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Farcaster
08-24-2007, 01:02 PM
Don't forget the alignments.

I dunno. I could probably do with chucking the alignment system. In my games, it has always been a constant source of strife because the players usually end up playing the character contrary to its alignment, and I don't like to step in and say, "No, your character wouldn't do that because he's XYZ alignment." I let a lot slide in this department.

fmitchell
08-24-2007, 02:08 PM
I dunno. I could probably do with chucking the alignment system. In my games, it has always been a constant source of strife because the players usually end up playing the character contrary to its alignment, and I don't like to step in and say, "No, your character wouldn't do that because he's XYZ alignment." I let a lot slide in this department.

Alignments started in Original D&D, when Gygax and/or Arneson tried to transplant Moorcock's Law/Chaos conflict into the game, with an implied Law=Good, Chaos=Evil). Then AD&D added a Good/Evil axis on top, thus adding to the confusion.

I don't like the black-and-white morality implied in the alignment system, particularly as applied to nonhumans. An entire thread (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3206) explored the problems with abilities like Detect Evil. In the extremely unlikely event I ever run a D&D campaign, I'd add a house rule that abolishes alignments, and reinterprets Detect Good/Evil/Law/Chaos and similar abilities as affecting only Outsiders, Undead, Aberrations, or other "unnatural" threats. (Assuming I retain the magic system at all, which is another story.)

Ed Zachary
08-24-2007, 04:01 PM
I could probably do with chucking the alignment system. In my games, it has always been a constant source of strife because the players usually end up playing the character contrary to its alignment, and I don't like to step in and say, "No, your character wouldn't do that because he's XYZ alignment." I let a lot slide in this department.

The player can say they're whatever alignment they want to, and that really doesn't matter. If there is a consequence to the character being or not being a certain alignment, it's up to the DM to set the consequences in motion.

Farcaster
08-24-2007, 05:39 PM
The player can say they're whatever alignment they want to, and that really doesn't matter. If there is a consequence to the character being or not being a certain alignment, it's up to the DM to set the consequences in motion.

I agree. The problem is when there are secondary consequences to alignment and the DM and player disagree. Such would be the case when simply shifting from NG to LN would cause a cleric to loose their abilities, even though they may otherwise follow the tenets of the church. The alignment system has always been a bit contrived to begin with and it is often open to interpretation, wherein lies the problem.

Ed Zachary
08-24-2007, 07:56 PM
The player can say they're whatever alignment they want to, and that really doesn't matter. If there is a consequence to the character being or not being a certain alignment, it's up to the DM to set the consequences in motion.


I agree. The problem is when there are secondary consequences to alignment and the DM and player disagree. Such would be the case when simply shifting from NG to LN would cause a cleric to loose their abilities, even though they may otherwise follow the tenets of the church. The alignment system has always been a bit contrived to begin with and it is often open to interpretation, wherein lies the problem.

Players will often disagree with the DM in situations such as a DC for a skill, if a character was surprised, how fast a character can move, etc. There may be subjectivity in almost any action. The final call always belongs to the DM, after he listens to the character's point of view.

Alignment has become a third rail of D&D, because so many want to scrap that part of the system. Therefore more people are likely to argue it, then complain loudly how unfair it is. The DM needs to state the rules, listen, be fair, then run the game.

starfalconkd
08-25-2007, 06:51 AM
I'd also like to see the alignment system dead and buried. I'm curious to see how that would work out with so many alignment based spells, abilities, and classes.

Semaria
08-25-2007, 10:47 AM
Any suggestions on what to replace it with?

rabkala
08-25-2007, 10:54 AM
Does there really need to be anything to replace it? We don't seem to need an alignment system in the real world. There is plenty of conflict to keep things moving in the game.

fmitchell
08-25-2007, 01:41 PM
Does there really need to be anything to replace it? We don't seem to need an alignment system in the real world. There is plenty of conflict to keep things moving in the game.

Clerics and paladins are supposed to lose their powers when they break the precepts of their religion. To me, though, that just means the DM has to outline the precepts of their religion, so both parties know when they're broken.

An indie game called "Paladin" has an interesting approach: the Paladin's Code has three Minor Laws, three Major Laws, and a single Unbreakable Law. (You can alter the numbers as needed.) Breaking any law requires an act of atonement proportional to the law, before the transgression is forgiven. Adapting the "Paladin" mechanics somewhat, breaking a Minor Law is worth one demerit, breaking a Major Law worth three, and breaking the Unbreakable Law is worth 10; 10 demerits cause total power loss, and optionally lesser demerits might affect clerical or paladin powers.

Note this also gets us around the plethora of anti-paladin and variant paladin classes: the law for "evil" and/or "chaotic" paladins might include showing no mercy to the weak, obeying no unjust law, sowing discord and misery, etc. You might have to reverse the polarity of the ethics flow for evil paladins ("harm" for "heal", "detect good" for "detect evil", etc.) but that's about it.

P.S. Here's the full text of Paladin (http://files.crngames.com/cc/paladin/paladin.html). The PDF is available for sale at Drive-Thru RPG (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=16594&it=1)

Ghezryln
08-25-2007, 02:12 PM
Does there really need to be anything to replace it? We don't seem to need an alignment system in the real world. There is plenty of conflict to keep things moving in the game.

I don't have a personal character class or numeric ability scores either in real life.

I am a teacher by trade, which would be my character class. My level effects my pay grade, which puts all teachers in this country at third level or less.

About alignment, we all act in a certain way. The overall trend would define our alignment. Most of us are inherently good, and we usually behave lawfully. But not all the time. Society expects us to behave lawfully. If I'm not lawful, there are legal consequences. If I'm evil but lawful, there are social consequences. Life does mirror the D&D system, we just don't attach labels to ourselves.

rabkala
08-25-2007, 02:46 PM
I don't have a personal character class or numeric ability scores either in real life.

I am a teacher by trade, which would be my character class. My level effects my pay grade, which puts all teachers in this country at third level or less.

LMAO... then I get sad.


About alignment, we all act in a certain way. The overall trend would define our alignment. Most of us are inherently good, and we usually behave lawfully. But not all the time. Society expects us to behave lawfully. If I'm not lawful, there are legal consequences. If I'm evil but lawful, there are social consequences. Life does mirror the D&D system, we just don't attach labels to ourselves.

I think the game operates fine without alignments. Alignment systems have to be overly simplistic to work for everyone.

We usually behave lawfully because we are afraid of big brother, not because it is in our nature. We behave good when it suits us or we want from those around us, but there is no evil or cruelty like that of man. Humans are by nature also petty, spiteful, jealous, and evil. It is inside everyone, to some degree. Nurturing may decide to what extent a man is evil, but it is always there.

And what happens when a people have different views on good and evil? Be careful, it is a slippery slope to traverse. The real world is not so black and white.

fmitchell
08-25-2007, 03:02 PM
Most of us are inherently good, and we usually behave lawfully. But not all the time. Society expects us to behave lawfully. If I'm not lawful, there are legal consequences. If I'm evil but lawful, there are social consequences. Life does mirror the D&D system, we just don't attach labels to ourselves.

Except different societies espouse different laws. Texas allows a homeowner to shoot intruders without repercussions, but other states and countries have a different standard for "self-defense". Massachusetts allows gay marriage, and Oregon allows assisted suicide (unless my knowledge is out of date), which few if any other states condone. Islamic law allows a man to divorce his wife easily (from what I gather), while in Western countries it's a little more involved; contrariwise, Islamic countries have harsh penalties for adultery or extramarital sex which have fallen into disuse in the West. The Chinese government strictly controls speech and religion, which is wholly against the laws of America. America and Japan are the only Westernized countries that permit capital punishment; some countries won't extradite criminals to America if they would face the death penalty.

And then there are those, rightly or wrongly, who hold themselves accountable to a "higher law" than the civil laws of wherever they live. From the priest who offers sanctuary to a murderer to the jury that nullifies a law, from those who protest on behalf of various causes in defiance of civil authority to the otherwise religious person who quietly ignores one or another dogma of his religion, one man's "law" is another's injustice.

So there's no one law or one morality, which is where the D&D alignment system breaks down.

Ed Zachary
08-25-2007, 03:48 PM
Except different societies espouse different laws.

Which makes my point that the Paths of Enlightenment from White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: Dark Ages were the best alignment system.

The D&D system is simple, easy to understand, and is very playable. Those who don't like it try to kill it because it doesn't sit well with their idealized version.

If you want more complicated, or what's perfect for you, create your own house system.

If I wanted complicated and (my) ideal, every temple and guild would have their own moral code for their followers to follow. But it's just not worth the time and effort for me to put that in place.

Simplicity and playability is the way to go.

The Wandering Bard
08-25-2007, 04:07 PM
I agree with Ghezryln, Besides its all a matter of opinion. If one person thinks some one is evil because of his actions, that person might see himself as a hero for his actions.

OK, in a D&D perspective. A kobold kills a group of gnomes that wander into their warren. The gnomes might think the Kobold Evil for killing them, or there kind. but the Kobolds would see the one as a hero and as a good person for defending his home.

Its all in the eyes of the game.

that is the one complaint I have in D&D. I have always wanted to play an Assassin character, I don't play evil characters though because I just don't have the mentality to pull them off. But If an assassin is working for....say the kingdom that who is to say the assassin is evil...he could be in fact lawful good, because he is defending his country, following the laws and obeying orders. (I know people will disagree but its all opinion.)

RealmsDM
08-26-2007, 09:17 AM
yeah, the "good assassin who hunts bad guys" and/or who works under the employment of a good king/organization, has been picked apart countless times over the years.

Its a go nowhere debate, but lets just see.... ;)

Say a police officer, a detective or something, knows a violent drug dealer is guilty as sin, and is comminting brutal crimes- but has no hard evidence to prove this, so he sneaks out into the night & BAM- whacks the guy in his drug dealer hangout Soprano's style.

Is this a evil act? It was a evil person, and the world is better off with him out of the picture, so isn't it good?

The act istself is murder- murder is evil. Good is righteous- striving to be better than the evil in the world, even if its a harder path.

Just my little kickstart to a debate...

Zelgadas
08-26-2007, 10:19 AM
I agree with that position; the issue is that it's exactly this kind of moral murkiness that a black-and-white alignment system like the one in D&D works against. Eberron goes a long way toward mitigating this with things like good-aligned black dragons, clerics not having to be a similar alignment to their deity, and the simple idea that an evil person can work toward the greater good. It still seems that the alignment system hampers this playstyle a little bit. You can be an assassin who only kills in service of the greater good, but that paladin is still going to see you as evil when he uses his detect evil ability on you. Why is that necessary? How does that facilitate roleplay?

I can see arguments for and against alignment, and my viewpoint is sort of a mix of the two. I don't think that PCs need alignment; I think that having a black-and-white indicator of their moral and ethical makeup hampers their ability to play a realistic character (and if it doesn't, they're basically ignoring their alignment when it suits them anyway, which is generally fine by me, if unnecessary). I think that alignment for NPCs is very useful as a form of shorthand, though. Lord Percival is a Lawful Evil aristocrat/rogue? That says a lot about his personality right there, and gives some pointers for portraying him in the game.

The bottom line is that the PCs should be the most well-developed characters in the game, and a well-developed character should change over time and should have to make some tough moral decisions. This probably means that alignment will shift, and some characters are penalized for this under the current system. The bard becomes lawful? No more advancement as a bard. The cleric shifts too far from the alignment of his deity? Loss of cleric abilities. And then there's the paladin.

I've heard it mentioned (I don't know whether or not this has been confirmed) that alignment will still be in the game, but that it won't have anywhere near as much impact on game mechanics as it currently does. I think this is probably a good decision. As I've said, alignment is useful as a form of shorthand, but it shouldn't be used as a way to restrict roleplaying opportunities.

