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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default How do you work with alignment system?

    A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: almost everyone agrees on it being stupid. Another funny thing: quite a lot of people do not consider it stupid enough to scrap it completely. Instead, they tweak and change bits and pieces here and there. And this is what I am curious about: your implementation of alignment system. Is alignment being enforced, or does it change with behaviour, do you use stuff like tendencies, any changes to textbook definitions, that sorta thing.
    Important note: everyone, me included, please do refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another. This is highly situational. I'm a novice GM, and would like to simply get as much examples as possible, and see what details would fit my group best.

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Why should it be enforced? It's not fixed, it's a descriptor that characterizes the character's outlook, ideology, and beliefs about approaches to solving problems.

    Do you enforce the little "traits-bonds-flaws" thingy on the side of the character sheet?
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    It's a guideline. At best. I've got other explanations that work better for my purposes.

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Instead of alignments, "Detect Alignment" spells report actions. It still tells you the Demon is made of evil materials, but the caster will hear whispers of "muderer" or "cannibal" or "puppy kicker"; as well as "saves kittens", "helps old ladies" and "feeds the homeless". The more of any one thing a target does, the louder the whispers, to the point that someone who say, commits genocide, the caster would literally get voices screaming "GENOCIDE!" in their heads.

    Creatures that are made of purely material-plane stuff have a natural "unaligned" aura. They're not good, they're not evil, though you may still get some whispers that they've done some particularly good or bad deeds, they're just people.

    Registering evil deeds still qualifies for "Smite Evil" as much as being made of evil qualifies (which is why so few demons ever make the effort to be good, it rarely pays off). And it's up to the player to justify to themselves that this individual needs to be smote on the basis of their deeds or their innate composition.

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    I'm fair generous with Paladins (I like the class), though I'm harder on clerics. And short of very clearly obvious deeds outside your diety's allowances; you get judged when you die. Not in the moment. The gods are busy.
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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Personally, I like the alignment system. I've been playing with it for 30 years, and find it makes a fair degree of sense, once you define the five terms used... lawful, chaotic, neutral, good, and evil.

    Beyond those definitions, however, I view alignment as descriptive of the aggregate of a person's actions (and, to an extent, intentions). That means you cannot, with a simple act, turn from LG to CE (unless, of course, that simple act is putting on a Helm of Opposite Alignment). At worst, a LG person who commits extreme CE will knocked to Neutral. Because the alignments are aggregate of people's actions and intentions, there winds up being a fair amount of space within each alignment, and lawful and good can both be resolved in numerous ways.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    DMGs and PHBs through the editions have tended to say that the above is the general rule, but allow for exceptions - saying it is possible, albeit rare, to leap straight from Good to Evil, or vice versa.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    While the games I play typically don't feature an alignment system, I do still make limited use of it.
    If someone is having trouble deciding on a character's personality or even any details at all (i.e. "I have no idea what to do for my character man, sorry.)
    Roll 2d6, well, at least we have an alignment for your character. That's the teeny tiny seed for the rest of it to grow.
    "You... little... *****. It's what my old man called me, it's like it was my name, and I proved him right, by killing all the wrong people. [And], I love ya Henry, and I'll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide; are you gonna lay there, swallow that blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out, and go spill theirs?" - Unknown

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    It might say what side you're on in the cosmic struggle, otherwise it's left out entirely. It's just not worth the arguments over whether a character is Chaotic Neutral it Chaotic Evil.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Wrangler View Post
    A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: almost everyone agrees on it being stupid.
    You're already started the tread with a blanket false statement that's designed to foment disagreement. Well done. You get a "Make Alignment Thread on GiTP merit badge."

    Let me rewrite it a bit. "A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: A number of vocal opponents on a role-playing message board agree on it being stupid, offset by a number of vocal proponents who like it and a number of neutral advocates who think that its just fine and not inherently broken even if unnecessary."


    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Wrangler View Post
    Another funny thing: quite a lot of people do not consider it stupid enough to scrap it completely.
    The opponents probably DO scrap it completely, and good on them. Those that don't are probably in the other two camps.

    Quote Originally Posted by Silent Wrangler View Post
    Instead, they tweak and change bits and pieces here and there. And this is what I am curious about: your implementation of alignment system. Is alignment being enforced, or does it change with behaviour, do you use stuff like tendencies, any changes to textbook definitions, that sorta thing.
    Important note: everyone, me included, please do refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another. This is highly situational. I'm a novice GM, and would like to simply get as much examples as possible, and see what details would fit my group best.
    "refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another" following "almost everyone agrees its stupid." I mean, wow. Was that on purpose or a happy accident?

    From age 13 to 38 I played D&D Basic, 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and Pathfinder. And always dutifully wrote down whatever alignment seemed a good fit for my idea of the character. And it never ever came up. Like eye color or number of nipples. Granted, we tended to be HEAVILY houserulin' and more interested in the story than the system.

    At 38, I had a life change and ended up playing with a bunch of new people for whom Alignment was a big deal. And, man, did they LOVE it. When I tried to DM and tried to de-emphasize it, I faced a mutiny. It took me quite a while to... eh... while not EMBRACE it... to understand why and how it was important to them, what they liked about it, how it formed their core understanding of the game and how it came to exist as such for them because they played in a different environment than I did.

    As for me? I still dutifully write down whatever alignment I think fits my view of the character, then ignore it as much as possible. When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

    If the DM wants to scratch out what I have written and write something else in the space, I don't really care.
    Last edited by Gallowglass; 2019-09-09 at 04:49 PM.
    "The monk hits you a shattering blow in the kidneys, luckily this fixes a long standing alignment issue with your spine, gain +10 Move"

    "The evil wizard fireballs you, since the weather has been nasty you are now pleasantly warm, gain immunity from fear effects and cold and necrotic damage "

    "The drow cleric smashes you in the skull with an adamantine mace, this jogs your memory, regain all your used spell slots for the day"

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    I treat it as reflective rather than descriptive.

    I am strict on acts, loose on characters.

    I handle it fairly deontologically - some acts are good, some are bad. Circumstances don't change that. Killing, harming, enslaving, stealing, etc. These things are Evil (outside of self defense). Good involves self-sacrifice, and beyond your immediate circle.

    Neutral people neither commit Evil (stealing, killing, etc.) nor Good (self sacrifice) acts on a regular basis. Good people regularly self-sacrifice, and avoid Evil except in extenuating circumstances. Evil people don't care.

    As I said, circumstances don't change the fundamental nature of the act, but the circumstances and how the act is approached will impact the effect on the character.

    For instance, stealing is Evil. A Good person may steal to feed their starving family - but they will do so as a last resort, after trying everything else, will feel remorse about it, will attempt to minimize the damage, and will try to make amends after the fact. Because of that, a Good person won't slide to Evil for stealing bread in that scenario.

    An Evil person will just steal food because they're a little peckish, without any thought. A Neutral person might steal it under some duress, and may justify it to themselves but won't make a habit out of it or do it casually.

    I've found this system does a reasonable job of making the obvious cases obvious, and the weird edge cases workable. It's also great in a GM sense because it doesn't require complex thoughts about adjudication or balancing positives and negatives or anything else - what acts are Good or Evil are fairly well defined, and teh only fuzziness is in how much Good/Evil you have to do before you switch over. Combined with telling people what is good or evil, and making them aware of it, and you don't tend to run into TOO many problems so long as people accept (at least for the purposes of the game) the basic concepts.

    Again, I don't claim that this is the best model of real world morality, but I do think it works well in game.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    I don't touch alignment with a 10 foot pole, or even a 20 foot pole. I find it full of offensive assertions and counter-factual claims.

