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Xandros
05-24-2009, 05:47 PM
A lot of people seem to be in favor of getting rid of alignment. Some have stated that they already delete it from their games. I agree. I hate to admit that early on as a DM I punished players (with the loss of XP) for not playing the Alignment that they chose properly. It should be more about playing their characters than their Alignment.
Villains, even if they are classified as 'evil' alignment, likely don't consider themselves evil. Hitler didn't think he was evil. Likewise the Drow probably don't consider themselves evil. Evil and good are moral judements based on an opposing or similiar view.
Even consider the typical dungeon delve. A group of characters, likely with some variation of the 'good' alignment go underground where they invade the lairs (home invasion) of creatures, kill them and steal their stuff. It's okay though because the creatures are 'monsters', ie. not human (sounds like a racially motivated hate crime).

Anyway, for those that have rid their games of Alignment...
What do you do about things like 'sense evil, good etc.' or 'Smite evil'? Do you just do away with them? I considered Smite Evil as only being usable on undead and Fiends or such. Sense evil, could be used with the idea of what the character would consider evil, but would probably be best if just done away with altogether.

There are other classes that are based on alignment, but the big one to consider is the Paladin. Besides the Paladins of different alignments in Unearthed Arcana, I also considered having Paladins choose a number of vows that they have to live by. Vow of poverty, besides their neccesary gear and food they must give all their treasure and earnings to the church or other charity. Vow of courage, can not abandon a battle. That is just a sampling, there are many other options. Getting rid of alignment, rather than needing to be LG, a Paladin would have to choose say 2 or 3 vows that preferrably match up to their patron diety.

Malruhn
05-24-2009, 08:18 PM
Niiiiiiice question!

I've done away with it in the huge majority of situations, with it now being nothing more than a campaign planning tool. If the majority of the party claims to be LG, I will plan an LG campaign - and if they seem to be playing more CG, then we'll all have a discussion and I will change my planning accordingly.

Paladins are easy!

I use Paladin Codes now, and as long as the Pally conforms, there isn't a problem. If the Code says that you can't use poison, then you had better not use it - even accidentally. If the Code says that poisons should be avoided if at all possible, then you'd better have a great reason to use it! You can be CE and still be a Paladin - as long as you conform to the Code.

Detect evil/good is also easy - there are very few things that are legitimately evil/good in the world - so it tends not to work. For it to actually set off the Spidey Sense, you have to be an extraplanar creature or undead (though it's possible to be a good undead in my campaign world!). Smite only works on those types of creatures.

fmitchell
05-24-2009, 08:24 PM
This is the fourth or fifth alignment thread on this forum, at least.

To summarize some other discussions:

"Detect evil", etc., is already problematic: does it detect anyone who has evil intent, or has done evil? This would spoil any plot in which PCs have to find a traitor, spy, or other miscreant. Worse, in such a world paladins replace the judicial system, and probably form their own "pre-crime" unit: just round up and execute anyone who detects evil.

In a Midnight campaign, all the "detect alignment" spells became "Detect Shadow": sensing the servants of Isrador. Other games could take the same tack: restrict "detect evil" to just extraplanar entities -- those who embody evil -- and their direct servants on earth.

Instead of an "alignment", clerics and especially paladins could have a short list of rules, perhaps graded by severity, that their god or religion insists that they keep. The GM should draw up a list of "vows", appropriate for the religion.

Rook
05-24-2009, 10:18 PM
I tend to use it parenthetically. I find it useful as a general guideline for behavior to be used until the character is fully fleshed-out. I prefer using descriptive and situational paragraphs to describe the general persona of the character.
I totally agree with you on the paladins issue. Anytime I've played one (always the iconic LG) I had them stick to a strict code. One of the major compaints about the paladin character, and I guess the players who run them, is that they are the buzzkills of the group, always telling other characters what they may or may not do. I've always tried to have my paladins lead by example and rise above the fray.
Lots of great responses in this thread by the way.

Xandros
05-25-2009, 02:43 AM
This is the fourth or fifth alignment thread on this forum, at least.
Sorry. I didn't mean to harp on a subject or rehash other threads. I had noticed some posts expressing disdain for alignments, but hadn't seen any that actually covered what they did to cover these specific issues. I did not intend for this thread to be yet another debate about the problems with alignment. It has become that for the most part though. I really just wanted to know, from the people who have gotten rid of alignment, what, if anything they have done to handle alignment specific abilities. Or from people who may still use alignment, but have ideas for how to handle those alignment specific abilities. I didn't intend for it to be a post for people to state if they used alignment or not and why or why not, simply because there were already posts (as mentioned) about that already.

MrFrost
05-25-2009, 11:18 AM
I favor Alignment as a guideline rather then a restriction, if a player hadn't played their alignment correctly then their alignment would simply change, this would be bad for a Paladin or Monk but adds to the role playing in my mind. A Monk or Paladin should be played following those guidelines (to a degree) and stray too far and you should not be a "Holy Knight".. Mayb i'm just old school... But then again you know what they say about the old school.

templeorder
05-25-2009, 11:27 AM
When i found Palladium, i took my first step away from the classic alignment system of DnD. Its still difficult - evil does exist.. there's just some things that, no matter how you slice it, are evil. However, alignment has its own issues which make it cumbersome and in some ways really outmoded given the sophistication and maturity of a lot of gamers these days. I prefer to set 'codes of conduct' that are species or cultural based. Once i tried to give a point value to each (torture, rape, conquer and kill, etc.) and at a certain point value, you were classified as evil. Thats still a slippery slope when factoring in intent, so now i just have weak and strong evil - if your motivation/behavior falls into an evil outcome, it has to be 'strong' evil to be picked up easily - meaning both motivation and desired outcome fit in the code - otherwise i gugage them as 'weak' and inform characters using abilities that relate to it they they sense faint evil - it does not always make things crystal clear but it gives more flavor. It also means a paast can provide a lasting taint - deed long done would be evil, but a changed being would only radiate as 'weak'.... now the party has to puzzle it out. Your average ork though, to who life has little meaning except as slave or food, he's still evil.

