PDA

View Full Version : What's your opinion of Alignment?



Banshee
12-31-2008, 01:02 AM
When I first started playing D&D, I had a very strict idea of following alignment. As I matured as a player and & DM, I began to think that alignment was little more than a flavoring tool for a character.

Certainly there are instances wherein alignment comes into major play; a paladin who violates his oath, for example. However, I noticed that most of my group would choose "Evil" alignments for their PC's, but then act mostly as Chaotic Good. Being one who sticks on details, this bothered me. I explained the situation to the players (all friends of many years), and asked them what was going on. The common explanation I received was that they felt "Good" alignments to be too constrictive. We debated, and eventually, I did away with alignment altogether. I did so on the basis that real people, and thus characters, have the ability to act in whichever way they desire, and are not constrained by an alignment. Even the Pope has the conscious choice to continue what he's doing versus becomming an axe murderer.

So, what then is your opinion of Alignment? :confused:

tesral
12-31-2008, 01:30 AM
I don't like alignment, it bears repeating. What I don't generally do is explain is why. I usually do not explain why because I use an authoritative tone of voice and people's heads explode. If your head is so prone, wrap it in duct tape, here I go.

Forward: Yes, I understand Alignment systems. I have used them I have read up on them and read many an article for and against. To be perfectly clear, I do not speak from a point of ignorance.


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. In part 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 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 We don't get into fine 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 anyone that detects as "evil", really is. There is no "lawful" or "Chaotic". Those are philosophical statements, not a property of the universe.

For the last fifteen years alignment has not been part of my game. The game has improved, not suffered.


Last: Forry alignment is, well stupider than every other version I have seen in anything labeled D&D. It is like taking one wheel off a car and declaring the new "design" "better". Mind you that is without redesigning the car to be a trike. I haven't heard anyone that likes it from people that like alignment. Come on guys, if you going to remove the Law/Chaos axis, remove it, don't cripple it and leave the beast to die.

Meeki
12-31-2008, 08:59 AM
I have always used an alignment system in D&D. The reason so is that the game itself is designed with the assumption of pre-determined definitions of good/evil and lawful/chaotic.

In 3.x games this was integrated into various aspects of the game and was required for ease of gameplay (Spells, prestige classes, items, etc.). I found alignment to be a good "lithmus" test of how a character acted. The only issue I had was addressed in the OP with characters writing down one alignment and acting as another. This problem was easily rectified by simply changing the character's alignment. Of course I allowed for a fair amount of leniency since alignment did not equate to a list of actions a character MUST take but rather a descriptor of how the character has acted. The method was fairly ad hoc but as long as the players were happy and I was happy it was all good.

I also find this to be a major flaw in the argument against alignment. That a character chooses an alignment beforehand and then acts accordingly instead of the alignment of a character stemming from the character's actions. Even at level 1 your character had a life before and made decisions on morality and what not.

In 4e alignment was downplayed, majorly. I do not mind this at all, in fact I find it one less thing to have to worry about as a DM. The blanket alignments are easier to deal with; although I am still confused as to why LG and CE exist? Maybe to just show extremes. Does not seem Law/Chaos are major players anymore.

Also: First post!

1958Fury
12-31-2008, 09:18 AM
I don't mind it, but I do think it's kind of useless. In my experience, players who are mature enough to follow their alignments, don't actually need it written on their character sheet. It seems to me that alignments are just an attempt to reign in those players who play their characters inconsistently, and those players aren't likely to pay attention to alignment no matter what you do.

On the other hand, I do enjoy thinking about alignment when I'm designing a character's personality. It's not my only decision-making tool, but it has tipped the scales for me in the past when I was on the fence about what my character would do in a situation. However, I wouldn't want to have a DM who forces me to strictly adhere to it. Good people sometimes do bad things, and vice versa.

Tesral, I totally agree about 4e. Scrap it or keep it, but don't neuter it.

mrken
12-31-2008, 09:34 AM
Meeki, welcome to our forum, now your forum too.

As for alignments, I agree it is woven into the fabric of DnD, but I don't think it is needed or is desirable. Back in the days I still played DnD I found it to be the single most divisive feature of the game. Removing it from the game proved a bit difficult as the spells and class functions were designed into the game and missing, they were , well, missing. That is why I did a total overhaul on the game, boiled it down severely and it became the Wizard game. Some functions have been added back in to satisfy the players demands for a more DnD look, but only for them, I prefer the more boiled down look of the game as I evolved it.

Alignment was, in my opinion, a poorly thought out function of a game that evolved over time. It sort of worked as it drove people to play their characters in a manner that drove rp. But it was and is a bad feature of a great gaming genre. That is why I had to remove it from use at my table.

Meeki
12-31-2008, 10:33 AM
Thanks MrKen. Bit off topic but; IMO 3.x and even editions before that have always been a spell caster's game. Alignment may have restricted some uses of spells but, really, the most powerful spells didn't pay heed to alignment.

Responding to 1958Fury's post. That is a major issue with how alignment was used in D&D, many people view it as a guide, restricting how character's act. However, I believe it was suppose to be used as a descriptor to how your character has already acted. With the exception of classes that required codes or tenements I never required a PC to stick to certain behaviors based on alignment. Rather the PC had an alignment that was based on their behavior.

Even in real life there are certain behaviors that are "good" and some that are "evil". Human sacrifice may have been viewed as "good" in one religion/culture but "evil" in another. However D&D is not based off of the perception good and evil depending on belief, it is based on a universal idea of good and evil. Scrapping alignment because of such a belief is futile since you, as a DM, has a set idea of good and evil. Running around town killing all the red headed children because it is good in your PC's religion is going to still be an evil act, and certainly chaotic if killing red headed children is illegal. There is a societal norm that exists IRL and in game that blend together, usually stemming from mushy feelings (compassion, sympathy, etc). Even if you do not require PC's to write down an alignment, certainly there will be deeds that are evil, good, and neutral.

Now a counter argument may be that the point is the PC thinks he is good because of his culture/religion and should be marked as good. However alignment is not dictated by personal beliefs, it is dictated by a universal or at least a majority belief. Acts may not always be evil or good, such as if someone kills someone else in self defense.

Anyways my point is, alignment is often mis-used IMO and even if scrapped still exists.

tesral
12-31-2008, 12:45 PM
If you are going to use alignment (and I don't think you should) Alignment should follow how the character acts. The way the character acts should not follow alignment.

Yes pulling alignment out of the game required a good deal of work on my part, but I extracted it from spells, classes, and magic items.

One of the prime reasons that it got drooped from my game (other than redundancy) was the drumbeat of the 1980s "official" viewpoint that alignment was to be used as a club over character (and player) actions. That the DM had to control the table like some jealous god. And Gary Gygax was right out front with the biggest drum of all.

Dropping alignment was as much a statement of my gaming style as a game mechanic. I am saying to my players that I am not a tyrant Dungeon Master. I play with the players, not against them.

Meeki
12-31-2008, 01:31 PM
For the most part I really delved into D&D with 3.0. I played some AD&D and had the 2ed books, never really used any of the alignment restrictions, but I do remember the restrictions being fairly severe. I can see why that would sour your use of alignment.

IMO 3.xe alignment was suppose to be used for a descriptor and 4e nearly scrapped alignment altogether with unaligned being the "no alignment alignment". It has even less bearing on a character other than denoting if the character has any special doctrine/philosophy/etc he/she lives by.

I don't really see 3.xe and 4e alignment systems going against the player, at least not how I used them. What other ways do you use to describe how a character acts without going into a journal of all their actions?

squidyak
12-31-2008, 02:11 PM
I stopped using alignment about 10 years ago, but I may adopt the 4e alignment system even though I'm sticking with 3.5. It was one of a few good ideas to come out of 4e.

Grimwell
12-31-2008, 02:23 PM
I view alignment systems as a tool to use and abuse (or ignore) for the sake of better gameplay.

