Recent Chat Activity (Main Lobby)
Join Chat

Loading Chat Log...

Prefer not to see ads? Become a Community Supporter.
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 35

Thread: Alignment: Threat or Menace (The Alternatives Thread)

Hybrid View

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Richardson
    Age
    48
    Posts
    1,289
    Blog Entries
    31
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0

    Alignment: Threat or Menace (The Alternatives Thread)

    Watching another thread grow and grow, I'd like to start with the premise that alignment is an archaic, simplistic, and ill-conceived mechanism for adding a moral dimension to players' actions. So, what might replace it?

    • Nothing. In Robert E. Howard's Conan series, "good" and "evil" seldom matter. Conan chooses based on (temporary) loyalties and personal gain, as does everyone in his world.
    • Allegiances from d20 Modern. It's a lighter-weight and far more flexible system that grants a small reaction bonus with NPCs having the same Allegiance, given time to chat. One could also impose a penalty with NPCs who discover an opposing Allegiance.
    • Allegiances from Basic Roleplaying. BRP adds a percentile score which the GM raises when the character advances that Allegiance's goals. Players can acquire unwanted Allegiances; Chaosium originally designed it for Stormbringer/Elric!. The rulebook recommends not lowering an Allegiance, although Dragon Lines does in extreme circumstances (e.g. murder lowers one's Allegiance to Buddhism and similar religions/philosophies).
    • Taint and Dark Side points. Pessimistic GMs may implement a single "Allegiance" for evil, or at least for violations of a religion's code of ethics. (In all fairness, GMs must define these actions up front.) Creatures with demonic ancestry may carry Taint at birth, although that smacks of biological determinism.


    Others?
    Last edited by fmitchell; 04-26-2011 at 11:01 PM.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fort Collins
    Posts
    4,174
    Blog Entries
    25
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Beliefs, Instincts, Traits from the Burning games.

    Aspects from Fate.

    Keys from The Shadow of Yesterday.

    Probably other mechanics that I'm forgetting at the moment.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    West Jordan
    Posts
    5,225
    Blog Entries
    43
    Downloads
    2
    Uploads
    0
    let the player decide and have npcs react according to their own ethos and morals accordingly.

    in my setup, i use "Contracts" which i suppose would have resemblances to allegiances.

    i chuckle at dark side points... kill 20 innocent bunnies and you are more evil than the emperor.... technically speaking.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Prattville
    Age
    52
    Posts
    833
    Blog Entries
    4
    Downloads
    3
    Uploads
    0
    And we go from disagreeing to agreeing in one silly post.

    fmitchell, I would posit that "taint" for a demonic-bloodline character would be a POSSIBILITY - like saying that you have to have (arbitrarily) TEN dark-side points makes a person "evil, and the bloodline character starts at SEVEN. That way it could be explained away as they have a stronger TENDENCY to end up evil (like a predisposition to be an alcoholic).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    West Jordan
    Posts
    5,225
    Blog Entries
    43
    Downloads
    2
    Uploads
    0
    ^^

    well, i was trying to stick to specific mechanics here rather than bring my own beliefs into this particular thread.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Richardson
    Age
    48
    Posts
    1,289
    Blog Entries
    31
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    What about the Law/Chaos axis? Toss it out? Create other Allegiances? Redefine it as an ideological split (a la the LotFP RPG)?

    EDIT: I misremembered the rules. As stated below, LotFP makes Law and Chaos even more cosmic, as two sides independent of beliefs and morality.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 05-23-2011 at 09:45 PM.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Redmond
    Posts
    32
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    I like these ideas. Personally I am still looking for a good alignment-esque system of some sort.

    An idea for those who like the daemonic characters having a tendency but don't like the "born with sin" idea, maybe they just get more "dark side" points for the same evil acts instead. Where everyone else gets 5 for kicking that orphan, the Daemonic-ancestry character gets 7 (or whatever). They don't start predisposed towards good or evil, but if they go evil, they just slide faster.
    'Cuz I've been gamin' and rollin' so long, that even the late Gary thinks my mind is gone...

    http://www.obsidianportal.com/profile/anarkitty
    http://forum.emperorschildren.net/viewtopic.php?t=2862

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Richardson
    Age
    48
    Posts
    1,289
    Blog Entries
    31
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Another idea for daemonic characters may simply be the accumulation of "dark side" points, when (most) other beings don't. Every time a daemon-blooded creature commits certain actions -- killing, using arcane magic, entering tainted areas -- he or she accumulates more taint.

