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I wanted to try something new in a Pathfinder campaign, so I created a lawful good cleric/rogue. Problem is, I have no idea how to play a rogue as lawful, due to this:

From the PRD:

Life is an endless adventure for those who live by their wits. Ever just one step ahead of danger, rogues bank on their cunning, skill, and charm to bend fate to their favor. Never knowing what to expect, they prepare for everything, becoming masters of a wide variety of skills, training themselves to be adept manipulators, agile acrobats, shadowy stalkers, or masters of any of dozens of other professions or talents. Thieves and gamblers, fast talkers and diplomats, bandits and bounty hunters, and explorers and investigators all might be considered rogues, as well as countless other professions that rely upon wits, prowess, or luck. Although many rogues favor cities and the innumerable opportunities of civilization, some embrace lives on the road, journeying far, meeting exotic people, and facing fantastic danger in pursuit of equally fantastic riches. In the end, any who desire to shape their fates and live life on their own terms might come to be called rogues.

That does not sound lawful, now does it? Also from the PRD:

A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

Lawful good combines honor with compassion.

How do I act as a rogue that is lawful?

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7 Answers 7

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Thieves and gamblers, fast talkers and diplomats, bandits and bounty hunters, and explorers and investigators all might be considered rogues, as well as countless other professions that rely upon wits, prowess, or luck. Although many rogues favor cities and the innumerable opportunities of civilization[...]

Class fluff is, for the most part, optional. In the case of core classes, it's often seen as very optional. However, 'rogue' is intentionally a very broad class that can fit a lot of concepts. A by-the-book Special Forces operative might be a rogue; so might a patriotic spymaster, a bought-and-paid-for torturer, a church-sanctioned assassin, or even a special detective working for the City Watch. Law and chaos tend to be about the individual being's attitude about conformity vs. freedom; Lawful rogues sort of naturally fall into the needful, yet underhanded, duties that society requires to function. If your character prefers to honor their promises, uphold order (not necessarily the law, but rather an orderly society), believes in concepts like duty and obligation, and/or swears fealty to a lord or cause to which they display loyalty and service, they're Lawful.

As an aside, the alignment entry under Rogue reads 'any'.

Edit - The Lawful Good Angle

There's a lot of definitions of 'honor'. A Lawful Good rogue might not be an honorable combatant, but they can display personal honor by keeping their word, providing true and loyal service to their lord and their friends, supporting honorable causes, sheltering the weak, defending the innocent, and working for the betterment of society. A Lawful Good rogue uses their skills for the aid of others and values teamwork (even if their role in the team ends up being 'lone wolf'), empathy, compassion, justice, and an orderly society. Lawful Good rogues are sometimes called to break laws so that others don't have to, or empowered to do so in the name of the greater good.

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+1 for the "public service" angle. –  CatLord Jan 27 at 23:32
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Hrmm, your discussion of lawful good rogue really seems to resonate with my mental image of Sam Vimes. He might prove to be a useful example. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 27 at 23:44
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Now I got a mental image of an undercover Judge (as in the Judge Dredd universe) with rogue as their class. Living off their wits and luck in the chaos of Mega-City's underworld, but definitely very Lawful. –  Kaj_Sotala Jan 28 at 7:08

Alignment is a mess, particularly Law and Chaos

I am almost certain that you will never find two people who define Law and Chaos exactly the same way. The books definitely don’t; there are actually different definitions of each such that the same action or person could be equally described as Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic, because the different definitions are not even mutually exclusive.

There is a reason no one ever published a Book of Perfect Dogma or Book of Unfettered Discord – no one has a very clear idea what it actually means to be lawful or chaotic. There’s a bit of that old saw that “I know it when I see it,” but particular situations can cause different people to see very different things.

So there is no way to answer this question perfectly; there is no way to play a rogue that will appear lawful to everyone.

That said, rogues don’t have any alignment requirements

Being a Rogue means you are highly-trained in a wide area of skills, particularly as relates to stealth, mobility, and exploration of dangerous areas. It means that, in combat, you are very quick to capitalize on others’ mistakes, but you are not a primary combatant and if you don’t get that opening you cannot stand toe-to-toe with the biggest, strongest, or best warrriors.

Note that rogues are not necessarily thieves or any other sort of criminal. The description you quote never actually says anything about how rogues interact with the law. In fact, none of their behavior sounds particularly chaotic to me: it sounds much more like they are prepared for a chaotic world. Someone who is personally chaotic may be better suited towards going with the flow and acting spontaneously as circumstances change, but not necessarily. A disciplined, lawful personality may prepare more options, train harder, be more ready to look at the big picture, enabling him to navigate the world’s lack of lawfulness.