    Let's leave it at that.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Alignment breaks down if you think about it too hard, for a few reasons. Moral philosophy never had easy answers to begin with, and D&D's habit of growth through accumulation didn't help it. (First it was just Law/Chaos/Balance as teams, then Good and Evil were added later on, and more recently Planescape got added which was a nice setting but which also became the default assumption for D&D.) Objectively speaking, it's a mess.

    Subjectively speaking, a lot of people like D&D specifically for the D&Disms that have grown up alongside it over the years. And many more people like the idea of simple morality with obvious teams. You have problems when you have mechanical effects for alignment, and especially when rulebooks start making absolute statements about morality. (Neither of which, it's worth noting is limited to D&D alignment.) But 4e and 5e D&D have moved further away from having alignment be a mechanically important stat. The easier it is to remove, the easier it is for haters to do just that and get on with things.

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    I kill it.

    [Chaotic], [Evil], [Good], and [Lawful] are creature subtypes that certain spells and abilities interact with. Paladins and Clerics and similar classes have Oaths that define their Codes of Conduct; classes that do not have (or need) a Code of Conduct do not have alignment restrictions. Monster alignments, in the absence of subtype, are demographical hints about their cultural values, mostly ignored in favor of their actual description.

    PC morality and intraparty conflict is handled by both allowing and discouraging PVP. If the party decides your PC is a bigger problem than being a man short down in the dungeon? Here's 4d6 and we'll meet you back in town.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    You're already started the tread with a blanket false statement that's designed to foment disagreement. Well done. You get a "Make Alignment Thread on GiTP merit badge."

    Let me rewrite it a bit. "A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: A number of vocal opponents on a role-playing message board agree on it being stupid, offset by a number of vocal proponents who like it and a number of neutral advocates who think that its just fine and not inherently broken even if unnecessary."




    The opponents probably DO scrap it completely, and good on them. Those that don't are probably in the other two camps.



    "refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another" following "almost everyone agrees its stupid." I mean, wow. Was that on purpose or a happy accident?

    From age 13 to 38 I played D&D Basic, 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and Pathfinder. And always dutifully wrote down whatever alignment seemed a good fit for my idea of the character. And it never ever came up. Like eye color or number of nipples. Granted, we tended to be HEAVILY houserulin' and more interested in the story than the system.

    At 38, I had a life change and ended up playing with a bunch of new people for whom Alignment was a big deal. And, man, did they LOVE it. When I tried to DM and tried to de-emphasize it, I faced a mutiny. It took me quite a while to... eh... while not EMBRACE it... to understand why and how it was important to them, what they liked about it, how it formed their core understanding of the game and how it came to exist as such for them because they played in a different environment than I did.

    As for me? I still dutifully write down whatever alignment I think fits my view of the character, then ignore it as much as possible. When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

    If the DM wants to scratch out what I have written and write something else in the space, I don't really care.
    I... agree With Gallowglass?

    That hurt.

    Kidding (and snark) aside, Gallowglass really nailed it here.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    A big part of the debate is Paladins. Paladins are the only class that can be screwed over by DMs because the DM thinks the player is playing their character wrong. Some DMs actively enjoy abusing this.

    I don’t mind alignments at all. I think enforcing the traits-bonds-flaws is a good thing too. However, everyone at the table needs to be making some effort to play to the restrictions (alignment, traits and flaws) they have voluntarily chosen to put on their character.

    It’s a bit like if someone has chosen to play a fighter and make INT their dump stat, then when in combat they are tactical geniuses. Yes it is possible according to the RAW, but it breaks the verisimilitude. They have chosen to put a restriction on their character, low INT, but they disregard that restriction because it is inconvenient to the player in their effort to win.

    You can’t have the DM enforce restriction players have voluntarily put on themselves from the high chair. If the DM tries to enforce it when the players disagree or think it’s petty then you will have issues. The players have to make the effort themselves.

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    d6 Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Why it should enforced.

    Party

    Chaotic good/neutral 1/2 orc despised race.

    Neutral good dwarf. In real life wizard and dwarf do not like other.

    Neutral evil dwarf 2

    Other seven at the table neutral.

    Round 1

    Party stumbles over some plants growing.

    Neutral bard sees them. Comments those plants do something good. Healing plants. We have no cleric. Neutral evil dwarf 8 intelligence healing must hack plants no skill ruins two plants.

    Neutral tending evil(picks out natives while invisible to shoot in the head). We are not battling native people. Decides to try his hand at it. Success.

    At this point the bard asks do these plants naturally grow here in straight does? No. In fact 5 feet from the three you ripped from the ground is the remains of a fire.

    This where I in a conversation with the lawful neutral Monk hear that statement. I asked does this look like a farm of some sort that somebody is tending.

    Reply comes back yes it does.
    At this point I say stop we are not going to rob an innocent Farm.

    The neutral one that likes to shoot people in the head from invisibility. Decides to continue hacking at the ground I'm pulling up plants. I look at the party and save some do or kill that one. My mistake for saying the word kill.

    I want initiative I cast hold person it should be said that I don't do a whole lot of damage with my spells I'm not a fireball mage.

    The neutral evil dwarf decides that he's going to beat me. I have a total of 40 hit points no healing from anybody his first blows land 26 hit points.

    The neutral good dwarf says to go climb a tree. I don't know if you consider that to be a good action at this point you decide.

    The others either rally to stop look for the plant puller.

    Two of them cast spells for two rounds while retreating from the two of us.

    I back off cast invisibility. The monk decides to to speak to the neutral evil dwarf while moving up to him. I wish this to stop do I have your oath that you will stand down.

    Dwarf replies yes I will stand down. Then moves up to attack the square that I'm standing in invisibly. I negative 39.

    What do you think they would do if they didn't know that evil alignment mean something and you don't get to have nice things all the time for cheap?

    Enforcing an alignment system means actions have Consequences to those actions.
    Last edited by denthor; 2019-09-09 at 07:28 PM.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    A big part of the debate is Paladins. Paladins are the only class that can be screwed over by DMs because the DM thinks the player is playing their character wrong. Some DMs actively enjoy abusing this.
    Clerics and druids can also lose class features if the DM finds them insufficiently invested, although I'll agree that this happens so rarely that people understandably forget it. Barbarians can also lose a class feature for alignment transgressions, while monks and bards can find their leveling halted. (All assuming 3.5, but then later editions of D&D go out of their way to make paladin falling a lot less of a thing.) The fact that it's memetically only paladins says more about players than anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by denthor View Post
    Enforcing an alignment system means actions have Consequences to those actions.
    Actions having consequences can happen in games without "good guy/bad guy" written explicitly on your character sheet. On top of that, the more that you punish people for going outside their alignment, the more that you delve into arguments over how what the player wanted to do is totally justified.

    Sometimes it's okay to have some supernatural element of morality consequences. If your cleric of light and hope decides to torch an orphanage, he'll probably have to find a new patron deity soon. If your character in V:tM does the same thing, humanity degradation is part of the implicit buy-in for the setting. But for the most part, the consequences should be normal NPC reactions for in-game actions (E.G: scamming local farmers), and normal human responses for out-of-game issues (graphic descriptions of torture against NPCs should probably be dealt with by not dealing with the player anymore, not shifting a letter on their character sheet.)

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    It’s complex, if I have to actually spell it out.

    Detection spells will show colors and motion - with red being ‘evil’, and vigorous or random motion being ‘chaotic’. But that’s not to say that a being whose aura shows as swirling red is anything like what you’d consider Chaotic Evil.

    But that’s just for detection. For spells like ... Dictum, for instance ... that affects targets based on their alignment, I have to admit it simply works like I say it does. As in, case by case, as GM, I make a judgement call.

    Also, generally speaking, stuff like Smite simply works. Unless your god disagrees with what you’re doing, then it might not.

    It’s worth noting that all manner of things can make your aura red, from being a selfish bastard to being a murderous psycho. Similar for swirling color - it covers everything from being impulsive to actually being the Joker.

