Facets of Alignment: Chaos

Standard caveat: Alignment discussion is an ongoing, unending battlefield morass of discussion and debate and argument. (And, I would argue, it’s been purposefully set up that way.) You can and should develop your own perspectives on this subject, and if you disagree with what I say here, that’s cool. By all means, let’s talk about it.

Chaotic Good

Chaotic Good people run the gamut from political revolutionaries struggling against an oppressive regime to good guys who don’t much care about the rules to rugged individualists soaked in beneficence. They consider the good of people more important than the actual law, which they view with distrust or contempt. They’re often impulsive and disorganized, trusting instinct over planning, and often never run the same con or strategy twice.

Chaotic Good aims to misbehave, but always for a good reason.

Chaotic Good individuals are susceptible to their anarchic influences, and can easily end up skirting that moral line. Chaotic Good adventurers tend to be good at improvisation when their loose plans inevitably fall apart, and they consider adaptation more important than strictures. They tend to run from responsibility or authority, though sometimes they embrace it in the end because it’s the right thing to do. Their loyalty is to a cause, not to an authority.

Examples: Aragorn is Chaotic Good. Robin Hood is Chaotic Good. Zorro is Chaotic Good. Malcolm Reynolds is Chaotic Good. The Dread Pirate Roberts is Chaotic Good. Elminster is Chaotic Good. Garin Ravalis (from the World of Ruin series) is Chaotic Good.

Chaotic Neutral

Chaotic Neutral revels in chaos and disorder. A Chaotic Neutral person is unpredictable in the extreme and rarely repeats the same stratagem–if they even see it as strategy. They act on their whims and feelings and rarely edit themselves. They rely on themselves alone, take people by surprise, and often take pride in doing both. A Chaotic Neutral person generally has no use for law or authority and make go out of their way to frustrate the efforts of lawful characters and institutions.

Chaotic Neutral is independent, free, and only relies on itself.

A Chaotic Neutral person is marked by a streak of amorality–rarely do they side with a good cause, nor do they let the evil of an action make them hesitate. They need more compelling reasons than “it’s the right thing to do” to prompt them to action. However, despite its reputation, Chaotic Neutral isn’t intended to be carte blanche for “do whatever you want, whenever you want.” Yes, there is that, but Chaotic Neutral goes further. It is a lifelong commitment to defying expectation, trusting your instinct, and undermining expectations.

Examples: V from V for Vendetta is Chaotic Neutral. Deadpool is Chaotic Neutral. Harley Quinn is Chaotic Neutral. Catwoman is Chaotic Neutral. Ilira “The Fox-at-Twilight” Nathalan is Chaotic Neutral. Mask (from the World of Ruin series) is Chaotic Neutral.

Chaotic Evil

Chaotic Evil is our classic sense of what evil is–unpredictable, monstrously bad–and that seems to be intentional in the setup of the nine alignments. In truth, though, it’s no more or less evil than any other evil alignment–just often more obvious about it. This goes to how we pathologize mental illness, and we often make our villains out to be “crazy” and “chaotic,” but that’s another discussion for another time.

Chaotic Evil: Because some people just want to watch the world burn.

Just as Lawful Good isn’t necessarily Lawful Stupid, neither is Chaotic Evil necessarily Chaotic Stupid. We’re all familiar with roving, mad monsters that sow destruction and chaos for pleasure, but one can be quite a bit more subtle. There’s nothing about the alignment that says you have to be loud and bombastic. As long as you work toward the common ill, sow confusion and revel in setting people off their ease, pride yourself on being unpredictable and only serve your own interests, odds are you’re Chaotic Evil.

Examples: The Joker is Chaotic Evil. The drow, orcs, and many monsters are Chaotic Evil. Demons are Chaotic Evil. Ramsay Bolton is Chaotic Evil. Lilten Dlardrageth is Chaotic Evil (though he’s urbane about it). Fayne is Chaotic Evil, though she evolves to be more Neutral over time. Alistra Ravalis (from the World of Ruin series) is Chaotic Evil.

Thinge I learned at GenCon 50

1. I’m getting older but I can still stay up drinking and talking about totally random stuff until midnight every night. Because GenCon.

