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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    It tells you a one sentence broad description of behavior for each of the nine alignments.

    And yet people insist on trying to do things like define Law vs Chaos or Good vs Evil separate from those broad descriptions.
    Guilty.

    I don't think the intent was for 5e alignments to be read as their nine own separate bubbles.

    To make that clearer, I would collapse the PHB descriptions as follows.

    Alignment is a combination of two factors: one identifies morality (good, evil, or neutral), and the other describes attitudes toward society and order (lawful, chaotic, or neutral):
    • Good folk do the best they can to help others according to their needs.
    • Evil is the alignment of those who behave without compassion or qualms.
    • Lawful individuals act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes.
    • Chaotic creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else.
    • Neutral people steer clear of moral and/or social questions and don't take sides.

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Did any D&D book ever explain what purpose alignment is meant to serve? I think that's the really important question.

    The interpretation that "5th edition alignment exist independent of alignment in other editions" is certainly an interesting one.
    Originally, your alignment was thought to be your religion, complete with a language in which your religion conducted official business. It's kind of like how the Christian churches spoke Latin during mass; that's how Gygax put it. So it's not that you worshipped a god (unless you were a cleric), but you worshipped the Gods of Law or the Gods of Chaos. It's not that you couldn't act outside of your religious beliefs so much as it was a declaration of what your religious system was. This has since changed to be more indicative of your character's general morality as the D&D omniverse developed; you are aligned to a given side in a cosmic conflict.

    Since 4e, however, alignment has been seen as more vestigial, and the grand cosmic conflict has been looked down on so hard by the general D&D public that they first thought to water it down to a linear axis from LG to CE, but then the 9 Alignment system was brought back in 5e without significant mechanical effect on the players, but some effect on their gear and the monsters they fight. It's an outgrowth of the 4e concept and belief among a certain subset of players that alignment is not a central theme to the base D&D game, which it was since its inception.
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    It's not that you couldn't act outside of your religious beliefs so much as it was a declaration of what your religious system was.
    Which bumped into the inevitable issue of "what if I don't have a religious system?" Again, which is why I encourage my players to go with neutral unless they have a specific reason to pick something else. Most people oscillate around a morality of "whatever's convenient for me and I can convince myself is some flavor of vague 'good-ish.'" Very few people -- among those the more actively religious or ideologist -- pick a morality and strive to uphold it.

    I now encourage players to think of the good/evil spectrum in the context of pain.

    Good seeks to reduce the overall amount of pain in the world, under the belief that pain is an obstacle that prevents people from achieving their full potential. Pain is a curse or disease that should be eradicated. Although it's also about overall trends. It's still "good" to defeat a bandit gang, even violently, to stop them from preying on innocent villagers. The good creature would try to inflict as little pain as possible to do that. Subdue rather than kill, if possible. But in the end, if the overall amount of pain is reduced, well done.

    Evil is basically the opposite. Evil values pain, and believes that nothing of value comes without it. All growth and knowledge requires pain. Something gained without pain is a farce, a scam, or at the very least its value is an illusion. Pain moves life forward. All things of true value come from people overcoming or surviving pain. No pain, no gain, and that which does not kill you makes you stronger, etc. Rather than save a village from that gang of bandits, the "evil" creature would want to see the villagers fight off the gang, and take the pain onto themselves (in the form of injuries or even some death).

    When I define the spectrum this way, my players immediately understand how to position their PCs' alignments, or at least what it means to be neutral in respect to that spectrum. It also makes (formerly) "evil" alignments less about being simply villainous.

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisBasken View Post
    Which bumped into the inevitable issue of "what if I don't have a religious system?"
    Then your character would be Neutral to the conflict, such as the Druids.

    But I do notice how you immediately jump into your own homebrewed assumptions about the gaming system and implications. I have argued (and continue to argue) that D&D is the setting of the game, and any modification to that setting results in homebrew. The question is whether D&D needs alignment and, in the base lore, it does. Given how the base lore assumptions in the PHB work, yes. D&D still needs it because it's integral to the setting.

    If you want to change that for your homebrew, that's fine, but it's still homebrew. Your homebrew setting might not need alignment, but the base setting does.