    It’s definitely not a perfect system, and not one others can just copy/paste (since it’s mostly internal to me), but thus far, it works. Never heard any complaints.

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It’s complex, if I have to actually spell it out.

    Detection spells will show colors and motion - with red being ‘evil’, and vigorous or random motion being ‘chaotic’. But that’s not to say that a being whose aura shows as swirling red is anything like what you’d consider Chaotic Evil.

    But that’s just for detection. For spells like ... Dictum, for instance ... that affects targets based on their alignment, I have to admit it simply works like I say it does. As in, case by case, as GM, I make a judgement call.

    Also, generally speaking, stuff like Smite simply works. Unless your god disagrees with what you’re doing, then it might not.

    It’s worth noting that all manner of things can make your aura red, from being a selfish bastard to being a murderous psycho. Similar for swirling color - it covers everything from being impulsive to actually being the Joker.

    It’s definitely not a perfect system, and not one others can just copy/paste (since it’s mostly internal to me), but thus far, it works. Never heard any complaints.
    Colour coded auras has a certain amount of precedent in D&D fiction - Dragonbait in the Finder's Stone trilogy, has aura-vision "Shen sight". Different shades for different emotions personality traits.

    Hatred is red.
    Greed is yellow
    Sadism is purple
    Pride (in mostly Neutral beings) is grey


    And so on.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    You're already started the tread with a blanket false statement that's designed to foment disagreement. Well done. You get a "Make Alignment Thread on GiTP merit badge."

    Let me rewrite it a bit. "A funny thing I noticed about alignment system: A number of vocal opponents on a role-playing message board agree on it being stupid, offset by a number of vocal proponents who like it and a number of neutral advocates who think that its just fine and not inherently broken even if unnecessary."




    The opponents probably DO scrap it completely, and good on them. Those that don't are probably in the other two camps.



    "refrain from calling any implementation better or worse than another" following "almost everyone agrees its stupid." I mean, wow. Was that on purpose or a happy accident?

    From age 13 to 38 I played D&D Basic, 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition and Pathfinder. And always dutifully wrote down whatever alignment seemed a good fit for my idea of the character. And it never ever came up. Like eye color or number of nipples. Granted, we tended to be HEAVILY houserulin' and more interested in the story than the system.

    At 38, I had a life change and ended up playing with a bunch of new people for whom Alignment was a big deal. And, man, did they LOVE it. When I tried to DM and tried to de-emphasize it, I faced a mutiny. It took me quite a while to... eh... while not EMBRACE it... to understand why and how it was important to them, what they liked about it, how it formed their core understanding of the game and how it came to exist as such for them because they played in a different environment than I did.

    As for me? I still dutifully write down whatever alignment I think fits my view of the character, then ignore it as much as possible. When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.

    If the DM wants to scratch out what I have written and write something else in the space, I don't really care.
    Wow, I am really bad at English. I added a bunch of unnecessary falsehoods while all I wanted is to ask people how do they implement alignment. Thanks for pointing it out.
    So, uh, well. Disregard the first post. I really was not intrested in starting a debate about alignment at all (I have much easier and funnier way of doing it, after all: just mention a certain paladin, wizard or cleric in OoTS section). Only looking for a bunch of examples like False God's whispers.

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    Why should it be enforced? It's not fixed, it's a descriptor that characterizes the character's outlook, ideology, and beliefs about approaches to solving problems.

    Do you enforce the little "traits-bonds-flaws" thingy on the side of the character sheet?
    I really like the alignment system, and it's precisely because I think of it just like that. It's not a statement on your character, it's a nifty shorthand for other on roughly how to expect you'll be playing your character (or at least how you plan to be playing your character). Unless magic comes into play that actually affects certain alignments, you never really need to worry about it, and when that does come into play, unless the person has consistently acted differently, I see no reason not to simply go ahead and take them at their word that that's what their alignment is. Hell, you could even play that up with cursed items every so often.
    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    Instead of alignments, "Detect Alignment" spells report actions. It still tells you the Demon is made of evil materials, but the caster will hear whispers of "muderer" or "cannibal" or "puppy kicker"; as well as "saves kittens", "helps old ladies" and "feeds the homeless".
    Oooh, I like that. I'll be stealing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowglass View Post
    When someone says "A {insert blatant statment here} would not do that" I sigh and listen to why they think that, and explain what I think and we move on.
    I've never had that happen yet, but knowing me, I'd probably ask for a list of what allowable actions there are, since I thought we were playing D&D but just found out it's actually a pen and paper King's Quest where there are correct and incorrect answers and I'd rather just know what the few available options are instead of having to waste everyone's time guessing.

    ....I may have had strong reactions to hearing about games where the DM did say that.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Colour coded auras has a certain amount of precedent in D&D fiction - Dragonbait in the Finder's Stone trilogy, has aura-vision "Shen sight". Different shades for different emotions personality traits.

    Hatred is red.
    Greed is yellow
    Sadism is purple
    Pride (in mostly Neutral beings) is grey


    And so on.
    Mine is .. both simpler and more complex. Red for ‘evil’, grey for ‘neutral’, and blue for ‘good’.

    But it’s really more in the prose. Let’s say a guy who’s actively contemplating to murder you - right now - would be swirling, pulsing red, brimming with urgency and intent .. while someone with a sufficiently dark past, but no current plans or intentions of a morally decrepit nature, might show as smouldering red embers.

    Stuff like that. Very open to interpretation, which isn’t always ideal. Luckily, I’ve made it work - which, honestly, is propably more a result of really good players. I am, in most respects, a mediocre GM =)

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    So, I'm a vocal proponent for using Alignment Descriptively as opposed to Prescriptively. But that doesn't mean it doesn't get gently enforced from time to time.

    Let me break it down.

    Alignment as a word in English doesn't even have context unless we consider the external object being aligned with. E.g. Wheels on a car get aligned with the frame so they point forwards while the steering is in neutral.

    This implies that a Character's Alignment speaks to their connection to the DM's Setting (about the only thing external to the Character).

    In this case, it speaks particularly to their posture and "social velocity" (which way are they going and how fast). In essence, it communicates how the character relates to other people in the Setting (and to some extent, how they relate with other PCs, but that's more up to the players to hash out).

    What it boils down to is a question of which NPCs will like you, which will despise you, and to what lengths they will be helpful or antagonistic towards you (based on how closely aligned or anti aligned you are).

    So, Alignment is determined Descriptively, based primarily on your actions, but it's not wholly without consequences. The Attitudes of people you meet rather depend on how you choose to behave. Think of Alignment as an Indicator that should accurately describe how we can expect interactions with people and scenarios to be resolved.

    This is why there needs to be a little bit of enforcement when Alignment is being disregarded. When a player starts playing their character in a manner that makes me question how accurate their Alignment Description is, I'll stop and challenge it (a gentle question of if that is the sort of behavior they expect from a character of their current alignment). Sometimes their explanation makes sense and we move on. Other times it's questionable at best and I mentally give the character what I consider a Half Point towards Alignment Shift. If they do something very definitively in the realm of being outside their alignment, but they still don't want to voluntarily change their Alignment on their sheet to reflect their current behavior, I mentally give them a Full Point towards Alignment Shift. I don't keep a strict set of rules for how many points or half points they need before an Alignment Shift is enforced; I just play it by ear. But when I do finally formally mandate an Alignment Shift, it's usually given with the explanation that it doesn't matter what the player or their character thinks of themselves anymore, because at this point the Alignment is shifting to reflect how the Setting views their character. After all, the character's Alignment is a comparative quality in respect to the Setting, and no matter what they think of themselves, their Alignment is ultimately dictated by how it compares with the Setting's standards.

    Note for a moment that this means an Alignment Shift at my table usually is less indicative of a punishment of the character and more my giving notice to the player that they aren't fitting into the world the way that they might think they are.

