PDA

View Full Version : How do you work with alignment system?



Silent Wrangler
2019-09-09, 03:01 PM
A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: almost everyone agrees on it being stupid. Another funny thing: quite a lot of people do not consider it stupid enough to scrap it completely. Instead, they tweak and change bits and pieces here and there. And this is what I am curious about: your implementation of alignment system. Is alignment being enforced, or does it change with behaviour, do you use stuff like tendencies, any changes to textbook definitions, that sorta thing.
Important note: everyone, me included, please do refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another. This is highly situational. I'm a novice GM, and would like to simply get as much examples as possible, and see what details would fit my group best.

LordCdrMilitant
2019-09-09, 03:05 PM
Why should it be enforced? It's not fixed, it's a descriptor that characterizes the character's outlook, ideology, and beliefs about approaches to solving problems.

Do you enforce the little "traits-bonds-flaws" thingy on the side of the character sheet?

jjordan
2019-09-09, 03:22 PM
It's a guideline. At best. I've got other explanations that work better for my purposes.

False God
2019-09-09, 03:51 PM
Instead of alignments, "Detect Alignment" spells report actions. It still tells you the Demon is made of evil materials, but the caster will hear whispers of "muderer" or "cannibal" or "puppy kicker"; as well as "saves kittens", "helps old ladies" and "feeds the homeless". The more of any one thing a target does, the louder the whispers, to the point that someone who say, commits genocide, the caster would literally get voices screaming "GENOCIDE!" in their heads.

Creatures that are made of purely material-plane stuff have a natural "unaligned" aura. They're not good, they're not evil, though you may still get some whispers that they've done some particularly good or bad deeds, they're just people.

Registering evil deeds still qualifies for "Smite Evil" as much as being made of evil qualifies (which is why so few demons ever make the effort to be good, it rarely pays off). And it's up to the player to justify to themselves that this individual needs to be smote on the basis of their deeds or their innate composition.

---
I'm fair generous with Paladins (I like the class), though I'm harder on clerics. And short of very clearly obvious deeds outside your diety's allowances; you get judged when you die. Not in the moment. The gods are busy.

Mark Hall
2019-09-09, 03:52 PM
Personally, I like the alignment system. I've been playing with it for 30 years, and find it makes a fair degree of sense, once you define the five terms used... lawful, chaotic, neutral, good, and evil.

Beyond those definitions, however, I view alignment as descriptive of the aggregate of a person's actions (and, to an extent, intentions). That means you cannot, with a simple act, turn from LG to CE (unless, of course, that simple act is putting on a Helm of Opposite Alignment). At worst, a LG person who commits extreme CE will knocked to Neutral. Because the alignments are aggregate of people's actions and intentions, there winds up being a fair amount of space within each alignment, and lawful and good can both be resolved in numerous ways.

hamishspence
2019-09-09, 03:55 PM
DMGs and PHBs through the editions have tended to say that the above is the general rule, but allow for exceptions - saying it is possible, albeit rare, to leap straight from Good to Evil, or vice versa.

5crownik007
2019-09-09, 03:56 PM
While the games I play typically don't feature an alignment system, I do still make limited use of it.
If someone is having trouble deciding on a character's personality or even any details at all (i.e. "I have no idea what to do for my character man, sorry.)
Roll 2d6, well, at least we have an alignment for your character. That's the teeny tiny seed for the rest of it to grow.

Anonymouswizard
2019-09-09, 03:59 PM
It might say what side you're on in the cosmic struggle, otherwise it's left out entirely. It's just not worth the arguments over whether a character is Chaotic Neutral it Chaotic Evil.

Gallowglass
2019-09-09, 04:48 PM
A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: almost everyone agrees on it being stupid.


You're already started the tread with a blanket false statement that's designed to foment disagreement. Well done. You get a "Make Alignment Thread on GiTP merit badge."

Let me rewrite it a bit. "A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: A number of vocal opponents on a role-playing message board agree on it being stupid, offset by a number of vocal proponents who like it and a number of neutral advocates who think that its just fine and not inherently broken even if unnecessary."




Another funny thing: quite a lot of people do not consider it stupid enough to scrap it completely.


The opponents probably DO scrap it completely, and good on them. Those that don't are probably in the other two camps.



Instead, they tweak and change bits and pieces here and there. And this is what I am curious about: your implementation of alignment system. Is alignment being enforced, or does it change with behaviour, do you use stuff like tendencies, any changes to textbook definitions, that sorta thing.
Important note: everyone, me included, please do refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another. This is highly situational. I'm a novice GM, and would like to simply get as much examples as possible, and see what details would fit my group best.

"refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another" following "almost everyone agrees its stupid." I mean, wow. Was that on purpose or a happy accident?

From age 13 to 38 I played D&D Basic, 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and Pathfinder. And always dutifully wrote down whatever alignment seemed a good fit for my idea of the character. And it never ever came up. Like eye color or number of nipples. Granted, we tended to be HEAVILY houserulin' and more interested in the story than the system.

At 38, I had a life change and ended up playing with a bunch of new people for whom Alignment was a big deal. And, man, did they LOVE it. When I tried to DM and tried to de-emphasize it, I faced a mutiny. It took me quite a while to... eh... while not EMBRACE it... to understand why and how it was important to them, what they liked about it, how it formed their core understanding of the game and how it came to exist as such for them because they played in a different environment than I did.

As for me? I still dutifully write down whatever alignment I think fits my view of the character, then ignore it as much as possible. When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

If the DM wants to scratch out what I have written and write something else in the space, I don't really care.

kyoryu
2019-09-09, 05:02 PM
I treat it as reflective rather than descriptive.

I am strict on acts, loose on characters.

I handle it fairly deontologically - some acts are good, some are bad. Circumstances don't change that. Killing, harming, enslaving, stealing, etc. These things are Evil (outside of self defense). Good involves self-sacrifice, and beyond your immediate circle.

Neutral people neither commit Evil (stealing, killing, etc.) nor Good (self sacrifice) acts on a regular basis. Good people regularly self-sacrifice, and avoid Evil except in extenuating circumstances. Evil people don't care.

As I said, circumstances don't change the fundamental nature of the act, but the circumstances and how the act is approached will impact the effect on the character.

For instance, stealing is Evil. A Good person may steal to feed their starving family - but they will do so as a last resort, after trying everything else, will feel remorse about it, will attempt to minimize the damage, and will try to make amends after the fact. Because of that, a Good person won't slide to Evil for stealing bread in that scenario.

An Evil person will just steal food because they're a little peckish, without any thought. A Neutral person might steal it under some duress, and may justify it to themselves but won't make a habit out of it or do it casually.

I've found this system does a reasonable job of making the obvious cases obvious, and the weird edge cases workable. It's also great in a GM sense because it doesn't require complex thoughts about adjudication or balancing positives and negatives or anything else - what acts are Good or Evil are fairly well defined, and teh only fuzziness is in how much Good/Evil you have to do before you switch over. Combined with telling people what is good or evil, and making them aware of it, and you don't tend to run into TOO many problems so long as people accept (at least for the purposes of the game) the basic concepts.

Again, I don't claim that this is the best model of real world morality, but I do think it works well in game.

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-09, 05:03 PM
I don't touch alignment with a 10 foot pole, or even a 20 foot pole. I find it full of offensive assertions and counter-factual claims.

Let's leave it at that.

Anymage
2019-09-09, 05:53 PM
Alignment breaks down if you think about it too hard, for a few reasons. Moral philosophy never had easy answers to begin with, and D&D's habit of growth through accumulation didn't help it. (First it was just Law/Chaos/Balance as teams, then Good and Evil were added later on, and more recently Planescape got added which was a nice setting but which also became the default assumption for D&D.) Objectively speaking, it's a mess.

Subjectively speaking, a lot of people like D&D specifically for the D&Disms that have grown up alongside it over the years. And many more people like the idea of simple morality with obvious teams. You have problems when you have mechanical effects for alignment, and especially when rulebooks start making absolute statements about morality. (Neither of which, it's worth noting is limited to D&D alignment.) But 4e and 5e D&D have moved further away from having alignment be a mechanically important stat. The easier it is to remove, the easier it is for haters to do just that and get on with things.

FaerieGodfather
2019-09-09, 06:03 PM
I kill it.

[Chaotic], [Evil], [Good], and [Lawful] are creature subtypes that certain spells and abilities interact with. Paladins and Clerics and similar classes have Oaths that define their Codes of Conduct; classes that do not have (or need) a Code of Conduct do not have alignment restrictions. Monster alignments, in the absence of subtype, are demographical hints about their cultural values, mostly ignored in favor of their actual description.

PC morality and intraparty conflict is handled by both allowing and discouraging PVP. If the party decides your PC is a bigger problem than being a man short down in the dungeon? Here's 4d6 and we'll meet you back in town.

redwizard007
2019-09-09, 06:54 PM
You're already started the tread with a blanket false statement that's designed to foment disagreement. Well done. You get a "Make Alignment Thread on GiTP merit badge."

Let me rewrite it a bit. "A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: A number of vocal opponents on a role-playing message board agree on it being stupid, offset by a number of vocal proponents who like it and a number of neutral advocates who think that its just fine and not inherently broken even if unnecessary."




The opponents probably DO scrap it completely, and good on them. Those that don't are probably in the other two camps.



"refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another" following "almost everyone agrees its stupid." I mean, wow. Was that on purpose or a happy accident?

From age 13 to 38 I played D&D Basic, 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and Pathfinder. And always dutifully wrote down whatever alignment seemed a good fit for my idea of the character. And it never ever came up. Like eye color or number of nipples. Granted, we tended to be HEAVILY houserulin' and more interested in the story than the system.

At 38, I had a life change and ended up playing with a bunch of new people for whom Alignment was a big deal. And, man, did they LOVE it. When I tried to DM and tried to de-emphasize it, I faced a mutiny. It took me quite a while to... eh... while not EMBRACE it... to understand why and how it was important to them, what they liked about it, how it formed their core understanding of the game and how it came to exist as such for them because they played in a different environment than I did.

As for me? I still dutifully write down whatever alignment I think fits my view of the character, then ignore it as much as possible. When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

If the DM wants to scratch out what I have written and write something else in the space, I don't really care.

I... agree With Gallowglass?

That hurt.

Kidding (and snark) aside, Gallowglass really nailed it here.

Pauly
2019-09-09, 06:59 PM
A big part of the debate is Paladins. Paladins are the only class that can be screwed over by DMs because the DM thinks the player is playing their character wrong. Some DMs actively enjoy abusing this.

I don’t mind alignments at all. I think enforcing the traits-bonds-flaws is a good thing too. However, everyone at the table needs to be making some effort to play to the restrictions (alignment, traits and flaws) they have voluntarily chosen to put on their character.

It’s a bit like if someone has chosen to play a fighter and make INT their dump stat, then when in combat they are tactical geniuses. Yes it is possible according to the RAW, but it breaks the verisimilitude. They have chosen to put a restriction on their character, low INT, but they disregard that restriction because it is inconvenient to the player in their effort to win.

You can’t have the DM enforce restriction players have voluntarily put on themselves from the high chair. If the DM tries to enforce it when the players disagree or think it’s petty then you will have issues. The players have to make the effort themselves.

denthor
2019-09-09, 07:25 PM
Why it should enforced.

Party

Chaotic good/neutral 1/2 orc despised race.

Neutral good dwarf. In real life wizard and dwarf do not like other.

Neutral evil dwarf 2

Other seven at the table neutral.

Round 1

Party stumbles over some plants growing.

Neutral bard sees them. Comments those plants do something good. Healing plants. We have no cleric. Neutral evil dwarf 8 intelligence healing must hack plants no skill ruins two plants.

Neutral tending evil(picks out natives while invisible to shoot in the head). We are not battling native people. Decides to try his hand at it. Success.

At this point the bard asks do these plants naturally grow here in straight does? No. In fact 5 feet from the three you ripped from the ground is the remains of a fire.