Grimwell
08-26-2007, 01:41 PM
I see Alignments as just another tool that can, and can not be put into the game. there are certain things that hinge on it, and if you drop it you have to come up with something else to replace it, but that's normally what I do. I work more on the spirit of what a paladin should be doing.

Mostly because I don't find that many players who actually pay attention to their alignment after character creation. Which is a different issue alltogether I suppose.

Ed Zachary
08-26-2007, 02:38 PM
Behavior due to character alignment is just as subjective as race.

You'll often hear people complain that someone is not acting their alignment, but rarely ever hear that the elf is not acting like an elf.

Too many people play nonhumans for the bonuses, but play the character just as they would a human.

Alignment should serve as a guide for the player, categorizing the general behavior of their character. Most classes don't have any consequence for alignment. But more often the problem lies with the DM rather than the player. It is the DM who needs to set the repercussions into motion, and if done properly can add interesting plot twists.

Farcaster
08-26-2007, 02:52 PM
Say a police officer, a detective or something, knows a violent drug dealer is guilty as sin, and is comminting brutal crimes- but has no hard evidence to prove this, so he sneaks out into the night & BAM- whacks the guy in his drug dealer hangout Soprano's style.

Arguably, by the D&D system, the cop in your example might be called Chaotic-Good. Taking the law into his own hands would be a chaotic, not necessarily evil act. Thus, CG is the vigilante archetype. Now, if the law allowed for such harsh punishments with little or no due process, then he'd be obeying the laws of a Lawful-Evil society, and may well be LN or LE himself.

Ed Zachary
08-26-2007, 04:05 PM
Arguably, by the D&D system, the cop in your example might be called Chaotic-Good. Taking the law into his own hands would be a chaotic, not necessarily evil act. Thus, CG is the vigilante archetype. Now, if the law allowed for such harsh punishments with little or no due process, then he'd be obeying the laws of a Lawful-Evil society, and may well be LN or LE himself.

Yes, role playing alignments mirrors real life. No matter how "Good" that LE/NE president said he was, he'd still be judged as "Evil" by his actions.

PhishStyx
08-26-2007, 05:22 PM
Yes, role playing alignments mirrors real life.

In what way? Does our justice system use alignments to adjudicate cases? Does our political system use it? How about religion?


No matter how "Good" that LE/NE president said he was,
What president?


he'd still be judged as "Evil" by his actions.

by whom? And by what method of judging?

Farcaster
08-26-2007, 07:06 PM
In what way? Does our justice system use alignments to adjudicate cases? Does our political system use it? How about religion?

In some ways, yes, it can be classified. Based on my albeit limited knowledge of our justice system in the US -- as an avid Law and Order fan -- I'd classify our system as basically Lawful-Neutral. We place a premium on the system itself, even if the system ultimately leads to a bad result - like criminals freed on technicalities. We trust that in the aggregate, the system works.


What president?
Not pointing any fingers here or anything, and I hate to delve into the political, but any president who erodes personal freedoms and condones torture, by definition would fit well into the Lawful-Evil category. One does not have to be seeking an evil result to fall into this category. It is the means of maintaining a 'lawful society' that would define such a president as lawful-evil.


by whom? And by what method of judging?
We're speaking about the textbook D&D definitions of law/chaos, good/evil and not the abstract definition of perspective-morality that many believe in.

RealmsDM
08-26-2007, 07:12 PM
well, Batman would be the CG vigilante- he doesn't kill the badguys, he brings them to justice.

once again though, this is a no-win debate as far as D&D goes. I'm very interested to see if they put together a workable alignment system in 4e, or did they just dumb it down to where its irrelevent in the game???

Farcaster
08-26-2007, 10:48 PM
I'm splitting this off the 4th edition thread for its own discussion.

fmitchell
08-26-2007, 11:25 PM
Well, to continue, then, I don't see how a DM couldn't replace the D&D alignment system with one or both of the following:


A simple ethical code for each religion a cleric or paladin can belong to, following my suggestion in a previous post or some other simple "oath".

Redefining "evil" (or "good") in various spells and powers to mean creatures specifically affiliated with malign supernatural powers, e.g. Outsiders, Undead, most or all Aberrations, and clerics of malign gods.

Note that I said "religion", not "god". Multiple gods could belong to a single pantheon; the whole pantheon might have a single unifying ethical or ritual code, and each god might add an extra "law" focussing on its specialty. For example, the Greek Pantheon might all believe in hospitality towards guests, valor in battle, and ritual sacrifice to the gods, but Aphrodite might also want her priestesses to spread her fame through amorous exploits, while Hera might demand all her priests and priestesses protect the sanctity of marriage.

Priests of an unfriendly god in the same pantheon probably wouldn't detect "evil", but those who want to destroy the god and all his or her worshippers certainly would.

Moritz
08-27-2007, 07:42 AM
Not pointing any fingers here or anything, and I hate to delve into the political, but any president who erodes personal freedoms and condones torture, by definition would fit well into the Lawful-Evil category. One does not have to be seeking an evil result to fall into this category. It is the means of maintaining a 'lawful society' that would define such a president as lawful-evil.

Kinda on this subject, what if the law of the land is "Do not kill.". So everyone who does not kill is Lawful. But the president/king comes along and breaks that law. Since he is a lawmaker, doesn't that sort of keep him Lawful? Or does he need to change the law in order for it to be lawful for him to kill?

starfalconkd
08-27-2007, 07:50 AM
Not pointing any fingers here or anything, and I hate to delve into the political, but any president who erodes personal freedoms and condones torture, by definition would fit well into the Lawful-Evil category. One does not have to be seeking an evil result to fall into this category. It is the means of maintaining a 'lawful society' that would define such a president as lawful-evil.

"He" may be lawful evil, but it is more by default. He's not very intelligent and is surrounded by people who could be classified as very evil. I would guess that allowing evil people to guide your actions so throughly would make you evil.

TheYeti1775
08-27-2007, 10:18 AM
I use this product:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=29542&src=FrontPage&it=1 (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=29542&src=FrontPage&it=1)

It was written by a friend of mine. Uses a three part alignment axis compared to the two part one we have now. I use it as an option for my players if they wish to delve further into it. Those who looked at that questionaire I provided will see some of the info from the book in it.

Yeti

fmitchell
08-27-2007, 01:20 PM
Kinda on this subject, what if the law of the land is "Do not kill.". So everyone who does not kill is Lawful. But the president/king comes along and breaks that law. Since he is a lawmaker, doesn't that sort of keep him Lawful? Or does he need to change the law in order for it to be lawful for him to kill?

Heck, that's implicit in paladins, a fighter who kills "evil" for his god. (What do you think "Smite Evil" does? Turn the target to a pacifist?) So it's Lawful and Good to kill "evil" things.

But what, as we've asked in this entire thread, is "evil"? A particular "race"/species? Servants of an "evil" god? Anyone who commits "evil"? Anyone with the "smell of evil", as indicated by paladins themselves?

One can say "it's only a game", but somehow the parallels with historical and present tragedies -- inquisitions, crusades, witch hunts, ethnic cleansing, thoughtcrime -- disturbs me too much to participate in that sort of game.

Moritz
08-27-2007, 01:36 PM
Ok, I'll try to answer this for my group.

There were many arguments throughout our game dealing with alignment and what makes 'evil' actually evil.

What it boiled down to was the following: There are Positive and Negative planes, there are other dimensions, etc. And the very nature of a creature is influenced by a particular plane.

For example, A Red Dragon is naturally chaotic evil. Even if you were to get the red dragon egg, raise it, nurture it, it's very nature is that it will show it's real chaotic evil side regardless of what theological debate or how much you give it hugs.

As noted in other threads, I do not believe in 'evil' or 'good' in the real world. However, in the D&D world, we have things that are naturally/inherently/innately good and evil. Influenced by planes, energies, or forces.

Therefore, the Paladin can 'sense' evil, because the creature that is 'evil' is covered in it, has the evil running through its very existence, and influenced by the 'evil forces' of its' origin.

As a side note, the 3.0 MM had Skeletons labeled as Neutral. I totally abused this. The Paladin could not sense them and the group was always under assault by skeletons.

Further along those same lines, a local Lawful Neutral Baron Necromancer was creating skeletal/bone golems. Also neutral. And using them as his construction crew (building a better estate) and also as guards/patrols. Made my players nervous, as he was building a skeletal army. But he was very helpful to them because they supplied him with +1/+2 weapons for his army at a great price.

And, in conclusion, I love alignment, and hope that alignment is never taken out. It makes for more 'conflict' in the game, and that's what D&D is all about.

rabkala
01-07-2008, 04:32 PM
O.k. We haven't had any good arguments discussions about alignment recently. Please post all your gripes and grievances ( just alignment not festivus) here. Maybe 4e will have a 'better' way, but I've yet to see anything hinting to it. Any newer people with ideas?

Mulsiphix
01-07-2008, 04:40 PM
Just came across this thread and my reply to the subject is NO. No need for change. It is fine just the way it is.

Xaels Greyshadow
01-07-2008, 05:15 PM
I'm neutral. Literally. I have played in games where alignment played a major part, and the DM followed character alignment very closely, even told players to change their alignments at the table for "Insert reason here." Alignment has never been that major to me. As a DM, it's been something to have fun with if neccessary. If you understand alignment, and want to make players act according to there alignment or allow it to be something that opens branches in a game. MORE POWER. As a rogue, neutrality is something important to keep employment options open. How the wind blows, within reason, is what makes a rogue employable. A lawful or chaotic rogue may be cut from the team because of their beliefs, but a neutral rogue is kind of like a soldier, he may do something evil at some point in time, but it does not make him evil. He may walk little old lady halflings across muddy roads, but that does not make him good. Alignment is something that once again has been left to us players and DMs to interpet. The only thing that truly matters though is that we play and have fun. What if you went to a game and the DM's house rule was "There is no alignment system or alignments?" Would you fall apart because something hasn't been clearly laid out and broken down for you? Maybe it's just me, but seems like once again, we have found something to break apart, attempt to define, and REMOVE the IMAGINATION factor from. Maybe we should just let go and enjoy our games as they are, and not worry about how other people are playing their game. It's theirs after all. Thanks for letting me share once again.:cool:

Xaels

Drohem
01-07-2008, 05:48 PM
I am not an alignment Nazi as a GM. I think that it is a good compass for players and GMs; sort of a common ground where both parties can identify actions/lack of as falling roughly into these guidelines.

I kind of see alignment as the Pirate's Code; they are guidelines and not written in stone.

As a GM, I only pay attention to classes were alignment is intergral or crucial; such as Paladin or Cleric. Also, I will say something if a Fighter has LG down on his character sheet yet he is acting CE all over the place consistantly. In that case, then I point it out and suggest that the player changed the alignment towards CE, but not necessarily all the way at once.

The problem with removing alignment completely from D&D is that it is interwoven into the lore and mechanics of the game. The lore part is no big deal, but the mechanical like spell effects and affects would have to be reworked.

Farcaster
01-07-2008, 06:52 PM
Perhaps, in part, it is because I have been playing D&D with alignments for so long that I do not want to see them go. Or, at the very least, I don't want to see them removed without being replaced by something else. What I feel alignment does for the player is give him some guidelines for playing a character with an outlook that may be 180 degrees in the other direction from his own.

Left to my own devices, my characters tend strongly towards lawful-good to lawful-neutral, which closely matches my own personal outlook. But, I like to take the challenge sometimes of playing a character that would make drastically different decisions than I would given similar circumstances. Alignment allows me to define how my character would react in a very broad way, and it keeps me from drastically altering how that character behaves would good roleplaying reason.

That said, I would be very happy with a more robust way of expressing this -- and getting my players to express their character's outlook. I would be just as satisfied with a good list of character defining questions on my character sheet that help the GM and player understand the character's outlook and motivations. Some systems use experience rewards for playing your character's traits and following his motivations. I wouldn't mind seeing the same thing in D&D, as long as the character motivations didn't become to iconic; i.e. I'm a Dwarf, and my motivation is drinking, smashing goblins and collecting gems. I need something a little less paper-thin, if you please.

