Li Po's Guide to Bytopia
Living the Good, Lawful-Tending Alignment

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
        -- Philippians 4:8
Character is what a man is in the dark.
        -- Dwight L. Moody

Help yourself to my Planescape Character Generator for MS-DOS.

On Bytopia, Goodness is sovereign and there is a tendency to Law over Chaos. Gary Gygax named the plane "The Twin Paradises". In "Planescape" it was renamed "Bytopia" -- a double Utopia.

The word "Paradise" comes from a Persian word (pardec) for an enclosed garden or park. It appears three times in the Greek New Testament (the robber is promised a place today in paradise, Paul is caught up into paradise, and the apocalypse contains a reference to paradise made by God.) Theologians who have tried to draw the geography of the spiritual world have wondered whether paradise is a lesser heaven, and/or perhaps the former home of Adam and Eve.

Thomas More coined the word "Utopia" as the title of a book about a good ("eu-") place ("-topia"), with relaxed and enlightened laws.

The Utopians, among whom all things are so well governed, and with so few laws; where virtue hath its due reward, and yet there is such an equality, that every one lives in plenty.

        -- Thomas More

You may read that "Utopia" means "no place". I don't know how this idea got started, since the derivation given above seems obvious, More doesn't say otherwise, and nowadays people use the term "dystopia" (Greek "dys-" means bad) to descibe a dark future, as in "Animal Farm", "Brave New World", or "1984".

If we are Elysian Ciphers or hold a radical-intuitivist theory of ethics, we do not need to think about what's right before we do it. The rest of us who profess good alignment must sometimes take time to think, and think hard. When we are deciding what is the good thing to do, we draw on at least one of three overarching ethical theories.

  • Formalism gives rules. Obeying them is right, disobeying them is wrong. This kind of thinking is modeled on the laws that keep society together and/or are offered by religionists as divinely revealed.
  • Consequentialism looks to the likely results of an action under consideration. Most people think that good deeds are those that promote health, reasonable freedom, and reasonable security for others. Consequentialists are always faced with the uncertainty of results, and nowadays a favorite position for grandstanders is to say (no matter what you are doing), "That could lead to Hitler's atrocities all over again."
  • Virtues ethics ("aretology") considers an action to be good if, and only if, it exhibits one or more of certain listed virtues, which may sometimes be contradictory.

Law requires thought, understanding, and careful ordering. For many people, good rules provide a secure basis for good living. A person focused on results needs to be a clear, rational thinker to do right. A "virtues" ethic seems most suited to a plane where law is preferred to unreason, but good is far stronger than both.

The world's spiritual leaders have provided lists of virtues.

Socrates ("Phaedo")

  • Self-control ("temperance")

  • Fairness ("justice")

  • Courage ("fortitude")

  • Understanding ("wisdom")

I Corinthians 13
  • Faith

  • Hope

  • Love ("agape", the greatest)
  • The scholastic Christians of the middle ages grouped these as the four temporal virtues and the three spiritual virtues.

Buddhism: The Four Social Emotions
  • Loving-Kindness (metta, in contrast to selfish love)

  • Compassion (karuna, in contrast to pity)

  • Sympathetic joy (mudita, in contrast to hypocrisy)

  • Impartiality (upekkha, in contrast to indifference)

Buddhism: The Six Virtues
  • Non-violence

  • Non-stealing

  • Sexual purity

  • Honesty

  • Sobriety

  • Generosity

  • NOTE: Schools of Buddhism that emphasize the importance of monitoring one's own mental states and attitudes often seem to use virtue-based ethical frameworks.

