The following is how I had expected my players to view the nine alignments. I asked them to rate their characters on a scale of +/-10 for both civility and morality.
Characters may be morally good, neutral or evil, and civilly lawful, neutral or chaotic. A character’s Alignment (Morality and Civility) should be geared toward existing in human society, where goodness and rule of law are preferred by not required. Some characters will join a Militia, Guild or Temple, and that organization will help guide Alignment and regulate behavior. Each human society will differ somewhat, and non-humans more so. Humanoids will not radiate good or evil, only creatures from the Outer (Astral) Planes, or magical effects tied to those planes.
A creature’s general moral and civility are represented by its alignment. Alignment is a tool for developing your character’s identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting your character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two characters of the same alignment can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent within their alignment.
Nine distinct alignments define all the possible combinations of the lawful–neutral-chaotic axis with the good–neutral-evil axis. Each alignment description below depicts a typical character of that alignment. Remember that individuals vary from this norm, and that a given character may act more or less in accord with his or her alignment from day to day. Use these descriptions as guidelines, not as scripts. The good alignments are for Heroes, the neutral alignments are for Adventurers, and the evil alignments are for Villains.
Morality (Good vs Evil)
Morality: is the measure [range: +10 (good) to –10 (evil)] of value placed on Society (City, Nation, Race, Religion or Guild) as a whole, versus the value placed on the individual (yourself). A positive Morality means that you value the greater good over your own personal gain. A negative Morality means that you value your own personal gain over the greater good.
Good: Those that are Good rate from +10 to +4 on the morality scale. A purely good creature would never kill (injure or harm) another creature unless for a very good reason, or allow others to do so. They have concern for the dignity of sentient beings, and make personal sacrifices to help others. A creature can have some tolerance for what falls short of what is pure good, they can still be good.
Neutral: Those that are Neutral rate from +3 to -3 on the morality scale. There is no such thing as pure neutrality, unless they never interact with another sentient being. A neutral creature will kill for certain reasons, but there must be a reason no matter how minor. They do not kill just for the sake of killing, or derive pleasure form it. They are not judgmental on the actions of others, as long as they see that there is a valid reason for the killing. Often they lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others.
Evil: Those that are Evil rate from -4 to -10 on the morality scale. A purely evil creature would not think twice about killing another creature for any reason, and is completely indifferent toward or are glad to see others kill. They have no concern for the dignity of sentient beings, and will never make a personal sacrifice to help others. Even though a creature may have some intolerance for what is pure evil, they can still be evil.
Civility (Lawful vs Chaotic)
Civility: is the measure [range: +10 (lawful) to –10 (chaotic)] of value placed on law and order as dictated by whatever authority exists, versus a less structured system based on loose guidelines rather than laws. A positive Civility means that the individual values structured law and order. A negative Civility means that the individual values personal freedom within a set of loose guidelines.
Lawful: Those that are Lawful rate from +10 to +4 on the civility scale. A purely good creature would never break a rule unless for a very good reason, or allow others to do so. They have concern for the rule of law of the societies of which they are part, and make personal sacrifices to do so. A creature can have some tolerance for what falls short of what is pure lawfulness, they can still be lawful.
Neutral: Those that are Neutral rate from +3 to –3 on the civility scale. There is no such thing as pure neutrality, unless they never interact with another sentient being. A neutral creature will follow laws for certain reasons, but there must be a benefit no matter how minor. They do not follow or break a rule or law for the sake of it, they weigh carefully the chance of getting caught versus the risk and reward. Often they lack the commitment to make sacrifices to fit in with society.
Chaotic: Those that are Chaotic rate from -4 to –10 on the civility scale. A purely chaotic creature would never make an effort to a rule, and are completely indifferent toward others that do so. They have no concern for the rule of law of the societies of which they are part, and make personal sacrifices to do so. Even though a creature may follow some laws, they can still be chaotic, as there is no law against following a law.