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ondonaflash
2009-01-13, 03:53 AM
So I read RA Salvatore (Frankly who doesn't?) and one of the things he gets me thinking about is sweeping racial stereotypes or "Race Alignment". My end conclusion: I hate them. Hate Them. Hate Them. Hate Them. But my PCs need enemies, and I can't just make everyone coexist peacefully! Conflict is the heart of drama! the conclusion? Well its more of a rhetorical question: Is everyone we've ever fought with evil for engaging in conflict?

So I have created a reason to keep the bad guys hostile, without making the whole race malevolent. The focus was on the goblinoids but the results are thus:

I modeled the orcs after perceived Barabarian Tribes throughout human history. The Mongol-esque tribe rampages through the northern areas, attempting to conquer their way across the continent. The Viking-esque tribe pillages from the northern shore, taking what they can by raiding the seas. Around the plainslands I have a tribe of orcs not dissimilar to Native Americans. They can be bartered and traded with, but there's always a risk they might attack your camp steal what they can grab and ride away. Same with the desert orcs, only their methods of attack and weapons differ. Then I've got a tribe of jungle orcs, not unlike the Aztecs, only they sacrifice people to their sun god to bring about a rain of destruction.

Trolls are savages, no smarter than neanderthals, rampaging through to get food, clothing, better tools, but inhabiting grimy caves and struggling to survive with their primitive technologies and thought processes.

Goblins are only a little better, much smarter, but without any means of self support, so they raid human settlements for necessary supplies, but in their own camps are generally peaceful.

Ogres are an intelligent race that fell on the wrong side of politics, a human company trying to start mining the mountains were approached by dwarves who offered to work for them, the dwarves were competing for space with the ogres and demanded the Izanus Company support them in the efforts to evict the ogres. With the humans aid the ogres were driven off, but they raid and attack Dwarf settlements to get their homes back.

Still enemies, but not evil. Any other ideas? I'm open to suggestions. (Not aberrations,they are aberrant because they are evil.)

Oh and the dark elves are still evil, but because they ritually practice necromancy as a state religion.

Lappy9000
2009-01-13, 11:52 AM
Well, your ideas are kinda cool, but I've always been okay with Racial alignments. As humans, we have no existing predisposition to a particular alignment based on race alone. In the world of D&D, where beings of pure Chaos, Evil, Good, and Law actually exist, it makes some sense for races to be "Sometimes" or "Always" drawn to a certain belief. It's a thing that makes a dwarf alien to a human. Humans run the gamut, but all dwarves have a bias towards a Lawful mindset.

Personally, I find it as an interesting role-playing application; one which is made that much more amusing when you play a character who challenges racial tendencies.

Karma Guard
2009-01-13, 02:01 PM
I agree with Lappy.

Nonhuman things just aren't going to think like people. Or live like them.

Sure, they CAN be other alignments (Lawful Good Githyanki Paladin, for example :V) but it's not the norm. They're weirdos to other members of their species, just as much as those humans with strange beliefs and fetishes are to us.

v(._.)v I can see halfsies species being much more humanlike in thinking, of course. And then there's nature v nurture. But that's the gist of it.

hamishspence
2009-01-13, 02:29 PM
I preferred The Orc King to Sea of Swords. A non-evil goblin being assumed to be pretty much unique (when 3.5 calls them Usually NE) is stretching it. By contrast when dealing with orcs, in Realms of War, and The Orc King, we get to see that they aren't just CE, they have an element of nuance, and a goal- to become a true civilization.

As for biases, I prefer the suggestion that a big chunk of it is cultural.

for comparison, Cambions, more than half-fiend, from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits: Evil subtype extraplanar outsiders- that is, Fiends, are Usually CE, and are 10% Non-evil. Thats a pretty big percentage, considering the handicaps of Evil subtype and Extraplanar Outsider type.

Tempest Fennac
2009-01-13, 03:16 PM
I hate those alignments as well because they are so unrealistic, so I just don;t bother in my games (eg: if I decide I want a town which is inhabited by peacefull Gnolls, I'll do that while using Gnolls as members of an evil pirate crew if I think they'll fit).

hamishspence
2009-01-13, 03:24 PM
I don't know about unrealistic (Often CE for a Invading Horde, Usually LE for a Disciplined, Vicious Conquering Society) seem pretty fair, but I do think that 3.5's uses of Usually or Often are an improvement on 2nd ed's lack of qualifying factors.