The Beatutitudes
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit

  • Blessed are those who mourn

  • Blessed are the gentle

  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness

  • Blessed are the merciful

  • Blessed are the pure in heart

  • Blessed are the peacemakers

  • Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness

Medical Ethics -- various virtues
  • Honesty

  • Promise keeping

  • Not doing harm

  • Being fair

  • Respecting individual autonomy

  • Doing good

  • Preventing and relieving suffering

Gifts of the Holy Spirit

  • love

  • joy

  • peace

  • longsuffering

  • gentleness

  • goodness

  • faith

  • meekness

  • temperance

      • -- Galatians 5:22-23

Ultima -- Classic Computer Game

  • truth

  • love

  • courage
  • ... combine to form
    • compassion (love)
    • honor (truth + courage)
    • honesty (truth)
    • humility (acknowledging one's own deficiencies)
    • justice (truth + love)
    • sacrifice (love + courage)
    • spirituality (all three virtues)>
    • valor (courage)

    At the beginning of some of the games, players are awarded ability points in different areas depending on which virtue they choose in morally ambiguous situations. What a splendid theme for a Bytopian adventure!

Colossians 3:12-14

    And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against any one; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Campus Greek organizations in particular usually have lists of virtues ("ideals", etc.).

The Twin Paradises

"Bytopia", the sandwiched Twin Paradises, shine with the light of the virtues. This is a place of exceptional, cultivated beauty. Many of the animals, flowers, and trees are wise and good, and can converse with visitors. At the same time, the two planes showcase civilization at its happiest and most comfortable.

The locals -- living and dead -- like to work. Of all the planes, this is where work is most enjoyable. Everyone has his or her dream job. If you don't have a work ethic, you will not be well-received here. The favorite motto is: "Work is love made visible". And the best-quality ordinary-use products in the multiverse are produced here.

The realms are filled with innumerable nice suburban-style parks and beautiful nature preserves, but beware of giant wild animals away from the civilized areas. You must have a destination in mind if you want to travel; if you merely set out for no purpose, you will never get anywhere.

Visitors may discover that their virtues (or lack thereof) are widely known. Anyone looking into a pool of water might see a reflection of their active virtues, their passive virtues, or both together as a double image. Because this is a plane where goodness is very strong, you will find genuine unselfish love from many (probably most) of the locals. People will go out of their way to help you in Bytopia. The good creatures living on these planes never make war on one another. They'll talk to visitors about virtues and good living. A paladin's warhorse is able to speak. The adamantite dragons, greatest of all dragonkind, guard both layers; their breath is fire or (on home ground only) "temporal stasis" (save allowed for each target). Primitives will experience abundant orchards and fields, filled with innocent children.

Because this is a lawful-tending plane, there may be some fairly large civilizations, but none spanning worlds.

A popular motto is "My country is the universe, my home is the world, my religion is to do good, my heaven wherever beats a heart in sympathy with mine." The single public portal between the planes extends across their shared sky, while public portals leading to remote planes are found in holy temples. Opaline, flashing pools to the astral appear and disappear among the flowers. They can be moved through the meadows. Portals to the Outlands, the Holy Mountain or Elysium are often caverns with patterns.

Neither universe considers its virtues superior to the other's. Neither layer is closer to the astral or neighboring planes. The spiritual beings of Bytopia are good company and have a sense of humor. Since player characters are hard-working, intensely-driven people who generally do good works, the locals will suggest that they make Bytopia their spiritual home. From time to time, creatures of superior virtue are taken from either plane to their reward. Good characters who earn acceptance as permanent residents here have "won the game", and may reappear only briefly as glorified saints.

Even if you don't claim to be virtuous, please respect TSR's copyrights. The artists and writers work hard, and like the Bytopians, enjoy producing the best of the best.