Ezero
05-25-2009, 08:15 PM
I favor Alignment as a guideline rather then a restriction, if a player hadn't played their alignment correctly then their alignment would simply change, this would be bad for a Paladin or Monk but adds to the role playing in my mind. A Monk or Paladin should be played following those guidelines (to a degree) and stray too far and you should not be a "Holy Knight".. Mayb i'm just old school... But then again you know what they say about the old school.

I'd agree with this for the most part, however, I think it's more vague.

For example, Say I'm playing as a Paladin, His/her god could be something along the lines of a new god, or a trickster god. Now, say if that god liked to toy with people in terms of morality.

The paladin could get a call to arms against a group of people, only to find out that the god tricked them. Now, would that warrent an allignment change? Or is it not the paladin's fault? To me, That's up to the DM.

Then again. I'm rather new to D&D as a whole. So I might be wrong on this.

Windstar
05-25-2009, 08:39 PM
I favor Alignment as a guideline rather then a restriction, if a player hadn't played their alignment correctly then their alignment would simply change, this would be bad for a Paladin or Monk but adds to the role playing in my mind. A Monk or Paladin should be played following those guidelines (to a degree) and stray too far and you should not be a "Holy Knight".. Mayb i'm just old school... But then again you know what they say about the old school.


I concur with Mr Frost, I use it as a tool not a set rule.

Windstar
:cool::cool:

tesral
05-26-2009, 04:55 AM
All I really need to say.

Out of the Box; The Conundrum of Alignment. (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/alignment.html)

MrFrost
05-26-2009, 08:06 AM
Ezero - I like to keep things simple, but thats basiclly what I was going for.

I think alignments are needed in D&D to better aid one in roleplaying, thay can have a change of heart and with that their alignment would change aswell. They help not only the DM but player have an idea of how they wish to play their character, they have 9 to choose from that will fit any style of play so any character type can be found with in. The only real thing it affects is few classes and spells. Thats about it, it makes for a good tool to aid but should never be used as a ristriction.

Also for those whom played NWN they used a great system you may want to try. Two counters, one for Good&Evil and another for Law&Chaos. Depending on what you begain as is where the counters would be. Lawful Good would be 100/100 & 100/100. Chaotic Neutral would be something like 50/100 & 00/100. As the game goes and they make their chosies the DM would add or subtract points from either counter. When they reach a threshold that would change their alignment then so would the characters change. It would be up to the DM to deicded just how much each action is worth on such a scale. Killing a friend would not only be unlawful but evil maybe each costing 20pts while helping a old lady cross the street would be a good act only gaining 1pt. See where i am going with this?

Just an idea.

Ezero
05-26-2009, 04:03 PM
Ezero - I like to keep things simple, but thats basiclly what I was going for.

I think alignments are needed in D&D to better aid one in roleplaying, thay can have a change of heart and with that their alignment would change aswell. They help not only the DM but player have an idea of how they wish to play their character, they have 9 to choose from that will fit any style of play so any character type can be found with in. The only real thing it affects is few classes and spells. Thats about it, it makes for a good tool to aid but should never be used as a ristriction.

Also for those whom played NWN they used a great system you may want to try. Two counters, one for Good&Evil and another for Law&Chaos. Depending on what you begain as is where the counters would be. Lawful Good would be 100/100 & 100/100. Chaotic Neutral would be something like 50/100 & 00/100. As the game goes and they make their chosies the DM would add or subtract points from either counter. When they reach a threshold that would change their alignment then so would the characters change. It would be up to the DM to deicded just how much each action is worth on such a scale. Killing a friend would not only be unlawful but evil maybe each costing 20pts while helping a old lady cross the street would be a good act only gaining 1pt. See where i am going with this?

Just an idea.

I'm well aware of the NWN system, In fact, I think our current group's DM uses the same system.

It works wonderfully, no?

Panthro82
05-26-2009, 04:40 PM
Mr. Frost I like that system, but like you said I think something as extreme as 20 points should definitely be an action that is 120% extremely out of alignment, regardless of the action.

renyee
05-27-2009, 06:05 AM
I have to say I really like the system used in D20 Modern with Allegiances as an alternative to Alignments. Although that is probably more about motivations rather than morals and ethics. But since I'm using the True20 as my game system, we use Virtue/Vice system detailed in the core book.

What do people think about the Alignment system introduced in D&D4e? Is it better or worse than the one in D&D3x?

Moritz
05-27-2009, 08:53 AM
I favor Alignment as a guideline rather then a restriction, if a player hadn't played their alignment correctly then their alignment would simply change, this would be bad for a Paladin or Monk but adds to the role playing in my mind. A Monk or Paladin should be played following those guidelines (to a degree) and stray too far and you should not be a "Holy Knight".. Maybe i'm just old school... But then again you know what they say about the old school.