    EDIT: I misread your statement and thought you were talking about new definitions/reasons why to get rid of alignment. I retract my statement as being directed towards you but will maintain my opinion here should someone choose to respond.
    Last edited by GreyBlack; 2019-05-19 at 09:56 AM.

  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I wouldn’t say that not using Alignments doesn’t mean you are not in the DnD setting... the setting is robust, with lots of diversity. Athas basically has one alignment effect that only matters at epic play; no Outer Planes contact, actively avoids magic items and effects that reference alignment... and is yet still DnD and still in the same Cosmology

  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    I wouldn’t say that not using Alignments doesn’t mean you are not in the DnD setting... the setting is robust, with lots of diversity. Athas basically has one alignment effect that only matters at epic play; no Outer Planes contact, actively avoids magic items and effects that reference alignment... and is yet still DnD and still in the same Cosmology
    I'd argue it's less "D&D" the setting and more an optional rule set for D&D: The System. But this also gets into the argument of what constitutes D&D which is an entirely different argument.

    I guess my grander point is that as long as it's integral to the base D&D setting, it's important to D&D the system.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    I wouldn’t say that not using Alignments doesn’t mean you are not in the DnD setting... the setting is robust, with lots of diversity. Athas basically has one alignment effect that only matters at epic play; no Outer Planes contact, actively avoids magic items and effects that reference alignment... and is yet still DnD and still in the same Cosmology
    It's not like alignments only mater for magical effects or the planes.


    Also, as you said, it's still the same cosmology. It's literally a world in the Material Plane, cut off from the gods and planes, and its premise is kinda "what happens when a D&D world break down?". People there know that there used to be gods and devils around , and now they have to live without that, in the dusty ruins of a mad, mad world.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    I don't know that this is explicitly in the RAW, but it's an interesting philosophical point, nonetheless.
    Well, it's pretty explicit, but how literal it is depends of which afterlife.

    In the Nine Hells, for example, each devil is quite literally made out of one mortal soul, with said soul's worst part influencing the result.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2019-05-19 at 10:26 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I honestly can't think of many things more dull and uninspiring than cosmic forces of good and evil playing some kind of long inter-planar game of chess and telling people what to do. I'd much rather see people grapple with what's good, evil right and wrong on their own.

    ...or just forget it and go kill some unambiguous bad guys, but we don't need alignment for that either.
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  9. - Top - End - #99

    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    I wouldn’t say that not using Alignments doesn’t mean you are not in the DnD setting... the setting is robust, with lots of diversity. Athas basically has one alignment effect that only matters at epic play; no Outer Planes contact, actively avoids magic items and effects that reference alignment... and is yet still DnD and still in the same Cosmology
    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    I'd argue it's less "D&D" the setting and more an optional rule set for D&D: The System. But this also gets into the argument of what constitutes D&D which is an entirely different argument.

    I guess my grander point is that as long as it's integral to the base D&D setting, it's important to D&D the system.
    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    It's not like alignments only mater for magical effects or the planes.


    Also, as you said, it's still the same cosmology. It's literally a world in the Material Plane, cut off from the gods and planes, and its premise is kinda "what happens when a D&D world break down?". People there know that there used to be gods and devils around , and now they have to live without that, in the dusty ruins of a mad, mad world.
    Eberron might be a better example, as all signs point towards it not being connected to the Great Wheel, but it is left intentionally ambiguous, with ways to connect it to the greater D&D multiverse should a DM choose so.

    From what I've seen, D&D the game system can have all the hard mechanical effects of alignment rempved or altered and not break. But D&D the setting -- and I'm taking that to mean all of the campaign settings that can be easily accessed by going through Sigil or by commandeering a Spelljammer -- have alignment as part of its mythos, the same way Greek Mythology, Egyptian Mythology, Norse Mythology, Hinduisim, Shinto, and other mythologies/religions all of their own cosmologies and stories that may not make sense from an outsider's perspective the same way D&D's 9-point alignment might not make sense from our real-world perspective.