I am far more interested in well played and consistent characters than someone who is inconsistent. If someone at my table uses alignment to define the consistency that their character is, I'm all for it. If someone writes an alignment down and then never looks at that line again, I'm all for it provided that their character is defined and consistent.

So I allow people to use the tool as they best see fit. If I get down to the nuts and bolts with an item or effect that focuses on alignment, and my view of how a character has been played is different than the player controlling the character, it's a quick conversation and then we move on. IE: I don't make someone who has been chaotic in my games erase lawful from their alignment and replace it with chaotic, I just have the items and effects work as I see them apply and explain why I see it that way. Then we move on.

Play > Paper/Rules

Kazinsky
12-31-2008, 02:45 PM
I'm an advocate for alignment as a tool. The systems that have been devised can be used explicitly or loosely, whatever brings the players to a stronger concept and cohesive character.

I basically agree with Grimwell completely here. I favor play over rules, but use the rules to create guides for players to make better characters. Without rules, you can still have great characters, but you need great players.

I was actually saddened to see that the paladin is no longer alignment-restricted in 4e. That was a difficult pill to swallow for me, since I love paladins and any concept that was rigidly bound. Unlike some that I have read, this rigidity created scenes that were very memorable to RP out and had a lasting impression on our gaming. Whereas the generic, NG or CG player sort of just played his character, without thought to moral choices other than "be pretty good, usually".

In the end, I think alignment systems play an important part of fantasy game systems. (Especially as a tool for the GM to predict what choices the players will make at certain decision-points.)

Webhead
12-31-2008, 04:47 PM
In general, I avoid alignment (unless playing D&D of course, in which case it is a necessary evil thanks to the effects of many spells and magic items).

Yes, alignment can be viewed by some as a handy guide for character behavior and ethics, but by and large, I would rather that be something free-form intrinsic to the player's character concept, rather than a hard-and-fast mechanic.

I do not miss it when it is gone.

DMMike
01-01-2009, 12:09 AM
Certainly there are instances wherein alignment comes into major play; a paladin who violates his oath, for example.

I did so on the basis that real people, and thus characters, have the ability to act in whichever way they desire, and are not constrained by an alignment. Even the Pope has the conscious choice to continue what he's doing versus becomming an axe murderer.

So, what then is your opinion of Alignment? :confused:
Alignment only needs to be on a character sheet if a player needs a hint that his alignment is shifting, or the DM wants an easy excuse to explain why a certain Protection spell is affecting a player.

Real people can probably be aligned in the way they most frequently act, so the Pope could get away with a couple axe murders and still be Good.

I think my campaign use of alignment is already on the boards somewhere...drop me a line if you don't want to look it up.

BTW - glad to be back!

Banshee
01-01-2009, 01:23 AM
tesral, I want to thank you for your in-depth reply. I even managed to read the entire post without first having to wrap my head in duct tape... though I may consider doing so at a later time.

You made some very good and valid points. As I said in the thread, I had at times added and omitted alignment. Having heard your view on the subject, alignment is now dead in my games. There will be no mourning.

Thank you.
--- Merged from Double Post ---
Kazinski, what you said about paladins and their strict codes can still be achieved without the use of alignment. Perhaps instead of saying that a paladin has to be "LG", devise and record an actual list of ideals by which the paladin must live.

tesral
01-01-2009, 02:54 AM
Kazinski, what you said about paladins and their strict codes can still be achieved without the use of alignment. Perhaps instead of saying that a paladin has to be "LG", devise and record an actual list of ideals by which the paladin must live.

This is what I do. The order of Paladins is detailed, its code of behavior and moral rules laid out to be easily read.

This document is a good example of Paladin rules "The Church of Heaven (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/heaven.pdf)" has Paladin orders after the clerical orders.

Grimwell
01-01-2009, 03:11 AM
I also prefer codes of behavior. It's something that is tangible and clear, and has historical precedent (if only in our romanticized version of history). It's a bit more real and binding than an alignment tag. Good stuff!

Krevon
01-01-2009, 10:17 AM
After reading through the posts I started thinking back to my games I've ran. Even when I've ran so called "evil" campaigns, my players do the same thing they always do......just with different opponets. So dropping alignment wasn't a problem for me to drop.

Webhead
01-01-2009, 03:28 PM
After reading through the posts I started thinking back to my games I've ran. Even when I've ran so called "evil" campaigns, my players do the same thing they always do......just with different opponets. So dropping alignment wasn't a problem for me to drop.

My players function a bit differently depending on the behavior that they perceive they are supposed to be enforcing. Tell them that we are playing "heroic fantasy" and they will play heroically. Have them play variations of the "evil" alignment and all "heroic" pretention goes out the window. The tone of the game shifts entirely.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
01-01-2009, 05:55 PM
Since no one really understands alignment, as i am sure others would also say to me(they'd be wrong, of course:mad:); i avoid it as much as possible, likening it to a debate in religions and politics: everyone disagrees and no one walks away happy.

I reward players for playing in character, good or evil. And 'NO,' evil campaigns arent more likely to die off early. Erroneous assumption #1: evil equates to stupid and suicidal. In fact, it is the religiously fanatic that ususally is the guilty party when having party's die off. Of course, that's when they play in character.

So my advice is to take it easy and dont follow any strict rules... and never ever equate actions with alignment. This can be and usually is a mistake.

All this being said, the only campaigns ive ever had a problem with per say, in my over 30 years of playing are those campaigns were the DM feels he's doing gods work by making his players all of good alignment and doing good will to others. You know the campaigns im speaking of. So whenever i see advertisements to this day that say something like this: 'starting a campaign soon, only LG characters need apply.' i run for my life.

Case in fact: the best and most memorable campaigns i have ever played in my 30+ years were the ones where there were evil players in the party.

My opinion on alignment? take it or leave it, just dont make it the core of your game, and things will be fine and fun.

Good thread. :D

Game on!

lomifeh
01-01-2009, 06:17 PM
This is what I do. The order of Paladins is detailed, its code of behavior and moral rules laid out to be easily read.

This document is a good example of Paladin rules "The Church of Heaven (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/heaven.pdf)" has Paladin orders after the clerical orders.

Alignment always came across as a crutch of sorts to me to try and enforce behavior outside of roleplaying. It also seemed to me to try and enforce a black and white view in the game world. I've used it but I don't miss it when it is not there. Paladins always having to be LG always bugged me. I felt that Paksenarrion from the Elizabeth Moon books was really what they were about. Not really about LG or what not but about devotion to the faith and what that meant.

In general the idea of a basic ethical leaning to define where characters lie might be ok but the idea that if someone declares themselves as say LG or LE then acts as something else should be penalized seemed silly. No one is that black and white. And really if you deviate there should be in game ramifications related to the game world not to the mechanics really. Lots of well thought out ideas here and I think it shows how this is a still a controversial and important topic.

Webhead
01-01-2009, 06:52 PM
...All this being said, the only campaigns ive ever had a problem with per say, in my over 30 years of playing are those campaigns were the DM feels he's doing gods work by making his players all of good alignment and doing good will to others. You know the campaigns im speaking of. So whenever i see advertisements to this day that say something like this: 'starting a campaign soon, only LG characters need apply.' i run for my life.

Case in fact: the best and most memorable campaigns i have ever played in my 30+ years were the ones where there were evil players in the party...

Whether one's bent is to equate it to "good", neutrality or "evil", I like to play "kind-hearted", "cheritable" and "self-sacrificing" characters. Characters who put the concerns of others before themselves and who are willing to give up their lives in the pursuit of those ideals.

There is enough selfishness and one-ups-manship in the real world that (in a general sense) I don't want to dwell on them as a major theme in my campaigns. Especially since I GM quite often and get to have the fun of playing the "bad guys", on the rare occasion that I am a player, I look to explore something more "noble" and "heroic". Playing "bad-natured" characters isn't terribly appealing to me, nor is running campaigns focused around such characters.

