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    Default 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    All the signs are there. Comments cropping up across multiple threads. Clearly 'tis the season for an Alignment thread!

    I've been wanting to write a mini guide to 5e Alignment for a while now. But of course that'll mean we need to argue about it, because Alignment. So this thread is both. I'll start by telling you how I think 5e Alignment works, and how it doesn't work. And you can all tell me why I'm wrong.

    -----------------

    What 5e Alignment is:
    Per the PHB, 5e Alignment is a creatures moral and social attitude, that results in typical behavior. The behavior is listed individually for each Alignment as a single sentence. Individuals might vary from the behavior. The behavior is not required all the time, the PHB specifically calls out that creatures do not consistently adhere to their moral and social attitudes. "Free will" of three kinds of different creatures is discussed, typical PC Demi/humans, races with evil gods / tendencies, and celestials and fiends.

    What 5e Alignment isn't:
    Tied to individual actions. 5e Alignment is explicitly about typical behavior.

    What are the 5e Alignment typical behaviors, and associated/example creatures and classes?

    Lawful good (LG) creatures can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society. Gold dragons, paladins, and most dwarves are lawful good.
    Neutral good (NG) folk do the best they can to help others according to their needs. Many celestials, some cloud giants, and most gnomes are neutral good.
    Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect. Copper dragons, many elves, and unicorns are chaotic good.
    Lawful neutral (LN) individuals act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes. Many monks and some wizards are lawful neutral.
    Neutral (N) is the alignment of those who prefer to steer clear of moral questions and don’t take sides, doing what seems best at the time. Lizardfolk, most druids, and many humans are neutral.
    Chaotic neutral (CN) creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else.
    Many barbarians and rogues, and some bards, are chaotic neutral.
    Lawful evil (LE) creatures methodically take what they want, within the limits of a code of tradition, loyalty, or order. Devils, blue dragons, and hobgoblins are lawful evil.
    Neutral evil (NE) is the alignment of those who do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms. Many drow, some cloud giants, and yugoloths are neutral evil.
    Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust. Demons, red dragons, and orcs are chaotic evil.

    -----------------

    How to use Alignment
    There are several different ways to make use of Alignment. Some of all of these may apply to your campaign, check with your DM.
    - The Player can use the associated behavior as a roleplaying aid to get in character, in the same way Personality, Ideal, Bond and Flaw are used.
    - The DM may limit certain Alignments at character creation, or request players avoid having PCs regularly behave like one of the associated Alignment behaviors during play.
    - The DM may give you feedback on how your PC's behavior so far fits with the associated Alignment behavior. He may request or require an Alignment shift.
    - Alignment is used for mechanical effects (see below)
    - Alignment can be forcibly changed by in-game circumstances (see below)
    - If associated Alignment behavior is used as a roleplaying aid, it may come into conflict with personality traits during play. This is a roleplaying opportunity!
    - Alignment may change as part of a character development arc and/or based on in-game events.
    - Cosmic Forces. In 5e the default Cosmos is the Great Wheel. Each outer plane is associated with an Alignment, or a combination of two Alignments.
    - Teams. Good vs Evil, Law vs Chaos. In combination with the above Cosmic Forces, it's often Celestial vs Fiend, or LE Fiend (Devils) vs CE Fiend (Demons).
    - DM use as a roleplaying aid for playing NPCs / Monsters.

    Does Alignment determine behavior, or is it determined by behavior?
    5e Alignment is a shorthand to describe a character or a creature typically having the associated behavior. It does not require that a character or creature always behave that way. Per the PHB: "... few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment."
    Exactly what that means will depend on your table and your DM. See possible uses above.
    For forced Alignment change, such as imposed by a curse, planar environment, or magical effect, see below.

    ----------------------------------------

    Is Alignment objective?
    The majority of folks appear to consider 5e Alignment to still be an in-universe objective thing.
    In other words, it's possible for a objectively Evil character to believe they are good, and vice versa.

    Is killing Evil?
    No. This is not in any of the Alignments. There are certainly some Alignments that would affect a characters willingness to kill, or kill in certain ways.
    For example, CE specifically refers to arbitrary violence, so they probably don't have any issues with killing. LG says you do what's expected by society, so most LG characters probably aren't that big on extra-legal killings, which is generally frowned upon by societies.