    I'd also allow for any tainted characters to purge taint: religious ritual, a quest, a monastic lifestyle, whatever. (According to some sources, Merlin was half-demon, but baptized at birth and thus outside the Devil's reach.)
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fort Collins
    Posts
    4,174
    Blog Entries
    25
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    I think, before trying to make types of characters more/less susceptible to 'taint', ask what it is the mechanic actually does. What effect does having, say, three "dark side" points have on a character, over having none or thirteen. Then you can look at the individual cases, like demon-blooded or what have you and figure out if they warrant a fast-track to Evil-opolis, or whaveter the end point of the 'taint' track is.

    (Most of the quantifiable morality mechanics I've run across tend to treat it as another form of hit points - a resource that tells you how much longer the character is in the game. Star Wars, Vampire: the Masquerade, Aberrant, etc., treat those tracks as the playability of a given character, which I don't quite feel convey an ethos as much as present a gameable meter. And I am someone who *adores* games that make their actual game-ness that transparent. But for morality, I'm not much of a fan; it feels weird.)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Half Moon Bay
    Age
    39
    Posts
    17
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    I'm a big fan of the simple Law-[Neutrality]-Chaos system. Fmitchell mentioned the great Allegiances mechanic from Stormbringer. M.A.R. Barker's Empire of the Petal Throne featured a Law/Chaos religious system based on the conflict between the Lords of Stability and the Lords of Change. Glorantha, Warhammer's Old World, and who-knows-how-many others have also used the Law/Chaos axis as part of their settings and systems to good and varied effect, even though "Alignment" may not have necessarily been listed on the character sheet.

    A different sort of alignment would be the Cryptic Alliances from Gamma World -- not an ingrained ethos, but one a character would join or be recruited into that would reflect their worldview and beliefs.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Richardson
    Age
    48
    Posts
    1,289
    Blog Entries
    31
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    LotFP:WFRP handles Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic in an interesting way. To quote (a lot) from the Grindhouse Free Rules:

    Alignment is a character’s orientation on a cosmic scale. It has nothing to do with a character’s allegiances, personality, morality, or actions. Alignments will mostly be used to determine how a character is affected by certain magical elements in the game. The three alignments are Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic.

    Lawful

    The universe has an ultimate, irrefutable truth, and a flawless, unchanging plan towards which all events inevitably march. [...] Those who are Lawful in alignment are part of an inevitable destiny, but have no knowledge of what that destiny is and what their role will be in fulfilling it. [...]

    Chaotic

    The howling maelstrom beyond the veil of shadows and existence is the source of all magic. It bends and tears the fabric of the universe; it destroys all that seeks to be permanent. [...] Those who are Chaotic in alignment are touched by magic, and consider the world in terms of ebbing and flowing energy, of eternal tides washing away the sand castles that great kings and mighty gods build for themselves. Many mortals who are so aligned desperately wish they were not.

    Neutral

    To be Neutral is merely to exist between the forces of Law and Chaos. [...] Even most who would claim allegiance to Law or Chaos are not actually Lawful or Chaotic. In the real world, every human being that has ever existed has been Neutral.

    Clerics must be Lawful. Elves and Magic-Users must be Chaotic. All others are free to choose their alignment.
    Thus, Law and Chaos isn't a matter of political philosophy or morality, but one's personal connection to cosmic forces.
    Last edited by fmitchell; 05-23-2011 at 09:40 PM.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Phoenix
    Posts
    797
    Blog Entries
    1
    Downloads
    8
    Uploads
    0
    Specific Faith. A character's alignment is a reference to which god he follows. Then, that god's aspect portfolio (say, healing, sun, and love) determines what forces do and don't get along with that character, on a supernatural level.