Ditto. And I'll add: D&D uses alignments as guidelines of behavior. There are also those spells/senses that allow characters to detect alignment. If you remove alignment, then you hurt some characters.

In addition;

My gaming group went through the 'alignment arguments' for months until it was brought to the table that 'evil' isn't nurture, it's nature. For example; a Red Dragon is Chaotic Evil because of the Chaos and Evil spheres/planes of influence affect the Red Dragon. In that translation, a PC is not going to raise a Red Dragon from an egg, nurturing it, and turn it Good. The Red Dragon is always going to be Chaotic Evil.

Thus, in my opinion, Alignment is necessary, and is an essential part, of D&D. If you take out alignment, you take out a lot of what is the foundation of the game.

tesral
05-27-2009, 12:39 PM
IWhat do people think about the Alignment system introduced in D&D4e? Is it better or worse than the one in D&D3x?

The only word that comes to mind is "why?". It's an improvement...skewed weird. OK, you simplify to good, evil, and unaligned. So far so good. But you keep lawful good and chaotic evil? Why? Eviler evil and gooder good? It rather leaves one scratching one's head.




Thus, in my opinion, Alignment is necessary, and is an essential part, of D&D. If you take out alignment, you take out a lot of what is the foundation of the game.


I think alignments are needed in D&D to better aid one in roleplaying,.

Counter example. We have played for over two decades without alignment. I physically removed it from the game. Took out the spells the restrictions, the magic items, wholesale ditched it, left it by the side of the road, tossed out the baby with the bath.

My game has not suffered in the least. If anything without alignment the role-play has improved. You can't detect alignment. You have to deal with people as they come.

Those things such as Paladins and clerics are given honest to morals ethical codes and rules to follow. It not only works,. it works very well indeed.

Below is an example of how I replace alignment. This is a typical religion gloss. I make a point to vary the "style" and voice of the writing to suit the tenor of the religion. Shadowhawk is a "regular guy" and so the tone is conversational.

The Disciplines

God worshiped: Shadowhawk
Sphere of Influence: Birth, Marriage, Death - the changes of life, Thieves, and The Abandoned
Sacred Color: Gray
Sacred Animal: Hawk
Place of Worship: Temple, home, or where ever
Worship Days: Sunset of the sixth day
Holy Days: Lastlife; Water 2,13 The last birth of Shadowhawk. Get drunk, party down.
Greymantel; Earth 3,20 Shadowhawk takes the Fate's mantel of responsibility and becomes a god. This ends his journey of lives, and begins his teaching of the endless circle to others. A somber holiday, a time to reflect on the life's accomplishments and to plan future accomplishments.
Folly; Air 3,10-13 For the hell of it. A three day party hearty and have fun. Everyone else is having some sort of harvest festival, we might as well join in.
Propitiation/Sacrifices: Goods and labor, blood under special circumstances. Sentient only if willing.
Holy Writings: The Seasons; The philosophy of the god on life, death and life. A short and concise work.
The Lives; Shadowhawk's history in his own words. A long book, very long as it details some 300 turns of the mortal wheel of life. Everything from Kings to scullery maids.
Favored Deities: Vala, Avians
Favored Governments: Lankmar, Eyrie


Teachings and Other Information
Worshiper Requirements:

Typical Worshiper : Citizens of Lankmar, street children, thieves, those persons unjustly outcasts from their own societies.
Sex of worshiper : Any
Minimum Age: None
Race: Any
Worship of Other Gods?: Yes
If Yes, Any restrictions?: No conflicting rules


Commandments

War & Fighting: Certainly defend yourself, and that which you care for. Fighting for any other reason is sightly unreasonable.
-- If for some strange patriotic reason you feel like serving in a government run possible means of getting yourself killed, such as the Army, have your head examined. If after that you still feel like it? Well, on your head be it. I will not ignore you, but I won't pull your ass out of hot water you volunteered to get into either.
-- Vengeance is a lousy reason to fight. But, if you insist, at least do it right. That is with a maximum chance of winning. Getting yourself killed while out for vengeance is dying stupid. I will have words with you over that.
Love and Marriage: Great, should be fun. If you play around without commitment, don't get any kids.
-- Kids are a big responsibility, do not do this lightly. If you don't feel you are ready to handle it, then don't. When you do feel ready, then do. BUT, you cannot reverse the process so be sure.
-- I don't care what arrangements you make, pairs, triples, entire clans. However, when you make this commitment, and ask the priest to bless it, you had better by damn well be sure you want it for life.
Duty to Liege Lord: You've got them, they are a fact of life. It is easiest to obey the laws. If you cannot obey the laws, at least don't get caught. If you get caught, don't expect me to bail you out.
-- I really can't stress this enough, yes, sure, some laws where made to be broken. Frankly some laws should be broken. But there is a price for the breaking of them, and if you are not willing to pay that piper, then don't dance the dance. Never think you will never get caught, that makes you lazy and you will get caught.
-- One caveat. I will aid those unjustly charged and convicted. But if you do the crime, I will not prevent the punishment. Justice and fairness are not one in the same. It can be perfectly just, and totally unfair. Those are the rules.
Self Interests: Live life big, even fatal mistakes are not permanent. This is not likely you last life, and might not be your first. Don't get stupid, but don't kill yourself with caution either.
-- You should try everything, at least once.
Others Needs: Don't step on the other guy, remember he is in the same boat you are. You might be able to climb to the top on the heads of others, but you will find the route lonely, and you won't get any help from me.
-- If you feel the call to do charity, examine it very closely. If you detect a sense of righteousness, or pride in virtue, stomp on it and do something else. If you find a genuine enjoyment in helping others, hey wallow in it.
-- A point on the very idea of charity. Aiding the truly helpless is fine and good, but the healthy poor resent it. Charity saps a being's sense of worth. It is far better to offer work and pay than a handout.
Duty to Religion: Yep, it's the little payback time. If you don't aid the priests, they can't aid you. I don't like personal appearances, that is why I have priests. When the priest aids, that is me aiding. So treat the priest as you would treat me.
-- One more thing. Don't profess the religion if you don't like my rules. It's rude, and pisses me off.
Life & Death: Do not fear death. This is not to say you should seek it either. Death is a fact of life. Everyone dies sooner or later. It is permissible to wish it to come later.
-- Death is a passage, not an ending. Keep this firmly in mind, it will ease the transition when it comes.
-- Don't take life to seriously, you will not get out alive.
Other: Some people are called to bear burdens that others are not. Just because you might not feel the need does not make it pointless or stupid. There is dirty work that needs to be done, and more power to those that are willing to do it. I will aid in special ways those persons so called.
-- Tolerance aways. Your way of life is no more unique or special than the next persons. Doubtless you yourself will give something like that a try at one time around the circle, or you may have already.
Afterlife Expectations: What do I promise? A fair trial and a just disposition. I will not shunt you off to some special place to avoid paying for nasty deeds done in life. That would be defeating the entire reason for the very cycle of rebirth.
-- A few pointers when facing Minos: No afterlife plane is forever. Even Hell can be gotten out of if you really want to. Rebirth is always an option.
-- Did bad for a good cause? I will stand with you and argue your case, if I agree with your reasons. If I can't get the big guy to agree with me, I will see you get a quick trip to the Cauldron of Rebirth.


Clerical Requirements

Name of Order: The Elders of Discipline
Statement of Mission: To educate the people to the true meaning of the circles of life. To protect and aid the followers of Shadowhawk.
Sex of Cleric: Any
Minimum age: None
Race: Any
Sexual Practices Allowed or Required: None outside of those for everyone else. Sex is to be enjoyed. I don't recommend marrying outside the clergy. If you feel that you have to, just make sure your intended understands the duties you must perform, and that my vows will come first.
Wealth and Magic Allowed: No problem with this. Even the worst of items can find a good use. Be careful however. If you get a bad feeling about something, have an elder Elder check it out.
Oaths of Ordination: Obedience, service.
Special Attributes Needed: Quick wits and a level head will serve you, and me, well.
Special Abilities Given by Level: The skills of Read/write Quentăta (clerical language), speak Thieves Cant (if applicable), Survival +1 (urban & one wilderness), Street smarts +1.
-- At 4th level the Cleric will acquire local customs, Cant, and Street smarts within a month of living in a location instead of six.
-- At 8th level customs, Cant, and Street Smarts are acquired within a week of living in a location.
-- At 12th level the Cleric can use Blend at will. They will acquire customs, Cant and Smarts within 24 hours of moving into a location.
Weapons Allowed: Any one handed edged or blunt weapon.
Armor Allowed: Keep it light and simple. You can use armor as heavy as mail if you really feel you need it, no armor is better faster and quieter.
Special Commandments: It is imperative to lean to live with anyone. Tolerance is your first commandment. If you show immediate disapproval of a being's race or life-style you can never win them over to your point of view. Even if you personally find them repugnant, smile and shake their appendage. You can gag in private later, plan their murder, or whatever. Yes, I know this is openly deceptive. Honesty is good, but not always the best policy.


Clerical Ranks

Disciple -- 0 to 1st level
Duties: Learn the ropes, obey the Elder, keep your nose clean.
Privileges: Precious few. The teaching Elder has full discretion on this matter
Vestments: Simple gray robe with a rope belt.

Elder -- 2nd level and up
Duties: Do everything required for the maintenance of the congregation and temple. From administer rites to sweep the floor. Some Elders are given special duties by the god himself.
Privileges: When not doing the "good work" your time is your own. No one is looking over your shoulder. But it is wise to not do something that will bring disgrace to the god if it is found out. You can understand how that might upset him.
Vestments: The vestments worn depend on the duties being performed.
Daily: A gray pleated robe, sleeves edged in green, with a white pointed tabard edged in green and the symbol on the chest. A head cloth of white edged on the front with green. Robe and tabard are belted at the waist with a white sash.
Marriage: A White pleated robe, sleeves edged in green, with a white pointed tabard edged in green and the symbol on the chest. A wreath of flowers of the season is worn on the head. Wreaths of silk flower will be kept for occasions when fresh flowers are not available. Robe and tabard are belted at the waist with a white sash.
Christening: As the marriage vestments except the tabard is solid green.
Burial: Gray robe and gray tabard. All else conforms to the daily Vestments.

Senior Elder -- 5th level and up
Duties: Just more responsibility. A Senior is in charge of something. From a temple to a project. All roving priest are consider Seniors as a matter of courtesy. All roving priests are considered to have special missions.
Privileges: As the Elder. You didn't think rank got you anything but trouble, did you?
Vestments: As an Elder.