2. Even when I think I’m not networking, I am. People want to hire me for things. Just last night, I ran SotDL with some friends, which turned into a couple Sentinels of the Multiverse games, which turned into a good little chat with my oldish friend Christopher Baddell, the creator of the game, who may or may not need some design for his forthcoming Sentinels RPG. (Can neither confirm nor deny.) I have a bunch of threads there, and if you’d like some work, hit me up. I’m always open to chat and I rarely say no, because I love writing.

3. The Writer’s Symposium continues to be one of the best things about GenCon every year. This year we sold 10k tickets (yes–ten thousand!) and had all kinds of huge names and crowded events. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it.

4. Elaine Cunningham is as cool as I expected, and it was excellent to meet her in person (finally) this year. Also read the book “How to be a Tudor” on her recommendation.

5. If you want to make a splash on the con floor, run a manually operated (as in people inside it) vending machine as your storefront, ala the Exploding Kittens people. See the video (on twitter until I can get it embedded here).


6. My perpetual roomie Brian Cortijo is one of the nicest, hardest working guys in the industry and the Forgotten Realms community, and he always takes good care of me. Highly recommended as a friend. (Does Facebook do reviews?) Also, we should all be rooting for him to win the powerball because of reasons.

7. I was a writer panelist at one of Zombie Orpheus’s Gamers Live events, and it was fantastic. Must contact Chris and Sarah to do that again.

8. Larry Dixon and Mercedes Lackey are just as cool as the last time we hung out 10ish years ago. Larry remembered me and my work, too!

9. It never becomes less awesome to meet a stranger who has heard of you or likes your work. I’ll never get over that feeling.

10. If you want to push artists over the edge from “breaking even” to “turning a profit,” buy their stuff! That’s what I did with Claudio Pozas, whose work I will be displaying on my office wall shortly.

11. Food: Marriott breakfast is a bit better than the Westin’s, primarily because you can order a fresh omelette. Didn’t eat at Palomino’s this year–must make that a priority. Keep Sunday lunch at Granite City and Monday breakfast at Patachou’s an annual tradition.

12. Demo more games! It’s fun and energizing. And you never know what cool things you’ll discover. It’s so worth it.


World of Ruin SotDL characters

Hey all–particularly players in my Shadow of the Demon Lord-powered World of Ruin games at GenCon this year!

I’m posting the premade characters for your perusal. It’s first come, first served at my tables, so if you see one here you really want to play, make sure you let me know as soon as you can.

These characters exist over a 15-20ish year span, so they each have two versions: a 0th level version for ESCAPE FROM LUETHER (set during the fall of Luether in 961 SA) and a 3rd level version for BLOOD TIES (set sometime after the fall of the Winter King in 976 SA). The backgrounds of the 3rd level characters have been updated to match the canonical outcome of the first session (assuming the character survives. I would say “likely outcome,” but the likely outcome is character death. 🙂

You’ll notice none of the characters have a gender attached to them. This is because I like my games to be approachable for everyone, and this is an aspect of character creation I will happily leave up to the players.

(Note that the character sheets are subject to update and change.)

Amara the Ice Viper, a courtesan from Tar Vangr and eventual slayer in the Circle of Tears

Amara Ice Viper L0

Amara Ice Viper L3

Ithicus the Imbuer, an apprentice artificer who perfects their talents over the years

Ithicus the Imbuer L0

Ithicus the Imbuer L3

Nameless Summer, a Ruinscarred child growing up on the mean streets of Luether

Nameless Summer L0

Nameless Summer L3

Nassae the Warding Angel, a Tar Vangruyr soldier and hunter

Nassae Warding Angel L0

Nassae Warding Angel L3

Nori Nine Fingers, a world traveler and scholar of ancient religious lore

Nori Nine Fingers L0

Nori Nine Fingers L3

Vandranil the Venerable, an elderly godly Luetharr possessed by living magic

Vandranil the Venerable L0

Vandranil the Venerable L3

Splintering Bone Spur, a barbaric Child of Ruin turned gladiator

Splintering Bone Spur L0

Splintering Bone Spur L3

Aesir the Changeling, a shapeshifter warped by the magics of Ruin, destined to become a High Druid

Aesir the Changeling L0

Aesir the Changeling L3


Fall 2016 Update

So what’s going on with your favorite overworked author? Well.

1) Currently writing a Stormtalons novel for Onder Librum (The Ed Greenwood Group)

For those who’ve not yet pierced the mists that obscure these realms (absolutely the ones you’re looking for, btw), the STORMTALONS setting is a medieval-esque fantasy setting hatched from the brain of Ed Greenwood, creator of the Forgotten Realms, and forged and tempered with the pens of many extremely talented authors. (His first novel, Words of Unbinding, is launching within days, and preorders for the special collector’s hardcover edition are on!)

I am writing a novel that will come out sometime next year, I think, in the setting, telling a tale I’ve waited 20+ years to tell. My very first D&D character was a mysterious warrior, highly skilled in woodlore and the ways of the wild, called the Lone Knight (though he was technically a ranger in 2e terms). His boon companion? James the Wanderer, a fighter played by my friend Jim Campbell, a polearm expert from a distant land who wore the Jaguar for his totem. We’re talking some old-school STRANGER THINGS era gaming, where we were constantly on the run from epic monsters and thought a fireball could take out the Demogorgon. Anyway, those ideas have been kicking around in my head for decades, and now they’ve grown into a really awesome story. Much as I love all my writing, I haven’t felt quite this way about a fantasy novel since I wrote Ghostwalker. It’ll be amazing.

2) Mask of the Blood Queen to be released soon!

That’s right. Sometime (I hope before the end of this year), Mask of the Blood Queen–third in the WORLD OF RUIN series–will be released. I have just got edits back and am assured they will be a quick turn-around. I’m hoping it’ll hit in November, maybe even October. Just in time for Halloween would be excellent, what with a very scary MASK being on the cover… (Cover reveal soon!)

3) Extra-Life 2016 game September 16!

I’m raising money again this year for Seattle Children’s Hospital through the Extra-Life network. I don’t wanna take up too much of your time with the particulars, but you can help kids, get tax-writeoffs, power up my character to fight giants, get me to say something on our prime-time game livecast, and enter for a chance to win one of my books, all at the same time. Donate!

Here’s the link: http://www.extra-life.org/participant/erikscottdebie

4) Can*Con in a couple weeks

On September 8-11, I’ll be up in Ottawa at Can*Con, a literary convention in Canada, at which a lot of TEGG stuff will be going on. If you’re in the area, let’s hang out!

5) Anthology releases! Women in Practical Armor and Shadowed Souls!

For those who supported this anthology (or those who are intrigued by the name), this is a fantasy/scifi anthology out from Evil Girlfriend Media that stars female warriors in (as you guessed) armor. Functional, practical, useful, non-cheesecake armor (with one very pointed exception). My story is about Ovelia, heroine of my WORLD OF RUIN series and cover star of the second novel, Shield of the Summer Prince.

This is Ovelia. Practical armor like a boss.

This is Ovelia. Practical armor like a boss.

Books have started showing up! I’ve also written and sent my four MARK OF THE BLOOD QUEEN award stories, for backers who kicked in extra to have a special story commissioned just for them.

I am also a contributing author to the Shadowed Souls anthology, edited by the great Kerrie L. Hughes and a man who needs no introduction, Jim Butcher. It is perhaps my highest profile anthology for which I’ve ever had the honor to write.

My story? Stars Lady Vengeance.

I like to think that's Lady Vengeance on the cover. :)

I like to think that’s Lady Vengeance on the cover. 🙂

6) Everyday life

Otherwise, I’m just working at my day job like a madman and occasionally kickboxing when I get a chance. And occasionally playing video games when I’m worn out of energy otherwise! I’m also playing in a few tabletop games, though it’s tough to schedule blocks of time when you’re an adult, you know? Things are stable, if really busy. 🙂

Happy reading!



Norwescon 2016 Highlights

So Norwescon 2016 is over, and I’ve taken a break from sleeping it off to share a couple highlights for those who weren’t there, and memories for those who were!

Thursday Afternoon: Mass Effect RPG

Surprising no one, there weren’t many people who signed up to play in my Mass Effect game on Thursday afternoon at 4-6pm, but I was fortunate to have my good friend and editrix Gabrielle Harbowy (playing Mordin), a grizzled veteran of gaming (playing Garrus), and a spritely, energetic 11-year-old girl (playing Liara) who knew nothing about the setting but picked it up like a pro. (And if you ever want to subject your playtest to a thorough test, recruit an 11-year-old!) It went really well and ended with a bang–literally: a mass effect explosion.

