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Character Alignment

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What it ultimately boils down to. In theory. But since it's so much fun to argue...
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Character Alignment is a shorthand for a given character's (or religion's, society's, organization's, etc.) moral/ethical outlook on life, the universe and everything. Many roleplaying games use some sort of alignment system as a Karma Meter, an "ideal" for a character to live up to, or just a descriptive shorthand for characters. Some gamers deride Character Alignments as crutches to "real roleplaying", so some systems accordingly have none at all. Expect a setting that uses Character Alignments to make frequent use of plots about Order Versus Chaos and Balance Between Good and Evil.

The alignment system most roleplayers are familiar with is the one used in Dungeons & Dragons, which has appeared in a couple of different forms:

The original editions of Dungeons & Dragons drew on the works of Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock to come up with two axes:

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  • Ethical axis: Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic. Lawful represents honor and obedience to the law; Chaotic leans toward personal freedom, without regards to the law; and Neutral is an intermediate position that either doesn't care or seeks balance between the two ends.
  • Moral axis: Good, Neutral, and Evil. Good focuses on improving others' well-being; Evil focuses on the self, even at the expense of others; and Neutral serves a similar role as on the ethical axis, but tends to favor their friends and family.

Combining the two axes allowed characters to be of nine possible alignments, as follows:

  • Lawful Good: They believe Law is Good, and that upholding the law is good. Believes in Truth, Justice and such, but may potentially believe in them a little too much. Lawful Good does not necessarily mean someone who obeys every law, but only just laws or an internal code.

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  • Neutral Good: Sweetness and light. Doing good is more important than upholding the law, but law is not a bad thing. Not too caught up in Order Versus Chaos; concerned with moral goodness, but often not willing to enforce it in others. Neutral Good states may be really nice places to live, but depending on how idealistic or cynical the setting is, they may be deluding themselves into being too idealistic.

  • Chaotic Good: Rebels and free spirits who are stereotypically found opposing tyrants and other oppressive types. They tend to believe that things like order, discipline, and honor can get in the way of doing good. Their free-spirited, easily bored nature means that if the local government isn't considered sufficiently oppressive, they might just go out and find one that is.

  • Lawful Neutral: The rule-abiding sort. Law and order is more important than whether you're good or evil. Believes in keeping order, though not necessarily in Justice as a universal constant. It does not necessarily mean following the laws of a government only the laws of a society. Just as often the bad guys as the good guys in an Order Versus Chaos situation.

  • True Neutral: Sometimes known as just Neutral, or even Neutral Neutral. Comes in two flavors: Keeping the Balance and Just Doesn't Care. The balance-happy sort may sometimes be characters just too dumb to know the difference, but may also be a Wild Card. Intelligent true neutrals are quite logical in how they go about things, including morals.

  • Chaotic Neutral: Chaotic Neutral characters are all about freedom, and don't care so much about morality. Sometimes they're just amoral nutjobs, and sometimes they're generally good people with a wild streak that sometimes leads them into bad things. When evil alignments are unavailable, Chaotic Neutral is often used by players in Tabletop Games to excuse doing anything they feel like, and as such is often prohibited by the sort of Game Master who also prohibits evil characters. Just as often the bad guys as the good guys in an Order Versus Chaos situation. The main difference between Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil is a matter of execution.

  • Lawful Evil: The ordered sort of Evil, that often ends up in charge. They are the most likely to win in a fight against their interest, but otherwise tend to be weaker than the other Evil alignments. May believe in keeping order at all costs, or may simply believe that a well-ordered system is easy to exploit.

  • Neutral Evil: Sometimes known as the Asshole Alignment, Neutral Evil is the most unpredictable evil alignment. They also tend to be egotists who don't care the slightest about other people. They may just happen to be on the Good Guy's Team because it's better for them at the moment.

  • Chaotic Evil: Will do whatever they want to, especially if it hurts other people, without regard for the rules. While a Neutral Evil person would work within the system until it was convenient not to, a chaotic evil person would often work outside the system. Contrary to what some believe, Chaotic Evil does not mean the kind of wanton, meaningless slaughter and destruction. Rather, they usually consider what is practical in a particular situation.

It helps to think of it as a 3x3 square with the moral and ethical axes on each side, and all the possible alignments surrounding True Neutral, like so:

Alignment Chart Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Good Lawful Good Neutral Good Chaotic Good
Neutral Lawful Neutral True Neutral Chaotic Neutral
Evil Lawful Evil Neutral Evil Chaotic Evil

The alignment any particular character falls under is mostly a matter of opinion in works other than Tabletop Games, due to the large wiggle room for Alternate Character Interpretation, character development, and so on. However, that doesn't stop RPG fans from discussing what alignment characters in other works would be. In fact, a meme on the imageboard 4chan is creating motivational posters of various characters from fiction and real life, with a caption explaining their alignment.

As a general rule, do not add Character Alignment to any work where it is not featured in canon, as it will just lead to an Edit War. The Great Character Alignment Debate explains this in more detail. In paticular, there will be no real life examples under these circumstances, except for descriptions of proposed systems like the four humors theory.

See also Unconventional Alignment, Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid, Stupid Good, Stupid Evil, Stupid Neutral, Always Lawful Good, Always Chaotic Evil, and Good and Evil for Your Convenience. The Mirror Morality Machine will invert any alignment... except for True Neutral; the opposite of zero is still zero.


Examples of Works/Settings With Explicit Character Alignment

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    Comic Books 
  • See the Batman example in the article description.
  • In the fifth issue of the Adventure Time comic, an alignment chart is given for the odd variants of the main characters in Adventure Time's world. Assuming they translate to the main versions, they are: Lawful Good - Princess Bubblegum, Neutral Good - Finn, Chaotic Good - Jake, Lawful Neutral - Lemongrab, True Neutral - Tree Trunks, Chaotic Neutral - Marceline, Neutral Evil - Ice King, and Chaotic Evil - The Lich. The vacant Lawful Evil space is taken by one-shot villain Me-Mow.

    Fan Works 
  • In Cuckoo Bird, Beck is explicitly referred to as Chaotic Evil while Aizawa is called Neutral Good "at best".