    Really, if you're going to replace Alignment, you should have a reason to not just toss it out altogether. If the reason is to help a character define his morals...I guess morals will come from religion, philosophy, or brute force. "Why'd you just steal that starving person's bread?" "Welcome to Chaosville, where we get beaten if we don't actively oppose peace!"

    D&D's reason to not toss it out: game mechanics. A spell that affects only Good-aligned targets won't work too well without characters who are Good-aligned.
    Powered by: Modos RPG, version 1.21
    http://modos-rpg.obsidianportal.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Richardson
    Age
    48
    Posts
    1,289
    Blog Entries
    31
    Downloads
    0
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
    Specific Faith. A character's alignment is a reference to which god he follows. Then, that god's aspect portfolio (say, healing, sun, and love) determines what forces do and don't get along with that character, on a supernatural level.
    RuneQuest does something like this: all gods have ties to "runes", abstract principles of the world, and all devotees of a god beyond lay members have a pact with a specific god. On the other hand -- and I've cited this a lot -- real polytheistic religions don't demand devotion to only one god, but to a religion or worldview as a whole. In the ancient world, Greeks considered gods of Egypt as versions of their own, and Rome in turn identified their gods with the Greeks', when they didn't adopt them outright. Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Mesopotamian deities merged, split, and changed "portfolios" over time.

    Really, if you're going to replace Alignment, you should have a reason to not just toss it out altogether. [...] D&D's reason to not toss it out: game mechanics. A spell that affects only Good-aligned targets won't work too well without characters who are Good-aligned.
    Which raises the question of whether it's better to alter such spells or remove them altogether. Raggi's redefinition of Law and Chaos or "Detect Shadow" and the like from Midnight alters spells without much fuss. However, I can't see a problem with removing them entirely ... but then I don't like paladins.

    As for the other uses and abuses of alignment:
    • Ethics and morality: A detailed list of commandments a cleric or paladin must live by, a la the indie game Paladin (PDF) provides a better ethical system. (ninjieko: is this like your "contract" system?) Pendragon's Passions, combined with its religious rules, provide another basis for assessing "good behavior" unambiguously, as do Allegiances in BRP.
    • Ties to higher powers: Taint, Dark Side Points, Allegiances in BRP, Allegiances in d20, myriad GURPS advantages, etc. handle evil (or good) and infernal (or celestial) favor in distinct but analogous ways. Ars Magica defines rules for NPC Divine, Infernal, and Faerie powers, under the assumption that PCs have ties to pagan magic. (Let's pretend Reason never saw print.)
    • White Hats and Black Hats: If someone wants to play that way, you don't need alignment. WE are good, THEY are evil unless they help US. WE are tall, fair (or healthily tanned), and clean; THEY are short, dark (or fish-belly white), and dirty. It's the oldest moral system in the world.


    See also a bit of fluff on gods in RPGs. (Linked to my external site this time, huzzah!)
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    West Jordan
    Posts
    5,225
    Blog Entries
    43
    Downloads
    2
    Uploads
    0
    on that note, my shift to a contracts based system caused a number of changes in all detect, magic circles, and other alignment specific effects. for example, circles are now magic circles of protection, and instead of protecting against an alignment, in addition to the basic protections they will also temporarily ward against a limited number of related portfolios per casting.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    West Jordan
    Posts
    5,225
    Blog Entries
    43
    Downloads
    2
    Uploads
    0
    a quick read-over of that pdf yields some major flaws in philosophical background, but the minor, major, and unbreakable laws are similar to the Contract system that I use.

    to give a brief overview:

    a Contract is a statement of allegiance and/or alliance. it states the mutual obligations and benefits. it can be as simple as a long term mercantile arrangement, or a temporary search and find, or as complex as a life-long religious covenant complete with commandments, ethical and moral strictures, based upon beliefs and faith, and in game terms - an exchange of power.

    by their very nature, each one is unique, though certain orders or organizations might have a generic format it requires of all members. typically, a "Contract" is made with a Power, while a "contract" is with a more normal agency. however, as there is a portfolio held by a certain Power that governs contracts and Contracts, the line can and does blur, as the Power can be appealed to for disputes with even normal minor contracts in a pinch.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •