Alignment!

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Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Tue Nov 02, 2010 3:33 pm

I'm one of those crazy people who like alignment. ;) Not as a hard-coded part of the rules system, but as a general guide on how characters can act.

For many years, I've used the traditional nine alignments in D&D. It's been a tradition with me, and it covers every possibility. When the revised 4e alignment system came about, I balked at it at first. Some of it I could understand, like combining NG and CG into Good, or making all the neutral alignments into Unaligned. And yet, I felt at a loss without LE. After all, LE describes the Knights of Takhisis, or maybe even Stormtroopers from Star Wars. So for a while, I was good with the traditional nine alignments.

And yet, as I look at the new alignment system, I'm seeing it in a new light. It's simpler, easier to understand. How confusing was it at first trying to figure out the neutral part of the alignment axis when it existed both ways? I'm really digging the concept of Unaligned ("just let me go about my business"), and the Good alignment means you can have good heroes who don't follow the laws without becoming a Punisher archetype. I've heard CG described in the past as "good, at any cost." The new alignment system also takes out the "Do whatever you want" aspect of CN. The Evil alignment mostly works for Dragonlance, which has the theme of "evil turns upon itself." The new alignment system also seems to showcase not only the strive between good and evil, but also of law vs. chaos.

And yet...I find myself missing LE. *sigh*

So I'm unsure on which alignment system to use. There's tradition, then there's some new good ideas. I've considered a hybrid, but I haven't worked out all the bugs yet.

Thoughts?
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Re: Alignment!

Post by dfryer36 » Tue Nov 02, 2010 4:21 pm

I really like the new alignment system. I actually wish they would get rid of the good-evil axis and just go back to the old law-chaos access that we had in BECMI but that's just me. If you are not worried about the mechanical part of it, I would suggest looking at how Palladium handles alignment. They have a pretty nice way of dealing with it that has nothing to do with law, chaos, good, or evil.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Bonetti » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:05 pm

I've long felt that the axes were incomplete, but I never worked out an alternate system. However, I did use the old system to help guide the general approaches of my characters, NPCs, and monsters. LE creatures were very well-organized, CE were disorganized, and NE were somewhere in-between, etc. Nothing earth-shattering...

I'm not sure I like the one-axis approach. However, since alignment seems to be decoupled from anything other than a little role-playing flavor, I'm pretty much just ignoring it now :-)
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Seethyr » Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:34 pm

I'm a big fan of the old alignment system, if only because so much lore in every campaign world, through decades of game products have been built off of it. I know that doesn't speak to the validity of the system itself, but I guess just being a conservative type of guy, change for no real reason just seems unnecessary.

I know WotC tried to SIMPLIFY things by removing some alignments but I like part of your idea. Why not just ADD unaligned and reserve true neutral for the militant naturists?

Maybe the change in alignments reminds me too much of the removal of the Great Wheel from standard lore and that's why I'm so unhappy with it.

I believe I could easily distinguish Neutral Good from Chaotic Good, and when it was in monster and/or character descriptions, I got a better idea of how to run the particular creature. That bit of detail is gone now :-( . Like you said, the difference is even more noticable in LE vs. NE.

Anyway, don't mistake me for a hater...I love anything D&D and always will. I just don't approve of some of the changes. It's been how many years now though? I gotta get over it!
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Wed Nov 03, 2010 2:50 am

I like alignment in general. While I typically use the nine-alignment system as a default, I think alignment works best if it's tailored for your campaign.

I think Neutral Good is as different from Chaotic Good as it is from Lawful Good. The same goes from NE compared to LE and CE. For that matter, I'd say the same about LN compared to LG and LE, and CN compared to CG and CE. I won't get into it now, though (but ask me about it if you're interested). So they all have a place in a game.

However, for some campaigns, only some of the alignments may be relevant. In a Dragonlance campaign, I've tended to ignore the Law/Chaos axis altogether. While I think it does make a difference, it does not strike me as a relevant difference in DL (until you get to the Chaos War, perhaps).

If I'm going to go with a five-alignment system, though, I'd choose the one in the Holmes Basic Set over the one in 4e. The five alignments were Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral. It's got a little more complexity than the three-alignment system, but without having as much of an issue about boundaries between alignments. Again, while I think NG is different from CG, I'm happy to grant that the boundary between them is fuzzy. But the same goes for Lawful Good and Good in 4e, I think. The Holmes system works better in that regard. It also simplifies the outer planes (not all would see this as an advantage). (Incidentally, Holmes himself did not like this system. I think he included it only because Gygax insisted. Holmes was editing this set at a time when the AD&D game was still being formed, and five alignments was what Gygax was going with at that time - which explains why the monsters in the first Monster Manual only cover these five alignments. In a review of Moldvay's Basic Set, Holmes praised his return to only three alignments.)
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Wed Nov 03, 2010 3:23 am

Philosopher wrote: I think Neutral Good is as different from Chaotic Good as it is from Lawful Good. The same goes from NE compared to LE and CE. For that matter, I'd say the same about LN compared to LG and LE, and CN compared to CG and CE. I won't get into it now, though (but ask me about it if you're interested). So they all have a place in a game.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
However, for some campaigns, only some of the alignments may be relevant. In a Dragonlance campaign, I've tended to ignore the Law/Chaos axis altogether. While I think it does make a difference, it does not strike me as a relevant difference in DL (until you get to the Chaos War, perhaps).
Yeah, Dragonlance is mainly about Good, Neutrality/Balance, and Evil. You're right, law and chaos don't really come into play until the Chaos War. I would like to think that the struggle of the High God and Chaos embody law vs. chaos. Still, it's not nearly as important as the other axis.
If I'm going to go with a five-alignment system, though, I'd choose the one in the Holmes Basic Set over the one in 4e. The five alignments were Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral. It's got a little more complexity than the three-alignment system, but without having as much of an issue about boundaries between alignments.
I've considered that idea too. How does the Holmes Basic set describe CG? And which set is that? Blue one?
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:07 am

Dragonhelm wrote:
Philosopher wrote: I think Neutral Good is as different from Chaotic Good as it is from Lawful Good. The same goes from NE compared to LE and CE. For that matter, I'd say the same about LN compared to LG and LE, and CN compared to CG and CE. I won't get into it now, though (but ask me about it if you're interested). So they all have a place in a game.
I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
I guess I just should have typed it up the first time. I knew someone would ask. :)

I often hear people say that Lawful Good and Chaotic Good individuals are both good, and so share the same goals, but only differ in the methods that they use. The way I see it, however, each of the nine alignments represents a different set of goals. Each of the Good alignments has a different understanding of what counts as good. Each of the Lawful alignments has a different understanding of what counts as law. And so on.

Note that the following is an interpretation of alignment. I won't pretend that this is "more correct" than other interpretations. It's just how I like to think of each alignment, even though it might deviate from the norm. I'll start with the four extremes, since they'll provide a good contrast, then work my to the various Neutral alignments.

Lawful Good: Values exist independently of material reality and of the circumstances people find themselves in. Lying, for example, is always wrong, even if the intention and/or consequences may be considered good. One should be honest even if honesty might cause harm in some cases. It may be possible for some lies to be forgivable, but they are still wrong, and it is always better to avoid it. Morality can be codified into a set of consistent laws that bind all sentient beings.

Chaotic Good: Values are attributes of states of affairs in the world we live in. Indeed, it makes no sense to talk about values except in terms of what is valued by sentient beings. Lying is generally wrong, because it generally has bad consequences; it undermines trust, and we all do better if we can trust one another. However, if lying in a particular circumstance brings about more benefits than harms, then it would be the right thing to do. Note that in judging consequences, no individual counts as worth more than any other. If a person has the choice between doing something nice for their family or improving the quality of life for dozens of strangers, they should choose the latter, even if it comes with a significant disadvantage for themselves.

Lawful Evil: Values, worth, rights, and duties vary according to one's station, lineage, race, or some other feature that would be considered essential to a person's being. Some people are inherently better than others, and therefore deserve better lives and have more rights. Each group has its own morality. For example, a slave has duties that the master does not (and vice versa). This is the right and proper way that things must be, independently of he hardships faced by anyone. Any deviations must be punished. An individual may earn rewards through merit, but it must be through merit displayed in one's proper role. A peasant has no right to earn glory on the field of battle, even if he is called to military service.

Chaotic Evil: Pure egoism. Pleasure and pain are all that matter - seeking one's own pleasure and avoiding one's own pain. Nothing else merits any consideration. Note that this can often be destructive, but it need not be. Particularly shrewd individuals realize that their interests might best be served by aligning themselves with others. If the situation changes, however, all bets are off.

Neutral Good: Values are grounded in the material world, in contradistinction to Lawful Good; however, they are not merely determined by what sentient beings find valuable, contrary to Chaotic Good. People could be mistaken about what is in their best interests. Actions and policies should generally be judged by their consequences, but certain rules might be inviolable, such as a prohibition on torture. Even if exceptions are made, at the very least, these rule would only be violated in the most extreme circumstances - after all, consequences matter. But even if a good reason is given for breaking the rule, it would still be considered a wrongful act, and some sort of amends must be made, or atonements performed.

Lawful Neutral: Rules and laws are what make life, civilization, and existence itself possible. Consequently, laws must be obeyed. If some are made to suffer due to a law, that is unfortunate, but it is preferable to the slip into anarchy that would result from making the law superfluous by introducing exceptions at one's own discretion. Alleviating suffering is fine, and may be considered noble, but only if it is done within the confines of the law. The law should not be too harsh, of course, because its purpose is to continue our existence, but whims must give way to it. This "law" can be the law of the land, or perhaps some other type of code.

Chaotic Neutral: Things happen, sometimes for no reason at all. All we can do is try to take charge of our own little pockets of the world. We all just pursue what we want. Don't be mean about it, others are also just trying to get by, but they're not your responsibility. You are only responsible for yourself, but it is nonetheless a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Make something of yourself, because no one else is responsible for you either. Nothing precludes us from all getting along together, it's what any reasonable person wants, but conflicts will be bound to arise.

