Alignment Guidelines and Expectations

Alignment in CoM is one way to determine a character’s identity and shape roleplay. The following is an overview of the various archetypes we use to classify characters’ alignment and the expectations staff has for alignment roleplay. These are guidelines that apply to all characters in CoM regardless of race and origin. However, there is a great deal of variety within each alignment. Not all characters are alike and even those of the same alignment may respond to situations in different ways.

Alignment vs. Ethos

Alignment (good/neutral/evil) is the general moral path a character follows. It governs the goals a character has and the intrinsic values a character cares about in life. This ranges on a spectrum from believing that one’s life should be devoted to helping others to believing that one’s life is devoted to helping oneself.

Ethos (lawful/neutral/chaotic) is the set of ethics a character follows. It governs how a character acts while attempting to achieve his goals and uphold the values that are determined by his alignment. This ranges on a spectrum from believing that the rules are external to believing that the rules are internal in origin.

Alignment is NOT the same as ethos. A lawful character may be evil and a good character may be chaotic.

The Three Alignments

Good: A good-aligned character is one who values life and freedom and practices an altruistic lifestyle. Good characters are willing to make sacrifices for others and try to protect other sentient beings; unnecessary death is seen as abhorrent. It should be noted that this applies only to sentient creatures; animals and other non-sentients may be freely hunted by a good-aligned character so long as it does not result in wanton slaughter.

Neutral: A neutral-aligned character has qualms about murder and oppression but follows a more selfish way of life than good-aligned chars. Neutral characters are often lacking in commitment and will choose to protect themselves above others, but will still have regrets about doing bad things. They tend to surround themselves more often with good-aligned companions than evil-aligned as they wish to be treated well by their friends.

Evil: An evil-aligned character is one that values his own goals, and has no compunctions about killing and oppressing others to further hem. Taking advantage of another or acting in a selfish manner is commonplace for an evil character and he will not regret such malicious actions. Some evil characters will only lack compassion and kill unhesitatingly when necessary while others will actively pursue wickedness by slaughtering for sport or enslaving others.

The Three Ethos

Lawful: A lawful character will follow the rules and cultural mores, have a code of honor to which he adheres, and in most cases will tell the truth. He respects authority and tradition and is reluctant to stray from his duties. He believes that there are external rules that fit with his alignment to govern behavior and all should seek to follow them. If a rule is in conflict with what he believes, he seeks to change it rather than openly defying it.

Neutral: A neutral character will not always follow the rules but does not go out of his way to break them, either. He is less extreme in his judgements and generally more flexible in his way of life.

Chaotic: A chaotic character will care for freedom above all else and will often either not follow laws or only follow them long enough to suit his own purpose. The chaotic character believes that the proper way to behave is dictated more by personal beliefs rather than external rules, and does not feel it is his responsibility to submit to punishments for doing what he feels is right.  He favors change and is willing to embrace new ideas.  Please note that chaotic does not mean that a character acts randomly.

The Nine Ethos-Alignment Pairs

Lawful-Good: A Lawful-Good character is honorable, always tells the truth, and tries to do what is best for others. Justice and following his city or clan’s laws are the most important goals to an LG character and this means that sometimes, when the laws conflict with what the character wishes to do, he’ll follow the law rather than break the rules. However, this does not mean that an LG character will stand for wrong-doing; he would rather sacrifice himself than allow an innocent to be harmed and will willingly accept the consequences of his rebellious actions.

Neutral-Good: A Neutral-Good character is devoted to protecting and helping others, and while he generally follows rules, he’ll be more willing to bend them if it’s necessary to do what he feels is right.

Chaotic-Good: A Chaotic-Good character does not care about others’ expectations or about laws and often thinks that they get in the way of helping others. He will break rules with little compunction but will not stoop to any actions that cause innocents harm, nor will he break the laws only to serve himself.

Lawful-Neutral: A Lawful-Neutral character will be reliable and honorable and will follow rules and laws, but will also have a vested self-interest. He might not be willing to sacrifice himself for someone who is being threatened but he would feel regret about someone dying.