First Elder -- at least 18th level
Duties: In charge of everything. What did you expect?
Privileges: Other than his god as a drinking buddy, just more responsibility.
Vestments: As an Elder


Who's Who -- The Disciplines

Shadowhawk -- The many born
Shadowhawk is the many born man. He has lived over 300 life times in his turns of the great wheel. In his lives he has occupied every social position from beggar to King, experienced every race, and has been both man and woman.
Unlike mortals who never, without great effort, remember their past lives, Shadowhawk can recall each life with great clarity. With this knowledge he understands in ways that those born gods never could the changes that mark the mortal life.
Shadowhawk was a thief in his last life, choosing to be born to low estate, he was not really planing to become a god. Because of this he is also the patron of thieves and outcasts. While he will not aid in stealing, he does offer some protection for those down on their luck or unjustly persecuted by authority.
Shadowhawk also has spent the majority of his lives in one city, at least after it was founded. The last 100 lives, where lived in the City of Lankmar, and he holds that city as special.

Sparrowhawk -- Demigod
Sparrowhawk is Shadowhawk's only known living child. He offered her a position as his demigod when she started getting up in years.
Sparrowhawk aids in general ways. She doesn't have any particular sphere of influence as such.

Zed -- Demigod of Life
Zed was one of Shadowhawk's first worshipers, and the first of the Paladins. Worshipers dealing with life's hardships or difficult rulers call on Zed for aid.

Wayne -- Demigod of Death
Wayne is was once the death himself. The being that once attended the death of every creature in the universe. At this point he serves only Shadowhawk, he has passed the mantel of Death to other hands. He still possess all the powers of death however.

Cathiea -- Personal Servant
Cathiea is the daughter of Molly and Tommie Elsoria. She was one of the most sought after women of her age. Gods were lined up courting her. In the end it was the least likely man that won her heart and hand. Indeed Shadowhawk didn't even try to "win" her.
Cathiea is active in Shadowhawk's religion and often aids or consults with his clergy.

Tommie Lanarn Elsoria -- Blood Brother
This relationship started when the young Tommie faced his first kill, and the older, and strange man backed him up. Shadowhawk became both teacher and student, and when Tommie reached manhood, they became brothers of choice.
When Tommie claimed his rightful heritage as Slantia Tommie, the first father, Shadowhawk stood beside him. To this date Shadowhawk is the only human god that has been given voice in the Halls of Valinor.


Friends and Enemies
Friends --

The Vala --
Shadowhawk is welcome among these the first children of Greyhawke. He in turn welcomes them.

The Avians --
Shadowhawk has dealt primarily with the Phoenix members of this council. He counts several as personal friends.


Enemies --
Shadowhawk counts no gods among those that oppose him. He opposes no god himself.


Favored Governments --

Lankmar --
Shadowhawk is the Patron god of the City of Lankmar. This city and its people enjoy the god's favor and protection against outside enemies. He will not protect them against themselves.

Eyrie --
Shadowhawk accepted the honor of Knight of Eyrie in his mortal days, and still feels bound by that oath. Those that follow him are enjoined to favor this government.

Valdar
05-27-2009, 02:58 PM
Ignoring alignment does seem to make the game better, particularly in the area of completely removing class/alignment restrictions. No longer are Paladins for LG gods only.

I just checked, and none of the PCs in my game have an alignment. We had some LG types at one point, but we even had an unaligned Paladin at one point. Now everyone has a personality and their own code of ethics, all without arguments as to whether an action is lawful or chaotic.

I do like that 4th Ed got rid of Chaotic Neutral as the "poor man's Evil". No longer do I as a DM have to put up with characters acting like sociopathic idiots in the name of "roleplaying"...

4th also got rid of alignments as keywords, so not only do you not have an alignment sensor, you also don't penalize characters for not being True Neutral when it comes to spells that target alignments.

Panthro82
05-27-2009, 03:11 PM
Ditto. And I'll add: D&D uses alignments as guidelines of behavior. There are also those spells/senses that allow characters to detect alignment. If you remove alignment, then you hurt some characters.

In addition;

My gaming group went through the 'alignment arguments' for months until it was brought to the table that 'evil' isn't nurture, it's nature. For example; a Red Dragon is Chaotic Evil because of the Chaos and Evil spheres/planes of influence affect the Red Dragon. In that translation, a PC is not going to raise a Red Dragon from an egg, nurturing it, and turn it Good. The Red Dragon is always going to be Chaotic Evil.

Thus, in my opinion, Alignment is necessary, and is an essential part, of D&D. If you take out alignment, you take out a lot of what is the foundation of the game.


OMG!!!! An almost identical situation came up in my group last night! We came across a barn that was burned down, and we found a baby that was part human/part demon. We had this debate(in game) about nature vs nurture. I was the ONLY character who fought on the side of nature. The paladin being an LG dork, said we could not leave it or kill it and then he swore to his god he would raise it as one of his own. I argued that that was a horrible decision and once the baby got old enough, the blood coursing through its veins would take over. Its natural animalistic impulses would consume it. Everyone beside me without any thought agreed that, "obviously nurture is always the reason why a person winds up the way they are". That made me mental! I wanted to get into it(because i have taken multiple college psychology courses) but I just decided the group is gonna do something stupid here and there is nothing i can do about it and I will reserve my, "I told you so", for when it kills the paladin...

Sascha
05-27-2009, 04:11 PM
Alignment always seemed to me like team colors, rather than ethics - justification for doing to the Other Side what would be appalling if it was done to yours. Especially if there was no hope of redemption, like the "Always X" creatures; seems like any being with free will would have the potential to change (I'll buy the argument that extraplanar creatures don't actually have free will, not so much for the rest).

