AD&D and the Good-Evil axis pre-dates the Satanic Panic by at least three years (1977 vs. 1980 for the very beginning or 1982 for the start of BADD). TSR's response was to scrub the game of nekkid wimminz and the words "demon" and "devil". So no, Gygax invented the Nine Alignments all on his own.
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Also, just as a general note:
The 3.5 SRD gives some guidance on defining good and evil:
A careful reading will detect weasel words. "Innocent" life? Do orcs count as innocent? What counts as "debasement"? Slavery? Adultery? Worshiping the wrong gods? Governments enslave and kill criminals; does that make them evil?
Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.
"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others. "Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.
Plus there's the whole philosophical conundrum of Detect Evil. Does it detect evil alignment or the evil lurking in the hearts of men? What's the difference? How does a being start radiating evil? Are there false positives, e.g. a blackguard or tiefling seeking redemption? Why bother with courts when a paladin or cleric can walk in and determine the guilty party? How do we know the cleric or paladin is himself telling the truth? (Not to mention Detect Evil kills any plots requiring subterfuge: the party or its opposition can use their Guardian of Good and Evil to pick out anyone who doesn't belong.) Law and Chaos present similar problems.
Arguing that paladins are rare doesn't solve the basic problem. Arguing that True Evil is rare nerfs the power. Thus the reason for this thread: how do we avoid the ambiguity in our own games?
Last edited by fmitchell; 09-05-2011 at 09:24 AM.
"On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
- Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)