Barbarians of Icewind Dale, as written in The Crystal Shard, seem like a fair example of a society with Chaotic and very mild Evil biases.

Fiendish Codex 2 listed the sort of traits a LE-biased society would have quite well.

I'd say the terms are passable, but Nuances need to be played up- Evil guys who are kind to those they love, rather than those who cannot comprehend it.

Tempest Fennac
2009-01-13, 03:41 PM
My problem with that is that it makes races one dimentional (I tend to see most creatures as being neutral by nature on the good/evil axis with societies possinly leaning towards chaos or law). My logic is that almost all Gnolls are selfish lazy creatures who see everything else as food is illogical in most cases solely because I'd expect most Gnolls to be able to figure out that co-existing with other races is probably easier then constantly risking your life trying to get slaves/food from humanoids. On the other hand, they are likely to still find academics and hard work boring while prefering more fun activities (I can imagine good or neutral Gnolls being likely to worship Sharess or Kord due to their philosophies).

(By the way, I'm sorry about using Gnolls a lot, but they are one of my favourite races, so I know them better then other "usually evil" races.)

Lappy9000
2009-01-13, 03:51 PM
My problem with that is that it makes races one dimentional (I tend to see most creatures as being neutral by nature on the good/evil axis with societies possinly leaning towards chaos or law). My logic is that almost all Gnolls are selfish lazy creatures who see everything else as food is illogical in most cases solely because I'd expect most Gnolls to be able to figure out that co-existing with other races is probably easier then constantly risking your life trying to get slaves/food from humanoids. On the other hand, they are likely to still find academics and hard work boring while prefering more fun activities (I can imagine good or neutral Gnolls being likely to worship Sharess or Kord due to their philosophies).

(By the way, I'm sorry about using Gnolls a lot, but they are one of my favourite races, so I know them better then other "usually evil" races.)
That's cool, I love the gnolls also :smallwink:

Maybe it is a bit one-dimensional, but a Lawful Evil alignment covers waaay more than the tyrant archetype. For example, an "Always" Lawful Evil race could just have an extremely rigid social structure that ends up encouraging members of the race to claw their way up to the top, regardless of whom they step on along the way. To an outside "Good" race, the Lawful Evil dudes seem extremely ruthless, since the Lawful Evil race tends to enforce their social mores when dealing with other races.

But hey, if you want to make gnolls peaceful villagers, more power to ya' :smallcool:

hamishspence
2009-01-13, 04:10 PM
Races of the Wild suggests that while not exactly peaceful villagers, they can tend toward "honorable barbarian tribes" type.

Still heavy emphasis on them as hunters, but there is certainly room for honorable gnolls.

the FR novel Soldiers of Ice also shows a fairly likeable gnoll shaman.

Athaniar
2009-01-13, 04:12 PM
So I read RA Salvatore (Frankly who doesn't?)
Good author. In fact, I'm reading Vector Prime right now (well, not as I'm writing, but you know what I mean).



and one of the things he gets me thinking about is sweeping racial stereotypes or "Race Alignment". My end conclusion: I hate them. Hate Them. Hate Them. Hate Them.
I agree with you on this.



But my PCs need enemies, and I can't just make everyone coexist peacefully! Conflict is the heart of drama! the conclusion? Well its more of a rhetorical question: Is everyone we've ever fought with evil for engaging in conflict?

So I have created a reason to keep the bad guys hostile, without making the whole race malevolent. The focus was on the goblinoids but the results are thus:

I modeled the orcs after perceived Barabarian Tribes throughout human history. The Mongol-esque tribe rampages through the northern areas, attempting to conquer their way across the continent. The Viking-esque tribe pillages from the northern shore, taking what they can by raiding the seas. Around the plainslands I have a tribe of orcs not dissimilar to Native Americans. They can be bartered and traded with, but there's always a risk they might attack your camp steal what they can grab and ride away. Same with the desert orcs, only their methods of attack and weapons differ. Then I've got a tribe of jungle orcs, not unlike the Aztecs, only they sacrifice people to their sun god to bring about a rain of destruction.

Trolls are savages, no smarter than neanderthals, rampaging through to get food, clothing, better tools, but inhabiting grimy caves and struggling to survive with their primitive technologies and thought processes.

Goblins are only a little better, much smarter, but without any means of self support, so they raid human settlements for necessary supplies, but in their own camps are generally peaceful.

Ogres are an intelligent race that fell on the wrong side of politics, a human company trying to start mining the mountains were approached by dwarves who offered to work for them, the dwarves were competing for space with the ogres and demanded the Izanus Company support them in the efforts to evict the ogres. With the humans aid the ogres were driven off, but they raid and attack Dwarf settlements to get their homes back.

Still enemies, but not evil. Any other ideas? I'm open to suggestions. (Not aberrations,they are aberrant because they are evil.)

Oh and the dark elves are still evil, but because they ritually practice necromancy as a state religion.
Interesting. I like this solution.

black_Lizzard
2009-01-13, 04:12 PM
I'm less knowledgeable about DnD than many here, i would assume, but what exactly about Necromancy makes it, by default, evil? Does it involve the sacrifice of innocents in some way? I remember raise dead and resurrection spells at least used to be considered Necromancy.

Athaniar
2009-01-13, 04:15 PM
I'm less knowledgeable about DnD than many here, i would assume, but what exactly about Necromancy makes it, by default, evil? Does it involve the sacrifice of innocents in some way? I remember raise dead and resurrection spells at least used to be considered Necromancy.

Necromancy is the creation of undead, draining of life, and other such nasty things. Resurrection and Raise Dead are Conjuration [Healing].

Tequila Sunrise
2009-01-13, 04:17 PM
I've never had a problem with racial alignments; at least in a fantasy world. Maybe it's because I'm not a Salvatore fan. To my mind, orcs and gnolls thinking just like people makes less sense than them just being 'wired' differently than we are, and therefore having very different attitudes and practices. I mean, if they think like us, what's the difference other than bigger muscles and a bit of fur?

That said, if a DM wants to run a game where ogres and kobolds are just like people, I'm not going to tell you that you're doing anything wrong.

TS

Tequila Sunrise
2009-01-13, 04:19 PM
I'm less knowledgeable about DnD than many here, i would assume, but what exactly about Necromancy makes it, by default, evil? Does it involve the sacrifice of innocents in some way? I remember raise dead and resurrection spells at least used to be considered Necromancy.
Necromancy is not, by default, Evil. Undeath, which is a typical necromancy thing, is generally Evil. But it all basically depends on the DM's attitude toward alignment and these specific practices.

TS

Morty
2009-01-13, 05:46 PM
Hm. Well, it looks like a preety standard, but solid, way to remove the idiotic "Always Chaotic Evil" cliche from your games. Although you should make sure to try and avoid "flipping the coin" and making the previously evil races abused victims, because it makes equally little sense as them being universally evil bloodthirsty morons.

ondonaflash
2009-01-13, 06:45 PM
Hm. Well, it looks like a preety standard, but solid, way to remove the idiotic "Always Chaotic Evil" cliche from your games. Although you should make sure to try and avoid "flipping the coin" and making the previously evil races abused victims, because it makes equally little sense as them being universally evil bloodthirsty morons.

Oh yeah, but I wanted to make a feasible situation. The catch is that things like that actually happen in real life, and as far as most humans are concerned, ogres are bad guys. Plus given their past history the ogres themselves are not over-eager to make friends.

The Neoclassic
2009-01-13, 06:48 PM
I've never had a problem with racial alignments; at least in a fantasy world. Maybe it's because I'm not a Salvatore fan. To my mind, orcs and gnolls thinking just like people makes less sense than them just being 'wired' differently than we are, and therefore having very different attitudes and practices. I mean, if they think like us, what's the difference other than bigger muscles and a bit of fur?

I can quite understand that, even though it is somewhat different from how I run my games. I think you do make a good point that "Well, if they think just like people, their only differences are physical, essentially."

The way I look at it is that, indeed, different races are wired differently. None are wired so differently that they absolutely must or almost always tend towards a certain alignment, but biological differences (and also, more importantly, cultural differences) do tend to cause them to more likely end up as one alignment over all the others. Orcs, for example, come from a culture where "Might makes right" and are biologically just more prone to aggression and fury more so than humans. However, it is possible to be overcome, and neither their cultural habits nor their biological tendencies are absolute guarantees to any particular individual's life choices.

