Path of the Black Flag- Anarchy & Alignments

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Alignment is important for Anarchist characters. They are not the characters in it for the money, or just happy to see the world. Anarchist characters are radicals, true believers, people who will risk life and limb for what they believe in. As such, they take the moral justification for their actions (or lack thereof) quite seriously.

There is one distinction that needs to be made before we get into alignments; the distinction between Order and Law. Anarchists don’t have a problem with Order, per se. They see Order as something that grows, organically, out of the dynamic, peaceful, voluntary interactions of individuals. In other words, Anarchists believe that Order comes from Chaos.

Law, on the other hand, is the imposition of a set of rules over other people. Anarchists believe that this leads to disorder, violence, theft, and misery. This is why Anarchists oppose Law.

Not all alignments are quite suitable for the Anarchist character. In fact, some argue that, for Anarchists, the Lawful Good Alignment doesn’t exist. So, although this chapter includes sections on how the Lawful alignments view Anarchy, it assumes that the Lawful Character won’t be Anarchist.

While an Anarchist may be of a Chaotic or a Neutral alignment, that does not mean that every Chaotic or Neutral character is, in fact, an Anarchist. Even the most chaotic character may profess loyalty to a king or a nobleman. Most characters, most people, simply don’t think about politics much at all, and accept the way things are, no matter what that way might be. What makes an Anarchist character an Anarchist is not so much their alignment, but what their alignment causes them to do.

The Anarchist Alignments

Chaotic Good

In many ways, this is the alignment that most Anarchists aspire to, if not achieve. Chaotic Good Anarchists believe that orderliness and goodness come about when you stop trying to control people, and let people live their own lives. They strive to be good in their own lives, and fight to give others the same freedom.

Neutral Good

Neutral Good Anarchists believe in freedom and goodness, but they feel that sometimes people simply aren’t ready for too much freedom. They will strive to end tyranny, and believe that ultimately the State is the cause of great evil. But sometimes, they feel, you have to be strategic in your thinking, and occasionally tolerate, or even tactically support, the relatively small evil of the State to prevent or combat a greater evil.

Chaotic Neutral

Chaotic Neutral Anarchists believe that the only good is personal liberty and autonomy. People may use that freedom for good or evil, but the important thing is that they have it, as that is the only thing that makes them truly people. Conversely, they believe that to impose your will on others is the only true evil, and must be ruthlessly opposed- both because it is offensive, and as a matter of preserving your own liberty from the imposition.

True Neutral

True Neutral Anarchists passionately hold an ideal, and believe the State is a threat to that ideal- petty niceties such as good vs evil, personal autonomy vs imposed order, simply don’t enter in to it. Such ideals might include freedom and equality for a gender or ethnic group, or the preservation of the environment. They fight against the State, and form friendships and strategic partnerships, but they are above all pragmatists, if idealistic ones. They will not hesitate to tactically use the State, or be cruel and ruthless, in the service of that ideal.

Chaotic Evil

If Chaotic Good Anarchists are what most Anarchists aspire to, Chaotic Evil Anarchists are what most non-Anarchists fear. They respect no law, and no social convention. They demand personal autonomy, and plan to use that autonomy to fulfill their own base desires, regardless of who they hurt along the way.

Neutral Evil

Neutral Evil Anarchists are what happens when cynicism replaces idealism, and greed replaces empathy. They mouth the old Anarchist slogans, and certainly see no benefit to themselves of a State, in general. But they will betray anyone, and do anything they can, to get what they want. And if that means tactically using the apparatus of the state to do something horrific to innocent people, then so be it.

The Hierarchical Alignments

Lawful Good

Lawful Good characters sympathize with the rage and frustration of the Anarchists, because it is the same rage and frustration that they face within themselves, every day, as they try to reconcile doing good and following the law. But they also resent them, for giving up on the struggle that the Lawful Good still go through. When they encounter Anarchists that they consider good, they continually try to channel the energy of the Anarchists into lawful avenues.

Lawful Neutral

For the Lawful Neutral Character, the Law is the highest good. Anarchists spit in the face of that. They are heretics and blasphemers, perhaps literally if the character is a Lawful Neutral cleric. An existential threat, they must be constantly opposed.

Lawful Evil

Anarchists make Lawful Evil characters nervous, because they don’t play by the same rules as the Lawful Evil characters do. They don’t value the same things. Some might try to manipulate the Anarchists to further their schemes. Some might simply dismiss them as mad fools, like all the other mad fools out there. Some Lawful Evil characters take a perverse delight in corrupting and co-opting Anarchists. But all in all, the Anarchists still make them nervous.

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