In this article, I’ll talk about everything you need to know about the Lawful Good alignment. Here are just some of the things that we’ll discuss in this article:
- What is Lawful Good alignment?
- How to play Lawful Good aligned character?
- Lawful Good examples & background ideas
- And more!
With that said, let’s start with some definitions first.
What is Lawful Good?
Lawful alignments are all about order. They enjoy structure, procedure, and laws. They will often support clear hierarchies and form social norms. Lawful characters defer to authority and follow tradition. They prefer stability over change, especially rapid, uncontrolled change.
Lawful creatures are often described as creatures of habit — their reactions are predictable in many situations. They may not necessarily uphold the law or even respect it; Devils are lawful because of their preference for hierarchy, punishment, and organization.
Good characters are traditionally the heroes. Goodness represents altruism, compassion, and a general respect for life. Good characters are typically willing to help others, particularly those in need and for whom the cause is just, even at personal cost. They will oppose evil on principle, not just when financially motivated. Their goodness may not be absolute, but it represents a general affinity for the dignity of others and a respect for those around them.
Lawful Good Definition
The Lawful Good character is the archetypal hero. They value compassion, honor, and duty. They respect law, authority, and order, and pursue equality, equity, and justice. Lawful Good characters work to protect those who can’t protect themselves. They fight evil wherever they can, within the confines of the law.
Contrary to some portrayals, they aren’t necessarily naïve or “Lawful Stupid”. They simply see the value of the organization of society in upholding the greater good. Lawful Good characters are, however, described as narrow-sighted and inflexible due to their unwillingness to violate laws, order, or hierarchy even in the service of the greater good.
Lawful Good Character Examples
There are a great many lawful good characters throughout popular media. They’re easy to identify because of their strict adherence to societal rules, laws, and values, and their constant fight against evil. In D&D, examples of lawful good creatures include knights, gold dragons, and unicorns.
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series is a perfect example of a Lawful Good character: she always sees the best in people and tries to do right by everyone, while strictly following the laws and rules set in place.
Superman is another classic Lawful Good example. Despite his overwhelming power, he strives to remain within the rules prescribed by Earth’s societies, while fighting against evil and villains at every possible turn.
Lastly, a typical “good cop” character follows the Lawful Good doctrine as they pledge to protecting others and combating evil while following the letter of the law.
Lawful Good Quotes
Lawful Good characters are often denouncing evil while upholding the vulnerable and the just. Some examples include the following:
“Law is order, and good law is good order”Aristotle
“He, who does not punish evil, commands it to be done.”Leonardo da Vinci
“I’ll always be there. Always. It’s not the powers. Not the cape. It’s about standing up for justice. For truth. As long as people like you are out there, I’ll be there. Always.”Superman
“I don’t like bullies, I don’t care where they’re from.”Captain America
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Edmund Burke
Lawful Good Character Background Ideas
Lawful Good characters can often appear whitewashed and simple, the traditional hero with an unbreakable will. One of the key ways to ensure your character is nuanced and complex is by ensuring they are flawed: ask yourself, “What would make my character betray their core values?”
Here are some background examples to spark your inspiration.
You were raised in a poor family, in a wretched part of the city. You were the subject of every joke, at the end of every bully’s fist, and strove hard against the injustice of living on the streets. Being on the receiving end of poverty and crime, you learned the values of good and the law, but you also developed a critically low tolerance for bullying and manipulation. You will always support the underdog, and will punish severely those who inhibit others’ freedom.
Player’s Handbook Background suggestion: Urchin (page 141)
Once, you were the one exploiting others and the system. You broke all the rules and did whatever you wanted, at everyone else’s expense. Later, either because you got caught or experienced the effects of your actions, you realized the error of your ways. Now, you use your knowledge of crime and the underworld to fight against evil, and uphold goodness and the law. Still, you are tempted by the ease and efficiency of less law-abiding methods now and then…
Player’s Handbook Background suggestion: Charlatan (page 128) or Criminal (page 129)
You experienced something horrible, something you never want anyone else to ever have to experience. Whether the death of a family member or the destruction of an entire town, you have devoted your life to combating evil at every opportunity. While the law provides you with the authority and strength to fight against evil, sometimes you revisit your trauma, and it causes you to overstep the permissions you’ve been given.
Player’s Handbook Background suggestion: Acolyte (page 127) or Soldier (page 140)
As you’ve seen, I’ve mentioned the Player’s Handbook several times. That’s because it’s an essential reference guide for every D&D player. If you don’t already have one, you can get one on Amazon.
Lawful Good Traits
Lawful Good characters can be defined by a number of traits, each of which help express their personality and values. While these traits are not the be-all end-all of Lawful Good characters, they are a good starting point to following the goals and values set out by the Lawful and Good alignments.
Lawful Good characters are honest. They see honesty as the glue that holds society together: if everyone was honest, the system would work smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. Lies gum up that machine and add extra steps and complication to any procedure or situation.
Justice is a key value for Lawful Good characters, and they often strive to exercise it personally. They believe strongly in the rights of the innocent, and seek to bring justice, according to society’s laws and standards, to those who have violated them.