Tequila Sunrise
2009-01-13, 09:04 PM
The way I look at it is that, indeed, different races are wired differently. None are wired so differently that they absolutely must or almost always tend towards a certain alignment, but biological differences (and also, more importantly, cultural differences) do tend to cause them to more likely end up as one alignment over all the others. Orcs, for example, come from a culture where "Might makes right" and are biologically just more prone to aggression and fury more so than humans. However, it is possible to be overcome, and neither their cultural habits nor their biological tendencies are absolute guarantees to any particular individual's life choices.
That's pretty much how I imagine fantasy races too. Orcs, for example, are basically a race of angry people. Not psycho angry, just angry in the same way that some real people are born with much shorter fuses than the rest of us. And their culture often revolves around violence, so their natural tendency toward aggression is only made worse as they age.

TS

Tempest Fennac
2009-01-14, 07:49 AM
I agree that races should act differently to each other, but I tend to see culture and alignment as often being separate. For instance, due to hyena's having a matriarchal society, I kept that element in my game (so far, there's only 1 female Gnoll who's blatantly sexist towards males; in addition to how it would get annoying really quickly, it doesn't make much sense when you consider how everyone in a tribe needs to be able to co-exist relatively peacefully, unless the Gnoll society was incredibly oppressive towards male, which would just result in the group being Lawful Evil overall).

Devils_Advocate
2009-01-14, 11:04 PM
Point the first: I remember a discussion on this board in which one poster said that she thought it was silly to remove racial alignments from the game, because it's absurd to think that every race would have the same proportions of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil as humans.

Which is, of course, completely missing the point. That's not getting rid of alignment tendencies, that's giving every race the same alignment tendencies.

Some of you may look at that statement and scratch your heads. "Given a finite number of orcs in the world, some percentage of them will be Chaotic Evil, some percentage of them will be Chaotic Neutral, and so on", the intuitive argument goes. Well, true. And if a group of high-level PCs go on a quest to test the alignments of a representative group of orcs randomly selected from all the orcs in the world, that demographic information actually becomes relevant.

In the meantime, a given orc's alignment will be determined by the complex interaction of various factors including, but not limited to: inborn predisposition, upbringing, culture, neighbors, and local resource availability. These factors will interact with each other in a complex way that cannot even implicitly be modeled by rolling on a table. Alignment plus mental ability scores is insufficient to specify personality, anyway. On the other hand, a detailed description of a creature's personality is probably sufficient to specify alignment. So if you want your intelligent monsters to have actual personalities, you might as well determine their alignments in a bottom-up fashion.

Point the second: The vast majority of members of a given race may share unifying psychological characteristics, but this need not consistently express itself as a given alignment or range or alignments. For example, let's say that kobolds are fundamentally vengeful. They're generally driven to redress any perceived slight in a grossly disproportionate way. So they're usually Lawful, because they know that violating their culture's standards of behavior leads to a whole world o' hurt at the hands of other kobolds, and usually Evil, because they inflict unjustified levels of suffering on others with righteous glee. But that doesn't mean that you can't have a Chaotic Good kobold dedicated to protecting individual liberty by avenging cruel oppression. He still has the basic kobold mindset, just in an unusual way.

(And of course, if the typical gnome mildly annoys people for fun, and the typical kobold likes to stab obnoxious twerps like that in the face, that explains why kobolds and gnomes rarely get along.)

The unifying human characteristic, incidentally, is a deep-seated craving for an at least somewhat predictable life. There is very much a limit to how well a normal human can cope with constantly changing circumstances. On the other hand, humans will put up with a surprising amount of crap so long as they're only getting screwed in familiar ways that they can see coming. This trait gives them a racial tendency towards Law and away from Chaos -- they'll set up and agree to abide by a bunch of rules to ensure a level of predictability. Those who violate these rules usually simply don't care about how disruptive their behavior is to others, so Chaotic humans are rarely Good. This gives humans an unfortunate cultural tendency to conflate Chaos with Evil, and Good with Law.

Point the third: Sometimes listed alignments are just B.S. that's simply not in keeping with how the race in question is described as behaving. You cannot, for example, have a remotely normal army composed of Chaotic Evil creatures, because they simply will not reliably follow orders. If orcs are patriarchal and racist and hierarchical and organize themselves into vicious raiding parties because their god tells them to, they aren't CE. Lacking the strategic competence of hobgoblins doesn't make them a different alignment. If anything, that indicates greater stupidity, not greater rebelliousness, and is already covered by orcs having lower mental ability scores.