Law and Chaos are probably most reasonably defined as how you deal with structure: do you find that structure provides support and nourishment, that you can use the structure to find and take advantage of opportunities? Or do you find that structure stifles you, prevents you from being true to yourself and inhibits your ability to make the most of your talents? Do you find lack of structure distracting, or even paralyzing, giving you no direction and providing no safety net? Or is it liberating, allowing you to be the best you can be? Those are the kinds of questions that Lawful and Chaotic individuals will always answer differently.

Some examples:

Lawful Good

Lawful Good rogues are often explorers and travelers, possibly even diplomats, who seek to find answers to important question and settle problems in distant lands.

Robin Hood

The quintessential good rogue, Robin Hood broke the law of the land, it’s true; the Sheriff of Nottingham certainly considered him a criminal. However, his extremely tight code of honor, about who could be stolen from and to whom money could go, belies a very lawful personality. He merely rejected the authority of those who wrote the law, and in many versions, he even has a legal argument backing that up (namely that the true monarch was King Richard, and that Prince Edward is abusing his brother’s absence). In many renditions, Robin is himself a nobleman illegally stripped of his lands, and at least some of his actions would have been legal if he had been recognized as the lord of the lands he operated in.

Batman

Batman is acrobatic, stealthy, theatrical, and brilliant. Again, he acts within a very strict code (see his refusal to kill, particularly the Joker). He’s a vigilante, but his actions are specifically an attempt to right the wrongs of a corrupted city; he is providing law enforcement where the laws are riddled with loopholes and the police force is overworked and underpaid (unless they’re getting bribes).

(Of course, there have been many depictions of Batman, and you can find cases where he acts out just about any of the alignments. There’s at least one meme image showing Batman for every alignment.)

Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones exhibits many of the traits of a rogue: leaping, balancing, sneaking, disarming traps, and opening locks. He is not a particularly excellent fighter, but he’s not useless in a fight either, and he knows how to take advantage of situations (e.g. see Raiders of the Lost Ark, specifically the fights against the swordsman while chasing Marion and against the strongman under the plane). Once again, he has a strong code of ethics (“That belongs in a museum!”) and is generally acting with legal sanction (barring his time in Nazi Germany, where his rejection of the Nazis’ authority could still be considered a lawful act, staying true to the laws and expectations of his own culture, and obviously would be a good act).

Lawful Neutral

Neutrality is always a little tricky; there are several forms of it. There’s the balancing act, where the character performs both good and evil actions in relatively equal measure, and there’s the apathetic version, where the character ignores the questions of good and evil altogether. A rogue of the first sort might be a gangmember, a hitman or enforcer, perhaps, who is mostly just following orders, but has limits or a code that prevent certain actions deemed too immoral (e.g. he’ll murder a traitor, but not the traitor’s wife and kids). A rogue of the second sort may be a sanctioned representative of some government, and therefore working within the law (of that country) by definition, a diplomat or a spy, perhaps. Also, someone obsessed with revenge: vengeance is an attempt at justice, which is a very lawful notion, while the skills of a rogue are important for someone who is acting above and beyond what actual law enforcement can or will do.

Also, being named “The Verb-er” seems to help.

The Transporter

Less so in the later films, or even towards the end of the first, where he slides into good territory, but in The Transporter the title character has a very strict set of rules for his operation, and almost all of his initial involvement in the plot are following those laws or seeking revenge against those who broke them.

Also, the Transporter’s extreme skills with a car are similar to how the rogue works. Different skills available, of course, since there are not typically cars in Pathfinder, but still very much how the rogue works. His fighting style is very cerebral, creating and taking advantage of opportunities throughout his fights; very rogue.

The Punisher

The Punisher might not be modeled with the rogue class; certainly, even if he has a few levels in it, he’s got more in something a little harder-hitting. Still, he’s got skills, and he’s got the attitude of a lawful neutral rogue easily.

Lawful Evil

Lawful evil rogues are usually gangmembers, either hitmen and enforcers, or dons and kingpins. Their skills allow them to get in, get out, and make sure they never get pinned on it. They have ample access to the social skills necessary to control such an organization, too, along with a bit of the tricks and talents necessary to back it up.

Michael Corleone

As an outsider, as the kid who didn’t want to take part in the family business, Michael’s combat prowess and mettle were questioned constantly, particularly when it came time for him to act. Rogues are not front-line fighters, they are not usually physically imposing. But Michael could manipulate, sweet-talk, or terrify with the best of them, and he kept those facts very well hidden. He acted decisively and brutally, and no one saw it coming. Definitely could model that with a rogue.

