PDA

View Full Version : Alignment System, Method vs Motive



Xuldarinar
2013-02-27, 11:40 AM
I've a single problem against the alignment system in D&D, its too simplified. So, here's my solution.


Motive Alignment: Why you do things
Method Alignment: How you do things

A paladin normally would be bound to his method alignment.
A cleric might be bound to motive alignment.
A paladin who serves a deity is bound to both (A paladin of pelor should have a motive alignment within one step of his deity, but his methods must remain Lawful Good)
A monk's restriction would be method but not necessarily motive.

Your typical character might appear as:

Motive Alignment: Neutral Good
Method Alignment: Chaotic Neutral
Such a character believes in doing what is right, but how they conduct themselves is based on what they feel like doing in the moment.

An Anti-hero might have
Motive Alignment: Neutral Good
Method Alignment: Lawful Evil

They believe in doing good but are willing to go to extremes when stoping evil, being Lawful in method means they will conduct themselves with restrictions but they are still evil in methods.

In unusual cases you might see something like
Motive Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Method Alignment: Lawful Good

Such a character might be incredibly selfish and would delight in nothing more than killing everyone but acts within the law and helps people out. Maybe they see it as a way to earn trust and get ahead. Its hard to say.


Its not perfect but I think it would cover certain areas that a single alignment doesn't.

zzuxon
2013-02-27, 11:54 AM
Good Idea.

Frathe
2013-02-27, 02:02 PM
I think you might've switched things in the first post. Shouldn't Motive be why and Method be how?

Jallorn
2013-02-27, 02:05 PM
I like it, though it requires some clarification how it interacts with Detect magic.

Xuldarinar
2013-02-27, 04:41 PM
I think you might've switched things in the first post. Shouldn't Motive be why and Method be how?
Yeah, Thanks for catching that.

Xuldarinar
2013-02-27, 04:42 PM
I like it, though it requires some clarification how it interacts with Detect magic.


I agree. It would be difficult to work out. I'd say it would effect both or be more of based on motive. But its complicated there.

hamishspence
2013-02-27, 04:43 PM
"Means" is a good alternative to "Method"

Goes well with the "means, method and opportunity" principle on suspects.

Kane0
2013-02-27, 11:28 PM
Looks like a good idea. It also makes changing alignments easier since your not making an average between the two anymore.

To solve your alignment based magic, maybe only have it affect one or the other at any given time. You cast detect evil (motive) or use smite evil (means), so if they don't match they get away scot free.

Frathe
2013-02-28, 12:26 AM
This reminds me... according to a WotC article I read, the Good/Evil part of alignment is "ends" (what you ultimately believe in), and the Chaotic/Lawful part is "means" (how you go about affecting the world to match your views). It had some apparent inconsistencies, though, so I'm not sure I'd take too much from it.

hamishspence
2013-03-01, 06:08 AM
That would be:

Save My Game: Lawful & Chaotic (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a)

Other books might shed more light on the subject.

Heroes of Horror defines an anti-hero as someone who uses Evil means toward Good ends. Depending how strong the one or the other is, such a character could be Evil, Neutral, or with a particularly permissive DM, Good.

Roy Greenhilt is characterized here:
http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0490.html

as someone prone to using Chaotic means to fulfil Lawful obligations- what stops him from being Neutral (Law/Chaos axis) is just how hard he tries to be Lawful.

"Neutral ends" might be personal success or happiness- with the means (self-sacrifice or abuse of others) being what makes the Self-Centred person Good or Evil (or Neutral if they tend to avoid both of those).

Evil ends might be "increasing the amount of suffering in the world" "increasing the amount of premature death in the world" and so forth.

General Patton
2013-03-01, 07:01 PM
I really like this system. You can actually come up with interesting characters with the alignment dartboard method.

Motive-Neutral Good
Method-Chaotic Evil
The serial killer that kills other serial killers because society can't/won't handle the problem in an effective way.

Motive-Chaotic ???
Method-Lawful Neutral
Lawyers and bureaucrats that exploit the letter of the law against the spirit of the law. Good would get the innocent off free on technicalities and get people like Jimmy Hoffa guilty on tax evasion. Neutral/Evil would bend the rules to their benefit and/or others detriment.

DMMike
2013-03-02, 02:43 PM
First impression: adding another level of alignment may make it more cut-and-dried, but it also makes alignment more complex. As a player, I don't stop to ask what my alignment says I can do, I just ask what my character would do.

Don't forget a very-early purpose of alignment: resolving spells based on "good" and "evil." If a spell only targets "evil" characters, then some characters have to be labelled "evil," and some, not "evil." The addition of Motive and Method means that every spell and special-ability based on Alignment has to be re-tinkered.

Frathe
2013-03-02, 03:14 PM
Don't forget a very-early purpose of alignment: resolving spells based on "good" and "evil." If a spell only targets "evil" characters, then some characters have to be labelled "evil," and some, not "evil." The addition of Motive and Method means that every spell and special-ability based on Alignment has to be re-tinkered.I'm pretty sure you could just use Motive for the purpose of that kind of effect.

137ben
2013-03-03, 03:12 AM
I'm pretty sure you could just use Motive for the purpose of that kind of effect.

Or just use Means. Or roll a d2 to decide. But really, just pick one and stick with it. I don't see anything wrong with making the alignment system a bit more complex. I like this idea.

Devils_Advocate
2013-03-03, 07:30 AM
Well, an obvious point is that PCs in general are expected to use evil methods, e.g. killing people who would prefer not to be killed, so that doesn't really make for a good point of contrast between different PCs.

Another is that people frequently deliberately initiate long chains of events in which virtually everything that happens is both a means and an end. An adventurer decides to swing his axe in order to kill an orc in order to take some treasure in order to buy some equipment etc. etc. etc. He doesn't necessarily have any ultimate goal in mind, either. Most people are not that introspective most of the time. Do you spend a lot of time thinking about which things you value as ends in themselves, and how what you're doing is going to help you to achieve those things? I don't, though I guess I probably should. I'm not even sure what I value as ends in themselves or even whether I so value anything.

Frathe
2013-03-03, 02:07 PM
Well, an obvious point is that PCs in general are expected to use evil methods, e.g. killing people who would prefer not to be killed, so that doesn't really make for a good point of contrast between different PCs.

Another is that people frequently deliberately initiate long chains of events in which virtually everything that happens is both a means and an end. An adventurer decides to swing his axe in order to kill an orc in order to take some treasure in order to buy some equipment etc. etc. etc. He doesn't necessarily have any ultimate goal in mind, either. Most people are not that introspective most of the time. Do you spend a lot of time thinking about which things you value as ends in themselves, and how what you're doing is going to help you to achieve those things? I don't, though I guess I probably should. I'm not even sure what I value as ends in themselves or even whether I so value anything.But if the PC kills an orc, that's an evil Means (murder), to a good Ends (removing evil from the world). The ends isn't so much what they're thinking about as what they're ultimately struggling for, whether they think about it or not. If they're driven to kill the orc just to get more equipment, that might be a neutral motive.

hamishspence
2013-03-03, 02:20 PM
"Means" I was thinking of as a synonym for "Method".

That said, "removing evil from the world" may not be good- and may even be Evil, if the character is not conscious that their victim has done enough Evil to warrant removing them, before they can do more.

Frathe
2013-03-03, 02:56 PM
"Means" I was thinking of as a synonym for "Method".

That said, "removing evil from the world" may not be good- and may even be Evil, if the character is not conscious that their victim has done enough Evil to warrant removing them, before they can do more.I mistype. I meant Ends. Means = Method, Motive = Ends.

shxwiiem
2013-03-05, 01:45 PM
I love this idea, makes a lot of sense and has potential to me!

Also, as soon as I saw the "Chaotic Evil" Motive and "Lawful Good" Method I was reminded of an Organization called the Black Lotus in a manga I read one time. Their goal was the extinction of human beings... by overpopulation through better healthcare, longer lifespan, and bigger families. So, using Lawful Good means to wipe out humanity. Pretty funny, hard to take seriously but it was written well.

atomicpenguin
2013-03-05, 04:14 PM
This is a really good idea that I'm sure would create some great roleplaying decisions. I like how having a different Motive and Method alignment may cause a character to rethink why their method alignment is what it is.

OutsiderOpinion
2013-03-12, 01:09 PM
This is a really cool idea! I've always felt the D&D alignment system was very restrictive, and I've never really bothered much with it, but this makes sense! If no one has commented on this yet, Detect Alignment effects would probably detect Motive, rather than Method. Aside from allowing more opportunity for hilarity to ensue later, it makes more sense for a Paladin or Cleric to be able to read what is on a person's heart than what they're willing to do in defense of it.

There are also a few points of clarification. wssly murdering the bad guys, using every dirty trick in the book and then throwing the book at them, does that make them Chaotic Evil on the Method track? Maybe we could use different words than Good and Evil on the method track... Merciful and Ruthless?
Merciful equals someone who will spare life whenever possible, and will usually fight honorably, though this needn't mean that they won't hide in the shadows and strike without warning to accomplish their goals. AKA, Batman.
Ruthless means that when this character has a goal in mind, whether that goal is Good or Evil, nothing is off limits. If the Big Bad is up to no good, why not kidnap his family and threaten them at knife-point? He'd do, why should you hold back? AKA, Belkar.

So, for example, a Lawful Neutral, Lawful Ruthless character would be someone who is values the law above all in their heart, even to the exclusion of good or evil (Motive). In the execution of their motive, they will always act within the bounds of the law on everything they do, but will take no quarter and show no mercy to those who break it, basically bringing down on their heads everything that the law allows. As an example, this combination would aptly describe Inspector Javert, from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Seems like a fun idea.

Xuldarinar
2013-03-12, 01:17 PM
This is a really cool idea! I've always felt the D&D alignment system was very restrictive, and I've never really bothered much with it, but this makes sense! If no one has commented on this yet, Detect Alignment effects would probably detect Motive, rather than Method. Aside from allowing more opportunity for hilarity to ensue later, it makes more sense for a Paladin or Cleric to be able to read what is on a person's heart than what they're willing to do in defense of it.

There are also a few points of clarification. wssly murdering the bad guys, using every dirty trick in the book and then throwing the book at them, does that make them Chaotic Evil on the Method track? Maybe we could use different words than Good and Evil on the method track... Merciful and Ruthless?
Merciful equals someone who will spare life whenever possible, and will usually fight honorably, though this needn't mean that they won't hide in the shadows and strike without warning to accomplish their goals. AKA, Batman.
Ruthless means that when this character has a goal in mind, whether that goal is Good or Evil, nothing is off limits. If the Big Bad is up to no good, why not kidnap his family and threaten them at knife-point? He'd do, why should you hold back? AKA, Belkar.

So, for example, a Lawful Neutral, Lawful Ruthless character would be someone who is values the law above all in their heart, even to the exclusion of good or evil (Motive). In the execution of their motive, they will always act within the bounds of the law on everything they do, but will take no quarter and show no mercy to those who break it, basically bringing down on their heads everything that the law allows. As an example, this combination would aptly describe Inspector Javert, from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Seems like a fun idea.

Thats a very interesting idea.

Silvernale
2013-03-22, 08:07 PM
Interesting concept. So I have a paladin with levels of the Hellreaver PrC (basically rather than waiting for infernals to pop up, she actively looks for people dabbling in demonology and removes them for the greater good of everyone else). So would she be some combo of lawful good and lawful evil? :smallsmile:

Xuldarinar
2013-03-22, 08:23 PM
Interesting concept. So I have a paladin with levels of the Hellreaver PrC (basically rather than waiting for infernals to pop up, she actively looks for people dabbling in demonology and removes them for the greater good of everyone else). So would she be some combo of lawful good and lawful evil? :smallsmile:


I'd say so but, heres the thing..

Paladins, i'd say are bound by method far more than they would be by motive. However, by going out and killing people that would normally be considered inherently evil. So we have to turn to why. Greater good. We go to a grey area. So, by this, i'd say paladin by method have to be lawful, but must have at least 1 'good' alignment between motive and method. Their code speaks against evil acts but killing is evil and it.. it gets messy morality wise. If you really break it down a paladin may have to be a pacifist. They have to be good in conduct So your character's method is debatable on the good/evil axis.

As you stated and I see it though, possibly it would look like:

Motive: Lawful Good
Method: Lawful Evil/Neutral

Maybe?

DeathGodKyo
2013-03-22, 11:38 PM
There's another point to make in this discussion, especially in relation to the Paladin's code of conduct, but really towards the questions you have been asking about good and evil "methods" (though I think the alignment system works fine, as I'm about to explain).

See, the biggest difference is, good and evil are considered cosmological forces in DnD. Meaning, wiping out evil ahead of time is unarguably an act of good. Especially considering the context of the setting; DnD is mostly based on midieval Europe, and both the society of that time and the gods of DnD put far less value on the lives of those who are evil. I mean, even the people who argue that those "cosmological" powers of good and evil should be reserved for the outsiders, like the Gods, should take a closer look. Heroneous is Lawful Good, and Pelor is Neutral Good, yet both support wiping out evil beings to prevent them from comitting evil acts. So, by standard DnD alignment considerations, that still falls within the range of Lawful Good. There's honestly an alignment for everything; I've played a Lawful Good rogue before, even. However, even within the contexts of a single alignment, a large range of actual personalities and methods is possible. The alignments in core DnD are almost entirely motive-based; If you can honestly justify your actions to the goals of the alignment, it can work. Take this word for word; this only applies if the actions are justifiable. A character could be lawful good in a lawful evil kingdom, and either be fighting alongside the rebellious chaotic good rebels, or (for non-Paladin LG characters) support the evil kingdom. It's based largly on character perspective. That is unique not only from alignment to alignment, but character to character.

Xuldarinar
2013-03-23, 12:31 AM
There's another point to make in this discussion, especially in relation to the Paladin's code of conduct, but really towards the questions you have been asking about good and evil "methods" (though I think the alignment system works fine, as I'm about to explain).

See, the biggest difference is, good and evil are considered cosmological forces in DnD. Meaning, wiping out evil ahead of time is unarguably an act of good. Especially considering the context of the setting; DnD is mostly based on midieval Europe, and both the society of that time and the gods of DnD put far less value on the lives of those who are evil. I mean, even the people who argue that those "cosmological" powers of good and evil should be reserved for the outsiders, like the Gods, should take a closer look. Heroneous is Lawful Good, and Pelor is Neutral Good, yet both support wiping out evil beings to prevent them from comitting evil acts. So, by standard DnD alignment considerations, that still falls within the range of Lawful Good. There's honestly an alignment for everything; I've played a Lawful Good rogue before, even. However, even within the contexts of a single alignment, a large range of actual personalities and methods is possible. The alignments in core DnD are almost entirely motive-based; If you can honestly justify your actions to the goals of the alignment, it can work. Take this word for word; this only applies if the actions are justifiable. A character could be lawful good in a lawful evil kingdom, and either be fighting alongside the rebellious chaotic good rebels, or (for non-Paladin LG characters) support the evil kingdom. It's based largly on character perspective. That is unique not only from alignment to alignment, but character to character.

Thats a good point. That does clear up a lot.

Xhosant
2013-03-23, 05:52 AM
I'd link all alignment magic with Means, because a)Detect would be less useful, since you can (or ought to) see methods, b)smite feels like something to be done on the genuinely bad guy, not the guy that did something bad.

It's not perfect, and there are cases where it's falling behind the typical one, but it can work.

hamishspence
2013-03-23, 06:34 AM
See, the biggest difference is, good and evil are considered cosmological forces in DnD. Meaning, wiping out evil ahead of time is unarguably an act of good.

BoED helpfully points out that you still need Just Cause and Good Intentions- even if the beings are Evil.

Respect for life does not just mean "respect for Neutral and Good life" after all.

Tragak
2013-03-23, 09:44 AM
While I'd personally agree that Law vs. Chaos was already about means and methods, with Good vs. Evil about ends and motives, I think that this could still work very well for a lot of other people.

Yael
2013-03-25, 01:56 AM
Here's your answer, Grayguard.

Altair_the_Vexed
2013-03-25, 03:14 AM
I like this idea - it's very similar to a system I came up with.

Characters have an Alignment Reputation (matches the OP's Method Alignment) and a Natural Alignment (matches the OP's Motive Alignment). It is possible - common, even - for both rep and nature to match, of course.

As you gain fame and notoriety, your reputed alignment may become well known. NPCs' social interactions are biased according to your Alignment Reputation - the famously honourable champion of good (LG - diplomacy bonuses, etc) gets different social benefits to the notoriously dangerous assassin (CE - intimidate bonuses, etc).

I ruled that when someone uses magic to determine alignment, they detect your Natural Alignment.

Both these systems allow you to play a character who is pretending to be one alignment, while striving to the goals of another: an undercover agent, for example.

Devils_Advocate
2013-04-04, 01:37 PM
But if the PC kills an orc, that's an evil Means (murder), to a good Ends (removing evil from the world).
Depends on what you mean by "removing evil from the world". If that phrase refers to eliminating the orc from existence, then your supposed separation of means from ends would seem to be a distinction without a difference, i.e. just using different phrasing to refer to exactly the same thing.

If, on the other hand, "removing evil from the world" refers to curtailing evil actions, then the question is whether that's necessarily a good thing. For if we accept that evil deeds may serve good ends, then the question naturally arises whether the curtailed deeds are of such a nature. Consider the Blood War, and the celestial consensus that attacking one of the warring parties rather than just letting them fight each other would be a really bad idea.

A lot of humans have this darned tendency to like punishing perceived misdeeds, which makes the notion that doing so serves the greater good fairly appealing to them. They'll use this as the stated justification for their actions and tell themselves that they're serving the greater good as well, so that they can feel all nice and righteous about it. But they may not be giving much consideration to alternative courses of action or even giving serious thought to the long-term consequences of their behavior. And vengeance as an end in itself is pretty much Lawful Evil. So, if that's really what's motivating them...


The ends isn't so much what they're thinking about as what they're ultimately struggling for, whether they think about it or not.
Hmmm. I suppose that if you keep asking why someone wants the things that they want, you'll eventually bump up against things that they don't want just for the sake of getting other things. And I guess that generalizing over those (comparatively few, I'd wager) ultimate ends could be helpful in accurately determining a character's alignment. Maybe even necessary, come to think of it? Hmmm!


If they're driven to kill the orc just to get more equipment, that might be a neutral motive.
No one ever does anything just for equipment. Equipment is acquired in order to serve some purpose beyond simply having it by definition. This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. Most ends are means to further ends rather than simply ends in themselves.

Silvernale
2013-04-05, 12:00 AM
I feel this appropriate for the thread:
http://media.oglaf.com/comic/theabyss.jpg

I don't know if any of you guys play(ed) World of Darkness, but they used a Nature and Demeanor system. Your nature was your true self, and demeanor is how you acted with others. Might be useful?