Mulsiphix
01-07-2008, 07:28 PM
I wouldn't mind seeing the same thing in D&D, as long as the character motivations didn't become to iconic; i.e. I'm a Dwarf, and my motivation is drinking, smashing goblins and collecting gems. I need something a little less paper-thin, if you please.For example?

Malruhn
01-07-2008, 08:34 PM
One reason I don't like the existing alignment system is that they left many of the descriptions of what good and evil are to the players. This means that we are left with a crap system that depends totally upon everyone accepting the same blind descriptions.

This left us with arguments like whether killing for good is a good thing... and what exactly is the definition of "selfish"? Even Mother Theresa did what she thought was best... as did Hitler. If you agree with either of them, then you probably believe that "their" side is "good" - and the other evil.

Yeah, it's a crap system.

Mulsiphix
01-07-2008, 08:41 PM
Wouldn't Hitler be considered Lawful good or Chaotic Evil? Either way, depending on the campaign setting, one should easily apply. Its all in how the player perceives what the DM is presenting. If a particular campaign has you playing as Orcs defending their village from Humans expanding their territory, by defending their lands against the murderous humans, the Orcs would be considered the good guys. You could argue it on either side of the fence. What I'd be very interested to hear is somebody propose how to fix the alignment system without totally getting rid of it.

Malruhn
01-07-2008, 08:58 PM
I've fought with this for almost 30 years - and the best idea I came up with was to ignore alignment - and that answer sucks [edited].

I now use a watered-down version. It runs like this: "Mulsiphix, what alignment are you, and how do you define it?" Then all I do is use that as a guide as to how you may - or may not - act when faced with a situation. With the proper prodding, I think I could even have had Mother Theresa eating babies and killing people, so I know people waver. The question is, how would she react AFTER she was full and the killing was done! If she did her best to atone according to HER version of alignment, then I don't have a problem with it.

The "problem" arises when Mulsiphix says he's LG and acts CE... and attempts to justify it. While I really prefer campaigns that have nothing but stereotypical good and neutral PC's, what I want is an alignment code that I can use for planning purposes. If I set up a jaded "Save the Princess" adventure, and the group is evil/chaotic, my intent for ending scenarios and rewards may well be ALL screwed up! This is why I want to know alignment criteria up front.

However, I don't penalize people when they act out of alignment!! The only people that get into trouble are those that break their class rules (paladin code, clerical edicts). However, that is when I can get creative.

What happens when a religion has a "free-thinker" that breaks the mold and changes the way the flock thinks? We have a scism, or a new, breakaway faith (think Christianity to Judaism, the Protestant Reformation, and even what's happening today in Anglicanism). Who knows, that Cleric of the LG deity that just killed a defenseless child may lead a new faith!!

Yeah, that's as good as I have for alignment. Dumping it totally just didn't work!!

fmitchell
01-07-2008, 09:01 PM
One possible solution I proposed earlier in this thread (http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3481) is to define religious/ethical world views up front, and then measure a cleric or paladin (or lay person of any class) against that. The mechanic might be similar to Morality/Humanity/etc. in White Wolf games, or "Dark Side Points" in Star Wars.

I can see three problems:


Religions and philosophies are setting-specific, so if WotC doesn't step up it's still up to GMs to decide what's "good" and "bad" for each philosophy.

Defining the rules for more than a handful of religions would be time-consuming. Given the number of gods currently defined in D&D, defining a moral, ethical, and ritual perspective for each would be a daunting task. If they were grouped into "pantheons" or "religions", a group of gods could ascribe to a similar code with individual quirks, but D&D assumes all religions are henotheistic (each god considers himself more important than the others, and demands to be worshiped accordingly).

D&D had enough problems with demons and devils at one point, so defining specific fictional religions and "what is good" will get somebody's panties in a bunch.

tesral
01-07-2008, 09:06 PM
I don't like alignment, it bears repeating. What I don't tend to explain is why. I usually do not explain why because I use an authoritative tone of voice in my writing and people's heads explode. If you head is so prone, wrap it in duct tape, here I go.

One: The Alignment system has been debated to death. The books can clarify and explain until the damn bovines are dust, never mind come home, it changes not in the least the fact that people will argue the meaning those nine little phrases, and argue and ARGUE. I drop alignment because it unhinges those expectations. By not using the loaded phrases to describe anything, I remove them from contention, and hopefully open people to looking at my game as it is, not with the baggage they bring to it.

Two: Alignment is the Fisher-Price ethics system. Big blocks for little hands. Simple (except it is not, see above) and bright colors. But using alignment to make a more advanced moral and ethical system is like laying out a highly detailed model with those self-same Fisher-Price toys. You cannot do it. Sure those toys have their place, but it is not in a detailed model.

I'm going to pick on the Catholics here (nothing personal if you happen to be Catholic). No one here will doubt that the Roman Catholic faith has a rich and varied history, that Catholic dogma and mystery are deep and complex subjects. However, we are going to put that aside for the Catholic Alignment System. we have three. Christian (Yea Jesus!), Heathen (Jesus who?), and Pagan (Boo Jesus!). In the advanced CAS we add In Grace (Yea Pope!) Heathen (Pope who?) and Hertic (Boo Pope!) All people, organizations, and nations will have ethics described only by these nine possible states. Now, in playing your game which would you prefer, the rich textured history and dogma of Rome, combined with all the pagent of the world's religions interacting with each other, or the Catholic alignment system?

I have read article after article about how to make "real" politics work under Alignment. Or how to inject "real" morals ("real" in quotes because we are discussing a game.) How it IS possible to have conflict between to "lawful Good" characters and not break alignment.

Alignment gets taken further into races and even entire nations. This does not work. While a nice Fisher-Price system for individuals, it just cracks into little pieces when you try to wrap an entire society around it.

Alignment does not scale, either to finer and more detailed ethics or to larger social units. So you either have to work around it, awkwardly, like a dead elephant at a party, or ignore it at different scales. So why do you have it?

Three: Long ago I created detailed ethical and moral systems for my game. I came to the point of adding alignment, and realized it was tits on an chicken. You didn't need it. I had just explained in black and white the ethics of the entire religion. One didn't need the alignment.

By removing alignment wholesale I don't run into problems of the debates about the true nature of "evil" verses "Evil". (This is exactly the kind of argument I was talking about in point one.) You can't detect alignment, there isn't one. NPCs have to be dealt with on an "as we meet you" basis.

Social consequences replace alignment deviation. If you walk through town kicking puppies you will become known as a puppy-kicker. Mothers will pull children off the street. Adult dogs will bark at you. Merchants will not serve you. Get bad enough and the law takes a hand. Ever wonder what happens to retired epic level adventurers? Why, they get a job as the town constable, that's what. Keeps rowdy puppy-kicking punk adventurers in line.

Four: What about Clerics and Paladins? Well they get a gloss of the religion, its beliefs commandments and special commandments for the order. Much better than a two word descriptive. Deviation as described is punished by the god in question.

Good and Evil? They exist, they can even be detected, but not unless they are very strong. Point; most mortal creatures will never detect as evil or good. They have choices. The teetotaling saint can become a wife-beater and thief. the wife-beater and thief can turn a new leaf and seek redemption, even become a saint. Choices. Simon McGee is not evil by the detects. He can mend his ways.

Those creatures that do show good or evil are those without the choice to change. Devils, angels, those creatures that are what they are by nature. In addition those mortals that are strongly tied to a power that is one or the other will detect as such. Sell your soul to the Devil, yes you will detect as evil. Are you a sainted monk that can heal without spells? You will detect as good. These are mortals that have made their choice so definitely that change is impossible or at
best highly unlikely.

So in my game if someone detects as "evil", they really are, and is likely torturing children or worse. There is no "lawful". That is a philosophical statement, not a property of the universe.

Lastly, the primary use I have seen for alignment is a hammer on the players, not the characters. I can do without that thank you.

For the last fifteen years alignment has not been part of my game. The game has improved, not suffered. I reserve the opinion that the game in general would do better without it as well. THAT is the major flaw that I believe 3e did not correct.

Digital Arcanist
01-07-2008, 09:14 PM
Abandon the system entirely. If a player has powers dependent on the will of a deity then it is up to the DM to fully know everything there is to know about that deity and make judgments accordingly involving a player's actions.

For those players who have chosen a patron deity but do not rely on their will then a DM should keep their actions in the back of his mind in case they decide to be a cleric/shaman later in the game. Just because you take a level in cleric doesn't mean your deity will give you power.

As for the rest of the players....no holds barred but you may find yourself behind bars if you cross the law.

RealmsDM
01-07-2008, 09:52 PM
For me, and most people I'd like to think, the RPG alignment system (in D&D anyway) is purely for mechanical reasons. The role playing aspects of a characters alignment should be, well, role played.

If you're chaotic evil, then lawful weapons & holy spells will ruin your day. But being chaotic evil shouldn't mean that a chaotic evil villian should be a anarchist who likes kicking puppies from sunrise to sunset, unless that's your cup of tea....

Simple outlook, I know, but hey, I'm chaotic neutral. :p

fmitchell
01-08-2008, 01:58 AM
For me, and most people I'd like to think, the RPG alignment system (in D&D anyway) is purely for mechanical reasons. The role playing aspects of a characters alignment should be, well, role played.

Yes, but the mechanics impinge on role-playing. Who "detects evil"? (Or good, or law, or chaos?) Does "smite evil" work on murderers? Orcs? Is killing an orc baby, who's usually Chaotic Evil, good or bad? What about priests of an evil god? Evil priests of a good god? And so on.

gdmcbride
01-08-2008, 05:53 AM
I wouldn't mind if the entire alignment system went poof. I would shed not one tear.

I have one use for the alignment system -- when I am scanning a stat block, I can usually tell the villians and the good guys in one glance. What is the alignment? Ah, CE. This is a bad guy. Of course, you could also just adopt 7th sea-esque nomenclature and label everyone a 'hero' or a 'villian'. That would work too.

My real pet peeve with alignments is the detect spells. Being able to smell bad guys really chaps my hide. A person is dead -- brutally murdered. We have three suspects. Only one is evil. Who did it? Wow, what a mystery.

You can introduce a twist, of course (there is a fourth hidden suspect!) or you could have all your villians wear rings of mind shielding. But those been done to death. And why give the paladin the ability if its always going to be useless?

My preferred alignment system (if we must have one) is this.

Bob the Holy, male human 7th level paladin (good-aligned)
Biff the Bandit, male human 1st level rogue (unaligned)
Barth the Black, male human 666th level blackguard (evil-aligned)

Bob channels the powers of light and fights for right. Alas, this makes him suspectible to a handful of bad evil powers and artifacts. But also means he gets holy powers and can wield the fabled Holy Avenger! Yay for Bob!

Biff is a nasty little bandit and like most people and critters, he is unaligned. Yes, he does bad things. He has even killed people just for their money, but so what? He isn't in league with Satan so Bob's good powers don't do anything special against Bob. There is no mechanical way to detect Biff's badness with a low level spell. Perhaps, high level mental control can still peer into his mind but this should be hard and unreliable. Of course, Biff will die screaming from a Holy Avenger swipe if he does his banditry anywhere near Bob. The bandit may not 'detect' as evil, but Bob knows villiany when he sees it.

Barth the Black is Bob's exact opposite. Holy powers hurt him. He gets bonus powers for selling his soul to darkness. He can wield Black Razor and cut a horrific swath across the country side. Barth is a blatantly bad dude.

And that's it. That's all I want. Good, evil and unaligned. The EN World rumor mill mentions this might be close to the 4th edition system. And if it is, I will be pleased.

Gary

upidstay
01-08-2008, 07:37 AM
Unfortunately, we do need SOME sort of alignment definition. Otherwise, you would have to scrap certain abilities and skills, even a class. The Paladin would be have to be completely redone, if not scrapped entirely. The Smite Evil skill would be moot if there was no evil. What about magic items? A Holy Avenger is now a what? I kind of leaned towards just a law/chaos system myself. Raymond Feist had a passage in his Riftwar set where he talked about Sanity and Insanity. Killing innocent people for no reason other than the fact that they are there is crazy. So Evil is just the universe gone insane.

In MY games, I would let them follow just a basic set of rules and guidelines, unless they were a Paladin or something like that. Then it got alot stricter. My evil monsters and NPC's were truly and deeply evil. My evil wizards, knights, anti-paladins, etc. drank their potions from the skulls of infants, bathed in blood, you get the picture. The Detect Evil skill/spell I often made ambiguous. The guy with the baby head sippy cup is obvious. But what about the captain of the guard who takes a bribe from slavers to look the other way? What if he looks the other way because they threatened his family? Is he evil? A little, but not enough to show up on a Paladins' radar. How about a barbarian, in a Rage, who runs out of goblins and attacks some innocent bystanders? How about the good old US of A? Our USAF killed millions of German and Japanese civilians, non-combatants, during our bombing campaigns in WWII. Were the B-29 pilots who firebombed women and children in ther sleep evil? How about the generals who ordered it, deliberately targeting residential neighborhoods?
Alignment has always been an ambiguous part of the game, but a necessary one. There has to be some way to measure morality. Not everyone who plays this game has the philosophical bent necessary to come up with their own system.

Anybody wants to sit down with a good bottle of tequila and discuss this, drop me a line.

fmitchell
01-08-2008, 08:11 AM
That's all I want. Good, evil and unaligned.

I'd prefer a more open-ended, less Manichean system. For example, let's say there are N religions/philosophies/supernatural powers. Then there are N+1 positions:



Unaligned: no benefits either way, but no responsibilities ... unless you live in a place ruled by The Followers of X where you might have to at least pretend to follow X yourself. Most people fall into this category unless they really, really try.

Aligned to X (X = 1..N): Once you become an Initiate of X, you have a psychic link to X that anyone with appropriate magic can detect. As you follow the Way of X (defined by the GM) your link grows stronger, and the benefits of being Aligned to X increase. However, if you disobey the Way of X, your link weakens, becomes tainted, and, if you don't check your fall from grace, eventually you lose that precious psychic link. The Powers of X will not be pleased, no, not at all. An apostate will have to jump through hoops before another power will accept him.


So, for example, in Midnight, you have The Shadow and maybe the Old Gods (N = 1 or 2). In Good vs. Evil, N = 2. In Moorcock's Eternal Champion series, N = 2 (Law, Chaos), or 3 if the Balance counts as a power. If you have three religions (e.g. Christianity, Paganism, and Wotanism, as in Pendragon), N = 3. And so on, although higher values of N can make for complex cosmologies and a lot of headaches for a GM.

Riftwalker
01-08-2008, 08:43 AM
It seems like there are three issues that can be teased out of all of this:
Is alignment a tangible real-gameworld effect, or merely an abstract guideline/description?

If it's a real gameworld effect, then it assumes that "good" and "evil" are tangible forces that can be detected, manipulated, and used. (Likewise for "law" and "chaos".) Paladins can Detect Evil, weapons can be evil-aligned, and certain classes have enforceable alignment restrictions.

If it isn't, then it's merely a synopsis/generalization of a character's temperament, or at least a starting point for one.
In either case, does it make sense to categorize/pigeonhole characters into a fixed number of alignment categories?

D&D has 9. Other games systems (and even D&D variants) have more than that. But anyway you slice it, you're creating categories. The more categories there are in a system, the better the fit to the character but the more complicated the alignment system is.

Back here on Earth, consider that a temperament sorter (here's one that doesn't require you to register: http://www.gesher.org/gwtest/gwtest.html ) has the same benefits, drawbacks, and issues: the more categories it provides, the better it can fit your personality/temperament.

Myers-Briggs/Kiersey temperament sorters typically categorize people into 16 categories. In my opinion/case, that's enough to read the description and have it sound like 90% me.
What is the relationship between alignment categories and deities? How do nonbelievers/non-worshipers fit into an alignment system with a high level of coupling between deities and followers? Are deities the source of alignment or do they simply participate in it?

Drohem
01-08-2008, 10:55 AM
It seems like there are three issues that can be teased out of all of this:

What is the relationship between alignment categories and deities? How do nonbelievers/non-worshipers fit into an alignment system with a high level of coupling between deities and followers? Are deities the source of alignment or do they simply participate in it?

I see deities as the personification or embodiment of an alignment or ethos. The ethos are bigger than the dieties though because whole planes of existence are composed or a particular ethos or alignment. By that token, deities are an extension or detached part of that ethos, and, hence, the personification of it.

Of course, this is my POV and interpretation. ;)

tesral
01-08-2008, 12:12 PM
Unfortunately, we do need SOME sort of alignment definition. Otherwise, you would have to scrap certain abilities and skills, even a class. The Paladin would be have to be completely redone, if not scrapped entirely. The Smite Evil skill would be moot if there was no evil. What about magic items? A Holy Avenger is now a what?

Nope, don't need them. I rewrote the entire 2e to remove all trace of alignment and I continue that. Alignment based spells and items vanish. Paladins follow a holy order, Knights Templer for a historical example. They are a subset of a priestly order and the abilities vary. My best example of a religion with multiple priestly orders and paladin orders is The Church of Heaven (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/heaven.pdf) (This is a PDF file) All the Religion glosses I have posted are at The Greyhawke Campaign - Culture (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/gs_fant.htm#Culture)

As I said previously, I have run an alignment free game for fifteen years, and I have seen nothing but improvement. I am not talking theory here, but actual pratice.

Another thing that no alignment encourages is the attitude that no man is a villain in his own mind. Even the blackest tyrant can express love for home and family. He can feel that he does the awful things he does to protect same. He might even see his deeds as vile, but necessary for the greater good. This makes the people murdered in the name of order no less murdered. But the Villain feels justified even righteous, and from his own viewpoint is. He might even have a religion that backs him, for it's own reasons.

It is also possible to have the totally selfish blackguard who doesn't give a damn for anyone but himself. However even this person will not see themselves as "evil". After all they are just looking out for themselves, hasn't every man the right to look out for themselves?

Likewise a paladin that simply plows everything down in the name of good cannot be called good., they must do good not simply have it tattooed on their chest. Good is as good does. Name alone is not enough, and slaying anything labeled as "evil" does not make you "good". In the battle of good and evil method matters as much as motivation.

Running alignment free is more complex. You have to actually think of the motivations of the various NPCs in the game. You can't just tack "evil" to a descriptor and call it done. What it does do is force that consideration of motivations and raise a game above the simple black and white view of ethos that alignment encourages.

tesral
01-08-2008, 12:58 PM
I see deities as the personification or embodiment of an alignment or ethos. The ethos are bigger than the dieties though because whole planes of existence are composed or a particular ethos or alignment. By that token, deities are an extension or detached part of that ethos, and, hence, the personification of it.

But what is an ethos? Nature as near as I can tell has no ethos out side of survival. Eat or be eaten, kill or be killed. Ethos is an invention of sentient creatures that want and need more than that among themselves.

An alignment free world has no "natural" ethos. Gods if any promote an ethos not embody it. Gods in classical myth serve as examples, either postive or negitive.

My opinion as the case may be.

Gods in Thindacarulle have a "What have you done for me lately" relationship with mortals. It's a buyer's market when it comes to religion. There are lots of them and if Hermes isn't helping business then the Antons might. The faithful are only faithful if the gods are faithful. It could well be said that people do not have faith. They either see results, or they move to the temple down the road.

Maelstrom
01-08-2008, 07:47 PM
Kudos to you, sounds like a lot of work. If you and the players enjoy the game more, power to you.

I had same feelings about alignment prior to 3.0/3.5. Lawful neutral? Impassioned judge. True neutral? The balance Must be maintained! Chaotic neutral? Crazy and impulsive.

But 3.5 went a long ways to make alignment a tool, not a straitjacket (straight from the PHB btw). If you use it a bludgeon, players get annoyed and philisophical battles wage wide.

Personally, I like alignment as a way for me to roleplay NPCs. It works either way, I use a personality idea and come up with the right alignment, and then it helps me get into the mindset to complete the idea and improvise on the fly. If I know the kind of alignment I'd like someone to be, it works the other way as well... that gives me an idea of personality ideas. Is it hard and fast, with only 9 personality types possible? Absolutely not, but for me it helps to narrow the field.

Scheming power behind the throne, wicked tyrant that demands order and exactness in his followers, knight with a bad temper and willingness to do what it takes to get his way, but with an impeccible code of personal conduct, or a creditor who has a reputation of keeping her word, but occasionaly enjoys breaking legs when someone doesn't pay her back in time? All Lawful Evil, but each with entirely different ambitions, methods, and personalities.

Each of these people may consider themselves good in their own right, knowing what they do is for a better cause or due to righteous indignation. Will a smite evil work on them? Yes, because despite how they feel about themselves, the taint of the actions are upon them.

Drohem
01-08-2008, 08:10 PM
But what is an ethos? Nature as near as I can tell has no ethos out side of survival. Eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.

It seems to me that you answered that question in the next sentence. :)

gdmcbride
01-08-2008, 08:23 PM
Frank,

The kind of moral complexity implicit in your system is more than D&D wants to embrace, at least with its core system. Your N-series morality system would make a great 3rd party PDF. But to put it in core would be a great mistake. What I really want out of the core D&D alignment system is simplicity and ease of excisement in case it gets in the way.

That said, I like your system. A cool D&D world could be built by thinking of the repercussions of an N=3 or an N=4.

I think your Pendragon example though is a bad one. In Pendragon there are more than three religions, there are at least five (British Christianity, Roman Christianity, Paganism, Wotanism, and Judaism). And those five religions are not necessarily opposed to one another. Roman Christian, British Christian and Pagan Knights can quite easily adventure together. And a conversion from Roman Christianity to British Christianity though it might cause some social unrest from relatives would probably not be all that traumatic. Likewise pagans and wotanics could probably get along fine against their mutual Christian enemies in many cases.

All I'm saying is that the world of Pendragon has a very complex take on alignment that I feel your system models poorly. I think I'll stick with Greg Stafford's instead. :)

As an aside, I would definitely call Moorcock an N=2 system. The forces of Balance are definitely unaligned.

Gary

fmitchell
01-08-2008, 09:34 PM
I think your Pendragon example though is a bad one. In Pendragon there are more than three religions, there are at least five (British Christianity, Roman Christianity, Paganism, Wotanism, and Judaism). And those five religions are not necessarily opposed to one another.

I can see your point, especially since I haven't read the latest Pendragon rules, and I'm a little fuzzy on previous editions. Technically the two Christianities worship the same Power even though their worshipers act otherwise, and Pagans and Wotanics may have affinities as well. (I planned to quote a line from Tom Lehrer's "National Brotherhood Week" (http://www.guntheranderson.com/v/data/national.htm) but discretion is the better part of cowardice.)

Still, there's nothing stopping unrelated Powers in my hub-and-spoke alignment system from forming alliances. For example, if you based Powers on "Magic: the Gathering" colors, two or three adjacent colors could easily team up against their enemies; one can almost imagine a permanent White/Black rivalry, with Blue playing both sides against each other and Red and Green joining temporary alliances with their adjacent colors. Or, to take a more likely example, the usually feuding Powers of Earth and Sky might join forces against the Outer Gods.

P.S. Having laid this out, I prefer the treatment of religion in GURPS Banestorm and elsewhere: gods don't display their favor or disfavor through any game mechanic; magic is more-or-less impersonal, and monsters are still monsters despite their reputed origins. Still, believers find reasons to believe, and doubters find room to doubt.

DrAwkward
01-09-2008, 10:03 AM
I think Ebberon had a decent take on Alignment. I don't know the specifics but it hand waves a great deal of the alignment restrictions for clerics. Ebberon gods are cold and distant, and only really look at your deeds rather than your motives.

I tend to use alignments for the mechanics of the game only -- you can do evil acts with good intentions, and break a law despite strong lawful tendencies. Of course, evil and chaotic minds can behave normally in public and seem like sweethearts. I don't question my players' motives, even if they are playing an alignment specific class. I had a player playing a paladin in a very grim campaign, and he did a great number of questionable acts, but never crossed the line. When his character died, he was put on trial and his motives were put to question. But the 'powers that be' never troubled him in life.

I tend to not sweat the details.

DrAwkward
01-09-2008, 10:10 AM
For example, if you based Powers on "Magic: the Gathering" colors, two or three adjacent colors could easily team up against their enemies; one can almost imagine a permanent White/Black rivalry, with Blue playing both sides against each other and Red and Green joining temporary alliances with their adjacent colors. Or, to take a more likely example, the usually feuding Powers of Earth and Sky might join forces against the Outer Gods.
I've been toying around with doing this for d20; taking the list of D&D spells, classes, and monsters and assigning them "colors". It was looking pretty sweet, but didn't seem like something my player base would be interested in. The colors replaced alignment, and it looked good on paper at least. I was espeically pleased with how the spell system was turning out.

Count Arioch
01-29-2008, 09:35 PM
Odd, there's a huge project on The Gaming Den that is using Magic - The Gathering colors instead of alignment.

Now, to put an end to all the good/evil debates. Sure the kobold that slaughters a bunch of gnomish children is hailed as a hero by the gnomish people. They might consider the war against gnomes to be a holy war. And when the kobold dies, Kurtulmak might favor him enough to allow him to spend eternity in Draukari in kobold paradise.

Holy != good. Being a hero != good. Being rewarded in the afterlife != good.

You want to know if an action was good or not? Gate in a solar and ask them. It doesn't matter how the kobold views his act of gnome-slaying, if that solar says it's evil, then it's evil, end of discussion. There's no such thing as a cultural slant on good and evil, something is good because a being made out of good says it is.

Evil might think they are right in their thinking (After all, Evil is just as valid a decisions as good, in the D&D world, the heroes of both good and evil get special treatment in the afterlife, the peasants are consumed to fuel the power of gods or powerful planar entities. Being evil doesn't mean you'll be punished, being a failure means you'll get punished, and you'll be punished regardless if you're good or evil if you fail.) But evil at no point thinks they are being "good", they might say they are being reasonable. They might say they are being pragmatic. They might think they're right and see the world for what it is. But they don't think they're good in D&D.

Law and Chaos? That's a different matter altogether. Law and chaos are defined poorly and inconsistently. Law and Chaos basically means whatever the DM says it does.

tesral
01-29-2008, 11:16 PM
Now, to put an end to all the good/evil debates.
You want to know if an action was good or not? Gate in a solar and ask them.

So if the Solar approves of killing Kobold children that is a good act?

No, black and white good vs evil does not work. I don't consider any being good for waht they are, only for waht they do. Destruction in the name of good isn't.

Alignment promotes comic book ethics and I don't wish to promote that.

Mulsiphix
01-29-2008, 11:39 PM
I think alignment in general is a decent guideline system. As far as "what is right", this can be argued until the end of time. In the end alignment is only as important as the setting or DM requires it to be. Having it in place as basic guidelines sure isn't hurting anybody though.

Maelstrom
01-30-2008, 04:34 AM
It's an abstract mechanic and roleplaying tool. Try to make it more than that and you're going to tie yourself in knots. Don't like it? Don't use it.

I like Count Arioch's assessment.

fmitchell
01-30-2008, 05:44 AM
Dismissing "Good" and "Evil" as mechanics doesn't help adjudicate whether a character is actually Good or Evil (or Unaligned).

While all real-world cultures differ on details, nearly all cultures throughout history have agreed on a few principles: do not kill, do not steal, honor/obey authority figures, do not lie, etc. (Whether those precepts extend to foreigners is another story. The punishments for disobeying these precepts are yet another.)

The devil, of course, is in the details. Some cultures think breaking the custom of hospitality is a grave matter, others not so much. Some honor warriors, others believe any killing (perhaps even self-defense) is wrong. Some kill for apostasy/heresy/unbelief, others tolerate other gods and other religions up to certain limits.

So, if we stick to Good vs. Evil, there are a few options:


The DM defines "absolute good" in his game, and "absolute evil". Irrespective of what particular cultures, religions, or gods espouse, each character must maintain those standards if he chooses "good" or "evil".

The DM defines "good" as "good as defined in your home culture/religion" (in a game with multiple cultures), and the same for "evil". Thus a barbarian can kill his enemies and still be "good", while a civilized man must avoid killing; a religious man must maintain his ritual obligations to be "good", while a philosopher honors his principles through everyday actions.

The DM gives "good" characters an "E for effort" if they attempt to be good citizens and do the best thing for the greatest number, and "evil" if they act solely only in their own interests or in the interests of maximizing suffering and death. One can still kill, steal, or lie, but the intent matters more.

The last and loosest interpretation might work for the majority of games, although it might give an ethicist fits. The first option assumes all players have the same moral assumptions. The "multicultural" one is (in my opinion) more "realistic" but also a potential nightmare for the DM; to implement it the DM would have to hammer out with each player their character's culture and that culture's ethics ... unless all come from the same culture, in which case we're back to #1.

If gods or religions reward/punish based on different standards from Good and Evil, we're back to the multicultural/multivariate alignment system I outlined earlier: each religion/god/power has its own list of principles, and a worshiper in good standing is rewarded in this life and the next. It might be better to align all gods with "good", except for the obligatory "evil" gods, and possibly some "unaligned" gods who recruit on very specific criteria (e.g. "defend your race/culture", "be stunningly beautiful", "be the best warrior/wizard/thief/whatever you can be").

Count Arioch
01-30-2008, 10:29 AM
So if the Solar approves of killing Kobold children that is a good act?



Exactly. A solar wouldn't approve of the slaughtering of innocent children, but if the solar said it was a good act, there's no argument.

You can disagree with black and white morality all you want. Heck, I don't believe in black and white morality in real life. However, D&D is a world designed based on black and white morality, and if you are playing differently, you are house-ruling.

tesral
01-30-2008, 11:29 AM
Exactly. A solar wouldn't approve of the slaughtering of innocent children, but if the solar said it was a good act, there's no argument.

You can disagree with black and white morality all you want. Heck, I don't believe in black and white morality in real life. However, D&D is a world designed based on black and white morality, and if you are playing differently, you are house-ruling.

And your point is? A bad/broken system is bad and broken. Just becase is has some "offical" stamp on its rear does not change that. Killing children is never a good act, and even creatures of "ultimate good" can fall away from their principles. I don't think much of your example. Said Solar is in for a hard time from its superiors.

This is exactly the problem. "Good" is defined as "what we say is good" and "Evil" is defined as "Those that don't agree with that." A classic Us vs Them argument. I don't buy it in life and I don't buy it in game.

fmitchell
01-30-2008, 11:56 AM
This is exactly the problem. "Good" is defined as "what we say is good" and "Evil" is defined as "Those that don't agree with that." A classic Us vs Them argument. I don't buy it in life and I don't buy it in game.

If I were DM, I'd make characters really work at "Good" and "Evil", or else they're simply "Unaligned".

A truly "Good" character works for the greatest good for all beings. A truly "good" kobold would only kill gnomes in self-defense, or in defense of others (even in defense of other gnomes). He'd resist laws, traditions, and anything else that told him murder, theft, or betrayal were acceptable, no matter what species. Even if a Solar came down and told him killing gnomes was his duty, he'd refuse.

Likewise, a truly "Evil" character would perform any atrocity if it helped him, or even amused him. This kobold would kill gnome children, and kobolds who questioned the need to kill gnome children. If a Solar told him not to kill gnome children, he might outwardly repent, but inwardly he would laugh, and resume child-killing once the Solar was out of sight.

For the huge ethical gray areas of life, there's Unaligned.

Farcaster
01-30-2008, 11:58 AM
No, black and white good vs evil does not work. I don't consider any being good for waht they are, only for waht they do. Destruction in the name of good isn't.

D&D has already admitted to itself that the alignment system is not an accurate representation of the multifaceted nature of such an esoteric concept as good versus evil. The designers do not have any illusions that it is so. There is even a section in the Book of Vile Darkness that discusses the different approaches to handling alignment in D&D.

The alignment system provides an albeit arbitrary framework for characters to operate within, without the players having to be bogged down in debate. For example, if the players encounter a group of Orcs, they don't have to stop and consider the question as to whether dispatching them serves the greater good or doesn't. Now, if your group happens to enjoy spending hours of game time in philosophical debate, then there is nothing that stops you from doing away with the alignment system altogether and having your game world embrace the concept of relative-morality.


And your point is? A bad/broken system is bad and broken. Just becase is has some "offical" stamp on its rear does not change that. Killing children is never a good act, and even creatures of "ultimate good" can fall away from their principles. I don't think much of your example. Said Solar is in for a hard time from its superiors.

And neither is it "broken and bad," simply because you assert it to be so. Like all rules in a game system, it is an abstraction. Making it more accurate could be a boon for the right group of people, or could be a tiresome exercise in frustration for another group. But, good vs. evil is a very common element in classical fantasy, so there should be some means of stamping what is "evil" and what is "good." And, by in large, I suspect that most groups wouldn't care for the relative-morality approach.

gdmcbride
01-30-2008, 12:03 PM
Alignment (and indeed many other mechanics) is all about genre-enforcement.

If I am running an Epic High Fantasy D&D game where good and evil are clear cut, even shining in their obviousness -- then alignment can help to reinforce those tropes. Orcs are always evil -- they are demons given human skin. Demons are irredeemable agents of elemental badness. Angels are absolute and infallible creatures of pure good. Creatures may still fall from one side to the other but when they do, it is dramatic and often manifests physically. Alignment supports that style of play. If you enjoy that, 3.x's alignment system is for you.

But if you enjoy less clear cut delineations of right and wrong, the system fails. What alignment is the angel who refuses the order of a good god to destroy a wicked and depraved city because there are a few innocents in that city? What alignment is the holy knight who slaughters all the infidels due to a divine order? What if the knight has been deceived and his good god is actually a demon lord? What if the infidels really are demons taking human form (yes, even the children and infants) and the knight has become an ignorant pawn in a demon versus demon war?

You can come up with hypotheticals all day where the system strains and fails. This does not prove that the system is 'bad' or 'broken' (whatever that means). Instead, you have ventured into a genre that is not reinforced by alignment (some would describe it as 'gritty'). There is nothing wrong with that either. Perhaps it would be wise to recognize this choice and abandon or at least modify the alignment mechanics.

A more productive discussion than whether the alignment system is 'good' or 'bad', would be to suggest alternative systems to replace it if you don't like it or simply want to run another style of campaign.

Gary

tesral
01-30-2008, 01:49 PM
If I were DM, I'd make characters really work at "Good" and "Evil", or else they're simply "Unaligned".

A truly "Good" character works for the greatest good for all beings. A truly "good" kobold would only kill gnomes in self-defense, or in defense of others (even in defense of other gnomes). He'd resist laws, traditions, and anything else that told him murder, theft, or betrayal were acceptable, no matter what species. Even if a Solar came down and told him killing gnomes was his duty, he'd refuse.

Likewise, a truly "Evil" character would perform any atrocity if it helped him, or even amused him. This kobold would kill gnome children, and kobolds who questioned the need to kill gnome children. If a Solar told him not to kill gnome children, he might outwardly repent, but inwardly he would laugh, and resume child-killing once the Solar was out of sight.

For the huge ethical gray areas of life, there's Unaligned.

This about where I stand. Detect good/evil does not work on Joe average mortal. As long as a being has choices, they will not detect as good or evil unless certian circumstacnes are in place. Baby Killing Kobold could get his PoV slapped around and end up a freaking saint. As long as he lives he has choices he doesn't detect.

Now if Baby Killing Kobold sold his soul to dark forces to gain more baby killing power then he would detect as evil. Likewise if Sainted Baby Kissing Kobold dedicated himself heart and soul to the forces of good, then he would detect as good. However as long as Baby Killing Kobold can reform, or Baby Kissing Kobold could take a turn to the dark, neither will detect as good or evil.

The deal is choices. As long as choices exist, you are capable of good or evil.

Count Arioch
01-30-2008, 03:49 PM
Killing children is never a good act, and even creatures of "ultimate good" can fall away from their principles. I don't think much of your example. Said Solar is in for a hard time from its superiors.


And I will repeat myself.

A solar would not say that killing children is a good act. I'm just saying that in the D&D world, there are being literally made out of "good", and you can ask them if something is good or evil, and they will tell you.

DrAwkward
01-30-2008, 04:09 PM
And I will repeat myself.

A solar would not say that killing children is a good act. I'm just saying that in the D&D world, there are being literally made out of "good", and you can ask them if something is good or evil, and they will tell you.

So Outsiders in your game are infallable? Sounds great in theory, but in practice it's a ***** to DM. If the players summon a Solar in my game to ask it moral questions, they are gonna get a DM cop out. I'm not infallable, thus don't always know the "pure ultimate good" answer. Thus my Solar is going to kindly say "figure it out yourself, this is what free will is for" or, at best, ask the characters some questions to help them figure it out.

MortonStromgal
01-30-2008, 04:58 PM
I would personally like to see a twist on "nature" out of Old World of Darkness. You would pick from a list of possibly natures and anytime you take an action that is part of your nature you would gain a +2 circumstance bonus.

fmitchell
01-30-2008, 05:07 PM
So Outsiders in your game are infallable? Sounds great in theory, but in practice it's a ***** to DM. If the players summon a Solar in my game to ask it moral questions, they are gonna get a DM cop out.

Outsiders are NPCs like anyone else. Maybe they have superior knowledge or a "purer" ethical orientation, but they're not infallible oracles of future consequences. In fact, I can imagine Outsiders with their own biases: servants of a god of Justice might have a different answer from those who serve a god of Mercy.

To a large extent "good" isn't a matter of the "best" thing to do, but the most "principled" thing. Even within "Good" there are unresolved ethical questions. For example, the "strangling Stalin as a child" conundrum: is it right to kill a child because you "know" the child will become a force for Evil? The fact that you're offered the choice at all means that destiny isn't immutable ...

I realize this is departing a lot from the original context of "ask a Solar" ... but setting up any being as an absolute arbiter of morality, even in a game, takes away the whole point of choice, and can lead to repugnant consequences.

Mulsiphix
01-30-2008, 05:11 PM
I would personally like to see a twist on "nature" out of Old World of Darkness. You would pick from a list of possibly natures and anytime you take an action that is part of your nature you would gain a +2 circumstance bonus.This actually sounds quite sexy. The natures in WOD are quite appealing to a character who is conflicted, needs to appear a certain way (say a spy who needs to convince others he is a bad man but who is secretly a good guy who understands the need for collateral damage to achieve greater good), etc...

Lexdragon
01-31-2008, 12:11 AM
I would personally like to see a twist on "nature" out of Old World of Darkness. You would pick from a list of possibly natures and anytime you take an action that is part of your nature you would gain a +2 circumstance bonus.

I with you on that one, i have always liked that system.

gdmcbride
01-31-2008, 01:23 AM
I would personally like to see a twist on "nature" out of Old World of Darkness. You would pick from a list of possibly natures and anytime you take an action that is part of your nature you would gain a +2 circumstance bonus.

I actually think this idea has a lot of merit. Give every PC a goal based on their beliefs. When they meet that goal, they get a small (but useful) bonus.

For example, Bob the Paladin's goal is "Defend the Innocent". Any fight where he is defending someone who seems innocent, he gets a +2 alignment bonus to his attacks.

Bill the Thief goal is "Make myself the richest of men". Any encounter where he knows large amounts of loot are on the line, he gets his bonus.

That would also directly encourage PCs to only engage in combats that meet their goals. Raiding the lost tomb of King Snizzerac the Loaded -- how does that meet Bob's goal? He gets to do that adventure without any bonus.

Working for the poor village to rescue their children -- how is Bill going to get rich doing that sort of thing? Again, no bonus.

This idea could use some further development but I think it could be a great mechanic.

Gary

Mulsiphix
01-31-2008, 01:27 AM
The only perceivable problem I see is that players may start to complain a great deal when the adventures they're being given by the DM don't cater to their beliefs. If there is a lot of rescue adventures that don't involve a lot of money that would suck for Bob. Especially if two or more of the party is benefiting from these types of adventures. It could potentially cause problems for a GM. Then again any good GM would find a way to make it beneficial to everybody at the same time, to each PC on a regular basis, or to nobody at all.

Right now there is little reason not to go against your alignment right? That is there aren't any super heavy penalties right?

tesral
01-31-2008, 11:29 AM
TKing Snizzerac the Loaded

This guy is going to feature in my game sooner or later, I just want you to know that.

I'm not in favor of rewards for doing what you ought. There should be satisfaction in meeting the goal within the goal itself. Bob Get Wealthy has his gold if he meets his goal. The Paladin has the warmth of the favor of his god. I like mechanics light. Ergo I have no mechanics built around the ethics within the game.

Farcaster
01-31-2008, 11:38 AM
There used to be pretty extreme penalties in 2nd edition for changing alignment. It basically cost a huge amount of experience and would almost certainly de-level you (as I recall). That happened even if you had a permanent alignment change due to some sort of magical effect. In 3rd edition, they stopped looking at it as a matter of enforcement and more a matter of reflection. The alignment should reflect the way your character behaves in the aggregate--not necessarily day to day.

So, if your character started as Lawful-Good, but due to circumstances in the game ended up become a vigilante, he might shift to Chaotic-Good. There wouldn't be any penalty for that, UNLESS he had a class that required he be lawful, such as a monk or paladin, or if he was a cleric of a lawful deity. In which case, as a paladin or cleric he would loose his spell-access and abilities, and as a paladin wouldn't be able to advance anymore. If he were a monk he'd retain his abilities, but not be able to advance in the monk class.

Drohem
01-31-2008, 12:22 PM
Yes, 3.X is much more forgiving in changing alignment than earlier editions, and I like it that way. This can allow for character growth, change, or development.

gdmcbride
01-31-2008, 03:05 PM
This guy is going to feature in my game sooner or later, I just want you to know that.

The thought of some lucky adventuring party, once more having barely escaped death, retiring to enjoy their well-earned hoard of golden Snizzerackian Druples warms the cockles of my heart.

Gary

fmitchell
02-01-2008, 02:02 AM
I'm not in favor of rewards for doing what you ought. There should be satisfaction in meeting the goal within the goal itself. Bob Get Wealthy has his gold if he meets his goal. The Paladin has the warmth of the favor of his god. I like mechanics light. Ergo I have no mechanics built around the ethics within the game.

The thing is, some players have problems with the whole "role-playing" thing, especially when following their role precludes an in-game benefit like gold, experience, or an award from their god.

One way FATE and other games solve this problem is to award the character who puts role-playing above other game benefits his own game benefit: a "fate point", "fudge point", "action point" or whatever that a player can later spend to affect a die roll. Unlike the bonus idea above, the player can keep the point indefinitely until he wants to "cash it in" for a re-roll or die bonus.

In the above example, though, I wouldn't give Goldhunter Bob "fate points" for hunting gold, because gold is its own reward. I would give them to the Paladin if there were no other mechanic to express divine favor.

Maelstrom
02-01-2008, 04:41 AM
The goal based system does sound interesting, but you might have the min-maxers just trying to find the best wording of their PCs personal ethics to get the bonus as much as possible. Granted, the DM could police that, but it would just be another headache when it comes to certain players.

I do like the idea of rewarding players with action points/etc for roleplaying their alignment.

At the risk of sparking another war... here we go.

I really don't understand how fantasy would work without some kind of good/evil in play. Tabletop games are about heroism and great deeds, defeating dark forces that attempt to subvert the lands.

Encouraging alignment choices does not need to be a challenge... you can eliminate the gray areas pretty easy as a DM if that is sparking debate or problems. Just make the evil guys more evil and the good guys more good.

To each his own though. Some of you seem to manage just fine without alignment. Kudos to you for making the game your own, as it should be.

Mulsiphix
02-01-2008, 10:26 AM
In the end I don't see what a big deal alignment is anyway. If it is important to the campaign and you would like to encourage your players in some way to act in accordance with their alignment, then create such a way. If it isn't that important, then let it just be an afterthought. Why the system itself should change so that the game rewards players for acting one way or the other, I do not understand. Currently it seems like a general guideline and if you wish to play it down or up, it is easy to accomplish. Seems just fine to me the way that it is.

tesral
02-02-2008, 03:12 PM
In the end I don't see what a big deal alignment is anyway. If it is important to the campaign and you would like to encourage your players in some way to act in accordance with their alignment, then create such a way. If it isn't that important, then let it just be an afterthought. Why the system itself should change so that the game rewards players for acting one way or the other, I do not understand. Currently it seems like a general guideline and if you wish to play it down or up, it is easy to accomplish. Seems just fine to me the way that it is.

That is the tail wagging the dog. Characters should not follow an alignment, rather the alignment should follow the character behavior. That is exactly the kind of assumption that caused me to banish alignment from the game. Look it up i the PHB (or SRD) Alignment follows the characters actions, not the other way around. Yet several people here are assuming that the PC follows an alignment.

I agree that good and evil are important in an fantasy setting. However you don't need "Good" and "Evil" as actual parties in the political structure of the world and more than they exist in the political struture in the definable form in the real world now.

The Evil types will do things for their own benefit, not to "Benefit Evil". Evil isn't a goal, or even an ethic. It's a descriptor. The Evil Overlord doesn't sit in his tower going "Let's see, a 16% tax rate is not evil enough, make it 25%." Not he is "I need X amount of cash for my goals, raise it, no I don't care how."

Two villains don't collaborate simply because both are evil and will work together because they are card carrying member of the Evil Guild. "So Malfor, I missed the last meeting, how did it go?" "About the usual Damian. Baalnor gave a long winded speech on the importance of Evil winning. Wormtongue had a decent tech talk about evil advice and how to plant your evil advisors in the Good camp. Kellfin closed with a power point presentation on keeping your minnions cowering. Decent meeting. And yourself?" "I rravished a few maidens stolen from their wedding day, tortured a couple of peasants, the usual. Oh and I raised the taxes again, that will have the worthless moles screaming."

Sorry I can't see that scene. But the usual application of alignment will all but assure that it would or should happen. If having alignment causes people to even consider that scene, then it's being done wrong. You can have good and evil, even need good and evil, they drive conflict, conflict is drama, drama makes the game. But you don't need of even want Good and Evil as tangible forces or parties.

Mulsiphix
02-03-2008, 05:39 PM
I have two questions for you tesral:
That is the tail wagging the dog. Characters should not follow an alignment, rather the alignment should follow the character behavior. That is exactly the kind of assumption that caused me to banish alignment from the game.Were you kidnapped by alignment as a child and scarred emotionally through horrible acts? Did alignment cause you to lose your job and your best friends to hate you? Did alignment steal all of your food and force you to eat dirt and rocks? It didn't you say? The way you've been carrying on, I swore I would surely have seen something about the wrong doings of evil on tonights news. Yet again, there was none :rolleyes:


Two villains don't collaborate simply because both are evil and will work together because they are card carrying member of the Evil Guild. "So Malfor, I missed the last meeting, how did it go?" "About the usual Damian. Baalnor gave a long winded speech on the importance of Evil winning. Wormtongue had a decent tech talk about evil advice and how to plant your evil advisors in the Good camp. Kellfin closed with a power point presentation on keeping your minnions cowering. Decent meeting. And yourself?" "I rravished a few maidens stolen from their wedding day, tortured a couple of peasants, the usual. Oh and I raised the taxes again, that will have the worthless moles screaming."

