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ShiftedChampion
2012-01-15, 05:22 PM
Come, student, and I will teach you of "Alignment."

My lesson can be summed up thusly: Any alignment system ultimately causes conflict.

Let us begin with those who follow "Law" or "Order".
What is Law? A definite principle, student. But what can be said to be definite? Your existence? Not at all. You and I are but fleeting flashes in the movement of the planes. Even the planes will eventually die student.
So if nothing can be definite, what do the Lawful follow?
They follow principles which eventually have no meaning. They cause confilct by believing their principles eternal.

Do not think me some Chaos obssessed fool, student. Those who call themselves "Chaotic" are rarely truly so.
The base element of Chaos is Change. But even the most devout worshipper of chaos has limits on that change, no? A true being of chaos will save you one moment and kill your family the next. They follow that which is pointless to follow. They cause conflict by change.

And now on to the case of "Good", student.
Good is not definite nor is it ultimately changing and as such is separate from Law or Chaos. This we know for certain.
But oh the EVIL done in pursuit of the "Greatest Good." There is no man more evil than he that thinks himself Good. A good act can cause great suffering in the future. Save a madman and you doom a family to death. Not straight away, but afterwards.
Good, my student, causes conflict by acting without consequence.

And now on to Evil.
Such an odd label. Can you tell me any act that can ever be said to be truly "Evil?" Even mass slaughter isn't truly evil. A forest may burn to allow new life so to may life be cleansed in order to allow new life to form.
Murder is another action. I once heard a story, a story mark you, about a man who slaughtered a family. No reason beyond pure hatred for the act. He left one little boy alive as evidence of his handiwork. That man ended up dead by the hand of that boy, grown strong by hatred.
The boy later went on to do "Good" actions in later life. So I ask you, student, the original act: Was it evil or good?
Evil causes conflict for the same reason good does: Action without heed for consequence.

Hm? What of Neutrality you ask?
Even it causes strife. But it understands that all actions lead to Neutrality in the long term.
Neutrality, my student, is the only path which would minimise the conflict. I believe it so, to any extent. Even then, people would still fight over the correct path in Neutrality.

Ahhhh, you are weary. Go then, student. Rest. I will see you later.

Yitzi
2012-01-15, 06:11 PM
Yes, alignment is not followed perfectly, often vague, and can easily lead to conflict between two individuals or groups of the same alignment. (LG/LG wars are particularly nasty, as can be seen in the history of Europe.) But Alignment is still a good way to quickly sum up (in an approximate manner) the general tendencies of an individual.

The problem isn't with alignment; the problem is with the people who think an alignment is a complete description rather than an extremely broad categorization.

Siosilvar
2012-01-15, 06:17 PM
[Lawfuls] cause confilct by believing their principles eternal.
...
[Chaotics] cause conflict by change.
...
Good, my student, causes conflict by acting without consequence.
...
Evil causes conflict for the same reason good does: Action without heed for consequence.
...
Even [Neutrals] cause strife.

Sounds like you've got your campaign ready right there.

Yora
2012-01-15, 07:51 PM
Conflict is good!

Yes, alignment is not followed perfectly, often vague, and can easily lead to conflict between two individuals or groups of the same alignment. (LG/LG wars are particularly nasty, as can be seen in the history of Europe.) But Alignment is still a good way to quickly sum up (in an approximate manner) the general tendencies of an individual.
I just redicovered and dusted off allegiances (http://www.d20moderndb.com/game-rules/d20-modern-srd/character-creation/reputation). When it comes to a quick summary of the general goals and interests of an individual, they do even a much better job than alignment.
As written, the mechanical impact is minimal. When two people share allegiance to something, PCs get a +2 bonus to Charisma checks against the other person. However this can easily be expanded to grant a +4 bonus to identical allegiances and a +2 bonus to allegiances to closely allied groups, as well as a penalty to Charisma checks when the NPC has allegiances to a hostile group. On the one hand, it does not allow for magical effects that discern between people of opposite allegiances, but on the other hand, it does not allow for magical effects related to hidden motives at all, which can be a very good thing in many campaigns.

With allegiances, you have a very quick indicator how the character will react to other people. Take for example Aragorn as the probably most widely known single heroic character. He would have the allegiances "Rangers", "Rivendell" and "Gondor". This tells us that he he would treat anyone with a known allegiance to "Morder" or "Saruman" as an enemy. And even though he doesn't get along too well with Boromir, their shared allegiance "Gondor" makes them work together. Since the elves of Lothlorien are allied with Rivendell and know that he has allegiance to "Rivendell", they don't shot him and his group on sight.
It doesn't tell us how he will react to problems, but I think the information is even more useful than what we would get from alignment.