If one needs to enforce alignment to control player behavior, maybe it's a sign that the problem isn't with the game rules at all ...

wizarddog
05-27-2009, 04:23 PM
I treat alignment as a what it really is, a mechanic.

Players can play whatever alignment they want without fear of being lectured, penalized, or waylaid by me for no adhering to the written text (Though some classes still have a code of conduct that must be followed). Good does not have to be the righteous, nor do evil have to kill indiscriminately (though a player may play that way if desired, suffering the consequence in a world with laws and corruption).

I rule alignment is how the cosmos and outsiders see them. An evil outsider is more likely to try to corrupt an evil player than a good one. A good outsider is more likely to smite an evil mortal and seek out good mortals for assistance. Lawful entities seek out other lawful mortals for their plans while chaotic try to persuade chaos amongst their aligned mortal philosophers. The mortals of the plane become the pawns (willingly and unwillingly) in the cosmic war between opposed alighnments.

PC's are under no such black and white mentality, unless they take exalted or vile feats. Now the PC is trying to emulate the power of outsiders and thus sees things as black and white. They also get punnished if they don't live up to their deeds (or misdeeds).

Moritz
05-27-2009, 04:45 PM
Alignment always seemed to me like team colors, rather than ethics - justification for doing to the Other Side what would be appalling if it was done to yours. Especially if there was no hope of redemption, like the "Always X" creatures; seems like any being with free will would have the potential to change (I'll buy the argument that extraplanar creatures don't actually have free will, not so much for the rest).

If one needs to enforce alignment to control player behavior, maybe it's a sign that the problem isn't with the game rules at all ...

In my opinion, this is fantasy land, a game. Gary Gygax created a series of rules for that fantasy land. Reality, nurture, and tree hugging (unless you're a druid) don't really come into play. It's very much 'team colors'. Good vs Evil. Kill the monster, earn XP, get the treasure. If the Monster Manual says the creature is 'evil' then you kill it - get xp, get treasure.

Otherwise, every time the PC's encounter some monster, they'll have a debate as to whether or not it's doing something wrong or harmful and thus they must be judge, jury, executioner. Bringing the game to become some legal/court battle which I read about in the most ludicrous game thread.

Sascha
05-27-2009, 07:30 PM
In my opinion, this is fantasy land, a game. Gary Gygax created a series of rules for that fantasy land. Reality, nurture, and tree hugging (unless you're a druid) don't really come into play. It's very much 'team colors'. Good vs Evil. Kill the monster, earn XP, get the treasure. If the Monster Manual says the creature is 'evil' then you kill it - get xp, get treasure.
Which isn't exactly an argument for alignment, if all it is is team colors; you could just as easily not have alignment and the exact same behaviors are present, since the reward mechanism is triggered by combat wins and loot gains. Plenty of stories lack objective morality, yet still influenced DnD's early incarnations, such as H.P. Lovecraft's works.


Otherwise, every time the PC's encounter some monster, they'll have a debate as to whether or not it's doing something wrong or harmful and thus they must be judge, jury, executioner. Bringing the game to become some legal/court battle which I read about in the most ludicrous game thread.
Except that this is basically how the semi-current (3E) alignment system works out in most of the games I've been in :\ Detect as Evil? Stabbity death for you. No quarter given, none taken. Doesn't sound particularly heroic to me.

Also, lacking alignment systems don't necessarily bring about Law and Order episodes every encounter; establishing the goals clearly - including acceptable PC behaviors - before play starts will go farther than any game rules can. If the mechanical enforcement of alignment is what's reigning in player behavior, I'm thinking it's not really about what two letters are on anyone's sheets.

tesral
05-27-2009, 08:36 PM
Ignoring alignment does seem to make the game better, particularly in the area of completely removing class/alignment restrictions. No longer are Paladins for LG gods only.

I have always treated the Paladin as a holy warrior pushing X agenda. Insert appropriate agenda. They can be goody goody, pragmatic, or downright brutal depending on the agenda and the rules under which they operate.

What I don't allow is "Lawful Stupid". Few if any gods demand you leave your brain at home.

What you do have to do is make sure you have the rules and agenda. One of my basic problems with alignment is the non-code of ethics. Lawful Good defines neither what is lawful or what is good. Running a Paladin under alignment is a minefield of do I dare do or not do? The Calvinist's creed . Can and you can't, will and you won't, damned if you do and damned if you don't. I have seen too many examples of "how long can you stay a Paladin"? played with slippery rules the player doesn't even know.

Panthro82
05-28-2009, 12:20 AM
Moritz thats part of character play though. An LG Paladin is brutal to have in a group, because they are stubborn to a fault and so set in their ways that they have tunnel vision most of the time. Most of the time it is a fun challenge, sometimes it can be brutal...

Dytrrnikl
05-28-2009, 04:34 AM
I tried running DnD games without alignment, with more of a personal code of ethics set up. It actually made the game feel different, and not in a good way at least for me. Most of my player's had more of a Vigilante outlook of Good, sort of Rorshach-esque. It was ok to slay Dragons, regardless of whether it was a Maruading Red Dragon or a benevolent Gold Dragon that never bothered any settlement it lived near. All Dragons were threats to be proactively eliminated if they were a scourge and pre-emptively eliminated before they did become a Scourge. That campaign actually turned me away from gaming for a couple of years - DMing or Playing.

