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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    So what? I want my game to be good. Not to be "true D&D".
    There are plenty of good systems out there to choose from; and you’d think it wouldn’t matter much what they are called but one of the big 4e challenges was that it didn’t ‘feel like DnD’ regardless of the merits of it as a game system

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Does D&D Still Need Alignment?
    Yes, in that it's a tool that can enriched the play experiencein - in the right hands. We've all seen how the gotcha literalist approach to the game goes in the other direction.

    FWIW, while your meditation is interesting, I find that overthinking gets in the way of fun sometimes.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-05-17 at 07:45 AM.
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    Player agency doesn't mean they get to roll for everything. Agency means that they control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Alignment is hard baked into the "standard setting", the 17 Outer Planes of the Great Wheel and the worlds in the Material Plane contained therein. As long as D&Ds flagship srttings is one of these worlds (as it is with the 5e Forgotten Realms right now), alignment isn't really going away. There are other signs of how intertwined alignment is into the setting but less so the system, but the default planar cosmology is the big one.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I strongly prefer people to all be people, and people can fall, people can be redeemed.
    One of these things is not like the other two.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This is the part I strongly dislike about alignment (from a philosophical point of view). My setting started as a 4e setting (which then got cataclysm'd in preparation for a switch to 5e), so demons and devils are not about alignment, but about goals.
    What about 4e resulted in that change? 4e's devils and demons are still separated by alignments as much as in any other editions. They just moved things around so that all the scheme-happy, subbtle manipulators were devils (of the evil alignment) while demons were mostly reduced to solely the brutish engines of destruction (of the chaotic evil alignment).


    I strongly (at a basic level) hate the idea that anyone is denied agency/freedom of choice. I hate the "designated punching bag" status. Same goes for dragons. We fig leaf that they really do have choice, but then deny it in actual play. I strongly prefer people to all be people, and people can fall, people can be redeemed. Having the "I have to be evil because I'm made of evil" trope cheapens things (for me). I prefer people to be evil because they act and desire evil.
    As has been said multiple times whenever this topic shows up, Fiends DO have the choice, and they are evil because the DO act and desire evil.

    The fact that a demon is born from arbitrary violence spurned by greed, hatred or bloodlust does not change the fact that they do act to enact said arbitrary violence. A demon could stop, start behaving differently, and then transmute into a different kind of being. Most don't because they *want* and *enjoy* being terrible people while being as fiercely individualistic as they can get away with.

    In the tale of the frog and the scorpion, if the scorpion was a demon it wouldn't reply "it's in my nature" after the betrayal-murder-suicide, it would reply "because I wanted to".

    Being unable to choose would make them Unaligned.

    If you don't want alignments, it's more than fine. Get ride of them if you prefer it that way, the game is made for that. But please don't try to blame the lore for something that it is not doing.

    But my world is still recognizably "D&D". In fact, I personally think it's closer to "real" 5e D&D than those which are built on legacy cruft that no longer really applies. yes, I'm aware that I'm very biased in this matter and so should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Doesn't change the fact that I'm right.
    What makes it recognizable as D&D, according to you?

    And how is it supposedly closer to the "real" 5e D&D than the actual 5e D&D?
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2019-05-17 at 08:49 AM.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I dont really see alignment as good or bad. I dont really need it and pay little to no attention to it. That said, it can be a handy tool for some to aid with roll play decisions. In the end, it's fine if it stays in the books to be used by those who find it helpful.

    The only time it really becomes a problem is with a DM that is too rigid about it and uses it as a gotcha to abuse or try to control the PCs.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    What about 4e resulted in that change? 4e's devils and demons are still separated by alignments as much as in any other editions. They just moved things around so that all the scheme-happy, subbtle manipulators were devils (of the evil alignment) while demons were mostly reduced to solely the brutish engines of destruction (of the chaotic evil alignment).
    Theoretically, that's true. In practice, the distinction got lost. And I disliked 4e's alignment as well.


    As has been said multiple times whenever this topic shows up, Fiends DO have the choice, and they are evil because the DO act and desire evil.

    The fact that a demon is born from arbitrary violence spurned by greed, hatred or bloodlust does not change the fact that they do act to enact said arbitrary violence. A demon could stop, start behaving differently, and then transmute into a different kind of being. Most don't because they *want* and *enjoy* being terrible people while being as fiercely individualistic as they can get away with.

    In the tale of the frog and the scorpion, if the scorpion was a demon it wouldn't reply "it's in my nature" after the betrayal-murder-suicide, it would reply "because I wanted to".

    Being unable to choose would make them Unaligned.

    If you don't want alignments, it's more than fine. Get ride of them if you prefer it that way, the game is made for that. But please don't try to blame the lore for something that it is not doing.
    The distinction between theory and practice is that there is a difference in theory. Sure, they have that choice in theory, but in practice it's a non-choice. You can't make a choice to be non-evil and still be a devil. You must entirely change. In practice, it doesn't happen unless forced to happen--it's an exceptional case. And when it does happen, it's almost always downward. Angels fall, devils are redeemed much less frequently. And devils start as evil--being good is against their essential nature. That rubs me the wrong way.

    Same problem, to a lesser degree, happens with dragons or other beasts. Sure, there's throwaway lines about how chromatic dragons are mostly socialized that way, but it never actually comes up in the settings. It's dicta, nothing more.

    What makes it recognizable as D&D, according to you?

    And how is it supposedly closer to the "real" 5e D&D than the actual 5e D&D?
    All the core tropes and adventures are present, and the setting is strongly aligned with what I see as the most important parts (both mechanical and not). Other, pre-existing settings have lots of NPCs, situations, etc. that were constructed based on now-changed concepts and details that have strongly changed.

    Edit: additionally, the planar structure (and thus alignment) cannot be critical to "being D&D", because the DMG has lots of text about how to change it, including such radical ones as the One Plane cosmology.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2019-05-17 at 10:10 AM.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Wow, I didn't expect to be hit by all of those at once. So here goes:
    Spoiler: Disputes
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    Alignment-changing effects could be handled by either describing their new personality, a la monster flavor-text, or by an alteration of bonds, traits, and flaws.

    I don't see why demiliches shouldn't damage evil creatures they don't like, so that could be changed to "non-friendly creatures" or somesuch.
    Similarly, I don't see any problem with letting anyone permanently kill a lemure if blessed; in fact, I think it's kinda odd that their overlords don't have any way to permanently kill a lemure who has failed them for the last time without ordering some holy water from their neighbors upstairs.
    Ditto with the Night Hag's ability. I'd argue they're more threatening if anyone can be taken, and they don't seem to fit well in a "punisher of the guilty" role.
    The rakshasha's vulnerability is another weird permutation on fitting an old legend into D&D mechanics. I feel that "A piercing weapon wielded by a cleric" would fit about as badly.
    Why can't shadows create spawn from douchebags? Seems like they'd have more shade to draw out.
    The sprite's alignment-detection ability is random, I'm fine with cutting it.
    The unicorn's ability could be rewritten as "creatures it finds worthy," which lets it include what would formerly be True Neutral druids while excluding LG industrialists.
    The gold dragon's ability could be rewritten like the paladin's divine sense; it warns most creature types of the presence of fiends/undead.

