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Thread: Should the 4th Edition Alignment System Be Changed?

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    Should the 4th Edition Alignment System Be Changed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhishStyx View Post
    Don't forget the alignments.
    I dunno. I could probably do with chucking the alignment system. In my games, it has always been a constant source of strife because the players usually end up playing the character contrary to its alignment, and I don't like to step in and say, "No, your character wouldn't do that because he's XYZ alignment." I let a lot slide in this department.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    I dunno. I could probably do with chucking the alignment system. In my games, it has always been a constant source of strife because the players usually end up playing the character contrary to its alignment, and I don't like to step in and say, "No, your character wouldn't do that because he's XYZ alignment." I let a lot slide in this department.
    Alignments started in Original D&D, when Gygax and/or Arneson tried to transplant Moorcock's Law/Chaos conflict into the game, with an implied Law=Good, Chaos=Evil). Then AD&D added a Good/Evil axis on top, thus adding to the confusion.

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

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    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    I could probably do with chucking the alignment system. In my games, it has always been a constant source of strife because the players usually end up playing the character contrary to its alignment, and I don't like to step in and say, "No, your character wouldn't do that because he's XYZ alignment." I let a lot slide in this department.
    The player can say they're whatever alignment they want to, and that really doesn't matter. If there is a consequence to the character being or not being a certain alignment, it's up to the DM to set the consequences in motion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Zachary View Post
    The player can say they're whatever alignment they want to, and that really doesn't matter. If there is a consequence to the character being or not being a certain alignment, it's up to the DM to set the consequences in motion.
    I agree. The problem is when there are secondary consequences to alignment and the DM and player disagree. Such would be the case when simply shifting from NG to LN would cause a cleric to loose their abilities, even though they may otherwise follow the tenets of the church. The alignment system has always been a bit contrived to begin with and it is often open to interpretation, wherein lies the problem.
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    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Zachary View Post
    The player can say they're whatever alignment they want to, and that really doesn't matter. If there is a consequence to the character being or not being a certain alignment, it's up to the DM to set the consequences in motion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    I agree. The problem is when there are secondary consequences to alignment and the DM and player disagree. Such would be the case when simply shifting from NG to LN would cause a cleric to loose their abilities, even though they may otherwise follow the tenets of the church. The alignment system has always been a bit contrived to begin with and it is often open to interpretation, wherein lies the problem.
    Players will often disagree with the DM in situations such as a DC for a skill, if a character was surprised, how fast a character can move, etc. There may be subjectivity in almost any action. The final call always belongs to the DM, after he listens to the character's point of view.

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

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    I'd also like to see the alignment system dead and buried. I'm curious to see how that would work out with so many alignment based spells, abilities, and classes.

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    Semaria Guest
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    Any suggestions on what to replace it with?

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    Does there really need to be anything to replace it? We don't seem to need an alignment system in the real world. There is plenty of conflict to keep things moving in the game.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


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    Quote Originally Posted by rabkala View Post
    Does there really need to be anything to replace it? We don't seem to need an alignment system in the real world. There is plenty of conflict to keep things moving in the game.
    Clerics and paladins are supposed to lose their powers when they break the precepts of their religion. To me, though, that just means the DM has to outline the precepts of their religion, so both parties know when they're broken.

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

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

    P.S. Here's the full text of Paladin. The PDF is available for sale at Drive-Thru RPG
    Last edited by fmitchell; 08-25-2007 at 01:46 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)

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    Ghezryln Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabkala View Post
    Does there really need to be anything to replace it? We don't seem to need an alignment system in the real world. There is plenty of conflict to keep things moving in the game.
    I don't have a personal character class or numeric ability scores either in real life.

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

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghezryln View Post
    I don't have a personal character class or numeric ability scores either in real life.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Ghezryln View Post
    About alignment, we all act in a certain way. The overall trend would define our alignment. Most of us are inherently good, and we usually behave lawfully. But not all the time. Society expects us to behave lawfully. If I'm not lawful, there are legal consequences. If I'm evil but lawful, there are social consequences. Life does mirror the D&D system, we just don't attach labels to ourselves.
    I think the game operates fine without alignments. Alignment systems have to be overly simplistic to work for everyone.

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

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


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ghezryln View Post
    Most of us are inherently good, and we usually behave lawfully. But not all the time. Society expects us to behave lawfully. If I'm not lawful, there are legal consequences. If I'm evil but lawful, there are social consequences. Life does mirror the D&D system, we just don't attach labels to ourselves.
    Except different societies espouse different laws. Texas allows a homeowner to shoot intruders without repercussions, but other states and countries have a different standard for "self-defense". Massachusetts allows gay marriage, and Oregon allows assisted suicide (unless my knowledge is out of date), which few if any other states condone. Islamic law allows a man to divorce his wife easily (from what I gather), while in Western countries it's a little more involved; contrariwise, Islamic countries have harsh penalties for adultery or extramarital sex which have fallen into disuse in the West. The Chinese government strictly controls speech and religion, which is wholly against the laws of America. America and Japan are the only Westernized countries that permit capital punishment; some countries won't extradite criminals to America if they would face the death penalty.

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

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

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    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Except different societies espouse different laws.
    Which makes my point that the Paths of Enlightenment from White Wolf's Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: Dark Ages were the best alignment system.

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

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

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

    Simplicity and playability is the way to go.

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    I agree with Ghezryln, Besides its all a matter of opinion. If one person thinks some one is evil because of his actions, that person might see himself as a hero for his actions.

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

    Its all in the eyes of the game.

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

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    yeah, the "good assassin who hunts bad guys" and/or who works under the employment of a good king/organization, has been picked apart countless times over the years.

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

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

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

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

    Just my little kickstart to a debate...

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