    Of course, that's why players are free to choose any alignment (that doesn't naturally generate inter party conflict before the game begins, obviously) before the game begins. Before they've had a chance to interact with the Setting, Alignment is based on Backstory and educated guesswork, so it's fine for Alignment to be very arbitrary in the beginning. And I've very rarely needed to hand out an Alignment shift in any game. Alignment is pretty intuitive 90% of the time and it usually doesn't need to be questioned.

    So now the Elephant in the Dungeon: Classes that are Punished with Alignment Shifts. Any time an Alignment Shift would end up punishing a Character in this way, I wouldn't simply hand it out. At each interval where I would feel the need to give them a Mental Full Point, I would verbally indicate that their decisions were pushing the limits of what their Code of Conduct would allow. I like the idea that Paladins have a little bit of room to break the rules before losing their power. If for any reason, such a character begins to accrue enough of my mental points that I really begin to consider that an Alignment Shift may be necessary, even given the consequences to the character, I would stop and say something to the player outside the game and address the concerns, giving them at the very least forewarning that pushing these limits much further may provoke an Alignment Shift. I would happily try to work with them to avoid it, but some players want to let the chips fall where they may.

    In addition, I try to make sure there's never a Stick in the game that doesn't come with a Carrot of some kind. Characters in my game that have Alignment Restrictions often have the benefit that others who are bound by the same requirements often support one another. I really like that 5e somewhat formalized this with Backgrounds, but I consider a Paladin, who could be excommunicated by fellow members of their order for misconduct, to be able to utilize their rank within their order to gain benefits (such as food, lodging, and occasionally requisitioning aid). Those same priests who could disavow your involvement in their organization could be working for you if you uphold the tenants of their order with distinction.

    Even the Chaotic classes such as the Bard can find support from their "role" in the Setting. Free food and lodging anywhere they want to spend a couple hours entertaining the local NPCs. The heavier the Alignment requirements, the better the Setting Benefits for doing a good job sticking to those requirements.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    What alignment system?

    Most systems don't have an alignment system at all. I don't miss it.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    But it’s really more in the prose. Let’s say a guy who’s actively contemplating to murder you - right now - would be swirling, pulsing red, brimming with urgency and intent .. while someone with a sufficiently dark past, but no current plans or intentions of a morally decrepit nature, might show as smouldering red embers.
    "A grey mountain against a grey sky" and "A locked and barred grey castle" are descriptions of different Neutral characters Dragonbait has seen.

    A lich's aura was described as "sucking in emotions, a vortex of hate and fear"."

    And a good but jealous person was "blue with green flecks".
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    it never comes up in my game. i write alignments that seem to fit best, and they would become relevant with some spells that affect alignments, like protection from evil or holy word. but they never see play.

    heck, they should at least tell on which side you are, but politics in my campaign world got complicated enough that several evil powers allied with the forces of good, for perfectly pragmatical and selfish reasons. so it doesn't describe allegiance either
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Either the game is Stormbringer and the background is a cosmic struggle between the gods of Chaos, Law, and "The Balance", the game is Dungeons & Dragons and I use Alignment as a guideline to what actions are likely for monsters (NPC's), or the game is discussions on the internet and I use the term "Lawful Neutral" as a label for myself and most of humanity and argue from there.

    That's all the comes to mind except for
    Spoiler: D&D Alignment, a history
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    (My very first post to this Forum contained some of this info, and I keep adding to it. Please critique)

    Holy ethical quagmire Batman! I believe I've just seen the EXTENDED DIGRESSION ON ALIGNMENT IN D&D WITH SPOILER INSIDE SPOILERS SIGNAL!


    or:

    "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened"
    at not being able to read a big ol' post on how D&D's Alignment system came to be

    Whichever, 'cause here's:

    Spoiler: D&D Alignment history!
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    So, the "rules" on alignment and everything else are up to each individual table:

    Dungeons and Dragons, The Underground and Wilderness Adventures, p. 36
    : "... everything herein is fantastic, and the best way is to decide how you would like it to be, and then make it that way."

    AD&D 1e, DMG, p. 9
    : "..The game is the thing, and certain rules can be distorted or disregarded altogether in favor of play...."



    D&D 5e DMG, p. 263
    :: "...As the Dungeon Master, You aren't limited by the rules in the Player's Handbook, the guidelines in this book, or the selection of monsters in the Monster Manual..."

    (All praise to Jay R, for most of that)

    A History of "Alignment" in Dungeons & Dragons

    Spoiler: Part One: The War between Law & Chaos
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    For the Dungeons & Dragons game, Arneson and Gygax got Law vs. Chaos from stories by Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock.

    Poul Anderson invented Law vs. Chaos in '53 for Three Hearts and Three Lions (which had a Dwarf on the side of Law, and Elves on the side of Chaos, Anderson's Elves were not Tolkien's Elves, though they drew from the same well. The "Ranger" is from Tolkien, the "Paladin" is from Anderson).

    Anderson had Law on the side of most of humanity, and "the hosts of Faerie" on the side of Chaos. When Chaos was ascendant latent Lycanthrope became expressed for example.

    Michael Moorcock adopted Law vs. Chaos for his Elric stories, and it was his works that were far more known by those of us who played D&D in the 1970's and '80's.

    While Moorcock's 1965 novel Stormbringer had the triumph of Chaos being humanity's doom, by '75 he was clear that humanity would suffer under extreme Law as well, and "The Balance" was to be sought.

    Okay, in the novel Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson,

    which was published before and inspired Moorcock's "Law vs. Chaos" conflict in the Elric and Corum novels, and Anderson expressly conflated Holger's struggle against Morgan le Fay and the "Host of Faerie" with the battle against the Nazis in our world.

    Now in the 1961 novel (based on a '53 short story) Three Hearts and Three Lions, we have this:

    "....Holger got the idea that a perpetual struggle went on between primeval forces of Law and Chaos. No, not forces exactly. Modes of existence? A terrestrial reflection of the spiritual conflict between heaven and hell? In any case, humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them were almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faerie, Trollheim, and the Giants--an actual creation of Chaos. Wars among men, such as the long-drawn struggle between the Saracens and the Holy Empire, aided Chaos; under Law all men would live in peace and order and that liberty which only Law could give meaning. But this was so alien to the Middle Worlders that they were forever working to prevent it and extend their own shadowy dominion....."

    .which suggests that Law vs. Chaos is about "teams" in a cosmic struggle rather than personal ethics/morality, which is how the terms are used in the old Stormbringer RPG, and would be my usual preference.

    Before D&D, Gygax & Perren had Law vs. Chaos in the Fantasy appendix to the Chainmail wargame:I suppose it waa inevitably when Greyhawk added Paladins that were "continual seeking for good" but I think that adding "Good" and "Evil" to "Alignment" was a mistake, and it was better the way the predecessor of D&D, Chainmail had it as:

    "GENERAL LINE-UP:
    It is impossible to draw a distanct line between "good" and "evil" fantastic
    figures. Three categories are listed below as a general guide for the wargamer
    designing orders of battle involving fantastic creatures:

    LAW
    Hobbits
    Dwarves
    Gnomes
    Heroes
    Super Heroes
    Wizards*
    Ents
    Magic Weapons

    NEUTRAL
    Sprites
    Pixies
    Elves
    Fairies
    Lycanthropes *
    Giants*
    Rocs
    (Elementals)
    Chimerea


    CHAOS
    Goblins
    Kobolds
    Orcs
    Anti-heroes
    Wizards *
    Wraiths
    Wights
    Lycanthropes*
    Ogres
    True Trolls
    Balrogs
    Giants *
    Dragons
    Basilisks

    * Indicates the figure appears in two lists.
    Underlined Neutral figures have a slight pre-disposition for LAW. Neutral
    figures can be diced for to determine on which side they will fight, with ties
    meaning they remain neutral."




    So it was clear that it's sides in a wargame, not an ethics debate.

    But the turning of a heavily house ruled Chainmail into what we now call a "role-playing game", brought character behavior in the mix:

    Dave Arneson wrote that he added "alignment" to the game he made up because of one PC backstabbing another

    "We began without the multitude of character classes and three alignments that exists today. I felt that as a team working towards common goals there would be it was all pretty straight forward. Wrong!

    "Give me my sword back!" "Nah your old character is dead, it's mine now!"

    Well I couldn't really make him give it to the new character. But then came the treasure question. The Thieves question. Finally there were the two new guys. One decided that there was no reason to share the goodies. Since there was no one else around and a +3 for rear attacks . . .. well . . Of course everyone actually KNEW what had happened, especially the target.

    After a great deal of discussion . . . yes let us call it "discussion" the culprit promised to make amends. He, and his associate did. The next time the orcs attacked the two opened the door and let the Orcs in. They shared the loot and fled North to the lands of the EGG OF COOT. (Sigh)

    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"


    And here's in 1974's Gygax & Arneson's Dungeons & Dragons: Book1, Men & Magic



    (Orcs can be Neutral as well as Chaos, as can Elves, Dwarves/Gnomes as well as Law, and Men may be any)

    And "Law, Chaos, and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each respectively. One can attempt to communicate through the common tongue, language particular to a creature class, or one of the divisional languages (law, etc.). While not understanding the language, creatures who speak a divisionsl tongue will recognize a hostile one and attack."

    Easy "detect alignment"!

    Originally there were three classes; "Cleric", "Fighting-Men", and "Magic-User" (as in "wake up the user, it's time to cast the daily spell"). Clerics didn't have any spells at first level, but they could "turn" some undead (a bit like a 5e Paladin really), and other than hints that "Law" Clerics, and "Chaos" Clerics were in conflict, there wasn't much info on what was meant until the Paladin class was introduced in La Chanson de Roland the 1975 "Greyhawk" supplement (which also introduced Thieves hmm... what a coincidence funny that). From "Greyhawk":
    Charisma scores of 17 or greater by fighters indicate the possibility of paladin status IF THEY ARE LAWFUL from the commencement of play for the character. If such fighters elect to they can become paladins, always doing lawful deeds, for any chaotic act will immediately revoke the status of paladin, and it can never be regained. The paladin has a number of very powerful aids in his continual seeking for good......".
    (Ok this is the fun part the special powers which include......PSYCH! Back to the restrictions)
    "Paladins will never be allowed to possess more than four magically items, excluding the armor, shield and up to four weapons they normally use. They will give away all treasure that they win, save that which is neccesary to maintain themselves, their men and a modest castle. Gifts must be to the poor or to charitable or religious institutions , i.e.not tho some other character played in the game. A paladin's stronghold cannot be above 200,000 gold pieces in total cost, and no more than 200 men can be retained to guard it. Paladins normally prefer to dwell with lawful princess of patriarchs, but circumstances may prevent this. They will associate only with lawful characters"
    Huh? What's lawful? What's chaotic? What's associate? And what is this charitable? I don't believe PC's know this word.
    Well...helpfully there are some clues:
    " Chaotic Alignment by a player generally betokens chaotic action on the player's part without any rule to stress this aspect, i.e. a chaotic player is usually more prone to stab even his lawless buddy in the back for some desired gain. However, chaos is just that - chaotic. Evil monsters are as likely to turn on their supposed confederate in order to have all the loot as they are to attack a lawful party in the first place".
    OK Paladins are "continual seeking for good", "All thieves are either neutral or chaotic - although lawful characters may hire them on a one-time basis for missions which are basically lawful" "Patriarchs" (high level Clerics) "stance" is "Law", and "Evil High Priests" "stance" is "Chaos". So we can infer that Law = Good, and Chaos = Evil in early D&D, which fits how the terms were used in novels Gygax cited as "inspiration", first in Anderson's "Three Hearts and Three Lions", and than later in Moorcock's "Stormbringer" (though Moorcock eventually in his novels show that too much "Law" is anti-human as well, which is probably why Gygax added the separate Good-Evil axis so you could have "Lawful Evil" and "Chaotic Good" alignmemts later).

    I'm gonna stress that I didn't know Anderson's novel when I first played D&D in the very late 1970's, and I'd bet that most other players didn't either, but knowledge of Moorcock's Elric was far more common then, from comic books!:





    If you've read the "Elric" series, from which D&D "borrowed" much of this, you may remember that Elric visits a "world" (plane/dimension/alternate reality) of "Chaos" and finds a whirling cloud, in-which creatures and objects sometimes flash in and out of existence. He also visits a "world of Law" which is nothing but a grey mist.

    (BTW, a nice 21st century use of the Law vs. Chaos trope is in Genevieve Cogman's Invisible Library series, in which different worlds (alternate realities) have more or less "Chaos" or "Law".

    Heavy Chaos worlds are ruled by the Fey, who are the main antagonists, Law world's are ruled by (often hidden) Dragons, and we are told that while too much Chaos is worse, with too much Law humans are controlled by Dragons and not free)..

    Going back to the 1962 Moorcock story To Rescue Tanelorn we have:

    "...At the place where the winds met they found the second gateway, a column of amber-coloured flame, shot through with streaks of green. They entered it and, instantly, were in a world of dark, seething colour. Above them was a sky of murky red in which other colours shifted, agitated, changing. Ahead of them lay a forest, dark, blue, black, heavy, mottled green, the tops of its trees moving like a wild tide. It was a howling land of unnatural phenomena.

    Lamsar pursed his lips. "On this plane Chaos rules, we must get to the next gate swiftly for obviously the Lords of Chaos will seek to stop us."

    "Is it always like this?" Rackhir gasped.

    "It is always boiling midnight-but the rest, it changes with the moods of the Lords. There are no rules at all."

    They pressed on through the bounding, blossoming scenery as it erupted and changed around them. Once they saw a huge winged figure in the sky, smoky yellow, and roughly man-shaped.

    "Vezhan," Lamsar said, "let's hope he did not see us."

    "Vezhan!" Rackhir whispered the name-for it was to Vezhan that he had once been loyal.

    They crept on, uncertain of their direction or even of their speed in that disturbing land.

    At length, they came to the shores of a peculiar ocean.

    It was a grey, heaving, timeless sea, a mysterious sea which stretched into infinity. There could be no other shores beyond this rolling plain of water. No other lands or rivers or dark, cool woods, no other men or women or ships. It was a sea which led to nowhere. It was complete to itself-a sea.

    Over this timeless ocean hovered a brooding ochre sun which cast moody shadows of black and green across the water, giving the whole scene something of the look of being enclosed in a vast cavern, for the sky above was gnarled and black with ancient clouds. And all the while the doom-carried crash of breakers, the lonely, fated monotony of the ever-rearing white-topped waves; the sound which portended neither death nor life nor war nor peace-simply existence and shifting inharmony. They could go no further.

    "This has the air of our death about it," Rackhir said shivering.

    The sea roared and tumbled, the sound of it increasing to a fury, daring them to go on towards it, welcoming them with wild temptation-offering them nothing but achievement-the achievement of death.

    Lamsar said: "It is not my fate wholly to perish." But then they were running back towards the forest, feeling that the strange sea was pouring up the beach towards them. They looked back and saw that it had gone no further, that the breakers were less wild, the sea more calm. Lamsar was little way behind Rackhir.

    The Red Archer gripped his hand and hauled him towards him as if he had rescued the old man from a whirlpool. They remained there, mesmerised, for a long time, while the sea called to them and the wind was a cold caress on their flesh.

