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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tectorman View Post
    Of importance here is how "inflexible" appears to be the trait that seems like it's what's leading to the "lawful" tag and "hot-headed" to the "chaotic" tag, and yet, those aren't in opposition to each other (or are we saying a person cannot be both inflexible and hot-headed?).
    I'm not entirely sure what your point is.
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  2. - Top - End - #152
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by QuickLyRaiNbow View Post
    So take that basic principle - Lawful Good - as it pertains to your character and translate it into a few specific, simple bullet points. There's an extra step to take that requires you to think a little more deeply about the morality of the character.
    Alignment seems kind of redundant at that point. Why tie my bullet points to one of nine archetype sets?


    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    Hypothetical question.

    You have two Sage Wizards. Both are astronomers, both have the trait "use polysyllabic words that convey the impression of great erudition", both have "The path to power and self-improvement is through knowledge" ideal, both have the same flaw, both have the same bond. However, one character sheet has "Chaotic Good" written on their character sheet, while one has "Lawful Good" written on it.

    Does this affect how you play the character? Do you change how you play it? Does it change how you interact with people? Does it change your character's moral code?
    Is there any line on your character sheet you can change without changing how you play it? (Is there still a space for eye color?)
    Barring even more extreme alignment shifts (LG/CN, for instance), I think that any one of the trait/ideal/flaw/bond spaces would have a larger impact on how I play my character.


    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I'm not entirely sure what your point is.
    That the same behavior can be considered Lawful or Chaotic with only minor adjustments. I think he was agreeing with you?

    Spoiler: Non-D&D Alignment
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    With regards to Mass Effect... that's because with the exception of Finn from Adventure Time, no character in the history of fiction outside of D&D has an alignment. -snip-
    Putting aside the fact that this is irrelevant, you're wrong. No non-D&D character has a D&D alignment, but tons of other games and even non-game media have alignment of some kind. The most famous is/are, of course, the Dark and Light Sides of the Force.
    Commander Shepard (and his knockoffs) do have an alignment system. It's not the same as D&D's, but it exists. So do the civilizations in Galactic Civilizations, which is distinct from either Mass Effect or D&D's alignment, and Spore and Civilization: Beyond Earth have even more alignment systems. (There are non-sci-fi examples, too, I just kept thinking of space opera examples.)
    "Alignment" is not a term coined by Gary Gygax to describe his specific nine-pointed alignment system; in fact, it hasn't even always applied to that system in the context of D&D.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    It's less that it didn't exist in other stories; it's that it's a very different case outside D&D. The Law/Chaos axis has existed in the past; as has the Good/Evil. What D&D made central as of First Edition AD&D (as opposed to OD&D, Greyhawk, etc.) was the two axis system which was integral to the creation of the lore of D&D which, since the beginning, has created a world.

    TL;DR: I'm well aware of where the system comes from and I could be a little clearer in my presentation.
    Beat me to it.
    Anyways, I'd like to challenge the notion that multi-axis alignment systems are D&D exclusive. C:BE has what amounts to a simple three-axis alignment system, with three ideologies that a given civilization can choose to focus on or ignore. Spore's is a bit different; from one perspective, it's basically the same axis 1-4 times, measuring different aspects of a species's background and treating "neutral" as a distinct option.
    And as to what those axes practically represent, D&D is obviously unoriginal. Good/Evil and Order/Chaos are both derived from conflicts which form the basis of most real-world mythologies, with Order/Chaos being more common in creation myths and Good/Evil cropping up more often in later stories. D&D's only arguably original addition is having characters take a stand on both conflicts simultaneously...while also downplaying the "active stance" element.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Blade Wolf View Post
    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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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Alignment seems kind of redundant at that point. Why tie my bullet points to one of nine archetype sets?

    Is there any line on your character sheet you can change without changing how you play it? (Is there still a space for eye color?)
    Barring even more extreme alignment shifts (LG/CN, for instance), I think that any one of the trait/ideal/flaw/bond spaces would have a larger impact on how I play my character.
    'Alignment', such as it is, is externally-facing; personality is internal. In part, alignment exists to answer two questions: "is this character too much of a **** to be in a party" and "is this character banned in AL".

    Part of what we have here is a difference in character-building philosophy. I don't think the creation of bullets is valuable in itself, but thinking deeply about your character's approach to morality is. For some people, creating their character's personality comes before choosing an alignment; for others, it comes afterwards. So whether it's informing your behavior or reporting on it is a bit nebulous.

    There is still a space for eye color! And hair color, at least on the sheet I use.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Stuff
    Spoiler: RedMage125 remains verbose
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    The "glass house" joke was a reference to the spoiler title, where I called you wordy. But I'm wordy, too, hence the glass house joke.
    Copy.
    Now that I get what you mean, it is quite humorous.