Dothion is the serene, wild-flower universe of pastoral beauty. Attractions include the Gnomish heaven ("the golden hills"); illusions are enhanced here so long as no harm is intended, and any gnome gets "Animal Friendship" for all burrowing animals for the duration of his or her stay on Bytopia. At the Mithril Forge, any gnome gains fire resistance for the day. The gnomes of folklore are good folk, less rigid and serious than the highly-lawful dwarves. Whisperleaf gives a non-evil gnome the abilities of a first-level thief for the remainder of the stay on Bytopia, or +10% on any thief ability if already a thief. (Third edition: +2 on all skill checks for thief class skills, may use any untrained.) Yeoman is the guild and craft center, where anything a good person can want can be bought, but only for hard cash. The virtues of simple living, serious and focused work, endurance, purity, charity, and contemplation are displayed throughout the realm. The Wandering Treant Inn is a giant, walking tree containing a three-story building (running water via the sap, no fires allowed, a secret cold room in the roots). The inn serves a greater variety of beverages than any other place in the multiverse. The Bakus' Graveyard is protected from intruders by baku and treants. Dothion is a common location for the headquarters of sects devoted to kindness, peace, or repentance.

Shurrock is a universe of nature at its wildest and most spectacular. It includes the Finnish heaven. The virtues of the life of action are displayed throughout the realm, and many gnomes choose to reside here instead. Everyone stays very busy, striving to build better worlds. Quarry is a Gnomish underground city dedicated to stonecutting and gemcutting. Nearby is the Stonearch, a natural bridge rumored to be some kind of gate. Centerspire, the largest and most-easily traversed peak from layer to layer, is a half-day's walk from Yeoman. Epimethius's tower, a confused do-gooder's home, lies in ruins here. Windwrath is Tefnut's home atop a pyramidal mountain, where one can find shelter from the layer's violent weather. Shurrock is a common location for the headquarters of good sects devoted to civilization, crafts, or metalworking.

Spell alterations in Bytopia: Spells that create something that seems human-made, or that otherwise duplicate the effects of work, are probably enhanced. Conjurations and summonings only bring things that already exist on the plane (i.e., "Black Tentacles" will fail). Divinations will be seen in some feature (pond, mirror, etc.) of the plane. Life-sustaining necromancy is enhanced, while damaging or killing spells are diminished and those over fourth level fail. Elemental spells require the caster to check vs. intelligence, or the spell fails. Successful elemental spells are enhanced on Shurrock. Perhaps keys would make it easier to cast elemental spells, but overcoming other other spell alterations for Bytopia by means of keys seems unlikely.

Wizardly spell keys are items made on the plane by workers. Divinations require an appropriate measuring device. Elemental magic requires work imitating the effect. Nobody knows how to key necromancy. Power keys from the gnomes are symbols for the sect, and stop working once the need is no longer present. Other sects may grant keys for those who need to do a particular job, and some of these may be transferrable to other planes.

Third edition "Manual of the Planes" focuses primarily on simplifying and encouraging individual campaign creativity. Ideas include:

  • The suggested color for pools from the astral is amber. Ethereal curtains might be dark yellow.
  • The dead are immune to fire and cold, and as an additional ability have reistance cold 20, electricity 20, and are able to invoke protection from evil at will.
  • The plane is "mildly good-aligned". Evil creatures have -2 on charisma checks.
  • I respectfully suggest that Bytopia be regarded as lawful-tending and thoroughly good. These effects are additive

      -1 on all charisma checks for all chaotic creatures
      -1 on all intelligence, wisdom, and charisma checks for all non-good, non-evil creatures
      -2 on all intelligence, wisdom, and charisma checks for all evil creatures
      Good-based spells work as if caster were 4 levels higher.
      Evil-based spells simply fail.
      Law-based spells (non-evil) work as if caster were 2 levels higher.
      Chaos-based spells (non-evil) require a Spellcraft check (DC 15) for success.

    The Fourth Edition has not yet re-developed Bytopia. Perhaps a more civilized fairyland, where people live an orderly life but care more about being kind, is in the offing. Skill checks and good deeds would be more important than combat. Perhaps visitors would get bonuses or penalties to intelligence, wisdom, and charisma-based skill checks depending on how much their behavior has been in keeping with the ideals of the locals.

