A bit of mythology:

In the beginning there were two dragons fighting for dominance of the universe: one of light and one of dark. This battle had gone on forever. Both dragons were tired of the battle, and wanted to end their eternal struggle. The Dark Dragon powered up to unleash an attack that would end it once and for all, but in doing so it left itself open to a counterattack. The Light Dragon, seeing the opportunity launched its own attack, defeating the Dark Dragon once and for all. The Dark Dragon's essence would not be denied, however. In attacking , but getting injured... contaminated in the process. The Light Dragon needed to rest, so it curled itself into a ball, creating a type of cocoon for itself. This became the water we see that is most of the planet. Only the dragon's spines are seen..Breathing out it exhaled much of the air from its lungs which surrounded it, thus creating the atmosphere. Creating self-contained floating platforms of vegetation, it filled world with animals, and created the draconic races, to act as its protectors, before going to sleep.

Because these races are actually living on the dragon's life force (and in fact, its body) any attempt to completely heal the dragon would cause an apocalypse that would end the existence of life due to the fact that they were only created for the sole purpose of guarding the dragon while it healed - but the dragon world that made them didn't anticipate things to get so out of hand that there would be any controversy over its reawakening.

There is a faction (religion) of dragons that seek to totally heal the dragon that makes up the planet by eliminating evil and thus bring about a new age of peace and prosperity (kinda a Gaia type of a thing). They feel they're doing the right thing. Good actions, good thoughts, good behaviors help to heal the dragon and hasten its awakening.

There's another faction (religion) of dragons that seeks to cause so much evil and chaos that the dragon will forever be asleep and thus allow life to continue indefinitely. This too would bring about a disaster, as if the evil spreads enough, the dragon would die, also ending the life on the planet because if it dies, so too does all life. War, violence, and every type of evil spreads the corruption, preventing the dragon from healing completely.

There's a third faction (religion) of dragons, which seeks to balance evil and good thus preventing the dragon they're living on from totally healing, but not having it so polluted with corruption it dies.

In this convoluted ideology of good and evil, is it possible to be fair to all sides?

  • 9
    $\begingroup$ To sound more mythological perhaps Creating self-contained floating platforms of vegetation would sound better as its scales peeled off, forming islands and continents $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Dec 15, 2016 at 4:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ if the evil spreads enough, the dragon would die, also ending the life on the planet because if it dies, so too does all life I'm not sure how believable this is as a plot mechanism; bacteria flourish in a human corpse after death because there is less effort to keep them at bay - they don't die with it $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Dec 15, 2016 at 4:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra Since OP did state that life on the planet was created by the dragon and they live on its life force, they can be seen more as cells than bacteria. Kinda like when you are wounded and the body sends cells to repair the wound, discarding them after they've fulfilled their purpose. The "Evil" faction being akin to cancer. $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Dec 15, 2016 at 6:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Will there actually be assignment in the story of labels "good" and "evil" to any factions? If so, "fair" is almost automatically defeated. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2016 at 13:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra Mythology isn't, you know, real. Never mind mythology being scientifically accurate. The dragon isn't infected with bacteria. It is infected by primal evil formed by the energies of creation and unleashed by a God-Dragon. More importantly, the dragon doesn't exist anymore than the Earth is only 6000 years old. $\endgroup$
    – Shane
    Dec 15, 2016 at 16:26

6 Answers 6


I think it depends A LOT on the specific situation. Basically, in your world the names "good" and "evil" have been attached to specific, objectively-defined actions: things that heal the Light Dragon, and things that hurt the Light Dragon. (I'm assuming people understand what these are. If they don't, that would be interesting in and of itself, but the factions must all understand the importance of this information so I'd guess they'd make it a priority to know as soon as they can.)

But, can it really be the case that everyone agrees that things in the first category are "good" (in the usual, moral definition) and things in the second category are evil? It doesn't seem possible to me. People in real life use "good" and "evil" to refer to concepts that are interpreted differently by different people, according to their subjective value systems.

This means that it might be possible to "cheat" in a sense, and balance "good" and "evil" (in the Dragon-defined sense) in a world that still seems to have more good things than evil things according to the personal morality of interested parties.