Lawful Good characters believe in the goodness in everyone, and have patience even for those who break the rules. They are often willing to give second, third, and even fourth chances, though this means some individuals are seen as gullible and are often taken advantage of.
Lawful Good characters do not negotiate with terrorists. With the choice between two evils, Lawful Good characters choose neither. They fight for good, justice, and freedom at any cost. While this makes them some of the strongest champions of light, it can make it difficult to achieve the truly best outcome. Lawful Good characters struggle with politics, and would be paralyzed by the Trolley Problem.
Dedicated and Loyal
Nothing is more important than a Lawful Good character’s cause. They will fight for what they believe in at any cost and are loyal to those who share their cause. Friendship is critical, and they believe teamwork is everything. It takes a lot to deter a Lawful Good character; trauma and fear often only serves to reaffirm the purpose of their mission.
Righteous and Benevolent
The core of a Lawful Good character is their constant aim to do good, always. They dedicate their lives to treating people well and always seek to support the poor, downtrodden, and infirm. They spend much of their free time helping others. In every action they struggle to make the best decision possible, in protecting the rights of as many people of others.
How to Play a Lawful Good Character
What to Do?
Lawful Good characters are more difficult to play than most people realize. They hold a difficult position in any moral quandary, and always pursue noble goals, sometimes separate to the immediate party mission. There are a great many things to consider when playing Lawful Good characters.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of things to keep in mind.
- Do “the right thing”. Act selflessly and always offer to help others, even without the promise of payment.
- Be honest. Even when speaking to a villain, you mustn’t stoop to their level.
- Be true to your cause. The Lawful Good alignment is often chosen as a catch-all for good characters. However, players themselves will often be motivated by gold or treasure in game, which conflicts with the selfless nature of Lawful Good characters. Be sure you want to devote your character’s time and energy to benevolence when you choose this alignment.
What Not to Do?
- Don’t be “Lawful Stupid.” The Lawful Good alignment doesn’t mean you’re blind or naïve, nor are you so trusting that you’ll blunder into obvious traps.
- Don’t cause unnecessary party conflict. Questioning your rogue’s questionable actions is one thing, but D&D is a game, and there needs to be a reason your character sticks around an immoral party, if that’s a case.
- Don’t be boring. Lawful Good characters are perhaps the most susceptible to being one-dimensional; make sure to develop your character sufficiently such that they have flaws and depth.
Lawful Good and Other Alignments
In this section, we’ll take a look at how lawful good characters interact with characters from other alignments.
Lawful Good VS Lawful Good
Lawful Good characters work well together. Sharing in both their goals and their methods, they often agree, and easily cooperate in whatever quest they find themselves tasked with. However, conflict can occasionally arise when their opinions on morality and society don’t perfectly line up. Additionally, a group of Lawful Good characters lacks flexibility and perspective, and can result in doubling-down on their “Lawful Stupidity.”
A good example of Lawful Good characters working in tandem is the Justice League. While each hero works in their own way and might not even be classified as Lawful Good individually (see: Batman), in a group they become Lawful Good as they strive to uphold the laws and structure of society, protect the weak, and deliver justice.
Lawful Good VS Neutral Good
Lawful Good characters view Neutral Good characters as useful allies, but don’t trust them implicitly. They can form cohesive teams, as they each pursue the same goals. Neutral Good characters provide perspective to Lawful Good individuals, and often have few qualms with following the lead of Lawful Good characters.
While Neutral Good characters are comfortable bending rules when the ends justify the means, Lawful Good characters are often willing to overlook such violations and other flaws in pursuit of the same goal. While there’s minimal conflict, a feeling of betrayal can fall hard on Lawful Good characters when their views don’t line up.
Batman and Superman are a good example of Lawful Good and Neutral Good characters working together. Most of the time they get along well enough, but Batman is willing to do things Superman is not. Sometimes this is necessary; other times it causes conflict.
Lawful Good VS Chaotic Good
The differences in methods between Lawful Good and Chaotic Good characters is often too vast for Lawful Good ones to justify the outcome. They can’t fathom the consequences of Chaotic Good actions, which often involve collateral damage.
Unlike Neutral Good characters, Lawful Good individuals feel like Chaotic Good characters can’t be controlled. Despite their typical adversarial relationship, Lawful Good characters may form alliances with Chaotic Good characters, as they can break through otherwise paralyzing moral dilemmas.
An example of Lawful Good characters interacting with a Chaotic Good one is the Avengers, particularly Captain America, teaming up with a hero like the Hulk. The Hulk is well-known for the destruction and collateral damage he causes, yet his strength and abilities make him an invaluable member of the team.
Lawful Good VS Lawful Neutral
Lawful Neutral characters often work well with Lawful Good ones. They both value structure, rules, and laws, and while they might not agree on the finer points, they often work towards the same general outcome: namely justice, peace, and order.
Their relationship begins to break down where they come at odds about the more serious issues of morality, large discrepancies of which are clear in their respective doctrines. Lawful Good characters tend to see the world in black and white, whereas Lawful Neutral ones in shades of gray.