    What about Paladins?
    Paladins do not require specific Alignments any more. Certain Oath's Tenets lend themselves better to certain Alignments as noted in the PHB, and holding to their Oath may be difficult for Paladins who behave consistently in line with an Alignment behavior that conflicts with their Tenets.

    Are there mechanical effects for Alignment in 5e?
    Yes
    Link to mechanical effects
    Credit to Naanomi, she did a good job putting that list together.

    Can Alignment be forcibly changed? How does it work?
    Yes. Two examples: There are optional rules for planar environments changing Alignment. In addition, embracing the curse of lycanthropy willingly changes the PC's Alignment.
    This will most likely require the player's cooperation in changing their character's behavior.

    ----------------------------

    This is a contentious subject, but let's keep it civil, despite that. No insulting another poster or name calling or even insinuating, even if they are using questionable debate tactics. If you find yourself getting angry, take a step back from the thread for a while please.

    ---------------------------
    Spoiler: My opinions on Alignment
    Show

    This was originally my opinion on how I believe 5e Alignment is intended to work. It's very much opinion, so I'm moving it down here to a spoiler.

    How I think it works:
    1) Player chooses Alignment for character and writes it down.
    2) Player chooses personality traits (Personality, Ideal, Bond, Flaw) for their character and writes them down.
    3) Player uses all of those together as motivations to play their character, making in-character decisions through the lens of those motivations when appropriate. Alignment is but one component of Personality.
    4) If necessary, player changes Alignment or other personality traits to reflect in-game circumstances, so they have new motivations to play their character moving forward.

    How I think it doesn't work:
    A) It's not a requirement the PC must act a certain way moving forward. Nor determined by individual actions the PC has already taken, although see #4 above. Alignment is one aspect of personality, used together with all the others to assist the player in determining what actions they want to have the PC take moving forward.
    B) It's not able to be determined by a given action. Any decision the player makes for an action is driven by a collection of motivations + the PC Goals + the needs of the moment. You cannot walk backwards and determine Alignment from an single example situation.
    C) It doesn't work if the Player ignores the Alignment behavior, and instead consistently has character behave like another Alignment behavior, and says "but my PC is really Alignment X, says so on my character sheet".
    D) There is no indication a DM is supposed to forcibly change PC Alignment because of actions the PC has taken. (Different from DM discussing with player if another Alignment might not be a better fit.)
    E) PC's belief that their actions are Alignment X (good, evil, lawful etc) has any affect on the Alignment the Player wrote down and uses as a motivation.

    Is Alignment Objective?
    This is really a explanation of #E
    Yes, it's objective in-universe. But it's subjective at the player level.
    The Player chooses the PC's Alignment. That's the character,s in-universe objective Alignment.
    The Player then makes an honest but subjective-to-the-Player judgement about how and when to use the behavior motivation for the selected Alignment.
    But the PC's beliefs about their Alignment does not change that. The PC's actual Alignment is what is written down and being honestly used as a motivation to drive their actions.
    In short, a PC may think they are a good person doing good works, but the player has an Evil alignment written down and uses that to play them as a bad person. Or vice versa, the PC may think they're a terrible person because of someone they've done, but they player uses a Good alignment to play them consistently.


    Edit log-
    1. - added link to Naanomi's list of mechanical Alignemnt effects in 5e
    2. - added the Alignment behaviors.
    3. - fixed some typos, changed lettering on "how I think it doesn't work" and clarified my negatives properly in that section, added "what about Paladins"
    4. - added "Can Alignment be forcibly changed".
    5. - moved "how it works" & "how it doesn't work" to the spoiler at the end. Added "Alignment as a Roleplaying Aid" and "Alignment as a DM Aid". Updated "Forcible Alignment change" to reflect this.
    6. - added "Other uses of Alignment"
    7. - added a line to "Roleplaying Aid" noting it doesn't prohibit it from being used for mechanical effects.
    8. - removed 'Alignment as a Roleplaying Aid' & 'Alignment as a DM tool' and replaced with 'how to use Alignment'
    9. - updated "determines behavior/ determined by behavior" based on suggestions by Unoriginal
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-12-22 at 02:11 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    I think that part of the problem with 'alignments' is that we use the word to represent two things...

    1) A loosely defined and unenforced character trait that very broadly describes the normal behavior of a character; useful as a roleplaying aid (perhaps especially for monsters/creatures more than player characters).