    I am wordy, and I cop to it, always.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    1. So problems only experienced by a minority of players aren't worth fixing?
    2. How can you have a "quantifiable, objective" measurement of if a play experience has been ruined, let alone of what caused it? That demand basically asks that no problems ever get fixed.
    1.You'll note that I frequently used the term "significant minority". I think if 25% or more people have problems with something, then it's worth looking into some kind of solution. Which is why I approve of what 5e did. It left mechanics in, but made them much less intrusive, and easier to ignore, while not just full-on chucking them out, which would probably make a larger number of people unhappy.
    2. I'm sorry, I was unclear. The data could be objective and quantifiable. As in: the way the data is gathered (number of people, regions they come from, how long they've been playing, etc). Obviously, what you're collecting is, by it's nature subjective, but you're polling opinions. One can always poll opinions in an objective manner.
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I was speaking of 5e in specific, because it's the edition that this question can actually be asked of. Other editions throw around alignment mechanics like shuriken, but 5e has a wealth of examples of mechanics which fulfill the same thematic function without needing explicit alignment mechanics.
    I don't want to get too lost in nested quote hell, but remember, this point was in regard to my statement that alignment mechanics give voice to classic tropes of fantasy (that aren't always about the overall plot or tone of the campaign) in a manner that is concrete, objective, and measured, with no input from capricious DM fiat. I understand your stance, but a great deal of your "fixes" puts those same tropes back firmly in the hands of "whatever the DM decides at any given moment". Again, IMHO, concrete mechanics protect players.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    1. Of course alignment mechanics help DMs who use alignment-based storylines; the question is, are they a big enough help to people wanting to tell Good-versus-Evil story to justify the hindrance they can be to others? I don't think so, not without other benefits attached (like the cosmology angle).
    2. If I must accept that fiendish values dictate that they torture mortals and eat souls, they must accept that my values dictate that mine dictate that I oppose such creatures. Less-snarkily, the absence of objective morality doesn't imply the absence of morality, and I thought you were smart enough that I wouldn't have to explain that.
    Contrariwise, the presence of objective alignment forces of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos does not preclude individual morality that is more complex, skewed, misled, or otherwise nuanced.

    It's perfectly fine for a character to believe that what he's doing is "good" when he slaughters orphans, trying to prevent a prophecy about an orphan ushering Demogorgon into the world. He may believ he's saving the world. But the repeated, consistent, and above-all unrepentant butchering of innocent children means his actual alignment would be Evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    "Weapon" isn't the important word. Knives are weapons, but that doesn't mean...I'm actually not sure what your point was. That if cars are weapons, they should be...banned?
    My point was in what you said that I was responding to. You said "alignment is treated as an absolute barometer of action or affiliation". To which I responded, "cars are sometimes treated as murder weapons. Are cars 'weapons', objectively?"

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    There's a difference between "Don't fix something because it's working" and "Don't fix something because it can't be made to work better" (or "because trying to fix it would make things worse in the interim to a degree which isn't compensated for by improved performance in the future"). The latter is practical utilitarianism, the former is how you get the mess that is the modern social/economic/political quagmire. I call it "lazy conservatism" not because I'm trying to equate it to Republicans or whatever, but because it's an attitude which opposes change (conservative) for no reason aside from the effort required to implement a better system (lazy).
    Don't worry, I didn't mistake you meaning "conservatism" as having anything to do with politics. Although, if you wanted to avoid that in the future, you could use "conservationism", which is what you're talking about, and it's what I figured you meant anyway.
    On topic, the poster who said that didn't say "it can't be made to work better". He was basically saying "it works fine for me, so if it's not broke, don't fix it". So it is Practical Utilitarianism, even if it is subjective (but then, so are your "problems" you cite).
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    The analogy you provide is...imperfect. I assume you shouldn't fly an airplane while repairing it, which means that any gains (or avoided costs) from repairing a system need to be weighed against not just the cost of the repair and side effects on other systems, but also the costs of having an airplane out of action for that long. That's the rough equivalent of tinkering with an alignment system in the middle of a session.
    What I'd suggest (if I hadn't accepted at the start of this thread that none of this would ever happen) is not that, but instead changing the game for the next version, which is more akin to suggesting an upgrade to be added to the next version of an airplane. At that point, the only costs involved (beyond any side effects of the upgrade) would be enough testing to make sure the upgrade worked and didn't cause any unexpected issues. My argument is that, as of 5e, alignment is so inconsequential to the game that removing it would have negligible side effects on the rest of the game and little testing required to make sure it still worked.
    The analogy also goes into it with the understanding that some gripes are"downers" (aircraft cannot fly until it is fixed), and some are not. If there's a minor discrepancy that does not impact mission, and only occurs every 5th or 6th flight, we generally don't deal with it until the jet goes down for regular scheduled maintainance.
    And yet, 5e was built and designed almost entirely from player feedback, and alignment is still in the game. Does that not tell you anything? Does it speak to you, on any level, about exactly how "widespread" these "problems" of your are? Why remove it from the next edition if it is useful (including mechanics)?
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Universal fact, no. Problems, yes. And problems require a reason not to fix them. To me, "This is how it has always been" is not a good enough reason to leave any problem alone, even if it only affected one person in a million.
    Again, a problem doesn't need to affect a majority of people to be worth caring about. If only 40% of the world went without food, would world hunger not be a problem worth worrying about?
    If it only affected literally one person in a million, then no, it doesn't bear fixing to me. That is literally called an outlier in any mathematical statistical format. You don't radically alter a system that works fine for 999,999 people, and not for 1.
    And I think your second example is a bit Reducto Ad Absurdum in comparison, as well as potentiqally conflating the scope of the problem. Not only is this not nearly on the scale of life-necessity, but I also am not nearly convinved that 40% of gamers have problems with alignment. I don't even think 40% of forum goers have problems with alignment. This is where I would need some kind of concrete data (as well as cited sources for how this data was collected) to be swayed.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    I'm not interested in defending them, either. But I don't think they bear exclusive blame for the issues, either, not when the issues are so often so similar to each other.
    Ok, we're getting into nested quote hell again, but it was YOU who discussed an issue with alignment as presented in 5e, using the example of orcs. You said that the distinction between 3.5e's "Usually Chaotic Evil" and 5e's "Chaotic Evil" leave an "immensely different impression on the reader...especially if they didn't read the introduction where things were defined and explained". That was your example.