Also, PC alignment really is just an indicator for how the players have planned to play their character. Uptight or carefree, friendly or agressive.
Allegiances provide a lot more guidance to the players how to interact with other NPCs and help to view situations from their characters point of view.
Supposed my character is "Neutral Good" and I see human guards dragging an elven prisoner more roughly than is really neccessary. The alignment tells me that my character should probably give it a disapproving look, but not make a fuss about it and let the local authorities do their job with the criminal unless they take it too far. Rough yes, torture no. That is a logical reaction based on looking on the situation from the outside.
But many players enjoy it immensely when they can really get into their characters and can get their characters to act passionately in a situation. Now suppose instead of Neutral Good alignment my character has the allegiances "moon goddess", "magic academy", and "elven freedom fighters". The first ones are unimportant in this situation, but the last one tells me that my character would probably not be completely reasonable but instead see the situation as another case of elven suppression by humans. Even without knowing exactly what the elf has done, my character will be much more inclined to assume he didn't do anything that bad and that the guards are treating him so bad primarily because he is an elf. It's not reasonable to assume that, but given that my character has the allegiance "elven freedom fighters", he has already made up his mind about the whole situation between humans and elves.
How I make my character react is still open. I might want to shout offenses at the guard or even attack them, or just silently curse to myself and either accept that this elf is beyond saving or plan to break him out later in the night. Most importantly, it's a small plot hook for my characters own goals. Acting based on different believes and from a different point of view that I have as an observer watching the GMs plot unfold is what makes the game fun. For players, allegiances are such a great tool to get into their characters. It actually suprises me that they are so rarely used.

Yitzi
2012-01-16, 07:45 AM
I just redicovered and dusted off allegiances (http://www.d20moderndb.com/game-rules/d20-modern-srd/character-creation/reputation). When it comes to a quick summary of the general goals and interests of an individual, they do even a much better job than alignment.

Sort of. They are more specific, and therefore give more information, but on the other hand they're more specific and therefore often require more background information and don't allow for the same mechanical magical effects as alignment. They also fail to demonstrate deep similarities that alignment might. For instance, adherents of two Lawful religions will not be any more similar under the allegiance system than an adherent of a lawful religion and an adherent of a chaotic religion, but under alignment that similarity will be reflected, and the similarity can also be seen in reality.


but on the other hand, it does not allow for magical effects related to hidden motives at all, which can be a very good thing in many campaigns.

That can be done independently, too. And things like Detect Thoughts will work anyway.


With allegiances, you have a very quick indicator how the character will react to other people. Take for example Aragorn as the probably most widely known single heroic character. He would have the allegiances "Rangers", "Rivendell" and "Gondor".

Not in that order. If I read him right, he'd put "Gondor" (of which he is the king-in-exile) well before "Rivendell", possibly even before "Rangers".

Furthermore, the allegiances might tell you what he's loyal to, but not why. A hardened criminal in Gondor who happens to be patriotic would also have the "Gondor" allegiance, but not the same alignment. Even Boromir probably has similar allegiances to Aragorn (as you said), but probably a different alignment.

Allegiance is better at indicating interactions between people and people, alignment is better at indicating interactions between people and ideals. The former is more relevant to d20 modern, the latter is more relevant to heroic fantasy.


Also, PC alignment really is just an indicator for how the players have planned to play their character.

No, it's an indicator of how they have played their characters. Characterization determines alignment, not the other way around. (It can't be the other way around, since one alignment fits a huge number of characterizations.)


Supposed my character is "Neutral Good" and I see human guards dragging an elven prisoner more roughly than is really neccessary. The alignment tells me that my character should probably give it a disapproving look, but not make a fuss about it and let the local authorities do their job with the criminal unless they take it too far.

Probably. Of course, if you feel that's not what your actual character would do, then have him make a fuss by all means. Depending on the nature of the fuss (based on ideas of justice and fairness, or on a practical conclusion that that's what will promote general welfare, or on the belief that abuse of power needs to be stopped), this might cement his NG alignment, or move it more toward LG or CG (although one incident along probably won't be enough to change it.)


But many players enjoy it immensely when they can really get into their characters and can get their characters to act passionately in a situation. Now suppose instead of Neutral Good alignment my character has the allegiances "moon goddess", "magic academy", and "elven freedom fighters". The first ones are unimportant in this situation, but the last one tells me that my character would probably not be completely reasonable but instead see the situation as another case of elven suppression by humans.

Someone with the allegiance "elven freedom fighters" is probably going to tend toward CG anyway.

Of course, neither of those covers everything, which is why you should role-play first and determine both allegiances and alignment afterward, not the other way around.


Note that I'm not saying allegiance is a bad idea. Allegiance can definitely be part of your character's description, I just feel that in most fantasy games alignment is a more important one.

NeoSeraphi
2012-01-16, 01:15 PM
Also, PC alignment really is just an indicator for how the players have planned to play their character.

This isn't entirely true. Alignment is a metagame system used to prevent players from mixing characters that either don't make sense or just shouldn't be together. For example, you can't have a barbarian/paladin. If you go from barbarian to paladin, you lose the ability to rage, and if you go from paladin to barbarian, you lose all spells and abilities. A paladin cannot be a hexblade or an assassin, and a lawful neutral druid couldn't be a stormcaster.

Alignment isn't all about players' behavior. There are a lot of spells that are based on alignment, such as the detect, protection from, magic circle against and dispel line, as well as holy word, unholy blight, dictum and maw of chaos.

Additionally, divine characters cannot cast spells which oppose their alignment.

No, alignment is a very important aspect of 3.5, even if it is a bit convoluted and even contradictory, as the OP stated.

Noctis Vigil
2012-01-16, 01:36 PM
I personally prefer the alignment scales from one of the Malhavoc Press books, where you rank yourself on a scale of 0-9 for each alignment. So a Lawful9/Good1 Paladin will follow the law perfectly every time while only being slightly good, and a Lawful1/Good9 Paladin will be far more concerned with doing what's right as well as being lawful. This system works well because you can actually tell your players "I don't think that's following your alignment, go down to Good8" without being a true full alignment check that robs them of their powers. It does make playing TN characters harder, though.

Yora
2012-01-16, 02:02 PM
I don't think alignment is neccessarily something that belongs to fantasy settings, but not to modern ones. It is really a system for settings in which you want the characters to be clearly divided into the "Heroes of Light" and the "Forces of Evil". But I argue that this is the case just as often as it is not. And I think there are few cases where it is as clear cut as in D&D.
Especially in works from the recent decade it appears to have become very fashionable to make right and wrong a matter of perspective.

D&D comes from a time when good was good and evil was evil, with no doubts about who is an allie or an enemy. The way it is written, alignment is indeed an integral part of D&D, but a problem arises when people want to play stories that do not follow this bipolar morality. Then you have to get your toolbox open and get to work getting alignment out of the rules and fixing up the holes it has left, so you can play the kinds of story you want.
Which I think some people find quite frustrating. Having an alignment system that is more optional for the game seems to be preferable so those people who want to use it can have it, while those who don't can play without it without running into problems.

For example the half-fiend template of 3rd Edition gives a creature lots of spell-like abilities that can only work with alignment. Offering multiple choices for each level, of which one works with alignment and the other doesn't would take some work off DMs.

Noctis Vigil
2012-01-16, 02:07 PM
It also doubles the work of whoever is writing the system at the time. Alignment is by no means perfect, but it's simple. It works cohesively and coherently with the rest of the system, and any changes to it or removal of it must be considered carefully before a game starts, because it will have far reaching effects into the rest of the system. Besides, the main idea behind D&D has always been to either play the heroes or the villains; alignment is really just a way of saying which and what type of either you'll be playing.

Yitzi
2012-01-16, 02:35 PM
I personally prefer the alignment scales from one of the Malhavoc Press books, where you rank yourself on a scale of 0-9 for each alignment. So a Lawful9/Good1 Paladin will follow the law perfectly every time while only being slightly good, and a Lawful1/Good9 Paladin will be far more concerned with doing what's right as well as being lawful. This system works well because you can actually tell your players "I don't think that's following your alignment, go down to Good8" without being a true full alignment check that robs them of their powers. It does make playing TN characters harder, though.

It's certainly an option, and even if not officially playing with it that should definitely be the idea behind the screen when the DM says "you're not following your listed alignment, it looks like you're X instead" (i.e. one incident will almost never make the difference.)


I don't think alignment is neccessarily something that belongs to fantasy settings, but not to modern ones. It is really a system for settings in which you want the characters to be clearly divided into the "Heroes of Light" and the "Forces of Evil".

Exactly. And due to the conventions of the genre, fantasy settings usually do have such a clear division, and modern settings usually don't.


Especially in works from the recent decade it appears to have become very fashionable to make right and wrong a matter of perspective.

And whether that's valid or not in your setting is going to determine whether you want to use alignment.


but a problem arises when people want to play stories that do not follow this bipolar morality.

Sort of difficult in the standard D&D setting. If the DM wants to let them do so, then that calls for an alignmentless setting.


Then you have to get your toolbox open and get to work getting alignment out of the rules and fixing up the holes it has left, so you can play the kinds of story you want.

What's to fix up? Most of it just comes down to removing those elements that don't fit in the sort of setting under discussion anyway,


Which I think some people find quite frustrating. Having an alignment system that is more optional for the game seems to be preferable so those people who want to use it can have it, while those who don't can play without it without running into problems.

By rule 0, everything is optional when the DM says it is. But that's setting-specific, not person-specific.


For example the half-fiend template of 3rd Edition gives a creature lots of spell-like abilities that can only work with alignment.

In an alignmentless setting, where there is no clear good and evil, the very idea of a fiend is absurd. So there simply will be no half-fiends.

Lord Vukodlak
2012-01-16, 02:45 PM
Alignments are guidelines not strait jackets so long as people remember that line from the PHB. There shouldn't be a problem.

Yora
2012-01-16, 02:59 PM
It also doubles the work of whoever is writing the system at the time. Alignment is by no means perfect, but it's simple. It works cohesively and coherently with the rest of the system, and any changes to it or removal of it must be considered carefully before a game starts, because it will have far reaching effects into the rest of the system. Besides, the main idea behind D&D has always been to either play the heroes or the villains; alignment is really just a way of saying which and what type of either you'll be playing.
See, in the 12 years that I now have played RPGs with about 10 different groups and dozens of different people and almost entirely played D&D, I never once saw any player or DM who wanted to play a "Shining Heroes" campaign.
Some people do, maybe it's even many. But a very large number does not.
Even when we played Forgotten Realms, which we did most of the time, people wanted to play morally ambigous characters. And people scoffed at the notion of "Detect evil and smite anything that lightens up".
And it applies to other kinds of fiction as well. Pretty much all fantasy video games I know don't have such a thing as alignment. Lot's of movies I see don't have it. And those couple of fantasy novels I've read in the last years didn't have it either. The only case where something like alignment was implied in the recent years that I am aware of are the Lord of the Rings movies and video games, which are based on a much older novel.

It's not very common outside of D&D and among people who love to play D&D, many want to be able to play it without alignment. So why not make that easier to do?
Having magic weapons that deal extra damage against evil outsiders are just fine. You can have these weapons in your campaign or not. But making outsiders so that you need weapons with Good enchantments to harm them makes it difficult to remove such weapons from the game if you don't want them.
Paladins only make any sense when it is assumed that there is a power of good that is opposed to a power of evil, I give that. When alignment goes, they have to go with it.

Yitzi
2012-01-16, 07:52 PM
Having magic weapons that deal extra damage against evil outsiders are just fine. You can have these weapons in your campaign or not. But making outsiders so that you need weapons with Good enchantments to harm them makes it difficult to remove such weapons from the game if you don't want them.

Such outsiders also only make sense if they're protected by the power of evil in some way. In an alignmentless setting, those outsiders would either be absent, or lack said DR.

Noctis Vigil
2012-01-16, 09:24 PM
I have to agree with Yitzi on this one, Yora. When you take alignment out of D&D, the heavenly planes, the hells and the abyss, limbo and the planes of law, and all the denizens thereof follow by default, since they're all just physical manifestations of the alignments. Sure, you can shoehorn them back in, but it will always feel out of place, since you're putting something that doesn't exist into a setting. What you're describing isn't D&D; it's a tabletop RPG of a different genre, and isn't something D&D was intended for. Sure, you can make it work, but it will take a lot of houseruling.

And for the record, I always check that the games I'm in are Shining Heroes games before I play. I get enough !@#$ing grey in real life. When I game, it had dang well better be clear cut black and white morality, because it's nice to be able to think life is simple for a few hours.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-16, 10:10 PM
We could take a page out of the 4th Edition book, and either add in or substitute in "Unaligned" as something different from "nuetral".

Unaligned just means that the player doesn't group themselves strongly with any particular philosophy, and doesn't have a particular code to follow.

Personally, I think a lot of people don't have a good understanding of what certain alignments where supposed to mean, and many DMs aren't good at (subtely) pushing them in those direction.
For example, letting a player(s) get away with nearly anything under the heading of "chaotic nuetral". Just because you rolled a dice to determine whether you would buy the orphans cookies or stab their puppy doesn't make it NOT evil.

If you want to use the alginment system in your game, I would have the DM (who is your world's de facto god) spell out the basic tenaments of the morality system as it exists, and then apply it equally and REASONABLY. If you've been putting up with assorted dickery by the party rogue/mage/whoever for several sessions without sending hordes of celestials after them, don't come down like a ton of bricks on the party paladin the first time they drop a candy wrapper in the street.
If a paladin tortures some one, that's bad, and they should KNOW it's bad. Evil for a good cause isn't the LG way; GOOD characters find ways to NOT do evil. If I was DM, and a paladin (or other LG character) started to torture some one, at the first cut of the knife they woud "feel a searing pain in their chest, as if a tiny piece of their soul had been ripped out". That's basically a warning shot; whatever all-powerful beings are watching this are basically saying "you are about to cross a line here".

Now, if the paladin had stood around while some one else tortured a captive, maybe because you had just located the evil wizard who had unleashed a magic plague on the city, and you where in a race against time to prevent thousands of deaths there would be a different response. The next time the paladin went to sleep, they would probably recieve a vision from their patron diety, saying something like "Ok, I understand you where under a lot of stress back there, but this sh*t does not fly. I expect something sutiable in the way of attonement and don't let it happen again!"

Like I said, I think the biggest issue is not necessarily the system itself, but the problems that people run into when it is unevenly applied. LG gets closely scrutinized for little or no benefit, while CE runs around cutting people's heads off and no army shows up to stop them.

Yitzi
2012-01-16, 11:06 PM
and many DMs aren't good at (subtely) pushing them in those direction.

You're missing the whole point. Alignments are in the "Description" section of the PHB for a reason. A DM should never force a character to act in accordance with a given alignment just because they chose that alignment. (If they got that alignment through some sort of magical compulsion, that's different.) If the behavior doesn't match the alignment, the alignment changes to match the behavior, not the other way around.


a paladin (or other LG character)

The cases are not analogous; if a LG non-paladin becomes CG, there's usually no greater consequence.


LG gets closely scrutinized for little or no benefit, while CE runs around cutting people's heads off and no army shows up to stop them.

Well obviously you're not going to see any effects of not fitting your supposed alignment if you do fit said alignment. (That said, there is such a thing as going too far in what LG means *cough*BoED*cough*, and there should be no general penalty to behaving in a non-alignment-fitting manner other than a DM-declared change to your alignment.)

Lizard Lord
2012-01-17, 12:15 AM
So, how is this homebrew? Do you have a change to the alignment system or do you have a mechanic in mind to do away with the alignment system?

ShiftedChampion
2012-01-17, 02:44 AM
I just enjoyed writing a small essay on the contradictions of the alignment system.

It's more asking DM's and players not to see their alignment as somehow better than the others. I've played games where the Chaotic Evil player lauded his freedom to what he wanted over the Lawful Neutral crowd and actually ended up helping more people because of it.

The whole point of this was to try and understand that no alignment actually does what it says. Chaos evolves into Order, Order devolves into Chaos and Good and Evil rarely seem as such given time to ponder. Even Neutrality isn't above these problems but seems to be the safest middle ground.

The mechanic I'm suggesting is a no-alignment based one, I suppose.
It could also be motivation for a True Neutral Villain. Haven't seen many of those.

Use it as you wish.

Lizard Lord
2012-01-17, 03:53 AM
I just enjoyed writing a small essay on the contradictions of the alignment system.

It's more asking DM's and players not to see their alignment as somehow better than the others. I've played games where the Chaotic Evil player lauded his freedom to what he wanted over the Lawful Neutral crowd and actually ended up helping more people because of it.


I've got that and I think you have good points, but this is the homebrew forum. I'm more looking for a reason why this is here and not the Roleplaying Forums.

Yora
2012-01-17, 07:43 AM
Such outsiders also only make sense if they're protected by the power of evil in some way. In an alignmentless setting, those outsiders would either be absent, or lack said DR.

But I have played lots of games in which there was no alignment and there are still demons. I've seen lots of movies and novels with the same thing. Does not make sense to you, but it exists and good game design shouldn't only have the solution "then don't play it".

Yitzi
2012-01-17, 08:03 AM
But I have played lots of games in which there was no alignment and there are still demons. I've seen lots of movies and novels with the same thing. Does not make sense to you, but it exists and good game design shouldn't only have the solution "then don't play it".

Such cases would of course require more homebrew. But they also necessarily imply different things about demons (what is the "essence" of being a demon, if alignment does not exist), so new homebrew is desired anyway.

"Standard" D&D is designed for a particular type of campaign setting; the more you diverge from that, the more homebrew is required to model the changes.

Yora
2012-01-17, 08:11 AM
That's what I am saying. With such a significant number of people liking most of the D&D rules, but not wanting to play in that particular type of campaign setting, the rules could be made to do that with less amounts of homebrew.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-17, 10:02 AM
See, in the 12 years that I now have played RPGs with about 10 different groups and dozens of different people and almost entirely played D&D, I never once saw any player or DM who wanted to play a "Shining Heroes" campaign.
Some people do, maybe it's even many. But a very large number does not.

I've never played a campaign where every single character was the fantasy equivalent of crystal-dragon-jesus, but I've played quite a few where at least one player was leaning heavily towards good. We all seemed to get along just fine, most of the time, because both players and DMs where reasonable about alignments and roleplaying.

The problem with some of the alignments as written is that they make players responsible for the actions of others, and DMs seem to (sometimes) enforce this to a ludicrous degree. "Oh hey, you didn't stop the party rogue from looting the abandoned mansion, you lose all your magical power and abilities. Welcome to NPC status." So then characters playing those classes get a little paranoid, which in turns leads them to try and coerce everyone into following the paladins own code. I don't think that was ever the intent of the writers, and if it was then it's definitely a bad situation that needs to be modified.


You're missing the whole point. Alignments are in the "Description" section of the PHB for a reason. A DM should never force a character to act in accordance with a given alignment just because they chose that alignment. (If they got that alignment through some sort of magical compulsion, that's different.) If the behavior doesn't match the alignment, the alignment changes to match the behavior, not the other way around.

No, a DM should never force a player to act in a particular way. What I meant was that usually it seems alignment penalties get applied sporadically and unevenly. There are rarely significant consequences for many of the actions that players take, except when it comes to something spelled out as stringently as Lawful good, the paladins code, and maybe clerics or other divine casters.

Ifa rogue breaks into a building, loots everything inside, and gets caught by a member of the city watch on the way out, he just bluffs/diplomances his way out of it.
"I certainly did not break into that building, officer, that glass was like that when I got here."
"This sack of valuable is just the inheritance of my old aunt Gladyss, bless her soul."
"No officer, those aren't my daggers sticking out of your kidneys, I have no idea where they came from."
The rogue could show up the next day with the wearing the NPC's scalp on his belt as a trophy, and so long as he rolls well enough no one can touch him. Then we have the paladin and it's more like "Despite your unswerving dedication to the forces of good, the countless lives you've saved, and the hordes of demons you've sent back to the abyss, you slipped up so now you are no longer worthy to be the champion of righteousness thankyouandgoodbye." *squish* End of story, no saving throw allowed.

When was the last time you ever saw anyone OTHER than a paldin even get questioned about their alignment status?



The cases are not analogous; if a LG non-paladin becomes CG, there's usually no greater consequence.
Just because you don't worship or derive power from a particular god or pantheon doesn't mean they don't take in active interest in you anyway. A goodly diety might consider it a favor to a Lawful Good character, even if they're not a paladin or cleric, that this is gonna show up as a black mark on your permenant record/eternal soul. This is a FANTASY setting here, and I think just about every cosmic power would like to recruit as many people as it can into it's own side.



Well obviously you're not going to see any effects of not fitting your supposed alignment if you do fit said alignment. (That said, there is such a thing as going too far in what LG means *cough*BoED*cough*, and there should be no general penalty to behaving in a non-alignment-fitting manner other than a DM-declared change to your alignment.)
I don't have a problem with alignment based classes, so long as they are done well. That being said, I think that anyone who wants to play one should sit down with the DM before the game starts and hash out a generally idea of whats going to happen. It works best of course, with people who you have played with before and have some idea of how they game.