Sorry I can't see that scene.Actually this "scene" has been presented time and time again throughout history in literature, comic books, movies, cartoons, and countless other forms of media that represent the great wonderment that is fiction. You need to broaden your entertainment horizons my friend ;).

gdmcbride
02-03-2008, 06:43 PM
Tesral,

I think your argument is largely a strawman.

I'm not a big fan of villians who are evil for EVIL's [tm] sake either. But that said, I don't think alignment necessarily enforces that style of play.

D&D's background fluff reinforces it perhaps (every alignment has its own plane? Demon's are always chaotic evil?) but the alignment system itself?

You can play a nuanced character who struggles with his alignment. I own countless published adventures and very few of them have a villain who just wants to be evil without reason. Sometimes their reasons are pretty thin and often they can be simply summed up as 'the quest for power'. But the conversation you describe is much more a parody than an actual example likely to occur.

Gary

Mulsiphix
02-03-2008, 11:00 PM
Alignment, like most game system rules, is nothing more than a guideline in place to help players "get a feeling" of how they might want to shape their character. The day alignment becomes standard RPG law I will share your opinion of alignment. As long as it remains in its current incarnation, it is a harmless afterthought, and nothing more.

tesral
02-04-2008, 12:32 AM
I have two questions for you tesral:Were you kidnapped by alignment as a child and scarred emotionally through horrible acts? Did alignment cause you to lose your job and your best friends to hate you? Did alignment steal all of your food and force you to eat dirt and rocks?

And it kicked my dog and took my basketball.

I have seen some awful things done in the name of alignment. I am simply saying it is not necessary or needed, you can play a successful high fantasy game without it, and in my honest opinion you will get a better nuanced game without it. To use an old phrase over the years I have found it as useful as tits on a boar hog. Yes, I encourage people to kick the alignment habit.


Alignment, like most game system rules, is nothing more than a guideline in place to help players "get a feeling" of how they might want to shape their character. The day alignment becomes standard RPG law I will share your opinion of alignment. As long as it remains in its current incarnation, it is a harmless afterthought, and nothing more.

Dude it has been toned down and most throughly castrated from its old self. 3.x alignment is a pale shadow of the Gygaxian monster unleashed in the First Edition. A Hammer against the Player Characters.

I will say that 3.x is much improves in the treatment of alignment. However I would prefer it was written out of the game mechanics. As a suggestion to give you a start on PC behaviors it is Fisher Price Ethics. Useful in that sense. However, like the XP for magic items deal, it being written into spells and magic items pulls what should be a a simple guideline into something important within the game world.

I did write it out.

Mulsiphix
02-04-2008, 01:39 AM
However, like the XP for magic items deal, it being written into spells and magic items pulls what should be a a simple guideline into something important within the game world.I remember reading something races, classes, and alignment. That is something about somebody not being able to be a certain mixture due to alignment. The monk comes to mind. Is a monk's alignment a rule or a suggestion/guideline pertaining to certain classes, races, feats, etc...? Wherever it actually applies.

Drohem
02-04-2008, 10:22 AM
I remember reading something races, classes, and alignment. That is something about somebody not being able to be a certain mixture due to alignment. The monk comes to mind. Is a monk's alignment a rule or a suggestion/guideline pertaining to certain classes, races, feats, etc...? Wherever it actually applies.


Monks must be of a lawful alignment; either good, neutral, or evil.

MortonStromgal
02-04-2008, 11:43 AM
The goal based system does sound interesting, but you might have the min-maxers just trying to find the best wording of their PCs personal ethics to get the bonus as much as possible. Granted, the DM could police that, but it would just be another headache when it comes to certain players.

I do like the idea of rewarding players with action points/etc for roleplaying their alignment.



I think the D&D world would need 10-20 choices that are pre-determind. Much like the oWOD nature system and not like Burning Wheel where players can set their own goals. Frankly the majority of D&D players get a thrill out of min/maxing their characters and throwing in an inde concept of make up your own stuff would just add to the PC vs DM problem that can already arise (though they have gotton way better about it over the years).

tesral
02-04-2008, 02:10 PM
I remember reading something races, classes, and alignment. That is something about somebody not being able to be a certain mixture due to alignment. The monk comes to mind. Is a monk's alignment a rule or a suggestion/guideline pertaining to certain classes, races, feats, etc...? Wherever it actually applies.

No alignment means the Monk is changed as are the races. You have to do more work. I never claimed no alignment was less work. You have to define the ethics by which the monks live. You have to define the attitudes and motivations of the various races. Simply tacking "evil" on Orcs no longer works. Why do they behave as the do? What are the social motivations and pressures that drive Orcish society?

I personally enjoy the process of noodling out these details. My Orcs have a society that drives them in the direction of being Orcs. Small people button. A society based on the strong rule. A strong ethic of protect the women and children that keep their place.

As a result of this Half Orcs are nearly unheard of. Orcs do not see other races as "people". Ergo a captured Human woman is not seen as a sexual object. A source of labor and food perhaps, but not sex. For an Orc male to rape a Human woman he would have to be a total pervert from an Orc point of view. Assuming such a pervert the woman would then have to survive to give birth and get away with the child or herself before the birth. The Orcs would kill the child, the mother, and likely the father for being a pervert that would mate with animals. The circumstances that would get a Human woman pregnant by a Orc and see her and the child survive are slim and none. On the other side a Orc woman would have to be forcibly raped, and she would destroy the child at birth or the tribe would. So sorry, no Half-Orcs.

If you need to impress Orcs start by killing the biggest baddest Orc there. They will then listen to you, but you are still not people or due honor and respect. Feared as a dangerous talking animal yes. Orcs are not stupid. They recognize that the talking animals are dangerous. They will not underestimate you because they don't see you as people.

Mulsiphix
02-05-2008, 05:39 AM
Tesral that has to be the most romantic representation of Orc's I've ever read in my entire life. Damn you for not playing online games. Damn me for not living closer. Damn "space" for making it to your games so friggin difficult....

*sobs quietly in the corner*

Annshadow
04-28-2008, 09:06 AM
Interesting topic. In our last game we had a major discussion about alignment and how it netatively affects game play.

Alignmnet is very important to me as I play my character. It limits what my character would do in a given situation and role-play wise makes the game better.

I always like to play neutral neutral. Our DM says that I cannot do any evil acts. I always say that I can. Then she says that the party would have to leave me. To which I say, they have no idea that I do evil because I am careful to do it outside their knowledge.

So, I had to switch my alignment last game to lawful.

One of the guys kept say "forget alignment" "forget alignment!!!" everytime I justified what I did by my alignment.

I suppose if one person is playing with alignment and the others were not, then it may be a problem.

The rest of the party is Neutral Good, but they play Lawful Neutral.

As an aside, my DM will not allow me to cast charm person because she says it is an inherently evil act 99% of the time (she said there may be a case where it is not so it is not 100%) Go figure

I am now Lawful and Good. Not Lawful Good as a paladin would be but Lawful and Good. I see a distinction.


I also do not see the inherent evilness of killing kobold children.
Is a seagul evil for killing baby turtles?

Is a huricane evil for killing untold baby animals of all types?

I also see that certain things are Evil in their being as one person said. And that it is not subjective. I think the example was of a red dragon. I agree completely with all he / she wrote.

tesral
04-28-2008, 09:24 AM
The alignment argument ... again.

Forget alignment, truly. Even if you are a big fan of alignment, forget it. You have the tail wagging the dog. Alignment follows your actions, not your actions follow alignment. Characters should not consider alignment, ever. It is one of those metagame concepts. A mortal scorecard, not a moral compass.

What you need is a moral-ethical background set on which to base your actions. Funny thing is once you get one of those, alignment becomes ever less important.

So take the advice, forget alignment.

Annshadow
04-30-2008, 07:34 AM
The alignment argument ... again.

Forget alignment, truly.

So take the advice, forget alignment.

I suggested that we do away with it and keep it for items and inherently evil/good npc (devils, solars ect)

But the DM said NO.

She wanted to keep it because without it there is no role-playing focus.

I happen to agree. I like alignment but was willing to chuck it in favor of group harmony.

Oh well .... and so it goes

tesral
04-30-2008, 10:08 AM
She wanted to keep it because without it there is no role-playing focus.

I happen to agree. I like alignment but was willing to chuck it in favor of group harmony.

Oh well .... and so it goes

Curious, I chuck it to gain role-playing focus. I consider it an impediment not a asset to role-playing. I don't like it when people "Play to the alignment" as alignment is so vague as to be nearly meaningless. Much better when they play to the character motivations and goals. Well, to do that you have to create motivations and goals, and that is work.

Annshadow
05-01-2008, 08:58 AM
Curious, I chuck it to gain role-playing focus. I consider it an impediment not a asset to role-playing. I don't like it when people "Play to the alignment" as alignment is so vague as to be nearly meaningless. Much better when they play to the character motivations and goals. Well, to do that you have to create motivations and goals, and that is work.

I think we may be on the same wave length here. I make a background and play to that.

If i get an alignment restriction by the DM (Like you must be of good alignent) then I make the character's motivation based on that.

But when something comes up that does not fit in the character's motives then I use alignment to guide me.

Would my character run away being a wizard or fight the young dragon to the death if it looks like one more spell may take it out on a good role of the damage dice?

My old character would run ... the one with the lawful alignment had to take the chance and turns out the young dragon had only 2 hps left. (why it did not flee is beyond me). But there is a difference in motivation I did not contemplate before hand where I used alignment as a guide.

Now being Lawful does not mean being "Fight to the death to save the party at all costs" but it was very iffy. Surely if I did not do enough damage to kill it on its turn it would kill me on a good role. but being lawful added the feather weight of difference to tip the scale in favor of taking the chance.

Malruhn
05-03-2008, 10:06 PM
I've always used alignment as a campaign/adventure planning tool.

Hey, Tesral, what alignment is your brand new fighter? Okay, great! Now, I'll use that as a tool for me to make new adventures - and BOTH of us will know and understand that, given the situation, he will probably act that way, but he may not. With enough prodding, even Mother Theresa could end up as a homicidal maniac. If BOTH of us see his character's alignment shifting, it may change - with no penalty to him.

The only times I have stuck a bit closer to alignment was with clerics, paladins and monks. Monks have to be lawful - following the laws of their dojo - and that's it. Paladins, I've been nice to - they can make mistakes... and I judge them according to their role-played reactions to what the character did. If they are horrified that they felt that they HAD to use poison, and make amends to their church, there is no penalty.

Clerics have been tougher. I look at the deity and how hard-nosed they are about their followers, then I look at what the cleric is trying to do. If they feel that they have to be evil to properly spread the word of their GOOD diety, then they'd better be able to tell me why... and I may well allow them that latitude. This helps explain things like the Priest King of Istar, and Black Popes and the like.

It's just a tool for me. One I pick up and put down when it is necessary... usually left alone.

tesral
05-03-2008, 11:27 PM
I've always used alignment as a campaign/adventure planning tool.

Hey, Tesral, what alignment is your brand new fighter? Okay, great! Now, I'll use that as a tool for me to make new adventures

It's just a tool for me. One I pick up and put down when it is necessary... usually left alone.


I find it best to give the DM a background explaining my character's motivations and is reasons for adventuring. My Friday GM still doesn't have a good handle of the character's alignment, but we had an entire adventure cycle built around his background. I don't play the alignment, I play the character.

Cleric and Paladins are the easy ones, I give them a gloss of the religion, commandments, special orders for the priests that kind of thing. (look here (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/gs_fant.htm#Culture)) Monks when it comes up get something similar. Yea a set of ethics and morals to follow, who would have thought?