    2) Broad, cosmic forces that shape the nature of the default 'Great Wheel' Cosmology (and, less prominently, other DnD settings); that are often interpreted from a mortal perspective as somewhat arbitrary 'teams' (though Outsiders associated with such things would say that is just your limited mortal perspective being unable to comprehend deeper truths!)

    A lot of the conflict about Alignments, I think, is reconciling these two things... and deciding (without much guidance) how closely they overlap (both in practice and in intent); and what to do if they are significantly different; doubly so when actual mechanical effects are involved (which, as linked above, is still a thing even if deemphasized in 5e compared to past editions). What alignment does a Sprite detect on a character that has 'lawful good' written on their sheet, but has killed a lot of babies? What kind of enforcement needs to be in place when a character's alignment is forcefully changed?

    Now, I understand that a *lot* of people don't like #2 up there... but I'm a big fan myself. It doesn't need to be in every game and every home cosmology, of course, but as someone who played a lot of fun games in Planescape over the year... and greatly enjoyed studying the (much more complex and nuanced than many people give it credit for) the history and cosmology of The Great Wheel in novels, modules, and sourcebooks for many years and across many editions I was thrilled to see a return (more or less) to the universe I know and love, after sharp departures in 4e (and 3.X Forgotten Realms); including the broad prominence of Alignment in the Outer Planes and beyond. I would be happy to see the Alignment based Outer Planes even if Alignment had completely been removed from character sheets and all traces of mechanical effects had been removed.
    Last edited by Naanomi; 2017-12-19 at 06:19 PM.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    This is a contentious subject, but let's keep it civil, despite that. No insulting another poster or name calling or even insinuating, even if they are using questionable debate tactics. If you find yourself getting angry, take a step back from the thread for a while please.
    Would you say that it is best to be Lawful Good when replying to this thread?

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by ad_hoc View Post
    Would you say that it is best to be Lawful Good when replying to this thread?
    lol, yes, please do the right thing as expected by our forum society.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    I agree you you Tanarii.

    But I reserve the right to argue about fictional Character's alignments.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    lol, yes, please do the right thing as expected by our forum society.
    Wait, woudln’t “the right thing to do as expected by our forum society” be to endlessly chew your opponent out in an alignment thread until everyones’ brains bleed, yours included. That seems to be the common protocol that I have always witnessed.

    (*the blue text is for irony. That last statement was ironic because it is absolutely true but I still put the blue text around it anyway*)
    Last edited by Requilac; 2017-12-19 at 07:31 PM.
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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Two quibbles:

    1) Paladins aren't tied to Lawful Good. It's the classic conception, sure, but 5e has been widely raised for removing specific alignment restrictions from Paladins and other classes. Several paladin subclasses tend towards alignments other than Lawful Good.

    2) Lawful Good isn't what's solely considered "right" by a DnD society, but rather what's considered "moral" by our own irl society. The right or correct thing to do in many cases is Lawful Neutral, especially when following the letter of the law. That goes double for a society of Drow or Lizardfolk, where their conception of right/correct doesn't match up with Good on our alignment chart. A Lawful Good character does what they can in accordance with good laws to help others.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Although Oathbreaker have to be Evil; the one class/alignment restriction still in place

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Lol.

    Here we go again.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Nidgit View Post
    2) Lawful Good isn't what's solely considered "right" by a DnD society, but rather what's considered "moral" by our own irl society. The right or correct thing to do in many cases is Lawful Neutral, especially when following the letter of the law. That goes double for a society of Drow or Lizardfolk, where their conception of right/correct doesn't match up with Good on our alignment chart. A Lawful Good character does what they can in accordance with good laws to help others.
    I can't agree with that. First of all, what is "our own irl society"? America? Other countries, other cultures? First world nations? Humanity in general? Do you see how hard it is to pin down any kind of definitive moral base? I have no problem with DnD establishing that certain acts are universally against being Lawful Good, but it's really hard to do that if you're drawing upon real world examples. Once you get past murder and sexual violence, there's going to be a lot of diversity in moral judgement.