That's not to say that those games aren't fun in their own way or have their own unique style of storytelling. And I've played my share of brooding, self-centered thieves (Thief was my favorite class in 2e, by the way). ;)


...My opinion on alignment? take it or leave it, just dont make it the core of your game, and things will be fine and fun...

Exactly.

Malruhn
01-01-2009, 07:42 PM
I have done much the same as Tesral - without codifying it. Yes, prior to adventuring with you, I will ask you what alignment you are... and that is PURELY to get a guesstimate as to how you will act and react for various encounters, and is purely a DM mechanic.

If you claim you are Chaotic Evil, I will EXPECT you to kick the first puppy you see. This doesn't mean that you HAVE to - it's just that it is in your general nature to be a puppy-kicker... and, yes, just like Tesral's campaign, you will end up being treated like a puppy-kicker.

HOWEVER, you are not BOUND to forever be a puppy-kicker. I will expect it, but you don't HAVE to kick them. If you refrain from kicking them long enough, I will end up questioning your actions for the next time I present a puppy... so I will talk with you to see where your alignment is headed, so I can use it as a planning tool again.

When it comes to Paladins, all I use is the Code for the particular deity... which I've developed... and your alignment will just flavor how you follow and interpret that code.

Clerics can have nearly any alignment you want... because there are many ways to fulfill a deity's intents. A CE cleric may see a LG deity's methods for getting worshipers and adherents to be unwise or inefficient. There may be political problems in the church if there is significant differences between the cleric and the deity - as in, you may not get promotions to bishop or high-priest... but that's as much of a problem as there will be.

Other than that - alignment is nothing but a plot device.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
01-01-2009, 07:49 PM
I have done much the same as Tesral - without codifying it. Yes, prior to adventuring with you, I will ask you what alignment you are... and that is PURELY to get a guesstimate as to how you will act and react for various encounters, and is purely a DM mechanic.

If you claim you are Chaotic Evil, I will EXPECT you to kick the first puppy you see. This doesn't mean that you HAVE to - it's just that it is in your general nature to be a puppy-kicker... and, yes, just like Tesral's campaign, you will end up being treated like a puppy-kicker.

HOWEVER, you are not BOUND to forever be a puppy-kicker. I will expect it, but you don't HAVE to kick them. If you refrain from kicking them long enough, I will end up questioning your actions for the next time I present a puppy... so I will talk with you to see where your alignment is headed, so I can use it as a planning tool again.

When it comes to Paladins, all I use is the Code for the particular deity... which I've developed... and your alignment will just flavor how you follow and interpret that code.

Clerics can have nearly any alignment you want... because there are many ways to fulfill a deity's intents. A CE cleric may see a LG deity's methods for getting worshipers and adherents to be unwise or inefficient. There may be political problems in the church if there is significant differences between the cleric and the deity - as in, you may not get promotions to bishop or high-priest... but that's as much of a problem as there will be.

Other than that - alignment is nothing but a plot device.
Interesting take. I, personally, would never equate evil with kicking puppies. Evil doesnt equate to sadistic behavior either. Here's an intesting bit of trivia based in fact. 5+% of society are sociopaths. Many, if not most sociopaths live normal lives and we never even realize their true nature. Food(not human) for thought. :laugh:

All this being said, put this down as #5002 for reasons i love dnd. If a DM has a view on alignments for his campaign that's specific to him or her(pretty much applies to most DM's), this just makes the game more fun. Ive said it before and i will say it again: i have never played the same campaign twice... and that's awesome! :cool:

Game on!

Malruhn
01-01-2009, 07:52 PM
I guess I was equating evil with both an interest in inflicting pain - AND - a lack of empathy.

If you are walking down the street and see a damsel in distress you have a couple of choices - do you get involved or not. Not getting involved is merely a lack of compassion. If you get involved you have yet another choice - do you help the damsel or the evil-doers? THAT is a choice of good or evil.

I used puppy-kicking purely as a metaphor... or allegory. Hell, it may be a simile... I get those things all confusilated.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
01-01-2009, 07:55 PM
I guess I was equating evil with both an interest in inflicting pain - AND - a lack of empathy.

If you are walking down the street and see a damsel in distress you have a couple of choices - do you get involved or not. Not getting involved is merely a lack of compassion. If you get involved you have yet another choice - do you help the damsel or the evil-doers? THAT is a choice of good or evil.

I used puppy-kicking purely as a metaphor... or allegory. Hell, it may be a simile... I get those things all confusilated.
I realize where you were going, you just responded before i updated my thread. My bad for not making myself clear the first time. I'm using a laptop these days and ive lost 20+ words a minute in doing so. Frustrating!

This is a great thread today. You wouldnt see this much professionalism and a sharing of ideas with other dnd forums found on the net. This says alot about penandpapergames, and the members, specifically.

Kalanth
01-01-2009, 07:58 PM
My opinion of alignment has been refined thanks to playing Dungeons and Dragons Online for the past three years. It is the most commonly ignored rule in the entire game unless you are striving for one specific class or piece of treasure.

I am very fast and loose with alignment in our 4th edition game. To give you an example we will take a player that converted (in name only) his character from a 2nd ed fighter in Dragonlance to a 4th ed Paladin on a homebrew world. Quick back-story is that on the characters 67th birthday he was riding to his family home when he came across a pond. Drinking from the waters made him tired and when he woke up he was on another world. The plane jumping reversed his age magically and cut 30 years off. While in the new world he met a cleric there and was taught about a new god and the new world he lived on and so the man took up faith and became a Paladin.

When going over the alignments to the player I mentioned that Paladin's were no longer restricted to Lawful Good anymore. Not wanting to be tied down and restrained by the LG alignment the player lept at the Good alignment instead. Doing what I have seen many times in the past, the player stated that his sense of Good came from a personal code of ethics. Those ethics first came to light when the party captured a pirate and dragged him into a cave to be questioned. After using some basic diplomacy and failing to get anywhere the Paladin decided to change his tactics. His next move was to punch the guard in the stomach and then take the guards hand firmly. The paladin was holding a knife to the guards thumb and slowly digging the edge into the thumb while demanding answers in exchange for the appendage. I loved it, and it was the first time I felt that a paladin could be truly what the player wanted thanks to not having the LG restriction.

So to say that alignment dictates much of anything in my games is worth a laugh. It is nothing more to me than a guideline that can be bent to one extreme or the other at a whim. Might as well make everyone Unaligned for all I care just don't go being over the top evil and I am fine with what you do.

tesral
01-01-2009, 09:25 PM
Since no one really understands alignment


It is not that no one understand alignment, but that everyone understands it differently.

As for Paladin "restrictions", I've never seen it that way. A Paladin becomes a Paladin because they see the viewpoint of the god they serve as a thing they want to do. Not must do and it's a restriction -- that is the wrong end of the stick. It should be an ethical and moral viewpoint they gladly adopt, and willingly serve. If they are chafing under it, they are obviously not Paladin material.

As to the Forry thing that Clerics and Paladins are held to nothing, I empty my nose it its general direction, and its Mother smelt of elderberries. It smacks to me of lowering the bar so people stop whining about the "restrictions". See my comment above. If the player is not ready to embrace the ethical and moral viewpoint in character they are not Paladin playing material.

Banshee
01-02-2009, 01:33 AM
Ok, maybe the word "restrictions" was not the best choice for a paladin's code. Of course you're right in saying that a paladin who's worth his bonded war steed wouldn't consider his code to be a restriction, but rather a choice and a way of life under his god. Restriction was a poor choice of words.

I think the word does apply somewhat though when dealing with the player of the paladin, not so much to the paladin himself. By having to abide by a certain, unyielding code, the player may find that he has to be more careful in his actions. To some, as you said, this might be seen as a restriction to the class; to be a true paladin, one cannot simply act impulsively and begin to hoard treasure and magic items. One must also stop to render aid to those in need, and to face the possibility of doing without so that another may not suffer. Not all players are ready for this type of roleplaying.

