awesomely rad rebels or sexy scoundrels, but its ideals are the ones I aspire to.