Necromancy as Evil is, by default, also B.S. There's nothing about reanimating corpses that is, a priori, detrimental to other sentient beings. Having it as an accepted cultural practice makes it, if anything, less Evil: You're not behaving in a way that's distressing to your neighbors, in opposition to their goals, that will bring you into conflict with them, etc. In order for it to actually be Evil, necromancy needs to actually hurt someone. 'Cuz that's what "Evil" means.

Limos
2009-01-14, 11:36 PM
I think I just spotted the thing that bugs me about Always/Usually whatever alignments. Someone mentioned "maybe they just have an extremely rigid society..."

That is the problem right there. Why do Gnolls only get to have One society? Humans are allowed to have multiple kingdoms, why is it all the fantasy races are always kept in seperate societies completely composed of one race with one overriding concept.

I would rather see a setting where each kingdom has different elements within it, and thus different alignments. Gnoll farming village has mostly NG alignment, Gnoll city has mostly LN alignment, and Gnoll Thieves guild has mostly CE Alignment. All part of the same country, but not just one homogenous mass of "Here thar be Gnolls".

ondonaflash
2009-01-14, 11:39 PM
Point the first: I remember a discussion on this board in which one poster said that she thought it was silly to remove racial alignments from the game, because it's absurd to think that every race would have the same proportions of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil as humans.

Which is, of course, completely missing the point. That's not getting rid of alignment tendencies, that's giving every race the same alignment tendencies.

Some of you may look at that statement and scratch your heads. "Given a finite number of orcs in the world, some percentage of them will be Chaotic Evil, some percentage of them will be Chaotic Neutral, and so on", the intuitive argument goes. Well, true. And if a group of high-level PCs go on a quest to test the alignments of a representative group of orcs randomly selected from all the orcs in the world, that demographic information actually becomes relevant.

In the meantime, a given orc's alignment will be determined by the complex interaction of various factors including, but not limited to: inborn predisposition, upbringing, culture, neighbors, and local resource availability. These factors will interact with each other in a complex way that cannot even implicitly be modeled by rolling on a table. Alignment plus mental ability scores is insufficient to specify personality, anyway. On the other hand, a detailed description of a creature's personality is probably sufficient to specify alignment. So if you want your intelligent monsters to have actual personalities, you might as well determine their alignments in a bottom-up fashion.

Point the second: The vast majority of members of a given race may share unifying psychological characteristics, but this need not consistently express itself as a given alignment or range or alignments. For example, let's say that kobolds are fundamentally vengeful. They're generally driven to redress any perceived slight in a grossly disproportionate way. So they're usually Lawful, because they know that violating their culture's standards of behavior leads to a whole world o' hurt at the hands of other kobolds, and usually Evil, because they inflict unjustified levels of suffering on others with righteous glee. But that doesn't mean that you can't have a Chaotic Good kobold dedicated to protecting individual liberty by avenging cruel oppression. He still has the basic kobold mindset, just in an unusual way.

(And of course, if the typical gnome mildly annoys people for fun, and the typical kobold likes to stab obnoxious twerps like that in the face, that explains why kobolds and gnomes rarely get along.)

The unifying human characteristic, incidentally, is a deep-seated craving for an at least somewhat predictable life. There is very much a limit to how well a normal human can cope with constantly changing circumstances. On the other hand, humans will put up with a surprising amount of crap so long as they're only getting screwed in familiar ways that they can see coming. This trait gives them a racial tendency towards Law and away from Chaos -- they'll set up and agree to abide by a bunch of rules to ensure a level of predictability. Those who violate these rules usually simply don't care about how disruptive their behavior is to others, so Chaotic humans are rarely Good. This gives humans an unfortunate cultural tendency to conflate Chaos with Evil, and Good with Law.

Point the third: Sometimes listed alignments are just B.S. that's simply not in keeping with how the race in question is described as behaving. You cannot, for example, have a remotely normal army composed of Chaotic Evil creatures, because they simply will not reliably follow orders. If orcs are patriarchal and racist and hierarchical and organize themselves into vicious raiding parties because their god tells them to, they aren't CE. Lacking the strategic competence of hobgoblins doesn't make them a different alignment. If anything, that indicates greater stupidity, not greater rebelliousness, and is already covered by orcs having lower mental ability scores.

Necromancy as Evil is, by default, also B.S. There's nothing about reanimating corpses that is, a priori, detrimental to other sentient beings. Having it as an accepted cultural practice makes it, if anything, less Evil: You're not behaving in a way that's distressing to your neighbors, in opposition to their goals, that will bring you into conflict with them, etc. In order for it to actually be Evil, necromancy needs to actually hurt someone. 'Cuz that's what "Evil" means.

I like you, we should be friends.

Your mention of gnomes actually brings up another interesting thought I had while I was working on my campaign. I asked myself "what is the most underplayed character" I then answered out loud (the room was empty) "Gnomes". I then asked myself "why" and answered "because their goofy little crackpots with a ridiculous proclivity towards self-annhilation. (Thanks alot Weis and Hickman)"
"how can I fix this" I asked myself. The solution I came up with was that the Gnomes were exactly like that. They went to war with some goblins, and in an effort to end it quickly and efficiently destroyed and entire continent, turning a lush climate into a wasteland. The entire race was consumed with guilt, they destroyed their weapon, foreswore themselves from entering the afterlife until they as a race had repented, and secluded themselves away, developing an extremely solemn, guilt stricken, but technologically advanced society. They rarely come out (Often enough, so that their existence is widely known and accepted, but rare enough so that it is remarkable when they do). They are role played as quiet, contemplative, observant, analytical, and compassionate. They travel in extremely well trained and disciplined groups learning what they can about the rest of the world's societies. They are actually pretty cool.

The Neoclassic
2009-01-15, 01:13 AM
I like you, we should be friends.

Second'd.


I think I just spotted the thing that bugs me about Always/Usually whatever alignments. Someone mentioned "maybe they just have an extremely rigid society..."

That is the problem right there. Why do Gnolls only get to have One society? Humans are allowed to have multiple kingdoms, why is it all the fantasy races are always kept in seperate societies completely composed of one race with one overriding concept.

I would rather see a setting where each kingdom has different elements within it, and thus different alignments. Gnoll farming village has mostly NG alignment, Gnoll city has mostly LN alignment, and Gnoll Thieves guild has mostly CE Alignment. All part of the same country, but not just one homogenous mass of "Here thar be Gnolls".

Bam. Now, I'll say, even through a gnoll society or even several gnome societies, one must still account for biological differences. However, as I am usually of the view (especially in fantasy worlds) that culture is more of a determining factor. Yes, different environments, subcultures, and organizations/lifestyles/professions would realistically and should impact consideration of what a creature would act like and be motivated by and hence their alignment! Very good point.

Also, as far as biology, like Devils_Advocate said: Racial psychological traits being manifested differently through different cultures. This is far more interesting and has more room for creative potential than just sticking a "Usually CE" sticker on a race. To be fair, though, if there was an in-depth discussion of all the race's culture and psychological traits and why they manifest as they do under every monster's entry, the Monster Manual would be thick enough to stun an ox.

Devils_Advocate
2009-01-15, 02:07 AM
Ah, gnomes. I prefer to give them the unifying trait of Craving Understanding. This seems to fit well with most of their portrayals in D&D. They have a natural affinity for Information, just like dwarves have for Minerals. Hence skill with illusion magic. Giving them a bonus on Divination spells might also be appropriate, if you're tweaking their stats.

Also: There is no International Gnomish Conspiracy to prevent warfare and raise living standards. Rumors of such a conspiracy are surely incorrect. I mean, seriously, gnomes? They're so silly. You'd have to be crazy to think that they could manage something like that, right? Fnord.

More generally, a race should probably only be Always of a given alignment if they're specifically dedicated to the principles of an alignment. E.g. yugoloths are inherently Evil because they actively promote suffering for the sake of causing suffering. So you could have a campaign world where all fey are Chaotic if all fey are tricksters actively devoted to undermining authority, whether through fun, humorous means or dangerous, frequently lethal means.

But unless alignment has a cosmic stranglehold on psychology, most creatures will have fundamental tendencies that don't consistently match up with a given alignment. For example, intelligent undead could all be inherently selfish. That probably means that they often wind up being Evil... but not always. A lich driven to increase his own magical knowledge and power could be extremely helpful and perfectly willing to be very nice to you. Just so long as there's something in it for him.

It makes the most sense to have outsiders as the ones dedicated to principles inherently of a particular alignment. There are plenty of fiends and celestials to cover intrinsically Good and intrinsically Evil motivations. Meanwhile, there are lots of not-inherently-aligned philosophies and motivations for creatures on the Material Plane to cover.