    I have no desire to defend such people, nor do I have any interest in catering to them. To be clear, I am explicitly against catering to someone's issues that stem from them not reading the rules.
    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    The "physically comprised" part is made basically irrelevant if what you're physically comprised of can change as easily as people change their worldviews. Which, you know, isn't easy, but it's easier to change someone's mind than it is to change their brain. Saying that Ash is made of evil doesn't matter if they can be made of good after a character arc or two.
    Changing an Outsider's alignment is not even on the same scale as "changing someone's mind". I know you acknowledge that it "isn't easy", but you're talking about trying to alter something literaly built into the fiber of their beings.


    Quote Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
    Spoiler: The Wall of the Faithless
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    Or, "GWG watches with horror as a tangent he created turns into a mass of people not understanding why he's so disturbed by everyone in Faerun being okay with godless souls being tortured for eternity just because they thought the gods were pricks"

    That argument fell apart when I saw how much of it was based on the presupposition that not worshiping the gods is a bad thing, that letting some people ignore the gods is somehow a moral issue rather than just working against the interests of the gods, and that torturing all people who don't worship gods (even the innocent) is somehow better than torturing fewer people.
    I accused the gods of setting up a protection racket, but the true blame obviously lies on the authors for not adequately exploring the unconscious assumptions.

    I appreciate that keeping the Wall around was treated as an un-Good act, but my basic research on this topic revealed a game where destroying the Wall was treated as a greatly Evil act, so it's clearly not a point that all authors agree on. Also, that game and Jergal's reign make it pretty clear that the gods (let alone the world in general) don't actually need the Wall, and make it clearly just a tool used by the gods to make mortals do what they want (fear death and worship them).

    Does anyone else see "Kids' souls go somewhere else" as being a red flag for a grossly unfair system that was hastily patched to remove some of the most obvious problems?
    Spoiler: Wall of the Faithless
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    I can't verify Naanomi's claim about Jergal not putting it up. In his heyday, Jergal was quite an evil deity. A god of Strife, Death (murder), and the Dead. He just got bored and passed his mantle to 3 obviously evil mortals. He stayed on as an administrator and became the Lawful Neutral he is now over centuries of acting as little more than seneschal and scribe.

    I actually agree about the disparity between authors and how it's handled, however.

    I mostly only bring up the Wall to point out that while you can divorce FR from alignment, you can't divorce it from the gods without changing it to the point of no longer feeling like FR. It's seriously the "cosmic chess match between gods" setting.


    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    If you search for problems, you will find problems.
    Quite agree, and it's why I don't think even a poll of forum-users would reflect an accurate accounting of how many people have issues with alignment in D&D. Not only do a great majority of D&D players never bother with forums, but those that do usually do when they have some form of problem, question, or issue. So forum-users actually are MORE likely to be part of a population with issues with the rules in some way, shape or form.
    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Googling "problem with Ducktales (2017)" is not going to give you a fair overview of what the 2017 version of Ducktales is, nor should one conclude that it should be canceled because some people have problems with it or find problems within it.
    Have you watched it, though? It's so good. More distinction in personality between Huey, Dewey, and Louie; develops answers to what happened to the boys' mother (be prepared for the duck-feels); has TONS of references to the old show without feeling like a new coat of paint slapped on (including a Darkwing Duck reference); and continuous storyling between episodes. It's just amazing. My wife and I don't even have kids and we watch it.

    Sorry...but it's quite good.

    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.
    I disagree.

    The D&D RAW are a game, and more importantly a construct of fantasy. The devs actually do have the force of authority to say "this is true in D&D". And yes, while the DMG presents many optinons for DMs to make their home campaign world their own, one planar cosmology is the "default true" for D&D. That's in the RAW. When discussing the rules of D&D, only things that can be verified in print are actually true. This because any and all house rules permutations are impossible to account for.

    Just because there's a toolbox to modify or rebuild entirely the planar cosmology, doesn't mean they didn't give us one to say "the default is true".

    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
    5e DMG page 44 explicitly states that Eberron uses "The Orrery" cosmological model, which is an alternate to the Great Wheel.

    And much less official, but I believe the last time Eberron and Athas were brought up in context og Spelljammer, it was said that both crystal spheres are extremely remote and nigh-unreachable. But I seem to remember Mystara being on the map.
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  5. - Top - End - #155
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by rmnimoc View Post
    This comes up pretty in literally every edition I've ever played, though I'm happy to say you're touching on some points that don't come up often. Regardless of those, though, alignment is still needed.

    To really explain why we need this, we first need to define what good, evil, law, and chaos are in D&D. "Good" is anything that Archons, Eladrin, and Guardinals all agree on. "Evil" is what that Demons, Devils, and Yugoloth agree on. "Law" is what that Devils, Archons, and Modrons share and "Chaos" is the same for Demons, Eladrin, and Slaadi.