    The Candle of Invocation could be changed to "creatures which support/follow the god's dogma". More complicated, but also more precise (and fits better with the less alignment-based clerical restrictions).
    Blackrazor not working with anyone lawful, ever but being willing to work with anyone else that keeps it fed seems...out-of-character, if such a thing can be said of a one-dimensional villain who happens to be a sword. Similarly, it seems weird that Moonblade would serve a CN elven anarchist but not an LG half-elven paladin. Tying intelligent items to alignment cheapens them, in my opinion. To me, it makes more sense that they'd have rules or guidelines on who can work with them. Blackrazor works for anyone who keeps it fed and entertained, while Moonblade only works with those actively promoting the well-being of elvenkind.

    I don't see why Spirit Guardians needs a restriction on who can deal Radiant/Necrotic damage. It arguably makes sense for each church (or each cleric) to have Spirit Guardians only deal one of those types, but it arguably makes even more sense to just make it Radiant damage for everyone. (Doesn't Sacred Flame already let those creepy Always Chaotic Evil death-priests use radiant damage?)
    There wouldn't be an easy way to give "Glyph of Warding" a trigger/don't-trigger condition as broad as alignment if that system didn't exist,
    Nystul's Magic Aura obviously wouldn't need to mask one's alignment from detection if there weren't any effects that detected it. (And there aren't very many left, so that's an almost vestigial feature at this point.)

    I don't see why the Oathbreaker paladin or the Death Cleric must be evil. A paladin who sought dark power for what he believes are good ends could easily be at least Lawful Neutral (not to mention that the paladin oaths aren't all LG in this edition), and there's no shortage of Neutral or even Good death gods even in D&D.

    The Book of Exalted Deeds, Talismen of Ultimate Whatever, Robes of the Archmagi, and of course the planes are problems, which tie into Kyutaru's point.
    While you are quite correct that one can remove alignment-tied mechanics, you have quite thorooughly illustrated how there's actually quite a bit of work involved. It comes down to a matter pf preference, really, but I'd like to point something out, something I think still makes alignment worthwhile.

    In D&D (and this includes 5e), alignment gives mechanical voice to classic tropes of fantasy in an objective manner that can be fairly quantified.

    Allow me to explain. Things like a lingering taint of "evil" in a place where a demon cult formerly held rituals, or where a powerful archfiend stepped into the Material Plane. This is a classic trope of fantasy. And a lot of your "suggested removals" turn things that were previously objective standards into "whatever the DM decides at the time". The unicorn's ability is a great example of this. I am personally of the opinion that hard-coded mechanics with clearly defined parameters protect players against the fickle nature of DM fiat. Your preferences may vary, but for those of us who want a concrete mechanic for things like the unicorn's ability or the rakshasa's vulerability, alignment mechanics are a boon.

    But on your last few "fixes"...Oathbreaker paladins have mechanics that specifically bolster fiends and undead in their presence. Not really an ability that resonates with "using dark power for good ends". And Non-evil deities of death and their clerics are represented by the Grave Domain, not the Death Domain. Grave domain is about the protection of the invioability of the cycle of life-death-rebirth, putting wandering spirits to rest, and easing the suffering of the dying. The Death domain is about bringing death prematurely and unnaturally. Gods that grant the Death domain, according to the DMG, embody murder, pain, disease, or poison.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    The problem with this is that "important" is an incredibly subjective term. I don't consider details on a dozen monsters, activation conditions for a dozen magic items, a handful of spell effects, or two subclasses to be particularly important, but you might.
    As long as you recognize that "not particularly important" is equally subjective, then we can agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    See, this is the sort of thing I was looking for. It's a point I hadn't considered. Sure, you could keep the cosmology and remove its mechanical basis, but that would be kinda dumb. There would be all sorts of bits of lore and setting quirks that don't quite fit together anymore, and it wouldn't be connected to the mechanics the way they are now.
    The "deities" side of the argument is weaker, though.
    This ties back into fair and objective measures of classic tropes of fantasy. It was a hard mechanic in 3.5e, and an optional rule in 5e (under Psychic Dissonance, DMG page 59), but the level in which a plane might be, by the very nature of the energies it is permeated with, hostile to certain creatures who spend too much time on the plane. A noble paladin questing through Baator, for example. The very environment itself is a hostile force to him, but the assassin he is pursuing though the planes suffers no such effect. But that assassin would find the omnipresent Good in Celestia equally oppressive, while the paladin might find it soothing.

    Again, IMHO it's about being able to fairly and evenly say "this is going to affect you in this way" without resorting to DM fiat (which some players may feel they are being picked on, or the DM is playing favorites).
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I like this idea, but considering that the outsiders are currently defined by their alignments, it's pretty friggin' circular. (Also, there's not a lot that all Lawful, Chaotic, or Evil outsiders agree on.)
    The idea that fiends are literally made of evil is one that I actually like. It also explains why when a demon is killed, a new demon forms in the Abyss. Those energies that are given physical form to make up their bodies are a part of the plane from which they originate.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Did they get rid of that wall where all souls not dedicated to any god either dissolve into nothing or get stolen by demons, which is incidentally one of the biggest reasons possible for saying the gods don't deserve your worship? About friggin' time.
    No, the Wall of the Faithless is still there (SCAG, page 20). But I kind of feel that this is a tangent from the quote that you responded to, as he explicitly said "non-forgotten realms" campaigns. In those, alignment of a mortal corresponds to which Outer Plane's enerhgies his soul will align with (see what I did there? ), in the event that he does not have a patron deity to claim his soul.

    In FR, everyone has some patron deity, because FR is basically the "everyone is the pawn of some god or another, even the guy making barrels in town" setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I'd argue that you could simplify things while removing alignment, and keeping bits of the cosmology intact. You have a few general philosophies that the gods either accept, reject, or are neutral to. (Or just don't make any wars in heaven important to your story and focus on small stuff, like the world being engulfed in a war between kingdoms or a mad lich who wants to destroy it all.) Mortals follow these gods, the divine philosophies, or nothing in particular. This solves issue 1 and invalidates issue 2.

    I guess you can say that having an extra layer between "core philosophy" and "character beliefs" is complicating things, but I'd argue that the way a character interprets their alignment is a pre-existing wall that overshadows that wall—and, incidentally, makes it difficult to justify alignment as the basis for ideology. You say a conflict between a Lawful Good character and a Chaotic Good character probably comes from their views on order and freedom, but that's bull-honkey. If two characters exist outside their alignment, they can come into conflict on things unrelated to their alignment. For instance, the Lawful Good character might want the group to protect a small village instead of a large town (despite this not being particularly Lawful or Good) because it's his childhood home and he couldn't stand it being destroyed, and the Chaotic Good character might object for reasons that are neither chaotic nor good (such as "It's in the middle of a plain, there's no way we can stop an army from destroying it, but we might be able to do something here").
    Or heck, maybe the town is the CG character's hometown, which brings me to another point. Two characters can be driven into conflict by identical motives. Just as two characters might be driven into conflict by the same sense of hometown loyalty, just from different towns, they might be driven into conflict by the same sense of do-goodness, just from different perspectives of what's "good" (or at least which evil is lesser). And it's even easier to think of ways that two people following some form of Law, Chaos, or Evil would come into conflict.
    In short, if you don't use the strictest, most straightjacketey, and most boring form of alignment, it is essentially useless as a marker for ideological conflict.
    But this goes back to understanding alignment properly. One specific phrase I like o bring up in a lignemnt threads is this: Alignment is NOT an absolute baromete of action or affiliation.

