A Great and Terrible Whisper
Laws and Alignment
Laws and Alignment – Ustalav is a Neutral Evil country.
Lawful Evil — In a lawful evil country, the law is a tool the rulers use to maintain their power. Graft and corruption are extremely common in lawful evil cultures. Law may provide a basic structure for a society, but it is something to be manipulated and used for the benefit of the powerful, the wealthy, and the clever; the laws oppress the masses, as opposed to protecting them. A lawful evil society is far more likely to use a legislative system than common law, since those in power will want to be in control of the law, not the other way around. In general, the citizens of a lawful evil nation do their best to avoid the agents of the law; the city guards are more likely to extort gold from you than to protect you. The penalties for breaking the law will be extremely harsh — unless, of course, you can afford to pay off the so-called justice.
Most nations that have lawful evil power centers do not have a primarily lawful evil population. More often than not, the evil forces in power use the law to oppress the more neutrally-aligned masses. In a culture that is itself lawful evil, the citizens fully accept the idea that law is just a tool to be used. These nations are extremely Machiavellian; virtually all interactions and relationships are based around selfinterest and greed (whether a desire for gold or power). Lawful evil citizens will betray one another at a moment’s notice — in accord with the proper forms, of course. In comparison to a chaotic evil society, lawful evil citizens are careful planners; they form highly structured guilds with their own laws and bylaws. Murder on the streets is frowned upon, but subtle assassination, blackmail, a carefully arranged fall from grace — these are all expected risks. And if you think it’s dangerous to live in a lawful evil nation — well, it’s much worse if you’re a stranger and don’t know the lay of the land!
Neutral Evil — A neutral evil nation is similar to a lawful evil society, but worse. While a lawful evil nation may use the law to oppress its citizens, at least the law is a respected power. In a neutral evil society the rulers hold absolute power, and there is rarely any pretense that the citizens have any rights. Slavery is extremely common in neutral evil societies; members of the ruling class may have certain privileges and a legal code, but the teeming masses have no rights whatsoever, and no recourse to the law. In a nation where the majority of the population is neutral evil, opportunism is the name of the game. If there’s any way the lower classes can move up in the world, they will do anything to do so. If not, they will stoop to any depths to gain a modicum of long-term security and comfort.