Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Which The Warlock is Mystified by "Good"...

I've been running, in addition to my Friday "Pirates of the Underdark" game, a newbie-level session of D&D, set in Eberron, for the WittKids. At the beginning, it had been kind of rough, but things have been moving apace, and the players seem to be really enjoying the game, now that we're picking up steam.

However, with our session last week, something unique came up which really echoes one of the biggest issues with D&D since its inception.

Arriving in Stormreach--a piratical town if there ever was one--the players began looking for a guide to take them to a House Cannith archaelogical dig deep in the Xen'drik jungle. To do so, they entered a bar (the eponymous "Styx Oarsman", which features in entirely too many of my games) only to be confronted by a conundrum: a group of orcish hooligan regulars sat there, growing angry from the noise coming from a group of dwarves who had "taken over their bar".

Needless to say, I was pushing for a bar-fight, as a GM, and nearly the whole group saw this inevitable resolution coming. One, however, tried negotiating.

Wait, negotiating? Negotiating! This is D&D! Kill them and take their stuff, right?!

Immediately, the other players asked him, "What's your alignment?"
His response? "Lawful good, of course. I always play Lawful Good."

I was flabbergasted. The first D&D character I ever rolled up was a 2e Paladin (complete with heavy flail), though I never actually played him. To be honest, I've only once ever played a LG character--the hybrid paladin/fighter Maxwell Craedon, in Callon's epic level "Dark Tower" saga. Even then, I found it immensely difficult. Put in a situation where a great evil lurked (a fetus lich, if you can imagine that) and I was unable to act, I literally had to call a "timeout" in the game, telling my fellow players that they had better "hold me back, because Maxwell's going to go down swinging".

That situation, by itself, was agonizing enough, trying to play a character that wants nothing more than to "save the world", while being exposed to hideous evil. This is to say nothing of the "lawful stupid" attitude, or the archtype of the 'bland, selfless knight' that seems to pollute fantasy (Dragonlance, I'm looking at you!). Lawful Good is...boring, right?

Meanwhile, I've always been a fan of moral ambiguity. "Pirates of the Underdark" notwithstanding, My characters have always had some strange balance between good and evil, law and chaos. Garius ir'Dolanian--my human ranger in Jules' last Eberron game--coldcocked his own mother with a tequila bottle, because he thought he could save her from the cultists that had brainwashed her. Hell, Jaegren Lern--the One Living Man--was utterly amoral, raised by necromancers and trained to be an undead master.

I guess the thing that shocks me most is not that my player is actually trying to play LG, but rather that he always plays LG. It's been a struggle for me even to play the alignment well once, but he seems to know nothing but it.

Different strokes for different folks, I guess, but some understanding would be helpful. What are your experiences with the Lawful Good Syndrome?

No comments:

Post a Comment