    In the bleak brightness of the alien shore, under a sun which gave no heat, their bodies shone like stars in the night and they turned towards the forest, quietly.

    "Are we trapped, then, in this Realm of Chaos?" Rackhir said at length. "If we meet someone, they will offer us harm-how can we ask our question?"

    Then there emerged from the huge forest a great figure, naked and gnarled like the trunk of a tree, green as lime, but the face was jovial.

    "Greetings, unhappy renegades," it said.

    "Where is the next gate?" said Lamsar quickly.

    "You almost entered it, but turned away," laughed the giant. "That sea does not exist-it is there to stop travellers from passing through the gate."

    "It exists here, in the Realm of Chaos," Rackhir said thickly.

    "You could say so-but what exists in Chaos save the disorders of the minds of gods gone mad?"...."

    And

    "...The two travellers were given foods, both soft and brittle, sweet and sour, and drink which seemed to enter the pores of their skin as they quaffed it, and then the Guardian said: "We have caused a road to be made. Follow it and enter the next world. But we warn you, it is the most dangerous of all."

    And they set off down the road that the Guardians had caused to be made and passed through the fourth gateway into a dreadful realm-the Ream of Law.

    Nothing shone in the grey-lit sky, nothing moved, nothing marred the grey.

    Nothing interrupted the bleak grey plain stretching on all sides of them, forever. There was no horizon. It was a bright, clean wasteland. But there was a sense about the air, a presence of something past, something which had gone but left a faint aura of its passing.

    "What dangers could be here?" said Rackhir shuddering, "here where there is nothing?"

    "The danger of the loneliest madness," Lamsar replied. Their voices were swallowed in the grey expanse.

    "When the Earth was very young'" Lamsar continued, his words trailing away across the wilderness, "things were like this-but there were seas, there were seas. Here there is nothing."

    "You are wrong," Rackhir said with a faint smile. "I have thought-here there is Law."

    "That is true-but what is Law without something to decide between? Here is Law-bereft of justice."

    They walked on, all about them an air of something intangible that had once been tangible. On they walked through this barren world of Absolute Law...."

    So two vast impersonal cosmic forces struggling for dominance, ultimately neither with any place for or consideration of human happiness if even allowong for the existence of humanity if they triumph.

    Now choose!


    Spoiler: Part Two: Enter Good & Evil
    Show

    1976's Eldrich Wizardry supplement added the Mind Flayers which were the first monters that were explicitly both "lawful" and "evil", and it could be a coincidence but while Moorcock's 1965 novel Stormbringer had the triumph of Chaos being humanity's doom, but in later works he was clear that humanity would suffer under extreme Law as well, and "The Balance" was to be sought, so Michael Moorcock in A Quest for Tanelon wrote:

    "Chaos is not wholly evil, surely?" said the child. "And neither is Law wholly good. They are primitive divisions, at best-- they represent only temperamental differences in individual men and women. There are other elements..."
    "

    ..which was published in 1975 in the UK, and 1976 in the USA, and '76 was when Gygax added "good" and "evil" to D&D Alignment in an article that I first read a copy of it in the 1980 "Best of The Dragon" which reprinted the original article in the;
    Strategic Review: February 1976



    THE MEANING OF LAW AND CHAOS IN DUNGEONS & DRAGONS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS TO GOOD AND EVIL

    by Gary Gygax

    FEBRUARY 1976

    Many questions continue to arise regarding what constitutes a “lawful” act, what sort of behavior is “chaotic”, what constituted an “evil” deed, and how certain behavior is “good”. There is considerable confusion in that most dungeonmasters construe the terms “chaotic” and “evil” to mean the same thing, just as they define “lawful” and “good” to mean the same. This is scarcely surprising considering the wording of the three original volumes of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. When that was written they meant just about the same thing in my mind — notice I do not say they were synonymous in my thinking at, that time. The wording in the GREYHAWK supplement added a bit more confusion, for by the time that booklet was written some substantial differences had been determined. In fact, had I the opportunity to do D&D over I would have made the whole business very much clearer by differentiating the four categories, and many chaotic creatures would be good, while many lawful creatures would be evil. Before going into the definitions of these four terms, a graphic representation of their relative positions will help the reader to follow the further discourse. (Illustration I)

    Notice first that the area of neutrality lies squarely athwart the intersection of the lines which divide the four behavioral distinctions, and it is a very small area when compared with the rest of the graph. This refers to true neutrality, not to neutrality regarding certain interactions at specific times, i.e., a war which will tend to weaken a stronger player or game element regardless of the “neutral” party’s actions can hardly be used as a measure of neutrality if it will benefit the party’s interest to have the weakening come about.

    Also note that movement upon this graph is quite possible with regard to campaign participants, and the dungeonmaster should, in fact, make this a standard consideration in play. This will be discussed hereafter.

    Now consider the term “Law” as opposed to “Chaos”. While they are nothing if not opposites, they are neither good nor evil in their definitions. A highly regimented society is typically governed by strict law, i.e., a dictatorship, while societies which allow more individual freedom tend to be more chaotic. The following lists of words describing the two terms point this out. I have listed the words describing the concepts in increasing order of magnitude (more or less) as far as the comparison with the meanings of the two terms in D&D is concerned:

    Basically, then, “Law” is strict order and “Chaos” is complete anarchy, but of course they grade towards each other along the scale from left to right on the graph. Now consider the terms “Good” and “Evil” expressed in the same manner:

    The terms “Law” and “Evil” are by no means mutually exclusive. There is no reason that there cannot be prescribed and strictly enforced rules which are unpleasant, injurious or even corrupt. Likewise “Chaos” and “Good” do not form a dichotomy. Chaos can be harmless, friendly, honest, sincere, beneficial, or pure, for that matter. This all indicates that there are actually five, rather than three, alignments, namely

    The lawful/good classification is typified by the paladin, the chaotic/good alignment is typified by elves, lawful/evil is typified by the vampire, and the demon is the epitome of chaotic/evil. Elementals are neutral. The general reclassification various creatures is shown on Illustration II.

    Placement of characters upon a graph similar to that in Illustration I is necessary if the dungeonmaster is to maintain a record of player-character alignment. Initially, each character should be placed squarely on the center point of his alignment, i.e., lawful/good, lawful/evil, etc. The actions of each game week will then be taken into account when determining the current position of each character. Adjustment is perforce often subjective, but as a guide the referee can consider the actions of a given player in light of those characteristics which typify his alignment, and opposed actions can further be weighed with regard to intensity. For example, reliability does not reflect as intense a lawfulness as does principled, as does righteous. Unruly does not indicate as chaotic a state as does disordered, as does lawless. Similarly, harmless, friendly, and beneficial all reflect increasing degrees of good; while unpleasant, injurious, and wicked convey progressively greater evil. Alignment does not preclude actions which typify a different alignment, but such actions will necessarily affect the position of the character performing them, and the class or the alignment of the character in question can change due to such actions, unless counter-deeds are performed to balance things. The player-character who continually follows any alignment (save neutrality) to the absolute letter of its definition must eventually move off the chart (Illustration I) and into another plane of existence as indicated. Note that selfseeking is neither lawful nor chaotic, good nor evil, except in relation to other sapient creatures. Also, law and chaos are not subject to interpretation in their ultimate meanings of order and disorder respectively, but good and evil are not absolutes but must be judged from a frame of reference, some ethos. The placement of creatures on the chart of Illustration II. reflects the ethos of this writer to some extent.