    Characters with different alignments don't necessarily have to disagree, and if they do, the disagreement isn't somehow "forced" to be due to their alignment differences. Take Miko Miyazaki in OotS. Her and Roy are both Lawful Good, and they do not get along at all. At no point does either of them cease to be LG*, but at no point are they in concordance with one another.

    A Lawful Evil Cardinal of a powerful Lawful Good Church may be a selfish, egotistical jerk who, deep in his grubby little soul, only cares for his own power. But he's going to be a good patron to groups of non-evil heroes. He wants to see the supernatural evil in the world stamped out. It's part of the dogma of the organization that he serves. He may not personally care about the well being of others out of any sense of selflessness, but visibly championing heroes who do save others is great for his image, increases his popularity, and cements his authority. There is no reason for him to ever come into conflict (especially not combat) with Good-aligned heroes, even if he is of Evil alignment himself. This is a canon example, btw, from Eberron, Cardinal Krozen of the Church of the Silver Flame.

    *On Miko
    Spoiler
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    Some people argue this, but they're provably wrong. Miko "intentionally committed an evil act" when she killed Shojo, even if she mistakenly thought it was a Good act at the time. Her values and ideals never shifted or waivered, and she cnotinued to pray to her gods for guidance of how to vanquish evil. 3.5e mechanic specified that one act does not change alignment, it must be gradual. And lest we forget, when Miko died, Soon Kim told her that she would get to see Windstriker again, confirming her soul's destination to a LG afterlife.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I specifically asked people not to bring this up, because it's obvious and not interesting to discuss. Why did you ignore that? Did you read anything past the title?

    What's even the point of pre-empting obvious counterpoints if people still make them?
    It doesn't matter if problems come from people doing alignment "wrong". If there's no way to make them do it "right," it's still a problem.
    I think a lot got lost in what you cut out of rmnimoc's post. It wasn't just about "people using alignment wrong", but also about people who have legitimate complaints about the system.

    I'm very pro-alignment and alignment mechanics, even in 3.5e. And (anecdoatal, I know) 100% of stories I have heard from people about "why alignment is terrible" stem from someone not using it according to the RAW.

    Now, pursuant to that (and to what you said about "making them do it right"), there IS no "wrong" way to play D&D unless the people at your table are not having fun. Even strictly RAW is not some kind of "more correct" way to play. But RAW alignment mechanics were designed to be fairly used with RAW definitions of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos. For myself, personally, I can set aside what I think those things mean in the real world, and I use RAW definitions of them when I DM. Not because my way is "more right" (although it is more right, subjectively, for me), but because it's fair. My players can consult the same RAW text that I use to make alignment adjudications, and have a good idea of what my ruling on a matter is going to be. Any house rules that I do use (none of which relate to alignment mechanics) are spelled out for all my players before the game starts. When DMs do things like make alignment prescriptive ("your alignment is X, you can't do Y"), or auto-shift a PC one or more steps in alignment due to one action, the player's fun may be impacted negatively. To my values, that is a Bad ThingTM. But that's an issue with the people playing D&D, not with the mechanics they are using.

    To wit (regarding "if there's no way to make them do it right, then it's a problem"): If a mechanic is ONLY problematic when it's used wrong, is the "problem" a fair indictment of the mechanic itself? If I beat someone to death with a tire iron, are tire irons problematic?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I only noticed the lack of a designator when one entry (cloud giant, I think?) specified that 50% of them are Neutral Good and 50% are Neutral Evil. That kind of specificity (as opposed to something like "Neutral Good or Neutral Evil") makes the rest of alignment entries seem a lot stricter...as does implying that there are about as many good goblins as good demons.
    And to reiterate, intent does not matter if it is not properly conveyed. When you read the 3.5 orc statblock, you read that orcs are "Usually Chaotic Evil". When you read the 5e orc statblock, you read that orcs are "Chaotic Evil". Whatever the design intent, the two designations leave immensely different impressions on the reader...especially if they didn't think to read the bit in the introduction where minor flavor-ey details were explained and defined.
    I suppose you'd have to look into other areas of the core books and how the rules play off each other. In the PHB (page 122), the RAW specify that certain races do not have the same level of free will that most PC races do. Orcs are specifically mentioned. An orc raised from birth by humans still feels the will of Gruumsh. Even half-orcs feel it, but their diluted orc blood make it easier for them to resist than full orcs. Celestials and fiends are likewise different. Fiends do not choose to be evil, they are evil in essence. Evil is what makes them what they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by JackPhoenix View Post
    Everyone goes to fade away in Dolurrh, regardless of alignment. It's not a reward, it's not a punishment, it just *is*.
    I think since that guys specified non-forgotten realms campaigns, he meant "deafult D&D settings that don't have explicitly different afterlife mechanics". Dolurrh is Eberron's specific afterlife.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Eberron, but I don't think one distinct non-FR setting having a completely different specific afterlife destination either confirms nor refutes the point he was making.
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Having the "I have to be evil because I'm made of evil" trope cheapens things (for me). I prefer people to be evil because they act and desire evil.
    Once again, I love that you are always careful to qualify things like "for me". It's something that makes debating and discussing with you a lot more pleasant than people who think their opinions are objective fact (I don't mean anyone in this thread, but it's been a recent bugbear for me).

    Like I mentioned to the OP before, I actually enjoy that particular trope. One reason being that it can be fun to occasionally break said trope. The oft-vaunted 3.5e LG succubus paladin comes to mind. What makes her compelling, to me, is that she's tragic. She remains an outsider with the Chaotic and Evil subtypes. She would register on all 4 "Detect [alignment]" spells, suffer from Holy Smite, Unholy Blight, Chaos Hammer and Order's Wrath, and face the knowledge that if she ever falls in combat and dies, her energies will return to the Abyss and make a new succubus (who will likely be Chaotic Evil). I know that's a 3.5e example, and we're primarily discussing 5e, but 5e adds an interesting new line about how those outsiders which cease to match their alignment, are altered in their physical natures. Graz'zt became a demon. Zariel became a devil. That succubus would become an angel of some kind. 5e ties their natures to their alignments, but not in a concrete way like 3.5e did. Rather, their natures are so clocely tied with their alignment, that is will change with it. Which is very compelling. To me, at least.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    They modified the Wall of the Faithless, though. Now people who don't have faith mostly ends up as psychopomps, with only those who way worse than that ending up as a brick in the wall.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    They modified the Wall of the Faithless, though. Now people who don't have faith mostly ends up as psychopomps, with only those who way worse than that ending up as a brick in the wall.
    Never liked that Wall. Rather thought wandering the Outlands for all of eternity to be a more fitting end. Surrounded by other faithless souls that may not even like you, never at peace, never at rest.

    This is what you get for staying neutral. Should have picked a god.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I also never liked the Wall, but more and more I'm coming to like it as a part of the setting. It's a good stick in the stick-and-carrot of faith.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I never liked the Wall, but at least the 5e version is both something which existence the gods don't have control (as in, removing it would result in wide-scale catastrophe for everyone) over and doesn't punish innocents for no reason other than lack of faith.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Hard no. Assuming people here on forums like this are the norm of the gaming public is a non-starter. Particularly if we are talking about 5e, which went significantly out of it's way to be a plausible entry point into the hobby. Just this weekend my local paper had an article about how D&D is having a resurgence, particularly with new players...It is the industry leader and as such has to be noobie-friendly.
    D&D will be most people's first tabletop RPG. It was mine, it was probably the first tabletop RPG most people around here played. Key word, tabletop. When you mention the term "RPG" to someone, there's a decent chance they'll think of Diablo, Fallout, or even World of Warcraft before D&D. I played a few VRPGs (video roleplaying games) before my dad introduced me to D&D, and several non-VRPGs which nevertheless had RPG elements (both in the sense of XP and in the sense of character decisions). That is what I'm talking about.
    D&D is the industry leader in tabletop RPGs. It is not the industry leader in RPGs, period, because some of the genres it inspired have grown to eclipse it.