In a positive light, however, the word "restriction" can bring about many unique challenges for the player who is willing to take on the role of the paladin. Character is built from enduring hardships, and the paladin's life could arguably be considered to be one full of hardships (though the paladin himself would not see this as such). When the party's other characters are drinking in the tavern, the paladin might be found in the stable, grooming his steed. While the rogue can wait in the shadows for an opportune time to strike with an advantage, the paladin must ride in headfirst and take on the toughest foe. The rest of the party can profit mightily from its loot found in the dungeon while the paladin must tithe to his church. All of these "hardships" make the paladin class one of my favorites to play becuase they add an underlying challenge to the game.

Well, that's just my opinion...

tesral
01-02-2009, 01:59 AM
What I usually find with the player that moans about the "restrictions" is someone that wants the "kewl abilities" and still play their character like a loon that can do anything. In short, not a good role-player. Dare I utter the word...munchkin?

No, if you are not a player that can get into the spirit of the Holy Warrior who thinks never of himself first, then Paladin is not for you.

That said alignment does not make the class easier to play. I understand people who chaff under "Lawful Good". The meaning is so vague that it has only the meaning the DM wants it to mean. ":Lawful Good" is not something to strive for, it is a series of near arbitrary points you cannot go beyond. You swim in a ill defined pool of Lawful Good and traps are all around you.

One thing I promise my players is that I will never let knowledge they do not have but their character should hurt the character. I will not give a Paladin a "test of faith" if the the player of the Paladin is not aware that they should/should not what ever the test may be. I despise "gotyas" that come from nowhere. I have walked out of games when I see a DM pull that.

I don't like the poorly played Paladin. I also do not like the DM that guns fore the character's Paladin hood as if it was a trophy to make them lose it. Especially when they don't show the player all the cards.

Kalanth
01-02-2009, 06:08 AM
One thing I promise my players is that I will never let knowledge they do not have but their character should hurt the character. I will not give a Paladin a "test of faith" if the the player of the Paladin is not aware that they should/should not what ever the test may be. I despise "gotyas" that come from nowhere. I have walked out of games when I see a DM pull that.

I don't like the poorly played Paladin. I also do not like the DM that guns fore the character's Paladin hood as if it was a trophy to make them lose it. Especially when they don't show the player all the cards.

Do you instead warn the player that such an action would be against your idea of LG?

When I was running a 3.5 game I went out of my way to do that as the DM. A paladin can be a hard thing for a RPer to do because of the built in player based restriction and that most players only see the paladin as the snooty holy roller. I did not in that game that if you lead the horse to water the horse will drink, meaning that after giving the player the insight that action A might not be so good in their "Gods" eyes the player eventually started to curb his chosen actions.

cplmac
01-02-2009, 11:04 AM
I do use alignments as a starting point of where a character's mind set is at the begining of a campaign. However, just as in reality, a character can change this mind set, thus changing their alignment. I have no problem with characters changing alignments several times. I just think that it allows for the character to grow.

tesral
01-02-2009, 11:09 AM
Do you instead warn the player that such an action would be against your idea of LG?

No, I give them something considerably meatier than "Lawful Good" to hang a character on. A gloss of the religion, it's commandments and a black and while explanation of what the character believes and defends. "Lawful Good" might not be the deal.



A paladin can be a hard thing for a RPer to do because of the built in player based restriction and that most players only see the paladin as the snooty holy roller.

OK this is something I actively fight. Honest and forthright does not have to me stick so far up the rear you have to keep swallowing it. It is not "Lawful Stupid". All Paladins are not guys in shiny armor that charge heedlessly into battle. Take a look at Coran the Oathkeeper, (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/Coran_Oathkeeper.pdf) (PDF) specifically the Knights Order of the Sword. The last of the special commandments is "You will understand that all work and no fun makes a fellow grim and glum, and let you hair down once in a while." In the Centaur Gods (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/centaur_gods.pdf) gloss the Order of the Iron Hoof and the Order of the Hare command "You will be a positive and cheerful influence on the community." The entire purpose of the Knight of the Hare is to stick a pin in big windbags whereever found, and these are Paladins!

1958Fury
01-02-2009, 11:11 AM
I do use alignments as a starting point of where a character's mind set is at the begining of a campaign. However, just as in reality, a character can change this mind set, thus changing their alignment. I have no problem with characters changing alignments several times. I just think that it allows for the character to grow.

I wish some of y'all had been in charge when I first started playing NeverWinter Nights. I used to play on this one server - excellent server in almost every way - but the DMs were very strict about roleplay, specifically alignment adherence. The management just could not grasp the concept of a good person doing a bad thing (or vice versa), or actions done with not-so-obvious underlying motives, or someone experiencing character growth.

In their eyes, the way you were born is the way you were to be forever... and yet, they did all this in the name of "quality roleplay". :rolleyes:

InvestFDC
01-02-2009, 11:17 AM
I use alignment as a way of getting several (sometimes many) people to work towards a common goal. When a game starts and players create their characters they create them along the lines of the alignment I set. For example, when I run a Neuatral Good campaign all the players know what sort of adventures to expect and create characters that they will enjoy playing in that environment.

I've seen the hands off approach from DM's and you usually get a bizarre mix of characters that don't work together well. It's also difficult to run adventures that will hook everyone if their world views are all askew.

Think about it, Charles Manson, Mother Theresa, Brittany Spears and Osama Bin Laden aren't going to team up to go rescue the princess from the dragon. I feel alignment is the glue that binds players into a cohesive, functional group.

tesral
01-02-2009, 11:42 AM
In their eyes, the way you were born is the way you were to be forever... and yet, they did all this in the name of "quality roleplay". :rolleyes:

Exactly, Alignment as a club. That is the tail wagging the dog in the worse way. And that unclear concept was the main reason I came to dislike alignment in every way.


I use alignment as a way of getting several (sometimes many) people to work towards a common goal. When a game starts and players create their characters they create them along the lines of the alignment I set. For example, when I run a Neuatral Good campaign all the players know what sort of adventures to expect and create characters that they will enjoy playing in that environment..

It's not the best glue, as it tends to hold the character to where they are as above. There are other ways and better ways to make sure you have a party that works. The best I have found is to make sure the party is created together with everyone knowing what the other is putting together. I encourage intermeshed backgrounds. I heavily encourage backgrounds.

InvestFDC
01-02-2009, 12:13 PM
<i>It's not the best glue, as it tends to hold the character to where they are as above. There are other ways and better ways to make sure you have a party that works. The best I have found is to make sure the party is created together with everyone knowing what the other is putting together. I encourage intermeshed backgrounds.</i>

Yeah, or you can tell 10 people that you need 4 players for a Good based campaign and see who joins.

<i>I heavily encourage backgrounds.</i>

Even at 1st or 2nd level? Where their background would probably involve a lot of cow tipping or stories about they time they grew white onions when they thought they were growing yellow onions.

I don't know, I like to just say up front that this is a lawful game, a good game, a chaotic game, etc. so everyone can be on the same page with least amount of trouble. No one can make a Black Guard for my Neutral Good campaign and complain that they don't know why they don't fit in or aren't having any fun.:D

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
01-02-2009, 12:21 PM
The most EVIL (the perspective of everyone not affiliated to the church)character i ever played was my fanatical Lawful Good (yes, you read that right) Paladin. Damn, i love the holier-than-thou mindset. This character, Sir Julian, was a murdering... er... um, killing machine, all justified for the greater good, of course.

fmitchell
01-02-2009, 12:38 PM
This thread gives me a strange sense of deja vu:

http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1818
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3481
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7154
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7164
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7165
http://www.penandpapergames.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8200

FWIW, here's a summary of my position, as stated before:

Alignment is a pretty poor summary of a character's beliefs, and generally should be discarded. Its characterization of "Good" and "Evil" is far too vague and simplistic, and the Lawful/Chaotic axis is a confusing remnant of early Moorcockian influences.
If you want a game mechanic to force or constrain a character's behavior, better alternatives are FATE's Aspects, Pendragon's Passions, or at the very least GURPS-like disadvantages (with the conditions and limitations spelled out, not HERO-style "when the GM thinks of it" disadvantages).
If you want religious characters to act ethically, especially if their powers depend on their behavior, spell out the ethical code explicitly. The indie game Paladin provides a mechanic to structure ethical codes, and punish infractions.
D&D 4e takes some steps in the right direction by removing spells and powers that act upon certain alignments, replacing "Neutral" with "Unaligned", and retaining only a vestige of Lawful/Chaotic, but the remaining alignment system has the same problems as before.