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 

    Memes 

    Philosophy 
  • Aristotle's philosophy posits that every personal quality is an axis of a person's moral alignment, and the ideal/virtuous path is somewhere on the middle of each axis, called the golden mean or middle way depending on your translation. For instance, if courage is a virtue, it's actually a scale where going too high results in recklessness, and going too low results in cowardice.
    • Some Buddhist religious philosophies express the eight-fold path in much the same way.
  • The theory of the four humours is that every person's being is composed of various amounts of four fundamental elements added together, usually with one dominating. Hippocrates actually expanded the theory to medicine and the idea that this applied to the physical body as well as the mind lasted well into the middle ages:
    • Sanguine - active, extroverted, energetic
    • Choleric - irritable, curt, thoughtless
    • Phlegmatic - relaxed, passive, low-energy
    • Melancholic - introverted, brooding, thoughtful

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Professional Wrestling has a bit of an implied alignment system, with all wrestlers being divided into Face, Heel, or Tweener, though this generally isn't acknowledged in Kayfabe — except in Mexican lucha libre promotions in the vein of EMLL, some other Spanish regions such as The Dominican Wrestling Federation and lucha-inspired promotions like CHIKARA, where wrestlers are openly referred to as either "Tecnicos" or "Rudos". Look for media based on North American wrestling not rooted in lucha culture, such as video games, to use euphemisms to refer to this system (such as "Fan Favorite" for Face and "Rule Breaker" for Heel). When a D20 game was released under WWE's licensing, the alignments were actually Face, Tweener, and Heel. Later games have "Clean" and "Dirty"; apparently no real "tweeners".
  • IWRG spells out the difference between tecnicos and rudos right on its homepage.
  • For the first two years of Ring of Honor's existence, the code was law and almost every wrestler followed it to some extent, unless they were specifically trying to make a statement or had gone off the deep end. It was retired when enforcement became impractical but returned as an optional suggestion used to assess members of the locker room more than anything else.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Not only did they come up with the best-known alignment system, but a number of their settings feature gods of different alignments competing for power. Many spells and items will only function on/for characters of a given alignment (moral, ethical, or both). In most settings, a god will accept clerics only of alignments no more than one "step" removed from its own (for example, a Lawful Neutral god, unless otherwise specified, would accept a Lawful Good or Lawful Evil cleric (to complicate matters, there is normally a rule that states that Clerics can only be True Neutral if their god is), but wouldn't accept a Chaotic Neutral cleric), though their lay worshipers can be of any alignment.
    • In earlier editions of the game, only player characters are able to freely choose their alignment; monsters (that is, any non-human or demihuman creature) are born with their specific alignment and can never change. This is due to the influence of the Outer Planes (which are arranged precisely according to the alignment axis) and the gods of the campaign. A goblin, for example, is born evil, and no amount of counseling will ever change it (though magic might). The fact all creatures (including PCs) have invisible "alignment auras" that can be "read" was proof of this. The reason for this is so that good-aligned characters are justified in killing or stealing from most monsters. There are, however, occasional variations — you might meet the rare non-evil goblin, for example, but it would be the result of crossbreeding, magic, etc. — never willing change.
    • If the many, many conversations on alignment on various boards (oddly only rarely becoming flame wars) are any indication, the rules for alignment are vague. It really doesn't help that the writers don't seem that constant; one iconic character is lawful because they are devoted to something, but another iconic is chaotic because they are devoted to their art.
    • Planescape introduced intermediate alignments between extremes and classifies them as tendencies. For example, you can have Good-leaning Chaotic Neutral, or a Chaotic-leaning Neutral Good, instead of just Chaotic Good. This seems to make classification of characters who are not exactly in one alignment or another much easier.
      • This far predated Planescape, with various Outer Planes in the 1st Edition Player's Handbook shading into each others' alignments, with, for example, The Nine Hells being described as the plane of "absolute Lawful Evil" while the planes of Acheron and Gehenna on either side being planes of "Lawful Evil Neutrals," the former being essentially "Lawful Lawful Evil" and the latter being "Lawful Evil Evil." Only the Outer Planes along the central axes were of absolute alignment, with the intermediate planes between them having varying degrees of appropriate blending. This even extended into NPCs being described with alignment "tendencies" such as Chaotic Neutral (Good.)
    • Another bit of evidence that suggests that alignment was originally intended to be more "tangible" is the concept of alignment languages. It's not as stupid as it sounds—they're more along the lines of code words and phrases used in secret societies devoted to particular philosophies or religions (such as the Cynics or Pythagorians) than real, living languages. For example, they're described in the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide as being useful for such things as conducting philosophical discussions appropriate to the alignment, or identifying impostors (which was why Assassins are able to learn Alignment Languages other than their own) but being pretty useless for, say, buying a loaf of bread at the local market.
    • The D&D 3rd edition sourcebook Complete Scoundrel (which includes options and prestige classes for playing The Trickster or Guile Hero) lists several characters as examples of "scoundrels" of different alignments.
  • 4th Edition D&D:
    • Interestingly enough, 4.0 did away with the nine-point axis, and replaced it with a sliding scale of five alignments: Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil. Neutral Good and (some of) Chaotic Good were changed to just Good; Neutral Evil and Lawful Evil became just Evil; Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, and (some of) Chaotic Good were completely removed and replaced by the nondescript "Unaligned". This was most likely done to simplify and clarify the alignment system, but, well...
    • D&D's original alignment system was Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic. Lawful generally got equated to good and Chaotic with evil (though the rules and retroclones such as Swords and Wizardry make it clear that this does not have to be the case), but good examples of Chaotics like the unicorn and such may have been the impetus for creating the two-axis system we know and love today.
      • Chaotic Good has always been something of an odd alignment out; in play, unless you're very serious about Order Versus Chaos distinctions, it either becomes "Neutral Good but more suspicious of the law" or "Kindhearted/Heroic Chaotic Neutral".
      • Chaotic Evil has always been the "Kill, Crush, Burn" evil alignment, as opposed to "Whatever benefits me" of the other branches of Evil.
      • And Lawful Good has similarly been distinct from the other branches of Good. Short version: LG has specific prescriptions for "what is Good" built right into it, unlike the others, and is more of a balancing act.
    • Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil are not just The Same, but More of Good and Evil, respectively; they represent completely different approaches to behavior.
      • Chaotic Evil is evil for its own sake, and typically found in the kinds of monsters who want to destroy the world or don't care what happens to anything or everything else if they can't get their way. Chaotic Evil is the evil of madness and oblivion, the kind of evil that wants to just destroy everything for no other reason than because it can.
      • Evil is more pragmatic and practical. It is the evil of banality, tyranny, slavery — in other words, evil for a specific purpose. An Evil creature will destroy a kingdom to claim its territory for itself or to enslave its populace or any other purpose; a Chaotic Evil creature will destroy a kingdom just because it's a convenient target. This means that Evil creatures typically despise and/or want to get rid of Chaotic Evil creatures.
      • Good is, obviously, good; concerned with freedom, liberty, all that other such stuff. They do not specifically associate good with government and are, in fact, very quick to consider toppling corrupt regimes or recognizing when evil is Inherent in the System.
      • Lawful Good, meanwhile, considers order and good to go hand in hand; a person must be free, but there must also be law and authority, and without a governing force working for the good of others, there cannot truly be good. As the player's guide explains, a Lawful Good character confronted with a corrupt government would much rather infiltrate it and work to bring about reform from inside than topple it and leave the people it rules "defenseless in anarchy".
      • Unaligned characters simply don't care about Good or Evil; their focus is on getting on with their daily lives, meaning they can be cruel or kind as they choose, but they don't devote themselves specifically to doing evil deeds or championing good. Your average Joe is Unaligned, but so would be a Punch-Clock Villain or an adventurer whose motive is purely selfish — a character who only wants to stop the Evil Empire because their home will be levelled if they succeed and doesn't care about anyone else losing their homes, for example.