    You do make a good point about moral relativity within the DnD world though, some cultures or societies have a recognized alignment like Drow. Is it possible to be a lawful good Drow living in Drow society? I imagine even an Oskar Schindler like figure would have to do some terrible things on the regular to hide the fact that they are a rebel.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by willdaBEAST View Post
    I can't agree with that. First of all, what is "our own irl society"? America? Other countries, other cultures? First world nations? Humanity in general? Do you see how hard it is to pin down any kind of definitive moral base?
    As a general rule most real world societies have pretty strong prohibitions on killing, rape, torture and so forth.

    Like; I dont know the precise laws of France, Japan, China, Malaysia, Scotland, the USA, New Zealand or Mongolia or where ever, but I'm pretty sure if I headed to any of those places and had sex with someone without their consent, tortured them, and then killed them, I would be sentenced to jail (or worse) for a very long period of time.

    There are some pretty consistent rules out there.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    If this is going to turn into a ‘guide’; some advice on how Players and GMs should handle a character whose alignment is magically changed would probably be nice (I don’t have such advice)

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Nidgit View Post
    A Lawful Good character does what they can in accordance with good laws to help others.
    Exactly.

    Like torturing an orphanage full of children to stop baby Hitler driving a cart down a track towards innocent people.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    One way I sometimes help conceptualize Alignment, and help guide ‘what alignment is this character’ situations, is to read descriptions of the Outer Planes and think which would a character best fit? A zealotous Paladin who is willing to do some tyrannical things to maintain the ‘greater good’; but is still overall looking to work for the best of everyone? Sounds like Arcadia to me, so LN or LG...

    It isn’t perfect, but it gives at least some sort of bigger picture guide to look to

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    I think some problems stems from the fact that people judge someone's alignment only from his behavior, and not from his attitude. LG, LN, LE, CG a NE characters may seemingly behave the same way, but with very different reasonings. LG character follows a law, because his society considers the law just and following it is a right thing. Simple enough. LN character follows the same law because it's the law.. he doesn't care if the law is just, or what the society thinks about it. LE character follows the same law because he puts the value on the law itself, and the law either doesn't interfere with his desires or even serves them. CG character doesn't really care about the law itself, but his moral compass (conscience) coincides with what the law says. And NE character doesn't care about the law one bit, but he fears that his breaking of the law would be detected and punished.

    Edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    A zealotous Paladin who is willing to do some tyrannical things to maintain the ‘greater good’; but is still overall looking to work for the best of everyone? Sounds like Arcadia to me, so LN or LG...
    I think it's more complex. Does his society consider his goals right, even though he uses harsh methods? LG. Does he do it because it for the "greater good" and it is what people need (or at least the best option for the most people)? NG. Is he doing it because he, personally, believes it's the good thing to do and his conscience is OK with that, even though the people affected may disagree? CG. LN doesn't play much of a role there, until the "greater good" consists of following certain rules. N may do it just because it's the best option and he doesn't really care if it's right and just or not.
    CN may do it because he feels like it, and it doesn't interfere with his freedoms. But at this point, he's not motivated by "greater good" anymore, so it is unlikely it's fitting alignment. LE may do it, because it fits with the rules he follows, and he benefits from it. Most other people benefiting from it is a bonus. But the benefit of other people are secondary, so it's not likely fitting. And NE and CE don't care if it affects other people and if it's for the "greater good", so neither of them is fitting.

    It's hard to determine true alignment from one short sentence, and it can't be done in vacuum, other personality traits also play a role.
    Last edited by JackPhoenix; 2017-12-19 at 11:13 PM.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    You should definitely get your alignment checked. You get a better ride and somewhat better gas mileage.
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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Nidgit View Post
    2) Lawful Good isn't what's solely considered "right" by a DnD society, but rather what's considered "moral" by our own irl society. The right or correct thing to do in many cases is Lawful Neutral, especially when following the letter of the law. That goes double for a society of Drow or Lizardfolk, where their conception of right/correct doesn't match up with Good on our alignment chart. A Lawful Good character does what they can in accordance with good laws to help others.
    There's quite a lot of room interpretation in the behaviors, but yes, some interpretations would be clearly subverting the intent of the stated behavior. This happens most often for the Lawful Good and Chaotic Good ones. Despite 5e not explicitly dividing Alignment into 'Good' or 'Evil' or 'Lawful' or 'Chaotic', for those two they clearly expected the player to understand the difference between Good and Evil, and not to subvert the intent from Good.

    Also good point on the Paladin thing.

    Both of those are worth me adding a comment about. I'll do that tomorrow when I'm on a PC instead of a tablet.

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    If this is going to turn into a ‘guide’; some advice on how Players and GMs should handle a character whose alignment is magically changed would probably be nice (I don’t have such advice)
    I have advice on it. Before I add it in, give me your feedback.

    Can Alignement change be Forced? How does it work?
    Yes. There are optional rules for Planar Environments changing Alignment. In addition, embracing the curse of Lycanthrope willingly changing the PC's Alignment.
    Since Alignment works best as a roleplaying motivation to correctly portray the PC's personalit, this requires player buy-in. The player changes the Alignment of the PC, and uses the new typical Alignment behavior with the PC's other personality traits moving forward.
    (Edit: added a version of this)

    Also something I left out: it's entirely possible for Player Alignment and other personality traits to come into conflict in some situations. I bring that up because there's a stronger possibility if they were previously in harmony with the Alignment, but now they're at odds. This is especially likely for an Ideal, if the Alignment switches to an opposite.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-12-20 at 02:07 AM.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    I disagree that alignment is all about self-aware motivation and thought... the classic tyrant, engaged in cleansing ethnic minorities and torturing dissidents, can completely believe he is doing what is right and necessary for his people and still be Lawful Evil. Acheron and Ghennah are made for that kind of mindset.

    To me, it is a complex mix of both action and motivation; which of course makes it harder to adjudicate... but it is completely possible to honestly think you are doing the right thing and are a ‘good’ person; but be of evil alignment (and Abyss-bound on death) because the justification for your actions was insufficient or just wrong (at least as far as the Cosmos was concerned)

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    That'd by my How I think it doesn't work #Z #E, and Is Alignment Objective sections.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-12-20 at 02:02 AM.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Looking at it from another perspective... if alignments were all about self-Perception; corruption schemes by Fiends would virtually never work, because they so classically are couched in ‘this cost is acceptable’ and ‘I don’t see the harm in this’ terms to work.

    Like... a seductive demon starts teaching ignorant peasants that ritually dismembering and killing children with red hair is the right thing to do; because they don’t have souls and only appear to suffer (but don’t really); and also that those red haired children who survive are possessed by evil spirits and have influenced others to ignore the evil of red hair. The demon sits back, hoping to enjoy some baby killing and collect a few souls for the Abyss in the process... but is instantly frustrated when his plan works too well and the peasants believe his story, feel justified in the killings, and still end up in Elysium!

    To me that just... doesn’t work with the ‘corrupting people to evil’ motif of fiends, nor the greater structure of the Outer Planes
    Last edited by Naanomi; 2017-12-19 at 11:51 PM.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    A trolley problem guide to alignment

    A Lawful Good character switches the trolley onto a fellow member of their order, who gives them the thumbs up.

    A Neutral Good character switches the trolley away from women and children.

    A Chaotic Good character switches the trolley onto an old moneylender they don't like.

    A Lawful Neutral character switches the trolley onto someone convicted of a misdemeanour, nicknaming it "lawmaster".

    A Neutral character thinks they don't have anything to do with the trolley.

    A Chaotic Neutral character flips the lever a few times because it makes a nice clunky sound.

    A Lawful Evil character switches the trolley onto someone who turns out to have left them a lot of money.

    A Neutral Evil character thinks they don't have anything to do with the trolley, but gets a good laugh out of it.

    A Chaotic Evil character somehow got hold of a second trolley.
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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    I think Evil as defined in D&D 5e requires a certain degree of selfishness, and that's what separates the Lawful Neutral ruler whose laws are harsh but fair from the Lawful Evil ruler whose rule is a tyranny to advance his or her own interests. It doesn't necessarily require that that selfishness be a fully conscious decision.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by War_lord View Post
    I think Evil as defined in D&D 5e requires a certain degree of selfishness, and that's what separates the Lawful Neutral ruler whose laws are harsh but fair from the Lawful Evil ruler whose rule is a tyranny to advance his or her own interests. It doesn't necessarily require that that selfishness be a fully conscious decision.
    Yes, although sometimes it isn’t ‘self-only’ selfishness... extreme racism and nationalism is one of the hallmarks of the inhabitants of Gehenna for example; so sometimes persecuting ‘others’ can be evil even if it is in support of ‘your people’ and not yourself alone

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee_Dragon View Post
    A Lawful Good character switches the trolley onto a fellow member of their order, who gives them the thumbs up.
    He then invades a neighboring nation of Orcs that have raided in the past (they're evil) and engages in genocide. Tossing the screaming Orc infants into the flames. Selling the women into slavery. Slaughtering the men. Setting up industrial slaughter chambers to speed up the process. Maybe some poison gas. Its more humane that way.

    The Orcs lands are then annexed and given to others in the kingdom to work on as farmers.

    He's doing the right thing as expected by society.

    Lawful good.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    First paragraph typo....unless you actually meant “celestial sand fiends”

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Legendairy View Post
    First paragraph typo....unless you actually meant “celestial sand fiends”
    Lol thanks. Fixed.

    Also clarified a few things that should have been negatives in the "How I think it doesn't work" section while I was editing, and added a bit about Paladins.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Context is Key - A Guide to Gooding Lawfully:

    TL;DR To follow. Long story short, Alignments presented in the PHB are not accurate representations of the ability of thinking beings to rationalize their behaviors. Real people tend to perceive themselves as Lawful Good, there's no reason that beings in a campaign setting wouldn't also tend to perceive themselves as Lawful Good.

    Gruumsh is da' bestest: As an Orc of the Murderfist Tribe the Word of Gruumsh, which serves as our LAW, is handed down from Da Shaman. Da Shaman says that Gruumsh wants all Elves and Dwarves to be murder-killed and humiliated, so we do and Gruumsh keeps talking to Da Shaman.

    Therefore, in conclusion, I am Lawful Good.

    P.S. Also Gruumsh likes it when we kick puppies and eat kittens, so we do even though cat is really greasy.

    Garl Glittergold for President: Like most Gnomes I know that doing the right thing is it's own reward, that's why we help old-ladies across the street without even picking their pockets - what do we look like to you? A bunch of shifty halflings? Sometimes the powers-that-be are lazy, or maybe they're just not thinking clearly because they didn't get a good nutritious breakfast, so we do the right thing anyway.

    Long story short (just like us, amiright) Garl said we should and so we do, therefore we're rewarded by largely being left alone.

    Therefore, in conclusion, Neutral is Lawful Good.

    Morally Ethi-sizing: As a Human Paladin of [insert god here] from [insert cookie-cutter kingdom here] it falls to me to ensure that [insert god here] definition of right and wrong prevails over all others. Since said definition is both agreed upon, and widely adhered to, within the borders of [insert cookie-cutter kingdom here] my agitation, aggression and zealous fundamentalism is unnecessary. Fortunately there are other nations around who are foolish enough to abide by their own unique standards and laws.

    My job is to aggressively moralize at them until they succumb to their evil urges to be left alone and try to throw me out, thereby justifying a violent response from me on behalf of my god.

    Therefore, in conclusion, externalizing reductive ethical constructs in order to secure sanction for violently intolerant anti-social tendencies is Lawful Good.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    And you can all tell me why I'm wrong.
    Alright, so I'll have a go at telling you why I think you're wrong.

    Alignment is not part of a PC's personality. Personality traits, Ideal, Bond and Flaw are personality, they are entirely the domain of the player, upon which the DM should not intrude. They’re also entirely subjective, with no mechanical effects that require refereeing, which is why the DM has no business second guessing them. An ideal of “I believe everyone should be treated equally” is as at home on the sheet of a Chaotic Good PC as it is on a Lawful Evil PC, because there’s so many ways an individual could act on that ideal. Only the player can determine whether they’re playing their character’s personality correctly.

    Alignment is an objective trait that a character possesses. The player doesn’t choose to play a Lawful Good character, they choose to play a character whose actions are Lawful Good, and need to maintain that status through continuing to play a character who tends towards Lawful Good. Ideally a player will be conscious of the need to act in accordance with their desired alignment frequently enough that there’s no need to discuss an alignment change. Ideally, if they find their character consistently acting in a way that’s contrary to their currently stated Alignment, they’ll take it upon themselves to scrub out the current entry and replace it with the alignment better suited to the character’s current behaviour.

    But at some point, there’s going to be a not-ideal player who plays a character who’s meant to be a Lawful Evil would-be tyrant as a lovely person who protects the weak and always does the right thing. And that not-ideal player is going to refuse to consider writing a more fitting alignment on their sheet. And that is a real problem if we’re following your “alignment is the player’s mandate” declaration, because Alignment has mechanical effects a DM needs to adjudicate.