Lawful Good characters often rigidly follow conventional laws and rules, whereas Lawful Neutral individuals can eschew them in favor of their mission or code. They often work through their conflict in the service of a common good.
An example of a Lawful Good character working with a Lawful Neutral one would be the relationship between a benevolent monarch and their guard. The guard responsibilities do not involve morality or making decisions for the good of the people; their only purpose is to protect the monarch. The monarch’s responsibilities are typically the opposite. Usually they work well together, but if the monarch wishes to put themselves in a dangerous situation for the benefit of the people, their guard will likely balk and protest.
Lawful Good VS True Neutral
Lawful Good characters don’t know what to make of True Neutral ones. They see them as selfish, but not wholly so; they appreciate their pursuit for balance and equality, but can’t trust them to always join the fight against evil; furthermore, they hold disdain for the True Neutral disregard of laws, rules, and society.
However, they don’t see True Neutral characters as villains, or intentionally evil. They can cooperate as long as the two share a goal, but Lawful Good characters have no qualms seeing their ally as an enemy when their paths begin to diverge.
Deadpool and the Colossus are a perfect example of a Lawful Good / True Neutral dichotomy. They work together in Deadpool (2016) as long as they share a goal, but when Deadpool begins to do his own thing and eschew more rules and norms, Colossus begins attempting to control him.
Lawful Good VS Chaotic Neutral
Lawful Good characters don’t tend to get along with Chaotic Neutral ones. The latter tend to serve themselves or some other morality-agnostic goal, and their chaotic natures are often at odds with laws, norms, and society. Lawful Good characters will often view Chaotic Neutral ones as criminal or otherwise problematic: viewing them just as vandals or delinquents, with no mind to whatever else their identity might be.
Chaotic Neutral characters, on the other hand, take issue with Lawful Good authority who think they’re doing what’s best but are actually stifling towards creativity, freedom, and expression.
An example of a Lawful Good / Chaotic Neutral relationship might be a schoolteacher attempting to reign in a delinquent adolescent. They’re constantly at odds and rarely see eye to eye, despite how “right” either may be. However, if they’re able to be honest with each other and remain open to the other’s perspective, they may be able to reach an understanding.
Lawful Good VS Lawful Evil
Lawful Good characters are often conflicted about Lawful Evil ones. On one hand, they value the same principles regarding law and order, and Lawful Evil characters can often deceive others into believing they are benevolent. When their true identity is revealed, Lawful Good characters still have difficulty in combating them, especially if they hold a rightful place in society.
Lawful Good characters believe in “the system,” and would prefer to let the system right itself — for example, a malevolent monarch being deposed by the people. When the system fails, however, they find themselves in a difficult position: betray the very system they swore to uphold, or allow evil to triumph. They will often seek peaceful, legitimate resolutions, including trying to “turn” Lawful Evil characters back to the light.
Thor and Loki represent Lawful Good versus Lawful Evil. Loki seeks the throne of Asgard and attempts to manipulate the system of monarchy and gods to present himself as the rightful ruler. Thor constantly combats his attempts, while trying to take his own place on the throne, and consistently attempts to see the light in his brother even when he’s at his most evil.
Lawful Good VS Neutral Evil
There is significant conflict between Lawful Good and Neutral Evil characters. Neutral Evil characters only abide by the laws and norms of society when it suits them in achieving their selfish or sinister aims. Lawful Good characters despise both of those qualities, and view Neutral Evil as the “typical” villain archetype. They are predictable, and easy to combat as a result. However, Lawful Good characters often believe in the rehabilitation of these individuals, and seek out redeeming qualities.
Captain America and the Winter Soldier, while the Winter Soldier was under villain control, exemplifies the Lawful Good / Neutral Evil relationship. Captain America is in the unique position where he has to stop the Winter Soldier, and yet knows there’s good inside him. Instead of killing him, he fights for his redemption.
Lawful Good VS Chaotic Evil
Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil characters are on polar opposite sides of the spectrum and are arch nemeses. Chaotic Evil characters are the antithesis to everything Lawful Good characters stand for, they can’t be controlled, and they can seldom be redeemed.
Not only do Lawful Good characters despise Chaotic Evil, but they struggle to work against them because they have difficulty understanding them. They are unpredictable and display pure, unadulterated selfishness and cruelty. Chaotic Evil is so difficult for Lawful Good characters to handle they are like to bring out the flaws in the Lawful Good alignment, even evoking hatred and fury, as they tear down everything Lawful Good characters seek to uphold.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron displays these two opposing forces perfectly. Ultron, a Chaotic Evil villain who seeks nothing but power and world domination, at any cost, and who enjoys causing pain and suffering, is opposed by the (generally) Lawful Good Avengers.
Alignment is complex, diverse, and difficult to represent properly. Lawful Good alignment is perhaps the most common among the shining knights and heroes of D&D characters, but it may also be the most difficult to play due to how it is often represented.
A better understanding of Lawful Good allows you to play them more realistically and three-dimensionally. I hope this article has inspired you to add depth to your characters and play them more meaningfully in your games.
For an overview of the other alignments, check our D&D Alignment Guide.