Light Is Not Good/Tabletop Games

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  • The Solars in Exalted are the divinely empowered "chosen ones" of the Sun itself, with light motifs and abilities, who were overthrown and murdered long ago for being mad, inhumanly monstrous tyrants.
    • Their Patron, the Unconquered Sun, apparently took over Heaven mainly so he could play the Cosmic X-box Games of Divinity. That's just a side benefit, per the recent Glories of the Most High. On the other hand, he's solidly addicted to the games, and his constant insane virtue means he nearly constantly has to be suppressing some aspect of his being to be able to function at all.
    • To be fair, though, Dark is usually evil in this game, as it's primarily associated with the underworld, which is exerting an entropic pull on the whole of Creation--the reborn, generally and currently more sane Solars are good by default in that view. Some of its servants can rebel, but the Abyssal Exalted are Blessed with Suck in that acting outside of their role to murder the world causes dark miracles to manifest around them.
    • There's also the Ebon Dragon, one of the Cosmic Horrors overthrown by the past incarnations of the player characters.
      • On the other hand, Five Days Darkness, the living shadow of the sun, subverts this; in second edition, he's become something of an Anti-Hero, and while he holds spite for the Elemental courts, he is on the side of Creation as a whole.
    • Also: if said light is green, it's time to leave very abruptly, because you are now dealing with the demons of Malfeas.
      • And if the source of said green light is on the ground and near you, you are dealing with Ligier. Run.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Imperium of Man's Crystal Dragon Jesus religion brings saints, angels, and other religious imagery to a corrupt, genocidal, fascist state...albeit one with the qualifier "But it's better than a lot of the alternatives."
    • Calling the Imperium "Light" is just a tad misleading; they're the good guys, more or less, but their love of putting skulls all over everything, among other things, puts them pretty deep in Dark Is Not Evil territory.
    • Then we have the C'tan who are even more evil than the Chaos gods and who are trying to kill everything in the galaxy. They are called Star Gods because they originally lived on stars, it is also implied that they are actually the souls of the first stars. Also did I mention that the weapon used by the leaders of their mooks is called a Staff of Light?
    • Then there's the Ethereal Tau caste who are (probably) brainwashing the other Tau into doing their bidding.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Battle has the Cult of the Lady. Think King Arthur, but... off. There's also the lesser known gods of order; while opposed to the Chaos gods, one of them, Alluminas, the god of light, is trying to keep the status quo, regardless of the current situation. While the other is a Knight Templar sun god whose followers are highly feared due to their Knight Templar ways.
  • The faction of Imperators (gods) and Powers (Player-character demigods) in Nobilis called simply 'The Light' exemplify this. While they believe above all else in the survival of the human race, they are not picky about the means. They will preserve humans and their well-being wherever possible, but if they have to kill or ruin the lives of a hundred people, or a thousand, or a million, to perpetuate the existence of the race, they will do so without hesitation.
    • When the survival of the race is not at question in any given situation, however, they're the closest thing to pure good guys the morally-grey setting has. However, they also desire the human race to thrive, and they actually have a morality that most mortals would recognize as a social conscience.
    • To put things in perspective, the Light was responsible for both breeding the divinity out of mankind in exchange for a larger population and then later for causing the Biblical flood to save the surviving humans from the Dark's plan to cause humanity to wipe itself out with overpopulation and arms races.
    • Similarly, Angels and others that follow the Code of Heaven are more concerned with Beauty than with mortal concepts of goodness. The closest they get is considering Justice to be a form of Beauty. It's also their will that closes the doors of Heaven to mortals to preserve its beauty, condemning nearly all living things to a cycle of endless reincarnation until damnation.
    • Ananda is a being of indescribable beauty. He is probably one of the closest things to a good guy in the Council of Four that rules Earth, and his realm of Cityback shores up the progress of all cities. However, he's also the Imperator of Murder (meaning that all murders derive from his existence), his beauty kills or drives mad all who see it, and a prophecy prevents him from taking action against the openly evil (and yet loyal to Creation) head of the Council of Four, Lord Entropy.
    • The antagonists of this setting, the Excrucians, sort of follow this trope as well. They are the most beautiful beings in the settings (more so than even the Angels), but their goal is the destruction (or possibly theft) of all of Creation, both good and bad.
    • Lastly, there's Lucifer, whose angelic glory is utterly uncorrupted by his time in Hell, but who is still pledged to lead the cause of Hell and damnation for reasons of personal conviction.
    • Light becomes a little less good in 3E, to correspond with Dark becoming a lot nicer. While the Angels are the same, Light is now about sheer, unchanging law now, uncaring of what humans actually desire, as opposed to the Dark's reckless individualism. As for Lucifer, this is trope is subverted, however slightly-Devils like him were actually the Angels who thought all things deserved love, so they made a place where things like corruption could find it. Their relationship to their nobles is explicitly compared to a codependent spouse-genuinely loving, but so broken they become abusive.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • The Positive Energy Plane itself practically embodies this trope; it's a world empty of matter but filled with brilliant healing light, which restores living beings to full health — and keeps pouring energy into them afterwards until they explode. By contrast, the Negative Energy Plane is no more harmful than the Elemental Plane of Fire, it hurts things not immune/sufficiently resistant to fire/negative energy, but is harmless to anyone who is, and the plane has residents that can exist on the prime material unharmed. That said, the Plane of Positive Energy has one advantage for ordinary mortals: the explosion thing can be indifinitely kept at bay with perfectly nonmagical means[1].
      • Third Edition had beings from the Positive Energy Plane who loved nothing more than combat, to the point where they would take vacations to the Material Plane, offering to bond themselves to warriors who would get some pretty significant powers in exchange. In fact, the fast healing that they provide was so powerful that if you weren't actively being injured, your body would explode from the buildup of positive energy. The kicker? They risked dying themselves if they stayed in the Material plane for more than a week or two.
    • One notch "below" there in Planescape cosmology are Positive Quasielemental Planes, which is "more energetic" versions of Elemental planes. Steam (Water) is surprisingly survivable except occasional unfriendly creatures and hot pockets (of course, these are effectively invisible), but there's not much to see even if one could see anything in the infinite cloud. Mineral (Earth) - made of gemstones, a lot of which are as sharp as vorpal sword. Lightning (Air) - if the name doesn't dissuade enough, there are plasma pockets - essentially fun-sized ball lightnings, just so that the ones immune to lightning still had something capable of frying them in an eyeblink. And then there's of course, the most literal version:
      • The Quasielemental Plane of Radiance, placed between the planes of Fire and Positive Energy ("life"). It's one of most beautiful places in The Multiverse (some Celestials travel just to look at it) and hostile beings are very rare there - even mephits are harmless. The problem is, the whole plane is bright as a sun disc, but from every direction at once. It's the last thing unprepared visitors see - for one, it's blinding; it has air - thin, but enough to support breath... or, more likely, fire - all this blaze deals heat damage at about half rate the plane of Fire itself does.
    • Then there are various light-based spells. Some of which are beneficial, but mostly it's shooting magic light beams, and Prismatic spells are for most part great shiny overkill.
    • The Celestials in Planescape cosmology in general are good by definition, but many of them skirt it, until someone falls all the way. Chaotic Good ones are inhumanly beautiful, value freedom and occasionally are fun to be around... and are noted as often being rather frightening due to their alien nature. Also, there's a reason why their home plane is the same where most of the Olympian pantheon dwells and the fey of Seelie Court often hang out - passions get overboard quite easily. The Lawful Good ones, accordingly, sometimes lean toward self-righteousnes and/or control freakery.
    • In 4E, the warlock class can make a deal with beings who reside "behind the stars" to use their powers. Quite a few of their attacks do radiant (light) damage. This also kind of subverts the trope, as these beings are completely outside of good and evil.
      • Also in 4E, the paladin class is no longer limited to being Lawful Good. Rather, they are now a class of holy warriors dedicated to a god. Many of their attacks do radiant damage regardless of their deity's nature. In fact, the player's handbook acknowledges how disturbing it would be for players to fight a champion of evil whose weapons explode with holy light.
      • Radiant Energy in general counts. Vaguely equating to Positive Energy (pure life force) in the older edition, Radiant energy is described as "pure light" and is most commonly found in the Divine classes (arcane, primal and psionic classes also get a sprinkling of Radiance powers). It's a damage keyword -- meaning that it's specific use is, generally, the same as a Fireball or Acid Storm.
      • Specifically, Radiant effects usually are caused by divine powers, rather than "laser magic". Considering that there are just as many gods and goddesses of darkness, evil, chaos, shadow and hatred as there are those of light, good, order, charity and love, it kind of makes sense.
    • Angels themselves in 4e; beings of pure light/energy, they're not necessarily good or evil; simply, they serve gods. Some serve good gods, others evil ones.
    • The Dungeons & Dragons World Eberron has no restrictions on what alignment a cleric of any faith has. This means that the Church of the Silver Flame, a lawfully good religion centred around a divine silver-coloured flame created/tapped into by the sacrifice of most Couatl (beings of good) and The Messiah of the Church has its share of Knight Templar and self-serving hypocrites (they also have corrupted secret followers of the Shadow in the Flame, but that is another trope). The same applies to any good faith, although most aren't quite so associated with light.
    • The Forgotten Realms had the old incarnation of the god Amaunator, a god of the sun... and of order, law and bureaucracy, with all that entails for clerics taking 'order' too far. He wasn't evil, but neither was he good. His current incarnation is good, however (it is complicated, but boils down to being sort-off dead but not quite gone, and then fully coming back via another aspect that was good).
    • In "Pathfinder" there are the Shining Children- weird alien things, Lurkers in the light- VERY evil fey who have light based powers and will mess your day up and Aeons- not quite "light based" but some appear to be made of cosmic energy and light. But they aren't good... or bad. They're very neutral.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, white's worst traits are being dogmatic and authoritarian, to the point of ruthlessness and xenophobia.
    • Mark Rosewater writes an extensive article here discussing the color's motivations. His style summary may not reflect recent sets since it was written in 2003.
    • The daimyo Konda from the Kamigawa block, being not only white and villainous, but also opposite to Toshiro Umezawa, which is heroic. Konda stole a "god" to gain immortality, and while justified as to keep his people happy it comes across as rather selfish, unusual for a person aligned with white.
      • Lieutenant Kirtar, listed in Feathered Fiend, is also a White aligned villain that is essentially a proud, arrogant Jerkass.
    • It also tends to sacrifice the individual for the group without a second thought, even if said individual did nothing wrong. The decision to - say - punish adultery with stoning, discriminate minorities or ignore bullying in schools for the good of the "structure", of cohesion or of the "majority" is a very white kind of call.
    • One of the Archenemy decks is based around the colors green and white, which are usually associated with life and nature. Its theme? "Trample Civilization Underfoot".
    • The Scars of Mirrodin set introduced white Phyrexians in the two last extensions (Phyrexians being the big baddies of Magic)... Though, given their general appearance, it crosses the line between Light is not Good and Obviously Evil.
      • Depending on how you interpret the unusual listing of the New Phyrexian factions (WBUGR instead of the usual WUBRG), it can also mean that White is now the most phyrexian colour.
    • It also includes a white spell called "Wrath of God." Its effect? Destroy all creatures. A double-edged sword if your creatures aren't indestructible.
      • The "Wrath of God" card used to be this trope's page image. Also, the card later got a Dark Is Evil counterpart named "Damnation" that does exactly the same thing.
    • "Those who fear the darkness have never seen what the light can do."
  • Scion gives us Akhenaten, the Titan of Light. How is light bad? It burns away everything it focuses on, leaving nothing but empty, unending light. Akhenaten's avatar (i.e. its brain), Aten, desires nothing more than the worship of every living thing. He's quite good at turning his enemies Brainwashed and Crazy... and then making them into suicide bombs.
    • On a lesser level, Kane Taoka, the leader of the sample evil Scions. He's a son of Amaterasu, the Shinto sun goddess. Although he does eventually become the god of darkness.
  • In Paranoia, white is reserved for High Programmers, who have huge amounts of power and trust with which to screw you over (including reprogramming The Computer) and are not shy about doing so.
  • Genius: The Transgression features the Illuminated, Geniuses lit from within by the light of Inspiration. Problem is, said light has burned away everything else... including morals, ethics, and humanity.
  • In Nomine is built around playing with this trope (and similar ones). While the angels are ostensibly the good guys and the demons are the bad guys, the angels are decidedly not nice (except for the ones who are exceedingly so), and often don't have mankind's best interests at heart. The game also lets you play the demons' side of things; and one style of play (known as "playing In Nomine backwards") portrays Heaven as a bunch of jack-booted control-freak thugs who wish to suppress and dominate everyone.
  1. have a knife. Cut yourself every now and then