  • 5th Edition D&D:
    • 5E returned to its roots and features the original nine-point axis, but retains Unaligned from 4E, which is narrowed in scope to only include entities that lack the intelligence or sapience to have a concept of morality, such as animals and constructs. Overall, 5e diminishes the importance of alignment by removing most of its mechanical effects' for example, Paladins don't have to be lawful good but follow Oaths that range across the alignment chart from the noble oath of Protection to the sinister oath of Conquest. Additionally, while most creatures "tend" towards certain alignment, individual members can be of any alignment. That being said, the various Oaths and pacts tend to have alignments at their base, so you cannot be a Chaotic Evil Paladin of Protection with a Oath to someone like Tyr as they won't want to give their blessing to someone actively working against their tenants or goals.
  • Both Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness: Neither have nearly as explicit a system as Dungeons & Dragons, but still has a stat representing how "moral" each character is. This is called by a lot of different names, based on which edition and gameline you're playing, but it's generally a scale of "bestial monstrosity" (0) to "saint." (10) New World of Darkness characters also pick one each of seven virtues and seven vices, which add additional depth. A character who chooses, say, Justice and Wrath will be very different from somebody who chooses Faith and Pride.
    • The second edition of the New World of Darkness introduced an updated system with The God-Machine Chronicle. "Integrity" replaces Morality and the only thing that's universal are modifiers, like when protecting a loved one or acting against a vice. These are then applied to character specific "Breaking Points" that resemble a psychological Trauma Conga Line, rather than medieval ethics.
    • The karma meters are sometimes intentionally incompatible or variant across different splats, and may in various cases either be added to the human morality meter as an additional list of requirements (Mage: The Awakening's wisdom), displace the old morality with a new, strange morality with entirely different requirements (Werewolf's system notably is fine with murder and theft but heavily penalizes disrespect and hunting sentients for food specifically), or in the hands of a particularly cruel storyteller added to the character as a second, orthogonal meter similar to D and D's order-law grid, requiring the player to track both how good a monster he is and how good a human he is to determine the balance between the two.
  • d20 Modern, which is built on the same system that Dungeons & Dragons uses, has allegiances. These can be to Ethical (law or chaos) or moral (good or evil) systems, but can also be to other things such as religious beliefs, political views, or organizations. The Urban Arcana campaign setting converts alignment to allegiances for Always Chaotic Evil creatures from D&D... and in the process enforced it to Always Evil levels even for one race that weren't.Explanation 
  • GURPS Powers allows for "Moral" powers of the types Lawful, Chaotic, Good, and Evil. For the most part, however, GURPS as a rule tends to avoid "alignments" as such, and instead represents character traits through the use of Disadvantages.
  • GURPS Thaumatology also explores the concept of "ethical magic", and offers spells related to such "ethics" such as Good, Evil, Law, Chaos, or even any other concept a GM might add to a campaign setting.
  • The Witcher: Game of Imagination completely ignores traditional alignments and the way how they are organised. Instead, there is an Honor/Reputation/Adventure triangle in which players must put their characters, giving each element different level of emphasis (so they have always gradual importance for the character, never equal). They are treated more as a compass for the players and a way to judge their actions by the story-teller than any actual mechanics.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay had five alignments: Lawful, Good, Neutral, Evil and Chaotic.
  • The standard Palladium Books system used in Rifts, Palladium Fantasy, Heroes Unlimited, and Robotech, among others has a variation on the alignment system from Dungeons & Dragons. In this system, there are seven different alignments broken down into Good, Selfish, and Evil categories. Palladium rulebooks state that there is no such thing as Neutral, and dismiss the term as misleading (though that doesn't stop them from including a "Taoist" alignment in the Ninjas and Superspies system). Good alignments include Principled, which is roughly equivalent to Lawful Good, and Scrupulous, which is somewhere between Chaotic Good and Neutral Good. The Selfish category includes Unprincipled, which is sort of like Lawful Neutral, but tends to lean Good(); and Anarchist, which is the Chaotic Neutral equivelent. The Evil alignments include Miscreant, the selfish but not demonic — roughly Neutral Evil to Chaotic Evil; Aberrant, who is the Noble Demon and textbook Lawful Evil; and Diabolic, a "cruel, brutal killer who trusts no one and has no value for anyone or anything that gets in his way," damn near Card-Carrying Chaotic Evil. One thing of note is that the guidelines for what each alignment would or would not do is more rigidly spelled out in Palladium Games than most other systems, with each alignment containing a bulleted list. For instance, a Good character would never betray a friend, and neither would an Aberrant Evil character. Some books even provided fictional characters as guidelines, such as Superman for Principled or Han Solo for Unprincipled.
  • FATAL has virtually the same system as D&D, only instead of Lawful it's Ethical, and instead of Good it's Moral. So Ethical Moral to Unethical Immoral. Essentially, this being FATAL, it probably comes down to whether you will say "please" and "thank you" when raping someone or not.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The game has an elaborate alignment system embodied by its Color Pie that defines them by a general philosophy:
      • White is the color of order, law, and teamwork.
      • Blue is the color of science and logic.
      • Black is the color of self-centeredness, ambition, and pragmatism.
      • Red is the color of emotion, creativity, and freedom.
      • Green is the color of nature, tradition, and growth.
    • There is deliberately no color specifically aligned with good or evil, though some colors get stereotyped as such anyway. White is associated with light and angels and often thought of as the "good" faction, but its traits can also be directed to oppressive tyranny and complete conformity. Conversely, Black's selfishness and (un)death motifs makes it the obvious "evil" color (and even the creators admit that villains tend to be drawn to Black), but it's also the color that values self-improvement and following your dreams.
    • Things become even more complex since characters can have traits of multiple colors at once. Each color has parts that mesh with the two alongside it and parts that diametrically oppose the two opposite it, though even conflicting colors aren't mutually exclusive. For example, Red-White characters combine White's love of order with Red's frantic energy to create anything from a vicious Knight Templar to a passionate defender of the innocent. Green-Blue characters can do things as insanely impulsive as creating a deadly plague and as coldly rational as exposing it to a statistically representative sample of the population without ever considering morality.
    • The colors were mapped onto the D&D character alignment axes only once in Magic's history; when the creative team was trying to discern the relative personalities of the Ravnican guilds, which are each based on a two-color combination. White was mapped to "Good", Blue to "Lawful" ("a stretch" even to them, especially given that Law is White's thing), Black to "Evil", Red to "Chaotic", and Green to "Neutral". This led to such implausibilities as the Red-Blue Izzet League being dubbed "lawful chaotic" and the Black-White Orzhov Syndicate dubbed "good evil."
  • The Agendas from Monsterpocalypse, which roughly describe why the faction in question is turning up to the giant robot vs. kaiju fights. Essentially, there are six of these, with the forces of each Agenda capable of allying with the ones on either side.
    • Protectors (GUARD, Elemental Champions): Good guys, at least insofar as that's compatible with the game mechanics. These factions defend humanity, albeit at the expense of a lot of lives and no small number of buildings destroyed.
    • Radicals (Terrorsaurs, Empire of the Apes): Evil-leaning neutral. Knight Templar Well-Intentioned Extremists who don't necessarily want to destroy humanity, but who have a goal they care about a lot more than, for example, Tokyo still being there. So far the game's Radical factions have been ecoterrorists, but the agenda isn't necessarily restricted to that.
    • Fiends (Lords of Cthul, Subterran Uprising): Bad guys. Very, very bad guys. Fiends want people to die, preferably painfully. They tend not to have much in the way of motive beyond For the Evulz.
    • Destroyers (Planet Eaters, Savage Swarm): Giving these creatures a moral alignment would assume they were capable of caring about morality. They're mostly just hungry. It's not clear how many of them are even sapient.
    • Invaders (Martian Menace, Tritons): Bad guys, but ones with a motivation beyond "being the bad guys". These factions want something humanity has — land, resources, people — and are here in force to take it.
    • Collaborators (Shadow Sun Syndicate, Ubercorp International): Bad guys, kind of, but pragmatic ones, something of a Token Evil Teammate. They're mostly interested in profiting from what's going on (even if that requires selling out to the Invaders), but can work with the Protectors because mostly what the Collaborators want requires that the human species still be here next week.

    Video Games 
  • In the expansion to City of Heroes called Going Rogue, a morality system is implemented which allows a player to move up and down the good/evil spectrum. As well as having Heroes fall from hero to vigilante to villain, a villain can redeem themselves and become a rogue, and then a fully-fledged hero. There is also a "grey area" of content for new characters set in a Lawful Evil empire in "Another Dimension'' where being Lawful makes you Evil and being Chaotic bends you to Good.
  • Every character in the Ogre Battle series has an alignment, ranging from Lawful to Chaotic, which changes based on their actions during battles. (Characters which attack enemies stronger than themselves, for example, grow more lawful, while characters who hunt down and destroy weaker units [or single-handedly defend liberated cities against hordes of weak enemies which the Empire will mercilessly send to their doom] will grow chaotic.) Alignment affects what classes are available to a particular character. Lawful characters tend to have "light" classses (cleric, knight, angel), while chaotic ones tend to have "dark" classes (wizard, dark knight). Just remember Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Good. In addition, there is another measure available only to the main character which goes by multiple names but is generally known as Reputation. The two are completely separate — you can be utterly evil but still be famous and respected for your strength. Many special characters will only join you if your Reputation is high or low enough to suit their tastes, and it affects your ending.
  • Fate/stay night:
    • The summoned champions each have their own D&D-esque alignment, though the Berserker class is outside it due to lacking rationalitynote . For example, Saber is Lawful Good, Archer is True Neutral, Caster is Neutral Evil, while Gilgamesh and Rider are Chaotic Good. However, how accurately each Servant matches their alignment tends to vary wildly: Saber and Caster match their alignments well, while Rider and especially Gilgamesh have baffled fans since their release, leading to many competing theories that try to give a consistent explanation. Most suggestions will only explain one character, though the theory that alignments are carryovers from a prototype that had vastly different characters using the same identities has gained some support after more information about it was revealed.
      • Another suggestion is that the alignments reflect how the Servants see themselves rather than how an objective assessment would classify them. For example, the theory is that Assassin is classified as Neutral Evil because he sees himself as a villain, but he's actually more like True Neutral. And Gilgamesh thinks of himself as a hero, but he's actually Chaotic Neutral at best.
    • Gilgamesh's alignment also falls into how he's characterized in his original legend, so the alignments of Servants might also take the Heroic Spirit's legend into account as well. And Rider's history (which is very different from how Classical Mythology describes her in real life) could also support a Chaotic Good alignment. Assessment of her during the actual game has to be weighed against the fact that she has a rather vile Master ordering her around, and one of the routes involves her joining the heroes' side.
    • Fate/Zero continues this. Saber is still Lawful Good (obviously), Rider is Neutral Good, Archer (Gilgamesh) is still Chaotic Good, Lancer is Lawful Neutral, Caster is Chaotic Evil, Berserker is Lawful Madnote , and Assassin is Lawful Evil.
  • Alignment plays a huge role in the Shin Megami Tensei series of games:
    • Each monster is classed on the Law-Neutral-Chaos axis and the Light-Neutral-Dark axis. The former is the important one: monsters that are Chaotic will refuse to join you if the main character is Lawful and vice-versa. The alignment of the main character is determined by the type of monsters he summons (eg: Lawful creatures will move your alignment towards Law), by his responses to philosophical questions asked at key points of the game, and by whose dirty work (The Messians or the Gaians) he carries out. The ending of the game is determined by the final alignment of the main character. Interestingly, Neutrality is presented neither as the uncaring or balancing alignment, but rather one that focuses on individual choice and inner strength, as opposed to relying on outside power.
    • Megami Tensei I & Megami Tensei II feature alignments along the axis of Good-Neutral-Evil.
    • Shin Megami Tensei I features an alignment system along the axis of Law-Neutral-Chaos — Light-Neutral-Dark is not actually a Good-Neutral-Evil axis in the traditional sense, instead representing the mythological reputation of the entity in question as something to be revered or reviled; the original manual describes Light as "closer to a god" and Dark as "closer to a demon." It is the earliest known videogame to have an alignment system that directly affects the direction of the storyline and which of the Multiple Endings the player is given, through the choices and actions the player makes that alter the player character's alignment. Shin Megami Tensei II uses the same kind of alignment system. In both cases, the main character's actions on the Order Versus Chaos axis determine the ending, and the game does not take a stand on which path is best.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, the previous system of alignment is discarded in favour of three specific philosophies: Shijima (which is closest to Law, except that the Knight Templar tendencies take a different form), Musabi (Neutral, focusing on individuality and freedom of choice), and Yosuga (Chaos with a heavy dose of the elitism that Law was previously known for). Also, there's screwing them all and either returning the world to the way it used to be, or leaving the Vortex World the way it is, and in the Maniax edition, True Demon, in which you say "fuck that noise," give up your leftover humanity and join Lucifer's army in order to take out God and keep this stuff from happening over and over again.
    • Games outside the main continuity tend to ditch the alignment system completely. Devil Survivor, despite having Multiple Endings, bases your ending on who you ally with to gain control of Babel and end the lockdown. These six endings are still somewhat analogous to the classic Shin Megami Tensei alignments; Law — Aname (Utopia Justifies the Means) / Atsuro (My Country, Right or Wrong), Neutral — Yuzu (Bystander Syndrome) / Gin (Reset Button), Chaos — Naoya (Rage Against the Heavens) / Kaido (The Social Darwinist).
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey incorportaes Law/Neutral/Chaos into battle gameplay: When you or one of your demons hits an enemy with an element they're weak to, other allies of the same alignment will execute a Demon Co-Op attack. Enemies cannot do the same, however, although it's still a good idea to prevent yourself from being pounded with too many weakness attacks.
    • Majin Tensei II: Spiral Nemesis lets your character also move along the Light/Dark axis. This is interesting, as according to the usual representation of the system, although a human can lean toward Light or Dark within the Neutral category, they can't leave it without ceasing to be human.
    • In short, there are four major characters in the series that represent each of the four ends of the axis. Lucifer (Chaos), YHVH (Law), Philemon (Good), and Nyarlathotep (Evil).
  • A rare action game example, Shadow the Hedgehog works off this system quite well. Using branching story-lines, the player would choose multiple endings using a system of levels made up of three outcomes: hero, neutral, and dark. The final levels would involve only two outcomes (neither could be neutral), which would decide the boss fought and ultimately the ending. The "path" names are non-canonical; instead, there are 326 (!!!) combinations you could possibly take through the levels, each with their own name. However, each combination must end with one of these endings. It's subverted in the end; Shadow fights the gargoyle-like Black Doom and just saves the world.
  • Fable:
    • Fable I had a Good V Evil system, based on your actions in albion. In Fable II, it was extended to something similar to this trope, with Good/Evil being your morality and Corrupt/Pure being how nice you were to others and your own body. (I.E Pure characters treat their own body as a temple, while corrupt characters would drink a gallon of ale every morning).
    • Even with the improvements in Fable II, the system is still quite simplistic with the only two discernible options being either Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil. While the game's Big Bad is Lawful Evil, the game does not provide many options to exercise an influence over the story or quests based on one's alignment other than not taking the good or evil quests. The citizens of Albion will still hail you as the greatest hero of all time if you save enough slaves, even if you are also the kingdom's biggest slum lord and adulterer.
  • One Castlevania character has been given a canonical alignment: according to the Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin manual, Death is Lawful Evil. This is common for incarnations of Death — in most settings, Death follows strict rules (e.g. Discworld, Forgotten Realms, Incarnations of Immortality). It also works for this particular Death, who's a servant to Count Dracula, and follows rules.
  • Wizardry uses the good/evil axis, though it leaves out order and chaos. The manual states that a good man helps an old lady across the street, a neutral man crosses the street and helps an old lady across, an evil male PC helps a young lady across the street, and the level of evil they all oppose helps an old lady halfway across the street. A note adds that since the game uses Purely Aesthetic Gender, a good woman helps an old man across the street.
  • Dwarf Fortress rates regions of land on a "benign-neutral-savage" and a "good-neutral-evil" axis. So, benign good is "serene", while savage evil is "terrifying". (It's... not very good for your dwarves to start in an evil area. Really. For them, at least.) The main difference between savage-evil biomes and savage-good biomes often comes down to little more than whether your dwarves get massacred by rampaging zombies, or by rampaging unicorns.
  • In Age of Wonders, the races are aligned on the Good-Evil spectrum, with Pure Evil (The Undead), Evil (Dark Elves, Orcs and Goblins), Neutral (Human, Azracs, Lizardmen, Frostlings), Good (Elves, Dwarfs, Halflings), and Pure Good (Highmen).
  • Battle for Wesnoth has the alignments of "Lawful", "Neutral", and "Chaotic". Alignment is decided by class and cannot be changed. It also only affects one thing: how well units fight during certain times of day. "Lawful" characters fight well at day and badly at night, while "Chaotic" characters are the exact opposite. "Neutral" characters are never affected by the time of day. Caves function as a permanent night, and characters with the Illumination skill cause the day/night cycle to act one stage closer to day (night is like dawn/dusk and dawn/dusk are like day).
  • Every other BioWare RPG has an alignment meter of some sort; Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate use the D&D system, Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: The Old Republic have a linear Light Side/Dark Side axis, while Jade Empire and Mass Effect have a similar Open Palm/Closed Fist and Paragon/Renegade axes, respectively. So far, the only BioWare games to abandon this are the Dragon Age series, which instead measures each party member's approval or disapproval of your actions.
  • The Fallout series goes with a Karma system. It really is only one scale, and doesn't involve the lawful-chaotic scale, only ranging from good to evil. The main relation to the D&D alignment system comes from how the player chooses to gain points in either direction. It is generally easier to become good than evil by killing lots and lots of people for the hell of it, ironically, since many of the karma-inducing characters you can kill easily in the games are evil-aligned. While it is possible to be dog-kicking Chaotic Evil by going into a town and killing guards and civilians, you will most likely alert several higher-leveled guards while doing it, while doing the Lawful Evil approach and subtly plan genocide by detonating live atomic bombs and unleashing mass-killing viruses in the water will comfortably put you on the evil side of the scale without having to shoot a single guard doing it. The good side of the scale tends to be a little more flexible, however, allowing you to both be a trigger-happy nutjob and an agent of various good organizations around while doing it.
    • In Fallout 3, once you do become sufficiently good or evil, agents from the opposite site will start hunting you. Killing the Rangers hunting you because you're evil makes you more evil; killing the Talon Co. mercenaries hunting you because you're good makes you more good. So there's a tipping point at which it becomes easier to keep going the direction you were heading. That said, unless you're deliberately TRYING for evil (or you undertake a particular quest that has a massive karma penalty), it's slightly easier to become "Good" than it is to become "Evil", and staying neutral is hardest of all, since it involves a kind of a balancing act of randomly being an a-hole just enough to keep you from accidentally becoming "too good".
  • ADOM:
    • The game has the old-D&D-style "Order Versus Chaos (psst, it's really Black-and-White Morality)" system. There's a scale of symbols representing the different steps from completely Chaotic to completely Lawful: C- C C+ CN NC N- N= N+ NL LN L L+
    • Whether you're primarily Chaotic, Neutral, or Lawful (as indicated by the first letter of your alignment) determines which of your three racial deities you serve. You can pray to become a champion of your alignment after having the most extreme version (which for Neutral, could also be called the least extreme) and getting extremely favoured by your deity.
    • The sequel, JADE, is supposed to add the Good/Evil axis to this.
  • NetHack has D&D-inspired Order Versus Chaos alignment system which decides what artifacts you can use, what deities you worship, and if you get punished for things like stealing from shops or attacking peaceful creatures. The Unfought Big Bad evil god Moloch is unaligned.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The game tended to keep to a dichotomy of good vs evil for the most part, but the Order Versus Chaos element is also heavily played and hard to ignore. For one thing, the first game made reference to Shang Tsung corrupting the shaolin tournament and the furies, shifting the side of the tournament's order alignment to the chaos alignment. Later on, we see Shang Tsung's boss, the Emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn, who uses his extermination squads to invade and merge other realms using brute, compassionate-free, aggressive force, all while completely ignoring and defying the rules and regulations the Elder Gods commanded to stop this happening. Later on, in the 6th installment Mortal Kombat: Deception, we are presented with the former ruler of Outworld, Onaga the Dragon King. Who still wants to merge the realms much like Shao Kahn, but do so by merging the special kamidogu instead, which would combine the realms automatically, creating complete stability, without the need for violent conquest.
    • This is the game where the Order Versus Chaos dichotomy comes into play. With only a handful of 'good' characters left, either killed, or brainwashed to serve as Onaga's pawns, we're left with previously (and new) 'evil' or grey characters teaming up and binding together to fight on the side of chaos to fight for freedom that's threatened by the side of order. Suddenly it's no longer about good vs evil. New realms introduced in the series include Chaosrealm and Orderrealm. Introduced characters that maintain morally grey and/or take no stances on good and evil include a guardsman from the Orderrealm outright stated to want to preserve law and order at all costs, a cleric from the Chaosrealm with a desire to see the world descend into turmoil with militant obsession to oppose any control (good or bad), a resistance revolutionary from Orderrealm taking a leaf out of the chaos book to fight for freedom in Orderrealm and oppose all regulations and laws, and your standard Wild Card mercenary that takes no sides in the whole ordeal (good, evil, order, or chaos). If order wins, the universe will be destroyed. If chaos wins, you can celebrate for about a minute before you realize you helped your former evil return. You're screwed either way.
  • The Class of Heroes series utilizes the moral axis of (Good, Neutral, and Evil) to influence whichever class is available to a character. All ten playable races can cover the entire axis — including the demonic Diaboloses or the angelic Celestians — thus it's not impossible to create a good Diabolos or an evil Celestian.
  • RuneScape
    • During the quest "The World Wakes", the player is given a test to become a guardian of Guthix. To pass, you much give one Lawful Good, one Lawful Evil, one Chaotic Good, and one Chaotic Evil answer to any of the four questions you are asked, thereby proving that you are in balance.
    • The various gods and factions of Runescape represent various alignments, although many characters claim to be one alignment but act like another. A recurring theme is how all of the gods and their factions are Not So Different.
      • Although Guthix is known as the God of Balance and his followers claim to follow a philosophy of Balance Between Good and Evil and order and chaos, Guthix's true alignment turns out to be closer to Chaotic Good when it is revealed that he hates war and wants mortals to live free of the tyranny of gods, including himself. His followers have been shown to have a wide variety of alignments due to misinterpreting his teaching in various ways.
      • Saradomin is the god of Order. Many of his followers are Lawful Good, but it has been shown that Saradomin is far from this due to his character flaws, but he is self-aware of this, engaging in "Do as I say, not as I do". In the distant past, he was an evil tyrant before he went though a Heel Realization.
      • Saradomin's rival, Zamorak, is the god of Chaos. Many of his followers are Chaotic Evil, but he believes that chaos leads to the betterment of society, so he claims to be Chaotic Good, but is a little bit too extreme. He gets upset about his followers misinterpreting his teaching and committing atrocities for the sake of chaos or for selfish reasons.
      • Armadyl is the god of Justice and Law. Unlike Saradomin, he actually does a good job of following the ideals he expects his followers to follow, but like Saradomin, isn't without his flaws. He wants to achieve peace, but he went about this by starting a war with his rival Bandos.
      • The only major god who is unambiguously and completely evil is Bandos, the Chaotic Evil god of war. His only sympathetic trait is that unlike most of the other major gods, he isn't a hypocrite at all, being completely honest about what he wants and what he believes, and actually does it always.
      • An aversion, Zaros, the god of control, can't really be placed in any alignment because Word of God has stated that he runs on Blue-and-Orange Morality and has very little emotion. He has little interest in achieving any ideals and sees the fighting between the other gods as petty. During the time he ruled over a vast empire, he ruled with a style that could be interpreted as Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, or Lawful Evil, and his followers (even his most loyal ones) were spread across just about every alignment. He has now given up on ruling over mortals and wants to manipulate events from the shadows. Ultimately, he just wants to accomplish his goal of stopping the Elder Gods, which is a noble cause, and will do whatever it takes to accomplish this.
      • The other major factions in the game support the Neutral Good god of peace Seren, the Chaotic Good god of hedonism Marimbo, the Chaotic Evil Trickster Sliske (who is ambiguously a god), and the Cloud Cuckoo Lander god of deliciousness Brassica Prime. The exception is the Godless Faction, which, like Guthix, wants the world to be free of gods, and although their philosophy claims to be Chaotic Good, has also shown some extremism that shows they are Not So Different.
  • Rakenzarn Tales lets you swing between Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic Good, depending on your choices. This has a big factor in determining who will join your party and how various people will react to you over the course of the game.
  • The five tidal affinities of Torment: Tides of Numenera serve as an alignment system, with the Last Castoff having one or two dominant:
    • The Gold Tide represents charity, compassion, empathy, sacrifice, and other selfless traits.
    • The Indigo Tide encompasses justice, compromise, the greater good, and other communally-oriented traits.
    • The Silver Tide involves admiration, power, fame, and other ambition-related traits.
    • The Red Tide includes passion, emotion, action, pathos, zeal, and other emotional traits.
    • The Blue Tide maps to reason, insight, wisdom, and other intellectual or mystical traits.
  • Though you'd miss it if you didn't look specifically for it, one character in Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters refers to characters this way by tacking the initials of their alignment onto their name. Mifune, the Lawful Neutral student, is called LN-Mifine. The yakuza member with a good heart is given the prefix CG, or Chaotic Good. So on and so forth. The player character, however, is given the prefix LG, or Lawful Good, despite being capable of being anywhere on the alignment list. Though True Neutral has them be The Ditz by making them space out or lick everything, and Chaotic Evil is more along the lines of Chaotic Stupid because you're antagonizing paying clients and needlessly destroying things that you have to pay for.
  • Rakenzarn Frontier Story lets you swing between Lawful Good and Chaotic Good. This mostly determines how well you get along with your party members as well as the outcome of certain quests.
  • In Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land all characters have one of three alignments good, neutral, or evil. A character's alignment along with their race determined their personality, affecting how they gain or lose trust with the party leader. Additionally some classes require the character to be of a certain alignment.
  • Splatoon 2 had an online event called Final Fest: Splatocalypse that focused heavily on the axis of Chaos and Order. During the event, players were able to align themselves with either Chaos or Order, and could then do battle with members of the opposing alignment in an all-out Turf War. In celebration of the event, this piece of official artwork was released showcasing all of the game's characters arranged according to their alignment, and each one's reasoning was discussed in greater detail on the game's social media.
  • Nexus Clash has a simple Karma Meter from good to neutral to evil, but class choices add another axis based on free will, as some choices constrain you to serving a particular moral absolute and some do not.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick, naturally, as it is loosely based on the Dungeons & Dragons world. However, the comic proceeds to completely deconstruct the concept in a realistic manner to create believable characters with interesting motivations.
    • One of the best examples is the juxtaposition of Roy and Miko during "No Cure for the Paladin Blues." They're both Lawful Good, but take completely different approaches to their alignment.
    • A non-good example of this is Redcloak, high priest of an evil god who has a plan which will either end with world domination or world destruction. He is a well-developed character with deep personal motivations for his cause, a complex relationship with the lich who killed his brother, and his primary motivation is to change the quality of living for his species (at the expense of any other race).
    • However, several strips give an excellent illustration of alignments coming into conflict: The Lawful Good Celia, Chaotic Good Haley, and Chaotic Evil Belkar encounter a couple of Lawful Evil Hobgoblins. Belkar stabs the Hobgoblin because he just likes killing. Celia is horrified at his random unlawful murder, but Haley justifies it by saying that as they are fighting a war against evil, the unjust killing was, if not necessary, then at least acceptable. However, then they come into contact with a friendly gnome merchant, who Belkar then also stabs. Haley is horrified, but Belkar points out that the gnome's cart and donkey are of great use to the group, and likely to benefit the resistance more than his hobgoblin slaying. Celia then starts commenting on how Not So Different the situation is, and sarcastically suggests that Haley should paint the corpse to look like a Hobgoblin so that Haley can more easily rationalize this second unlawful killing.
    • The endless alignment debates over Vaarsuvius's Deal with the Devil in "Don't Split the Party", and whether it was True Neutral as Word of God insists it was. It's gotten to the point where people jokingly start arguing about alignments every time a character moves a muscle.
    • Some fans jokingly argue that Belkar could fall within the bounds of Chaotic Good. In this case, it's more a bad case of Draco in Leather Pants than ambiguity because not only has Rich Burlew gone on record multiple times stating that Belkar is canonically Chaotic Evil, Belkar actively revels in it.
      • Although it has been hinted that he may be shifting to Chaotic Neutral or at the very least is going through Character Development to no longer be a total bad guy, but instead a monster with a few hidden good traits and a bit more restraint if it benefits him. One comic showed that his deepest wish is to to die and end up in the same afterlife as Lord Shojo and pampering Mr. Scruffy together, which will never happen due to their different alignments. His relationship with Mr. Scruffy led him to commit what is possibly his only act of true empathy (not including the times he was magically influenced to feel empathy).
  • Darths & Droids:
    • The comic has remained deliberately vague about the rules and game mechanics of the RPG that the characters are playing. There does appear to be some sort of alignment system: in strip 192, Pete, the resident Munchkin, identifies his Do-Anything Robot character as Chaotic Neutral.
    • And later:
      Pete: For crying out loud, Ben. The rest of us are okay with ruling the Galaxy. What part of that don't you like?
      Ben: I wrote "Good" on my character sheet and I jolly well meant it!
    • Alignment comes up again when the party tries to explain to Corey why it's a problem when Luke uses some paper:
      Sally: Yoda told us that paper has corrupted midi-chlorians. It's eEeEeEe-vil.
      [...]
      Corey: When has paper ever been evil?
      Sally: Money. Paper cuts. Exams. Bills.
      Pete: Bills are lawful neutral.
      Sally: Lawful neutral is just evil with extra steps.
  • Goblin Hollow: Ben explains alignments.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl: The characters run the gamut.
  • Larisa Korolev from Sandra and Woo is said by Oliver Knörzer to be a prime example of the Chaotic Neutral alignment.
  • Rusty and Co. uses character alignment to humorous means.
    • The Princess, a Monk, is quite Lawful Neutral. After Calamitus, an Evil Sorcerer, charms an innocent audience to attack her, she does not hesitate to knock them all out, contrary to the bad guy's mistaken belief in her being Good.
    • Madeline the Paladin is quite Lawful Good and veers quickly into Lawful Stupid if she's not intercepted into planning before an encounter.
    • Calamitus is a Large Ham, served Chaotic Evil.
  • El Goonish Shive: In The Rant of this comic, Dan provisionally agrees with the claims that Grace would be Neutral Good, Ellen would be Chaotic Good, and Elliot would be Lawful Good.
  • Precocious has a character alignment page here (made by a character In-Universe). Though, given the cast makeup, it's likely that several of those who weren't listed are to the south end of the axis.
    • Notably, the Alt Text reads: 'This thing needs more evil and/or chaotic rows.' As far as the In-Universe artist? 'You can't classify me!'
  • Kevin & Kell has an alignment chart of the characters now.
  • True Villains has bonus material revealing many of the characters' alignments, although several of the Villain Protagonists cheerfully self-identify as Evil as well. In an odd twist, the Gods are all canonically Above Good and Evil.
  • Friendship is Dragons: As a "what if MLP was a D&D game" comic, these are of course inevitable. They're using 4th edition, though, so the alignments mean slightly different things.
    • Twilight Sparkle is Lawful Good. This forms the core of her identity to try to do good, especially in the name of her lawful patron Celestia. The irony that the girl who likes rules is the one who is constantly taking the campaign Off the Rails is probably intentional.
    • Pinkie Pie is Unaligned (sort of a less devout True Neutral). Rarity grumbles that Unaligned bards tend to use their alignment as an excuse to do whatever they want.
    • Applejack is Lawful Good. She is more of an Honest Corporate Executive, keeping all her money-making schemes within the bounds of the law and helping others.
    • Rainbow Dash is Chaotic Evil. While she initially seems like she's using the alignment as an excuse to start fights whenever she wants, when another character briefly plays someone Chaotic Evil, she explains that it's important to reign yourself in so that the other players don't get pissed and kick you out. The trick is to only "randomly" attack the characters that everyone else hates, but can't attack because of their alignments.
    • Rarity was originally Evil (roughly equivalent to Neutral Evil), but shifted to Unaligned after the first session. Her primary concern is herself and her friends; everything else is irrelevant.
    • Fluttershy is Good (Neutral Good), and spends most of her time worrying about the feelings of absolutely everyone, including the monsters they meet.
  • xkcd: has done character alignment charts twice.
    • The first is an alignment chart that lists the alignments of different kinds of charts. The alignment chart itself is True Neutral.
    • The second, which was released exactly one year later, shows how people of different alignments arrange eggs in a partially filled egg carton.