    Considering mythical and mythos gods in light of this system, most of the benign ones will tend towards the chaotic/good, and chaotic/evil will typify those gods which were inimical towards humanity. Some few would be completely chaotic, having no predisposition towards either good or evil — REH’s Crom perhaps falls into this category. What then about interaction between different alignments? This question is tricky and must be given careful consideration. Diametric opposition exists between lawful/good and chaotic/evil and between chaotic/good and lawful/evil in this ethos. Both good and evil can serve lawful ends, and conversely they may both serve chaotic ends. If we presuppose that the universal contest is between law and chaos we must assume that in any final struggle the minions of each division would be represented by both good and evil beings. This may seem strange at first, but if the major premise is accepted it is quite rational. Barring such a showdown, however, it is far more plausible that those creatures predisposed to good actions will tend to ally themselves against any threat of evil, while creatures of evil will likewise make (uneasy) alliance in order to gain some mutually beneficial end — whether at the actual expense of the enemy or simply to prevent extinction by the enemy. Evil creatures can be bound to service by masters predisposed towards good actions, but a lawful/good character would fain make use of some chaotic/evil creature without severely affecting his lawful (not necessarily good) standing.

    This brings us to the subject of those character roles which are not subject to as much latitude of action as the others. The neutral alignment is self-explanatory, and the area of true neutrality is shown on Illustration I. Note that paladins, Patriarchs, and Evil High Priests, however, have positive boundaries. The area in which a paladin may move without loss of his status is shown in Illustration III. Should he cause his character to move from this area he must immediately seek a divine quest upon which to set forth in order to gain his status once again, or be granted divine intervention; in those cases where this is not complied with the status is forever lost. Clerics of either good or evil predisposition must likewise remain completely good or totally evil, although lateral movement might be allowed by the dungeonmaster, with or without divine retribution. Those top-level clerics who fail to maintain their goodness or evilness must make some form of immediate atonement. If they fail to do so they simply drop back to seventh level. The atonement, as well as how immediate it must be, is subject to interpretation by the referee. Druids serve only themselves and nature, they occasionally make human sacrifice, but on the other hand they aid the folk in agriculture and animal husbandry. Druids are, therefore, neutral — although slightly predisposed towards evil actions.



    "As a final note, most of humanity falls into the lawful category, and most of lawful humanity lies near the line between good and evil. With proper leadership the majority will be prone towards lawful/good. Few humans are chaotic, and very few are chaotic and evil"

    - E. Gary Gygax




    So the article added the "good and evil axis", but made clear in this graph:


    ..that creatures don't just exist on one of nine points of ethics/morality, there's a range:

    Also in the article Gygax states:

    "Placement of characters upon a graph similar to that in Illustration I is necessary if the dungeonmaster is to maintain a record of player-character alignment. Initially, each character should be placed squarely on the center point of his alignment, i.e., lawful/good, lawful/evil, etc. The actions of each game week will then be taken into account when determining the current position of each character. Adjustment is perforce often subjective, but as a guide the referee can consider the actions of a given player in light of those characteristics which typify his alignment, and opposed actions can further be weighed with regard to intensity....

    ....Alignment does not preclude actions which typify a different alignment, but such actions will necessarily affect the position of the character performing them, and the class or the alignment of the character in question can change due to such actions, unless counter-deeds are performed to balance things.
    "


    So in general "Law" was the side of humanity, and "Chaos" was on the side of the supernatural in Anderson and early Moorcock, and very early D&D, but 'Good" and "Evil" complicate matters.

    Per Gygax, I infer from that "Alignment" didn't control the PC's actions, PC actions are a guide to what "Alignment" the DM rules a character is for game effects.

    So I leave the entry blank, and let the DM deal with the alignment claptrap (frankly as a player I'd rather keep a character possessions inventory sheet and foist the "stats" on the DM anyway)!


    But oD&D was just "guidelines", nothing was "official" until Advanced Dungeons & Dragons which was a completely different game!

    "No royalties for you Arneson! Mine all Mine! Bwahahaha!
    Wait, what's that Blume?"
    -Gygax


    Fitting as a "bridge" between oD&D, and AD&D, the 1977 "Basic Set" had a "5 point Alignment system" (Lawful Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral), but the 1978 Players Handbook had the full "nine-points" that we know today.

    Spoiler: Part Three: The 5-point system of the 1977 "bluebook"
    Show
    CHARACTER ALIGNMENT
    Characters may be lawful (good or evil), neutral or chaotic (good or evil). Lawful characters always act according to a highly regulated code of behavior, whether for good or evil. Chaotic characters are quite
    unpredictable and can not be depended upon to do anything except the unexpected -- they are often, but not always, evil. Neutral characters, such as all thieves, are motivated by self interest and may steal from their companions or betray them if it is in their own best interest. Players may choose any alignment they want and need not reveal it to others. Note that the code of lawful good characters insures that they would tell everyone that they are lawful. There are some magical items that can be used only by one alignment of characters. If the Dungeon Master feels that a character has begun to behave in a manner inconsistent with his declared alignment he may rule that he or she has changed alignment and penalize the character with a loss of experience points. An example of such behavior would be a "good" character who kills or tortures a prisoner.


    Spoiler: Part Four: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
    Show
    Alignment
    After generating the abilities of your character, selecting his or her race, and deciding upon a class, it is necessary to determine the alignment of the character. It is possible that the selection of the class your character will profess has predetermined alignment: a druid is neutral, a paladin is lawful good, a thief can be neutral or evil, an assassin is always evil. Yet, except for druids and paladins, such restrictions still leave latitude - the thief can be lawful neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, chaotic evil, chaotic neutral, neutral, or even neutral good; and the assassin has nearly as many choices. The alignments possible for characters are described below.

    Chaotic Evil:
    The major precepts of this alignment are freedom, randomness, and woe. Laws and order, kindness, and good deeds are disdained. life has no value. By promoting chaos and evil, those of this alignment hope to bring themselves to positions of power, glory, and prestige in a system ruled by individual caprice and their own whims.

    Chaotic Good:
    While creatures of this alignment view freedom and the randomness of action as ultimate truths, they likewise place value on life and the welfare of each individual. Respect for individualism is also great.
    By promoting the gods of chaotic good, characters of this alignment seek to spread their values throughout the world.

    Chaotic Neutral:
    Above respect for life and good, or disregard for life and promotion of evil, the chaotic neutral places randomness and disorder.
    Good and evil are complimentary balance arms. Neither are preferred, nor must either prevail, for ultimate chaos would then suffer.

    Lawful Evil:
    Creatures of this alignment are great respecters of laws and strict order, but life, beauty, truth, freedom and the like are held as valueless, or at least scorned.
    By adhering to stringent discipline, those of
    lawful evil alignment hope to impose their yoke upon the world.

    Lawful Good:
    While as strict in their prosecution of law and order, characters of lawful good alignment follow these precepts to improve the common weal. Certain freedoms must, of course, be sacrificed in order to bring order; but truth is of highest value, and life and beauty of great importance. The benefits of this society are to be brought to all.

    Lawful Neutral:
    Those of this alignment view regulation as all-important, taking a middle road betwixt evil and good. This is because the ultimate harmony of the world -and the whole of the universe - is considered by lawful neutral creatures to have its sole hope rest upon law and order. Evil or good are immaterial beside the determined purpose of bringing all to predictability and regulation.

    Neutral Evil:
    The neutral evil creature views law and chaos as unnecessary
    considerations, for pure evil is all-in-all. Either might be used, but both are
    disdained as foolish clutter useless in eventually bringing maximum evilness to the world.

    Neutral Good:
    Unlike those directly opposite them (neutral evil) in
    alignment, creatures of neutral good believe that there must be some regulation in combination with freedoms if the best is to be brought to the world - the most beneficial conditions for living things in general and intelligent creatures in particular.

    True Neutral:
    The "true" neutral looks upon all other alignments as facets
    of the system of things. Thus, each aspect - evil and good, chaos and law - of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even
    then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be, provided the "wheel" surrounding the hub of nature does not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces - such as
    human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be.

