Inverarity (inverarity) wrote,

So does this mean Alexandra can talk to elves in their alignment language?

Boy, I had no idea that nerding out about alignments would generate the most discussion in months.


It was very interesting seeing how you rated the characters and how your judgments differed from mine. Amusing was how there was unanimous or near-unanimous consensus about some characters, while others were all over the place.

Mostly, you were at least in the right quadrant, overall. In some cases, my judgment differed significantly from the majority, which made me think about how I have presented the character and whether I am actually "wrong" or if I just have not showed enough of the character's personality to justify my rating.

Now, my joking about Word of God notwithstanding, as the diagram above (and much of the discussion) illustrated, alignment is rather subjective and depends a lot on how the person rating the alignment perceives "Good" and "Evil" and "Law" and "Chaos." For example, can a "Good German" who serves his country, loves his family, is kind and generous to his friends, and honestly believes that Jews are an existential threat who need to be exterminated, be Lawful Good? What about slaveowners in the antebellum South? If we accept the premise that slavery is Evil (at least in the D&D sense), then can a supporter of slavery be Good?

It's a truism, of course, that most people believe themselves to be good, and very few people are knowingly and deliberately evil. It's also true, IMO, that most people who rationalize evil and selfishness know at some level that they are lying to themselves, which means telling yourself you're good doesn't mean you are.

The real problem with the AD&D alignment system was that it codified alignment almost as religions; characters basically walked around wearing their alignments like a badge. Lawful Evils would proudly proclaim themselves Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evils would have no qualms about being evilly evil for the sake of evil because evil. I don't know if this persisted in later editions, but at least through 2nd edition there were actually alignment languages. I always thought the idea of being able to "speak" Chaotic Good was kind of hilarious. Just by virtue of your alignment, you shared a common tongue with elves and brass dragons. o..O

Of course, the alignment system also punished anyone who acted against their alignment, which meant when presented with a quest or a job offer or a maiden in need of rescuing, players would think "Okay, what is the Chaotic Good way of responding to this?"

In real life, of course, people can be wildly variable in their behavior; good people can be really ugly jerk-asses and evil people can have family, friends, and pets they genuinely love and care about, and only psychopaths are Chaotic Evil.

That said, here are my alignment ratings. Feel free to argue in the comments!

AQ alignments

Alexandra Quick

Alexandra Quick: Chaotic Good

Kind of a no-brainer, isn't it? Almost everyone agreed on this.

In the first book, and probably through the second, Alexandra was Chaotic Neutral. But I'd rate very few eleven or twelve-year-olds other than neutral — kids that age usually just don't have the dedication to be consistently good or evil.

Alexandra is still not that far above the neutral axis: it wasn't until the third book that her nobler instincts began to exceed her selfishness. But at least thus far, she seems to be consistently heading north rather than south.

Anna Chu

Anna Chu: Lawful Neutral

I know this is going to throw some people. Everyone charted her as Good, usually Lawful Good.

It's true that Anna is basically a nice person, and in the Lawful Neutral zone, she'd definitely be plotted above the line of strict neutrality (i.e. in the "tending toward good" half of the range).

Anna, however, is a bit more selfish than a lot of people seem to realize. She's very good to people she knows personally. It is a characteristic of her strict, ethnocentric upbringing (and also the fact that until she came to Charmbridge she had almost no friends) that she's more or less indifferent to those outside her in-group. She's worried more about keeping the peace than justice per se.

She was appalled at the Deathly Regiment, and at the fact that her father was a party to it, but more as a stain on her family and community and as a threat to her friends. She could easily have been persuaded (reluctantly) that it was a necessary evil. She considers the Deathly Regiment evil now mostly because Alexandra does and because her father opposes it.

Anna is, however, still young, and she does tend towards Good, so it's possible that her natural empathy and a bit more exposure to other people will eventually pull her all the way into the Lawful Good camp.

David Washington

David Washington: Lawful Good

I know this will take some explanation, because David was the only character for whom the vote was unanimous — Neutral Good.

In fairness, the reasons why he is Lawful Good in my mind are largely my internal conception of him that hasn't really been demonstrated in the text, yet.

I know what you're thinking: "He's a rabble-rouser! He's a would-be revolutionary! He wants to bring down the Confederation!"