Maybe your story won't get into these kind of issues much, but for example: what if some people decide to deliberately make "sacrifices" to prevent the dragon awakening, such as undergoing violence through a ritualized form of warfare. Is this "evil" and harmful to the dragon, since it is violent? Or is it "good", since the participants are doing it for a noble reason (and therefore ineffective, or in fact counterproductive)? Would they need to actually kill one another to be successful, or might it be enough to just cause temporary physical pain?

Your world has people, so there will certainly be criminals, including ones who have committed quite terrible crimes. Is the violent execution of criminals like this "good" or "evil"?

These are just a few examples; there will be many more possibilities for a person's moral judgement of "good" and "evil" to conflict with your world's necessarily objective and accessible definitions of "good" and "evil".


What you describe sounds like an Eastern philosophy. Rather than cast-in-stone concepts of "good" and "evil," they have complementary fluid concepts like "yin" and "yang."

The biggest challenge of writing such a cosmology will be overcoming one's own opinion of what "good" and "evil" are. When you have actors like the three groups you describe, those concepts get murky quickly, and one's own opinions regarding those two terms can limit your imagination.

Consider Zorg, one of the villains from The Fifth Element:

Priest Vito Cornelius: I try to serve life. But you only…seem to want to destroy it.
Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg: Oh, Father, you're so wrong. Let me explain. [closes office door, places an empty glass on desk] Life, which you so nobly serve, comes from destruction, disorder and chaos. Take this empty glass. Here it is, peaceful, serene and boring. But if it is [Pushes glass off table] destroyed… [robot cleaners move to clean broken glass] Look at all these little things. So busy now. Notice how each one is useful. What a lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color. Now, think about all those people that created them. Technicians, engineers, hundreds of people who'll be able to feed their children tonight so those children can grow up big and strong and have little teeny weeny children of their own, and so on and so forth. Thus, adding to the great chain…of life. [Desk prepares a glass of water and a bowl of fruit] You see, Father, by creating a little destruction, I'm actually encouraging life. In reality, you and I are in the same business. Cheers.

For a more traditional example, your third faction is remarkably similar to the behavior of the Jade Emperor in Journey to the West. In Chinese mythology, maintaining order is often prioritized over good and evil. Good and evil are often shown to be tricky things to capture, but everyone in China knows the order of things.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ To quote the South Park Devil: "Without Evil there can be no Good, so it must be Good to be Evil sometimes". $\endgroup$
    – Lu22
    Dec 15, 2016 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ This it is. Good and evil are changing concepts. An elder sees anarchistic youngster as a decadent pervert, an enemy of society, while the youngster sees the elder as a tyrannic fascist. It is easy to think how you are the sensible "middle-way-guy" and pick "the best real answers". The both sides see you only as not as despicable as could be. There is of course the thing that not all morals are as good for a strong society as another. That is why we have no hippie/punk nations. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2016 at 11:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Zorg apparently never heard the parable of the broken window... $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Dec 15, 2016 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael I love it because, while I tend to empathize with the constructive side, there are ways to argue for the value of destruction. Everything has its place, even forest fires =) $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 15, 2016 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ Without destruction things would last forever, which might be fine for some things, but other things we would get pretty sick of! $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Dec 15, 2016 at 20:50

Consider a situation where "good" has won and "evil" is in remission.

I'm going to be quite crude about the meanings of good and evil.

All is life and light and order, death and darkness and chaos have been banished.

Taking this to its illogical conclusion, because that's where it's going, new life is born, trees grow, nothing dies and it's never dark.

But light and dark are part of the cycle of life, some animals need the darkness and some need the light. We live on the death of others, the death of plants and animals. The butterflies and the bees will be fine for a while but the lions and tigers are going to be starving. Predators live on the edge, in the chaos, they are the thing that goes bump in the night, do they too not have an equal right to live?

With no death life becomes unbearable, crowded and hungry. With no darkness it becomes too hot. With no chaos it becomes dull and meaningless. It would not take long after the loss of the darkness for the light alone to be considered just as evil and for people to seek the darkness and chaos. Either one without the other takes you to a very bad place.

The eternal summer is no better than the eternal winter.