    So alignment is obsolete because monster descriptions also explain that the creatures listed as evil are evil? I mean, it's a salient point, but how is that different than arguing that having 'humanoid' listed in the statblock of elves and kobolds and such are obsolete because the monster description undoubtedly will make that clear as well?
    Creature type isn't primarily a description of appearance. It's a mechanical term for designating what effects affect a given creature. You can't affect a pseudodragon or sphinx with calm animals because they aren't of the animal type, for instance. A night hag is humanoid in shape, but it isn't humanoid type, so charm person doesn't affect it.
    Alignment used to serve a similar purpose, but now many of the abilities which one relied on it (including the most iconic ones) either dropped targeting restrictions or target based on another factor (such as creature type).


    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    1) It communicates to your DM what behavior they should expect from your character. It allows your DM to efficiently prepare (don't need to think about how strong are the guard if you know the PCs will cooperate, ...).
    I'd argue that Traits, Bonds, and Flaws do the same job more effectively, because they are more specific. There are dozens of iconic archetypes per alignment and hundreds of deviations from each which stay within the alignment more than they fit in any other, and the alignment alone won't tell the DM which you're using.


    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This is the part I strongly dislike about alignment (from a philosophical point of view). My setting started as a 4e setting (which then got cataclysm'd in preparation for a switch to 5e), so demons and devils are not about alignment, but about goals. And when I decided to throw out fixed alignments entirely, I found that a better distinction (for me) was in the role/power source of those creatures.
    -snip-
    I strongly (at a basic level) hate the idea that anyone is denied agency/freedom of choice. I hate the "designated punching bag" status. Same goes for dragons. We fig leaf that they really do have choice, but then deny it in actual play. I strongly prefer people to all be people, and people can fall, people can be redeemed. Having the "I have to be evil because I'm made of evil" trope cheapens things (for me). I prefer people to be evil because they act and desire evil.
    I like this setting idea.


    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Yes, in that it's a tool that can enriched the play experiencein - in the right hands. We've all seen how the gotcha literalist approach to the game goes in the other direction.

    FWIW, while your meditation is interesting, I find that overthinking gets in the way of fun sometimes.
    Not nearly as much as underthinking, and neither is nearly as bad as denying problems. "The gotcha literalist approach" is wrong, but it needs to be addressed somehow, because it is a problem that exists.

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    And boy is this glass house comfortable!

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    While you are quite correct that one can remove alignment-tied mechanics, you have quite thorooughly illustrated how there's actually quite a bit of work involved.
    No argument. Alignment is buried deep in D&D, and amputating it would take a bit of effort. But I'd argue that, cosmology aside, none of that effort would involve changing anything fundamental to D&D.
    If I had to put the question in actionable terms, I'd say something like "Is it worth the effort to fix the problems inherent in alignment for this and every future edition of D&D, to make sure it isn't interpreted in a way that ruins play experience for new players, or would it be better to just remove the system entirely?"

    In D&D (and this includes 5e), alignment gives mechanical voice to classic tropes of fantasy in an objective manner that can be fairly quantified.
    Allow me to explain.
    Nah, I get what you're getting at. The foundational work of modern fantasy is, at heart, an epic about the very nature of good and evil. Nearly all fantasy since has either followed in its footsteps with battles between Good and Evil, or has defined itself by explicitly not doing so.
    The problem isn't that alignment can't do this, or that alignment shouldn't do this. The problem is that alignment needs more power, more integration with the core mechanics, than it has ever had in D&D to realize its potential as a storytelling mechanism. If you're telling a Tolkienesque story about good and evil, alignment (especially as it exists in 5e) is barely a starting point.

    The idea that fiends are literally made of evil is one that I actually like. It also explains why when a demon is killed, a new demon forms in the Abyss. Those energies that are given physical form to make up their bodies are a part of the plane from which they originate.
    No, the Wall of the Faithless is still there (SCAG, page 20). But I kind of feel that this is a tangent from the quote that you responded to..
    Yeah, I do that. Especially when a discussion gets tangential to something I feel strongly about, like the Wall of the Faithless.
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    If everyone in the Forgotten Realms had a patron deity because the gods actually did stuff in their lives to make everyone want to have a patron deity, great. If almost everyone in the Forgotten Realms had a patron deity because their parents raised them to worship such-and-such and most people never cared enough to stop, cool. But if nearly everyone in the Realms has a patron deity because they'll be punished eternally if they don't pay homage to a specific god...well, that makes them feel less like (variably) benevolent guardians of the mortal realm and more like a cosmic protection racket crossed with the worst aspects of American two-party politics.
    Maybe this just feels personal to me. I'm an atheist, so I'm somewhat familiar with being told I'll suffer eternally after death for not following a god. I probably can't be objective in this. Maybe people with a different viewpoint find the Wall of the Faithless perfectly natural, for some reason I can't discuss on this forum, and I'm just being a special snowflake or some social-injustice-warrior term of insult. But I don't think that renders my analysis moot.

    ...Sorry, that went a bit deeper than I expected.

    But this goes back to understanding alignment properly. One specific phrase I like o bring up in a lignemnt threads is this: Alignment is NOT an absolute baromete of action or affiliation.
    I understand, but I'm not discussing alignment as it should be, but as it is. And often, alignment is treated as an absolute barometer of action/affiliation.

    Characters with different alignments don't necessarily have to disagree, and if they do, the disagreement isn't somehow "forced" to be due to their alignment differences. Take Miko Miyazaki in OotS. Her and Roy are both Lawful Good, and they do not get along at all. At no point does either of them cease to be LG*, but at no point are they in concordance with one another.
    Hence the paragraphs I typed about characters who get into conflicts for reasons entirely unrelated to alignment.

    I think a lot got lost in what you cut out of rmnimoc's post. It wasn't just about "people using alignment wrong", but also about people who have legitimate complaints about the system.
    Eh...he briefly mentioned people with legitimate complaints, in a way which made it clear he thought the overwhelming majority of complaints were ridiculous or born out of bad faith and/or "using alignment wrong." He was basically saying "I haven't had any problems with it, so it's working fine, so don't mess with it".
    It's a very...lazy-conservatism attitude, one that happens to be a pet peeve of mine. If you don't want to change things because the current thing works well and does good stuff, say that and tell people about the good stuff it does. If you think there are problems with a proposed fix, describe those. If you just belittle the people who criticize the current system and say "It works okay, don't do anything," that's when I have a problem.

    I'm very pro-alignment and alignment mechanics, even in 3.5e. And (anecdoatal, I know) 100% of stories I have heard from people about "why alignment is terrible" stem from someone not using it according to the RAW.
    -snip-
    To wit (regarding "if there's no way to make them do it right, then it's a problem"): If a mechanic is ONLY problematic when it's used wrong, is the "problem" a fair indictment of the mechanic itself? If I beat someone to death with a tire iron, are tire irons problematic?
    That's a terrible analogy. If misuse of alignment was an anomaly, something only done by capricious DMs out to get their players, that would be one thing. But it isn't. Alignment misuse comes from people trying to use alignment correctly, trying to "play their characters," and it still happens. Moreover, it's the same kinds of "mistakes" that crop up over and over, to the point that they become even more recognizable tropes than characters made by "playing alignment right".
    A better analogy is "If people trying to change tires frequently beat someone to death with their tire iron by accident, are tire irons problematic?" In that case, yes. Maybe the core functionality of the tire iron is fine for changing tires, but if the same problems keep cropping up among people just trying to change tires, there's something wrong that needs to be fixed.

    I suppose you'd have to look into other areas of the core books and how the rules play off each other. In the PHB (page 122), the RAW specify that certain races do not have the same level of free will that most PC races do. Orcs are specifically mentioned. An orc raised from birth by humans still feels the will of Gruumsh. Even half-orcs feel it, but their diluted orc blood make it easier for them to resist than full orcs. Celestials and fiends are likewise different. Fiends do not choose to be evil, they are evil in essence. Evil is what makes them what they are.
    ...I'm pretty sure that makes it worse, not better.

    Like I mentioned to the OP before, I actually enjoy that particular trope. One reason being that it can be fun to occasionally break said trope. The oft-vaunted 3.5e LG succubus paladin comes to mind. What makes her compelling, to me, is that she's tragic. She remains an outsider with the Chaotic and Evil subtypes. She would register on all 4 "Detect [alignment]" spells, suffer from Holy Smite, Unholy Blight, Chaos Hammer and Order's Wrath, and face the knowledge that if she ever falls in combat and dies, her energies will return to the Abyss and make a new succubus (who will likely be Chaotic Evil). I know that's a 3.5e example, and we're primarily discussing 5e, but 5e adds an interesting new line about how those outsiders which cease to match their alignment, are altered in their physical natures. Graz'zt became a demon. Zariel became a devil. That succubus would become an angel of some kind. 5e ties their natures to their alignments, but not in a concrete way like 3.5e did. Rather, their natures are so clocely tied with their alignment, that is will change with it. Which is very compelling. To me, at least.
    I feel like that's less a variation of the "made of alignment" trope and more a "outer essence reflects inner alignment" trope.
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    Ah, thank you very much GreatWyrmGold, you obviously live up to that name with your intelligence and wisdom with that post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Never liked that Wall.
    Quote Originally Posted by QuickLyRaiNbow View Post
    I also never liked the Wall,
    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    I never liked the Wall,
    Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Not nearly as much as underthinking, and neither is nearly as bad as denying problems. "The gotcha literalist approach" is wrong, but it needs to be addressed somehow, because it is a problem that exists.
    Your assertion of a universal problem is unsupported. We don't have that problem at the tables where I play. There is no denial going on. There may be, however, a lack of wit, or technique, on the part of {some players and DM's} in applying alignment in D&D 5e - which is what this sub forum is about.

    If you want to talk about all editions, the general RPG forum is over there. ------------->

    If people import previous edition assumptions into 5e, that's their mistake.
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Player agency doesn't mean they get to roll for everything. Agency means that they control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
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    I'm not terribly swayed by the cosmology argument, because you could keep those arrangements without explicitly mapping them onto the personalities of everyday randos here on the material plane.

    In fact, "good" and "evil" in a character's alignment already doesn't really mean the same thing as "good" and "evil" in the sense of Elysium vs Hades. You could easily swap "Good" with "Celestial" and "Evil" with "Fiendish" without changing anything at all about the cosmology.

    In the end, I think that the classic D&D alignment structure is not currently useful for defining player characters, and is only slightly useful for describing mundane foes. It doesn't really map to any real-life philosophy of people generally, and more importantly, it doesn't map well to modern fantasy storytelling and characterization.

    For a different example, consider Magic: the Gathering's color pie. This approach also doesn't really map to any real-life philosophy of people, but it's excellent at dividing the world into narratively compelling philosophies. It's very customized to its purpose as part of a trading card game, though—it's interesting to describe the colors of fictional characters, but it's clumsy when you try to use it for PCs. You'll notice that even the Planeshift materials that bring M:tG content into D&D largely drop the concept of color.

    So what is useful for PC characterization? I agree with GreatWyrmGold here: It's things like Personality, Traits, Bonds, and Flaws. These are the things that make my characters very different from each other, regardless of their alignments or their "color".

    Bringing these explicitly into character creation is one of the best moves 5e made, IMO.

    (So my final answer to the OP's question is: D&D does not need alignment for PCs or most enemies. It still has a place in the cosmology, and for creatures associated with the Outer Planes in some way.)

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    I've never been a fan of the "unfortunate implications" argument against alignment. Orcs aren't real and their evil nature is only problematic if you take them to be representative of a real-world people. Which is pretty clearly not the intention. And if you use D&D as an excuse to treat people different from yourself poorly IRL, it's still a you problem. The game didn't teach you that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post

    And boy is this glass house comfortable!
    I really don't know what you mean by that. I explicitly do not advocate for a "right" or "wrong" way to play D&D, as long as people are having fun, and I believe I qualified any opinion or experience based statements as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    No argument. Alignment is buried deep in D&D, and amputating it would take a bit of effort. But I'd argue that, cosmology aside, none of that effort would involve changing anything fundamental to D&D.
    If I had to put the question in actionable terms, I'd say something like "Is it worth the effort to fix the problems inherent in alignment for this and every future edition of D&D, to make sure it isn't interpreted in a way that ruins play experience for new players, or would it be better to just remove the system entirely?"
    I think in order to answer that, we'd have to have some kind of quantifiable, objective source data that indicates that it is "ruining play experience" for a significant majority of players. Which we do not have.
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Nah, I get what you're getting at. The foundational work of modern fantasy is, at heart, an epic about the very nature of good and evil. Nearly all fantasy since has either followed in its footsteps with battles between Good and Evil, or has defined itself by explicitly not doing so.
    The problem isn't that alignment can't do this, or that alignment shouldn't do this. The problem is that alignment needs more power, more integration with the core mechanics, than it has ever had in D&D to realize its potential as a storytelling mechanism. If you're telling a Tolkienesque story about good and evil, alignment (especially as it exists in 5e) is barely a starting point.
    I was also speaking of alignment mechanics in general, even across editions. Example from 3.5e, Holy weapons that are effective against ANY creature of evil alignment (could be flavored as "impure heart"). Without alignment being something clearly defined for a given creature, it would be entirely DM fiat as to whether or not it worked on a given creature.

    That's not to say that alignment mechanics didn't have ACTUAL flaws. The Detect Evil spell, in past editions, could occasionally be used to undercut or undermine "mystery" type situations and adventures, unless the DM was passing out specific magic items that nullify that, or giving class levels/spells that did so. And resorting to the same tricks to negate that tactic becomes trite and overused after awhile. I'm actually a huge fan of the idea that only supernatural evil can be detected now. No using a spell to determine that the Duke's Weapons Master (who seems jolly and cordial) is actually Evil, while his Court Wizard, who seems sneaky, greasy, and unpleasant, is actually completely of Good or Neutral alignment (he's just not a personable fellow). That's kind of a personal example for me, as it's one I used in an adventure a long ways back.