Webhead
01-02-2009, 01:19 PM
...<i>I heavily encourage backgrounds.</i>

Even at 1st or 2nd level? Where their background would probably involve a lot of cow tipping or stories about they time they grew white onions when they thought they were growing yellow onions...

Perspective. From my perspective, one has to remember that Bob the 1st Level Fighter is a distinct cut above Jim the town guard (a 1st level Warrior NPC class) who already boasts several years of devoted training beyond what Mack the farmer (0 Level Commoner) is capable of. Not to mention that Bob likely has several attributes in the "14" - "16" range, while Jim has mostly "10's" with perhaps one or two "12's", and Mack has "10's" across the board and is just thankful he has no serious deficiencies or disorders.

In a vacuum, 1st Level heroes don't look like much, but when you realize where they begin compared to the average inhabitant of the world, they are definately recognizable as people with incredible talent and prior experience...even if it is only a fraction of what they will go on to become!


...I don't know, I like to just say up front that this is a lawful game, a good game, a chaotic game, etc. so everyone can be on the same page with least amount of trouble. No one can make a Black Guard for my Neutral Good campaign and complain that they don't know why they don't fit in or aren't having any fun.:D

I agree, and that sums up pretty well how I use alignment. "I want to run a heroic game of rescuing damsels, so please play characters who would willingly participate in such things". OR "I want to run a game of scoundrels and ne'er-do-wells, so please refrain from playing characters who would not wish to associate with those types". What I don't say is, "Play Chaotic Good or else!".

I don't pigeon-hole people with alignment, I simply ask that they not play against the major themes of the campaign intentionally, thus I make it known what I'm expecting.

InvestFDC
01-02-2009, 01:56 PM
I don't force the alignment issue either. The point is I think that alignment helps the game run smoother. If someone wants to run an evil character in my Lawful Good campaign just to be a jerk and ruin my campaign and ruin the other players fun then I have a problem with that.

I just disagree with the idea that since alignment rules aren't perfect in all possible situations they should be dumped. Where I use alignment, it works. It does what it is supposed to and it helps make a better game. Instead of feeling like an a-hole for telling someone "No!" I can instead say "that may not fit within your alignment." I can guide someone so that we are both happy rather than play parent or, worse, let it go and possibly ruin the adventure for everyone else.

Kalanth
01-02-2009, 02:01 PM
OK this is something I actively fight. Honest and forthright does not have to me stick so far up the rear you have to keep swallowing it. It is not "Lawful Stupid".

You know what they say, it is a stereo-type for a reason.

If I am to give an example of a character to emulate as the finest example of a paladin I refer to Sturm Brightblade. His dedication to the Oath and Measure and how he treated those he traveled with are fine examples of what my mind thinks of as a paladin.

InvestFDC
01-02-2009, 02:20 PM
You know what they say, it is a stereo-type for a reason.

If I am to give an example of a character to emulate as the finest example of a paladin I refer to Sturm Brightblade. His dedication to the Oath and Measure and how he treated those he traveled with are fine examples of what my mind thinks of as a paladin.

And, alignment shouldn't be confused with personality or disposition. Good interpersonal skills or good manners are not required to commit good acts.:D

spotlight
01-02-2009, 02:21 PM
Alinements can at times be very interesting. I commonly play chaotic neutral charcters, even being told by one DM that my character had to be crazy, and could not be trusted by the rest of the group. My defence was that crazy characters were usually CN, not the other way 'round. I had to provide a set of moral standards to the group to keep from getting killed off. In the long run, they learned that the character would do the unexpected, unexpectedly. But would prove loyal and fair with his 'friends'.

Alignments can some times enhance game play and enjoyment, and at times screw it up. Those that don't give some sort of baseline for their stand, should.

Malruhn
01-02-2009, 02:26 PM
I look at modern reality. Consider the present state of the various flavors of Christianity, and THAT is how I run alignment... we all have the same stated goal, but our interpretations are different.

Thou shalt not kill.

How many ways is there for that one four word Commandment to be interpreted? Yet, we have it. Rationalization is the bane of organization for theology!

Some would list Muhandas Gandhi as a Paladin, Lawful and Good - and he was an overt pacifist that didn't have a problem shoving his pacifism down your throat. Some would call Sturm Brightblade a Paladin, Laful and Good - and he killed only bad guys... those that "deserved it."

What of folks that go back and use the alternative wording of "Thou shalt not MURDER??" That opens things up totally!

What about that lovely "What If" game we played for years... The Commandment says what it says, but you are in Germany in 1932 and looking through a sniper's scope at Adolf Hitler. Is it killing or death or murder or can you rationalize your way out of it? Some could pull the trigger, some couldn't.

THIS IS ALIGNMENT FOR ME!!

Tell me that you are LG and I'll expect you to respect some sort of a code of laws and do GOOD things. How you do it is up to you. This is why I had a beef with D&D and not allowing LG Assassins. If I only snipe rapists, how can I be evil?? I may not be lawful in SOME eyes, but if I stick to a very rigid code of ethics and never vary, why CAN'T I be Lawful Good??

Look at Star Trek for a second. The Klingons are VERY lawful - and if they show up to shove their lawfulness down our throats for what they see as "our own good," then are they not still lawful? Is it truly "evil" to do this? If the Federation shows up to shove democracy down the Klingons' collective throats for their own good, are WE good... or evil??

That is why I use alignment only as a thumbnail for adventure planning purposes. My campaign is very similar to Tesral's other than this.

tesral
01-02-2009, 11:54 PM
Yeah, or you can tell 10 people that you need 4 players for a Good based campaign and see who joins.

Anfd you can still get widely disparete character who do not mesh together.





Even at 1st or 2nd level? Where their background would probably involve a lot of cow tipping or stories about they time they grew white onions when they thought they were growing yellow onions.

Oh? Living 18 years isn't good enough for some kind of background? Remember adventuring is not the start of the character's life. Something drove or pushed them to try this life. Sane people do not go forth to slay monster and loot the bodies. No, they stay home and tip cows with yellow-white onions.

You can invent marvelous backgrounds for 1st level characters. I do it and do it frequently. Even my throw away NPCs have a sentence or two to anchor them in my world, no one lives in a vacuum until the PCs happen to wander by,. That little hick town existed long before the mighty PCs came and unless they burn it to the ground will be there long after they leave. They experience the dramas of life, the large and the small.

Bill the local guard really wanted to be an adventurer, but his Father stopped him, and by the time he was able to leave, he had gotten the Dairyman's daughter pregnant. With wife and child he was not free to leave, but has put his limited training to use as a guard. There still exists a longing to see more and be more in his heart.

Mack the Farmer is exactly where he wants to be. Truth is that many years ago he was leveed into the militia and traveled with the Army in a far place for reasons he never rightly understood. The things he saw, the killing, the destruction, he hides away from his loved ones and never speaks of them. He wants nothing more than toe till the land and raise his family. But woe to the person that breaks that peace.

Bob has served his time with the kings Army getting some extra training from a knight and is now that first level fighter. He has dreams, dreams of more than being a Journeyman Tailor. With the sword his grandfather left in the family and a second hand set of armor he is out to make a name for himself and come back a rich and famous man.

There, I didn't spend more than five minutes on each, but now they are more than simple stats on a page. Each of those characters is anchored in the world. I don't demand long missives, but a paragraph or two about where the character is coming from, and hopes to go. It is not that hard.