You can have the occasional Always [Alignment] material critter if you want, but you should at least say something about how and why they're always of that alignment. Especially if you also assign behavioral traits that seems a bit incongruous with that alignment. Pseudodragons are Always Neutral Good, but also demanding? Gold dragons are Always Lawful Good, but hoard treasure and spend most of their time napping? Hey, could be, if their alignment-determining traits are strong enough to overwhelm the other stuff in the final balance. But that description suggests that all creatures of this race share a very specific mentality. Just what is that mentality? Since it is specific, let's get specific, eh?

The good ol' Planescape setting is a good place to look for some groups with philosophies that mostly aren't tied to a particular alignment, by the way. Strong, often weird ideals that don't strongly tend to any particular alignment, Neutrality included. Which makes perfect sense, given the... unique location of the City of Doors in the Outer Planes.

cnsvnc
2009-01-15, 02:49 AM
Much as I hate racial alignments, I can understand where that comes from. Orcs (which seems like a universally accepted example) are wired different than humans (aggression, lower mental capacity, etc), so they're CE in a multiverse with objective alignment. If they're NOT wired different, then they're just guys in funny suits which is even more preposterous. The real problem here is the objective, scientifically provable alignment which says SLAVERY IS EVIL and PROTECTING THE WEAK IS GOOD.

If one gender of a specific race is inherently and objectively superior to the other in some aspect, there will be differences. A race that requires huge amounts of food to survive will not be simply a caricature of human gluttony. A nonmammal race will differ from humans in ways we can't imagine. When you try to apply an "objective alignment" (derived from real life and mostly western+monotheistic values of the modern world) upon these situations you get excessive amounts of ridiculousness.

In short, a race with a different pysiology will be different and those physical and psychological differences will be reflected into the societies they form. Claiming nonhuman races will be single, unified wholes is stupid (unless they're a hivemind or something, fantasy does allow for anything). Such fundamentally different creatures' won't be subject to some moral codes conceived by puny humans, while there's likely to be as much difference between their societies as there is between humans'.


OTOH, actually making such a setting will require insane amounts of work. Which explains why things are the way they are. Because of this, we got Monstrous Manual on one end and a world of humans in various funny suits in the other end...

Devils_Advocate
2009-01-15, 03:47 AM
The real problem here is the objective, scientifically provable alignment which says SLAVERY IS EVIL and PROTECTING THE WEAK IS GOOD.
That's mostly a problem of terminology. The best remedy is replacing the existing alignment terms.

My suggestions:

Good -> Benevolent
Evil -> Cruel
Lawful -> Compliant
Chaotic -> Defiant

I'd also run alignment in a way such that those are roughly appropriate terms for what they refer to, of course. DMs running alignment in other ways might use different replacements.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-01-15, 11:58 AM
One tactic I commonly use to blur racial alignment is to combine the old alignment tendencies system with the often/usually/always system. For instance, Orcs are the stereotypical "always chaotic evil" race, but in my campaign a generic group of orcs is probably "usually chaotic, often with evil tendencies," a group of orcs in a regimented warband might be "usually evil, often with lawful tendencies," a group of civilized orcs with a barbarian leader might be "usually neutral, usually with chaotic evil tendencies," and so on. Basically, while they're still CE in at least a minor respect, they can branch out quite a bit.

Now, this has nothing to do with individual orcs, who can obviously break from the norm, and it has nothing to do with the mechanics, but it's a handy shorthand for my players--if I describe one group of humans as "always lawful, often with good tendencies" and another as "usually good, often with lawful tendencies," then it (A) gives an immediate impression of what the differences between them might be (think Lawful Stupid paladins vs. law-abiding good guys) and (B) lets one LG society have major moral differences with another LG society in a logical way, since I know how to portray LG consistently for each.

hamishspence
2009-01-15, 02:23 PM
Given orcs are only "Often CE" these days, doing it that way certainly makes sense- making it Often CE on a global scale, but still allowing for regional differences as well as diferences within an area.

Cityscape has the "default population center alignment" table for humans (heavily biased in favour of Law, despite the "no major alignment tendencies" bit for humans.)

A similar table could be used for other races- there are villages of on average Lawful orcs, but much rarer than those of Chaotic alignment, and so on.

The village with "mostly CG orcs" makes for good exception to the general rule.