Well, no, he wants to reform the Confederation. This is a point he may not quite realize himself yet (since his political awareness isn't yet terribly sophisticated), but when confronted with evil rules, a Chaotic Good person says "Get rid of the rules," a Neutral Good person says "Ignore (these) rules," and a Lawful Good person says "Change the rules (preferably in a legal manner)."

David actually believes in following rules, though he likes to posture as a young hellion. But he wants the rules to be fair. In my mind, he is on the path to becoming a crusader-knight (though he is less intense, and, frankly, less formidable, than Alexandra).

You all may not be wrong that until now, Neutral Good would be the most accurate description for him.

Constance and Forbearance Pritchard

Constance and Forbearance Pritchard: Lawful Good

Yup. They are both Lawful Good. And bucking my statement above, they've been Lawful Good pretty much since they were old enough to understand the difference between good and evil.

Forbearance is further along the "Good" axis than she is along the "Lawful" one, while Constance leans more heavily in the "Lawful" direction. Their drift has become more noticeable recently. It's possible that Forbearance could someday wind up Neutral Good (if she loses her faith in the righteousness of law, order, and propriety), and Constance, if she becomes harder with nothing to temper her judgmental streak, might become Lawful Neutral. But most likely, they will both remain in the LG quadrant.

Innocence Pritchard

Innocence Pritchard: Neutral

A lot of you rated her somewhere in the Chaotic/Good spectrum. Innocence certainly has chaotic tendencies and if not reigned in, will probably end up there. And she's essentially good-natured and well-meaning.

That said, she's also really immature, even at age 13. First and foremost, Innocence wants to have fun, and she doesn't want to be told what she can and can't do. That's not chaotic per se; she doesn't think rules are bad. She just doesn't think rules she doesn't like should apply to her.

She does what she wants, constrained only by fear of consequences, not by morality or ethics.

Being young, she's also still quite impressionable, so she might continue to rebel and wind up firmly in the Chaotic Neutral/Good camp, or she may eventually settle down and conform more closely to her sisters.

Julia King

Julia King: Neutral Good

There was general agreement here, though some of you plotted her as more neutral. One could argue for Julia being Neutral, but she's proven to be kind and generous in a way that goes beyond merely having social graces. She's too nice not to be truly good.

Likewise, she may have a basic respect for laws, being a refined member of polite society, but Julia is a good girl who thinks you should follow the rules unless the rules are bad. For example, her kindness towards elves will trump any laws concerning them, her feelings about family are heedless of social expectations, and there is a part of her that refuses to condemn her father even though she disapproves of what he's done.

Maximilian King

Maximilian King: Lawful Neutral

Nobody thought he was evil, but other than that, the votes were all over, from Lawful Good to Chaotic Neutral.

Max tried to do the right thing. He was disciplined and he believed in rules and structure; he also believed his father. Which put him in a difficult position, as he was being pushed to do things that went against his nature. He'd have been happier just being a loyal Regimental Officer, but he knew too much.

As for being Good, though — he cared about his family, and his friends, but not really anyone else. He didn't dislike Muggles, but he thought they belonged in their place. And he had an angry, violent streak.

Darla Dearborn

Darla Dearborn: Neutral Evil

Darla started as Neutral and probably would have stayed there if not for John Manuelito and the Mors Mortis Society.

It's easy to feel sorry for her, but I don't think you can give her a pass for being 14. She chose her path, and she knew what she was doing. Wanting to save her sister isn't enough of a justification for all the things she did. And she wouldn't have been so susceptible to John Manuelito if she didn't have an attraction to the Dark Arts.

She probably could have been redeemed, if she'd lived, but by the time she tried to sacrifice Innocence, she'd gone well past Neutral.

Larry Albo

Larry Albo: Lawful Neutral

Larry's not very Lawful, but he has a strong belief in the rules and social hierarchy of the Confederation. He's offended by people who get away with breaking the rules (and not knowing their place) — hence his dislike of Alexandra.

He's also demonstrated that he has a sense of honor. He plays by the rules, and he keeps his word. He wouldn't even accept Alexandra's concession of defeat, when he didn't think he'd won fairly.