    Right, so now that that's done we can get to why we need it. The first reason we need it is that, so long as we remember what those words mean in D&D, we have a helpful shorthand to quickly identify ideological conflicts. For example, if a conflict breaks out between a lawful good person and a chaotic good person it will probably come from a conflict in their opinions regarding freedom and uniformity, whereas a conflict between a lawful evil and lawful good person will probably spring up as a result of differences in opinion regarding self and others. These shorthands make it really easy to gain a quick understanding of an individual's general beliefs. If I'm looking for a good race to pit my lawful good party against, it's a whole lot easier and faster to sort them by alignment and then read about the ones that fit what I'm looking for than it is to read a paragraph or two about every monster in all the manuals. If I'm looking for a dark mirror to a lawful good society, I can grab any lawful evil society and it's a pretty safe bet it'll do the job. If I want to pit that same society against a foe they are opposed to on almost every level, I can grab just about any chaotic evil society.

    In short, reason number one is that it's a convenient shorthand that can tell a DM quite a short time with a fair degree of accuracy.

    Reason number two that we need alignment is that it's a lynchpin of the afterlife in non-forgotten realms campaigns. Where do you go when you die? Well, you go to your god, but what if you didn't worship a specific God well enough? Your soul goes to one of the nine planes (technically 16 but no one remembers the planes between the major ones on alignment) depending on your alignment. If your character stands as LN, he'll fit in best on the plane of Mechanus. If she's Chaotic Good, she'll likely fit in best in Arborea. If he's Lawful Evil the Devils of Baator will host (and roast) his soul (Literally the only reason that place exists is to convince people to maybe stop being evil. Sadly the Devils are evil and decided they'd rather just have more bodies to throw at their war with the demons, so...). Anyway, that can get to be pretty important whenever your campaigns get high enough level to do some planar travel, unless you're in Faerun and then whoever you want to talk to is probably part of a massive screaming wall because their god didn't like them enough.

    In short reason number two is that alignments are part of the cosmology and it kind of all falls apart without it.

    Reason number three is that no one has come up with a satisfactory fix for reasons one and two, because any change almost always needlessly complicates things for no reason. Most either say remove it entirely, which runs into issues with reason one, two, and four, or replace it with something so absurdly excessive that people have to remind the person making the suggestion that D&D isn't a real life sim and we don't have 5,000,000 alignments for the same reason D&D doesn't make you model the effect spells have on the global climate, most people don't care anywhere near enough to go through all that work and it doesn't really benefit the game in any way.

    There's not really a TLDR on that one, it's the way it is because no one has a way everyone agrees is better.

    Reason four is inertia, it'll stay the same until some outside force puts it in a position it has to change. Despite the frequent arguments from people who either don't understand how alignment works or just want to argue because clearly d&d is wrong and not them and the occasional complaint from people with legitimate issues with the system, the current alignment system by and large does its job and does it fine and isn't worth the inevitable issues whatever replaces it would have. It's better to stay the course that takes a bit longer to get where you're headed than change direction, ignore the map, and potentially fly off a cliff.

    Reason four, if it's only kind of broke don't fix it.

    TLDR: There are a lot of varied and complex reasons we still use and need alignment. It's a quick shorthand, the cosmology is built around it, no one has any better ideas, and while it's a bit broken, it's far from bad enough yet that it needs to be fixed
    your soul goes to dolurrh where it fades away & forgets its former instance as it fades away. Period.... In addion, the thirteenplanes of eberron are not tied to alignment in any significant way as you note.. They just are.

    In Darksun/Athas, I'm not sure where souls go after death... but given it's wildly different planar cosmology (and relative lack of), it is unlikely any of what you wrote applies much. I believe people are considered generally evil by defaulkt & more concerned with just surviving than anything else.

    In ravenloft, souls of the dead (if they had a soul while living) may be trapped or worse. People born there don't generally have a soul. It too I believe is a bit different with regards to alignment, but you might not know that based on CoS alone

    displayed, alignment is needed as presented for Forgotten Realms & settings that operate in the same way. Since greyhawk is basically forgotten realms before FR filed the serial numbers off greyhawk... It can be said that Most of the other settings take a different approach to alignment & that those settings would be improved if WotC quit acting like only the FR way for X is valid & always is.

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    No, I did nothing of the sort. I just said that we ignored alignment, why are you claiming we didn't? I simply approached any moral and ethical questions as I believed my character would.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I never thought I'd see an argument that would make me think sympathetically about alignment, of all things, and yet here we are. Between this and alignment, I'd grudgingly take alignment.
    So, I take it that, since you are opposed to the alignment system but are against the 2d8's freeform approach(I think that is what it is anyway, what with the "I act how I act" attitude), you use some kind of system to figure out what your characters personality is.

    Out of curiosity, what is that system? do you use something like the bonds, ideals, and flaws as suggested in the PHB? Do you use something else entirely? Am I off completely off base? I am asking because it sounds useful, and I may swipe pieces of it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post

    Have you watched it, though? It's so good. More distinction in personality between Huey, Dewey, and Louie; develops answers to what happened to the boys' mother (be prepared for the duck-feels); has TONS of references to the old show without feeling like a new coat of paint slapped on (including a Darkwing Duck reference); and continuous storyling between episodes. It's just amazing. My wife and I don't even have kids and we watch it.
    It's indeed amazing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    It's indeed amazing.
    My wife actually cried last episode. The Duck-Feels!
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    When Della returns and her boys see her for the first time.