    Naturally, there are all variations and shades of tendencies within each alignment. The descriptions are generalizations only. A character can be basically good in its "true" neutrality, or tend towards evil. It is probable
    that your campaign referee will keep a graph of the drift.of your character on the alignment chart. This is affected by the actions (and desires) of your character during the course of each adventure, and will be reflected on the graph. You may find that these actions are such as to cause the declared alignment to be shifted towards, or actually to, some other.
    -1978 PHB

    Anyway, the '79 DMG recommended graphing a PC's Alignment, and if they slipped into a new one they'd lose one level of experience,
    "If the alignment change is involuntary (such as caused by a powerful magic, a curse etc.), then the character can regain all of the losses (level, hit die, etc.) upon returning to his or her former alignment as soon as possible and after making atonement through a cleric of the same alignment - and sacrificing treasure which has a value of not less than 10,000 g.p. per level of experience of the character."

    That'll teach those pesky PC's not to stray!


    Oh and
    "Until the character has again achieved his or her former level of experience held prior to change of alignment, he or she will not be able to converse in the former alignment's tongue nor will anything but the rudest signalling be possible in the new alignment language."

    1e AD&D DM's were always supplied with pizza with the correct toppings!


    (Not really, I have no memory of those rules ever being used at any table that I played).


    Wisely the 1981 "Basic rules" went back to Law/Neutral/Chaos, which was retained in the
    Spoiler: Part Five: The1991 "Rules Cyclopedia"
    Show
    Alignment

    An alignment is a code of behavior or way of
    life which guides the actions and thoughts of characters and monsters. There are three alignments in the D&D® game: Law, Chaos, and Neutrality. Players may choose the alignments they feel will best fit their characters. A player does not have to tell other players what alignment he or she has picked, but must tell the Dungeon Master. Most Lawful characters will reveal their alignments if asked. When picking alignments, the characters should know that Chaotics cannot be trusted, even by other Chaotics. A Chaotic character does not work well with other PCs.
    Alignments give characters guidelines,to live by. They are not absolute rules: characters will try to follow their alignment guidelines, but may not always be successful. To better understand the philosophies behind them, let's define the three alignments.
    Law (or Lawful)
    Law is the belief that everything should follow an order, and that obeying rules is the natural way of life. Lawful creatures will try to tell the truth, obey laws that are fair, keep promises, and care for all living things.
    If a choice must be made between the benefit of a group or an individual, a Lawful character will usually choose the group. Sometimes individual freedoms must be given up for the good
    Lawful characters and monsters often act in predictable ways. Lawful behavior is usually the same as "good" behavior.
    Chaos (or Chaotic)
    Chaos is the opposite of Law. It is the belief
    that life is random and that chance and luck rule the world. Laws are made to be broken, as long as a person can get away with it. It is not important to keep promises, and lying and telling the truth are both useful.
    To a Chaotic creature, the individual is the
    most important of all things. Selfishness is the normal way of life, and the group is not important. Chaotics often act on sudden desires and whims. They have strong belief in the power of luck. They cannot always be trusted. Chaotic behavior is usually the same as behavior that could be called "evil." Each individual player must decide if his Chaotic character is closer to a mean, selfish "evil" personality or merely a happy-go-lucky, unpredictable personality.
    Neutrality (or Neutral)
    Neutrality is the belief that the world is a balance between Law and Chaos. It is important that neither side get too much power and upset this balance. The individual is important, but so is the group; the two sides must work together.
    A Neutral character is most interested in per-
    sonal survival. Such characters believe in their own wits and abilities rather than luck. They tend to return the treatment they receive from others. Neutral characters will join a party if they think it is in their own best interest, but will not be overly helpful unless there is some sort of profit in it. Neutral behavior may be considered "good" or "evil" (or neither).
    Alignment Behavior
    Take this situation as an example: A group of player characters is attacked by a large number of monsters. Escape is not possible unless the monsters are slowed down.
    A Lawful character will fight to protect the
    group, regardless of the danger. The character will not run away unless the whole group does so or is otherwise safe.
    A Neutral character will fight to protect the
    group as long as it is reasonably safe to do so. If the danger is too great, the character will try to save himself, even at the expense of the rest of the party.
    A Chaotic character might fight the monsters or he might run away immediately—Chaotics are, as always, unpredictable. The character may not even care what happened to the rest of the party.
    Playing an alignment does not mean a character must do stupid things. A character should always act as intelligently as the Intelligence score indicates, unless there is a reason to act otherwise (such as a magical curse).
    Alignment Languages
    Each alignment has a secret language of passwords, hand signals, and other body motions.
    Player characters and intelligent monsters always know their alignment languages. They will also recognize when another alignment language is being spoken, but will not understand it. Alignment languages have no written form. A character may not learn a different alignment language unless he changes alignments. In such a case, the character forgets the old alignment language and starts using the new one immediately....


    Unfortunately 'Law' was "usually "Good"', and 'Chaos' was "usually Evil", but "not always".

    Because my 2e to 4e books are on a higher shelf (and I never played those versions) than my 0e/1e AD&D/BX/RC/5e books (which I have played some) I'll just give you this link for info on those editions Alignment systems (all praise to Kish for the link).

    For 5e I still see the point of Alignments in the Monster Manual, but now that D&D has dropped ""Alignment Languages", I'm not sure what the point is of players writing one on their character record sheets, as "Ideals", "Flaws", "Bonds", etc. seem to replace "Alignment" as a role-playing aide.

    *whew*

    Now, I'll just tell you which Alignments are what most DM's (in my experience) are less likely to tell you that "You're not playing your Alignment",
    Spoiler: Alignments in order:
    Show
    (From least likely to incur "You're not playing your Alignment", to most)

    1) Neutral Evil

    2) True Neutral

    3) Chaotic Evil

    4) Lawful Evil

    5) Lawful Neutral

    6) Chaotic Good (most are wrong in their interpretation of this Alignment IMNSHO, but whatever)

    7) Chaotic Neutral

    8) Neutral Good

    and the one that your DM is least likely to consider you "Doing it right":

    9) Lawful Good.

    Now make with the pizza slice already.

    Please.
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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    "A grey mountain against a grey sky" and "A locked and barred grey castle" are descriptions of different Neutral characters Dragonbait has seen.

    A lich's aura was described as "sucking in emotions, a vortex of hate and fear"."

    And a good but jealous person was "blue with green flecks".
    Ok .. well, that sounds like the author has ideas similar to my own. Interesting.

    Are the books any good?

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    In before the flame war and lock...

    Anyway, Alignment works perfectly fine at the job it was invented for. Alignment allows you to have a world that functions under a clear, melodramatic, fantasy morality. Alignment works best in games of heroes and villains, of loyal knights and duplicitous thieves. It allows you to mark certain people are righteous without spending hours debating their motives, if allows you to commit what might be argued as warcrimes without it because you know that all members of the horde attacking you have malicious intent, it lets certain magic exist without being part of the PC's domain because it is just too evil to use.

    Alignment serves to facilitate the tone of the typical DnD game. It is a tool, like magic item tables and challenge ratings, it creates a certain tone and feel. If you want to play a game with dark and frustrated morality? Play a game built to facilitate that or be prepared to do surgery on those parts of DnD that exist to let the players be morally righteous and noble heroes fighting dark and perfidious evil.
    GNU Terry Pratchett

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    Default Re: How do you work with alignment system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Ok .. well, that sounds like the author has ideas similar to my own. Interesting.

    Are the books any good?
    By D&D novel standards at least, I thought they were very good. The authors, Jeff Grubb & Kate Novak, have written in other franchises besides D&D - Starcraft, and Star Wars, and their works have been consistently good whatever the franchise, to me.

    In D&D, with that paladin as a support character, there's two of the 3 book Finder's Stone trilogy (Azure Bonds, The Wyvern's Spur, Song of the Saurials - he's in 1 and 3), and Masquerades (in the Harpers series)
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