Nine Alignments

Recently, I’ve taken an interest in quantifying personality, especially for the purpose of fictional character development. There are countless frameworks for doing so; however, I have found the nine Alignments framework from Dungeons and Dragons to be a pretty interesting one. The following graph showcases the nine Alignments, which is obviously missing numerous components of personality but says a lot about one’s moral composition:

The purpose of this post is to begin a conversation about the ideal morality within the nine Alignments, which certainly exist on a spectrum. I think it goes without saying that on the Y-axis, “good” is ideal. An issue with this metric is its ambiguity. It relies upon accepting a moral framework as correct. However, within the context of fictional character development, it’s a little bit more black and white than in the real world. In the real world, I think there are few people who aren’t “good” or “neutral.” The only thing that would push them into the evil categories would be a denial of a commonly accepted morality that others adhere to. This is beside the point. For the purpose of this post, let’s say “good” is adherence to a conventional Western deontological morality (a debatable claim, but I digress).

Of the three boxes within the good category, which is the ideal box that one should strive for? At this point in my life, I’d argue that “good neutral” is a great place to be. Lawful is probably morally superior to chaotic; however, this metric says much less about one’s moral composition that the “good-evil” metric. “Good-chaotic” runs into the problem of cognitive dissonance while “good-lawful” runs into the problem of stifling moral inquiry. I personally find myself in the “good chaotic” box; however, I think I could benefit immensely from moving more in the lawful direction. I think anyone concerned about the morality of their lives should consider where they fall among the nine Alignments and potentially use the framework to develop into their ideal moral selves. That being said, the nine Alignments by no means capture the full picture and should primarily be looked at as a fictional character development tool.

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