    Ok, enough de-railing the thread. I would be happy to discuss Ducktales in PM tho.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tetrasodium View Post
    In Darksun/Athas, I'm not sure where souls go after death... but given it's wildly different planar cosmology (and relative lack of), it is unlikely any of what you wrote applies much. I believe people are considered generally evil by defaulkt & more concerned with just surviving than anything else
    Souls of the dead on Athas have one of four fates...
    ~Most get drawn into the Grey, where they lose all sense of being and memory and fairly quickly get shredded up into soul junk
    ~Some get tied to the black, usually being incorporeal undead because of it. Much less likely than being shredded in the grey, but more likely than becoming undead naturally in other settings
    ~A very small number of high level clerics get to the Elemental plane and become elementals in their afterlife
    ~Similarly, but even more rarely, Druids sometimes exist as ‘spirits’ tied to specific locations as an afterlife

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I'm not entirely sure what your point is.
    I was agreeing with you.

    GreyBlack was (I believe) making the point that two characters with the same traits, flaws, bonds, class levels, and so on, but different alignments (in this case, LG vs CG). And because of those different alignments, there must be some kind of a difference in those two characters.

    You were (I believe) making the point that two otherwise identical characters differing only with regards to where they are on the Law-Chaos axis wouldn't necessarily show much of a difference due to how poorly-defined the Law-Chaos axis is. And I was agreeing with that, on the basis that the L-C axis is a mish-mash of dichotomies that individually hold up but not collectively.

    "Individualism opposes collectivism" holds up.

    "Individualism equals chaotic. Undisciplined equals chaotic. Collectivism equals lawful. Disciplined equals lawful. Lawful opposes chaos. Therefore, disciplined opposes individualism." does not hold up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tectorman View Post
    I was agreeing with you.

    GreyBlack was (I believe) making the point that two characters with the same traits, flaws, bonds, class levels, and so on, but different alignments (in this case, LG vs CG). And because of those different alignments, there must be some kind of a difference in those two characters.

    You were (I believe) making the point that two otherwise identical characters differing only with regards to where they are on the Law-Chaos axis wouldn't necessarily show much of a difference due to how poorly-defined the Law-Chaos axis is. And I was agreeing with that, on the basis that the L-C axis is a mish-mash of dichotomies that individually hold up but not collectively.

    "Individualism opposes collectivism" holds up.

    "Individualism equals chaotic. Undisciplined equals chaotic. Collectivism equals lawful. Disciplined equals lawful. Lawful opposes chaos. Therefore, disciplined opposes individualism." does not hold up.
    What if I said that's okay, that it's not a clear delineation?

    Let's be clear, morality is messy, and even the most clear moral systems require interpretation based on your own personal experience.

    Let's look at the famous sandal scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Sure, all of the followers of Brian agree on some basic points, namely that he is the Messiah, but disagree on the finer points (i.e. what they're supposed to do with the sandal that came off his foot).

    So... how does that apply? In this example, the character's alignment would be Brian. So. How do the characters in this party interpret the will of Brian? Are they supposed to cast off their sandal? Is it just a symbol? Dunno. Same with alignment: is the character's alignment Chaotic Good because they honestly believe that society and laws are bad, and that they should be destroyed for the collective good of the people? Or is it because they just personally want to be free of the mores of society so they can do whatever they think is good?
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    What if I said that's okay, that it's not a clear delineation?

    Let's be clear, morality is messy, and even the most clear moral systems require interpretation based on your own personal experience.

    Let's look at the famous sandal scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Sure, all of the followers of Brian agree on some basic points, namely that he is the Messiah, but disagree on the finer points (i.e. what they're supposed to do with the sandal that came off his foot).

    So... how does that apply? In this example, the character's alignment would be Brian. So. How do the characters in this party interpret the will of Brian? Are they supposed to cast off their sandal? Is it just a symbol? Dunno. Same with alignment: is the character's alignment Chaotic Good because they honestly believe that society and laws are bad, and that they should be destroyed for the collective good of the people? Or is it because they just personally want to be free of the mores of society so they can do whatever they think is good?
    Then I would disagree. If we're talking about anything with a game mechanical effect, then it needs to be a clear and non-overlapping distinction. I don't get to have a variable number of current hit points, such that I exist in a non-collapsed super-position of states, both conscious and making death saving throws; I have to have a clearly defined current amount of health.

    In like fashion, if I'm supposed to be lawful for one specific reason, then I have to toe that line in all cases, even the ones that have nothing to do with the aforementioned specific reason.

    Spoiler
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    For example, previous edition Monks had to be lawful because they had to be disciplined. The Monk didn't care in any direction about individualism/collectivism or rigidity/flexibility, but since those other dichotomies all got thrown into the same law-chaos blender, you have to unthematically care about what you do in those cases, too.

    Thankfully, 5E doesn't have that problem. When I play a Monk character, I may get asked what alignment the character is (I say "true neutral" even if I don't think that's the case, and the conversation blessedly moves on), but I'm never asked if I'm really playing a Monk.

    Which just goes back to my first post in this thread, about how alignment is little more than a metaphorical "kick me" sign taped to your back. All it invites is a whole bunch of stress and unwarranted scrutiny that, personally, is not what I spend money on gas for and not what I'd like to associate with D&D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tectorman View Post
    Then I would disagree. If we're talking about anything with a game mechanical effect, then it needs to be a clear and non-overlapping distinction. I don't get to have a variable number of current hit points, such that I exist in a non-collapsed super-position of states, both conscious and making death saving throws; I have to have a clearly defined current amount of health.

    In like fashion, if I'm supposed to be lawful for one specific reason, then I have to toe that line in all cases, even the ones that have nothing to do with the aforementioned specific reason.

    Spoiler
    Show
    For example, previous edition Monks had to be lawful because they had to be disciplined. The Monk didn't care in any direction about individualism/collectivism or rigidity/flexibility, but since those other dichotomies all got thrown into the same law-chaos blender, you have to unthematically care about what you do in those cases, too.

    Thankfully, 5E doesn't have that problem. When I play a Monk character, I may get asked what alignment the character is (I say "true neutral" even if I don't think that's the case, and the conversation blessedly moves on), but I'm never asked if I'm really playing a Monk.

    Which just goes back to my first post in this thread, about how alignment is little more than a metaphorical "kick me" sign taped to your back. All it invites is a whole bunch of stress and unwarranted scrutiny that, personally, is not what I spend money on gas for and not what I'd like to associate with D&D.
    Example game mechanic: A unique holy sword that only grants its full might to moral characters.

    1) You might note that this is "alignment as descriptive" rather than "alignment as prescriptive".
    2) It can be further noted that two moral characters might differ on how moral they are with respect to different topics despite both being described as, on the whole, moral characters. Jane might be a paragon of generosity but have a bit of a weakness for lying. John might be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save others, but be more stingy when it comes to lesser sacrifices. Now you may ask "How do I know Jane and John are moral?" and that is up to the campaign world/reality and thus up to the DM to adjudicate.

    Since Jane and John are both moral, this unique holy sword would grant its full might to either that wielded it.

    I will note this differs from your Monk example a bit. If Monks need to be disciplined for some reason, then they do not necessarily need to be Lawful despite the characteristic of being disciplined being evidence supporting a more lawful personality in the absence of all the other relevant characteristics.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2019-05-21 at 03:08 AM.

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    Alignment seems like a solution, 42 years in search of a problem.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    Example game mechanic: A unique holy sword that only grants its full might to moral characters.

    1) You might note that this is "alignment as descriptive" rather than "alignment as prescriptive".
    2) It can be further noted that two moral characters might differ on how moral they are with respect to different topics despite both being described as, on the whole, moral characters. Jane might be a paragon of generosity but have a bit of a weakness for lying. John might be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to save others, but be more stingy when it comes to lesser sacrifices. Now you may ask "How do I know Jane and John are moral?" and that is up to the campaign world/reality and thus up to the DM to adjudicate.

    Since Jane and John are both moral, this unique holy sword would grant its full might to either that wielded it.

    I will note this differs from your Monk example a bit. If Monks need to be disciplined for some reason, then they do not necessarily need to be Lawful despite the characteristic of being disciplined being evidence supporting a more lawful personality in the absence of all the other relevant characteristics.
    Could also just be a snobbish, stuck-up sword. Mjolnir wouldn't even let people pick it up unless it thought you were worthy in its eyes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Alignment seems like a solution, 42 years in search of a problem.
    Not really. Dave Arneson added in alignment during the early Blackmoor days, pre D&D being published, due to how his players played. It was initially an adaptation to deal with how the role playing was going on. As time went on and the rules publishing mechanic of getting the rules out and to more and more players, the "rules make the game" mind set that Arneson had broken from slowlly but surely returned. Mechanizing morality? Not one of the greatest things D&D ever did, though it has born fruit in a variety of geek jokes that riff off of alignment as a trope.

    While I covered more in this post, the germ of the idea for alignment as a character's feature came from play at the table.

    One of the facets about the Braunstein games that informed the original structure by which a DM rules on things that come up in play (these game were similar to some RL war games run by the Army I got involved in a quarter of a century later that when Arneson first got shown that form by Dave Wesley; what Wesley had been exposed to in the Army had, let's say, legs) was that there was a lot of improv in those encounters that required a judge/referee(DM's ancestor) to make a call. Things like morality and alignment weren't a rule, there were a part of the underlying conditions of play.

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    Early Blackmoor game Introduction of the Chaotic thief. (Character Class/Alignment). {snip}
    In a related musing ...
    We now had alignment. Spells to detect alignment, and rules forbidding actions not allowed by ones alignment. Actually not as much fun as not knowing. Chuck and John had a great time being the 'official' evil players. They would draw up adventures to trap the others (under my supervision) and otherwise make trouble.
    Arneson's various musings that people have captured often refer to his little black notebook: his campaign, his games, were constantly evolving as things came up during play and he made adaptations.


    Quite the opposite of the RAW obsession we see since the computer age descended upon us.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-05-21 at 01:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Could also just be a snobbish, stuck-up sword. Mjolnir wouldn't even let people pick it up unless it thought you were worthy in its eyes.
    It could also be a 3 eyed duck. What is your point, because you clearly missed mine and I am clearly missing yours?

    In this case it is a holy sword that only grants its full power to moral characters. That is the setting of the example and the actual point was how Jane and John are both moral and are not identical. Alignment as descriptive leads to more than just 9 carbon copy characters. There was also a side point in there about how the descriptive alignment was an emergent property of the characters in a world (assuming the world is not a moral relativism or moral error theory world) rather than requiring a holy sword to exist.

    Any comments on those points?
    1) Two characters being moral does not make them identical or even in agreement on all topics about morality.
    2) Having morality in your campaign (excluding moral relativism or moral error theory) means you are using alignment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Alignment seems like a solution, 42 years in search of a problem.
    I can see why you think that. However:
    I see it as Alignment is one person's attempt to establish and communicate a language of terms that might be easier for players to work with than the technical terms found in Philosophy texts. "Good, Neutral, Evil" rather than "Moral, Morally Obligatory, Morally Supererogatory, Amoral, Immoral, etc".

    Now, was that a problem? Is the term Morally Supererogatory a bit difficult for some players to understand?
    Then, is D&D's alignment a solution? Is the term Good a solution to that difficulty?
    I don't know on either account. But that is the most charitable attempt I can make.
    Last edited by OldTrees1; 2019-05-21 at 01:33 PM.

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    I'm probably re-iterating information already provided but here you go.

    D&D doesn't need alignment. It's an artifact of some of the early concepts found in Tolkien (some races are inherently inferior/evil) and other works (practically all of the writings of the Middle Ages).

    Alignment can be a useful tool in D&D for storytelling (it pretty much defines the cosmology of the game) and for rapidly summarizing the apparent character of any intelligent creature in the game. As a tool it can be used well or poorly. It doesn't need to be used at all and if it used it need not be apparent to the players.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    I'm probably re-iterating information already provided but here you go.

    D&D doesn't need alignment. It's an artifact of some of the early concepts found in Tolkien (some races are inherently inferior/evil) and other works (practically all of the writings of the Middle Ages).

    Alignment can be a useful tool in D&D for storytelling (it pretty much defines the cosmology of the game) and for rapidly summarizing the apparent character of any intelligent creature in the game. As a tool it can be used well or poorly. It doesn't need to be used at all and if it used it need not be apparent to the players.
    I suggest that you go up a few posts and read my post. Alignment was woven into the game from the proto D&D before the game ever got published in 1974. It is as much a part of the game as the three (or four) archetypical classes: Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, (Thief).

    But it has changed over time, as has the audience of players the game is played by.

    Out of curiosity: how much Diplomacy have you played?

    As I've mentioned before, I preferred the Lawful/Neutral/Chaos baseline form the original issue. It leaves everyone more room to work and isn't as constraining.

    And as another previous answer of mine, and a few others note, alignment isn't an on/off switch for playing the game.

    You choose to what degree and depth the amount of alignment that fits into your campaign's play.

    It isn't a computer game.
    One of its features is that it is customizable.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-05-21 at 01:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tectorman View Post
    I was agreeing with you.

    GreyBlack was (I believe) making the point that two characters with the same traits, flaws, bonds, class levels, and so on, but different alignments (in this case, LG vs CG). And because of those different alignments, there must be some kind of a difference in those two characters.

    You were (I believe) making the point that two otherwise identical characters differing only with regards to where they are on the Law-Chaos axis wouldn't necessarily show much of a difference due to how poorly-defined the Law-Chaos axis is. And I was agreeing with that, on the basis that the L-C axis is a mish-mash of dichotomies that individually hold up but not collectively.

    "Individualism opposes collectivism" holds up.

    "Individualism equals chaotic. Undisciplined equals chaotic. Collectivism equals lawful. Disciplined equals lawful. Lawful opposes chaos. Therefore, disciplined opposes individualism." does not hold up.
    Ah, I see. In this case, yes, I agree with what you've said as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    What if I said that's okay, that it's not a clear delineation?

    Let's be clear, morality is messy, and even the most clear moral systems require interpretation based on your own personal experience.

    Let's look at the famous sandal scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian." Sure, all of the followers of Brian agree on some basic points, namely that he is the Messiah, but disagree on the finer points (i.e. what they're supposed to do with the sandal that came off his foot).

    So... how does that apply? In this example, the character's alignment would be Brian. So. How do the characters in this party interpret the will of Brian? Are they supposed to cast off their sandal? Is it just a symbol? Dunno. Same with alignment: is the character's alignment Chaotic Good because they honestly believe that society and laws are bad, and that they should be destroyed for the collective good of the people? Or is it because they just personally want to be free of the mores of society so they can do whatever they think is good?
    First of all, Law/Chaos doesn't govern morality. Good/Evil does, and comes with its own problems, whereas Law/Chaos... well, it doesn't really govern anything in particular, which is the whole problem. Second of all, if it's so unclear, what's it even doing in the rules? If saying that someone is Lawful Good can mean different things, it's not a useful descriptor. Because either way, I'll need to examine this person's beliefs to find out what they are. And they're lumped in with some other people who happen to share some, but not all, of those beliefs.

    If, instead, we have someone whose principle is "I will not let an injustice stand if I can prevent it" (like an Intimacy in Exalted or a principle in a more narrative game, such as Dungeon World), it tells us something real about how such a person will act, without associating it with some other traits that people apply the "lawful" or "good" labels to.
    Last edited by Morty; 2019-05-21 at 02:08 PM.
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    Good Evil Axis: Moral
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    State governs: Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, and Chaotic Evil.
    Church governs: Neutral Good, True Neutral, and Neutral Evil.
    Church may touch topics but cannot govern: Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good, and Chaotic Evil.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    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. [...]

    In 5e, there's the optional rule about Psychic Dissonance on the planes (DMG, page 59). [...]
    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Actually, it does.

    Never understood why some people say that.
    I should be clearer. My view is this:

    The question of whether good/evil/law/chaos as a mortal personality trait is tied to the cosmic forces of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos is basically a setting question. Historically, D&D says "yes" by default at the system level and in all(?) official setting material.

    In 5e, the answer at the system level is "not necessarily". You can see it in the "____ Evil and Good" spells, which ignore alignment and instead affect non-mortals and outsiders. The "____ Law" and "____ Chaos" spells are gone entirely. Effects like Psychic Dissonance are relegated to optional rules, in case it applies in whatever world your campaign is in.

