Saturday, May 9, 2009

ALIGNMENT: The Theological Virtues

Recently I blogged about the Great Chain of Being and how it can tie into a LAW/NEUTRAL/CHAOS alignment system.

Here is another view of how alignment can work, tied in with the classic theological virtues.

Here's a refresher from wikipedia:
  • Faith (πίστις) - steadfastness in belief
  • Hope (ἐλπίς) - expectation of and desire of receiving; refraining from despair and capability of not giving up
  • Love or Charity (ἀγάπη) - selfless, unconditional, and voluntary loving-kindness. Helping your neighbors.

If you are lawful, you not only possess the three virtues but they are also directed to the "right" entity. Depending on campaign setting, that might reach as high as the Heavens. So, having faith, hope, and love for Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Zeus, or whatever deities are in your setting. It might just be within the angels or sub-deities (Faith in Archangel Michael, patron deity Athena, etc). It might only extend to the realm of men (directed at your sovereign, prince, etc). This works best if the DM defines one civilization as the baseline for the world, and thus bases "right" and "wrong" off of what they think. So, if you're in Medieval Europe, then belief in the Holy Trinity is the "right" entity. To use my pentacle model, your pentacle is pointing upwards, the correct way, with the Aether/Heavens on the top point.

"The king will help us with these bandits. I have faith in him."

If you are neutral, you are lacking in some or all of the three virtues. That means, instead of Faith you have incredulity; instead of Hope, cyniciscm or despair; instead of love, there is wrath, hatred, or indifference. You may still be oriented in the correct direction, but the whole package isn't there. Your pentacle is stunted; the top point is missing or shrunked.
"The king doesn't care about our plight. He will only help us if those bandits have any loot worth confiscating."

If you are chaotic, you have oriented your faith, hope, and love in entirely the wrong direction. In medieval Western Europe, it would be chaotic to have divine love for a pagan God. It would be chaotic to hold those values for some usurper and not your own king. Your pentacle is inverted.
"The king should be deposed by the Bandit chief! If we help the bandit warlord seize the throne, we'll be richly rewarded."

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