Re-watching The Desolation of Smaug and the elven torture scene got me thinking about Elven Intellectualism.
The idea of alignment in D&D is fairly straightforward:
- You are either good, evil, or neutral.
- That orientation, is determined by one of three worldviews: Law & Order (lawful); Good & Evil (chaotic); Libertarian (neutral)
The whole system is easily systematized and graphed (see right), and play follows general rules proscribed by the logic of this system. Players generally play good (or perhaps neutral) characters, so wanton slaughter of innocents is reserved (again generally) for the monsters, and quests to save personages of historical significance, or more often to enrich PCs personally, are undertaken.
Others, and in particular Degolar, from whom I swiped this rendition of the chart, have put more thought into the concept and viability of alignment theory for socio-philosophic application. Just search "Alignment Matrix D&D" on google image search, at the poster meme of applying alignment to fiction and real world environs is readily apparent.
I want to think instead about the historicity of alignment. Namely, how good and evil (and law and chaos) might be affected by the passage of time.
If you're a person who is capable of (or perhaps it's fairer to say 'in the habit of') thinking historically, or if you're an elf, who has lived through centuries and millennia, and passed time has warped notions of good and evil, law and chaos: what then might alignment mean to you individually, and socially?
Note: this is a work in progress, and will be continued (and perhaps even concluded!), but I wanted to get the thinking out their in its nascent form for consideration...