marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,


The values of a reasonably just society will reflect themselves in a reasonably just law. The better the society, the less law there will be. In Heaven there will be no law, and the lion will lie down with the lamb. The values of an unjust society will reflect themselves in an unjust law. The worse the society, the more law there will be. In Hell there will be nothing but law, and due process will be meticulously observed. -- Grant Gilmor

Which quote, naturally, inspires thoughts of alignment, and the Order vs. Chaos conflict for fantasy writers who don't do. . .

Law admits of several meanings.  One could also say that Heaven was full of it because everyone obeyed the law like a rosebush produces roses, and Hell empty for the opposite reason.

The biggest problem I have with it is the way D&D -- and other works -- conflate several levels of law and chaos.  First edition AD&D said that lawful character believe in an orderly universe, and support society, and act in a methodical manner; chaotic characters believe the universe is random and society is a drag, and act in a spontaneous manner.  Latter editions focused more on the opinion of society but never lost the other two. . . .

As if a character could not live in a rigid and methodical manner precisely because he thought the world was random, and society a disorderly sort of prison, to add some structure to his life.  As if a character's view of an orderly universe could not lead him to revolt against a society that tried to impose an unnatural order that did not conform to the universe. . . which is where you get into questions about the difference between Lawful Neutral and Lawful Good.  A true Lawful Neutral character would believe that order is the supreme good so why is he not Lawful Good?  In D&D this tended to answered by a rather rigidly narrow view of goodness as immediate harm to others -- even honesty not coming into play.

You could get some rather lively spats among the Orderly about what is good order.  You seldom see that, either in cosmological or societal terms.
Tags: characterization, ethos, heroes and villains, world-building: law, world-building: metaphysics, world-building: social structure

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