    Web Original 
  • In Dept Heaven Apocrypha, an early meme allowed players to discover what alignments their characters had. Many of the "hero" types like Milanor, Kylier, and Yggdra are Lawful Good, Nessiah is Chaotic Good, Malice is Lawful Neutral, and Meria is Chaotic Neutral.
  • The sci-fi author John C. Wright has come up with a setting which uses a rather complex and confusing concept for alignments. "Alignment" essentially boils down to being loyal to one faction or another. In another post, he posited the idea of alignments based on the real-life worldviews (from his conservative Christian point of view), with Classical (corresponding to Pagan philosophy), Principled (corresponding to theology), and Conventional (corresponding to modern ideology).
  • The Trope Pantheons project in TV Tropes. As it was based on the Dungeons & Dragons system, designating Character Alignment to a character from a series that doesn't normally use them gets a free pass. There are even gods in the Pantheon that represent the four cardinal alignments: Cosmos for Good, Melkor for Evil, and YHVH and Lucifer for Law and Chaos respectively.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time has mentioned the idea of Character Alignment on occasion, such as the unaligned ant from "The Enchiridion!" and the in-universe-identified Chaotic Evil Hunson Abadeer from "It Came From the Nightosphere" and "Return to the Nightosphere". Near the end of "Ignition Point", Finn and the Flame King even use D&D terminology to discuss the alignment of the flame people and Flame Princess.

Alternative Title(s): Grid Alignment

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