Facets of Alignment: Lawful

Caveat: This is a topic that has been, is being, and will be argued for time immemorial. So YMMV, of course.

I think of “Lawful” as a pattern of behavior that is organized and relies upon rules and systems to make things work. Discipline and “the rules” are how lawful people live their lives. Lawful people tend to be methodical, rigorous in sticking to a routine, and follow a very specific pattern of how they do what they do. Sometimes this makes them predictable, though sometimes they are very adept at outside-the-box thinking that can surprise opponents. While that may seem like a fundamentally chaotic thing, it only appears that way to an outside observer: a Lawful Neutral bounty hunter’s MO, for instance, might always include finding new and innovative ways to surprise a mark.

I’m going to give examples from comics, video games, and my own books to exemplify these alignments–note that these aren’t necessarily perfect examples, as many of these characters have had countless iterations and visualizations and you can argue lots of exceptions. A lot of these characters (particularly the LN ones) have good or evil tendencies, and that’s fine. In the case of Geralt, for instance, choices you make while playing the games he’s in can push him in a good or evil direction–he isn’t strictly neutral. These characters are sentient creatures who aren’t uniform in their behavior. Alignment isn’t a straight-jacket–it’s a general tool for describing behavior and outlook.

Lawful Good

A Lawful Good person believes in law and order being tools for the benefit of all, and will follow the laws of the land so long as the higher ideal of justice is served. A Lawful Good person has a strong sense of compassion and prioritizes helping those in need, even if it’s dangerous to do so. They are often extremely driven people, unable to tolerate injustice or stand by and do nothing.

Lawful Good types will be extremely uncomfortable with the very concept of bending the rules, much less breaking them, even if it’s for the greater good, in a way that a Neutral Good person would not mind as much, while a Chaotic Good person would advocate for breaking oppressive rules as the best course.

Superman, Defender of Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Examples: Superman is Lawful Good. Obi-Wan Kenobi is Lawful Good. Daredevil is Lawful Good. Triss Merrigold is Lawful Good. Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren is Lawful Good.

Lawful Neutral

A Lawful Neutral person believes in law and order for their own sake, basically “those are the rules and we should obey them because they’re the rules.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that a LN person always obeys the laws of the land they’re in, particularly as a traveler, but they always have a set of strictures or a code that they follow to the letter, and generally they default to a basic respect for the laws of the land, as in “those are the rules that others follow, and they follow them for a reason.” They are often thought of as mercenary or “just following orders” types.

There is a hierarchy of rules: a Lawful Neutral person will only violate an existing law if it comes in conflict with a more important law, and then usually with great discomfort. They may or may not put on the appearance of being good and are sometimes described as being amoral or unfeeling (which is sometimes accurate).

A True Neutral person doesn’t cleave to the law in this way, while a Chaotic Neutral person may have similar priorities to a Lawful Neutral person (getting paid to do a job, for instance) but goes about it totally differently, ignoring or violating rules and expectations as a matter of course.

Geralt of Rivia, Witcher

Examples: The Punisher is Lawful Neutral. Mace Windu is Lawful Neutral. Dexter Morgan is Lawful Neutral. Gerald of Rivia is Lawful Neutral. Levia Shadewalker (Shadowbane 3) is Lawful Neutral.

Lawful Evil

A Lawful Evil person believes in law and order as a means for securing their own power and dominance. The rules are important, primarily because they can be exploited to disadvantage others. A Lawful Evil traveler pays only lip service to the laws of the land that conflict with their own personal code and set of strictures, and will ignore those laws they consider to be weaker than their own or worthless. A Lawful Evil person seeks power through organization and alliance, relying upon others to provide them the support they need to achieve their goals, which involve crushing their rivals.

Neutral Evil people may take advantage of laws but don’t feel much compunction about violating them or working outside them at the drop of a hat, while Chaotic Evil people usually revel in defying laws and rules and will gleefully shirk them whenever possible.

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith

Examples: Lex Luthor is Lawful Evil. Two-Face is Lawful Evil. Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia are Lawful Evil. The Red Skull is Lawful Evil. Doctor Doom is Lawful Evil. Darth Vader is Lawful Evil. Vengeance (from Shadowbane 3) is Lawful Evil.

