As any Dungeons & Dragons player knows, it's crucial that a new character's ethical alignment be established before entering into a campaign. It's a kind of moral compass that guides each player through the game. So how cool would it be to assign these same kind of alignments to the characters of Game of Thrones?
In the classic version of Dungeons & Dragons, characters were given alignments based upon a nine-grid matrix that featured such traits as "good," "chaotic," "neutral," and a bunch more. These designations were intended to help D&D players get into their characters, to create dynamic personalities, and as a way to guide them through the game in a consistent way.
It goes without saying that the Game of Thrones fantasy series often plays out like a D&D campaign. It's got all the right elements: a medieval setting, fantastic adventures, feuding kings, dwarves, and of course, dragons. But it's also got some incredible characters.
So, it is high time we assign some classic D&D alignments to a number of prominent Game of Thrones personalities. And who knows, perhaps some dedicated Dungeons & Dragons players will integrate these characters into their gameplay.
Some Season One spoilers ahead...
Eddard "Ned" Stark: Lawful Good
Head of House Stark and Lord Paramount of the North, Ned Stark is the archetypal good leader who commands extreme loyalty amongst his men. Lord Stark is a dedicated husband and father to six children - a man who is wracked by guilt after having a brief marital affair. Stark never questions King Baratheon, whether it be a request to kill his daughter's pet wolf or to become the King's Hand. As Warden of the North, Stark's dominion represents a crucial bastion of defense against the mysterious forces that lie behind the Wall. It's a responsibility that Stark wears proudly, particularly as a hardened Northerner. His spirit is best captured in the quote, "You may think my life is so precious to me that I would trade my honor for a few more years of....what?"
King Robert Baratheon: Chaotic neutral
King Baratheon, the so-called Protector of the Realm, rules his Seven Kingdoms with enough indifference and carelessness to warrant the alignment of chaotic neutral. Robert is more concerned with the pursuit of personal pleasures and ruminating about the past than running his Kingdom - a task that he has largely deferred to the Small Council. So out of touch is Robert that he doesn't even realize that his three children are not his children at all, the offspring of his wife Cersei and brother-in-law Jaime Lannister. Upon promoting Ned Stark to Hand of the King status, Robert notes, "I'm trying to get you to run my kingdom while I eat, drink, and whore my way to an early grave." And indeed, the King meets his fate in a drunken hunting expedition, the victim of a wild boar and his own recklessness.
Queen Cersei Lannister: Neutral evil
The Queen Dowager of the Seven Kingdoms, Cersei Lannister is the wife of King Baratheon and daughter of the former King's Hand. She finds herself in a loveless marriage brought about by political necessity. The queen is mean-spirited and spiteful - a side that's seen in the incident involving the death of Sansa Stark's innocent wolf. Cersei is also a conniver. In an attempt to place a pure-blooded Lannister on the Iron Throne, the incestuous Cersei has three children with her twin brother, Jaime. The queen's perspective is best captured in her quote, "Anyone who isn't us is an enemy." Cersei is eventually successful, and her eldest son, Joffrey, takes the throne after the death of both Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark-a series of events that were largely instigated by her scheming. Seeking power simply for the sake of it, she notes to her son, "Someday, you will sit on the throne and the truth will be what you make it."
Tyrion Lannister: True neutral
The only true neutral character of the series, the fiercely courageous Tyrion Lannister is a survivor who simply does what he can to enjoy life and make it to the next day. As the youngest son son of Lord Tywin Lannister, Tyrion uses his status, wit, and intellect to overcome the prejudice he continually faces as a dwarf. "My brother has his sword," he says, "and I have my mind." Tyrion faces adversity both inside and outside of his family, often finding himself at odds with the other Lannisters. Despite his often brash nature, he always finds a way to navigate through dangerous waters. "Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not," he notes, "Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you."
Daenerys Targaryen: Neutral good...well, at least up until the end of the first season
A surviving child of the overthrown King Aerys II Targaryen, the beautiful Daenerys Targaryen lives in exile in the East. In an effort to forge an alliance between House Targaryen and the Dothraki, she is used as a pawn and is married to the barbarian Khal Drogo. Daenerys is young, inexperienced, and completely naiive - but she is a quick study and her alliances shift after spending time with the rugged and brutal Dothraki people; Daenerys goes native. She eventually falls in love with Drogo, but loses him and her unborn son to the vengeful Mirri Maz Duur. Her allegiances are forced to shift yet again, but this time as Khaleesi, the leader of a small band of surviving dissenters. She sets herself on a mission to take her place as the rightful queen of Westeros. A warrior queen in the making, Daenerys can at times be completely ruthless, while at others remarkably compassionate. Ultimately, however, she plans to retake her homeland by whatever means necessary: "When my dragons are grown they will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground."
King Joffrey Lannister: Chaotic evil
The sociopathic and petulant king, Joffrey Lannister finds himself sitting on the Iron Throne at the tender age of 17, thanks mostly to the machinations of his mother, Cersei Lannister. Unaware that he is the offspring of his mother and uncle Jaime, Joffrey rules the Seven Kingdoms with an unabashed sense of entitlement. He is spoiled, arrogant, cowardly and sadistic. His court is characterized by extreme brutality and an unchecked recklessness that stuns his bride-to-be, Sansa Stark, and other court observers. Committed to ruling the Seven Kingdoms with a unilateral iron fist, he notes, "We allow the northerners too much power. They consider themselves our equals."
Arya Stark: Chaotic Good
Arya Stark is the youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn, a Lady of House Stark who wants absolutely nothing to do with lady-like things. She is vehemently opposed to the idea of following in her elder sister's footsteps and marrying for influence and power. Instead, Arya, by virtue of her fierce independence and non-conformist nature, believes she can carve her own path and pursue her own destiny. To that end, she has developed a keen interest in warfare and combat. Arya owns her own sword and has trained in the Braavosi style of sword fighting. And at the age of nine, she has already had to kill in an act of self defense. Despite her frequent outbursts and recklessness, Arya's heart is always in the right place: a proud and loyal member of House Stark.
Varys: Neutral good
"Power resides where men believe it resides," notes the eunuch Varys, "it's a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow." Indeed, Varys, as a member of the king's Small Council, knows very much how power works - and how to sniff it out. As a member of the Master of Whisperers, it is Varys's job to advise the king on matters of espionage and intelligence. Dedicated to the preservation of peace and social order, Varys remains unconcerned about where his work takes him and the kind of dirt he might have to uncover. His priority is to ensure stability in the Seven Kingdoms. And as a man free of sexual urges, he is near impossible to corrupt and his motives remain largely mysterious.
Petyr Baelish: Neutral evil
The man with the perpetual smirk on his face, Petyr Baelish is the Master of Coin on the small council. He runs brothels in King's Landing and uses this position to gain intelligence on political rivals. A skilled manipulator, Petyr works exclusively to secure his own interests. It's clear that he has high ambitions for himself and that the only way to achieve his goals will be through brute Machiavellian tactics. It was Petyr who betrayed Ned Stark to side with the Lannisters and King Joffrey following the death of Robert Baratheon. His remark to Ned Snark says it all: "I did warn you not to trust me."
Images via Game of Thrones Wiki.