Zig
01-04-2009, 06:51 AM
With all the people bashing alignments here I think its only fair to have a counter view point.

Alignments in AD&D were much more than just a few lines about how your character should act, they had their own language and that helped to unite goods against evils (a CE mage could talk to a demon, a LG cleric could speak with an angel, two thieves who were both CN could speak to each other and nobody would have a clue what they were planning even if they spoke thieves cant) , there were also many spells that helped point out who was who. it helped make the game black and white and not grey. It was not meant to be realistic!!!

My DM was wise when it came to alignments, he had a hand out for each alignment of a page or two and it clearly stated exactly what your alignment would and would not do under any moral circumstance, as well as listed your possible motivations and desires and what you might do to further those. you could change your alignment at any time that it made sense to the plot but whatever alignment you were, you were under obligation to play it or loose XP for "acting out of character".

Some games he would require lawful evils only, (evils games with other alignments quickly got out of hand as all the players tried killing each other.) or games that were good only or lawful good only. It helped him to design and plan games and knew exactly what to expect from the characters regardless of what the players "wanted" to do or "wanted" to play. I think now days DM's cater too much to what their players want to play, and generally just allow them to play anything "not evil" most of the time. now days a player can "justify" anything they want to do with not much more than a good explanation.

Further in regards to "real" paladins... you got 0 exp on any adventure with evils in the party, you got half XP for parties that had neutrals or chaotics in it. you were a force of goodness in all ways. many people disregarded those lines in the DMG, but mine didn't. An AD&D pallie was the the most bad assed character in the game, +5 holy swords that dispelled magic, magic horses, laying on hands, the only class that could heal besides Cleric and Druid, He detected evil at will, evils couldn't touch him without making a save, turned undead, wore plate armor, could use any weapon, had the best saving throws in the game, and on and on. the penalty was you had to be LG and play the alignment to a T or loose your status and powers. The old paladin from 2e was a super hero.


In 4e paladins are just another class, there aren't any benefits greater than any other class for having a strict set of principals you have to follow, hell you dont really have to follow any principals. I'm not even sure if there are any penalties for acting Chaotic Evil when your alignment is LG.

I'm playing a 4e paladin in a campaign right now... and I've chosen to make him awful lawful good, (the way every paladin should be!) and yes it is a pain in the ass to always have to try and stop other people's neutrally aligned characters from doing questionable things (like torturing and killing surrendered bandits) and its a pain in the ass to have to try and have your character live up to a near impossible code. The other characters are always giving your character crap about it, and as a player it gets boreing fast, but... I firmly believe every Paladin should be LG and will continue to play it that way regardless of the fact that "now" I dont have to.

There should be rewards for playing an awful lawful (much more than just an appreciation certificate from the puppy lovers of greyhawk) otherwise who else but a masochist would ever want to run a truly good paladin and endure all those conflicts when you could just play a greedy fighter or Noble but power hungry Knight? who would want the headache?

and what about players who ARE munchkins? what stops them from having their lawful good paladins wait until the party is wounded and asleep and killing all of them after chugging an invulnerability potion he had saved? or whats to stop the "neutral" rogue in the 4e game from doing the same?

Here's three big questions for all those alignment haters out there...

Would you twist things so the player who wanted to PK was never successful regardless of how good a plan he came up with?

Would you kick a player out of a gaming group who did something like this even though it was clearly within their alignment and character background to do so?

How do you punish players for not sticking to their character concept if you throw alignment out the window? Or do you let any player do whatever they want regardless of concept?

hey it ended all the hard work you put into the story and the back stories of all those characters your players so loved but he was doing exactly what he should have done according to his "character concept" right? The concept you allowed into your game when you didn't require "goods only"... right?

I liked the old alignments, I liked the old paladins even better, I don't like D&D games without alignments "as much", either as a player or as a DM.

Alignments and D&D... that went together like Magic users and d4 hp. ;-) it was all part of what it meant to play D&D anything else... was not D&D, and in my mind still isn't.

tesral
01-04-2009, 11:26 AM
My DM was wise when it came to alignments, he had a hand out for each alignment of a page or two and it clearly stated exactly what your alignment would and would not do under any moral circumstance, as well as listed your possible motivations and desires and what you might do to further those. you could change your alignment at any time that it made sense to the plot but whatever alignment you were, you were under obligation to play it or loose XP for "acting out of character".

There; that is the breaker right there. Tail waging the dog. Alignment follows what the character does, not the character follows an alignment. And I think you are totally forgetting the kind of penalties the rules prescribed for anyone that willing changed alignment. You just described a DM that uses alignment as a straight jacket and enforced it. I am to think this a good idea why?

You just reiterated 80% of the reason I dropped the whole mess.




Here's three big questions for all those alignment haters out there...

Would you twist things so the player who wanted to PK was never successful regardless of how good a plan he came up with?

Would you kick a player out of a gaming group who did something like this even though it was clearly within their alignment and character background to do so? I have never asked anyone to leave my group who was not disruptive as a person. I do not believe in "punishing" players for the actions of their characters within the game, done deal. I am not their Momma, and I am not the school teacher. I am neither God or a substitute for same. I am the DM and the world will react in an appropriate manner to any action. Ask the character that started a riot that killed 14 people. His character was captured and hung. If someone wants to try and kill another party member they can do so. The rest of the party might have a thing or two to say about it.

However, I and my group are more skilled at putting a party together than that. I cannot honestly remember any situation where an in party disagreement came to in party blows. Alignment is not the only means of assembling a cohesive party. I believe it to be the worse method.




How do you punish players for not sticking to their character concept if you throw alignment out the window? Or do you let any player do whatever they want regardless of concept?Why would I ever desire to "punish" the player? I might chide that said action seemed out of character for Bob. However if the player insisted, it happens. After all no one in RL has ever taken an action that was out of character for themselves ever, right? (Yes that was sarcasm) Now, actions beget consequences and those will follow appropriate to the actions.




hey it ended all the hard work you put into the story and the back stories of all those characters your players so loved but he was doing exactly what he should have done according to his "character concept" right? The concept you allowed into your game when you didn't require "goods only"... right? This is a question? It looks more like one of those loaded political survey questions. "Do you believe that Senator Bob has or has not stopped beating his wife, yes or no?"

Alignment just wasn't that important. All Hell did not break loose when it was removed, players did not start killing each other, cats and dogs did not start living together. The game went on smoothly and enjoyably and has continued as such for the last 20 years. I must be doing something right. 33 years one Game, one World, no alignment.

I will come back to it; what kind of game requires that the DM have a leash on the player's actions? Is the DM is a tight ass control freak? In that case I will not enjoy the game. Are the players juvenile delinquents that don't get the point of role-playing? In which case I would not enjoy the game. Heaven forbid it was both. However I don';t see my self staying in that game as I would not enjoy it.




Alignments and D&D... that went together like Magic users and d4 hp. I change that too, sue me. :lol:

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
01-04-2009, 11:38 AM
I have yet to ever make an alignment-specific game, and doubt i ever will. I mean: why would i ever create something that would successfully eliminate some elements of dnd? I find that i allow the make-up of the parties involved to govern which direction, and by extention, which experiences, the party will encounter. An added benefit would be the tensions, negotiations, and cooperations of the party dynamic, which also adds to the flavor of the game. But hey, that's just me.

spotlight
01-08-2009, 02:33 PM
Alignment is there for one reson only. To enhance role-play. Tes, you may believe it is the tail wagging the dog, but try this on for size: When does the dog wag his tail? When his master arrives. That's what alignment should always be. GMs who 'punish' players have it wrong also. It is the character that is restricted by his alignment, not the player.
Which is, of course, why I appreciate GMs who go to the trouble of giving out sheets that define what their view of alingments should be. If the player disagrees with a particular point, he can then discuss it with the GM before he has his character act in a particular way.
As for having no alignments at all, well, it does work in some games. When you DO use alignments, flesh it out like you do with ALL you character's other aspects. That is why it is called playing a role. Your alignment is PART of that role.