Somthing like this:
Raphael's Mother was taken from her noble family by a dark cult and raped by a Centaur in league with the dark forces. Before the cult could get the child born and their dark plans fulfilled, her family found her and destroyed that cell of the cult. The centaur himself got away.

The appearance of the child was shocking and discomforting. The family gave him to the goodly Druids, with a stipend for his raising in order to put the foul incident behind them, and forever prevent the fulfilling of their dark plans.

The Druids did their best to raise the boy to the balance they espouse. However his fiery nature was a trial. Tight discipline was the only way to control the tempestuous child. When the young man reached puberty the true nature of his taint became known. He was a Warlock, tied into the sylvan power and glamor. A fairy of the darkest sort.

When he was ten Elladrium the Grand Master of Druids examined him personally. He determined that in order to maintain the balance that Raphael could not be trained as a Druid. Indeed he need to be taught a different path.

Raphael has not been raised to see his nature as a flaw. instead he has been raised to seek a balance with the chaotic nature within. Raphael has done that and more.

Truth be told he has taken balance passed the point of balance. He clings to the rules as a shield against the forces boiling in his blood. He feels pain when others turn away from his dark appearance. To that end he has sought acceptance in catering to children. He makes toys, and can perform small tricks of slight of hand.

While Raphael does not approve of rule breaking, his discipline is for himself alone. He figures he has a enough trouble controlling himself, he has no place telling others how to behave.

Raphael is afflicted by strange tastes. He will eat any meat with enjoyment just short of rancid. He avoids sweets. He likes wormwood as a seasoning, and if ever given a chance would drink wormwood tea with enjoyment.

His person and magic are scented with wormwood. Use of his eldritch powers leaves the scent of wormwood behind it. The odor is noticeable when he become excited. While not unpleasant this marks him in any of his doings.

fmitchell
05-04-2008, 01:48 AM
Sorry if this is only tangentially related, but a recent article on the WotC site defines a new vision for Angels in 4th edition: servants of any god, good or evil, with a very narrow focus like "Vengeance" or "Valor". In fact, their description makes them sound almost like astral mercenaries, or at least enforcers who serve their patron because their patron's priorities align with theirs.

I guess that puts paid to the whole "Ask a Solar" argument earlier in this thread, assuming you switch to the 4th edition vision.

Otherwise, I'm going to add a me-too to this thread. Good/Unaligned/Evil might give a really rough insight into the character, although so would Idealist/Pragmatist/Psycho or Moe/Larry/Curly. But the whole point of role-playing, for me at least, is to portray someone with a distinct history and perspective, and no classification system -- with three, nine, or sixteen categories -- will suffice.

mrken
05-04-2008, 01:36 PM
Many years ago I saw alignment as a divisive component in a good game. Players would use alignment as a way to hose their fellow players and then blame alignment for their actions. I have seen games that had lasted years fall apart simply because someone thought that because their character was evil their hosing a good character was good. The good character always had to “be good” because his alignment would not allow him to do anything bad to the evil character. Even to the point the paladin class has become synonymous with stupid. I nixed it from my game over a decade ago and have seen groups fight the monsters rather than the other PC’s.

On another similar note, I nixed classes from my game too. ( just threw that in there to see the fireworks, but then, I don't play DnD)

MooseAlmighty
05-04-2008, 02:28 PM
Moe/Larry/Curly as an alignment system made me laugh out loud! Let the R&D guys build some game cosmology out of that!

ARMarcoux
05-04-2008, 08:52 PM
that is the one complaint I have in D&D. I have always wanted to play an Assassin character, I don't play evil characters though because I just don't have the mentality to pull them off. But If an assassin is working for....say the kingdom that who is to say the assassin is evil...he could be in fact lawful good, because he is defending his country, following the laws and obeying orders. (I know people will disagree but its all opinion.)

Who said Assassins HAD to be evil or ultimately serve an evil purpose? There have been plenty of assassins that fall on the other side of the fence of this subject (any military sniper movie, Bourne Identity, the Punisher, even Daredevil used assassin type skills to route bad guys). Makes in interesting campaign to turn "evil or good" characters for a little role reversal.

Annshadow
05-05-2008, 06:16 AM
I
Raphael's Mother was taken from her noble family by a dark cult and raped by a Centaur in league with the dark forces...


LOL

Engar
06-15-2008, 04:45 AM
Love the orc story. Going to use it. But it is not an argument about alignment. "Evil" and "good" are not appropriate monickers to hang on an individual or collective neck, I get it. Lawful and Chaotic are equally labels. Okay. To me the story is just an explanation why they have a LE or CE culture.

I look at alignment in the DnD system as a reasonable description for a series of consistent behavior. For those classes where it matters most I apply that portion (Axis) or portions as a rule for behavior. For everyone else it is a rule for intent (except for forced alignments, I just make sure the player is familiar with the new alignment and acts accordingly or becomes an NPC).

I care not why the paladin killed an unarmed man when he swore to be chivalrous. He violated his own law and that of his faith, he must choose to attone or reject his oath and powers. He may argue the action (wasn't me?), not the intent. There are cases where players may convince me they acted appropriate to their code (not this example), but it still gets a warning since the actions are obviously questionable (by me). If it ever becomes such a huge issue (time to alter alignment and still arguing) I might ask other players to express opinions.

For the LG mage who killed an unarmed man I want to know why (intent). If the intent is viable and not a running pattern I find it sufficient. Perhaps it was an accident, perhaps they misunderstood the situation, etc. This way the player governs their alignment as much as I do. If the player has a reasonable explanation beyond "yeah, that was really not in character", I let it go. If it is way off other players are going to back me, and with agreement we can skip to the resolution. Either the player is not roleplaying their character as they set for themselves or the character changed over time and needs to consider a new alignment.

I rarely had issues, but I used to know my players well and vice versa.

agoraderek
06-19-2008, 01:28 AM
Moe/Larry/Curly as an alignment system made me laugh out loud! Let the R&D guys build some game cosmology out of that!

"...and he said "nyuk", and it was good..."

ElrikDarkstorm
06-19-2008, 04:17 PM
i think that you have to have an alignment system just for the fact of haveing a catagory for characters to fit in,i am not that familiar with the 4th edition change of them besides the little article i read about having no more neutrals and having unaligns instead.i just wish they never went past 2nd edition sure it has its faults but what is perfect,all these editions are just a way for these rapists to cut the strings on our purses alittle more.just my opinion

tesral
06-19-2008, 06:21 PM
Love the orc story. Going to use it. But it is not an argument about alignment. "Evil" and "good" are not appropriate monickers to hang on an individual or collective neck, I get it. Lawful and Chaotic are equally labels. Okay. To me the story is just an explanation why they have a LE or CE culture.

More to the point that have a culture, and you can label it as you will.

Labels without reason are just that labels. You don't know why the Orcs behave that way so they end up being Stupid Evil and acting in manners inconsistent with there continuing to be Orcs in the world.

Define the racial culture, define the character's background and motivations and the alignment will take care of itself. Fact is, you don't even need it anymore.

One of my issues with the alignment system any alignment system is when it is used instead of racial or character development. Even Moe/Larry/Curly can be abused in this fashion. You end up stuffing cheese into the Curly alignment character without knowing why you are stuffing cheese into the Curly alignment character. It's just what Moe characters do to Curly characters, because of alignment.

Tamerath
06-20-2008, 02:14 PM
The alignment argument ... again.

Forget alignment, truly. Even if you are a big fan of alignment, forget it. You have the tail wagging the dog. Alignment follows your actions, not your actions follow alignment. Characters should not consider alignment, ever. It is one of those metagame concepts. A mortal scorecard, not a moral compass.

What you need is a moral-ethical background set on which to base your actions. Funny thing is once you get one of those, alignment becomes ever less important.

So take the advice, forget alignment.

You know Tesral I completely agree...forget alignment. It SHOULD NOT drive your character in any way. Hell sometimes it doesn't matter...back when I first started DMing back in high school my friends all had chaotic evil for the character alignment on their sheets...yet none of them didn't do a single evil action that whole campaign. As I grew more experienced as a DM I'd rule that there isn't an alignment...if you played a paladin or cleric to try to keep the tennants of your deity core to your character...

Engar
06-20-2008, 05:39 PM
I do know people that thought picking a class at all was a bit oppressive. They felt "railroaded". Okay. Too bad about that since there are others here that need you to be a little more specific so we too can enjoy the game, but I see what you mean.

mrken
06-20-2008, 06:52 PM
I do know people that thought picking a class at all was a bit oppressive. They felt "railroaded". Okay. Too bad about that since there are others here that need you to be a little more specific so we too can enjoy the game, but I see what you mean.


Picking a class makes some feel railroaded sounded kind of funny to me. A few weeks ago I had a player creating her character and I had explained to her earlier that I don't have classes. She told me she wanted to play a ranger character. I told her we didn't have classes but she could play her character like a ranger. If a person wants to play a ranger so be it, it makes no difference to me, the character has a set of skills they can play as they wish. And I will run the world according to how they play their characters.

As for alignment, we don't have them either. :lol: Like many of you who have deleted them from your games, so did I . This was mostly so I didn't have players plotting against the rest of the party and causing chaos within the game. Also, way too many times I have heard players say that they had to do something evil because their character was evil. Alignment was forcing players to trash the game, though I really think they enjoyed doing it. As a GM I always put the law on them and got rid of them. Finally I just sidestepped the issue by deleting the problem. Was the first best thing I have done as a GM.

Engar
06-21-2008, 11:02 AM
LOL, "alignment made do it!"

I just think its funny that they feel they cannot walk without the crutch, or perhaps it is something else.

tesral
06-21-2008, 01:29 PM
LOL, "alignment made do it!"

I just think its funny that they feel they cannot walk without the crutch, or perhaps it is something else.

It's an excuse as old as the game. One more reason to just put a holly stake through the heart of Alignment altogether.

I'm still trying to figure out this 4e alignment deal and where they are coming from on it. Single axis I can understand. Double axis I can understand. The current four alignments and one not? No, I'm not getting it.

Good -- unaligned -- Evil. That makes sense. If you must have alignment that can be dealt with.

But keeping LAWFUL good and CHAOTIC evil while dropping the rest of the law/chaos axis. I'm not buying that here. Bad anchovies on their pizza one night? It should have been fixed later. They had bad anchovies through the entire developmental period?

The only thing I can think of is Goodest, good, unaligned, evil, eviler. But why do you need the far two? If you have a good/evil axis you don't need steps that define the far ends.

Just about any other system in 4e I can understand. I might not like it, but I can understand it. But the alignments ... It does not compute.

Dimthar
06-21-2008, 02:17 PM
"There are not Bad Alignment Systems, just not enough beer/tequila"

.

ithil
06-21-2008, 02:38 PM
The only thing I can think of is Goodest, good, unaligned, evil, eviler. But why do you need the far two? If you have a good/evil axis you don't need steps that define the far ends.

Idea #1: Lawful good and chaotic evil were especially popular and iconic, so they kept them around to leave some meat on the alignment system.

Idea #2: 1) Pizza every Friday night. 2) Corporate sabotage. 3) ??? 4) Profit!

Idea #3: Why stick with good when you can have double-plus good?

tesral
06-21-2008, 05:24 PM
Idea #1: Lawful good and chaotic evil were especially popular and iconic, so they kept them around to leave some meat on the alignment system.

Idea #2: 1) Pizza every Friday night. 2) Corporate sabotage. 3) ??? 4) Profit!

Idea #3: Why stick with good when you can have double-plus good?

To quote an old saying; "As useful as tits on a boar hog." Your suggestion has a certain ring of merit. But of all the things to NOT change when you turned the entire system upside down that is ... stunning. It's rather like rebuilding a Model T onto a Mustang, but leaving the magneto and spark advance.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
06-24-2008, 09:36 PM
I never got caught up in the alignment system. I also dont allow any magic that identifies alignment. I make my players figure it out the old way, observation.

Thoth-Amon