    When Sir Kills-a-lot the bunny petting, bully hating “Paladin of Conquest” who Jeff maintains is “super evil you guys” meets a Sprite who uses Heart Sight (to give a simple example), should I go along with the player’s desire to be considered Evil, even when, in game, their character has never actually done anything in line with that alignment? What about when they try to wield the Sword of Ultimate Evil that slips through the fingers of any good-hearted soul who attempts to wield it?

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    If the player refuses to use Alignment in good faith, it's a problem. See How I think it doesn't work #C & #D

    This is a problem inherent to any Alignment or other part of the personality. I agree, because there are still some mechanical effects associated with it, it's a bigger problem than there would be otherwise, or compared to other personality traits.

    But if the DM heavy-handedly either tells the player they are a different Alignment, or tells them they're going to resolve it mechanically as if they're a different Alignment, that's also going to be a problem.

    The only way it's going to work out is if the DM and Player discuss it like adults and come to a compromise. Or house rules established before hand.

    One possible house rule: Removing Alignment, and all associated Mechanical effects. And the players can then stick with just Ideals, or some other personality traits that addresses moral and social attitudes.

    Another house rule would be to establish an Alignment tracking system based on actions, but that requires player by-in to use the new alignment personality. Or agreement that it's no longer a motivation for how to behave, but instead a score-keeping system for the moral & social attitudes as already exhibited.

    Lastly, the DM can establish ground rules. For example, I have a "no evil alignments" house rule, defined as regularly behaving in a manner consistent with an Evil Alignment, as judged by me the DM. Punishment: you're told to knock it off.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2017-12-20 at 04:08 AM.

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    Default Re: 5e Alignment "Guide" & end-of-2017 argument thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee_Dragon View Post
    A trolley problem guide to alignment

    A Lawful Good character switches the trolley onto a fellow member of their order, who gives them the thumbs up.

    A Neutral Good character switches the trolley away from women and children.

    A Chaotic Good character switches the trolley onto an old moneylender they don't like.

    A Lawful Neutral character switches the trolley onto someone convicted of a misdemeanour, nicknaming it "lawmaster".

    A Neutral character thinks they don't have anything to do with the trolley.

    A Chaotic Neutral character flips the lever a few times because it makes a nice clunky sound.

    A Lawful Evil character switches the trolley onto someone who turns out to have left them a lot of money.

    A Neutral Evil character thinks they don't have anything to do with the trolley, but gets a good laugh out of it.

    A Chaotic Evil character somehow got hold of a second trolley.
    I would only disagree with the lawful good version: lawful good doesn't make you some paragon of virtue. It just means you'll do whats best for others within the limits of the law. If anything, a lawful good character will not do anything to alter the trajectory of the trolley, but will work to do what he can to get people on the trolley to safety.

    The major difference, in my eyes, between lawful good and chaotic good is that lawful good believes that the law is, in general, the best way to maximize the gain of all. That sometimes a better option exists is unfortunate, but not a reason to deviate.

    Chaotic good is maximum good, period. In a way, chaotic good characters will be the same no matter what culture or society they live in. Lawful good will always depend on where they are.

    Actually, given that the trolley problem is framed as a relative value question, i'd argue that all good characters would pull the lever, all evil characters would act according to their interest, and neutral characters would pull, unless the singleton was important to them.



    My beef with 5E alignment is that the two axes don't seem to mesh together in any consistent way. There are no gradients, only absolutes (see: the Planes). Everyone is cubbyholed into one of 9 alignments.

    For me, good - evil is "who i care about" and law - chaos is "how i go about enriching those i care about". It's a measure of how far outside yourself your focus lies.

    Pure good cares for everyone. Pure evil cares only about self. Neutral is a friends-and-family sort of deal, that girl you like, etc.

    Law thinks that gains are maximized by structure. Chaos thinks gains are maximized on an individual level. Neutral is whatever works at the time. You might say that it's a measure of how far outside yourself your trust extends.

    If you think about it like that, it becomes much easier to plot where personalities fall. Do you generally care about strangers? You're probably good. Do you kind of dislike everyone? You're probably a *bit* evil.
    Last edited by krugaan; 2017-12-20 at 04:51 AM.
    Argue in good faith.

    And try to remember that these are people.

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