To get a little off topic, think about Miko Miyazaki from the OotS (I assume you read the comic). Most people agree that she was a complex, slightly troubling, but overall well written character, and don't have a problem with her story. She was in fact written to be the stereotypical "stick-up-the-arse" paladin that everyone hates, right? Over the course of the story, her actions include:

travelling with Belkar (aka the devil's little helper) without attempting to kill or arrest him (at least not at first) along with the other memembers of the OotS
allowing them to roam free they got declared innocent by a (phony) trial
"fleeing" from Xykon and Redcloak and their army to warn Azure city instead of staying to fight (and probably die)


None of these things caused Miko to lose her paladin powers despite them all tentatively violating the paladins code. It was only after she took justice/vengeance into her own hands, ignoring Hinjo's pleading to be reasonable and stick with the rule of law and killed an unarmed elderly man, the lawful (i.e. legal) ruler of Azure City, that the gods finally stepped in and said "That's going to far". IMO, it was a perfect example of how alignments SHOULD be played.
As a guide, not as a fence with an invisible, often moving line where they shoot you in the knees if you step one toe outside it.

Yora
2012-01-17, 12:33 PM
Losing the Lawful Good alignment rarely is a problem for paladins since you'll usually fall long before you get that far.

Yitzi
2012-01-17, 02:43 PM
If a rogue breaks into a building, loots everything inside, and gets caught by a member of the city watch on the way out, he just bluffs/diplomances his way out of it.

Yeah, diplomacy needs fixing. (Bluff less so, as if you're not careful you'll rack up some pretty severe sense motive bonuses. I'd estimate your examples as +15, +10, and +60 (less if he actually didn't see the attack) or more respectively.)


Then we have the paladin and it's more like "Despite your unswerving dedication to the forces of good, the countless lives you've saved, and the hordes of demons you've sent back to the abyss, you slipped up so now you are no longer worthy to be the champion of righteousness thankyouandgoodbye."

Yeah, a minor slip-up shouldn't be the end of it. Major things should require atonement, though.


Just because you don't worship or derive power from a particular god or pantheon doesn't mean they don't take in active interest in you anyway. A goodly diety might consider it a favor to a Lawful Good character, even if they're not a paladin or cleric, that this is gonna show up as a black mark on your permenant record/eternal soul.

Oh, that particular diety is going to be unhappy. But unless it's a setting with an active overgod or the like, they can't really do much without provoking a reaction from the opposite-side gods (and probably neutrality as well.)


This is a FANTASY setting here, and I think just about every cosmic power would like to recruit as many people as it can into it's own side.

But not as much as it wants to keep the others from going overboard with the same. The result is a sort of cold war where they mostly keep out of mortal business. (Otherwise, why do you need clerics, rather than just the deities doing whatever on their own?)


To get a little off topic, think about Miko Miyazaki from the OotS (I assume you read the comic).

Naturally.


As a guide, not as a fence with an invisible, often moving line where they shoot you in the knees if you step one toe outside it.

I'd say that at least LG (and especially for a paladin) needs to be more than a guide. But some leeway is definitely needed. My rule for paladins, based on what the PHB actually says, would be that minor violations of the code will not cause you to lose your abilities, but major violations (e.g. the one that actually lost Miko her powers) would, as would a pattern of behavior that is not lawful good.

Soliloquy
2012-01-17, 04:40 PM
Disclaimer:
I shall proceed to rage systematically against everything you have said. If you do not want to read someone yelling about how much he hates everything you say, skip this.

My lesson can be summed up thusly: Any alignment system ultimately causes conflict.
Well, that's the point of alignment, to cause conflict between them. (Good vs. Evil, for instance, is a particularly common goal)

Let us begin with those who follow "Law" or "Order".
What is Law? A definite principle, student. But what can be said to be definite? Your existence? Not at all. You and I are but fleeting flashes in the movement of the planes. Even the planes will eventually die student.
So if nothing can be definite, what do the Lawful follow?
They follow principles which eventually have no meaning. They cause confilct by believing their principles eternal.
Here you do somethings that angers me greatly.
First, You redefine law, and than pick apart the definition, despite it only being your interpretation. The definition you are using is not from any dictionary, you just made it up, for the sole purpose of taking it apart. Second, you seem to have confused the definitions of definite and infinite definite means decided, clear, unambiguous, not vague. It does not mean that it is eternal. Whereas infinite means almost the opposite, immeasurable, boundless. Third, In your definition you use principles, and then claim that you defined it as something that does not exist. Therefore, you have proved not that there is a problem with law, but rather that there is a problem with your (definit)ion. You also did not prove that nothing is eternal, only that noting physical is eternal (I am assuming that by definite you meant eternal, and infallibly correct). Proving the impermanence of physical things could just as well be a segue into talking about permanence of principles. Fourth, you then arbitrarily write off said principles of meaningless. You than conclude with the same infallible logic you have used thus far by concluding that they cause strife by believing their principles eternal. Once more, you invoke eternity when it has no real relevance to the current topic. It seems to me that while strife may be caused, time has little to do with it. D&D does not take place in an era with to much new things being introduced. If your campaign does, you should take the time to explain just how you feel this change should affect their principles and why, in your imaginary world, it doesn't.