Thursday Night: Women in Practical Armor party

This was pretty fun. I showed up fashionably late along with my wife (being a very good sport and putting up with a truly epic travel on public transit to get there). I hung out with a few old friends, reconnected with some young writers with a huge amount of potential, and finally put a few faces to names. To all who supported the anthology, thank you–you’ve done a great thing for the industry. 🙂

Friday: Carol Corps, Represent!

I went to numerous panels on Friday, all of them memorable and fun, but the Carol Corps panel was especially great. (And I’m gonna fanboy for a bit here.) The panel was about the arrival of the CC and what it means for the comics industry, and in the words of Torrey Stenmark (dressed as Ms. Marvel, btw) “it means the industry has a future,” helping to evolve the marketing decisions of the powers that be to understand an audience with a wide range of perspectives. Truer words.

It’s always great to see my friend, G. Willow Wilson, who is extremely talented and classy in how she deals with her well-deserved fame. It was at this panel I floated the question of Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel vs. Billy Batson aka Shazam as Captain Marvel, which would come up the next day (no spoilers, see below). The consensus was that Carol had that fight easy.

Friday Evening: World of Ruin Reading

It’s tradition for me to read late in the evening on either Friday or Saturday, and this year was no exception. I got the 10pm – 10:30pm slot, with no one after me, and that was good because I spent about an hour, first reading from the forthcoming MASK OF THE BLOOD QUEEN (third novel in the series, look for it this winter!), then answering a gaggle of questions about the setting, the magic system, my inspirations, etc. It was great.

Saturday: All the Panels!!

So Saturday was my big working day at the Con. I was on at least six panels and/or critiques, and then I was set to run a game Saturday night 9-11pm. Literally busy from noon until 11.

It all went really well. Interesting, compelling things were said by all. I had the honor to be on a panel about character/plot-driven story techniques with Writing Guest of Honor Tanya Huff (who is fantastic) and moderated a panel on Scene Structure and Variation, which produced some very thoughtful stuff.

My favorite panel of Saturday–and of the con entirely–was the SF/Fantasy Battle Royale panel, moderated by the very funny Matt Youngmark, in which we pitted popular scifi/fantasy characters against each other in a single elimination death match style tournament. I might do a whole post about it to go over the ins and outs, but sample battles included:

  • Han Solo vs. Indiana Jones on an old timey rope bridge.
  • Rey from Force Awakens vs. Rocket Raccoon on the Forest Moon of Endor.
  • Samus from Metroid vs. Lara Croft on that really hard Super Mario Brothers level with the bendy mushroom platforms.
  • The Hulk vs. the Hulk’s Weight in Bees, fought on the Bee Planet in the Bee Nebula where bees have a hivemind and each bee has the strength of 10 normal bees.

Battles like that. I will say I was a major supporter of Rey and (obviously) Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, who had to vanquish Shazam on the surface of the moon in the qualifier. Shenanigans were had, and it helped to have Captain Marvel IN THE ROOM WITH US, no less. But anyway, the panel deserves its own write-up.

Saturday Evening: Fate or Coincidence?

After some miscommunications and cross-pollution up in the tower at Norwescon, I realized too late that my Mass Effect game was set to be played down near the panels, and when I arrived, twenty minutes late, no one was there to play. So instead of hitting another party, I decided to retire for the evening to get some more sleep. By sheer coincidence (or fate!), I happened to be walking back to my car next to two of the players of the game, who only recognized that I had been the one running it when two entirely unrelated people recognized me and said something loudly about how I was supposed to be running a game. After a brief discussion, we decided to try and play the following afternoon, Sunday.

Sunday: Mass Effect redux!

After I encountered the same people I just mentioned (the Mass Effect folks) in the morning and confirming the game was on, I spent the first part of the day hanging out with friends and doing a couple writing workshop critiques. I love offering feedback and assistance to fellow writers through that program, though I suspect I should limit myself to two manuscripts rather than three, so I can devote more attention to each one. 🙂

After that, I did indeed meet up with a group of hardcore Mass Effect fans (two of whom I’d met that previous night) and ran them through an incursion on a geth-controlled space station. It was Tali commanding Thane, Grunt, and Legion. The tensions were high and the battles were epic. A great time was had by all. Afterward, I told them all kinds of secrets about my ongoing Mass Effect campaign, which is complicated and dramatic and awesome. I should really hold a session of that again sometime soon . . . After I do some more writing, I suppose.

All in all, it was a great Norwescon, and I was very happy to be a part of it.