This blog series is adapted from a section of an online workshop I conducted for Writers & Books in March 2020.
Deciding a character’s alignment helps determine how’d they’d act during their adventures. I find it helpful to think about how each alignment would behave in the same circumstances because it highlights the differences between each alignment.
Here’s the scene:
A character is in a market and encounters a thief who has stolen from them in a previous incident. The thief doesn’t see the character yet, so they have time to react. How will they act?
A lawful good character would call the authorities and explain the situation, sure the police would handle the thief. He has a set of principles in line with the laws of his society, and he expects most people to follow these ideals as well.
The exception would be if he lived in an evil society where the laws are unjust. In that case, the lawful good character would follow the dogma of his religion or established philosophical principles.
Defining Lawful Good Characters
Lawful good characters are all about faith, faith in the law, their principles, and faith in humanity. There are several types and sub-types of lawful good characters, including the “knight in shining armor” and the hand-wringing types.
The “shining armor” sub-type is a classic hero who believes in upholding all that is just and right, often at the expense of their personal safety. These characters seek out professions that allow them to embody gallantry, i.e., knights, paladins, superheroes, soldiers, and law enforcement.
Not all lawful good characters are about heroics. The hand-wringing type just wants to be good and urges everyone else to follow the rules as well. Hand-wringers get upset when they break unfair rules, but their goodness wins out over perceived lawfulness, eventually.
All types of lawful good characters are aligned with what is best for the greater good of society, within the framework of their chosen belief system. And, they will always have a chosen, defined faith, whether it’s linked to a country, religion, philosophy, or organization.
Lawful Good Character Examples
Superman is the “shining armor” type to a tee. He’s a Boy Scout on steroids. Mr. Kent wants to help everyone and uphold the law. He wants you to upload the law too… or else.
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books is the hand-wringing sub-type of lawful good, at least at the start of the series. She’s learned all the rules and expectations of the wizarding world and expects they’ll be followed.
Mr. Spock from Star Trek is bound to his Vulcan upbringing and the laws of logic. Spock applies his logical framework to all situations regardless of the surrounding rules and social norms. He’s a great example of a lawful good character with a portable philosophy.
Next week I’m discussing chaotic good characters. In the meantime, live long and prosper.