This where I in a conversation with the lawful neutral Monk hear that statement. I asked does this look like a farm of some sort that somebody is tending.

Reply comes back yes it does.
At this point I say stop we are not going to rob an innocent Farm.

The neutral one that likes to shoot people in the head from invisibility. Decides to continue hacking at the ground I'm pulling up plants. I look at the party and save some do or kill that one. My mistake for saying the word kill.

I want initiative I cast hold person it should be said that I don't do a whole lot of damage with my spells I'm not a fireball mage.

The neutral evil dwarf decides that he's going to beat me. I have a total of 40 hit points no healing from anybody his first blows land 26 hit points.

The neutral good dwarf says to go climb a tree. I don't know if you consider that to be a good action at this point you decide.

The others either rally to stop look for the plant puller.

Two of them cast spells for two rounds while retreating from the two of us.

I back off cast invisibility. The monk decides to to speak to the neutral evil dwarf while moving up to him. I wish this to stop do I have your oath that you will stand down.

Dwarf replies yes I will stand down. Then moves up to attack the square that I'm standing in invisibly. I negative 39.

What do you think they would do if they didn't know that evil alignment mean something and you don't get to have nice things all the time for cheap?

Enforcing an alignment system means actions have Consequences to those actions.

Anymage
2019-09-10, 12:48 AM
A big part of the debate is Paladins. Paladins are the only class that can be screwed over by DMs because the DM thinks the player is playing their character wrong. Some DMs actively enjoy abusing this.

Clerics and druids can also lose class features if the DM finds them insufficiently invested, although I'll agree that this happens so rarely that people understandably forget it. Barbarians can also lose a class feature for alignment transgressions, while monks and bards can find their leveling halted. (All assuming 3.5, but then later editions of D&D go out of their way to make paladin falling a lot less of a thing.) The fact that it's memetically only paladins says more about players than anything else.


Enforcing an alignment system means actions have Consequences to those actions.

Actions having consequences can happen in games without "good guy/bad guy" written explicitly on your character sheet. On top of that, the more that you punish people for going outside their alignment, the more that you delve into arguments over how what the player wanted to do is totally justified.

Sometimes it's okay to have some supernatural element of morality consequences. If your cleric of light and hope decides to torch an orphanage, he'll probably have to find a new patron deity soon. If your character in V:tM does the same thing, humanity degradation is part of the implicit buy-in for the setting. But for the most part, the consequences should be normal NPC reactions for in-game actions (E.G: scamming local farmers), and normal human responses for out-of-game issues (graphic descriptions of torture against NPCs should probably be dealt with by not dealing with the player anymore, not shifting a letter on their character sheet.)

Kaptin Keen
2019-09-10, 01:01 AM
It’s complex, if I have to actually spell it out.

Detection spells will show colors and motion - with red being ‘evil’, and vigorous or random motion being ‘chaotic’. But that’s not to say that a being whose aura shows as swirling red is anything like what you’d consider Chaotic Evil.

But that’s just for detection. For spells like ... Dictum, for instance ... that affects targets based on their alignment, I have to admit it simply works like I say it does. As in, case by case, as GM, I make a judgement call.

Also, generally speaking, stuff like Smite simply works. Unless your god disagrees with what you’re doing, then it might not.

It’s worth noting that all manner of things can make your aura red, from being a selfish bastard to being a murderous psycho. Similar for swirling color - it covers everything from being impulsive to actually being the Joker.

It’s definitely not a perfect system, and not one others can just copy/paste (since it’s mostly internal to me), but thus far, it works. Never heard any complaints.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 01:08 AM
It’s complex, if I have to actually spell it out.

Detection spells will show colors and motion - with red being ‘evil’, and vigorous or random motion being ‘chaotic’. But that’s not to say that a being whose aura shows as swirling red is anything like what you’d consider Chaotic Evil.

But that’s just for detection. For spells like ... Dictum, for instance ... that affects targets based on their alignment, I have to admit it simply works like I say it does. As in, case by case, as GM, I make a judgement call.

Also, generally speaking, stuff like Smite simply works. Unless your god disagrees with what you’re doing, then it might not.

It’s worth noting that all manner of things can make your aura red, from being a selfish bastard to being a murderous psycho. Similar for swirling color - it covers everything from being impulsive to actually being the Joker.

It’s definitely not a perfect system, and not one others can just copy/paste (since it’s mostly internal to me), but thus far, it works. Never heard any complaints.

Colour coded auras has a certain amount of precedent in D&D fiction - Dragonbait in the Finder's Stone trilogy, has aura-vision "Shen sight". Different shades for different emotions personality traits.

Hatred is red.
Greed is yellow
Sadism is purple
Pride (in mostly Neutral beings) is grey


And so on.

Silent Wrangler
2019-09-10, 01:11 AM
You're already started the tread with a blanket false statement that's designed to foment disagreement. Well done. You get a "Make Alignment Thread on GiTP merit badge."

Let me rewrite it a bit. "A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: A number of vocal opponents on a role-playing message board agree on it being stupid, offset by a number of vocal proponents who like it and a number of neutral advocates who think that its just fine and not inherently broken even if unnecessary."




The opponents probably DO scrap it completely, and good on them. Those that don't are probably in the other two camps.



"refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another" following "almost everyone agrees its stupid." I mean, wow. Was that on purpose or a happy accident?

From age 13 to 38 I played D&D Basic, 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and Pathfinder. And always dutifully wrote down whatever alignment seemed a good fit for my idea of the character. And it never ever came up. Like eye color or number of nipples. Granted, we tended to be HEAVILY houserulin' and more interested in the story than the system.

At 38, I had a life change and ended up playing with a bunch of new people for whom Alignment was a big deal. And, man, did they LOVE it. When I tried to DM and tried to de-emphasize it, I faced a mutiny. It took me quite a while to... eh... while not EMBRACE it... to understand why and how it was important to them, what they liked about it, how it formed their core understanding of the game and how it came to exist as such for them because they played in a different environment than I did.

As for me? I still dutifully write down whatever alignment I think fits my view of the character, then ignore it as much as possible. When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

If the DM wants to scratch out what I have written and write something else in the space, I don't really care.

Wow, I am really bad at English. I added a bunch of unnecessary falsehoods while all I wanted is to ask people how do they implement alignment. Thanks for pointing it out.
So, uh, well. Disregard the first post. I really was not intrested in starting a debate about alignment at all (I have much easier and funnier way of doing it, after all: just mention a certain paladin, wizard or cleric in OoTS section). Only looking for a bunch of examples like False God's whispers.

Peelee
2019-09-10, 01:25 AM
Why should it be enforced? It's not fixed, it's a descriptor that characterizes the character's outlook, ideology, and beliefs about approaches to solving problems.

Do you enforce the little "traits-bonds-flaws" thingy on the side of the character sheet?
I really like the alignment system, and it's precisely because I think of it just like that. It's not a statement on your character, it's a nifty shorthand for other on roughly how to expect you'll be playing your character (or at least how you plan to be playing your character). Unless magic comes into play that actually affects certain alignments, you never really need to worry about it, and when that does come into play, unless the person has consistently acted differently, I see no reason not to simply go ahead and take them at their word that that's what their alignment is. Hell, you could even play that up with cursed items every so often.

Instead of alignments, "Detect Alignment" spells report actions. It still tells you the Demon is made of evil materials, but the caster will hear whispers of "muderer" or "cannibal" or "puppy kicker"; as well as "saves kittens", "helps old ladies" and "feeds the homeless".
Oooh, I like that. I'll be stealing it.

When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

I've never had that happen yet, but knowing me, I'd probably ask for a list of what allowable actions there are, since I thought we were playing D&D but just found out it's actually a pen and paper King's Quest where there are correct and incorrect answers and I'd rather just know what the few available options are instead of having to waste everyone's time guessing.

....I may have had strong reactions to hearing about games where the DM did say that.

Kaptin Keen
2019-09-10, 01:34 AM
Colour coded auras has a certain amount of precedent in D&D fiction - Dragonbait in the Finder's Stone trilogy, has aura-vision "Shen sight". Different shades for different emotions personality traits.

Hatred is red.
Greed is yellow
Sadism is purple
Pride (in mostly Neutral beings) is grey


And so on.

Mine is .. both simpler and more complex. Red for ‘evil’, grey for ‘neutral’, and blue for ‘good’.

But it’s really more in the prose. Let’s say a guy who’s actively contemplating to murder you - right now - would be swirling, pulsing red, brimming with urgency and intent .. while someone with a sufficiently dark past, but no current plans or intentions of a morally decrepit nature, might show as smouldering red embers.

Stuff like that. Very open to interpretation, which isn’t always ideal. Luckily, I’ve made it work - which, honestly, is propably more a result of really good players. I am, in most respects, a mediocre GM =)

Pleh
2019-09-10, 05:33 AM
So, I'm a vocal proponent for using Alignment Descriptively as opposed to Prescriptively. But that doesn't mean it doesn't get gently enforced from time to time.

Let me break it down.

Alignment as a word in English doesn't even have context unless we consider the external object being aligned with. E.g. Wheels on a car get aligned with the frame so they point forwards while the steering is in neutral.

This implies that a Character's Alignment speaks to their connection to the DM's Setting (about the only thing external to the Character).

In this case, it speaks particularly to their posture and "social velocity" (which way are they going and how fast). In essence, it communicates how the character relates to other people in the Setting (and to some extent, how they relate with other PCs, but that's more up to the players to hash out).

What it boils down to is a question of which NPCs will like you, which will despise you, and to what lengths they will be helpful or antagonistic towards you (based on how closely aligned or anti aligned you are).

So, Alignment is determined Descriptively, based primarily on your actions, but it's not wholly without consequences. The Attitudes of people you meet rather depend on how you choose to behave. Think of Alignment as an Indicator that should accurately describe how we can expect interactions with people and scenarios to be resolved.

This is why there needs to be a little bit of enforcement when Alignment is being disregarded. When a player starts playing their character in a manner that makes me question how accurate their Alignment Description is, I'll stop and challenge it (a gentle question of if that is the sort of behavior they expect from a character of their current alignment). Sometimes their explanation makes sense and we move on. Other times it's questionable at best and I mentally give the character what I consider a Half Point towards Alignment Shift. If they do something very definitively in the realm of being outside their alignment, but they still don't want to voluntarily change their Alignment on their sheet to reflect their current behavior, I mentally give them a Full Point towards Alignment Shift. I don't keep a strict set of rules for how many points or half points they need before an Alignment Shift is enforced; I just play it by ear. But when I do finally formally mandate an Alignment Shift, it's usually given with the explanation that it doesn't matter what the player or their character thinks of themselves anymore, because at this point the Alignment is shifting to reflect how the Setting views their character. After all, the character's Alignment is a comparative quality in respect to the Setting, and no matter what they think of themselves, their Alignment is ultimately dictated by how it compares with the Setting's standards.

Note for a moment that this means an Alignment Shift at my table usually is less indicative of a punishment of the character and more my giving notice to the player that they aren't fitting into the world the way that they might think they are.

Of course, that's why players are free to choose any alignment (that doesn't naturally generate inter party conflict before the game begins, obviously) before the game begins. Before they've had a chance to interact with the Setting, Alignment is based on Backstory and educated guesswork, so it's fine for Alignment to be very arbitrary in the beginning. And I've very rarely needed to hand out an Alignment shift in any game. Alignment is pretty intuitive 90% of the time and it usually doesn't need to be questioned.

So now the Elephant in the Dungeon: Classes that are Punished with Alignment Shifts. Any time an Alignment Shift would end up punishing a Character in this way, I wouldn't simply hand it out. At each interval where I would feel the need to give them a Mental Full Point, I would verbally indicate that their decisions were pushing the limits of what their Code of Conduct would allow. I like the idea that Paladins have a little bit of room to break the rules before losing their power. If for any reason, such a character begins to accrue enough of my mental points that I really begin to consider that an Alignment Shift may be necessary, even given the consequences to the character, I would stop and say something to the player outside the game and address the concerns, giving them at the very least forewarning that pushing these limits much further may provoke an Alignment Shift. I would happily try to work with them to avoid it, but some players want to let the chips fall where they may.

In addition, I try to make sure there's never a Stick in the game that doesn't come with a Carrot of some kind. Characters in my game that have Alignment Restrictions often have the benefit that others who are bound by the same requirements often support one another. I really like that 5e somewhat formalized this with Backgrounds, but I consider a Paladin, who could be excommunicated by fellow members of their order for misconduct, to be able to utilize their rank within their order to gain benefits (such as food, lodging, and occasionally requisitioning aid). Those same priests who could disavow your involvement in their organization could be working for you if you uphold the tenants of their order with distinction.

Even the Chaotic classes such as the Bard can find support from their "role" in the Setting. Free food and lodging anywhere they want to spend a couple hours entertaining the local NPCs. The heavier the Alignment requirements, the better the Setting Benefits for doing a good job sticking to those requirements.

Studoku
2019-09-10, 05:44 AM
What alignment system?

Most systems don't have an alignment system at all. I don't miss it.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 06:46 AM
But it’s really more in the prose. Let’s say a guy who’s actively contemplating to murder you - right now - would be swirling, pulsing red, brimming with urgency and intent .. while someone with a sufficiently dark past, but no current plans or intentions of a morally decrepit nature, might show as smouldering red embers.

"A grey mountain against a grey sky" and "A locked and barred grey castle" are descriptions of different Neutral characters Dragonbait has seen.

A lich's aura was described as "sucking in emotions, a vortex of hate and fear"."

And a good but jealous person was "blue with green flecks".

King of Nowhere
2019-09-10, 07:02 AM
it never comes up in my game. i write alignments that seem to fit best, and they would become relevant with some spells that affect alignments, like protection from evil or holy word. but they never see play.

heck, they should at least tell on which side you are, but politics in my campaign world got complicated enough that several evil powers allied with the forces of good, for perfectly pragmatical and selfish reasons. so it doesn't describe allegiance either

2D8HP
2019-09-10, 07:35 AM
Either the game is Stormbringer and the background is a cosmic struggle between the gods of Chaos, Law, and "The Balance", the game is Dungeons & Dragons and I use Alignment as a guideline to what actions are likely for monsters (NPC's), or the game is discussions on the internet and I use the term "Lawful Neutral" as a label for myself and most of humanity and argue from there.

That's all the comes to mind except for
(My very first post to this Forum contained some of this info, and I keep adding to it. Please critique)

Holy ethical quagmire Batman! I believe I've just seen the EXTENDED DIGRESSION ON ALIGNMENT IN D&D WITH SPOILER INSIDE SPOILERS SIGNAL!


:smile:

or:

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened"
at not being able to read a big ol' post on how D&D's Alignment system came to be

Whichever, 'cause here's:

So, the "rules" on alignment and everything else are up to each individual table:

Dungeons and Dragons, The Underground and Wilderness Adventures, p. 36: "... everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it that way."

AD&D 1e, DMG, p. 9: "..The game is the thing, and certain rules can be distorted or disregarded altogether in favor of play...."



D&D 5e DMG, p. 263:: "...As the Dungeon Master, You aren't limited by the rules in the Player's Handbook, the guidelines in this book, or the selection of monsters in the Monster Manual..."

(All praise to Jay R, for most of that)


A History of "Alignment" in Dungeons & Dragons


For the Dungeons & Dragons game, Arneson and Gygax got Law vs. Chaos from stories by Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock.

Poul Anderson invented Law vs. Chaos in '53 for Three Hearts and Three Lions (which had a Dwarf on the side of Law, and Elves on the side of Chaos, Anderson's Elves were not Tolkien's Elves, though they drew from the same well. The "Ranger" is from Tolkien, the "Paladin" is from Anderson).

Anderson had Law on the side of most of humanity, and "the hosts of Faerie" on the side of Chaos. When Chaos was ascendant latent Lycanthrope became expressed for example.

Michael Moorcock adopted Law vs. Chaos for his Elric stories, and it was his works that were far more known by those of us who played D&D in the 1970's and '80's.

While Moorcock's 1965 novel Stormbringer had the triumph of Chaos being humanity's doom, by '75 he was clear that humanity would suffer under extreme Law as well, and "The Balance" was to be sought.

Okay, in the novel Three Hearts and Three Lions (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Hearts_and_Three_Lions) by Poul Anderson,
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/3/39/ThreeHeartsAndThreeLions.jpg/220px-ThreeHeartsAndThreeLions.jpg
which was published before and inspired Moorcock's "Law vs. Chaos" conflict in the Elric and Corum novels, and Anderson expressly conflated Holger's struggle against Morgan le Fay and the "Host of Faerie" with the battle against the Nazis in our world.

Now in the 1961 novel (based on a '53 short story) Three Hearts and Three Lions (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2008/12/pulp-fantasy-gallery-three-hearts-and.html), we have this:

"....Holger got the idea that a perpetual struggle went on between primeval forces of Law and Chaos. No, not forces exactly. Modes of existence? A terrestrial reflection of the spiritual conflict between heaven and hell? In any case, humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them were almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faerie, Trollheim, and the Giants--an actual creation of Chaos. Wars among men, such as the long-drawn struggle between the Saracens and the Holy Empire, aided Chaos; under Law all men would live in peace and order and that liberty which only Law could give meaning. But this was so alien to the Middle Worlders that they were forever working to prevent it and extend their own shadowy dominion....."

.which suggests that Law vs. Chaos is about "teams" in a cosmic struggle rather than personal ethics/morality, which is how the terms are used in the old Stormbringer RPG, and would be my usual preference.

Before D&D, Gygax & Perren had Law vs. Chaos in the Fantasy appendix to the Chainmail wargame:I suppose it waa inevitably when Greyhawk added Paladins that were "continual seeking for good" but I think that adding "Good" and "Evil" to "Alignment" was a mistake, and it was better the way the predecessor of D&D, Chainmail had it as:

"GENERAL LINE-UP:
It is impossible to draw a distanct line between "good" and "evil" fantastic
figures. Three categories are listed below as a general guide for the wargamer
designing orders of battle involving fantastic creatures:

LAW
Hobbits
Dwarves
Gnomes
Heroes
Super Heroes
Wizards*
Ents
Magic Weapons

NEUTRAL
Sprites
Pixies
Elves
Fairies
Lycanthropes *
Giants*
Rocs
(Elementals)
Chimerea


CHAOS
Goblins
Kobolds
Orcs
Anti-heroes
Wizards *
Wraiths
Wights
Lycanthropes*
Ogres
True Trolls
Balrogs
Giants *
Dragons
Basilisks

* Indicates the figure appears in two lists.
Underlined Neutral figures have a slight pre-disposition for LAW. Neutral
figures can be diced for to determine on which side they will fight, with ties
meaning they remain neutral."


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wb-QFUiuEqk/T_x0sXHILMI/AAAAAAAAFME/rEhioR7Tw3I/s280/ch☆nmailalign.jpg

So it was clear that it's sides in a wargame, not an ethics debate.

But the turning of a heavily house ruled Chainmail into what we now call a "role-playing game", brought character behavior in the mix:

Dave Arneson wrote that he added "alignment" to the game he made up because of one PC backstabbing another (http://www.jovianclouds.com/blackmoor/Archive_OLD/rpg2.html)

"We began without the multitude of character classes and three alignments that exists today. I felt that as a team working towards common goals there would be it was all pretty straight forward. Wrong!

"Give me my sword back!" "Nah your old character is dead, it's mine now!"

Well I couldn't really make him give it to the new character. But then came the treasure question. The Thieves question. Finally there were the two new guys. One decided that there was no reason to share the goodies. Since there was no one else around and a +3 for rear attacks . . .. well . . Of course everyone actually KNEW what had happened, especially the target.

After a great deal of discussion . . . yes let us call it "discussion" the culprit promised to make amends. He, and his associate did. The next time the orcs attacked the two opened the door and let the Orcs in. They shared the loot and fled North to the lands of the EGG OF COOT. (Sigh)

We now had alignment. Spells to detect alignment, and rules forbidding actions not allowed by ones alignment. Actually not as much fun as not knowing. Chuck and John had a great time being the 'official' evil players.
They would draw up adventures to trap the others (under my supervision) and otherwise make trouble"

And here's in 1974's Gygax & Arneson's Dungeons & Dragons: Book1, Men & Magic

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MlEVGRiLVK0/T_xGEnCu73I/AAAAAAAAFL4/jalyY-BOFgM/s280/oddalign.jpg

(Orcs can be Neutral as well as Chaos, as can Elves, Dwarves/Gnomes as well as Law, and Men may be any)

And "Law, Chaos, and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each respectively. One can attempt to communicate through the common tongue, language particular to a creature class, or one of the divisional languages (law, etc.). While not understanding the language, creatures who speak a divisionsl tongue will recognize a hostile one and attack."

Easy "detect alignment"!

Originally there were three classes; "Cleric", "Fighting-Men", and "Magic-User" (as in "wake up the user, it's time to cast the daily spell"). Clerics didn't have any spells at first level, but they could "turn" some undead (a bit like a 5e Paladin really), and other than hints that "Law" Clerics, and "Chaos" Clerics were in conflict, there wasn't much info on what was meant until the Paladin class was introduced in La Chanson de Roland the 1975 "Greyhawk" supplement (which also introduced Thieves hmm... what a coincidence funny that). From "Greyhawk":
Charisma scores of 17 or greater by fighters indicate the possibility of paladin status IF THEY ARE LAWFUL from the commencement of play for the character. If such fighters elect to they can become paladins, always doing lawful deeds, for any chaotic act will immediately revoke the status of paladin, and it can never be regained. The paladin has a number of very powerful aids in his continual seeking for good......".
(Ok this is the fun part the special powers which include......PSYCH! Back to the restrictions)
"Paladins will never be allowed to possess more than four magically items, excluding the armor, shield and up to four weapons they normally use. They will give away all treasure that they win, save that which is neccesary to maintain themselves, their men and a modest castle. Gifts must be to the poor or to charitable or religious institutions , i.e.not tho some other character played in the game. A paladin's stronghold cannot be above 200,000 gold pieces in total cost, and no more than 200 men can be retained to guard it. Paladins normally prefer to dwell with lawful princess of patriarchs, but circumstances may prevent this. They will associate only with lawful characters"
Huh? What's lawful? What's chaotic? What's associate? And what is this charitable? I don't believe PC's know this word. :smallwink:
Well...helpfully there are some clues:
" Chaotic Alignment by a player generally betokens chaotic action on the player's part without any rule to stress this aspect, i.e. a chaotic player is usually more prone to stab even his lawless buddy in the back for some desired gain. However, chaos is just that - chaotic. Evil monsters are as likely to turn on their supposed confederate in order to have all the loot as they are to attack a lawful party in the first place".
OK Paladins are "continual seeking for good", "All thieves are either neutral or chaotic - although lawful characters may hire them on a one-time basis for missions which are basically lawful" "Patriarchs" (high level Clerics) "stance" is "Law", and "Evil High Priests" "stance" is "Chaos". So we can infer that Law = Good, and Chaos = Evil in early D&D, which fits how the terms were used in novels Gygax cited as "inspiration", first in Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions", and than later in Moorcock's "Stormbringer" (though Moorcock eventually in his novels show that too much "Law" is anti-human as well, which is probably why Gygax added the separate Good-Evil axis so you could have "Lawful Evil" and "Chaotic Good" alignmemts later).

I'm gonna stress that I didn't know Anderson's novel when I first played D&D in the very late 1970's, and I'd bet that most other players didn't either, but knowledge of Moorcock's Elric was far more common then, from comic books!:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_DSs2bX13hVc/S76VaPmTHxI/AAAAAAAAB90/jp_QEn8jKSg/s320/conanelric1.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_DSs2bX13hVc/S76i4WQ-17I/AAAAAAAAB-E/xdEuV-lr0as/s320/conanelric2-1.jpg

If you've read the "Elric" series, from which D&D "borrowed" much of this, you may remember that Elric visits a "world" (plane/dimension/alternate reality) of "Chaos" and finds a whirling cloud, in-which creatures and objects sometimes flash in and out of existence. He also visits a "world of Law" which is nothing but a grey mist.

(BTW, a nice 21st century use of the Law vs. Chaos trope is in Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series, in which different worlds (alternate realities) have more or less "Chaos" or "Law".

Heavy Chaos worlds are ruled by the Fey, who are the main antagonists, Law world's are ruled by (often hidden) Dragons, and we are told that while too much Chaos is worse, with too much Law humans are controlled by Dragons and not free)..

Going back to the 1962 Moorcock story To Rescue Tanelorn we have:

"...At the place where the winds met they found the second gateway, a column of amber-coloured flame, shot through with streaks of green. They entered it and, instantly, were in a world of dark, seething colour. Above them was a sky of murky red in which other colours shifted, agitated, changing. Ahead of them lay a forest, dark, blue, black, heavy, mottled green, the tops of its trees moving like a wild tide. It was a howling land of unnatural phenomena.

Lamsar pursed his lips. "On this plane Chaos rules, we must get to the next gate swiftly for obviously the Lords of Chaos will seek to stop us."

"Is it always like this?" Rackhir gasped.

"It is always boiling midnight-but the rest, it changes with the moods of the Lords. There are no rules at all."

They pressed on through the bounding, blossoming scenery as it erupted and changed around them. Once they saw a huge winged figure in the sky, smoky yellow, and roughly man-shaped.

"Vezhan," Lamsar said, "let's hope he did not see us."

"Vezhan!" Rackhir whispered the name-for it was to Vezhan that he had once been loyal.

They crept on, uncertain of their direction or even of their speed in that disturbing land.

At length, they came to the shores of a peculiar ocean.

It was a grey, heaving, timeless sea, a mysterious sea which stretched into infinity. There could be no other shores beyond this rolling plain of water. No other lands or rivers or dark, cool woods, no other men or women or ships. It was a sea which led to nowhere. It was complete to itself-a sea.

Over this timeless ocean hovered a brooding ochre sun which cast moody shadows of black and green across the water, giving the whole scene something of the look of being enclosed in a vast cavern, for the sky above was gnarled and black with ancient clouds. And all the while the doom-carried crash of breakers, the lonely, fated monotony of the ever-rearing white-topped waves; the sound which portended neither death nor life nor war nor peace-simply existence and shifting inharmony. They could go no further.

"This has the air of our death about it," Rackhir said shivering.

The sea roared and tumbled, the sound of it increasing to a fury, daring them to go on towards it, welcoming them with wild temptation-offering them nothing but achievement-the achievement of death.

Lamsar said: "It is not my fate wholly to perish." But then they were running back towards the forest, feeling that the strange sea was pouring up the beach towards them. They looked back and saw that it had gone no further, that the breakers were less wild, the sea more calm. Lamsar was little way behind Rackhir.

The Red Archer gripped his hand and hauled him towards him as if he had rescued the old man from a whirlpool. They remained there, mesmerised, for a long time, while the sea called to them and the wind was a cold caress on their flesh.

In the bleak brightness of the alien shore, under a sun which gave no heat, their bodies shone like stars in the night and they turned towards the forest, quietly.

"Are we trapped, then, in this Realm of Chaos?" Rackhir said at length. "If we meet someone, they will offer us harm-how can we ask our question?"

Then there emerged from the huge forest a great figure, naked and gnarled like the trunk of a tree, green as lime, but the face was jovial.

"Greetings, unhappy renegades," it said.

"Where is the next gate?" said Lamsar quickly.

"You almost entered it, but turned away," laughed the giant. "That sea does not exist-it is there to stop travellers from passing through the gate."

"It exists here, in the Realm of Chaos," Rackhir said thickly.

"You could say so-but what exists in Chaos save the disorders of the minds of gods gone mad?"...."

And

"...The two travellers were given foods, both soft and brittle, sweet and sour, and drink which seemed to enter the pores of their skin as they quaffed it, and then the Guardian said: "We have caused a road to be made. Follow it and enter the next world. But we warn you, it is the most dangerous of all."

And they set off down the road that the Guardians had caused to be made and passed through the fourth gateway into a dreadful realm-the Ream of Law.

Nothing shone in the grey-lit sky, nothing moved, nothing marred the grey.

Nothing interrupted the bleak grey plain stretching on all sides of them, forever. There was no horizon. It was a bright, clean wasteland. But there was a sense about the air, a presence of something past, something which had gone but left a faint aura of its passing.

"What dangers could be here?" said Rackhir shuddering, "here where there is nothing?"

"The danger of the loneliest madness," Lamsar replied. Their voices were swallowed in the grey expanse.

"When the Earth was very young'" Lamsar continued, his words trailing away across the wilderness, "things were like this-but there were seas, there were seas. Here there is nothing."

"You are wrong," Rackhir said with a faint smile. "I have thought-here there is Law."

"That is true-but what is Law without something to decide between? Here is Law-bereft of justice."

They walked on, all about them an air of something intangible that had once been tangible. On they walked through this barren world of Absolute Law...."

So two vast impersonal cosmic forces struggling for dominance, ultimately neither with any place for or consideration of human happiness if even allowong for the existence of humanity if they triumph.

Now choose!


1976's Eldrich Wizardry supplement added the Mind Flayers which were the first monters that were explicitly both "lawful" and "evil", and it could be a coincidence but while Moorcock's 1965 novel Stormbringer had the triumph of Chaos being humanity's doom, but in later works he was clear that humanity would suffer under extreme Law as well, and "The Balance" was to be sought, so Michael Moorcock in A Quest for Tanelon wrote:

"Chaos is not wholly evil, surely?" said the child. "And neither is Law wholly good. They are primitive divisions, at best-- they represent only temperamental differences in individual men and women. There are other elements..."
"
..which was published in 1975 in the UK, and 1976 in the USA, and '76 was when Gygax added "good" and "evil" to D&D Alignment in an article that I first read a copy of it in the 1980 "Best of The Dragon" which reprinted the original article in the;
Strategic Review: February 1976 (http://annarchive.com/files/Strv201.pdf)


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_DSs2bX13hVc/TSvlWfi0wuI/AAAAAAAAC5E/kwE-DYf3GtU/s1600/alignmentchart.jpg

illustration (http://lh5.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KYLvpKSI/AAAAAAAAGrk/gxPmMlYaDIQ/s1600-h/illus1%5B2%5D.jpg)

illustration (http://lh5.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KaWTQKmI/AAAAAAAAGrs/EY_aYEhHcvs/s1600-h/n1%5B5%5D.jpg)

illustration (http://lh4.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KcgaWCfI/AAAAAAAAGr0/cZZSquIxTn4/s1600-h/n2a%5B2%5D.jpg)

illustration (http://lh6.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KfERen3I/AAAAAAAAGr8/Sb0VAeS3nKM/s1600-h/N2b%5B2%5D.jpg)

illustration (http://lh4.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KifB_yhI/AAAAAAAAGsI/O4eV2OSXAng/N3_thumb.jpg?imgmax=800)


illustration (http://lh6.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KhU85a1I/AAAAAAAAGsE/nnA-2gMCFyI/s1600-h/N3%5B2%5D.jpg)


illustration (http://lh6.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9Kj5-_N2I/AAAAAAAAGsM/f6v1q8cQDGY/s1600-h/illus2%5B2%5D.jpg)


illustration (http://lh5.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9KmQCwDXI/AAAAAAAAGsU/_suYkwtUadA/s1600-h/Illus3%5B2%5D.jpg)



THE MEANING OF LAW AND CHAOS IN DUNGEONS & DRAGONS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS TO GOOD AND EVIL

by Gary Gygax

FEBRUARY 1976

Many questions continue to arise regarding what constitutes a “lawful” act, what sort of behavior is “chaotic”, what constituted an “evil” deed, and how certain behavior is “good”. There is considerable confusion in that most dungeonmasters construe the terms “chaotic” and “evil” to mean the same thing, just as they define “lawful” and “good” to mean the same. This is scarcely surprising considering the wording of the three original volumes of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. When that was written they meant just about the same thing in my mind — notice I do not say they were synonymous in my thinking at, that time. The wording in the GREYHAWK supplement added a bit more confusion, for by the time that booklet was written some substantial differences had been determined. In fact, had I the opportunity to do D&D over I would have made the whole business very much clearer by differentiating the four categories, and many chaotic creatures would be good, while many lawful creatures would be evil. Before going into the definitions of these four terms, a graphic representation of their relative positions will help the reader to follow the further discourse. (Illustration I)

Notice first that the area of neutrality lies squarely athwart the intersection of the lines which divide the four behavioral distinctions, and it is a very small area when compared with the rest of the graph. This refers to true neutrality, not to neutrality regarding certain interactions at specific times, i.e., a war which will tend to weaken a stronger player or game element regardless of the “neutral” party’s actions can hardly be used as a measure of neutrality if it will benefit the party’s interest to have the weakening come about.

Also note that movement upon this graph is quite possible with regard to campaign participants, and the dungeonmaster should, in fact, make this a standard consideration in play. This will be discussed hereafter.

Now consider the term “Law” as opposed to “Chaos”. While they are nothing if not opposites, they are neither good nor evil in their definitions. A highly regimented society is typically governed by strict law, i.e., a dictatorship, while societies which allow more individual freedom tend to be more chaotic. The following lists of words describing the two terms point this out. I have listed the words describing the concepts in increasing order of magnitude (more or less) as far as the comparison with the meanings of the two terms in D&D is concerned:

Basically, then, “Law” is strict order and “Chaos” is complete anarchy, but of course they grade towards each other along the scale from left to right on the graph. Now consider the terms “Good” and “Evil” expressed in the same manner:

The terms “Law” and “Evil” are by no means mutually exclusive. There is no reason that there cannot be prescribed and strictly enforced rules which are unpleasant, injurious or even corrupt. Likewise “Chaos” and “Good” do not form a dichotomy. Chaos can be harmless, friendly, honest, sincere, beneficial, or pure, for that matter. This all indicates that there are actually five, rather than three, alignments, namely

The lawful/good classification is typified by the paladin, the chaotic/good alignment is typified by elves, lawful/evil is typified by the vampire, and the demon is the epitome of chaotic/evil. Elementals are neutral. The general reclassification various creatures is shown on Illustration II.

Placement of characters upon a graph similar to that in Illustration I is necessary if the dungeonmaster is to maintain a record of player-character alignment. Initially, each character should be placed squarely on the center point of his alignment, i.e., lawful/good, lawful/evil, etc. The actions of each game week will then be taken into account when determining the current position of each character. Adjustment is perforce often subjective, but as a guide the referee can consider the actions of a given player in light of those characteristics which typify his alignment, and opposed actions can further be weighed with regard to intensity. For example, reliability does not reflect as intense a lawfulness as does principled, as does righteous. Unruly does not indicate as chaotic a state as does disordered, as does lawless. Similarly, harmless, friendly, and beneficial all reflect increasing degrees of good; while unpleasant, injurious, and wicked convey progressively greater evil. Alignment does not preclude actions which typify a different alignment, but such actions will necessarily affect the position of the character performing them, and the class or the alignment of the character in question can change due to such actions, unless counter-deeds are performed to balance things. The player-character who continually follows any alignment (save neutrality) to the absolute letter of its definition must eventually move off the chart (Illustration I) and into another plane of existence as indicated. Note that selfseeking is neither lawful nor chaotic, good nor evil, except in relation to other sapient creatures. Also, law and chaos are not subject to interpretation in their ultimate meanings of order and disorder respectively, but good and evil are not absolutes but must be judged from a frame of reference, some ethos. The placement of creatures on the chart of Illustration II. reflects the ethos of this writer to some extent.

Considering mythical and mythos gods in light of this system, most of the benign ones will tend towards the chaotic/good, and chaotic/evil will typify those gods which were inimical towards humanity. Some few would be completely chaotic, having no predisposition towards either good or evil — REH’s Crom perhaps falls into this category. What then about interaction between different alignments? This question is tricky and must be given careful consideration. Diametric opposition exists between lawful/good and chaotic/evil and between chaotic/good and lawful/evil in this ethos. Both good and evil can serve lawful ends, and conversely they may both serve chaotic ends. If we presuppose that the universal contest is between law and chaos we must assume that in any final struggle the minions of each division would be represented by both good and evil beings. This may seem strange at first, but if the major premise is accepted it is quite rational. Barring such a showdown, however, it is far more plausible that those creatures predisposed to good actions will tend to ally themselves against any threat of evil, while creatures of evil will likewise make (uneasy) alliance in order to gain some mutually beneficial end — whether at the actual expense of the enemy or simply to prevent extinction by the enemy. Evil creatures can be bound to service by masters predisposed towards good actions, but a lawful/good character would fain make use of some chaotic/evil creature without severely affecting his lawful (not necessarily good) standing.

This brings us to the subject of those character roles which are not subject to as much latitude of action as the others. The neutral alignment is self-explanatory, and the area of true neutrality is shown on Illustration I. Note that paladins, Patriarchs, and Evil High Priests, however, have positive boundaries. The area in which a paladin may move without loss of his status is shown in Illustration III. Should he cause his character to move from this area he must immediately seek a divine quest upon which to set forth in order to gain his status once again, or be granted divine intervention; in those cases where this is not complied with the status is forever lost. Clerics of either good or evil predisposition must likewise remain completely good or totally evil, although lateral movement might be allowed by the dungeonmaster, with or without divine retribution. Those top-level clerics who fail to maintain their goodness or evilness must make some form of immediate atonement. If they fail to do so they simply drop back to seventh level. The atonement, as well as how immediate it must be, is subject to interpretation by the referee. Druids serve only themselves and nature, they occasionally make human sacrifice, but on the other hand they aid the folk in agriculture and animal husbandry. Druids are, therefore, neutral — although slightly predisposed towards evil actions.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-orkrl_JCxGo/VKMvSEOdLCI/AAAAAAAAC30/BVIa-CwK4Gg/s1600/531001_400433280025300_1590190270_n.jpg

"As a final note, most of humanity falls into the lawful category, and most of lawful humanity lies near the line between good and evil. With proper leadership the majority will be prone towards lawful/good. Few humans are chaotic, and very few are chaotic and evil"

- E. Gary Gygax

http://hilobrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/gygax-futurama.jpg


So the article added the "good and evil axis", but made clear in this graph:
http://lh6.ggpht.com/mitchaskari/SN9Kj5-_N2I/AAAAAAAAGsM/f6v1q8cQDGY/s1600/illus2%5B2%5D.jpg

..that creatures don't just exist on one of nine points of ethics/morality, there's a range:

Also in the article (http://themagictreerpg.blogspot.com/2008/09/history-of-alignment-in-d-part-i.html?m=1) Gygax states:

"Placement of characters upon a graph similar to that in Illustration I is necessary if the dungeonmaster is to maintain a record of player-character alignment. Initially, each character should be placed squarely on the center point of his alignment, i.e., lawful/good, lawful/evil, etc. The actions of each game week will then be taken into account when determining the current position of each character. Adjustment is perforce often subjective, but as a guide the referee can consider the actions of a given player in light of those characteristics which typify his alignment, and opposed actions can further be weighed with regard to intensity....

....Alignment does not preclude actions which typify a different alignment, but such actions will necessarily affect the position of the character performing them, and the class or the alignment of the character in question can change due to such actions, unless counter-deeds are performed to balance things."


So in general "Law" was the side of humanity, and "Chaos" was on the side of the supernatural in Anderson and early Moorcock, and very early D&D, but 'Good" and "Evil" complicate matters.

Per Gygax, I infer from that "Alignment" didn't control the PC's actions, PC actions are a guide to what "Alignment" the DM rules a character is for game effects.

So I leave the entry blank, and let the DM deal with the alignment claptrap (frankly as a player I'd rather keep a character possessions inventory sheet and foist the "stats" on the DM anyway)!

But oD&D was just "guidelines", nothing was "official" until Advanced Dungeons & Dragons which was a completely different game!

"No royalties for you Arneson! Mine all Mine! Bwahahaha!
Wait, what's that Blume?"
-Gygax


:biggrin:

Fitting as a "bridge" between oD&D, and AD&D, the 1977 "Basic Set" had a "5 point Alignment system" (Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral), but the 1978 Players Handbook had the full "nine-points" that we know today.

CHARACTER ALIGNMENT
Characters may be lawful (good or evil), neutral or chaotic (good or evil). Lawful characters always act according to a highly regulated code of behavior, whether for good or evil. Chaotic characters are quite
unpredictable and can not be depended upon to do anything except the unexpected -- they are often, but not always, evil. Neutral characters, such as all thieves, are motivated by self interest and may steal from their companions or betray them if it is in their own best interest. Players may choose any alignment they want and need not reveal it to others. Note that the code of lawful good characters insures that they would tell everyone that they are lawful. There are some magical items that can be used only by one alignment of characters. If the Dungeon Master feels that a character has begun to behave in a manner inconsistent with his declared alignment he may rule that he or she has changed alignment and penalize the character with a loss of experience points. An example of such behavior would be a "good" character who kills or tortures a prisoner.
https://retrorpg.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/screen-shot-2011-03-10-at-4-43-37-pm.png

Alignment
After generating the abilities of your character, selecting his or her race, and deciding upon a class, it is necessary to determine the alignment of the character. It is possible that the selection of the class your character will profess has predetermined alignment: a druid is neutral, a paladin is lawful good, a thief can be neutral or evil, an assassin is always evil. Yet, except for druids and paladins, such restrictions still leave latitude - the thief can be lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, chaotic evil, chaotic neutral, neutral, or even neutral good; and the assassin has nearly as many choices. The alignments possible for characters are described below.

Chaotic Evil: The major precepts of this alignment are freedom, randomness, and woe. Laws and order, kindness, and good deeds are disdained. life has no value. By promoting chaos and evil, those of this alignment hope to bring themselves to positions of power, glory, and prestige in a system ruled by individual caprice and their own whims.

Chaotic Good: While creatures of this alignment view freedom and the randomness of action as ultimate truths, they likewise place value on life and the welfare of each individual. Respect for individualism is also great.
By promoting the gods of chaotic good, characters of this alignment seek to spread their values throughout the world.

Chaotic Neutral: Above respect for life and good, or disregard for life and promotion of evil, the chaotic neutral places randomness and disorder.
Good and evil are complimentary balance arms. Neither are preferred, nor must either prevail, for ultimate chaos would then suffer.

Lawful Evil: Creatures of this alignment are great respecters of laws and strict order, but life, beauty, truth, freedom and the like are held as valueless, or at least scorned.
By adhering to stringent discipline, those of
lawful evil alignment hope to impose their yoke upon the world.

Lawful Good: While as strict in their prosecution of law and order, characters of lawful good alignment follow these precepts to improve the common weal. Certain freedoms must, of course, be sacrificed in order to bring order; but truth is of highest value, and life and beauty of great importance. The benefits of this society are to be brought to all.

Lawful Neutral: Those of this alignment view regulation as all-important, taking a middle road betwixt evil and good. This is because the ultimate harmony of the world -and the whole of the universe - is considered by lawful neutral creatures to have its sole hope rest upon law and order. Evil or good are immaterial beside the determined purpose of bringing all to predictability and regulation.

Neutral Evil: The neutral evil creature views law and chaos as unnecessary
considerations, for pure evil is all-in-all. Either might be used, but both are
disdained as foolish clutter useless in eventually bringing maximum evilness to the world.

Neutral Good: Unlike those directly opposite them (neutral evil) in
alignment, creatures of neutral good believe that there must be some regulation in combination with freedoms if the best is to be brought to the world - the most beneficial conditions for living things in general and intelligent creatures in particular.

True Neutral: The "true" neutral looks upon all other alignments as facets
of the system of things. Thus, each aspect - evil and good, chaos and law - of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even
then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be, provided the "wheel" surrounding the hub of nature does not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces - such as
human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be.

Naturally, there are all variations and shades of tendencies within each alignment. The descriptions are generalizations only. A character can be basically good in its "true" neutrality, or tend towards evil. It is probable
that your campaign referee will keep a graph of the drift.of your character on the alignment chart. This is affected by the actions (and desires) of your character during the course of each adventure, and will be reflected on the graph. You may find that these actions are such as to cause the declared alignment to be shifted towards, or actually to, some other.
-1978 PHB

Anyway, the '79 DMG recommended graphing a PC's Alignment, and if they slipped into a new one they'd lose one level of experience,
"If the alignment change is involuntary (such as caused by a powerful magic, a curse etc.), then the character can regain all of the losses (level, hit die, etc.) upon returning to his or her former alignment as soon as possible and after making atonement through a cleric of the same alignment - and sacrificing treasure which has a value of not less than 10,000 g.p. per level of experience of the character."

That'll teach those pesky PC's not to stray!


:amused:

Oh and
"Until the character has again achieved his or her former level of experience held prior to change of alignment, he or she will not be able to converse in the former alignment's tongue nor will anything but the rudest signalling be possible in the new alignment language."


1e AD&D DM's were always supplied with pizza with the correct toppings!


:wink:

(Not really, I have no memory of those rules ever being used at any table that I played).

Wisely the 1981 "Basic rules" went back to Law/Neutral/Chaos, which was retained in the Alignment

An alignment is a code of behavior or way of
life which guides the actions and thoughts of characters and monsters. There are three alignments in the D&D® game: Law, Chaos, and Neutrality. Players may choose the alignments they feel will best fit their characters. A player does not have to tell other players what alignment he or she has picked, but must tell the Dungeon Master. Most Lawful characters will reveal their alignments if asked. When picking alignments, the characters should know that Chaotics cannot be trusted, even by other Chaotics. A Chaotic character does not work well with other PCs.
Alignments give characters guidelines,to live by. They are not absolute rules: characters will try to follow their alignment guidelines, but may not always be successful. To better understand the philosophies behind them, let's define the three alignments.
Law (or Lawful)
Law is the belief that everything should follow an order, and that obeying rules is the natural way of life. Lawful creatures will try to tell the truth, obey laws that are fair, keep promises, and care for all living things.
If a choice must be made between the benefit of a group or an individual, a Lawful character will usually choose the group. Sometimes individual freedoms must be given up for the good
Lawful characters and monsters often act in predictable ways. Lawful behavior is usually the same as "good" behavior.
Chaos (or Chaotic)
Chaos is the opposite of Law. It is the belief
that life is random and that chance and luck rule the world. Laws are made to be broken, as long as a person can get away with it. It is not important to keep promises, and lying and telling the truth are both useful.
To a Chaotic creature, the individual is the
most important of all things. Selfishness is the normal way of life, and the group is not important. Chaotics often act on sudden desires and whims. They have strong belief in the power of luck. They cannot always be trusted. Chaotic behavior is usually the same as behavior that could be called "evil." Each individual player must decide if his Chaotic character is closer to a mean, selfish "evil" personality or merely a happy-go-lucky, unpredictable personality.
Neutrality (or Neutral)
Neutrality is the belief that the world is a balance between Law and Chaos. It is important that neither side get too much power and upset this balance. The individual is important, but so is the group; the two sides must work together.
A Neutral character is most interested in per-
sonal survival. Such characters believe in their own wits and abilities rather than luck. They tend to return the treatment they receive from others. Neutral characters will join a party if they think it is in their own best interest, but will not be overly helpful unless there is some sort of profit in it. Neutral behavior may be considered "good" or "evil" (or neither).
Alignment Behavior
Take this situation as an example: A group of player characters is attacked by a large number of monsters. Escape is not possible unless the monsters are slowed down.
A Lawful character will fight to protect the
group, regardless of the danger. The character will not run away unless the whole group does so or is otherwise safe.
A Neutral character will fight to protect the
group as long as it is reasonably safe to do so. If the danger is too great, the character will try to save himself, even at the expense of the rest of the party.
A Chaotic character might fight the monsters or he might run away immediately—Chaotics are, as always, unpredictable. The character may not even care what happened to the rest of the party.
Playing an alignment does not mean a character must do stupid things. A character should always act as intelligently as the Intelligence score indicates, unless there is a reason to act otherwise (such as a magical curse).
Alignment Languages
Each alignment has a secret language of passwords, hand signals, and other body motions.
Player characters and intelligent monsters always know their alignment languages. They will also recognize when another alignment language is being spoken, but will not understand it. Alignment languages have no written form. A character may not learn a different alignment language unless he changes alignments. In such a case, the character forgets the old alignment language and starts using the new one immediately....

Unfortunately 'Law' was "usually "Good"', and 'Chaos' was "usually Evil", but "not always".

Because my 2e to 4e books are on a higher shelf (and I never played those versions) than my 0e/1e AD&D/BX/RC/5e books (which I have played some) I'll just give you this link (http://www.ruleofcool.com/smf/index.php?topic=691.0) for info on those editions Alignment systems (all praise to Kish for the link).

For 5e I still see the point of Alignments in the Monster Manual, but now that D&D has dropped ""Alignment Languages", I'm not sure what the point is of players writing one on their character record sheets, as "Ideals", "Flaws", "Bonds", etc. seem to replace "Alignment" as a role-playing aide.
*whew*

Now, I'll just tell you which Alignments are what most DM's (in my experience) are less likely to tell you that "You're not playing your Alignment",
(From least likely to incur "You're not playing your Alignment", to most)

1) Neutral Evil

2) True Neutral

3) Chaotic Evil

4) Lawful Evil

5) Lawful Neutral

6) Chaotic Good (most are wrong in their interpretation of this Alignment IMNSHO, but whatever)

7) Chaotic Neutral

8) Neutral Good

and the one that your DM is least likely to consider you "Doing it right":

9) Lawful Good.

Now make with the pizza slice already.

Please.

Kaptin Keen
2019-09-10, 08:00 AM
"A grey mountain against a grey sky" and "A locked and barred grey castle" are descriptions of different Neutral characters Dragonbait has seen.

A lich's aura was described as "sucking in emotions, a vortex of hate and fear"."

And a good but jealous person was "blue with green flecks".

Ok .. well, that sounds like the author has ideas similar to my own. Interesting.

Are the books any good?

Evil DM Mark3
2019-09-10, 08:11 AM
In before the flame war and lock...

Anyway, Alignment works perfectly fine at the job it was invented for. Alignment allows you to have a world that functions under a clear, melodramatic, fantasy morality. Alignment works best in games of heroes and villains, of loyal knights and duplicitous thieves. It allows you to mark certain people are righteous without spending hours debating their motives, if allows you to commit what might be argued as warcrimes without it because you know that all members of the horde attacking you have malicious intent, it lets certain magic exist without being part of the PC's domain because it is just too evil to use.

Alignment serves to facilitate the tone of the typical DnD game. It is a tool, like magic item tables and challenge ratings, it creates a certain tone and feel. If you want to play a game with dark and frustrated morality? Play a game built to facilitate that or be prepared to do surgery on those parts of DnD that exist to let the players be morally righteous and noble heroes fighting dark and perfidious evil.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 09:06 AM
Ok .. well, that sounds like the author has ideas similar to my own. Interesting.

Are the books any good?

By D&D novel standards at least, I thought they were very good. The authors, Jeff Grubb & Kate Novak, have written in other franchises besides D&D - Starcraft, and Star Wars, and their works have been consistently good whatever the franchise, to me.

In D&D, with that paladin as a support character, there's two of the 3 book Finder's Stone trilogy (Azure Bonds, The Wyvern's Spur, Song of the Saurials - he's in 1 and 3), and Masquerades (in the Harpers series)

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-10, 09:26 AM
In before the flame war and lock...

Anyway, Alignment works perfectly fine at the job it was invented for. Alignment allows you to have a world that functions under a clear, melodramatic, fantasy morality. Alignment works best in games of heroes and villains, of loyal knights and duplicitous thieves. It allows you to mark certain people are righteous without spending hours debating their motives, if allows you to commit what might be argued as warcrimes without it because you know that all members of the horde attacking you have malicious intent, it lets certain magic exist without being part of the PC's domain because it is just too evil to use.

Alignment serves to facilitate the tone of the typical DnD game. It is a tool, like magic item tables and challenge ratings, it creates a certain tone and feel. If you want to play a game with dark and frustrated morality? Play a game built to facilitate that or be prepared to do surgery on those parts of DnD that exist to let the players be morally righteous and noble heroes fighting dark and perfidious evil.

To me, this just runs the risk of "We're The Good Guys, so anything we do by definition is Good -- see, it even says so on our character sheets." That is, the aforementioned "team jersey morality".

kyoryu
2019-09-10, 09:58 AM
I am 100% against Team Jersey Morality

Gallowglass
2019-09-10, 10:05 AM
I... agree With Gallowglass?

That hurt.


A shot of penicillin will clear that right up.

Evil DM Mark3
2019-09-10, 11:04 AM
To me, this just runs the risk of "We're The Good Guys, so anything we do by definition is Good -- see, it even says so on our character sheets." That is, the aforementioned "team jersey morality".Oh sure, like I said its a tool and tools can be used well or poorly.

Lets look at the grandfather of DnD, The Lord of the Rings. This is a setting with the sort of high fantasy morality I was talking about, and it has entire races of creatures that are explicitly all evil. Tolkien even said later that his biggest stumbling block with Orcs was trying to find a way their entire species could be evil without them being born evil, which he didn't feel was possible. We also have Sam muse on the reasons why an Easterling would be the way he was, but there is no doubt anywhere that that way is "evil." Its a world with titanic forces of malevolence, the Balrog and Sauron are Evil with a capitol MUHAHAHAHAHA!

This doesn't make Boromir's fall any less tragic or his actions any less immoral. It doesn't make Treebeard's world view any less alien or Galadriel's temptation any less traumatic. It doesn't make the fundamental clash of Gimli and Legolas' world views any less difficult, or their eventual friendship any less valuable. It doesn't make Wormtonge's cowardice or Sam's earnestness any less poignant. It just paints these things in bright colours to heighten the contrast.

If you want shades of gray, and I know a lot of people do, then no I would say you should ditch alignment, or else make 90% of the members of sapient races TN.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 11:12 AM
IMO, Shades of Grey (which is very much Eberron's thing) work better, not with 90% of people being TN, but with a near-even spread, like Eberron has.

Result - Evil is not a minuscule minority that Good and Neutral can safely persecute - but a functioning part of society.

Mark Hall
2019-09-10, 11:12 AM
One thing that has always bothered me with the generally old-school position that "Orcs, goblins, etc., are always evil because that's what they're listed as in the Monster Manual" (not one I have seen here, but one I have seen) is that they never seem to apply the same logic to dwarves, elves, halflings, etc.

Evil DM Mark3
2019-09-10, 11:21 AM
IMO, Shades of Grey (which is very much Eberron's thing) work better, not with 90% of people being TN, but with a near-even spread, like Eberron has.

Result - Evil is not a minuscule minority that Good and Neutral can safely persecute - but a functioning part of society.I can see that. I was thinking more along the line of "If it isn't undeniably, undeniably GOOD with a capitol G double O D and a celestial chorus then it doesn't get the label." Charlie Bucket is good, The Trunchbul is Evil, everyone else has to work out where in the mass of neutral they stand.

Shades of grey can be mistaken for black or white unless you include a reference material to remind everyone why they aren't.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 11:32 AM
Charlie Bucket is good, The Trunchbul is Evil, everyone else has to work out where in the mass of neutral they stand.

In your proposed model, Charlie wouldn't be Good, he'd be Neutral. And The Trunchbull would be only borderline evil unless Miss Honey's theory that she's a murderer, is correct.

This is why I prefer the broader model - it allows Wormwood to be CE for all his cons, his bullying of Matilda, his selling of dangerously flawed cars, etc.

Willie the Duck
2019-09-10, 11:32 AM
One thing that has always bothered me with the generally old-school position that "Orcs, goblins, etc., are always evil because that's what they're listed as in the Monster Manual" (not one I have seen here, but one I have seen) is that they never seem to apply the same logic to dwarves, elves, halflings, etc.

I don't feel that old school (either 'as we played, back in the day' or the modern invention that is the old school renaissance) really have a consistent position on if orcs, goblins, etc. are always evil (nor, if they are always evil, why). Obviously, each individual rulebook had specific language, and good ol' Gary had lots to say on the subject (including a justification on killing orc babies that doesn't hold up to the slightest scrutiny), but I feel that that was given about as much weight as the Weapon vs. Armor Class table or the admonition against high level gaming because the gawds in Deities Demigods and Heroes were merely XYZ power level. The general zeitgeist was more 'these are listed as evil in the MM, and it's up to you to decide why (or if).' And frankly, it often was a hodgepodge.

Evil DM Mark3
2019-09-10, 11:40 AM
In your proposed model, Charlie wouldn't be Good, he'd be Neutral. And The Trunchbull would be only borderline evil unless Miss Honey's theory that she's a murderer, is correct.

This is why I prefer the broader model - it allows Wormwood to be CE for all his cons, his bullying of Matilda, his selling of dangerously flawed cars, etc.I'm not going to detail this thread with a Charlie Bucket alignment argument, (although if going into teaching seemingly so you can torture children is only borderline I think the line got moved further than I imagined) as it meant it as an illustration. As I said, my recommendation for shades of grey is to rip out alignment. If you goal is to have a "are we the real mosnters" moment, you don't want someone to whip out a scroll and then say "Nope." Likewise if you are about to have a battle which may result in genocide being able to go "we know for a fact its this or let them do it to us" lets you have your Epic Fantasy Battle Scene without having to RP PTSD afterwards.

Tools for jobs.


One thing that has always bothered me with the generally old-school position that "Orcs, goblins, etc., are always evil because that's what they're listed as in the Monster Manual" (not one I have seen here, but one I have seen) is that they never seem to apply the same logic to dwarves, elves, halflings, etc.Really strange thing I never get to bring up. The MM for 3.5 has three alignment levels, Always (which means exceptions are notable freaks of nature) Usually (which means exceptions are rare but are known to exist) and Often (which means this is the most likely alignment but others are not rare enough to be noteworthy).

Or something like that.

Anyway, not only are Orcs not Always CE (Always only applies to TN or stuff like Dragons or extra-planar creatures) Orcs are the the only creature in that entire book to use Often. Or at least I never found another one. And I looked. Years ago, I admit, but I looked.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 11:49 AM
Dwarves are Often Lawful Good, and Duergar Often Lawful Evil:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/dwarf.htm

Evil DM Mark3
2019-09-10, 12:27 PM
Dwarves are Often Lawful Good, and Duergar Often Lawful Evil:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/dwarf.htmThat's what I get for opening my, er, fingers.

Still it is weird that there are so few.

Willie the Duck
2019-09-10, 12:32 PM
That's what I get for opening my, er, fingers.

Still it is weird that there are so few.

Perhaps disagreement on the dev team on what the distinction between 'often' and 'usually' really was.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 01:03 PM
Perhaps disagreement on the dev team on what the distinction between 'often' and 'usually' really was.

"Often" means 40% to 50% inclusive. "Usually" means more than 50%. How much more, varies considerably. According to MM, Kobolds and Beholders are both Usually LE, but exceptions are much more common for Kobolds than for Beholders.

Mark Hall
2019-09-10, 01:05 PM
I don't feel that old school (either 'as we played, back in the day' or the modern invention that is the old school renaissance) really have a consistent position on if orcs, goblins, etc. are always evil (nor, if they are always evil, why). Obviously, each individual rulebook had specific language, and good ol' Gary had lots to say on the subject (including a justification on killing orc babies that doesn't hold up to the slightest scrutiny), but I feel that that was given about as much weight as the Weapon vs. Armor Class table or the admonition against high level gaming because the gawds in Deities Demigods and Heroes were merely XYZ power level. The general zeitgeist was more 'these are listed as evil in the MM, and it's up to you to decide why (or if).' And frankly, it often was a hodgepodge.

It's a fairly common position in some places I've hung out on line; not blaming anyone here.

I'd be interesting in seeing the justification for killing orc babies you're talking about.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 01:17 PM
Gygax on "non-combatants in a humanoid group"

https://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=11762&start=75


The non-combatants in a humanoid group might be judged as worthy of death by a LG opponent force and executed or taken as prisoners to be converted to the correct way of thinking and behaving. A NG opponent would likely admonish them to change their ways before freeing them. A CG force might enslave them so as to correct their ways or else do as the NG party did. CN and LN opponents would likely slaughter the lot. Evil opponents would enlist, enslave, or execute them according to the nature of the Evil victors and that of the survivors. Enlistment would be for those of like alignment, slaughter for those opposite the victors' predisposition to order or disorder. Enslavement is an option for any sort of Evil desiring workers.


Along with:

Paladins are not stupid, and in general there is no rule of Lawful Good against killing enemies. The old addage about nits making lice applies.

and

A paladin is qualified to be judge and jury--assuming he is acting according to the oath he took to gain his status.

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-10, 01:41 PM
Gygax on "non-combatants in a humanoid group"

https://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=11762&start=75


The non-combatants in a humanoid group might be judged as worthy of death by a LG opponent force and executed or taken as prisoners to be converted to the correct way of thinking and behaving. A NG opponent would likely admonish them to change their ways before freeing them. A CG force might enslave them so as to correct their ways or else do as the NG party did. CN and LN opponents would likely slaughter the lot. Evil opponents would enlist, enslave, or execute them according to the nature of the Evil victors and that of the survivors. Enlistment would be for those of like alignment, slaughter for those opposite the victors' predisposition to order or disorder. Enslavement is an option for any sort of Evil desiring workers.


Along with:

Paladins are not stupid, and in general there is no rule of Lawful Good against killing enemies. The old addage about nits making lice applies.

and

A paladin is qualified to be judge and jury--assuming he is acting according to the oath he took to gain his status.


And yet I get serious grief and told I'm "mistaking preference for fact" when I call Alignment monstrous and immoral...

:smalleek:

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 01:47 PM
And yet I get serious grief and told I'm "mistaking preference for fact" when I call Alignment monstrous and immoral...

:smalleek:
That was alignment back in Gygax's day. A BoED character would lose their Exalted Feats for killing "orc noncombatants" - or orc combatants that had surrendered and been taken prisoner for judgement - even if attacking the village itself had been justified by their raids - raids that needed to be stopped.

The act might even be classed as Murder and result in Corruption points (FC2) and a high risk of going to Baator (rising to certainty after the second untoned for Murder)

BoED takes the approach that adventurers should not be acting as judge and jury over defeated, surrendered foes.

And that attacking an orc village that is not raiding its neighbours, is not acceptable.


Which is why I find your dislike of it so surprising, since it is such a vast improvement on what came before.

Max_Killjoy
2019-09-10, 02:16 PM
That was alignment back in Gygax's day. A BoED character would lose their Exalted Feats for killing "orc noncombatants" - or orc combatants that had surrendered and been taken prisoner for judgement - even if attacking the village itself had been justified by their raids - raids that needed to be stopped.

The act might even be classed as Murder and result in Corruption points (FC2) and a high risk of going to Baator (rising to certainty after the second untoned for Murder)

BoED takes the approach that adventurers should not be acting as judge and jury over defeated, surrendered foes.

And that attacking an orc village that is not raiding its neighbours, is not acceptable.


Which is why I find your dislike of it so surprising, since it is such a vast improvement on what came before.

It's so far in the other direction it has a different problem -- instead of permitting horrible acts "because good guys" (team jersey morality) and saying things like "lawful good can send prisoners to reeducation camps" and "kill orc children before they're orc adults"... it forbids things regardless of circumstances, going with a checklist deontology that cannot account for least bad option situations, or the non-omniscience and non-omnipotence of that character.

E: I'm letting myself get sucked into this discussion topic again. I have my reasons for being severely put off by every version of Alignment I've read, leave it at that.

hamishspence
2019-09-10, 02:28 PM
Personally, I think the "golden mean" between Gygaxian morality and BoED morality, is a lot closer to the BoED end, than the Gygaxian end.

(I also think 4e's "leave mechanical penalties out of it" approach was a good start).

Willie the Duck
2019-09-10, 02:55 PM
"Often" means 40% to 50% inclusive. "Usually" means more than 50%. How much more, varies considerably. According to MM, Kobolds and Beholders are both Usually LE, but exceptions are much more common for Kobolds than for Beholders.

I know what it's stated to mean, that doesn't mean that that everyone on the design team was going to use it that way, nor agreed that monster X should be often or usually, nor frankly necessarily remembered that they both existed (it reminds me of Int, Cha, and Str saves in 5e that way).


And yet I get serious grief and told I'm "mistaking preference for fact" when I call Alignment monstrous and immoral... :smalleek:

Well, firstly, everyone here discussing that quote was calling it out as bad. Secondly, it falls under the "That stinks and they should change it.""They did." stuff we've been through. Painting every iteration of alignment with this brush (which, what, 2-3 of us present were even aware of the existence of) is fairly over-broad. Thirdly, which is more likely, that entire groups of unrelated individuals are just being completely unreasonable to you, or that there is something about the way you go about things that engenders confrontation? But mostly, fourthly, Gygax was undeniably ham-handed in discussing (ham-tongued?) a lot more than just alignment. If the lens that we judge D&D (even just TSR-era D&D) is through the lens of what Gary had to say about things, well boy does that change things. It kind of becomes Lucas and Star Wars, except with Gygax, even he didn't agree with himself on what the game was or how it should be played (which is to say he changed his mind on things, including some very fundamental things). That kind of gets us to navel-gazing questions like what the 'real D&D' was --what was written in the books, what was written in the books plus supplemental material like op ed. columns in Dragon, how Gary and his band played it, how others played it (which Mark Hall and my differing experience highlights was not homogenous), etc. etc. etc.

Suffice to say, if you want to have a negative impression of D&D alignment, there is more than enough material there to support that conclusion. I'm honestly more inclined to agree with your impression on BoED-era 3e alignment, as it was clear that they took it fairly seriously. In the TSR era, I at least think there's reason to believe that it was mostly just a hand-wavy way to explain why the dungeon denizens were acceptable targets and the reason that it holds up like wet tissue is that it wasn't considered that important.


BoED takes the approach that adventurers should not be acting as judge and jury over defeated, surrendered foes.

And that attacking an orc village that is not raiding its neighbours, is not acceptable.

Which is why I find your dislike of it so surprising, since it is such a vast improvement on what came before.

I'm not Max, and he can explain his reasoning. For me, as I was alluding to, BoED takes the whole thing more seriously. People use the term 'video-gamey' as an insult for TTRPGs and it's not clear to me why. However, much of the game, bitd (at least for some) was- 'scenario: here is a dungeon, it is full of treasure and monsters. They're the 'bad guys' (why? well, uh, trust us, they've done bad stuff and will do the same to you if they catch you). You're goal is to get the treasure from them and get it back to town. Why? Because it's fun!' Does it not hold up to rigorous scrutiny? Of course not! It wasn't meant to*! Unless you wanted it to, and you were trusted to make that work for you if you did.
*And yes, the didactic tone of the AD&D DMG that people rarely read through cover-to-cover (and used without alteration even less) is in opposition to this point, but even its' author went back and forth on whether to treat is as sacrosanct


Personally, I think the "golden mean" between Gygaxian morality and BoED morality, is a lot closer to the BoED end, than the Gygaxian end.

(I also think 4e's "leave mechanical penalties out of it" approach was a good start).

I'll vote 5e's (descriptive, not proscriptive) take as the best I've seen of the D&D takes. Not super familiar with 4e's alignment discussion, but it sounds similar.

Anymage
2019-09-10, 02:57 PM
(I also think 4e's "leave mechanical penalties out of it" approach was a good start).

And 5e was nice for continuing that trend. Really, the deeper issue is how often 3.x D&D is treated as the universal default for all RPGs.

Otherwise, all I can do is repeat something I said upthread. On the one hand, you're never going to fully excise alignment. It's handy for a lot of simple heroism stories that people like to tell, and more importantly it's been around forever and is part of D&D brand identity by now. (For very liberal uses of the word "forever", granted.) On the other hand, it falls apart if you think about it too hard and gets in the way of many other stories. As such, it should be easy to excise for people who don't want it.

denthor
2019-09-10, 03:21 PM
Looking at your first post I gave you a real in game situation.

Your a DM did you find the dwarf that climbed the tree to be what alignment?

The monk that asked for a pledge what alignment.

The dwarf that murdered the wizard.

The others that cast spells on themselves or did nothing.

The wizard that wanted to stop the minor theft?

These are all actions that were taken as a DM your job if you do not like the alignment system is to judge the actions on the soul of the PC otherwise your right it is meaningless.

You have 10 actions that contribute to an overall what are you in the universe.

patchyman
2019-09-10, 04:46 PM
And yet I get serious grief and told I'm "mistaking preference for fact" when I call Alignment monstrous and immoral...

:smalleek:

That iteration of alignment was particularly awful. My introduction to alignment in D&D was in that edition with the sidebar that explicitly said that CN acts randomly because LOLZ! and the TN would totally switch sides in the middle of a fight because reasons.

Hmm, come to think of it 3rd ed was also awful, but in a different way.

patchyman
2019-09-10, 04:51 PM
I don’t like alignment. As a DM, I don’t require it, but I don’t stop players from including it if they want to.

As a player, I will include something if the DM insists, but I judge fellow players on their acts, not their alignment, and even evil acts lead me to try to redeem the character, not skewer them.

MonstarDM
2019-09-10, 05:08 PM
I like the Alignment System just fine and have used it for decades.

On the Cosmic there are Forces, Beings snd Creatures that are pure Alignments that are all against each other...if not in out right war with each other.

Down to Earth...each living being choices the alignment they want to be by thier actions.

jjordan
2019-09-10, 05:37 PM
Devils - Creatures from another thread of reality. Their very matter is alien to ours and being in our thread of reality for long is painful and can be deadly. They have been at war with the celestial realities for aeons. Sometimes hot wars, sometimes cold wars. They seek to add other realities to their own in order to strengthen their reality for the ongoing/coming conflict. They tend to work through local agents. Those exposed to the infernal reality are typically changed by it.

Angels - Creatures from another thread of reality. Their very matter is alien to ours and being in our thread of reality for long is painful and can be deadly. They have been at war with the infernal realities for aeons. Sometimes hot wars, sometimes cold wars. They seek to add other realities to their own in order to strengthen their reality for the ongoing/coming conflict. Some of them are motivated to protect other realities from the predation of infernal and/or abyssal realities. This protection can sometimes be given whether or not it is desired.

Demons - Creatures from another thread of reality. Their very matter is alien to ours and being in our thread of reality for long is painful and can be deadly. Cosmologists differ as to whether these were once devils or angels (and since devils were once angels it doesn't particularly matter). They exist in frozen loops of time where all energy has been consumed and nothing new ever happens, for an infinite time that they can't ignore. They are insane and desperate for new experiences, new time, new energy. When they encounter a new reality they corrupt local agents and attempt to break through and consume everything, destroying the entire thread with their ravenous consumption.

Aliens - Creatures from another thread of reality. Their very matter is alien to ours and being in our thread of reality for long is painful and can be deadly. These beings are so alien to our existence that their actions are incomprehensible.

The energy of these creatures is detectable and is something that magically studying a person/creature will reveal.

For those untouched by these other realities I tend to take the words used in the alignment system and replace them with words that describe concepts I associate with those words. If someone does a magical investigation of a creature or person I can look at the alignment notes I have on them, scribble some of the associated words on a piece of paper, and hand that to the player to give them an impression.

And that's how I deal with the alignment system.

Karl Aegis
2019-09-10, 06:08 PM
"Often" alignments are the good guys. You can trust them as long as you don't disrespect their culture.

"Usually" alignments are foreigners. Don't trust them, stay away from them.

"Always" alignments are aliens. Kill on sight or run away as fast as you can.

Duff
2019-09-10, 08:12 PM
Use it for it's mechanical effects - Can the Paladin Smite me?, Will Unholy blight hurt? http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0011.html or you need to house rule how such powers work or that they don't.
Use it as shorthand for which "side" a person is on if that's the way your players, your characters or the campaign work.

But always remember, alignment is not personality. Whether you make the personality fit the alignment (so you can play a paladin for example) or the alignment fit the personality (every character where alignment is not a defining feature).

Corneel
2019-09-11, 06:23 AM
I don't like alignment systems, especially ones with "Good" and "Evil", as they often complicate a more nuanced approach to adventures where it might not always be clear who's in the right and who's in the wrong. Zealots and Well-Intentioned Extremists are much harder to justify in such frameworks.
The Law-Chaos axis could be interesting but it's not very well executed in D&D, where they try to associate too many things with each of the two opposites that are not necessarily related.

An alignment system that would be more like for instance the colour wheel of Magic, the Gathering could be more interesting, with each colour representing one or more values a person of that alignment would value the most. Eg. liberty, justice, tradition, progress, knowledge.

A Paladin type of character class doesn't necessary need an alignment system. An oath and a set of do's and don't's, that can even vary from one order to another, can work just as well (and maybe even better) without an alignment system. It would also be a much better explanation of why a character like Miko didn't fall any earlier.

MoiMagnus
2019-09-11, 06:55 AM
1) I throw away any alignment restriction. Want to make a Chaotic Good paladin? Sure, just explain me what kind of chaotic good god you want to serve, why they would want a paladin, and I'm even ok to add this god to the pantheon if it didn't already exist.

2) I disconnect magical alignment from philosophical alignment. This include changing, if not trowing away, how the afterlife works in official settings, but I've never really liked them anyway. Mortal peoples only have neutral magical alignment unless they use magic from an aligned source (so a cleric will always be detected with the alignment of its god, regardless of his philosophical alignment). Philosophical alignment is purely descriptive, mostly undetectable (mind reading can detect it), and as worthy as other traits of personality you write on you character sheet.

jjordan
2019-09-11, 09:28 AM
1) I throw away any alignment restriction. Want to make a Chaotic Good paladin? Sure, just explain me what kind of chaotic good god you want to serve, why they would want a paladin, and I'm even ok to add this god to the pantheon if it didn't already exist.

2) I disconnect magical alignment from philosophical alignment. This include changing, if not trowing away, how the afterlife works in official settings, but I've never really liked them anyway. Mortal peoples only have neutral magical alignment unless they use magic from an aligned source (so a cleric will always be detected with the alignment of its god, regardless of his philosophical alignment). Philosophical alignment is purely descriptive, mostly undetectable (mind reading can detect it), and as worthy as other traits of personality you write on you character sheet.Still no like button. I could really use a like button for posts like this.

Duff
2019-09-11, 07:02 PM
A Paladin type of character class doesn't necessary need an alignment system. An oath and a set of do's and don't's, that can even vary from one order to another, can work just as well (and maybe even better) without an alignment system.

Would you drop a Paladin's Smiting power or change who it can target?

Corneel
2019-09-11, 07:25 PM
Would you drop a Paladin's Smiting power or change who it can target?
Handle it like 5e does? It's called Divine Smite and deals radiant damage (which if I understand well would hurt undead a bit more than normal people).
ETA: correction: it's the divine smite that does an extra die of damage to fiends and undead, not the fact that it is radiant

Evil DM Mark3
2019-09-12, 03:41 AM
Handle it like 5e does? It's called Divine Smite and deals radiant damage (which if I understand well would hurt undead a bit more than normal people).
ETA: correction: it's the divine smite that does an extra die of damage to fiends and undead, not the fact that it is radiantYou see, I don't like linking Smite actions to PoV or just whoever, because it can end up in situations where Paladins call down the wrath of god on that same god's own disciples. And if you start adjudicating it on a case by case basis you can end up in situations where you get into MORE ethical and philosophical debates that slow the game down, not fewer.

As for non-LG paladins, sure I can see it. LN and LE Paladins work with a little retooling. Not other alignments however. I don't see the logic in the forces of CG granting powers based on adhering to the tennants of an oath and code of conduct. That's, well, almost definitionally Lawful. I did once play a game where Barabarian was portrayed as the Chaotic champion, that could work.

Knaight
2019-09-12, 03:58 AM
I don't use it at all, and consider overly intertwined mechanical implementation of alignment a deal breaker. I'm fine with personality codification of some sort or other, but that particular implementation has never worked for me for a number of reasons.

The Gygax quote upthread is a good example of it working exceptionally poorly, but then flagrantly ignoring everything Gygax suggests is the one true way to play RPGs is pretty much my core style.

Pleh
2019-09-12, 04:50 AM
You see, I don't like linking Smite actions to PoV or just whoever, because it can end up in situations where Paladins call down the wrath of god on that same god's own disciples. And if you start adjudicating it on a case by case basis you can end up in situations where you get into MORE ethical and philosophical debates that slow the game down, not fewer.

Actually, it works fine if you allow this only to give them enough rope to hang themselves with.

So, in the heat of the moment, they can use smite "illegally" against innocents or members of their own order. But then they have to deal with the fallout. Repeated offenses (or one especially aggregious one) causes them to Fall and requires atonement.

I feel like this allows the game to not get stuck in the debate, but pressures the player to try to make good choices. If they thought it was right and they picked wrong, there's enough leniency for them to learn without instantly fizzling their Smite.

I like to think that allowing a paladin to commit wrongdoing only to realize it later is by itself a pretty harsh reprimand. Being the good guy is pretty central to their motivation.


As for non-LG paladins, sure I can see it. LN and LE Paladins work with a little retooling. Not other alignments however. I don't see the logic in the forces of CG granting powers based on adhering to the tennants of an oath and code of conduct. That's, well, almost definitionally Lawful. I did once play a game where Barabarian was portrayed as the Chaotic champion, that could work.

That's a really cool idea and it reminds me of ideas I've played with to make Paladin a scaling Feat rather than a class. You take an oath based on your alignment, bonds, and ideals, and gain one of a few level scaling benefits as long as you keep your oath (but, I like moderate enforcement and leniency here; the oath shouldn't feel empty nor a gotcha trick).

This way you get those chaotic champion barbarians who can smite or maybe a neutral fighter paladin who basically functions as a Knight

Corneel
2019-09-12, 05:30 AM
You see, I don't like linking Smite actions to PoV or just whoever, because it can end up in situations where Paladins call down the wrath of god on that same god's own disciples. And if you start adjudicating it on a case by case basis you can end up in situations where you get into MORE ethical and philosophical debates that slow the game down, not fewer.

As for non-LG paladins, sure I can see it. LN and LE Paladins work with a little retooling. Not other alignments however. I don't see the logic in the forces of CG granting powers based on adhering to the tennants of an oath and code of conduct. That's, well, almost definitionally Lawful. I did once play a game where Barabarian was portrayed as the Chaotic champion, that could work.
Well a paladin should be careful how he uses the powers he's given, and if he's regularly smiting his non-heretic co-religionaries, then there might be some need for atonement coming his way. And if you feel that the patron god of paladin should simply refuse to allow the smite, ask yourself the question if at each use of a spell or power by a cleric you check whether it advances the portfolio of the god he serves to check if it works or not.

I'd imagine the gods allow some leeway in the use of the powers they grant to their followers and servants but that abuse tallies up, and there will be first a few warnings (omens, dreams), then the revocation of some privileges (smiting power, especially if that was the power abused) before they are finally let off.

Also, some paladins follow not a god but general principles, so in that case the idea of abuse (or misguided use) of power being prevented by divine intervention is even less applicable.

The Library DM
2019-09-12, 06:19 PM
“They’re not actual rules. They’re more like— guidelines.”
— Captain Barbosa.

(And what alignment is he, any way? Lawful Evil? If so, he’s very “convenient” about it...:smallwink:)

However, when I’m running D&D at the library for teens, I’m a lot more strict about alignment, as a way to keep the inevitable edge lord and “I’m chaotic! I randomly attack the party” abuses in check. So, no, your paladin can’t torture the goblin who just surrendered, and no, your chaotic good thief can’t steal the PC wizard’s magic dagger when he’s not looking. (Well, unless it would be funny...:smallwink:) But that’s an issue of dealing with immature players and inexperienced role play than a true function of alignment. (Plus, as a public servant working with minors who come from different backgrounds and value systems, I have to maintain a tight watch on certain thematic elements and other concepts that may come up in play.)

As I understand it, the point of alignment really was to capture some of the good vs. evil, civilization v. barbarism elements of the original inspirations for the game. It was also an easy short-hand for discovering who were the party’s enemies and who were not. To some extent it also skips over questions regarding the justification of violence in the game, though I don’t think that was the initial intent. And, yes, it’s an easy guide for the DM and the players to find a “ground floor” for character and creature personality and motivations. So a broad brush approach is a good idea. But really it’s not all that necessary, and honestly I view it as a “metagame” concept, not an “in world” concept. So a player may know the cleric is lawful good, but the character herself doesn’t know that as a term, or view her actions in that prism. Instead, she is altruistic and respectful of society’s moral and legal expectations (assuming a generally “good” society), if she thinks of it as those terms— more likely it’s “I try to help others whenever I can, and obey the dictates of my deity and the just laws of the rightful king.”
Therefore, I treat “alignment languages” as merely consisting of commonly understood concepts, jargons, references that people of similar viewpoints will share, rather than an actual language. Certainly concepts that have no moral, ethical, or similar relevance wouldn’t be communicable in an “alignment language.” You might be able to discuss theology or the latest political action, but not how to make a pie, or give directions to the local tavern.
Also, the simplest solution for everything else is to rid the game of know alignment spells, etc.., and narrow it down to detect evil/good as giving a sensation of general “bent” or current intent in a character (but white-hot certainty in significant creatures like celestials, dragons, etc..).

Pleh
2019-09-13, 05:01 AM
Barbosa.

(And what alignment is he, any way? Lawful Evil? If so, he’s very “convenient” about it...:smallwink:)

I think the main cast was an exploration of different kinds of Chaotic alignments (important to remember Chaotic characters can have personal codes of ethics/conduct and even limited systems of authority, it just tends to be flexible and volatile, which is exactly what we see in the movies). I would peg Barbosa CN, though he borderlines with the Evil axis based on how he seems to enjoy small acts of cruelty. He's not even that strong Chaotic and is close to True Neutral on both sides.

olskool
2019-09-16, 12:09 PM
I'm very "old school" in my approach to DMing (just look at my posts here as proof). I follow a system similar to Professor Dungeon Master's of the Dungeon Craft YouTube channel (SHAMELESS PLUG HERE!).

My system keeps alignment "obscured" [hidden?] from the players. They all start out basically NEUTRAL and can tend towards GOOD or EVIL by the deeds they perform during the play session. Good deeds build PIETY or basically "positive Karma." Bad deeds build CORRUPTION (yes I "borrowed" this from Dungeon Craft) or "bad Karma." The players never know how many points they have accumulated but they will know which way they are "trending towards" when that Protection From Evil or Protection From Good spell affects THEM TOO! I have a 25 point track. 5 points are NEUTRAL, 10 points are GOOD and 10 points are EVIL. The players start smack in the middle of NEUTRAL. Once a player moves from NEUTRAL, the system begins to affect ALL social interactions with NPCs (and even monsters) either positively or negatively based on which way the character is "leaning" philosophically.