Now, when it comes to Science Fiction type games such as Shadowrun or Star Trek, or many of my d20 Modern games, I don't see alignment being a factor. Good and Evil are more a reflection of what the societal norm is for the game, and shades of grey becomes more of factor.

Moritz
05-28-2009, 08:56 AM
Moritz thats part of character play though. An LG Paladin is brutal to have in a group, because they are stubborn to a fault and so set in their ways that they have tunnel vision most of the time. Most of the time it is a fun challenge, sometimes it can be brutal...

Moritz? Did I mention Paladins?

But I will... Paladins are what Gary defined them as, Lawful Good. Cavilers and other knights that may follow some religious doctrine are not the paladins we know and love. There's also the Anti-Paladin, something inverse to the Paladin just to give the Paladin Player something else to hate.

If a paladin is played outside the Lawful Good alignment, he loses his paladin-hood and his spechul butterfly powers. If people want to design a character that has spechul butterfly powers for other alignments, then cool. But they're not paladins.

Opinions are great. Everyone else is wrong while you're totally right. See signature below.

Panthro82
05-28-2009, 11:10 PM
no you didnt mention paladins moritz, but you said everytime you encounter something there will be a debate. well if that is the case then you most definitely have an LG paladin in your group! :)

Malruhn
05-29-2009, 12:34 AM
I've used modern religions to see if I could come up with a quasi-legitimate "paladin" for the three main branches of the followers of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) with several flavors of Christianity. All ELEVEN I came up with were VERY lawful, and GOOD as they saw it - and all of them had very clear codes of conduct that they had to follow - that, if they failed to uphold the edicts, were sure steps to lose their Paladin-hood-itude.

And every one thought they were LG... and all eleven were quite willing and capable of killing the other 10 if warranted (with only ONE that seemed close to what we consider to be Paladins).

It helps that I am a student of world religions and an ordained Christian Minister (now no longer practicing or willing to practice).

tesral
05-29-2009, 01:06 AM
It helps that I am a student of world religions and an ordained Christian Minister (now no longer practicing or willing to practice).


"Hurt not others in that you yourself would find hurtful." -- Udanavarga
"As you would wish that men would do unto you, do so to them." -- Luke 6:31
"Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you." -- Analects 15:2
"Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." -- Mahabharata 5:1517
"No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." -- Sunan
"That which is hateful unto you, do not impose on others." -- Talmud, Shabbat 31a


-- So why is this idea so hard to understand and practice? -- The Tao of Phoenix




I'm hearing you here. While not formally trained I have had enough shoved my way to get the gist of the idea. Making religions is easy. Making good ones is hard. The very thrust of most religions, "we believe X,and you should too" Once you add political power "or else." It seems to me that the more popular a religion becomes the further away from the core message it drifts.


Fantasy religions get to have busy-body gods that shove the beast back on message, if that is the GM's choice. So for the most part I have the religions of Thindacarulle stay on the message the god ordained. Not all such messages are benolevent however.

Panthro82
05-29-2009, 02:06 AM
Malruhn, I never knew you had such an interesting background! Yea the paladin in our group was ready to come to blows with myself and another group member just over the discussion we had about the baby we came across. If you go against their code of conduct, even if you have beared arms right alongside them and helped them in the past they only care about the fact that you disagree with them about something that involves their code. Tough character to work with, but does make things interesting I suppose. Only hope we dont all wind up dead over a belief system...

MrFrost
05-30-2009, 09:52 AM
Malruhn, I never knew you had such an interesting background! Yea the paladin in our group was ready to come to blows with myself and another group member just over the discussion we had about the baby we came across. If you go against their code of conduct, even if you have beared arms right alongside them and helped them in the past they only care about the fact that you disagree with them about something that involves their code. Tough character to work with, but does make things interesting I suppose. Only hope we dont all wind up dead over a belief system...

There is a 2E book called the Complete Paladin and after reading it a few days ago I found that they could get away with alot more then I had thought even with the hard a** 2E days. There was a graph detailing the offence and the atonement following. Only the most wicked offeces should a paladin lose the LG alignment.

So it takes a huge or consent offence for an alignment to change in any direction.

Dark
05-30-2009, 10:36 AM
I for one like the alignment system Palladium that uses a system where alignments are described in detailed terms with alignments describing how a character acts in a certain situation; whether they will lie, how much force they will use against innocents, how they view the law, and so on. The alignments are organized into three broad categories: Good, Selfish, and Evil. The seven core alignments are Principled (Good), Scrupulous (Good), Unprincipled (Selfish), Anarchist (Selfish), Aberrant (Evil), Miscreant (Evil), and Diabolic (Evil). An eighth alignment, Taoist, was introduced in Mystic China, but has not seen wide use.

Each category contains answers to a set of questions on moral behaviors. For example, given the question "Would you keep a wallet full of cash you found?", most selfish or evil alignments would keep it, while most good alignments would seek to return the wallet to its owner. The categories are not organized into a pattern like Dungeons & Dragons. The system specifically does not include any sort of "neutral" alignment on the grounds that a neutral point of view is antithetical to the sort of active role heroes and villains should play in a story.

tesral
05-30-2009, 01:17 PM
Well the question wasn't about liking alignment it was how to remove it from the game.

First, ditch all spells that have an alignment effect. If X alignment then Y. You can rewrite them to simply effect. For clerical spells they can affect anyone not of the religion for example.

Magic loses it's alignment effects. Holy/unholy weapons can keep their effects. I even keep the good and evil keywords. Such creatures that are measurably good or evil do exist even without alignment. Angels and Devils being the prime examples. Law and Chaos are gone, gone, gone.