    Good Lord, I just realized that was 16 years ago. Man, I feel old.

    Back on topic: I think that alignment mechanics serve adequately for those DMs who do choose to make their stories about epic conflicts between Good and Evil. I don't favor complete abrogation of alignment entirely, because without objective alignment standards, fiends are just extraplanar races with a different point of view and set of values.

    But 5e's dialling alignment mechanics back and reducing their power and integration with core mechanics was meant driven by feedback from the community. I don't think that an actual majority of D&D players hate alignment, but a significant minority do, and what 5e did was reduce the impact so that those people who hate alignment can remove it easier. All that work you highlighted for changing 5e was even MORE work in 3.5e, for example (alignment's tenctacles were thoroughly entrenched there). For my own viewpoint, I think this was a good move, even though I like aqlignment and mechanics thereof. I'm the kind of person that values fairness and equality (if not equitability). Then again, if I lived in a world with D&D style objective Good/Evil/Law/Chaos, I'd probably get pegged as Lawful Neutral. If all the people working for me are equally happy ot equally unhappy, I'm doing a good job. i think, from a design perspective, that it was a good compromise to keep alignment mechanics, but make them not as pervasive as previous editions.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Yeah, I do that. Especially when a discussion gets tangential to something I feel strongly about, like the Wall of the Faithless.

    If everyone in the Forgotten Realms had a patron deity because the gods actually did stuff in their lives to make everyone want to have a patron deity, great. If almost everyone in the Forgotten Realms had a patron deity because their parents raised them to worship such-and-such and most people never cared enough to stop, cool. But if nearly everyone in the Realms has a patron deity because they'll be punished eternally if they don't pay homage to a specific god...well, that makes them feel less like (variably) benevolent guardians of the mortal realm and more like a cosmic protection racket crossed with the worst aspects of American two-party politics.
    I suppose the "protection racket" is a fair perception of that. At least until you dive deeper into the lore (like in some of the books), and you see that it's not something the gods really have a say over. it's somehow intrinsically tied with the nature of reality there.
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    After the Time of Troubles, Cyric initially had the protfolios of Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul. He searched for the soul of the mortal Kelemvor, who, when mortal, was the lover of Midnight, the woman who ascended to become the new Mystra. Kelemvor's soul was being hidden by Mask (in his avatar as Cyric's sword), until Cyric read his own book (an artifact designed to alter the reader's mind and make them belief Cyric is supreme to all other beings). This made him go mad, he shattered the sword, which released Kelemvor's soul. Unfortunately, by this point, Cyric had amde himself so intolerable in the Realm of the Dead, that all the souls rose up against him, and unanimously elected Kelemvor to be their new god. In life, Kelemvor greatly wished to be a heroic figure, but was forced to be more mercenary by a family curse. So, as a god, he greatly favored those who were noble and good. His lover, Mystra, also favored those who were good. Good wizards found that their spells were more powerful. Unsurprisingly (as it it's Forgotten Realms), everyone on the mortal plane found out. And a lot of people just stopped worshipping (or at least, being particularly devout to) their patron gods, because if they were noble and just, Kelemvor would reward them in the next life. But evil or cowardly people who were not deemed Faithful still got the punishment of being bricked into the Wall.
    Bottom line, Kelemvor was not doing his job. He was allowing his personal preferences to override the duties of his office.
    Cyric, meanwhile, was insane, and the other gods accused him of failing in his duties (he was still the god of strife and murder). He was put on trial, the charge was Innocence, by reason of insanity. During this time, he managed to, through plots and schemes, make Kelemvor realize that he was unfairly setting a standard that Good people could basically ignore the gods (which is antithetical to his duties as a member of the pantheon), while Evil people got punished. He made Mystra realize she was not being a fair and unbiased steward of magic. Throughout his insanity, he managed to completely destroy the love between those 2 gods. His insanity got cured by a different artifact, used by his Seraph of Lies, but he managed all that before he even got cured, and thus the charges were dropped. During this whole story, there was a warrior who paid some homage to Torm, god of duty and bravery, but near the end of his life, he fled from a powerful foe to save his own skin. Cyric then decieved him into thinking Torm still favored him, and he charged the enemy with a rusty sword and died. As a soul, he tried to be worthy of Torm's realm, Kelemvor even invited Torm to see him personally. But because he was False, he could not pass the test (seeing the runes on Torm's gauntlets) for Torm to take him. They sent his soul back to protect the woman guarding Cyric's book, and in the end, he died again trying to save her. having died brvaely in performance of his duties, he was able to see the runes, and was accepted as Torm's.
    The outcome, for Kelemvor, was that he stopped playing favorites to heroic types. He became completely neutral and dispassionate, adhering only to the strict guidelines of his office. Which includes bricking the Faithless into the Wall, no matter what kind of person they were. He even went back and re-judged all the souls he had judged since he became a god, to fix his mistake.
    So it seems that the Wall of the Faithless, and bricking souls into it, is a mandate of the office of the god of the dead, something even they cannot stop from doing completely. it is important to note, however, that when souls are waiting in line to be judged on the Fugue Plane, the gods send messengers and chariots through the plane, and any soul who is genuinely faithful to that patron will get automatically picked up and welcomed into that deity's realm. The reason that's important is that it makes what the other gods do less of a "protection racket" and more "they try and save the souls of the people that they can save, but there are specific criteria outside the gods' control as to whether or not a soul meets those standards". And if those standards are not met, the gods cannot help them.


    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I understand, but I'm not discussing alignment as it should be, but as it is. And often, alignment is treated as an absolute barometer of action/affiliation.
    And cars are sometimes treated as murder weapons. Are cars "weapons", objectively?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Eh...he briefly mentioned people with legitimate complaints, in a way which made it clear he thought the overwhelming majority of complaints were ridiculous or born out of bad faith and/or "using alignment wrong." He was basically saying "I haven't had any problems with it, so it's working fine, so don't mess with it".
    It's a very...lazy-conservatism attitude, one that happens to be a pet peeve of mine. If you don't want to change things because the current thing works well and does good stuff, say that and tell people about the good stuff it does. If you think there are problems with a proposed fix, describe those. If you just belittle the people who criticize the current system and say "It works okay, don't do anything," that's when I have a problem.
    That only goes to show that the "problems" are, themselves, subjective. What you call "lazy-conservatism", is also Practical Utilitarianism. "If it's no broke, don't fix it" is a common maxim among those who are the ones actually charged with fixing things. I maintain Naval Aircraft for a living, this is absolutely a measure of not risking making something worse by "trying to fix it", more than "laziness".

    And one of my pet-peeves, likewise, is when people conflate "this is true for me, based on my preferences and experiences" with "this is objective truth". If you're willing to acknowledge that these "flaws" are opinions and not facts, bully. We can have a wonderful discussion, and I can contribute meaningfully by offering suggestions that might aid in your proposed "fixes". if you insist that these "problems" are somehow "universal fact", I will dig in my trenches and debate so hotly.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    That's a terrible analogy. If misuse of alignment was an anomaly, something only done by capricious DMs out to get their players, that would be one thing. But it isn't. Alignment misuse comes from people trying to use alignment correctly, trying to "play their characters," and it still happens. Moreover, it's the same kinds of "mistakes" that crop up over and over, to the point that they become even more recognizable tropes than characters made by "playing alignment right".
    A better analogy is "If people trying to change tires frequently beat someone to death with their tire iron by accident, are tire irons problematic?" In that case, yes. Maybe the core functionality of the tire iron is fine for changing tires, but if the same problems keep cropping up among people just trying to change tires, there's something wrong that needs to be fixed.
    And this is something I've been leading to in this response, but in order for this to be accurate, you would need to prove that the frequency of these problems (be they with alignment or tire irons) is significant to the proportion of people using them.

    To wit, I do not think that the forums here (or the old WotC ones) represent an accurate cross-section of D&D players. I have been playing D&D since 2e was still around. I joined the WotC forums back in 2002 or so, these ones in 2008. And I have played 2e, 3.0e, 3.5e, 4e, PF, and 5e in 7 states, at multiple conventions, and on 3 different Navy Aircraft Carriers. And I've never once even met one person who frequented D&D forums of any kind. I don't think forum-goers represent the majority. Even this forum, many people only come to if they've been exposed to Order of the Stick. Furthermore, on forums of any kind, most people only come if they've got problems or issues they want help with. And on forums, most people who don't have issues with alignment, don't participate in forum discussions about it, because they don't feel that they have anything to add. So even IF a majority of the people on the forums have issues with alignment (which I also doubt), it's not necessarily a majority (or even a significant minority) of people who play D&D that have that problem.

    You'd need some pretty concrete data to support the idea that the problem is more widespread. And while I'm willing to entertain the idea that you might have some, until you produce it, I remain skeptical that it's a problem that a majority of D&D players face.
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    ...I'm pretty sure that makes it worse, not better.
    Depends on what you wanted or expected from it, I suppose.

    But I'm also not really interested in defending the perceptions of the RAW against people who "didn't think to read the bit...where details were explained and defined" (as you mentioned in your post I responded to).

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I feel like that's less a variation of the "made of alignment" trope and more a "outer essence reflects inner alignment" trope.
    [/spoiler]
    But it's more than that, because "alignment and outer essence reflect the inner essence of which they are physically comprised".

    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthaer View Post
    I'm not terribly swayed by the cosmology argument, because you could keep those arrangements without explicitly mapping them onto the personalities of everyday randos here on the material plane.

    In fact, "good" and "evil" in a character's alignment already doesn't really mean the same thing as "good" and "evil" in the sense of Elysium vs Hades. You could easily swap "Good" with "Celestial" and "Evil" with "Fiendish" without changing anything at all about the cosmology.
    Well, in the lore and mechanics of previous editions, you would be explicitly wrong. In 5e, you're only wrong if certain optional rules are in play.

    See, in previous editions, "Good/Evil/Law/Chaos" are not just points of view, but objective forces which shape the cosmos, to which even gods are beholden. The "Evil" in a fiend actually is the same "Evil" in a human assassin. Mortals just had less concentrated amounts of said energy, unless they had connection to divine forces (i.e. the results of a cleric's aura). That's why the "Detect Evil" spell detected both of them the same way. An 8-HD assassin had a Faint Evil Aura, but an 8-HD demon had a Powerful one. but it was the same energy.

    In 5e, there's the optional rule about Psychic Dissonance on the planes (DMG, page 59). It states that if you use this rule, then planes with Good and Evil alignment traits are hostile to characters with the opposite alignment traits. So much that they have to make a save or gain a level of exhaustion. So the Good or Evil of a PC's alignment really is the same kind of force that exists in their respecive planes, that is opposed and oppressed by the natures of planes with opposing alignment traits.

    But that is an optional rule, so...take that as you will.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthaer View Post
    In the end, I think that the classic D&D alignment structure is not currently useful for defining player characters, and is only slightly useful for describing mundane foes. It doesn't really map to any real-life philosophy of people generally, and more importantly, it doesn't map well to modern fantasy storytelling and characterization.
    I disagree that it "doesn't map to any real-world ideals generally". I think it absolutely does. In fact, it ONLY does so "generally". A lot of the specifics are where examination falls apart. But most of what is considered "good" or "evil" in D&D resonates to those of us with Western Societal Values.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthaer View Post
    In fact, "good" and "evil" in a character's alignment already doesn't really mean the same thing as "good" and "evil" in the sense of Elysium vs Hades.
    Actually, it does.

    Never understood why some people say that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthaer View Post
    In the end, I think that the classic D&D alignment structure is not currently useful for defining player characters, and is only slightly useful for describing mundane foes. It doesn't really map to any real-life philosophy of people generally, and more importantly, it doesn't map well to modern fantasy storytelling and characterization.
    It exactly describes the typical behavior it's supposed to describe.

    You can't blame a fork for being a bad kettle
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2019-05-17 at 01:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    See, in previous editions, "Good/Evil/Law/Chaos" are not just points of view, but objective forces which shape the cosmos, to which even gods are beholden. The "Evil" in a fiend actually is the same "Evil" in a human assassin. Mortals just had less concentrated amounts of said energy, unless they had connection to divine forces (i.e. the results of a cleric's aura). That's why the "Detect Evil" spell detected both of them the same way. An 8-HD assassin had a Faint Evil Aura, but an 8-HD demon had a Powerful one. but it was the same energy.
    There's a way around that and funnily enough it's the Order of the Stick that supplied it.

    The universe is not built up of alignment forces but colors (for lack of a better word to the mortal mind). So instead of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos you have Red/Blue/Yellow/Purple essence. The forces of creation are pure in color while everything else is a mixture of these. Planes formed where different essences touch and gave birth to the deities that reside within them, who in turn formed the material plane together and all its inhabitants. So while Skeletons may be fueled by raw Purple essence your local villain is 4% Red, 13% Blue, 37% Yellow, and 46% Purple.

    The entire cosmology remains as it is. You just detect essences now and a person's personality may be influenced by their essence or not. Entirely up to you. Heck, you could even make life equal parts of all the essences and alignment truly doesn't matter anymore.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    My personal thoughts:

    Alignment is nice to have from the DMs perspective, as it helps you get an idea of the general cultural aspects of the very very many societies and creatures you have at your disposal. BUT:

    I am firmly of the belief that alignment is fluid, and relative to perspective. I haven't required my PCs to include an alignment on their characters in 5e, ever. I make it clear in character creation that alignment is not mechanically important and the only reason to include it on your character sheet is if it helps you roleplay.

    D&D is a game built on tropes as shortcuts. The red dragon being chaotic evil is that way because it tells the DM how that red dragon is going to act in general in 2 words rather than a page of text. If you've got the time to give a particular creature more complicated motivations, do so, and then you can happily ignore the 'alignment' as listed on the monster block.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    There's a way around that and funnily enough it's the Order of the Stick that supplied it.

    The universe is not built up of alignment forces but colors (for lack of a better word to the mortal mind). So instead of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos you have Red/Blue/Yellow/Purple essence. The forces of creation are pure in color while everything else is a mixture of these. Planes formed where different essences touch and gave birth to the deities that reside within them, who in turn formed the material plane together and all its inhabitants. So while Skeletons may be fueled by raw Purple essence your local villain is 4% Red, 13% Blue, 37% Yellow, and 46% Purple.

    The entire cosmology remains as it is. You just detect essences now and a person's personality may be influenced by their essence or not. Entirely up to you. Heck, you could even make life equal parts of all the essences and alignment truly doesn't matter anymore.
    1) you're describing Magic: the Gathering.

    2) the point of alignment isn't being some kind of "essence" used to justify the origin of X creature, the point is that the moral inclinations of people have an actual physical effect on the universe.

    The neutral evil of a dragonborn who cruelly exploits war refugees for profit is the same neutral evil than in Gehenna or in Yugoloth. Why? Because the neutral evil of Gehenna comes from the dragonborn and every single other individual like them in the universe.

    If mortals weren't capable of being malevolent while following a code of conduct, the Nine Hells wouldn't exist. It's the behavior of mortals that shapes the Outer Planes and the creatures native from it.


    What makes Fiends interesting isn't that they're evil, or that they're a designed-to-be-attacked Other. It's that they're Us.

    Maybe the worst parts of us, but Us still.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    What makes Fiends interesting isn't that they're evil, or that they're a designed-to-be-attacked Other. It's that they're Us.

    Maybe the worst parts of us, but Us still.
    I don't know that this is explicitly in the RAW, but it's an interesting philosophical point, nonetheless.

    I like it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Never liked that Wall. Rather thought wandering the Outlands for all of eternity to be a more fitting end. Surrounded by other faithless souls that may not even like you, never at peace, never at rest.

    This is what you get for staying neutral. Should have picked a god.
    If I remember right the wall was Myrkul's idea, which made much more sense cause he's a jerk. The only reason the wall is still around is Kelemvor nearly broke the setting trying to get rid of it.
    please correct me if I am wrong.
    Edit:I guess I should add **** to the words I need to avoid.

    I like Alignment as cosmic forces still and d&d has done that well enough, (4e bugs me hard for taking out most of the Law and Chaos axis). I also like the framework existing much in the same way that we have bonds, ideals, and flaws. Guides help sometimes when writers block hits.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Well, Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus was just announced, and the cover is Zariel about to shank some poor bloke off camera...

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    In FR lore... the original God of death, Jergal, was immensely powerful and didn’t need the Wall. When he stepped down, his replacement Myrkul, created the Wall to maintain the fear of death his predecessor commanded. Cyric then kept it around because he is a jerk.

    When Kelemvor ascended, he tried to take down the wall and institute what he saw as a more fair afterlife; but it didn’t work... people had gotten used to the system (and Ao sort of encouraged the tight worshiper/God relationship it fostered anyways post time-of-troubles) and with it gone people started killing themselves for the ‘greater good’ and the like... ultimately Kelemvor reinstated it (with some oversight that was lacking before), which was his big turning point moment from Good to Neutral

    Of course, all of it only matters in the domains of the Faerun pantheon; the presence of the Wall doesn’t even seem to affect the other pantheons on Aber-Toril, let alone any other crystal spheres... and at least according to older Planescape lore even then it didn’t always apply (racial pantheons can claim false or faithless souls; the souls of children still migrate to Lunia
    Last edited by Naanomi; 2019-05-17 at 07:39 PM.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    D&D will always have the words necessary to talk about pursuing ideals. Those words include both success words and failure words. Some ideals will be opposed and thus the success words for one might be functionally equivalent to a failure word for the opposite ideal despite the different connotation.

    Or to put it less abstractly. There will be character that care about morality. Some of those characters will disagree about a tangential ideal. Some inhuman beings (outsiders for example) will care about that tangential ideal with as much conviction as the character cares about morality.

    In this manner D&D will always have alignment. Although not every D&D campaign will have alignment.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2019-05-17 at 07:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    It never needed alignment. It has always been better when you dropped alignment.

    It could perhaps have served a function, if it had ever been properly defined and given a stated purpose.
    Essentially, yes. Alignment is, at best, useless. At worst, it's harmful. 4E and 5E alike do a good job by divorcing it from mechanics, but they don't follow up by removing it altogether.

    The two axes of alignment are each problematic in their own way. The good/evil axis is self-defeating in that if someone is sufficiently noble or wicked to get more than two people to agree on labelling them as good or evil... well, we don't really need the label anymore because it's self-evident. If we have a story in which a band of noble heroes oppose Xyrax the Despoiler who leads a horde of demons to destroy and enslave, it's as clear-cut as it gets. If, however, we try to run something with a notable degree of moral ambiguity, alignment doesn't do anything but get in the way. Is this scheming politician who assassinates political rivals to avert a war evil or neutral? Well, honestly, who cares? What I find actually interesting is what the PCs think about it and, more importantly, plan to do about it.

    The law/chaos axis is sort of its opposite in that no one seems to agree what it actually means. Obedience to rules? Organization versus improvisation? Predictably versus spontaneity? A lot of words have been spent trying to determine it. What I'm not sure about is what exactly we gain once we've managed to reach some kind of brief consensus on the matter. We get to apply a label to someone. Or we could spare ourselves all this trouble by just expending two or three more words and describing their philosophy in some detail. Which we'll have to do anyway, because "lawful", "neutral" or "chaotic" don't tell us much.

    The one thing alignment is good for is a roleplaying aid. It's good for new players to be able to describe their characters' values or goals succinctly. And such things can drive role-playing for more experienced players as well. But there are far better ways to go about it. Aspirations, virtues and vices, intimacies... there's many other ways to describe a character's values and morality without bringing objective judgements or some mushy mess of an order/chaos dichotomy into it.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    THE GAME doesn't need alignment. People play without it and the game doesn't break.
    Some people like me still find alignment useful. I know its purpose for actually being present in my game. I know what I use it for as both DM and as a player myself. I know what I expect players in my games to use it for. I'll continue to use it for D&D forever. I don't care if it DOES get removed from future rules. I'll just put it back in.

    Question is really: Should alignment be removed just because not everybody likes it, understands it, or finds it of any use? Should future players be DENIED having alignment in the game because some people don't want OTHERS to like it, understand it, or find it useful in any way? How many people have to not like it, understand it, or use it in order to justify its complete removal? Is that decision going to just be left to majority popular opinion, or just left as the decision of the next person in charge of the next version of D&D?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    That's not to say that alignment mechanics didn't have ACTUAL flaws. The Detect Evil spell, in past editions, could occasionally be used to undercut or undermine "mystery" type situations and adventures, unless the DM was passing out specific magic items that nullify that, or giving class levels/spells that did so. And resorting to the same tricks to negate that tactic becomes trite and overused after awhile. I'm actually a huge fan of the idea that only supernatural evil can be detected now. No using a spell to determine that the Duke's Weapons Master (who seems jolly and cordial) is actually Evil, while his Court Wizard, who seems sneaky, greasy, and unpleasant, is actually completely of Good or Neutral alignment (he's just not a personable fellow). That's kind of a personal example for me, as it's one I used in an adventure a long ways back.
    Just because the weapon master is evil and the court wizard is good doesn't mean you've found the answer to the mystery. The evil weapons master could be completely loyal, sure he enjoys killing people, but he restrains himself to only doing it in service of the duke. The court wizard on the other hand blames the duke for some past event and so is spying on him for his rivals.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Honestly, I feel like Lawful Good is the only useful or relevant alignment to me, and even then, only because of Paladins. Paladins not needing to be Lawful Good is the first thing I chucked from 5E. I could never see myself allowing a Paladin to not be Lawful Good, because Laladins are about the difficulty of working within that code, and the struggles of handling shades of grey within the Lawful Good context. Outside of that though, alignment just isn't useful to me, and there's a lot of characters and organizations I don't want to apply alignments to because of the IRL implications. I'd rather ditch it and introduce a mandatory Paladin code that mimics Lawful Good tenants.

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