    So when I say that character alignment "already" doesn't really mean the same thing as Elysium/Hades, I'm talking more about how the average modern player interacts with it, and how the base 5e mechanics no longer treat them the same—I don't mean that it's not a part of, say, the official Forgotten Realms setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by RedMage125 View Post
    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.
    Not to nitpick, but I said it doesn't "map to any real-life philosophy of people generally". That is, it doesn't inherit from any coherent branch of moral philosophy.

    And really, it doesn't need to. Like I said, the bigger issue for me is that I don't think it maps well to how people do fantasy storytelling and characterization in 2019. (IMO, it worked better in 1980. Genres shift.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    It exactly describes the typical behavior it's supposed to describe.

    You can't blame a fork for being a bad kettle
    Sure. My view is closer to "fork use is declining as more people are using chopsticks instead".

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    Just a question: Isn't this just replacing alignment with a different style of alignment?
    Sure. I have no general opposition to the concept of alignments.

    I just think D&D's specific Good/Evil/Law/Chaos alignment grid is largely vestigial for player characters in most campaigns and settings, and 5e was right to deemphasize it.

    (I also think it unintentionally encourages questions like "how would a Lawful Good character respond to a Chaotic Neutral character", which is not a useful way to approach characterization.)

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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Maybe a better question than whether or not D&D needs alignment is: Does anyone actually use it at the table for PCs these day? I have trouble visualizing a good use for it that doesn't feel heavy handed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Mjolnir wouldn't even let people pick it up unless it thought you were worthy in its eyes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    Could also just be a snobbish, stuck-up sword. Mjolnir wouldn't even let people pick it up unless it thought you were worthy in its eyes.
    In past editions of D&D, these only reason that Thor was the only person who could wield Mjolnir was because of how high Thor's strength was; IIRC, in 3.x, it was something like a 52, and then he has a belt that doubled his strength, so an effective 104 strength score. Even in Norse lore, Mjolnir was only wielded by Thor because he was the strongest of the gods.

    I assume that weapon would carry over here? It was statted out previously, and it had nothing to do with worthiness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldTrees1 View Post
    It could also be a 3 eyed duck. What is your point, because you clearly missed mine and I am clearly missing yours?
    That in a thread about whether D&D still needs alignment your theoretical sword doesn't necessarily need to behave according to one. We can separate alignment from it and have it choose the wielder by its own subjective wants. Calm down and don't tell me what I'm seeing or not seeing. I'm merely saying there are alternative ways to handle the weapon and you're viewing it rather black and white.

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    I assume that weapon would carry over here? It was statted out previously, and it had nothing to do with worthiness.
    Similarly, this provides another means by which a weapon need not bear the cross of alignment in the D&D setting. Whether it's the weapon's viewpoints or its sheer weight, alignment is not needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyutaru View Post
    That in a thread about whether D&D still needs alignment your theoretical sword doesn't necessarily need to behave according to one. We can separate alignment from it and have it choose the wielder by its own subjective wants. Calm down and don't tell me what I'm seeing or not seeing. I'm merely saying there are alternative ways to handle the weapon and you're viewing it rather black and white.


    Similarly, this provides another means by which a weapon need not bear the cross of alignment in the D&D setting. Whether it's the weapon's viewpoints or its sheer weight, alignment is not needed.
    Agreed. Just pointing out that this is a bad example. A better example of such a weapon might be something like the Blackrazor who deals damage to Lawful characters who wield it.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyBlack View Post
    Agreed. Just pointing out that this is a bad example. A better example of such a weapon might be something like the Blackrazor who deals damage to Lawful characters who wield it.
    Why couldn't he deal damage to creatures that oppose his goals? That's the sticking point for me. If you have an intelligent creature and you know their goals and preferences, you can just use those. If you don't, then it must not be an important creature or you should figure those out. So encoding alignment into the mechanics and cosmology (as opposed to just a helpful shorthand for DMs or players to communicate very broad baselines) seems like it's putting the cart before the horse. It seems to me to be in a strange neverland--

    * too vague to give meaningful guidance about the likely actions undertaken beyond the very most broad (see all the arguments about what it means)
    * too constricting to be just a description--if it's the binding force behind the entire cosmology and the root cause of things like the Blood War, it has to have force.
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tectorman View Post
    I was agreeing with you.

    GreyBlack was (I believe) making the point that two characters with the same traits, flaws, bonds, class levels, and so on, but different alignments (in this case, LG vs CG). And because of those different alignments, there must be some kind of a difference in those two characters.

    You were (I believe) making the point that two otherwise identical characters differing only with regards to where they are on the Law-Chaos axis wouldn't necessarily show much of a difference due to how poorly-defined the Law-Chaos axis is. And I was agreeing with that, on the basis that the L-C axis is a mish-mash of dichotomies that individually hold up but not collectively.

    "Individualism opposes collectivism" holds up.

    "Individualism equals chaotic. Undisciplined equals chaotic. Collectivism equals lawful. Disciplined equals lawful. Lawful opposes chaos. Therefore, disciplined opposes individualism." does not hold up.
    Law vs Chaos isn't a 5e thing.

    Otoh Lawful good vs Chaotic good is.

    And two characters with identical Personality, Ideal, Bond and Flaw, but one that includes in their personality the motivation of "can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society" and the other "act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect" will be rather different characters at times.

  30. - Top - End - #180
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    Default Re: Does D&D Still Need Alignment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Law vs Chaos isn't a 5e thing.
    Although the War of Law and Chaos still appears to be part of the 5e setting backstory

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