Not So Goodburger
Recently, I was listening to the latest episode of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser, one of my all-time favorite podcasts. Although the week’s guests were not familiar to me, I was delighted, as both a drunk and a huge RPG nerd, to learn that one of them manages a pub in Vancouver where you can order a burger complete with a classic Dungeons & Dragons alignment! I was just about to book a flight to YVR when I discovered to my disappointment that the alignments appear to be merely options that you can select for your burger and don’t substantially change the makeup of the burger itself. Likewise, a (very lovely!) piece of fan art by Noah Stacey from last year put burgers on the traditional alignment chart, but it again doesn’t differentiate between different types of burgers; it merely shows the same essential burger placed in settings or adorned with trappings that indicate its alignment.
Friends. Foodies. Geeks. We can do better than this. We must do better than this. Alignment, in D&D, isn’t merely an aesthetic choice or a ideological self-identification! It’s part of who you really are, an essential part of your heart, your mind, and your soul. It’s so crucial to your character that entire bodies of magic revolve around detecting it and concealing it. It’s the critical difference between demons and devils; it is the unchangeable quality of the vast and majestic planes. Having your alignment change is a threat, a seismic shift in character, an intrinsic alteration in the very way you play the game. It’s not just a combination of letters in front of the same guy with a short sword. It’s so much more than the same burger wearing different hats. If burgers are going to have alignments, then, goddamn it, let’s make burgers have alignments.
THE LAWFUL GOOD BURGER. A common mistake among new players is to assume that lawful good is the best alignment when really it is just the most annoying alignment. The price you pay for getting all the great powers and abilities that come from playing a paladin is being a giant inflexible pain in the ass who all your party-mates have to find a way to work around to get anything done. So it would be a mistake to give LG alignment to a burger that is good in terms of culinary quality; more fitting for a lawful good burger would be a burger that is good for you, but is incredibly smug and self-righteous about it. The Lawful Good Burger is some kind of grain-and-vegetable patty monstrosity with a tamari-based dressing, tons of sprouts, and visible seeds in the bun.
THE NEUTRAL GOOD BURGER. Neutral good, on the other hand, really is the best alignment, altruistic and decent but not pushy or locked into a commitment to any inflexible ideological principle. This is your classic old-school cheeseburger, pub-style patty with a good but unobtrusive bun and toppings that are light and flavorful but not overly aggressive. It embraces cheese to show that it has no inner conflict over pushing ideals about purity, but it eschews bacon because its morality is not about getting all in your face. The Neutral Good Burger wants only to alleviate your hunger and deliver a tasty dining experience; it isn’t trying to sell you a worldview.
THE CHAOTIC GOOD BURGER. Although it’s the alignment of rogues, bards, and other characters I end up playing more often than not, there’s something a little suspicious about chaotic good. It’s the alignment of the conspicuously self-identified ‘bad boy’, the character who wants you to know he won’t kill you or sexually harass you, but he’s not some boring square who, like, you know, believes in shit. It’s the alignment of everyone who never got over reading The Catcher in the Rye. The Chaotic Good Burger is for people who want to eat garbage but pretend that they’re being virtuous while doing it; it’s probably got like three eggs on it, “for protein”. I’m guessing sriracha is involved in some way.
THE LAWFUL NEUTRAL BURGER. This burger is probably a real drag. It’s made by some chef who has extremely hardcore opinions about what is or is not a “real” example of any given food item and won’t tolerate even the slightest deviation. (In this regard, as much as I hate to admit it, the Lawful Neutral Burger is therefore the direct equivalent of the Chicago dog.) It has like three ingredients tops, one of which is a weird seasoning like mace or spikenard, and is made according to the Hamburg Ground Meats Purity Act of 1693. It is all locally sourced, costs $18, and tastes like a snowshoe.
THE TRUE NEUTRAL BURGER. There’s really no way of getting around it, folks: this is a McDonald’s plain hamburger. It has pickle and onion so you know it’s not dead, but it doesn’t have cheese or anything flashy. You can turn this to just about any purpose you desire, but its basic nature is the burger as Platonic ideal, as simplified user icon, as Webster’s dictionary definition. It may not be good, it may not be bad, but it definitely is. The True Neutral Burger is the choice of people who aren’t really sure if they’re on board with the whole hamburger thing to begin with.
THE CHAOTIC NEUTRAL BURGER. As with D&D players of the same alignment, this burger is a douchey, irritating show-off who overuses the word “random”. It isn’t evil, really, but it’s too big of an asshole to qualify as good. Much like players who do unpredictable, inconsistent shit for no particular reason, this burger heaps on tons of miscellaneous ingredients — pepper jack, fried kale, candy corn, why the fuck not? — in the mistaken belief that a bunch of incoherent parts can form a meaningful whole. The Chaotic Neutral Burger is made by a chef who thinks he is the next Guy Fieri, and he calls it something like “the Mustache Ninja Honey Badger Burger”.
THE LAWFUL EVIL BURGER. Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment: like all forms of fascism, it is inherently bad, but it has the ability to convince you, through its veneer of law and order, that it is actually doing good. This is the burger (our model here is the Ultimate Cheeseburger at Jack in the Box, but fancier) that is incredibly appealing on the most visceral level: moist, flavorful bun; a rich patty that melts in your mouth; cheese that melts perfectly into the meat. It presents simplicity and rationality but this is a thin veneer over its absolute lethality. It tastes amazing but it will definitely kill you.
THE NEUTRAL EVIL BURGER. This isn’t just a bad burger; it’s a bad burger. With the Neutral Evil Burger, it’s not a question of bad ingredients, or misbegotten conception, or overkill; it’s just a shitty burger that will lay you up with food poisoning for six days after you eat it. This is a thief-in-the-night burger that you eat in a moment of desperation or vulnerability after drinking too much or getting locked out of your apartment, and it is prepared by a diner cook who just got out of prison he didn’t commit (he actually committed a much worse crime) or a pub chef who is also a drummer in a white reggae band where everyone has hepatitis B. At least one ingredient from the Neutral Evil Burger spent time under a refrigerator, on the bottom of a shoe, or in a unisex toilet.
THE CHAOTIC EVIL BURGER. While the Neutral Evil Burger is selfish and unkind and malicious, the Chaotic Evil Burger is animated with a foul hatred and contempt for all that lives. It is the only evil burger that actually admits that it is evil, and destruction and disruption are its only reason for existence. Its only purpose is to inflict pain. It can be nothing but some jackoff “extreme” burger crammed with Chilean Anti-Gravity Intestinal Harvest Peppers and topped with Off-His-Meds Ed’s Stick-a-Rake-Up-Your-Bowels Party Sauce. It will make giant holes in your esophagus and if you eat it to slowly or ask for a drink, a guy in a Celtics jersey will call you a pussy.