    In keeping with the flexibility of the third and fourth editions and the backgrounds of many players, perhaps Bytopia is essentially a world where like-minded spirits meet. It looks and works like our own world, except that everybody enjoys tremendous job satisfaction, working hard to help one another. NPC attitudes are typically "helpful" unless visitors seem lazy or intending harm. If there is a spiritual race native to Bytopia, it is devoted to promoting the community's ideals among the living by encouragement and subtlety, rather than by force. The dead find communities matching their own ideals and interests, and continue to live much as they did on earth, though no longer able to visit the Prime Plane.

    Instead of the "gods" of polytheism, each living good, lawful-tending divine spellcaster is sponsored (and monitored) by a prayer fellowship with similar interests based on Bytopia. For the fourth edition, I suggest no penalties for divine spellcasters from elsewhere. For earlier editions, I respectfully suggest that the only penalty for such a cleric on a differently-aligned outer plane is the loss of one spell of the highest available level for each plane removed, with the Outlands two planes from Mechanus, Elysium, Limbo, and the Gray Waste. When one level is depleted, spells of the next highest level are lost. Thus a cleric sponsored from Bytopia would lose one spell on Mt. Celstia or Elysium, six spells on Pandemonium or Cerceri, and seven spells on the Abyss. Moving to the Outlands loses three spells.

    A world where everybody works hard and well and loves it would be as wonderful and satisfying as any rules-intensive world ever visited by adventurers.

Referees might not want players to realize that they have entered the Twin Paradises. Depending on the site of arrival, visitors might simply recognize a community of good, hard-working folks. The local clergy will be effective ministers, and exemplify a work ethic in the service of others.

Finding Bytopia

Entries to Bytopia might exist in our own world wherever:

  • People are decent and civilized, keep the rules simple, and don't take themselves too seriously;

  • Good people give themselves out to be "law-abiding" rather than focusing on the law itself;

  • People try to enjoy their work, and help others to do the same;

  • People form loose organizations to help their communities;

  • Democratic governments discover that greater public good can result from fewer regulations;

  • People make an effort to appreciate those of other cultures, other strengths, and other temperments, and work together with them.

A Model Good, Lawful-Tending Ministry
The Sky Pilots

The Far Skies Fellowship, or "Sky Pilots" is a gentle sect that assists those travelling the skies and the various planes. The motto of the sect is "My country is the universe, my home is the world, my religion is to do good." It is popular with scientists, philosophers, and those who dream of other worlds. These clergy work together with each other, and with like-minded ministers, to help plane travellers and explorers. While they may be of any good alignment, the need to understand and share reliable information inclines most to Law over Chaos. Some of the more lawful members join the Fraternity of Order.

Generally, "Sky Pilots" are nice people who do not pretend to have answers to every question. These clerics are proficient at astronomy, weather prediction, navigation, and check vs. level on d20 or d100 to know details about other planes. High level clergy may be found nearly anywhere. Some non-human ones are skilled abjurers. "Plane Adaptation", a fourth level spell for them, gives the ability to live, breathe, see, and move normally on any one major plane and all adjacent minor planes. Duration is one day per level of the caster.

These clergy do not use armor or shield, but may use any weapon, since many different enemies may appear on the planes. They also have a large repertoire of spells. They are very friendly with like-minded clergy, especially Grayhawk's "Celestian" sect. Misbehavior results in various travel accidents.

First Level Spell Choices: Astral Journey (8 hr on an outer plane seeking guidance, no equipment or spells, maximum one journey per week), Bless, Cause Fear, Command, Comprehend Languages, Create Water, Cure Light Wound (1d8), Dancing Lights, Destroy Water, Detect Disease, Detect Evil, Detect Good, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Endure Cold, Endure Heat, Faerie Fire, Feather Fall, Friends, Invisibility to Undead, Jump, Light, Purify Food and Drink, Remove Fear, Sanctuary, Speak with Astral Traveller ("Tome of Magic"), Spider Climb

Second Level Spell Choices: Augury, Find Traps, Hold Person, Know Alignment, Levitate, Obscurement, Resist Cold, Resist Fire, Silence 15' Radius, Slow Poison, Speak With Animals, Spiritual Hammer