Neutral-Neutral: A Neutral-Neutral character will generally have a lack of conviction and be viewed as unreliable. He does what seems like a good idea at the time. In general, he’ll prefer good-aligned people for his friends because he wishes to be treated well, but he won’t always choose what’s right as determined by a good-aligned character.

Chaotic-Neutral: A Chaotic-Neutral character believes in the importance of his own freedom, but he won’t be out to get others killed as a means to cause anarchy. While a Chaotic-Neutral character may sometimes help others, he does not feel committed to doing so and will often act for himself.  However, he’ll still have some reservations about taking life and he won’t be out sowing destruction just for the sake of chaos.

Lawful-Evil: A Lawful-Evil character won’t have qualms about killing and enslaving others. However, he will follow his city or clan’s laws and will force others to do the same with any means necessary. An LE will strictly follow his own code of honor, which may prevent him from performing acts that he sees as taboo. An LE character will generally tell the truth, but he won’t care if others object to what he says. He’ll try not to break his word but if his leader orders him to cut off someone’s head, he’ll do so without question.

Neutral-Evil: A Neutral-Evil character is primarily out for himself. He will have no qualms about murder, slavery, torture, and all the other acts we view as evil. He’ll generally follow rules, but if the benefit to himself of breaking a rule outweighs the risk of punishment, he’ll ignore the law.

Chaotic-Evil: A Chaotic-Evil character will ruthlessly break laws and promises if it gets him what he wants, and he won’t care who he hurts to do it. A CE character values his own freedom and may be a competent leader who sets his own rules, but will generally be a poor follower since he doesn’t like being told what to do, even if commanded to do something that he would have done by his own free will. CE characters are not always raving and bloodthirsty; some are content just to ignore laws as needed to obtain what they desire while others may be scheming and calculating.

Staff Expectations for Alignment Roleplay

Following alignment is more than just having goals to protect people or feeling bad if someone dies. In general, good characters should not be friends with evil characters. A NG character should not be playing friendly, helpful tour guide or happily going on a hunting trip with an evil dagahasi rather than his own clan members. An evil character should not be reciting poetry and preaching about compassion. If you play an LG character, you shouldn’t be out killing most innocent neutral or good-aligned sentient mobs for their nice equipment. To facilitate this, the alignment of all mobs can be seen using the CONSIDER command.

We are aware that quite a few good-only pieces of equipment were placed on good or neutral aligned mobs and for the past year, we have been making an effort to correct that. However, that does not mean that a good-aligned character should be making an exception and murdering inappropriate mobs for nice equipment or asking others to kill the mobs for them. For neutral characters, that might mean that an LN thief tends to target only evil or neutral players since the good-aligned players are protecting the safety of his city, even if that good-aligned character has the nicest piece of equipment in the game. OOC metagaming and mechanics should never trump a character’s alignment.

This does not mean that characters of different alignments cannot interact, and with the coming move to one-city, we are expecting them to intermingle. It is possible for characters to coexist together without all being friends. What we expect is that players stick to their alignments while interacting. Characters can remain civil for a variety of necessary reasons while not liking the person with whom they are speaking. Cooperation born from necessity is not the same as friendship. Players should show this in their roleplay. The think command is an excellent tool for this purpose.

Staff follows looser restrictions for worn equipment since there is not a reliable way for all characters to determine whether or not an item has the evil (red aura) or good (gold aura) flag on it. We will settle for characters who have no way to see these flags not using items that are obviously unfit for their alignment (e.g. a good-aligned character not using a weapon such as the barbed tongue of a demon). Good-aligned characters as well as most neutral characters should view such items as tainted and too corrupting to touch.

To sum up, we expect players to follow the alignment they choose at creation. Doing so is not optional. We allow requests for a gradual alignment change, but we won’t give one just because a player decides that his character’s current alignment is too difficult or annoying to play. We expect players to follow their chosen alignment even and especially when doing so is inconvenient.