On the Good/Evil spectrum, he wobbles a bit. He definitely has some evil tendencies: he's bigoted, he's a bully, he's not very nice. He could easily grow up to become Lawful Evil. Or maybe Neutral Evil. But he's got some scruples. Maybe because he's still a kid and hasn't lost all empathy yet.

Lilith Grimm

Lilith Grimm: Neutral

People really wanted her to be Good, except the people who wanted her to be Evil, but Dean Grimm is all about independence and autonomy. She does things her way and tries to minimize external interference. She doesn't really care what other people do, as long as they are not (1) annoying her; (2) interfering with her; (3) bothering her or anyone she cares about.

She does care about her students, and she cares about Alexandra. "Neutral" does not mean "unfeeling" or unbiased. But her goals are her own.

She may seem Lawful, but rules are for making others behave. She likes rules to the degree that they make her life easier; hence her being a disciplinarian at Charmbridge. She dislikes having to follow the Confederation's rules.

Lilith Grimm is almost a Neutral archetype. Hence some seeing her as good, some seeing her as evil, and some seeing her as a force of nature.

Diana Grimm

Diana Grimm: Lawful Neutral/Evil

Like Lilith, people had Diana pegged as Good, Evil, and everywhere in between.

One of the arguments was that as a high-ranking Confederation agent, Diana must know some of the Confederation's dirty secrets, and her complicity precludes her from being Good. There may be some truth to that, though it raises the question above about whether someone serving a corrupt system because they believe it's good can be Good. But Diana clearly values law and order and her own personal vendetta more than she values good for the sake of good.

She also has a sense of honor, and she has made it clear that she does, to some extent, care about Alexandra, even going so far as to bend the rules for her sake. So if she's Evil, she's not pure evil.

She's done some awfully mean things, but I don't think destroying her niece's broom is sufficient to label her Evil. However, if you believe she is directly involved in the Deathly Regiment (or, as some people speculated, she arranged Bonnie's accident), that would probably be sufficient to classify her as Lawful Evil. If she is not a willing facilitator of the Deathly Regiment, and did not arrange Bonnie's accident, then she's Lawful Neutral. Since it has yet to be made clear which is the case, I leave both possibilities open.

Ms. Shirtliffe

Mary Shirtliffe: Lawful Neutral

Most people pegged her as Good. Ms. Shirtliffe is unquestionably Lawful. But many of the arguments that apply to Diana Grimm also apply to her; she is a Witch-Colonel in the Regimental Officer Corps, after all.

Our view of her has been fairly limited, as we know about her only what Alexandra knows, and Alexandra has had little contact with her outside of class. Mary Shirtliffe is another character about whose alignment my rating is based largely on things that haven't really been shown in the text.

Abraham Thorn

Abraham Thorn: Chaotic ???

Abraham Thorn was once Lawful Good, before the thing happened that turned him against the Confederation. Clearly, he has undergone a radical alignment shift in his adult life.

Most voted him Evil, but a significant number voted him Neutral. Likewise, most rated him Chaotic, but a few just Neutral. (And one Lawful Evil.)

First of all, I don't see how anyone could consider him other than Chaotic. His entire goal is to destroy the Confederation, and at least part of his motivation is a personal vendetta. Remember, the Neutral person thinks rules have their place; the Lawful person thinks rules should be followed (and changed if necessary). The Chaotic person thinks rules should be ignored or abolished, and that's Abraham Thorn. Sure, he might like to set up a new regime to replace the old one, but he's said himself that he'd probably be a poor choice as leader.

That is, if you can take him at his word.

If you rate alignments largely on actions, then there's a pretty strong case for making him Chaotic Evil. After all, whatever his goals, he's killed a lot of innocent people and seems quite willing to start a war that will kill more.

But, if you believe as I do that intent is a factor in alignment, then where on the Chaotic spectrum Abraham Thorn lies depends on what you think his goals are.

If you believe his ultimate goal is justice and freedom, then he is arguably Chaotic Good (although an extremely brutal and ruthless shade of Good, with a lot to atone for).

If you believe his goal is primarily vengeance, then he's Chaotic Neutral.

If you believe his goal is power and it's all about destroying what he can't rule, then he's Chaotic Evil.

Of course, Chaotic Evil or not, clearly he does truly love his children (and even his exes). But he also may have willingly sacrificed one of them. So whatever alignment he is, he's complicated.

Tags: alexandra quick

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