Third Level Spell Choices: Air/Water Breathing (duration 1 day), Astral Window ("Tome of Magic"), Bestow Curse (never touch ground), Call Lightning, Continual Light, Cure Blindness or Deafness, Cure Disease, Dispel Fog ("Pirates of the Fallen Stars"), Dispel Magic, Fly, Locate Object, Negative Plane Protection, Protection from Cold, Protection from Fire, Remove Curse, Remove Paralysis, Speak With Dead (including undead), Starshine, Suggestion, Water Walk, Wraithform

Fourth Level Spell Choices: Abjure, Cure Feeblemind, Cure Insanity, Cure Serious Wound (2d8+1), Detect Lie, Dimension Door, Divination, Emotion -- Friendliness, Etherealness (4R+1/L), Focus ("Tome of Magic"), Free Action, Join With Astral Traveller ("Tome of Magic"), Locate Creature ("Tome of Magic"), Lower/Raise Water, Neutralize Poison, Plane Adaptation (one plane), Protection from Weather ("Dragon Kings"), Tongues

Fifth Level Spell Choices: Adaptation (any environment), Airy Water, Anti-Plant Shell, Atonement, Commune, Cure Critical Wound (3d8+1), Dispel Evil, Elemental Pocket ("Tome of Magic"), Flame Strike, Good/Bad Weather ("Dragon Kings"), Grounding ("Tome of Magic"), Magic Font, Moonbeam, Plane Shift, Quest/Reward Quest, Rainbow, Raise Dead, Teleport, True Seeing

Sixth Level Spell Choices: Aerial Servant, Animate Object, Anti-Animal Shell, Dismiss Elemental, Find the Path, Heal, Part Water, Restore Youth, Speak with Monsters, Weather Summoning, Word of Recall

Seventh Level Spell Choices: Astral Spell (Plane Travel), Divine Inspiration ("Tome of Magic"), Foresight, Gate, Holy Word, Regeneration, Restoration, Resurrection, Succor, Sunray, (Symbol of) Fear, (Symbol of) Persuasion, Teleport Without Error

For the Third Edition:

    As clerics. Must be LG, NG, or CG.

    No use of evil, chaos or law spells, or those that injure or physically disable. Domain slots fillable by any spells ordinarily available.

    Spell choices also include (First level) Astral journey (as above), Comprehend languages, Dancing Lights, Jump, Spider Climb; (Second level) Levitate, Obscurement; (Third level) Bestow curse (never touch ground), Fly, Starshine, Wraithform; (Fourth level) Join with astral traveller, Protection from weather; (Fifth level) Moonbeam, Rainbow; (Seventh level) Sunray, Teleport without error;

    No armor or shield. Reflex, fortitude, and will saves all progress fast. Proficient with all usual weapons as fighters are. Class skills also include climb, intuit direction, jump, swim.

Final Note

Unity of the Rings -- comic book art

Gamers for Christ -- news group

The Alignment Planes

The Abyss -- Chaotic Evil
Acheron -- Lawful, Evil Tendencies
Arborea -- Chaotic Good
Arcadia -- Lawful, Good Tendencies
Baator -- Lawful Evil
The Beastlands -- Good, Chaotic Tendencies
Bytopia -- Good, Lawful Tendencies
Carceri -- Evil, Chaotic Tendencies
Elysium -- Neutral Good
Gehenna -- Evil, Lawful Tendencies
The Gray Waste -- Neutral Evil
Limbo -- Chaotic Neutral
Mechanus -- Lawful Neutral
Mount Celestia -- Lawful Good
The Outlands -- True Neutral
Pandemonium -- Chaotic, Evil Tendencies
Ysgard -- Chaotic, Good Tendencies
The Inner Planes
What "Planescape" could be
AD&D and the Religious Right
Li Po's Hermitage (character generators, more)
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Ed says, "This world would be a sorry place if people like me who call ourselves Christians didn't try to act as good as other good people ."