One consideration for the AD&D game is that alignment doesn’t work well in Fallen Aversill. Let’s put it this way: the forces of chaos and the forces of evil have, essentially, won in Aversill. Aside from pockets of civilization and a few well monitored byways, the Fade rules, and the Fade IS chaos. Western Allusia is like this BECAUSE the forces of good made pacts with evil creatures to defeat Havock. So, yes, the city state of Havock is not dominant on the continent, but then, the devils that cursed Aversill won anyways because they took down a might empire. What’s left? Small areas of civilization which barely recognize each other and which do not owe each other fealty. Human kingdoms in Fallen Aversill get into fights as often as they fight humanoid hordes. The place isn’t a spot where Good characters can just…be Good! A Lawful Good character who runs out into the Fade with the idea that he or she is going to puteverything evil or chaotic to the sword…well, if that’s what Lawful Good means, then Lawful Good isn’t a survivable position.
The goal, here, is to describe alignment in a more useful manner. In order to do this, I’ve added an extra level beyond the extremes referred to as cosmic. So, the alignments on one scale go Cosmic Lawful, Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic, and Cosmic Chaotic; and at the other extreme, Cosmic Good, Good, Neutral, Evil, and Cosmic Evil.
Cosmic Lawful: As far as you’re concerned, the Fade is an aberration. You don’t like it, you don’t like being in it, and you don’t like things that are from it. A Cosmic Lawful character stuck in the Fade will most likely want to get out of it, if at all possible. If the character tends towards the good, he or she will likely want to save others from getting lost in the Fade as well. Ultimately, a cosmically lawful character hates the Fade to the point that he or she will follow courses of action that diminish the power or size of the Fade. A Cosmically Lawful character would not become friends with creatures in the Fade (they would not trust them at all), and if forced to make alliances (in order to defeat a worse Fade entity or to guarantee escape), the characters goal would include the destruction of his temporary allies. The character sees himself engaged in a battle between Law and chaos.
In civilized areas, Cosmically Lawful characters are pretty much the same as Lawful characters except that they are more likely to think of civic unlawfulness as resultant from cosmic forces. Criminality is blamed on the influence of larger concerns: gods of chaos or the Fade trying to intrude on the Center.
Lawful: Fade and Center are the way it is. You don’t like the Fade, and you wouldn’t want to be stuck in it for any period of time, but you accept it as part of the world. While in the Fade, you assume it should work according to normal ideas of right and order. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, it scares/offends you, perhaps even terrifies you. In less severe areas of the Fade, a lawful character might allow for the whole “When in Rome” principle, so long as it doesn’t offend your conservative (maybe even prudish) sensibilities and only if no one expects you to eat anything you don’t recognize. Even if you are willing to deal with Fade creatures, they will always seem odd to you, but you can at least put them on a spectrum. Horrible forces of madness and pixies are related, they differ by degree and not by kind. Elsewhere, however, the question of how a lawful character would react to the unlawful environment of the wild is a moot point. How would a cop react if dropped in the middle of a jungle island? His Lawful-ness isn’t really a factor.
Basically, lawful characters abhor criminality in the human spectrum. They expect civilization to be civilized and they expect law breakers to be punished. The law of the wild places is wild, and is not your responsibility to deal with. You assume that if people obey the rules, they will prosper. You assume that the reason that the Fade is such a backwater part of the world is because it refuses to follow the law.
Cosmic neutrality is a bit odd. You simply don’t believe that either the Center or the Fade is particularly much better than the other. Both have their place. This isn’t just an issue of each person having some contribution to make to group dynamics or a willingness to see both sides of the problem. Cosmically neutral people are balanced to the point of being apathetic. It simply doesn’t matter to them whether they are in a realm of human control or out in the chaos of the Fade. This is the most common alignment of most esoteric wizards.
A character who is Cosmically Neutral isn’t stupid, though. They recognize that the Fade is dangerous. Its just that they recognize that the Center has its dangers too. The same can be said about riches or magic. Both areas have their place. If the cosmically neutral finds himself trapped in some escher-esque dimension ruled by an immortal knight from Limbo, well… home is where you hang your hat.
When things need to be done, you do not see any inherent value in doing it according to human laws or human criminality. Context decides everything. If it is more efficient to break the law, then so be it. If it is more efficient to consult an petty official, so be it. The one fear you have is that one side should become more powerful than the other. You’re neutrality might extend to the Fade. You see it as belonging to a natural order and you think that what happens in it is probably fairly important, but you don’t particularly flock to it because it is not efficient to do so. You are not a creature of the Fade, and so it is seldom more efficient to embrace its chaos. You can see the value of living the rest of your life in a realm that lies around the natural order of the universe…you just wouldn’t want to do it yourself.
You believe that law and chaos are locked in an eternal battle, and you’re rooting for Chaos. You are one of those strange characters who PREFER the Fade to the civilized world. Perhaps you’ve just been out too long, or maybe you were raised by Githyankie. Whatever. You feel, however, that the world would be a better place if the Fade just took over. Note, this is not the same thing as evil. You may prefer the universe of Eladrin weirdness to the boring same day-to-day rigmarole of Starfell. Some people just need it weird. You are one of those people.
While you are not evil, you imagine the world being turned over on its head. You do not believe that the best world can be inaugurated with this one still in place. A character who Cosmically Chaotic, and yet, still, good, might believe in some philosophy of total transcendence wherein the whole world will come to grips with the fact that they don’t need civilization.
Chaotic: You have serious trouble with authority and doing things the way they’re supposed to be done. The standard way is the absolute wrong way, in terms of your personal emotional stability or even just the way you’d like to do things. Chaotic people do not want your advice. They do not want to be told what to do. And when you’re plan falls apart or the law fails to reach the result it was meant to get, the chaotic person is on the sidelines with a quick, “I told you so.” Note, Chaotic people rarely want to be rulers or leaders themselves. They like anarchy and prefer to do things the illegal or socially unacceptable way than to go with the flow like sheep.
In terms of the Chaotic out in the Fade, they are likely to view a certain affinity with the Fade, but find it too random. In some ways, chaos is defined as law’s opposite. If there is no law to oppose, just the randomness of the world out there, the chaotic character feels at a loss. It isn’t that they don’t recognized that the world of the Fade isn’t what their attitude would eventually lead to, its just that the chaotic character abhors the idea that they will have to be chaotic forever (since that, too, is a kind of order). Again, it might be best to think of what would happen if some street thug were thrown into the jungle. He or she might do better than someone for whom society is everything, but still isn’t likely to thrive.
The world is locked in a cosmic struggle between good and evil. You are on the side of Good, and your goal is to stamp out evil. This isn’t, perhaps, so different than just being a good person except that you also believe that others are involved in this struggle, on purpose or unwittingly. Often entire races are devoted the side of good or, more often, evil. So, cursed people are working for Evil. Goblins are the footsoldiers of the army of Evil. Things that live underground are Evil. Because they are evil, you are empowered to smite them, you are empowered to ignore them, even as they explain how they’re not evil. At this extreme, good can be pretty severe.
Of course, some Cosmically Good characters are angelic, but even they believe that their point in the war of good vs. evil is to convert evil. Cosmically Good people do not believe in, “Live and Let Live.” They believe in judgment and then following through with their plan.
In a lot of ways, being in the Fade is preferable to the Center for the Cosmically Good character since the line between good and evil is much clearer there. On the other hand, the character is likely to see himself as ridiculously outnumbered in the Fade, and will probably want to get away from it as fast as possible. It’s a little like the difference between policing an enemy force with insurgents and rebels who tend to pop up out of the population to fight you intermittently, or fighting while outnumbered on a front line.
You are altruistic. You recognize evil but you don’t think of it as a force that holds entire races in its charge. There are evil acts, not evil people. A good character doesn’t kill Goblins because Goblins are evil, but he will kill Goblins if he suspects that they’ve done evil things. Basically, good is good: they do good things for people until they see a reason not to. Cosmically Good is inclusively good. They do good things for people who they think are on their side of the battle for good and evil. To others, they either want to change them or smite them. Good characters do not, necessarilly, get along with Cosmically Good characters. They prefer liberality to zealotry.
When a good (not cosmically good) character encounters the Fade, they are likely to judge the things they find there on their own merits, but they are also not likely to like much of what they find there. They might, in fact, find the cosmic-ness of the Fade off-putting or even heinous, whether its Cosmically Good or Cosmically Evil.
A character who is neutral, does not particularly think that being selfish or selfless are good answers, in and of themselves. Either way, it is context that matters. A character who is neutral in their second alignment position either finds morality (ethics) to be too constraining and therefore invents his or her own loopholes whenever it seems appropriate (chaotic netural), or he has his own code of ethics and, as a result, doesn’t have a particular attitude one way or another to the ethics followed by the hoi poloi (lawful neutral). A true neutral character does whatever is necessary to get the job done. Of course, a true neutral character doesn’t really do many jobs since he is, generally indifferent as to what needs to be done. Most True Neutrals operate through a desire for survival or self preservation.
A cosmically neutral character is convinced that good and evil are locked in a timeless battle and that, in this battle, no side can be allowed to gain the upper hand. It is, undoubtedly, a weird position regarding the nature of the universe, but it is generally grounded in a great distrust of everything supernatural. Neither the gods nor the devils can be trusted. If either of them wins, things will go bad. This battle is played out in mortal dramas. Thus, a cosmically neutral character operates on behalf of keeping this equality in operation. Good and evil are, to the Cosmically Neutral character, less positions of ethical consideration and more descriptions of which side someone is fighting for.
A cosmically neutral character in the Fade prefers the reality of the world he or she sees there. After all, the balancing act is hardest when there is subterfuge involved. Thus, even though the world of the Fade is ridiculously more dangerous than that of the Center, the cosmically neutral character actually prefers the Fade. The only problem is, of course, that the balancing of good versus evil generally requires that the character act in the Center, not in the Fade. Of course, the character could easily just wander off into the world of Neverwas and never return, and many Cosmically Neutral character, have done just that.
Evil is, at its core, selfishness, but it generally moves beyond that to domination, sadism, cruelty, paranoia, etc. The main point is that the character believes that whatever his needs are, giving them up for others is counterproductive. It would be better by far to use other people as tools to achieve his or her goals. Evil people are very willing to watch other people suffer to get what they want. They do not sacrifice for others unless they are absolutely sure it will guarantee an accrual of success.
A Cosmically Evil character believes that he is fighting a battle against Good (though he may think he’s the good guy). This character seeks out and wants to align with dark forces. He is working, actively, to forward their cause. Such a character may seek out the Fade hoping to make contact with dark creatures or to find beasts who are “on the same team,” but he understands, at least, that there are equally vile beings serving evil, wittingly and untwittingly, everywhere else.
There really is no act too reprehensible for a cosmically evil character. They might do anything to curry favor with their dark masters.