[MUD-Dev] Alignment

Paul Schwanz - Enterprise Services Paul.Schwanz at east.sun.com
Mon May 1 15:01:14 CEST 2000

Malcolm Valentine wrote: 
> > > Alignment conundrum #29863: Killing is evil, but that nasty dragon is
> > > just about to eat the good princess...
> >

Phin replied: 
> > Solution #29863:  Use the wonderful properties of multiplying signed 
> > integers. Killing is evil (-).   Killing is _very_ evil (-5).  Dragon is 
> > evil (-).  Dragon is _quite_ evil (-3).  Princess is _very_ good (+5).  
> > Killing the dragon is now _extremely_ good (-5 * -3 = +15), but killing 
> > the princess is _supremely_ evil (-5 * +5 = -25).

Malcom responded:
>   Unfortunately two wrongs don't make a right. Even worse, if I do a good
> deed (+) to an evil creature (-), that counts as evil-doing...

Ahh...but this refers to two wrong actions not resulting in a right action.  It 
doesn't really address something like killing an evil dragon.  In many tales, 
killing a dragon is seen as very heroic and right.  Or consider Bilbo the 
burglar in Tolkien's tale.  How could Bilbo be _good_ (and even heroic) if he 
steals from Smaug?  But the _good_ dwarves and _good_ Gandalf expect him to do 
just that.  In fact, his act of thievery is seen as very good, since Smaug is 
very evil.  And this isn't even a case where the life of a good princess is on 
the line.  Now, perhaps the dwarves are still showing a proclivity toward greed, 
but this would be dependant upon whether they had a legitimate claim on the 
dragon's hoard, which I seem to recall that they did...but it has been a while.  
Or if they didn't have a legitimate claim, but returned the loot to its rightful 
owners, the deed could still be considered noble.

As for doing a good deed to an evil creature counting as an evil-doing...well, I 
think this is entirely appropriate.  If I'm battling an evil dragon, and someone 
else joins the fray and begins healing that dragon (sound familiar?), I think 
that their act _is_ evil.  I would not expect such an action from a good 
character, but I would expect this from an evil character who is aligning 
himself with the dragon.

But perhaps some wish to make a dinstinction between intervening to protect life 
and actually being the aggressor.  This falls along the lines of the Amish 
versus patriot view as to how life should be valued.  A lawful/chaotic continuum 
could help determine how to customize consequences to fit each character's 
self-perception of values.

Lawful might say, "killing is always killing and is always bad." (-Health and 

Neutral might say, "killing is always killing , but is sometimes good." 
(-Health, but +Morality)

Chaotic might say, "killing evil is saving lifes and is good." (+Health and 

The whole point is to provide enough flexibility for the gamer to be able to 
find the choice to which his character relates the best.  Then you just track 
how well he maintains his course.  The labels are just for the sake of codifying 
the system, but whatever alignment he chooses will be the one he thinks 
appropriate for his character.  The design attempts to encourage role-playing 
and consistency of character, but leaves open what role the character wishes to 

I hope this helps explain my thinking and goals.


		"All things are permissible,
			but not all things are expedient."

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