Social encounters get real life. You have to take people as they come. Likewise you need to have a social "norm" that can vary depending on where you are. As mentioned, religious types get codes to follow. Non-religious types can follow them too.

Last, play the game.

I will answer specific questions on how I have handled various issues. I have torn alignment totally out of the D&D system.

MrFrost
05-30-2009, 02:44 PM
Thats a bummer.. Their is good and evil in the world we live in why not d&d? I enjoy the alignments and use them as a tool to follow but as i said before not a ristriction. The player can play any way they wish.

Panthro82
05-30-2009, 04:19 PM
yea sometimes it is difficult for me to justify being punished for going against alignment. Maybe if it happens frequently, but once in a while everyone acts out of alignment.

tesral
05-30-2009, 05:33 PM
Thats a bummer.. Their is good and evil in the world we live in why not d&d? I enjoy the alignments and use them as a tool to follow but as i said before not a restriction. The player can play any way they wish.

Then you are not listening. I never said there is no good and evil. No alignment, so good and evil are not "labeled". You have good people and evil people just as always, but no video game bar to show it.

Panthro82
05-30-2009, 05:42 PM
I don't think alignment should be done away with all together. I think alignment is necessary as a general outline. Although a loose outline. Not uptight play where if you act slightly out of alignment once, you get slapped on the wrist and warned that your characters abilities might be taken away. LOL seriously?!?! Are we 6 again?!?!?!

tesral
05-31-2009, 11:49 AM
I don't think alignment should be done away with all together. I think alignment is necessary as a general outline. Although a loose outline. Not uptight play where if you act slightly out of alignment once, you get slapped on the wrist and warned that your characters abilities might be taken away. LOL seriously?!?! Are we 6 again?!?!?!

What is alignment doing that a few extra words could not do better? "Lawful Good" vs. "A charitable font of the milk of human kindness."? Once you add the latter, why do you need the former?

We get back to the loaded nature of the alignment phrases. How many people see or hear lawful good " and think of the "lawful stupid" paladin stereotype? Firm jaw, bulging muscles, no brain. The alignment phrases don't describe enough. Once you describe enough you don't need the alignment to describe anything.

Alignment is a magneto on a modern car. It serves no purpose and gets in the way.

Xandros
05-31-2009, 06:56 PM
What is alignment doing that a few extra words could not do better? "Lawful Good" vs. "A charitable font of the milk of human kindness."? Once you add the latter, why do you need the former?

We get back to the loaded nature of the alignment phrases. How many people see or hear lawful good " and think of the "lawful stupid" paladin stereotype? Firm jaw, bulging muscles, no brain. The alignment phrases don't describe enough. Once you describe enough you don't need the alignment to describe anything.

Alignment is a magneto on a modern car. It serves no purpose and gets in the way.
I agree. Getting rid of alignment for character description is easy. I was only concerned about spell and other effects. Looking back it was ridiculous to punish players for not playing their alignment properly. If they were playing their characters the way they envisioned them, then they either chose the wrong alignment, or were constrained by the exact wording of the alignment description which would mean that there are only 9 different personalities in the world.

Alignment as personality can easily be gotten rid of entirely. Put a few personality examples in the race descriptions, and in the class descriptions and some example personality descriptions in the 'Description' section of the PHB. Just enough to spark the players imagination and creativity to describe their own character.

tesral
05-31-2009, 09:54 PM
I agree. Getting rid of alignment for character description is easy. I was only concerned about spell and other effects. Looking back it was ridiculous to punish players for not playing their alignment properly. If they were playing their characters the way they envisioned them, then they either chose the wrong alignment, or were constrained by the exact wording of the alignment description which would mean that there are only 9 different personalities in the world.

Alignment as personality can easily be gotten rid of entirely. Put a few personality examples in the race descriptions, and in the class descriptions and some example personality descriptions in the 'Description' section of the PHB. Just enough to spark the players imagination and creativity to describe their own character.

Why are we using the alignment again? I pulled it from the spells and magic effects.

William Murderface
06-06-2009, 01:11 PM
i think the concept of alignment is a little outdated

Panthro82
06-06-2009, 08:29 PM
I think the RPG creating community initially created alignments as a point of referrence. but it looks like the players as a whole took the system too literally. It is a shame that they didnt recognize this in their later works and put something in their books about it being a loose outline as opposed to a punishable offense.

shilar
06-09-2009, 09:38 PM
It is a shame that they didnt recognize this in their later works and put something in their books about it being a loose outline as opposed to a punishable offense.

For quite a while it was a punishable offense

Cardboard Tube Knight
06-09-2009, 10:01 PM
I never thought about getting rid of it but we don't play hard to the alignment really. I mean I think if anyone stepped out of in glaring ways and went against their code or deity I would penalize them appropriately but other than that I am pretty lax as long as the characters are played right.

Panthro82
06-09-2009, 11:29 PM
my DM plays it tight. Sometimes it annoys me, but I am glad for a game and I appreciate his efforts. It adds a level of thought when you have to factor in alignment. If and when I DM that factor isn't a part of my game, I put in other things to occupy the time of the players.

tesral
06-10-2009, 06:25 AM
For quite a while it was a punishable offense

By the rules. A evidenced by the post above this some people still see it that way. Alignment leads behavior, not follows it. Variations in alignment (I.E. Character development) are punished.

The result is cardboard cutouts.