Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Judge - Lawful Neutral

The Judge - Lawful Neutral

“You follow a strict code of rules. For you it’s not about what’s good or bad… it’s about what’s just.”
This may seem odd to those who game with me frequently, but the first alignment I’ll write about is my favorite one in the “Grey” area: “Lawful Neutral”
By now you should understand that I’m talking about 3rd and 3.5 edition Edition DnD. (Note from the future: I wrote this back when 5th edition was not out yet) The oversimplified 5 alignment system of 4th edition does not really work for me. Here’s another explanation while I’m at it: I call the Neutral alignments “Grey areas” mainly because they are the hardest to explain. Evil and Good alignments almost speak for themselves.
Lawful Neutral means that your character lives (and dies) by an established set of rules. You believe that these rules are there to give order to an inherently chaotic world.
Let’s look at this situation:
A guy steals a loaf of bread. He is caught and brought before a judge. The guy says that he did it because he had no money to eat. The Judge (a lawful neutral judge) looks at the following facts:
- The person committed a minor crime.
- The law says that stealing is punishable by incarceration from 1 month to a year.
- The person pleaded guilty.
Taking these facts into account the judge sentences the man to 1 month in prison. That’s what the law says, and since the man is pleading guilty he throws him in jail with the lightest available sentence.
That’s what a judge does. He doesn’t make an exception because the man is hungry. He doesn’t sentence him to death to set an example. He sticks to what the law says. It’s not his job to feed the poor and tend to the sick, he has to uphold the law and nothing else.
So how do you role-play someone who does not believe in “Grey areas”?
Well for starters there are some classes who can’t be lawful: The bard, the barbarian, and the rogue are not very law abiding and tend to lean towards chaos. Let’s rule out the Paladin right away (Lawful good), and you’re left with: Cleric, Fighter, Monk, Sorcerer, Ranger and Druid. In any of these cases it is good to point out that a Lawful neutral character will follow the law of the place he lives in so long as the law is just. Also, if there is no law, or a specific set of rules, then the character may live by his own moral code. (Note from the future: GREAT SCOTT!! ALIGNMENTS ARE NO LONGER A CLASS REQUIREMENT/RESTRICTION IN 5th EDITION D&D MARTY!!!)
Once this “personal code” has been established the character must adhere to it.
Here’s where the first big question pops up:
How do you know if that personal code is neutral and not “good or evil”?
If the code serves to instill fear and maintain a position of power, or if they are meant to favor the good in people and tend to be very compassionate, then you’re no longer Neutral my friend…
The key word in a Lawful neutral character is “Order”. Now, let’s take a look at a chart I’m sure many of you are very familiar with, and insert a picture of the prime example of a Lawful Neutral Character:

Dredd is judging you and your browsing history...

Not Sylverster Stallone Dredd… I’m talking Karl Urban Dredd and comic book Dredd.
My favorite quote from this guy has got to be “I AM THE LAW”
Sure, the laws of his post-apocalyptic future are pretty extreme, but that’s the society he lives in, and they are the laws needed in order to avert chaos. You say you’re 99% sure you’ve got a guy who committed murder? This guy will say: “You can’t dictate a death sentence on 99%”
And THAT… is Lawful Neutral.
More Notes from the future:
Well… as I edited this text I realized how much my gaming mentality has changed in the last two years. As of right now it is very possible to be something other than Lawful Good (in spirit) and also be a Paladin. So… you’ll see more comments like that in the next few posts written by “Me from the past” Next up: True Neutral… oh boy…
Thanks for reading,