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D&D 3E
Lawful Neutral, not Legal Neutral 
29th-Jul-2009 01:12 pm
MC Frontalot - Nerdcore Rising
In addition to the game I'm going to be running which I posted about a few days ago, I'm going to be playing in a new game soon. My plan is to play a rogue with the Ascetic Rogue feat so he can multiclass monk. I want him to have the abilities of a monk, but he's not going to be an actual monastery monk. I view him more as a rogue who prefers to fight hand to hand (and is good at it). I don't want to play lawful good, and lawful evil is not an option for this game (even if it was it's my least favorite alignment and I probably wouldn't play it). So to meet the alignment restriction and be something I want to play, he needs to be Lawful Neutral.

I don't usually play lawful characters. I also usually come up with a character concept first, then think of how to build it, this time I went the other way around. The concept I came up with is that he's a member of a mafia type criminal organization. They have a strict code of conduct, but they're engaged in illegal activities. I think that fits the spirit of the intended alignment requirements without forcing me to play a cleric of St. Cuthbert who wants to put everyone in jail for spitting in the street.

I'm planning on putting together his code of conduct and will probably base it on the mafia's ten commandments as posted on wikipedia.

So what do you all think? Think this is a fair way to play a Lawful Neutral character? Or do you think I'm trying to skirt the rules so I can play a criminal monk?
Comments 
29th-Jul-2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
The only problem I have with this arrangement is that the monks' abilities aren't just physical prowess; a lot of them are abilities that stem from spiritual enlightenment and strength, which I would be hard pressed to believe your character has from roaming the streets beating up people while other monks spend years meditating in monasteries to attain.

That being said, you can build a reasonable facsimile of the monk's physical aspects by selecting a Fighter and selecting feats like Improved Unarmed Strike, Two-Weapon Fighting, Stunning Fist, etc.

But between you and me as players, if you can convince your GM that you are playing a Yakuza-style character, they might be understanding.
29th-Jul-2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
i've tried building a fighter monk before and it just doesn't work. it doesn't matter how high a dex or str its got, it will always only do 1d3 damage and the best ac it can have without being super human or using magic is 14. i can see your point about the spiritual monk training. but he's never going to get past level 10 in the monk class. he may actually never get past level one in monk. he's going to be monk/rogue and i'm planning either human or halfling so it can be heavily weighted toward rogue and not get me an exp penalty. i'm still thinking about it. i'm not sure i love the idea but i think i can make it work.
29th-Jul-2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
I think it's an interesting concept, and here's how I back you up as philosophy;

1. I've read about, seen rules for, and seen people who wanted to play barbarians as urbanites; not woodsy wildmen, but characters who grew up on the streets and lose control when they need to beat heads. If that's a valid philosophy for what a "barbarian" could be, then you'd assume there would be a streetwise, urban, but lawful equivalent.

2. Capoeira has some deeply spiritual and meditation-in-motion aspects to it, and it wouldn't be a stretch to make a capoeirista as a monk in 3e. However, the art form also definitely has roots in people who were criminal enforcers.
29th-Jul-2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
The Mafia organization you pointed to certainly looks like Lawful Evil to me. Particularly the murder-as-entry-requirement thing.

The term "rogue" is perhaps as much a misnomer as "thief". A Rogue is someone who is adept at a great many skills and techniques, and knows enough about physiology to do serious damage under the right circumstances. A medical doctor would almost certainly be built as a Rogue.

So there's nothing saying the guy has to be a criminal at all.
29th-Jul-2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
both those things are true. but i'm pretty sure the dm is going to let me make up my own code, and flesh out the basics of this mob the character is in. the organization would be lawful evil, but not all the members would have to be. i'm not planning this character as a contract killer for the mob. more of an enforcer type, or a common street soldier. as for the rogue as not a rogue, sure, absolutely. i was considering playing this character as an agent of the government. a spy basically. but i didn't like the idea as much as i like this one.
29th-Jul-2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Strictly speaking when dividing up alignment questions of morality fall on the G-N-E axis, where questions of organization fall on the L-N-C axis. That said, I can see no reason why your concept wouldn't work, if I were running your game.