InvestFDC
01-08-2009, 03:05 PM
It seems to me that D&D is heading the way of the mainstream in that it is trying to bend down to the lowest common denominator. Like in school nowdays everyone gets a trophy for participation, there are no winners. They say you don't need to work hard or try hard, your D- is just as good as the smart kid's B+.

D&D was challenging and alignment was part of that challenge. Like the Paladin example above, you had to really engage the character concept to be successful. You earned the satisfaction of overcoming an obstacle and staying within the limitiations of the character.

What do you have now? Everything is easier. No alignment, no hassles, more XP please. No need to break a sweat or use your brain too much. The characters are now homogenized and there are very few, if any, limitations that force you to exercise your mind.

But, DM's are allowed to run their games how they see fit and I plan to use alignments and class codes to the betterment of the game.

tesral
01-08-2009, 03:26 PM
D&D was challenging and alignment was part of that challenge. Like the Paladin example above, you had to really engage the character concept to be successful. You earned the satisfaction of overcoming an obstacle and staying within the limitiations of the character.

What do you have now? Everything is easier. No alignment, no hassles, more XP please. No need to break a sweat or use your brain too much. The characters are now homogenized and there are very few, if any, limitations that force you to exercise your mind.

There is this effort to conflate no alignment with no boundaries. Far from the truth of the matter. I think you will find in my world that Clerics and Paladins do not have an easy row to hoe. They don't have alignment, but they do have commandments to follow. Commandments far more detailed than any alignment has a chance of being.

Second, not everyone binds themselves to such a philosophical viewpoint. Why does Mr Mercenary have an Alignment Clipboard Cherub following him around ready to hit the "smite" button if he fails to follow the philosophy he wasn't following in the first place?

My problem with alignment isn't boundaries, it is the overly broad and vague nature of the boundaries that alignment provides. Obviously my posts have not been read outside of "I don't like alignment".

And yes, enforcing an alignment is the tail wagging the dog. Every example I have ever see was a heavy handed DM. People are not programed machines, they do not run on rails. The "one violation changing you alignment" is pure used bull feed and it stinks. I also note it is one sided. One can easily slide toward evil and chaotic, but not the other direction. I have yet to see the Chaotic Evil High Priest kicked into the good camp for saving a puppy.

spotlight
01-08-2009, 03:39 PM
It depends,Tes, on why the CE high preist was saving the puppy. Perhaps as a sacrifice or as a future spell componant? I did not intend to appear as one of those mis-reading your intent as 'I do like alignments', but rather as 'I think alignments are misuseded'.
--- Merged from Double Post ---
Sorry, the Library comp cut me off, and I had to get another session.

I agree with you, and others, that this is a little point that many GMs and players alike, both ignore and abuse. It was put in originally to give guidence to players on how to act with the characters. Particularly with clerics and palidins.

I also agree that it was poorly thought out. One good example is that dwarves, in the MM are listed as LG even though they are sported as being greedy with their gold and other goods. That simply does not jive with MY understanding of LG, since in a certain holy book we all know, greed is listed as a sin.

But, to a Dwarf, maybe it is not a sin to be greedy. Thus, the General outline is set with alignments, and put into a 'logical, workable' system, just like strength or comeliness.

Thus, some find it simpler to not use alignments and all the rules that hinge on it, but it is still the starting point that others, like yourself, Tes, still use to produse rules of what a character will do in certain situations. You might not called it alignment, but you still call it ethics or moral codes.

tesral
01-08-2009, 10:04 PM
Thus, some find it simpler to not use alignments and all the rules that hinge on it, but it is still the starting point that others, like yourself, Tes, still use to produse rules of what a character will do in certain situations. You might not called it alignment, but you still call it ethics or moral codes.

Have you read any of the religion glosses? No alignment there, they are ethical and moral codes. Far more detailed than Alignments.

spotlight
01-09-2009, 12:06 PM
No, I do not recall reading any particular 'religion glosses', but I have done a fair share of siminal studies. Yes, ethical codes of conduct can get very detailed, to the point of ad nosium. I have even had people tell me I must cut my hair in a certain way to please God. I then grew it shoulder length just to $#*@$ them off. (Don't know why that turned blue)

The simple veiw, as far as I can tell, is that alienment is kept a little vague and maluable on purpose. If a GM wants to enhance it or eliminate it, I can play both ways. In my games, put in your alienment, it would only be important in particular situations, such as how certain NPCs and Monsters would react to you. If your not acting in character in my opinion, I'll say so and we would discuss it and create a ruling that would allow or disallow what ever action was going on.

But, forcing a ruling on a player or his charcter with out discussing it, well that's GM abuse imo.

But in the main focus, there are plenty of games out there that don't need alienment. And I enjoy those as well. If a GM wants it in, as a player, I want to know what he expects it to effect and how.

I think I see, the program thinks that thing is an address of some sort.

tesral
01-10-2009, 01:49 AM
No, I do not recall reading any particular 'religion glosses', but I have done a fair share of siminal studies. Yes, ethical codes of conduct can get very detailed, to the point of ad nosium.


Try here. (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/gs_fant.htm#Culture)

gdmcbride
01-10-2009, 03:34 AM
The only way to be wrong in alignment discussions is to insist that someone elses take is somehow objectively wrong. You can play good games with and without alignment. Myself, I prefer alignments either gone or mechanically defanged. This is my preferred flavor of ice cream.

Trying to convince me that I should like another flavor of ice cream is going to be tricky.


Would you twist things so the player who wanted to PK was never successful regardless of how good a plan he came up with?

Would you kick a player out of a gaming group who did something like this even though it was clearly within their alignment and character background to do so?

How do you punish players for not sticking to their character concept if you throw alignment out the window? Or do you let any player do whatever they want regardless of concept?

I'm not an alignment hater. Hate is way too intense an emotion to describe my lackluster feelings about alignment. If they make your game better, leave 'em in!

1) I'm not sure I'd 'twist' anything. If characters came to blows in a campaign for in-game reasons, then so be it. As long as everyone is having fun, let the chips fall where they may. I've never minded a little interparty conflict as long as it moves the game forward and keeps thing lively.

This is a rarity -- players usually crave party cooperation. Still, I ran an evil campaign where one PC consciously murdered another after weeks of planning. When the trap was finally sprung, the 'victim' thought the plan so cool, he bought the 'murderer' pizza that day.

If a PLAYER started trying to disrupt a game, then I'd politely point out what he's doing and ask him to stop. If he didn't, I'd stop playing with him.

2) I'm not sure about this question. You seem to have forgotten your audience. We hypothetical "alignment-haters" wouldn't have alignments in the first place. So, how could we kick out a player for violating their alignment?

3) Punish a PLAYER? I don't punish players. I punish my two year old when she tries to steal candy without asking or when she talks back to her mommy. My players are usually my friends and often adults and I treat them as such. If there was a truly irredeemably disruptive player (or GM for that matter), I wouldn't punish him. I'd simply not play with him anymore. In recent memory, I've never had to do this. I like gamers. They tend to be nice, interesting, well-read sorts.

Gary

Aleolus
01-22-2009, 11:55 AM
Personally, I like the concept of alignments, but I don't like how they are described (in 3.5, at least). The way I use alignments is as follows:


You have two different axis, one is Law V Chaos, the other is Good V Evil. And where you are on those axis determines the overall way your character thinks.

If you are Lawful, then you think about long-term benefits. Doing what will bring about the best result in a week, a month, a year, etc.

If you are Chaotic, you think short-term. You do what will benefit the most right here, right now, without worrying about long-term consequences.

If you are Good, then you are self-sacrificing. You do what you can to benefit others before yourself.

If you are Evil, you are self-serving. You do what will benefit you the most, regardless of the cost to others.

