WikiWarriors Invoke Dungeons & Dragons While Bringing Down the System

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As “Operation Payback” continues to exact revenge on the opponents of jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — from shutting down Mastercard’s website after it suspended donations to Assange’s organization to targeting high-profile right-wing politicians like Sarah Palin — interest has grown in who exactly these “hactivists” are.

(More on Techland: Operation Playback: Who Are The WikiLeaks Hackers?)

The UK’s Guardian interviewed one who claimed to be a spokesman, a 22-year-old “who wished to known only as ‘Coldblood'” and said his ambition was to be “a force for ‘chaotic good.'”

Now, as many Techland readers will know, “chaotic good” isn’t just some silly phrase made up by a rogue tween techie. It’s a long-standing alignment in role-playing games, invented first and foremost for the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. According to the game’s Player’s Handbook, someone who is Chaotic Good abhors bureaucratic restrictions and fights for justice in the manner he sees fit: “He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do.”

Sounds like our band of cyber vigilantes, doesn’t it? In truth, “chaotic good” was always the alignment your humble scribe chose for his characters (who, if you must know, always ended up being dashing, ambidextrous half-elven swordmasters). The hackers behind Operation Payback tap into every kid’s Robin Hood fantasy, including their own.

(More on Techland: Facebook Won’t Block WikiLeaks Just Yet)

Alignment in D&D is a rather overwrought conceit, with permutations touching on personalities like the maniacally terrible Chaotic Evil or the unfeeling isolation of True Neutral. For the uninitiated, here are two handy break downs of what sort of temperament fits each Alignment type, sketched using the characters in HBO’s The Wire and AMC’s  Mad Men.

You can also go determine your alignment for yourself with an online quiz at the site of Wizards of the Coast, the gaming company that now owns D&D‘s rights. There are worse ways to waste your time than by puzzling over the alignments of those around you — and in the news. For example, Julian Assange himself, with his shockingly white wizard’s mane, anarchic streak and thinly-veiled megalomania, is as clear-cut a Chaotic Neutral as they come.

(More on Techland: Hackers Target MasterCard For Blocking WikiLeaks Payments)