  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I'd much rather see people grapple with what's good, evil right and wrong on their own.
    Then you must like 5e alignment, since it's what happens.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I honestly can't think of many things more dull and uninspiring than cosmic forces of good and evil playing some kind of long inter-planar game of chess and telling people what to do.
    And this doesn't. The closest thing to it that happens is that planar entities would like to see more mortals bat for their personal favored team, but planar entities are just as much people as the mortals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Constructman View Post
    Eberron might be a better example, as all signs point towards it not being connected to the Great Wheel, but it is left intentionally ambiguous, with ways to connect it to the greater D&D multiverse should a DM choose so.
    Pretty sure that the author wrote in the 5e supplement that Eberron is another world in the Material Plane, just deliberately kept away from the others and in a special Crystal Sphere that cuts off most planar interferences. Or at least I saw him say that in a video.

    The divine and planar influence is different on Eberron, too, but an important thing to remember is that they're different on each world.

    In any case it's been made pretty clear Eberron is part of the Material Plane. Mordenkainen visited it.
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2019-05-19 at 10:39 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    EDIT: I misread your statement and thought you were talking about new definitions/reasons why to get rid of alignment. I retract my statement as being directed towards you but will maintain my opinion here should someone choose to respond.
    My "pain" definition certainly borders on homebrew, no denying. Although really it's just a definition of actions and values of what makes "good" good and "evil" evil. It's mainly to objectify those terms.

    I don't have a problem with alignment as a system. I just think it's a clunky fit for PCs. Either it's a straightjacket -- which isn't how the current edition presents it even if past ones have -- or it's a kind of roleplaying note for the player -- which is okay if that's useful for you, but again I think it should have been more tightly wrapped into the Background system.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    The Great Wheel cosmology (which is the only one of the major ones that strongly depends on alignment) cannot be considered "core" to D&D. For many reasons, starting with the fact that the DMG specifically disclaims that. Heck, the PHB gives a bunch of options there.

    People get too hung up on the cosmology. Outside us nerds on forums, the details of the cosmology just don't matter to the vast majority of games. The designers have given explicit permission to modify it to suit yourself. This isn't even homebrew, really. The "default" is merely a worked example of what you can do. It has no particular force or special claim to authority.

    And nothing about mechanical alignment matters. You can have grand battles between good and evil without them being cosmological forces. You can have strongly ordered societies and individuals and strongly freedom-loving societies and individuals. What you can't have is arguments about exact definitions at which effects trigger (and thus people getting pissed because the DM says they're really evil or whatever and so losing class features a la 3e). That's a feature in my book

    Alignment is useful as a shorthand descriptor of general tendencies, a fall-back when nothing else in the personality applies. But it's the most general statement, and so gets automatically overriden by anything else.

    Personally, I find the Great Wheel to be the absolute worst cosmology I've seen. It's uninspired, not helpful for actual adventuring, more interested in filling pigeonholes than creating coherent settings, and generally doesn't do much. But that's entirely my opinion. I'd just rather not have people tell me that my, very different, cosmology (which obeys all the guidelines in the DMG) somehow "isn't D&D" or is "just homebrew" with a sneering tone as if that's somehow dirty. That's a badwrongfun attitude in my book. "Homebrew" is the core of D&D, and always has been. Each table making it their own rather than playing by someone else's idea of what's "right" or "proper." That's how Gygax started, and that's the magic of the genre. As long as you respect the underlying archetypes, the universe is yours to create.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Then you must like 5e alignment, since it's what happens.
    I am aware. I was responding to GreyBlack. Probably should have quoted him.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Pretty sure that the author wrote in the 5e supplement that Eberron is another world in the Material Plane, just deliberately kept away from the others and in a special Crystal Sphere that cuts off most planar interferences. Or at least I saw him say that in a video.

    The divine and planar influence is different on Eberron, too, but an important thing to remember is that they're different on each world.

    In any case it's been made pretty clear Eberron is part of the Material Plane. Mordenkainen visited it.
    I think the current ‘official line’ is that all DnD settings (including Eberron) are contained in the Great Wheel Cosmology; the idea of alternate cosmologies and the like seems to be left behind in 2e/3e. When created, Eberron was supposed to be probably separate... but so were Athas and Mystara, and both have been thoroughly integrated now. Except for the Far Realm (in most ways), I think the default is everything is in the same Great Wheel Cosmology now

  15. - Top - End - #105

    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Pretty sure that the author wrote in the 5e supplement that Eberron is another world in the Material Plane, just deliberately kept away from the others and in a special Crystal Sphere that cuts off most planar interferences. Or at least I saw him say that in a video.

    The divine and planar influence is different on Eberron, too, but an important thing to remember is that they're different on each world.

    In any case it's been made pretty clear Eberron is part of the Material Plane. Mordenkainen visited it.
    Oh right, Mordenkainen's aside on the Orcs of Eberron. But I question his judgment; most of the Orcs of Khorvaire are tied up in the Shadow Marches and the Demon Wastes holding back the Daelkyr and the Fiends of Khyber, and the ones who aren't are playing the same game of thrones as the Humans of Khorvaire are in the wake of the Last War.

    Re: the video, I think it was Crawford who said that, not Baker. Baker in the WGtE mentions it as a possibility of going too far into the Deep Ethereal, but doesn't explicitly confirm it, instead offering several possibilities and options for DMs. But I guess that's confirmation enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    I think the current ‘official line’ is that all DnD settings (including Eberron) are contained in the Great Wheel Cosmology; the idea of alternate cosmologies and the like seems to be left behind in 2e/3e. When created, Eberron was supposed to be probably separate... but so were Athas and Mystara, and both have been thoroughly integrated now. Except for the Far Realm (in most ways), I think the default is everything is in the same Great Wheel Cosmology now
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    Last edited by Constructman; 2019-05-19 at 11:00 AM.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Naanomi View Post
    I think the current ‘official line’ is that all DnD settings (including Eberron) are contained in the Great Wheel Cosmology; the idea of alternate cosmologies and the like seems to be left behind in 2e/3e. When created, Eberron was supposed to be probably separate... but so were Athas and Mystara, and both have been thoroughly integrated now. Except for the Far Realm (in most ways), I think the default is everything is in the same Great Wheel Cosmology now
    No. The DMG and PHB are very clear about that. They present multiple other cosmologies and give instructions on how to create your own cosmology for a D&D setting.

    At most you can say that all first party published D&D settings are in the Great Wheel. But that's a very different, very much more restrictive statement. And that only applies to the official versions (for novels, video games, etc), as home games are explicitly in shadow copies/alternate worlds which can be anything the DM desires.

    The default is nothing more than a worked example the developers happen to like. And they've said as much, in so many words.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Constructman View Post
    Oh right, Mordenkainen's aside on the Orcs of Eberron. But I question his judgment]
    That's the smart thing to do. The Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes make a good job of showing Mordenkainen is not a sound judge on many, many subjects.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    The Great Wheel cosmology (which is the only one of the major ones that strongly depends on alignment) cannot be considered "core" to D&D. For many reasons, starting with the fact that the DMG specifically disclaims that. Heck, the PHB gives a bunch of options there.

    People get too hung up on the cosmology. Outside us nerds on forums, the details of the cosmology just don't matter to the vast majority of games. The designers have given explicit permission to modify it to suit yourself. This isn't even homebrew, really. The "default" is merely a worked example of what you can do. It has no particular force or special claim to authority.

    And nothing about mechanical alignment matters. You can have grand battles between good and evil without them being cosmological forces. You can have strongly ordered societies and individuals and strongly freedom-loving societies and individuals. What you can't have is arguments about exact definitions at which effects trigger (and thus people getting pissed because the DM says they're really evil or whatever and so losing class features a la 3e). That's a feature in my book

    Alignment is useful as a shorthand descriptor of general tendencies, a fall-back when nothing else in the personality applies. But it's the most general statement, and so gets automatically overriden by anything else.

    Personally, I find the Great Wheel to be the absolute worst cosmology I've seen. It's uninspired, not helpful for actual adventuring, more interested in filling pigeonholes than creating coherent settings, and generally doesn't do much. But that's entirely my opinion. I'd just rather not have people tell me that my, very different, cosmology (which obeys all the guidelines in the DMG) somehow "isn't D&D" or is "just homebrew" with a sneering tone as if that's somehow dirty. That's a badwrongfun attitude in my book. "Homebrew" is the core of D&D, and always has been. Each table making it their own rather than playing by someone else's idea of what's "right" or "proper." That's how Gygax started, and that's the magic of the genre. As long as you respect the underlying archetypes, the universe is yours to create.
    Depends on where you start looking. Characters like Mordekainen and Bigby existing in all D&D settings which implies that, if all settings exist then the Great Wheel is the base assumption. You're free to change it but it also changes the setting.

