Envisioner Will's Philosophy of Chaos (and possibly other alignments)

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willpell
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Envisioner Will's Philosophy of Chaos (and possibly other alignments)

I am very distinctly not a big fan of the way Planescape portrays the Xaositects as babbling maniacs, with no plan or goal or coherent ethos, distinguished from the Indeps by little more than weirdness, and from the Revolutionaries only by their utter and complete lack of a plan. As someone who largely identifies as Chaotic in real life, I believe Chaos is a perfectly reasonable way of looking at the world, not as an utter soup of nonsense, but as a realm of free expression that is only hampered by trying too hard to fit it into rigidly defined patterns. As such, I wish to begin gathering my statements on the topic of Chaos (and possibly by extension its opposite, as well as other alignments) and presenting them to this community, in the hopes of promoting my vision as more satisfactory than the status quo. In theory, I plan someday to write a "Book of Exalted Deeds/Vile Darkness" equivalent for Chaos, (and perhaps another for Law, and maybe even one for the Balance of Nature between them all, but Chaos is the one I have by far the most interest in), and these screeds I will post here would likely be transcribed almost verbatim in such a tome.

willpell
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Chaos 1

Chaotic social systems work best at the extreme ends of the power spectrum; in societies which are either incredibly resource-poor or absurdly resource-rich, there is little point in observing complex social systems, such as caste systems which require designated degrees of formality and acknowledgement of status hierarchies. Such systems exist to prop up a civilization as its is growing, to allow its gradual ascent out of poverty and strife...but once the journey out of poverty is complete, these measures BECOME a source of strife.

Thusly, goblins and orcs and other such rabble have almost totally unstructured social systems - but so do the Eladrin Sidhe*. A goblin is busy searching for food, and has no time to stand on ceremony; an archfey has the power to disintegrate anyone who annoys him, and thus cannot have a society encouraging him to take umbrage at minor slights. The window in which a society actually requires etiquette and stratification, in order to lubricate its functions, is a fairly narrow one. (And zealots like the Archons are far too protective of that thin line between chaos and other chaos - between what you might call "total chaos", the absolute lack of any order, and "complete chaos", an order so sophisticated that it simply appears disorderly.)

It is not that the Xaositects have no rules, but rather that the rules are so intuitive to them as to never need to be spoken or written down, any more than the law of gravity must be written down before it can be obeyed. As an educated exemplar of Chaos** might say, "We cannot argue with the rules that govern our lives, nor can they be used to entrap us with technicalities; every fundamental detail of them, every loophole and exemption clause, is hardwired into our very blood and bones, so that we cannot even wish to disobey. Thusly, we cannot distinguish between the 'laws' of Reality and the Reality itself; we cannot tell you what the Rules are, and thus cannot provide you with the means to 'lawyer' your way around them. We simply exist, and our instructions in HOW to exist come in the form of existence itself."

*In my constant, impossible quest to make all D&D lore consistent with all other D&D lore, "Eladrin Sidhe" is my term for the arch-lords of the Fey, which are described in the Book of Exalted Deeds under the name Eladrins, but are also considered to be directly equivalent to the mythological Fair Folk referenced in sources tied to the Feywild. In my view, they are every bit as synonymous with the Chaotic Good alignment as Devils are with Lawful Evil...and just as a devil can sometimes engage in constructive or prosocial behavior for its own sinister reasons, the Eladrin Sidhe's status as incarnations of Good doesn't prevent them from occasionally playing the role of antagonist, in stories which emphasize the creepy, transgressive nature of Faerie magic.

**The "Exemplars of Chaos", whatever they are exactly, are most emphatically not Slaads. The positioning of Slaadi as the opposite number to Modrons (who I have issues with themselves, but one thing at a time) was one of the most questionable decisions the writers of Planescape made IMO; Charles Stross designed the Slaads entirely to be quasi-Lovecraftian monsters, and if you wanted to try and turn them into a social faction for Planescape, you might have tried a little harder than to make them all completely fucking insane in the most nakedly obvious fashion, since that is hardly any more "social" than having them constantly murder everything they see.