So, using that system, if you are Lawful Good, then you will do whatever will benefit the most people on a long-term basis. Whereas if you are Chaotic Evil, you will do what will give you the most benefit/enjoyment right here and now. This also allows a bit more difference between the Chaotic Evil and Chaotic Neutral alignments, because CE does what will benefit themselves the most, CN weighs between benefitting themselves and helping others, though still in the right-here, right-now mindset.

tesral
01-22-2009, 01:45 PM
Yes, I did it.
Out of the Box; the Conundrum of Alignment (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/alignment.html)

DMMike
01-22-2009, 02:00 PM
So, has anyone's opinion of alignment changed by reading this thread?

I found the earlier Alignment: threads pretty eye-opening. Now I'm just waiting for my PCs to try casting Protection from Evil on orcs. Mwa ha ha...

spotlight
01-22-2009, 02:21 PM
Thanks for the links, Tesral. Yeah, I have read such glosses before, although it has been several years. That Greyhawk site does look very familiar. I may have even been there awhile ago.

My opinion of alignments has not changed. I do not gererally use them, but where the core books mark them, I leave them be. In other words, monsters and other creatures and things listed as evel, are. And can be detected and otherwise treated as such.

But forcing players to hold their characters to such alignment restrictions only works when they have a specific code of conduct for their character concept to begin with. I have always excepted the idea that the Game's rules were guidelines, not concrete shoulder weights.

TheDarkestOfAngels
01-22-2009, 08:49 PM
When I first started playing D&D, I had a very strict idea of following alignment. As I matured as a player and & DM, I began to think that alignment was little more than a flavoring tool for a character.

Certainly there are instances wherein alignment comes into major play; a paladin who violates his oath, for example. However, I noticed that most of my group would choose "Evil" alignments for their PC's, but then act mostly as Chaotic Good. Being one who sticks on details, this bothered me. I explained the situation to the players (all friends of many years), and asked them what was going on. The common explanation I received was that they felt "Good" alignments to be too constrictive. We debated, and eventually, I did away with alignment altogether. I did so on the basis that real people, and thus characters, have the ability to act in whichever way they desire, and are not constrained by an alignment. Even the Pope has the conscious choice to continue what he's doing versus becomming an axe murderer.

So, what then is your opinion of Alignment? :confused:

I don't have anything against alignment. My general philosophy is to view alignment as a guide rather than a straightjacket. I tell my players this frequently, but I do pay attention to character actions and while I rarely alter a character's alignment, I am not against altering a character's alignment based on what they do in-game.
Any such decisions are never arbitrary or based on any singular actions, unless it was particularly heinous or good.
(An evil character who is consistantly neutral evil in a game of mine who suddenly rescued an orphanage and then sacrificed himself expressly to save them might have his alignment altered to good. His soul might even ascend to the upper planes as a reformed villian.
Depends on circumstances, as always.

It is rarely an issue in my game, however. My PCs tend to pick the alignments they actually intend to act or at least most easily display in-game. Recently, though, an evil character is going to enter play with a set of highly good aligned characters.
Hilarity may just ensue.

nijineko
01-23-2009, 05:12 PM
alignment is how the player has the character act. it's more a function of what the player/game master feels is right vs wrong, than anything else. unless you have a pretty clear cut in-game definition going. which some do. ^^

spotlight
01-24-2009, 11:14 AM
Well, Nin. That would be the whole point. Every thing I have seen in this dis-cuss-ion so far has made it obvious that all of us use the 'aliegnment' idea in one way or another. Even those who claim to dismiss it entirely, has a system in place that guides how the player has his character act.

It is just a method of guiding us on how to play a role. "And who says everyone dreams of being on the siver screen?" I know that's a quote, I just do not recall who's.

tesral
01-25-2009, 03:47 PM
Well, Nin. That would be the whole point. Every thing I have seen in this dis-cuss-ion so far has made it obvious that all of us use the 'alignment' idea in one way or another. Even those who claim to dismiss it entirely, has a system in place that guides how the player has his character act.


Not quite. "Systems in place" no more or less than there are in real life. It is not just a case of alignment being too simple, but of it guiding how a character acts.

OK, you are from Tau Ceti 5. You know nothing of Earth, Earth cultures and Earth morals. You encounter "Lawful Good". Remember you don't know anything. How do you act?

Realistically, you haven't a clue. "Lawful Good" assumes that you have a cultural reference for Lawful, and a cultural reference for Good. The problem being is I don't have to go very far to get two people that don't agree on either term. Alignment isn't an ethical system, it is a shorthand that requires an ethical system behind it that everyone understands. So, in order to use alignment, you must first define the ethical system that it refers to. My point is that once you define that, why do you need alignment?

spotlight
01-25-2009, 07:11 PM
Another quote: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Thus, IF you are Lawful Good, by the simple d&d description, you do whatever you see the Ramans around you doing, as this APPEARS to be the 'right' thing to do, EVEN if it is totally wrong in your own background.

As a simple example, A friend of mine became a missionary in a country over in Africa. He offered a gift to the headman of a village and other wise freely conversed with him. As the headman backed away, refusing the gift, he turned to a subordant and told him to advise the young man to stop useing his left hand.

It turns out that, culturally, since folks wipe their arse with the left hand, it is unclean for all other purposes, incluling making common gestures, like waving hello and shaking hands with others.

So even though it 8iw not a 'law', some things are lawful, or not, It only requires some system in place that lets one know how to acr, or how not to act. Just because I have an idea of what LG should be, does not mean it matches my neighbors idea.

So, unless you don't care whether you act in character, Role-Play insists that you do act in character. Call it Aliegnment, call it something else. It is there in one form or another. Some games even call them 'weakneses' and 'drawbacks', but it is still there.

Drizzit red
01-26-2009, 07:55 AM
We use alignment as a general descriptor for our characters in our world. An evil aligned player character will tend more towards selfish acts, and a good aligned character will tend more towards helping others first.

We never let it drive us in any other way. Again, we use if for a general feeling of how someone NORMALLY acts.

That is why I tend towards Neutral Evil...that way at times I can tend towards the neutral and good side, and in others I can tend to be more Evil then Neutral or good.

We never penalize anyone for acting OUT of alignment. Like has been said many times....good people do bad things some times and bad people can do good things at times.

My Neutral Evil Archer just saved a village the last quest I played.....but also beat another player character to near death for getting me in one of their spells during a fight.

So, I guess I like alignment, as long as the group knows it is a general feeling as to how you act and reacte to things around you.....not the end all as in this is your cookie cutter mold to fit into. We encourage role playing in our group, and our alignment method allows us to do so.

canadiansatan
01-29-2009, 08:32 AM
I'd vote to outright go with d20 modern top 3 priority. For example, I like chaotic good. First priority is doing good, second priority is my comrades, third priority is chaos.

So long as it won't hurt my allies, I like to cause chaos. So long as it won't be evil, I help my allies.

tesral
01-29-2009, 11:15 AM
That is a decent system, but it needs to lose the nine little phrases. It is a good start to building a motivation and background for you character.

I hate, absolutely HATE the "I have a Chaotic Neutral Half Elf Fighter Wizard with bracers of armor +5 and a +3 sword of adjectives", character description. That tells you nothing about the character. Might as well describe me as a American Male with a Ford and a computer, don't forget the details about the computer.

Tell me about the character, where are they from? What do they think? Where have they been? The former might as well be a board game piece. Indeed I get about that much information off the card of a D&D miniature. That's not role-playing, that is piece-pushing.

spotlight
01-29-2009, 03:16 PM
I Agree, Tes. They all need more than just one of those nine little phrazes. They also need more than: "Family killed when young, raised by local idiots, wants revenge on mean old puddy tat!" One's character history will guide how the character ACTS almost more than the Aliegnment or ethics and such.

Drizzit red
02-11-2009, 02:55 PM
We also allow our players to PLAY the character and decide what alignment they should be running. By the second or third session, they usually have a general feel for an alignment. BUT, we don't hold them to an iron bound version of any of the alignments.