    Which, again, is fine. It's just a different setting.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    Depends on where you start looking. Characters like Mordekainen and Bigby existing in all D&D settings which implies that, if all settings exist then the Great Wheel is the base assumption. You're free to change it but it also changes the setting.

    Which, again, is fine. It's just a different setting.
    Mordenkainen and Bigby don't exist (and haven't existed) in my setting, so the claim is false.

    That argument requires taking the PHB name of the spells as being the common in-setting name. Which is absolutely not guaranteed. Nor is it a stock assumption. Personally, I don't consider any of the spell names as being in-universe, no more than I consider the race, culture, weapon, or any other names as being encoded in the setting. That's all translation convention. Officially,

    All official versions of the 1st party published settings are in the Great Wheel. Fine. But those are only a tiny tiny fraction of the games and that has no priviliged place, nor should "deviations" even be considered as such.

    Really, if they intended for everyone to use the Great Wheel exclusively, then they wouldn't have included all that text about alternate cosmologies or considerations for making your own. They'd have just said "here's the cosmology". Would have been way less confusing and would have allowed them to be much more specific. Combine that with the whole "these are our myths, but that's not saying they're true in your setting--do it as you wish" introduction to MToF, it's clear that they do not intend for everything to be part of the Great Wheel. The Great Wheel is basically MM's pet setting, that he uses as a worked example of how to build a setting. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. There are no credible claims that it extends any further, and many claims that it doesn't.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    The Great Wheel cosmology (which is the only one of the major ones that strongly depends on alignment) cannot be considered "core" to D&D. For many reasons, starting with the fact that the DMG specifically disclaims that. Heck, the PHB gives a bunch of options there.

    People get too hung up on the cosmology. Outside us nerds on forums, the details of the cosmology just don't matter to the vast majority of games. The designers have given explicit permission to modify it to suit yourself. This isn't even homebrew, really. The "default" is merely a worked example of what you can do. It has no particular force or special claim to authority.

    And nothing about mechanical alignment matters. You can have grand battles between good and evil without them being cosmological forces. You can have strongly ordered societies and individuals and strongly freedom-loving societies and individuals. What you can't have is arguments about exact definitions at which effects trigger (and thus people getting pissed because the DM says they're really evil or whatever and so losing class features a la 3e). That's a feature in my book

    Alignment is useful as a shorthand descriptor of general tendencies, a fall-back when nothing else in the personality applies. But it's the most general statement, and so gets automatically overriden by anything else.

    Personally, I find the Great Wheel to be the absolute worst cosmology I've seen. It's uninspired, not helpful for actual adventuring, more interested in filling pigeonholes than creating coherent settings, and generally doesn't do much. But that's entirely my opinion. I'd just rather not have people tell me that my, very different, cosmology (which obeys all the guidelines in the DMG) somehow "isn't D&D" or is "just homebrew" with a sneering tone as if that's somehow dirty. That's a badwrongfun attitude in my book. "Homebrew" is the core of D&D, and always has been. Each table making it their own rather than playing by someone else's idea of what's "right" or "proper." That's how Gygax started, and that's the magic of the genre. As long as you respect the underlying archetypes, the universe is yours to create.
    Since D&D has given up pretending to be a universal simulator, it has to have maintain some semblance of brand identity, a default set of assumptions to fall back on. D&D the system can still be used to create wildly divergent worlds, but that doesn't negate the existence of D&D the default setting, even if that setting only exists for the purposes of IP protection.

    For better or for worse, WotC has chosen (the laziest possible implementation of) the shared metasetting of Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, and Planescape as this default; the former as will be seen in the upcoming Ghost of Saltmarsh, the latter as seen in every other AP except 2 that have been released for 5e (at least let us visit eastern Faerun, or Zakhara, or Kara-Tur, please!), and the last both as will be partially presented in the upcoming Descent into Avernus and as the glue that binds it all together.

    The PHB presents the Great Wheel as the first cosmology seen by players. The DMG expanda on it, giving a brief description of each one. The books give DMs the tools to create their own worlds, but they also present a series of default assumptions and a default world as a baseline as the "brand" of D&D. Planar cosmology is a part of this brand, a "D&Dism" in its own right, in the same way that brain-eating Mind Flayers are.

  21. - Top - End - #111
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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Constructman View Post
    Since D&D has given up pretending to be a universal simulator, it has to have maintain some semblance of brand identity, a default set of assumptions to fall back on. D&D the system can still be used to create wildly divergent worlds, but that doesn't negate the existence of D&D the default setting, even if that setting only exists for the purposes of IP protection.

    For better or for worse, WotC has chosen (the laziest possible implementation of) the shared metasetting of Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, and Planescape as this default; the former as will be seen in the upcoming Ghost of Saltmarsh, the latter as seen in every other AP except 2 that have been released for 5e (at least let us visit eastern Faerun, or Zakhara, or Kara-Tur, please!), and the last both as will be partially presented in the upcoming Descent into Avernus and as the glue that binds it all together.

    The PHB presents the Great Wheel as the first cosmology seen by players. The DMG expanda on it, giving a brief description of each one. The books give DMs the tools to create their own worlds, but they also present a series of default assumptions and a default world as a baseline as the "brand" of D&D. Planar cosmology is a part of this brand, a "D&Dism" in its own right, in the same way that brain-eating Mind Flayers are.
    Sure, their first party publications are all set in a single setting. That's totally fine. That does not make any other setting "not D&D". Nor do the books claim that.

    First party publications are not the whole, or even the core of D&D. They're merely one small part. Basically the developers' pet setting, the place they like to (and have legal authority to) build on. That's it. They're not "more D&D" than anything else. They're just an example. And the developers have said exactly that.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2019-05-19 at 12:19 PM.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Constructman View Post
    Since D&D has given up pretending to be a universal simulator, it has to have maintain some semblance of brand identity, a default set of assumptions to fall back on. D&D the system can still be used to create wildly divergent worlds, but that doesn't negate the existence of D&D the default setting, even if that setting only exists for the purposes of IP protection.

    For better or for worse, WotC has chosen (the laziest possible implementation of) the shared metasetting of Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, and Planescape as this default; the former as will be seen in the upcoming Ghost of Saltmarsh, the latter as seen in every other AP except 2 that have been released for 5e (at least let us visit eastern Faerun, or Zakhara, or Kara-Tur, please!), and the last both as will be partially presented in the upcoming Descent into Avernus and as the glue that binds it all together.

    The PHB presents the Great Wheel as the first cosmology seen by players. The DMG expanda on it, giving a brief description of each one. The books give DMs the tools to create their own worlds, but they also present a series of default assumptions and a default world as a baseline as the "brand" of D&D. Planar cosmology is a part of this brand, a "D&Dism" in its own right, in the same way that brain-eating Mind Flayers are.
    This.

    Think of it this way: In WOW, you are given the option to play as Horde or Alliance. This is your Alignment. Are there private servers that remove the Horde/Alliance division? Absolutely. That doesn't mean that, in the official, baseline game that there isn't a Horde and Alliance alignment.
    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

    Where did you start yours?

    In a mountain after a cave-in.

    MY STATS OFF THE ELITE ARRAY:
    Str: 14 Dex: 8 Con: 12 Int: 15 Wis: 10 Cha: 11

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock_Summoner View Post
    I wish I had you for a DM...

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    This.

    Think of it this way: In WOW, you are given the option to play as Horde or Alliance. This is your Alignment. Are there private servers that remove the Horde/Alliance division? Absolutely. That doesn't mean that, in the official, baseline game that there isn't a Horde and Alliance alignment.
    Huge difference there. WOW talks about a specific setting. It's basically one giant, ongoing game. D&D is very different, and has been from its beginning. The idea that there's only one valid way to play, or that doing otherwise is somehow "wrong" or "unofficial" is belied by the explicit support for such in the PHB and DMG. Until you can explain that away, saying that the planar cosmology is a necessary part of D&D is just straight up wrong.

    For me personally, the idea of having to play exclusively in the Great Wheel is repugnant enough that I would rather find a new system. I strongly dislike running games in that cosmology for many reasons. The freedom to create my own setting with my own cosmological rules and have it be just as valid as any other setting is one of the key parts I enjoy of D&D. And I'm not the only one. Of the dozens of people I've trained, almost none have decided to play in the "official" settings. This kind of setting snobbery, the One True Way-ism, is just as bad for the game as RAW snobbery, and just as wrong. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, not You Must Play Our Way.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2019-05-19 at 12:24 PM.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Huge difference there. WOW talks about a specific setting. It's basically one giant game. D&D is very different, and is from its beginning. The idea that there's only one valid way to play, or that doing otherwise is somehow "wrong" or "unofficial" is belied by the explicit support for such in the PHB and DMG. Until you can explain that away, saying that the planar cosmology is a necessary part of D&D is just straight up wrong.
    Just like D&D, baseline, bog standard D&D talks about a specific setting.
    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

    Where did you start yours?

    In a mountain after a cave-in.

    MY STATS OFF THE ELITE ARRAY:
    Str: 14 Dex: 8 Con: 12 Int: 15 Wis: 10 Cha: 11

    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock_Summoner View Post
    I wish I had you for a DM...

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    Just like D&D, baseline, bog standard D&D talks about a specific setting.
    No. It specifically says that there are many settings, each of which is equally valid. The PHB is littered with references to that, and the DMG spends about 1/3 of its space talking about building your own. The DM is specifically called "Master of the World" for a reason.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    No. It specifically says that there are many settings, each of which is equally valid. The PHB is littered with references to that, and the DMG spends about 1/3 of its space talking about building your own. The DM is specifically called "Master of the World" for a reason.
    Quote Originally Posted by PHB
    Elves are a magical people of otherworldly grace, living in the world but not entirely part of it. They live in places of ethereal beauty, in the midst of ancient forests or in silvery spires glittering with faerie light, where soft music drifts through the air and gentle fragrances waft on the breeze. Elves love nature and magic, art and artistry, music and poetry, and the good things of the world.
    Is that describing a setting? That's rules and a description in the PHB.

    Just because you're given a level editor doesn't mean the base game doesn't exist.
    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

    Where did you start yours?

    In a mountain after a cave-in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vrock_Summoner View Post
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    I don't think the intent was for 5e alignments to be read as their nine own separate bubbles.
    Be that as it may, it's certainly what they actually did, at least for character motivation purposes.
    (I'm not getting into the cosmological stuff personally.)

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisBasken View Post
    This is why I brought up backgrounds. Alignment works great if you think of it as your PC's history, rather than their current moral attitude. If you have a history of being lawful good, it provides great roleplaying hints, even if you don't actually play as lawful good now. Just like if I have the "I’m too greedy for my own good. I can’t resist taking a risk if there’s money involved" flaw, it doesn't mean I must always take all risks all the time, but it does provide guidance if I (as the player) am unsure about what my PC would do in a given situation.

    They should have rolled alignment into the background system more.
    It is in the personality & background section. Quite literally says so in the chapter name.

    And character history vs current attitude is a moot point for everything in the personality and background system. They're a combination of both. What matters is the player considering them as a (potential) motivation when making decisions for their character in the fantasy environment, aka roleplaying.

    This is true whether your (potential) character motivations are explicit one sentence summaries across multiple categories like 5e and multiple other RPGs have, buried in a backstory, kept in the players head & winged, or they are just playing an avatar of themselves and don't need to consider them because their motivations are their own. They're all variants of the same thing*. The 5e personality system is just a way to draw attention to it by (in effect) bullet pointing them and making them explicit and direct.

    *although obviously the avatar one is an extreme variant, where character personality = my personality.

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    MonkGirl

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Just because the Great Wheel is the default setting doesn’t imply it is the only or the mandatory setting... but it is still the default

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I just leave it blank on my character sheet or write "N" for neutral and let my DM interpret that however they wish

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    I'm not sure I want to hear people talk about default settings and brand images when the developers are putting out official Stranger Things starter sets and Rick and Morty-branded setting material and adventures. Neither of those are really Great Wheel compatible, after all. Nor are they really D&D core branding.
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