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Not all rogues are lawbreakers as strongly as the build describes. A good rogue can be like the Secret Service: Because they have all the detection skills they can be great at knowing when a trap/ambush is in the wings. Additionally, one extremely overlooked role of a rogue that's especially useful with the cleric cross-classing is the role of the diplomat/politician. Because of the high skill points, a charisma based rogue is a powerful thing to be. Even further, a rogue can be an accountant - lawful (especially good) characters can be relied on for appraisal and local lore for conversion rates. Profession skills get to be key here as well.

Edit: As an off the wall idea, your character could be a cleric of a deity that is very unpopular in their area, and thus they must be very discreet with their activities. The cleric side performs services, the rogue side keeps the underground religion a secret.

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+1 for the underground Cleric idea, fantastic! –  cr0m Jan 28 at 0:45
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Excellent answer. I'd think of a lawful rogue as similar to a white hat hacker. They might enjoy the thrill of breaking into things, but do it for a good cause. –  Muz Jan 28 at 11:23

The previous two answers both have very good answers as to careers that would have a rogueish skill set without breaking the law (Military scout or sniper is another one I didn't see mentioned; You sneak around, look for traps and ambush people).

However, as another option you could be a reformed thief; You grew up as a thief before changing your ways. Perhaps you got caught, found religion, or simply had a change of heart. Now you are lawful, don't want to steal, but have a very specific skill set. What do you do for a living? Well, there are all these adventuring bands that need someone who can sneak, find and disarm traps.

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@CatLord - 'Rogue' is a class. 'Thief' is a use of its skill set. Halting the latter does not imply or necessitate halting the former. –  Lord_Gareth Jan 28 at 0:10

Perhaps...value laws generally, value 'goodness' over simply selfishness, generally.

Alignment might be seen as a category within which someone else places another. I believe that it is arguably also something a character (and their player) chooses themselves, according to their personal values. beliefs and choice.

What they perceive as good thoughts and actions might change over time, but 'good' rogues might fundamentally tend towards selflessness, kindness and the love of others and ideals which support them as being more important than their lives and continued existence. Therefore a lawful good rogue you play ought to choose to be kind rather than cruel in your perception, though also possessing the skills and tendencies of a rogue.

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In earlier editions of D&D, the class that became the Rogue was instead called the Thief, and although there were a few lines of fluff indicating that not all Thieves actually steal, the class was still heavily oriented toward larceny. The Rogue lessened that fluff considerably, but still retains aspects of that heritage.

But the mechanics of the Rogue are not all that different from the Expert NPC class, which has no such flavor. There's a bit more of a combat/dungeoneering bent to the Rogue's mechanics, but that's appropriate: the Rogue is an adventurer, and adventurer often involves these things.

The Rogue doesn't have a deep connection to the gods or nature or arcane powers or the wider society anything like that. He goes it alone. Pure warriors might be able to empathize, but unlike warrior-types, the Rogue doesn't have awesome martial prowess. In short, the Rogue can't just plain plow through things like others do; he has to survive by being cautious. And if you think about it, his abilities could easily be built around this theme. What is a sneak attack but staying out of the big fray and striking only when the time is right, for maximum damage and minimum risk? What is trapfinding but learning (often the hard way) to spot the signs others miss? The Rogue didn't train for a life of adventure or war, the way other characters did, so he falls back on a method of combat that keeps him alive.

So, how do you play a Lawful Rogue? You give him a past, fill out his skill slots, and then you play a Lawful character who fits those parameters, and that's pretty much it. To use one of Goofy's catchphrases, "I'm brave, but I'm careful" may well be the order of the day for you. You're not blessed with mighty thews or shining armor or mystical connections, so you can't afford to be as reckless as your adventuring companions might otherwise be, and that's where your more "rogue-ish" abilities come from. You may often find yourself being the voice of reason, or at least of common sense. You might be the brains of your operation, or the face of it, or the long-suffering sidekick who loves your group dearly but can't quite figure out just how you've all managed to survive for this long.

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Be a Lawyer or a politico!

One bends the law to their (or the greater good's) advantage, the other determines what the law is.

Both could be defined as lawful and I sneakiness is very helpful for both.

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This suggestion meets the letter of the question, but such a character seems hard to reconcile with the kind of stories Pathfinder is set up to tell: while a rogue would make a good fit for a lawyer or politician character concept, the character concepts feel like unnatural choices for an adventurer's profession. I'm sure it could be done (and in certain very unusual game scenarios it would be delightful), but it invites unnecessarily complicated logical circumlocutions to mesh with common Pathfinder game assumptions. –  BESW Jan 28 at 12:34
    
Well depends really. If you are inside lawful kingdoms, having a lawyer as a party member might be quite useful, but yeah it might alter the course of the game ;) –  Drenzul Feb 4 at 14:40

protected by Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jan 28 at 11:51

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