I've been looking back at Esoteric Enterprises, and listening to French Antifascist Rap and arguing about 40k lately, and looking at the state of the world and the inexorable rise of authoritarianism at home and abroad, and being grumpy about how DnD-like games position PCs, and it's slowly solidified into some thoughts.
Here they are.
Scholars and experts will tell you that the true nature of chaos is incomprehensible. Perhaps they lie, or perhaps they've fooled themselves with their sophistry, but either way they're wrong. Chaos is very easy to understand.
|Art of Mæredith, by TJmcFuck, whose art is very cool and whose thoughts partially inspired this post.|
What Is Chaos Really?
Take the three-by-three alignment grid you're familiar with. It's a lie to confuse you. There's only one axis. Law vs Chaos and Evil vs Good are the same thing. Law is evil, Chaos is good. Ideas like 'lawful good' or 'chaotic neutral' are word games designed to stop you thinking clearly, like 'benevolent evil'.
Law is evil. It has to be, by its very nature. The process of Law is one of domination and subjugation. Law is the use of force - violent or coercive - to enforce the will of the few onto the otherwise unwilling many. Stripping away freedom, autonomy and dignity to subject us to the tyranny of the lawful.
All Cops Are Bastards, and that includes paladins.
Law is the force that decrees certain types of person (women, the poor, the mentally ill, the goblins, the foreigners) as inferior. Law is the force that would strip your bodily autonomy from you, because it considers you unworthy of controlling your own flesh. Law is the force that will inflict pain on those who don't comply, until their will is broken.
Once you understand this, it's simple.
What is Chaos, then? At its heart, Chaos is freedom. Defiance of the forces of Law, personal autonomy, your own will above all else. Chaos is anarchy, black magic, antifascism, the furious howl of those who will be oppressed no longer. Many people understand this, on some gut instinctive level, but few embrace it, and even fewer embody it.
Who Are Chaos Warriors?
A Chaos Warrior, then, is simply somebody whose fully dedicated themself to Chaos. A burning torch of defiance in the face of oppression. They could come from any background, and possess any talents.
The most well known Chaos Warriors are fighters and barbarians, clad in ornate plate armour, carrying unholy weapons, striking down the soldiers of order and defiling their symbols of control. They carve through disciplined armies, burn tax records, demolish prisons and desecrate churches.
Others are sorcerers, dabbling in forbidden magic, directing unshaped elemental power to remake creation to suit their whims. Witches, blasphemers and madmen, no longer held back by the mere laws of nature.
Others still are more subtle. Rogues and assassins that keep a low profile, sidestepping law enforcement, sowing havoc in their wake and slipping back into the protective darkness. Arson, sabotage and assassination carefully applied to cut the hamstrings of those who would oppress them.
Some Chaos Warriors seem to venerate greater forces. Change, decadence, fury, entropy. Scholars see such practices, and conclude that the Chaos Warriors must be worshippers of greater powers, slaves to some pantheon of unwholesome dark gods. They set to work classifying them, assigning them arrays of various carefully described demons, categorising their various gifts.
This, too, is a mistake, or a lie. The dark powers, in as much as they exist, are not external gods meddling with mortal puppets. Each dark power is simply a personification of the ideals that a given Chaos Warrior holds dear.
The lawful see a Chaos Warrior dedicated to decadance and excess - pursuing hedonism and self-indulgence with the same zeal as a priest pursues holiness - and conclude that he cannot be doing so of his own free will. So they hypothesise a dark prince, a thirsting god that he must be enslaved by, and invent all manner of demons and rituals in that dark prince's name. In truth, the dark prince is nothing more than that Chaos Warrior's own desires, given a name and personified.
It should be noted, however, that Chaos is not stupidity. Chaos Warriors understand the dire threat presented by Law. They are perfectly capable of freely choosing to associate with one another. Often when the momentum builds, they'll gather into huge hordes, knowing that the tyranny of Law can't stand against their collective desires. Plenty wish to see others - the downtrodden and oppressed - find the same enlightenment they did, and work to spread their destabilising message among the masses.
At the end of the day, though, every Chaos Warrior is an individual, following their own path and beholden to nothing and nobody, save their own ambitions.
Becoming a Chaos Warrior is an option for D&D-like games, ranging from 0th edition to 5th, as well as their various derivatives. Any character can become a chaos warrior simply by wanting it.
Alignment: All Chaos Warriors are chaotic. They have no alignment on the good-evil axis (not even neutrality), as they realise that this axis is a lie. If any supernatural effect checks for good or evil, it fails to find any in them, and instead reports that they're chaotic.
Further, a Chaos Warrior can never be bound by any oath, geas or pact. They might enter into it, but even if the other party is bound by the agreement, the Chaos Warrior may freely disregard the pact.
Chaos Points: Chaos Warriors track the power of chaos within them, gaining new strength as they embrace it. Their pool of Chaos Points starts at 0, and can rise indefinitely high.
Gaining Chaos Points: A Chaos Warrior gains a Chaos Point when they do any of the following:
- Destroy or desecrate a public site of order, oppression or control (such as a prison or church).
- Slay, corrupt or otherwise neutralise an agent of order (such as a police officer, politician or pontiff).
- Weaken the grasp of an institution of law (such as a government agency, church or order of paladins).
- Lead somebody else to become another Chaos Warrior.
- Achieve an extravagant personal goal in defiance of the strictures of law (such as a grand slaughter of the police, drug-fuelled orgy or blasphemous rite).
- Immediately, shrug off any effect that would alter their mind, subvert their free will, or shift their perceptions. Mind control simply fails as soon as the Chaos Point is spent.
- Free another from a similar effect, as above.
- Heal themselves, or another, a number of HP equal to their remaining pool of Chaos Points, immediately and unnaturally.
- Make a single permanent alteration to their physical form (perhaps shifting gender, growing horns, becoming inhumanly beautiful, or sprouting claws). Sort out the specific mechanical details with your GM, but a good rule of thumb is that the alteration grants Advantage to any appropriate rolls. The more Chaos Points they have when the change is made, the more dramatic the effect.
- Where the Chaos Warrior chooses to rely on luck, re-roll that chance if it fails. They can keep spending Chaos Points and re-rolling as many times as they want, until they run out, give up, or get what they want. They might use this to bump into the exact person they need by sheer chance, close their eyes and walk through a hail of arrows unharmed, stick their hand into a mysterious sack to pull out the exact item they need, or leap from a castle walls trusting that they'll land on something soft.
- Create a minor magical effect (of similar scale to something like Prestidigitation) that lasts as long as they wish. They might cause food to go rotten, have unlocked doors open for them, carry an enticing scent, or leave bloody footprints wherever they tread. The more Chaos Points they have, the more dramatic the effect currently is.
- Ravage an agent of order (such as a cop or authority figure). For the rest of the encounter, add their remaining amount of Chaos Points to all rolls against that victim (attack rolls, damage, saves etc), and deduct that same amount from the victim's rolls against them.
- Force those submitting to the forces of order (slaves, prisoners, soldiers, the poor) to make a save of some sort. If they fail, they temporarily throw off the chains of order that bind them. What this means will vary; they might flee from the Chaos Warrior, riot against their oppressors, give in to temptation, or something else.
-none of us are free until all of us are free.
-all cops are bastards.
-if you think it can't happen here, it can and already is.
-fuck the system.
-kill the cop in your head.