"Is it possible to be fair to all sides" sure as long as you don't betray any side as a one-sided group of fanatics. Give them dimension, they truly cared deeply about what they believe but that's not all they are. Their belief might be at the core of what they do but many things Branch off of it, their families friends Hobbies, maybe one of them's a history nut or an extreme sports enthusiast. You also must make it clear that they're not in it for money or power, they must really believe what they're doing is good and right for all and that the other side is misguided at best downright evil at worst and they must protect the world from them. Even if it cost them their lives.

To put it simply being fair to all sides has little to do with the actual mythology and more to do with the portrayal of characters on either side. If you want to see a good example of this I would suggest you read the book " the black God's War" you can download it for free on Amazon.


Stretching labels too far devoids them of meaning

If agents of some ideology are capable of playing for a collaborative victory, then mutually-beneficial deals can be done with them.

What else do you need?

You can imagine two factions - green and blue - who hate each other's guts. However, mechanically they're not so different - agents of both factions can collaborate (which is a prerequisite for having a society). Now, you can label each faction "good" and "evil", respectively, with genocide of "evil" infants coming off as "good" because they will only bring more "evil" to this world. This is basically begging for deconstruction because "good" character will be different from "evil" no more than characters from different countries.

If you want to have evil characters you'll need ones that one can not strike mutually-beneficial deals with. Religious fanatics / madmen fit here.

However, self-sufficient society made of those people would be hard to achieve, and evolving society-oriented brain without tendencies for cooperation would be hard either.

If you want to have characters that wear black and skulls you can make it fashion fad among one faction. However, note that their party allegiance does not really mean much and any "evil" character would be as likely to be a nice person as his "good" counterpart. Also, "good" side is just as likely to wear black and skulls.

If you want to have two competing factions you can either use basic xenophobia - which works fine, although not on all levels of development - or let them have different ideas of how the world works, so they can agree on what they eventually want but not how acieve it.

The latter one looks like what you have, but with sufficient information it can be solved. Teaching someone to do what his common sense tells him to do usually goes without evidence, so "good" side can easily be wrong. "Evil" side, on the other hand, should have convincing evidence that what they do is right. Present it to "good" faction, experiment on actual definitions of "good" and "evil", game the system.

Who defines if the action is "good" or "evil"? E.g, saving one person vs N chicken - is it "good" or "evil"? Does it change with different N?

If that is defined by original dragon's mind then there would be differences between dragon's moral code and society's moral code. That can be gamed by focusing on "evil"-raising stuff that is "evil" in original dragon's moral code but is benign in society's, like Mandatory Masturbation program or Healthy Diet prorgam or No Stupid Hats day.

On the other hand, if definitions of "good" and "evil" are taken from used language then simply switching "good" and "evil" will do. You can save all puppies you want, this is "evil" and thus delays the apocalypse. Using some intermediate words to facilitate the change (and spread it through several generations) would be just fine.


You may want to focus on the many different motivations an individual dragon might have for following either of the three factions.

Good: this is an interesting faction since we are used to the idea that doing good deeds will lead to good things, but how many humans who are overall good people still do righteous deeds if it meant the end of the world? This group could mostly consist of the truly altruistic dragons who want the light dragon reborn, but maybe there are others who do good but secretly that the evil faction balances them out because they don't want the world to end (maybe they would betray the good faction if they see signs that the light dragon is close to waking). What if there are dragons who are not good by nature, but want the world to end, and do good deeds contrary to their desires just to bring about the apocalypse.

Evil: This faction is kind of difficult, since normally evil is associated with selfishness, but in your world doing a lot of evil would bring about the end of the world also. If the evil dragons know this, that group would be limited to nihilist "watch the world burn" individuals. I think it would be more interesting if the evil dragons believed that completely killing the world dragon would ensure that their world lasted forever. This way some evil dragons argue that their end goal is good (preserving the world) and you would get dragons who are forced to do evil deeds despite their good nature (and suffering internally) because they believe preserving the world is more important. You could have interesting conflicts between good dragons who do evil just to preserve life and dragons who do evil because they enjoy it; those groups would cooperate for their common goal, but hate each other.

Neutral dragons would could have the largest variety of motivations: good but don't want the world to end, want to wait and see if the light dragon can give them some signore of what to do, evil but worried that if the wold dragon dies there will no longer be any need to do evil, those who value Balance andue don't care about the larger consequences, and those who are simply unsure what to do.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .