View Full Version : "No Alignment" House Rule and the consequences for a Paladin

2007-11-07, 07:59 AM
I was wondering about this for a possible homebrew campaign I'm a-thinkin' up. The 'detection' spells--specifically Detect Evil/Good etc. If you've got a campaign whose theme is subterfuge and concealment, a first level spell can be your undoing. What's a rogue, fighter, or anyone else without access to "undetectable alignment" to do? A first level paladin can find sift out potential villains at will. Now he may not catch them all. There are Neutral, possibly even a few Good villains out there. But the mechanics and the law of averages still stand--most evil characters, whatever their class, just don't have easy access to "undetectable alignment."
A possible solution is to take out alignment from the system together. This seems a bit drastic. A good limitation would be to provide for alignments for:
- Very high level clerics, druids or paladins (e.g. levels 15-20)
- Outsiders
- Undead
- Other creatures whose very nature means that they have a strong divine link to an aligned plane.
Thus most humanoids don't have an alignment.
The drawback is that the paladin is nerfed. His smite evil and detect evil abilities are now near useless. His Code of Conduct requires him to avoid evil characters. Now he will need to use his own good judgment in order to weed out those ne'er-do-wells.
My vague thoughts on rebalancing the Paladin without these skills are--
--Bump up his class skills to 4 per level.
--Intimidate, Gather Information, Spot and Listen are class skills.
--Bonuses to Sense Motive checks and/or Spot checks against Forgeries and/or Disguises.
Other classes are complicated somewhat by this change, but these changes are not so significant, or so it seems to me (as a person relatively new to D&D, in that I haven't played too many games). The alignment restrictions placed on bards and barbarians seem off-colour to me. They restrict player choices and don't add much to the flavour of either class. I'd take them out of normal games regardless. Monks can, if they wish, have special codes of conduct related to abiding by the law (or whatever suits their monastery, I suppose).
Another suggestion made by someone on the Dragon Avenue forums on this same topic is to allow Protection from Evil/Good spells to work based on the circumstances, rather than on alignment per se: by casting Protection from Law, one might gain bonuses against town guards. I don't think it's workable, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be happy to see them.
Lastly, any general criticisms of the efficacy of the "no alignment" house rule, suggestions as to alternative means of balancing the paladin with the rule in place or other comments are welcomed.

2007-11-07, 08:30 AM
One thing I've been thinking of for making no alignment Paladins is to make them choose one of a few different guiding principles. They would no longer have to be lawful good, but they would need to stay within whatever principle they chose. If they violate that, then they lose powers and must atone.

A good example would be Asimov's First Law of Robotics (modified, however - it's too restrictive as is. The paladin could also take something that is more lawful and less good - for example, their principle could be to extend the teachings of the church (and would likely end up wiht quite a few missions they had to undertake to do this).

I'm not sure if this helps, and the idea needs more fleshing out, but I thought you might be able to put it to good use.

For monks I was thinking that they had to meditate 8 hours a day (and this would also count as resting) to get their abilites, much like a spellcaster. If they don't get enough time they lose some of the extra ordinary abilities.

2007-11-07, 08:41 AM
Ow by the way, killing or arresting everyone with an evil alignment is evil. Quite. Paladin or not, evil alignment or not, it's no excuse for anything. For example:
Your new character, a paladin, walks across the street and uses Detect Evil on strangers passing by. One of them happens to be evil. The paladin draws his sword, kills the evil guy, and gets arrested for murder. In court, your defence is: 'Yeah, he was evil according to my powers.' Sure. Death penalty.

There ARE restrictions to prevent Detects being linked to action.

(ya know, not everyone who is evil commits evil acts)

2007-11-07, 08:46 AM
I ran a political campaign that had similar problems; if you can just cast a "detect" spell and immediately know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy, the element of uncertainty is lost. My solution was this: I kept alignments as are. However, "detect" spells reveal personal animosity and hostility, not alignment. Someone opposed to you politically may actually like you as a person; someone who is good may loathe you intensely. Hence, "Detect Evil" becomes "Detect hostility" and "Detect Good" becomes "Detect Friendly". This kept these abilities/spells useful, but left enough ambiguity for a good political game.
Just a suggestion.

Supreme Geasser
2007-11-07, 08:54 AM
If you need help with removing alignment system, check 3.5 "Heroes of Horror" manual. If you don't have it, here are some of the available things for you

Option 1: The one that you are talking about previously
Option 2: Remove the alignment system and all spells that require alignment except for the spells Detect Good, Detect Evil, Protection from Good, Protection from Evil, and all abjuration of Good and Evil. Here's how this system works. When a Paladin uses detects evil, it does not check it's alignment but checks if the person is doing evil.
For example, an assassin is plotting to kill that mayor of a town. A paladin then detects evil. Since Conspiracy to Commit Murder is a crime and is Evil it is detected. Loophole of this is evil person not doing any evil.

2007-11-07, 09:20 AM
The Paladin needs some mechanical work even without alignment being removed.

Here's how I've always handled it:

All: There are no alignment restrictions on classes. Any class you can take from 1-20 no longer has a required alignment. Be aware, however, that acting out of accordance with a Druid or Paladin's preferred alignment will get you into trouble (in-game, not with me the GM.) A Lawful Good Paladin who slips up once won't get hammered with an Atonement spell, but he should be pious and apologetic to his deity. A Paladin who murders an entire village in their sleep will almost certainly be stripped of his or her class abilities by his or her god, and get Divine Harriers on their case to bring them forward for trial. Likewise, a Druid who is an extreme alignment (CG, LG, LE, CE) but continues to revere the forest will not lose her powers immediately, but may find the high council of druids seeks to eliminate her, bring her back “into the herd” or at the least strip her of her powers.

2007-11-07, 11:18 AM
I've completely removed alignment from my game, for pretty much the exact reasons you described (subterfuge, etc). That, and I've always hated it.

It's worked out really well for me, though to be fair, I've got a really great group of roleplayers. I'm not sure I'd recommend it with people who are gonna see it as carte blanche to do whatever they want, with no consequences.

The way I worked paladins is that they still have to be true to the strictures and codes of their order. A major violation will still get them in trouble, but there's none of the "that act wasn't technically lawful, so you're no longer a paladin" crap.

As for replacing the "Smite/Detect/Protection from" spells, I just replaced them with appropriate abilities. My world is homebrewed, with only one "Good god" and paladins exist in fraternal brotherhoods. Each Order is different.

For example, there is one Order that functions as "the army of god", and protects churches, pilgrims, etc. wherever they're needed. So, I replaced the Smite Evil ability with a more generic Smite. The new ability leaves it up to the paladin who they are going to call down their holy wrath on, but it leaves them open to trouble if they make bad choices.

Another Order is primarily focused on healing, and so they get a super-sized Lay on Hands, instead.

There are still things that "radiate an Evil aura", but it's kinda like what you're talkin' about. Demons, devils, high-level clerics who have bathed in the blood of virgins, stuff like that.

Anyway, it's worked out really well, and I think it enhances the roleplaying a lot. Paladins have a lot more freedom, but at the same time, they have to THINK a lot more about their faith, and what it means to be a warrior of the Church. And the world isn't cut and dried. Just because a man is a deacon at the church on Sunday morning doesn't mean he's not a cat burglar. Or a serial killer. It gives the players more to think about, and the DM a TON of room to operate.

There was a pretty good discussion on these very boards, maybe a month ago, on the same subject. I'll see if I can find it.

edit: Here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51957) it is. There are several examples of stuff other people have used, and they're interesting, if nothing else. You kinda have to skip over a couple numbskull "You guys are stupid, you HAVE to have alignment!" posts, but there's some good stuff in there.