Do not think me some Chaos obssessed fool, student. Those who call themselves "Chaotic" are rarely truly so.
The base element of Chaos is Change. But even the most devout worshipper of chaos has limits on that change, no? A true being of chaos will save you one moment and kill your family the next. They follow that which is pointless to follow. They cause conflict by change.
First, you say that Chaotic characters are not chaotic. The rest of the section goes under the assumption that they are, which you claim is not true. For lawful you define them wrong, but here, you define them and say outright that they don't actually fit into your definition. If you admit that your definition for chaotic people does not fit the reality, no arguments based off of this definition fit the reality either. This next part is not as bad, as Chaos and change are quite related, however, you do make mistakes, such as the classification of all chaos into change. Chaos is random, and you can't have randomness without change. But the change does not occur in a fashion so simple as good to evil. You are thinking of chaos in the form of chaos on the alignment table (between alignments). That would be chaotic, but chaos as an alignment itself means rather that you don't follow a set of principles, nor do you obey the rules of society. Once more you don't explain how what they do causes conflict. You have now claimed that the following cause conflict: staying the same, changing. You have not explained either


And now on to the case of "Good", student.
Good is not definite nor is it ultimately changing and as such is separate from Law or Chaos. This we know for certain.
But oh the EVIL done in pursuit of the "Greatest Good." There is no man more evil than he that thinks himself Good. A good act can cause great suffering in the future. Save a madman and you doom a family to death. Not straight away, but afterwards.
Good, my student, causes conflict by acting without consequence.
Here you don't define good, saving me the trouble of explaining how you did it wrong, but you claim that it is wrong to do an evil act that results in good, and that it is wrong to do a good act that results in evil. Of course a good act resulting in good is preferred, but in the madman scenario, you say that good cannot be done. If a person of absolute goodness, who knew all futures, was in that scenario, what would he do? You show not that good is not a "good" thing, but that goodness is not definite (as you already said yourself) and what is good is not obvious. note: this last part of good is done under the assumption that by "without consequence", you meant "without regard for the consequence". Here you assume that good people act without thinking of the results to their actions. This is only true for some, as not all people who are good have the same personality. A good person is not someone who does good things, it is someone who tries to do good things.


And now on to Evil.
Such an odd label. Can you tell me any act that can ever be said to be truly "Evil?" Even mass slaughter isn't truly evil. A forest may burn to allow new life so to may life be cleansed in order to allow new life to form.
Murder is another action. I once heard a story, a story mark you, about a man who slaughtered a family. No reason beyond pure hatred for the act. He left one little boy alive as evidence of his handiwork. That man ended up dead by the hand of that boy, grown strong by hatred.
The boy later went on to do "Good" actions in later life. So I ask you, student, the original act: Was it evil or good?
Evil causes conflict for the same reason good does: Action without heed for consequence.
Okay, here you almost had a good point. But the bit about mass slaughter not being evil? Last I checked, roughly 100% of sane, rational, not currently performing mass slaughter individuals either said it was evil, or said it wasn't sarcastically. Once more you confuse reality and intent. If the killer had done it for the purpose of creating a hero, one could say he did a good thing. Whether an action is good or evil is one thing, whether the purpose is good or evil is another, and whether the person who did it is good or evil is another altogether (usually ties in with purpose pretty well).


Hm? What of Neutrality you ask?
Even it causes strife. But it understands that all actions lead to Neutrality in the long term.
Neutrality, my student, is the only path which would minimise the conflict. I believe it so, to any extent. Even then, people would still fight over the correct path in Neutrality.
You don't say much about it, so there is nothing for me to attack, except that you provide no evidence or reasoning.

One parting comment:
You prove not that the system of categorizing causes conflict, only that the people of those alignments do.

I apologize for my rudeness (but not really)

Yora
2012-01-17, 05:14 PM
Conflict is good!

When you make a party with characters of different alignment, then conflict between PCs is what it's made for. If you don't want conflict, don't make characters with colliding alignment.

ShiftedChampion
2012-01-17, 06:14 PM
Soliloquy:
Huh.
Well fair enough then.
I'm not exactly trying to write a philosophical essay (although I do have several due in next week.) I'm more pointing things out than anything else.
I take criticism with a smile. After all, better to have you engage with what I say and try (and I'd say mostly succeed) to disprove me than just go "Yeah. Okay."
I enjoy argument. I won't start a pointless or silly one but i will argue points to death if i think I'm right.
Thanks very much. I'll try and right a better one next time. :)

To everyone else:
(If this deserves to be moved, then please do so. I thought it made more sense here than in the talks about roleplay but I could be wrong."
Yay! Debate! Well thought out arguments and examples! Music to my ears! :D

Lord_Gareth
2012-01-17, 08:52 PM
I have to agree with Yitzi on this one, Yora. When you take alignment out of D&D, the heavenly planes, the hells and the abyss, limbo and the planes of law, and all the denizens thereof follow by default, since they're all just physical manifestations of the alignments. Sure, you can shoehorn them back in, but it will always feel out of place, since you're putting something that doesn't exist into a setting. What you're describing isn't D&D; it's a tabletop RPG of a different genre, and isn't something D&D was intended for. Sure, you can make it work, but it will take a lot of houseruling.

Really? 'Cause I haven't really had a lot of mechanical trouble converting things over to my Color Wheel (see signature) despite the fact that it more or less turns things into a "no-alignment" game in terms of mechanics. And, curiously, D&D doesn't really have a lot of 'Genre' all on its own. Instead it has what's more like a genre-band, ranging from 'survival horror' (Ravenloft) to Shining Heroes (Oerth/Faerun) to Dystopian Hell (Darksun) to Weird Head-Trippy Philosophy Thing (Planescape). The only limits are what your group's set of ideals and preferences are and what the mechanics will or will not facilitate.


And for the record, I always check that the games I'm in are Shining Heroes games before I play. I get enough !@#$ing grey in real life. When I game, it had dang well better be clear cut black and white morality, because it's nice to be able to think life is simple for a few hours.

Play a White primary, call it a day. Just don't be surprised if the Black and/or Red characters call you a judgmental moralist :p

Yitzi
2012-01-17, 09:27 PM
Play a White primary, call it a day. Just don't be surprised if the Black and/or Red characters call you a judgmental moralist :p

That seems more like something Red would say than Black. Black is more likely to just not care.

Noctis Vigil
2012-01-18, 10:01 AM
Play a White primary, call it a day. Just don't be surprised if the Black and/or Red characters call you a judgmental moralist :p

Actually, the basis of "good" as I usually play it is being forgiving. A perfectly good character would be able to forgive anything. Lawful characters are the judging ones. Judgment and forgiveness are hard to mesh right, hence why Paladins are played wrong so frequently.

Yora
2012-01-18, 05:19 PM
Nothing to say right now, but I think the forum broke and adding new posts usually fixes that and makes the lost posts appear.

Yitzi
2012-01-18, 05:49 PM
Actually, the basis of "good" as I usually play it is being forgiving. A perfectly good character would be able to forgive anything. Lawful characters are the judging ones. Judgment and forgiveness are hard to mesh right, hence why Paladins are played wrong so frequently.

I'd say that Neutral Good is very forgiving, Chaotic Good (which tends to be Red or Red/White, or maybe Green) and (especially) Lawful Good less so. The Evil alignments can also be quite forgiving, so long as they have more to gain from forgiveness than from refusing it.

Lizard Lord
2012-01-18, 05:54 PM
I thought it made more sense here than in the talks about roleplay but I could be wrong."


This is where you lost me. Why do you think it belongs here? If all you wanted was an essay and debate on alignment, than what made you think it belongs on the hombrew forums rather than the roleplaying forums? Homebrew is where you make your own rules or add or change things to the rules that are already present.

So, if you want to add or change the rules of D&D's alignment system how would you do it? Simply removing alignment altogether can cause problems as they are integrated into the mechanics of the game? How would you, specifically, change a paladins smite evil or alignment based damage reduction?

ChumpLump
2012-01-18, 06:36 PM
Yora, thanks for the link.
I've been running an Ad Hoc version of the same thing for years, and it has actually worked out pretty well.
All Detect [Alignment] spells have been changed out to "Detect Alignment," which never proved over powered (in comparison to Detect Magic).
Smite [Alignment] was offered the player a choice of any "alignment" (which was a loose term, Red King, The Yellow Plague Army, Pirates, Servants of the Arcane Eye, Worshipers of the Great Vast Azure Void, etc.) Also hasn't proved OP as of yet.
Other alignment trifles were solved on a case by case basis.

Anyhow, this Allegiance system will work nicely with that.
Thanks again!

Noctis Vigil
2012-01-18, 08:45 PM
As long as we're on the topic, how do other people usually play specific alignments, and what is your favorite alignment to play? I usually play NG or LG, although I've been told I play TN well since I'm TN IRL (I'm still honestly trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not).

Yitzi
2012-01-18, 10:21 PM
As long as we're on the topic, how do other people usually play specific alignments, and what is your favorite alignment to play? I usually play NG or LG, although I've been told I play TN well since I'm TN IRL (I'm still honestly trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not).

I don't try to play a specific alignment in a specific way; my usual method (not that I always follow it, admittedly) is to first decide how to play my character, and then determine the alignment.

My favorite alignments to play are probably LG (since I'm LG IRL; I'm not sure how to describe the details, but it's based strongly on "how things should be").

Deepbluediver
2012-01-19, 04:15 PM
As long as we're on the topic, how do other people usually play specific alignments, and what is your favorite alignment to play? I usually play NG or LG, although I've been told I play TN well since I'm TN IRL (I'm still honestly trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not).

That's interesting, because I see myself as having chaotic tendencies IRL, but I have the most fun playing Lawful characters.
I've played both a LG and a LE character, and both had a very strict code of honor (though obviously with different parameters) and where exceptionally disciplined. Neither one tried to force other characters to act the same, but for different reasons.

The LG character had been raised by monks (who where very big on personal enlightenment and perfection) and a half-elf, who taught him that "in nature, every has it's own place and grows according to it's own will". Basically, the monk believed that forcing his LG tendencies on other people would corrupt or harm them.

The LE character (who was an elf) just thought that any chaotic characters where beneath his notice, and doomed to inevitable failure anyway.