I also don't see the problem with a Monk not living in a monastery. If you can achieve spiritual oneness by running around the streets breaking legs, more power to you.
29th-Jul-2009 07:54 pm (UTC)
i totally can. in fact i hear that's how gandhi got started.
29th-Jul-2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
I think alignment isn't worth worrying about. Play whatever character you want. So he's lawful neural. That doesn't have to straightjacket the character. Requiring Monks to be lawful is pretty pointless, and you aren't exactly powergaming so that it needs to be an issue.

I think your story is just fine, but if you wanted it to be different it could be.

I don't think "rules" on how to act a particular alignment really exist. Alignment punishing is all DM fiat and really shouldn't be a problem as long as you aren't being a jerk (which I'm sure you wouldn't be)

You don't need a code of conduct to be Lawful. You also don't need to play strictly lawful to play an unarmed character, using the Monk class to achieve your concept (if Tome of Battle is kosher in your group, you might also check out Swordsage. They can be unarmed and thievey pretty easily, without stupid alignment restrictions).

Sorry, the whole "is this character concept okay for my alignment?" thing rubs me the wrong way. Your character personality shouldn't be restricted to a random person's interpretation of a 9-way partition of all possible moralities.

God I hate alignment. :p
29th-Jul-2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
the dm i'll be playing with isn't into punishing players for not playing to alignment. i can like alignment, and i can also hate it. i see it as an aid for me, a reminder up at the top of my character sheet for how i intended to play the character when i made him. i usually play chaotic characters. and i end up playing them pretty similar to my own personality. i wanted to try something a little different this time. so i'm glad the alignment system is there, and i'm happy to play a lawful character. i see it as kind of a challenge for myself. like i said our dm is not going to punish for alignment breaches unless they're completely off the map, like a serial killer paladin. she'll be fine with whatever backstory i come up with and she'll be okay with however i want to play my lawful neutral monk. i guess, since i'm playing this character partially because i want to try playing a character unlike any i've played so far, i should have worded my question differently.

i did say "do you think I'm trying to skirt the rules so I can play a criminal monk?"

but what its not really what i meant. i'm not so concerned about breaking the rules about alignment. but i want to make sure that what i'm coming up with is in the spirit of what they mean when they say "lawful neutral". i think i'll be able to play this character that way.

there are plenty of other ways i could come up with to be "lawful neutral" and i did come up with and consider more than a couple character concepts when considering this character. but this is the one i like best.
29th-Jul-2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and it sounds like a fine character concept :) I just feel that the "is this Lawful-Neutral enough" is a non-question.

Best of luck :)
29th-Jul-2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
I'm 99% sure that the alignment/no-multiclassing rules for monks, barbarians, and paladins exist ONLY to provide balance (e.g. you can't have a monkbarian, because that would be insane). And I'm not convinced that's a GOOD way to provide balance--it seems artificial, to me.
29th-Jul-2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
I agree with you; it probably was a balancing factor originally, but I don't think it's actually a balance concern. I mean, what's so bad about a monk/barbarian? That would probably be a fairly viable and yet not overpowered character (actually sounds pretty fun to me--a monk that can actually hit and do damage!). That's even if we don't include the "you can't ever stop being a monk." Most the classes with alignment restrictions (monk, bard, paladin) are among the weakest classes in the game.

I usually avoid alignment discussions because I ignore the system so much, but I had to comment because it felt like alignment was being used as a controlling and limiting factor in character creation. But as gern has pointed out, it isn't really, so no problem :)
30th-Jul-2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
I'll second that hatred. Sometimes it helps, but mostly it hurts; paladins, for instance, have to be Lawful Good. You can't play a Lawful Neutral or Chaotic Good paladin. And druids have to be neutral; I've known druids who were played almost Chaotic Evil, but they couldn't be CALLED that. I've had this idea for a Lawful barbarian, kind of a Proud Warrior Race Guy, but according to the rules it can't be done.
29th-Jul-2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
Lawful Neutral does not have to be "I follow the Law, but can be either good or evil a bit in my view at times."
But can be "I follow My code, and believe balance should be striven for."

as far as needing to kill to join the clan, if the intended victim deserved it for "balance" or "Karmic debt" I don't think there would be either a lawful or neutral problem there. Plenty of organizations would have men in charge that can appreciate this kind of mindset. and only give you jobs that wouldn't conflict. (they would Also appreciate the other alignments that could get special types of jobs done.)

Let us know how it works out for you.
>^..^<
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