Advertisements

5e: Barbarian Ookie Mode

When I was a wee lad playing D&D with my middle and high school friends, we had a term for a thing the dual-wielding fighter/mage would do. We called it “ookie mode,” where he put a huge string of buffs on himself and then just buzzsawed his way through the enemies with his two magic longswords.

We were young. Powergaming was a thing.

Cut to today, several editions later.

A guy on the 5e D&D page has apparently posted a couple times about his character (let’s call him Ookie, for reasons that will become obvious), a mid-level barbarian 5 (berserker)/fighter 5 (champion) who regularly gets 6 attacks a round.
 

I assume Ookie looks a little like this.


This he does, apparently, through getting the extra attack ability twice plus action surge plus frenzy plus haste (from a ring of spell storing).
 
Some clarifications:
 
* Extra attack (barbarian 5 PHB49 or fighter 5) means that he will attack twice whenever he takes the Attack action.
 
* Rage (barbarian 1 PHB 48): You go into a rage as a bonus action, and during a rage, you gain numerous benefits, including extra damage, advantage on strength checks and saves, and damage resistances. Rages last 1 minute at most and you can’t cast or concentrate on spells during a rage. A 5th level barbarian can rage 3 times a day, needing an extended rest to replenish his rage. A rage ends voluntarily (as a bonus action) or if you end your round without having 1) attacked a hostile target or 2) taken damage since your previous turn.
 
* Frenzy (berserker 3 PHB49) means that Ookie can make a single weapon attack as a bonus action once on each of his turns (not the Attack action, mind you). Note that a creature can only take one bonus action per turn. Important note: if you frenzy as part of your rage, you gain a level of exhaustion after coming out of the rage.
 
* Action surge (fighter 2) allows Ookie to take an additional action on his turn (it is not an action itself to activate it). He can only use Action Surge once between short or long rests.
 
* Haste (PHB 250) gives Ookie dexterity, speed, and AC benefits and allows him to take an additional action on his turn that must be a weapon attack or a dash, hide, etc. It will require an action to activate this effect, but after that it lasts for up to 1 minute. And let’s not forget that the spell requires concentration to keep going. That’s important. (And another example of how the concentration rules muck up buff spells.) Also of critical import is what happens when haste ends: a wave of lethargy hits you and you can neither act nor move for a round.

* Ring of Spell-storing (DMG) stores a spell in it, which you can activate just as though you had cast the spell yourself.
 
So here’s how this would go down, as I see it.
 
Round 1 (Fight!): Ookie uses a standard action to cast haste on himself from the ring, then uses a bonus action to go into a rage/frenzy. If he has a friendly wizard to cast haste on him, then he has a standard action he can use to charge into combat or attack (twice, thanks to extra attack). Number of attacks this round: 0-2 (if there’s a friendly wizard)

Round 2 (Fight!): Ookie is now hasted and raging. He takes the Attack Action, which allows him to attack 2 times (1 standard attack, 1 extra attack). He also gets a bonus action to attack from Frenzy and a free attack from haste. He then uses Action Surge, giving him an additional action, which he uses to attack 2 times (1 standard, 1 extra). At the end of the round, he cannot concentrate to maintain the Haste effect, because 1) barbarians can’t concentrate on spells while raging, and even if they could, 2) odds are he’s taken some hits, which require concentration checks. Thus, the Hast effect ends, and a wave of lethargy sweeps over him.. Rage has lasted 1 round, will last nine more. Number of attacks this round: 6. (FTW!)
(You may have spotted a problem with how I describe haste working. More on that in a bit. Just roll with it for now.)
Round 3 (Haste ended last turn): Ookie cannot move or take actions this round. Since he can’t attack any hostile targets this round, that means his rage will end unless he takes damage (from an enemy or an ally, doesn’t matter–he just needs to take the damage). Number of attacks this round: 0 (wah-wah). Assuming it’s still going, rage will last 8 more rounds.
Round 4: If the rage ended last turn, Ookie gains a level of exhaustion but can still fight. He can take a standard attack action, attacking twice this round. If he was lucky enough to take damage and the rage is still going, Ookie can still make an attack as a bonus action. Number of attacks this round: 2-3.
The battle continues like this until round 11, at which point the rage ends if it’s still going, Ookie gains a level of exhaustion. He could in theory rage again

Cut back to round 3:

Assuming Ookie set this up so that he didn’t have to concentrate on the haste (he has a wizard friend or the DM is ignoring the concentration rules), that means the haste didn’t end in round 2 and knock him out of commission in round 3. Thus:
Round 3 (Haste hasn’t ended): Ookie is still hasted. Ookie takes the attack action to attack twice (Extra attack), and uses his bonus action to make a weapon attack (Frenzy). Rage has lasted 2 rounds, will last 8 more. Number of attacks this round: 4.
Rounds 4-11 are the same, number of attacks 3-4, depending on whether haste goes.
Round 12: Haste ends at the end of round 11, knocking Ookie out of commission in round 12. He also gains a level of exhaustion when his frenzy ends. On subsequent rounds, he can make the standard 2 attacks, or he can throw himself back into a frenzy to get 3. Maybe he even has another haste effect to pop. He cannot, however, use another action surge until he completes at least a short rest.

Or Ookie could be a woman. Who knows, really?


* Note that a lot of this relies on an extremely generous interpretation of the concentration mechanic. RAW, concentration spells end the instant you stop concentrating on them, which means that haste would have ended not on the second round, but as soon as Ookie started raging in round 1, meaning that he’d be out of commission in round 2.
I’m a just my own house rule that concentration spells finish out a round from when you break concentration. I was being very generous.
If your DM interprets concentration strictly, there is no reason for a barbarian to cast haste on himself and then rage, because that instantly dispels the haste and knocks him senseless for a round.
It’s got to be from a third party caster.

So what’s the conclusion?
 
Yes, in theory, *at best* Ookie could go nova and get 6 attacks in one round, and 4 in the other rounds within his one minute rage. He wouldn’t even have to be level 10 to do it–just barbarian 5 (berserker) / fighter 2. That’s right. A 7th level character could attack six times in a round! Assuming he has a spell caster of comparable level backing him up–a spell caster willing to concentrate on maintaining Haste.
 
However, and this is important: he would only get six attacks in a round ONCE per rage (the round he uses action surge), and he could only rage 3 times per day at his level. He only gets action surge back when he takes a short rest (about an hour long rest), so he can’t do it twice in quick succession.

Not to mention that after he rages three times in a row and thus gains 3 levels of exhaustion, he will have disadvantage on all ability checks (level 1 exhaustion), his speed halved (level 2), and disadvantage on attack rolls and saving throws (level 3).

In addition, every time is Wizard friend slaps that haste on him, the consequence of that spell is that it paralyzes him when it wears off (no move or action for 1 round), potentially leaving him very vulnerable. If he cast it on himself, it’s almost certain to end at a perilous moment, and having a friendly caster place it on him is a dicey proposition.

So Ookie Mode *is* possible, but it’s costly and difficult to set up.
And honestly, don’t bother with the haste. Odds are you’ll get in the same number of attacks *or more* if you just frenzy.
Not hasting:
Round 1: 2 attacks (rage kicks in for next round)
Round 2: 5 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 3 attacks (no paralysis)
Round 4: 3 attacks, etc.
Total: 13 attacks in 4 rounds
With haste that only lasts 1 round:
Round 1: 0 attacks (rage and haste kick in next round)
Round 2: 6 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 0 attacks (paralysis) and rage has a good chance of ending
Round 4: 2-3 attacks + exhaustion (if rage ended)
Total: 8-9 attacks in 4 rounds
With haste someone else casts on you (and they maintain it for the full duration):
Round 1: 2 attacks (rage and haste kick in next round)
Round 2: 6 attacks (with action surge)
Round 3: 4 attacks
Round 4: 4 attacks
Total: 16 attacks in 4 rounds