Neutral Evil: A sense of personal entitlement - although not one grounded in any notion of one's station, race, etc., so not Lawful Evil - coupled with a lack of concern for others - although the ego is not the sole concern, so not Chaotic Evil. There are lines that might not be crossed, because the sense of entitlement is not for everything and anything. Nothing, however, is in principle off limits. Once such an individual feels entitled to something, they will seek it out with little regard for others, and will rarely consider who else may also be entitled. It is worth respecting what others are entitled to, but only so long it does not interfere with one's own entitlements.

Neutral None of the above. That's all there is to it, no more, no less. Everyone has some sort of goal and world-view, but not all of them may be represented by the above alignments. Neutrality is not a philosophy of life in itself, it just represents a lack of commitment to the above philosophies. It could represent a commitment to protecting nature for its own sake, or to gaining knowledge for its own sake, or something else entirely.

Questions or comments are welcome.
Dragonhelm wrote:I've considered that idea too. How does the Holmes Basic set describe CG? And which set is that? Blue one?
Yup, Holmes is the blue book. It doesn't really describe CG, actually. Here's what it says:
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.
I recall, from his review of Moldvay's Basic Set, that Holmes actually thought that the Chaotic Good alignment made no sense. He didn't seem to think Chaos was compatible with Good.

When I said that the five-alignment system helps keep each alignment more distinct, I wasn't thinking so much of Holmes's descriptions as I was thinking of the system itself (coupled with however you conceive of the alignments in general).
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:56 pm

Philosopher wrote:I guess I just should have typed it up the first time. I knew someone would ask. :)
Well, I'm glad to see it. It's helping me work through some stuff.

You know, we should create a Piazza website and have this as an article on it. Hrm...
When I said that the five-alignment system helps keep each alignment more distinct, I wasn't thinking so much of Holmes's descriptions as I was thinking of the system itself (coupled with however you conceive of the alignments in general).
It's not a bad idea, especially if you look at it in terms of Chaotic = working outside of the rules.

Still, when one thinks of good, the word "chaotic" is not towards the top of the list.

Personally, I'm good with Neutral Good and Chaotic Good becoming Good. (Wow, did I just say "good" 4 times in one sentence? ;) ). I like TN and CN being just Unaligned, and I guess I'd be okay with LN being added into that as well. Rather than combining LE and NE into Evil, I would have combined NE and CE into CE. Still, it would look weird if your alignments looked like this:

LG - Good
Unaligned
LE - CE

I'm too picky. :P
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:31 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:
Philosopher wrote:I guess I just should have typed it up the first time. I knew someone would ask. :)
Well, I'm glad to see it. It's helping me work through some stuff.

You know, we should create a Piazza website and have this as an article on it. Hrm...
I'm glad it was helpful. What I like about it is that since Lawful Good and Chaotic Good don't actually share the same goals, they can very likely come into conflict. Also, two Lawful Neutrals could come into conflict, if each is following a different code (especially if they think only one code should govern all). It mixes things up, so that an antagonist to the PCs need not always be of Evil alignment.

You really think it's worth developing into an article? Thanks. I'd be up for that, I suppose. I've been thinking about starting a blog lately (haven't gotten around to it yet, though), and this could also be something I post there.
Dragonhelm wrote:
When I said that the five-alignment system helps keep each alignment more distinct, I wasn't thinking so much of Holmes's descriptions as I was thinking of the system itself (coupled with however you conceive of the alignments in general).
It's not a bad idea, especially if you look at it in terms of Chaotic = working outside of the rules.

Still, when one thinks of good, the word "chaotic" is not towards the top of the list.

Personally, I'm good with Neutral Good and Chaotic Good becoming Good. (Wow, did I just say "good" 4 times in one sentence? ;) ). I like TN and CN being just Unaligned, and I guess I'd be okay with LN being added into that as well. Rather than combining LE and NE into Evil, I would have combined NE and CE into CE. Still, it would look weird if your alignments looked like this:

LG - Good
Unaligned
LE - CE

I'm too picky. :P
Why not call "Good" "Chaotic Good"? Or, what might be better, why not call "Chaotic Evil" just "Evil"? I like that, actually, although it would probably involve a different interpretation of alignment than I gave in my previous post. Maybe it could work like this. Good is altruistic, Evil is selfish. LG and LE are, respectively, Good and Evil, but they think that these things can be codified, while G and E just go with their guts when making decisions. So neither G nor E is necessarily "Chaotic", it's just that LG and LE try to formalize things into strict rules. That could work, perhaps. Like all takes on alignment, it's not for everyone, but I'm tossing it out as a suggestion if you don't want alignment to "look weird". I share with you a preference for having LE, but I tend to also want CG for the same reasons.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by rabindranath72 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:06 pm

The 4e alignment system seems to be copied from the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay system.

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Re: Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:55 pm

Philosopher wrote:You really think it's worth developing into an article? Thanks. I'd be up for that, I suppose. I've been thinking about starting a blog lately (haven't gotten around to it yet, though), and this could also be something I post there.
There you go. :)

Why not call "Good" "Chaotic Good"?


I might.
Or, what might be better, why not call "Chaotic Evil" just "Evil"?
It wouldn't be D&D without Chaotic Evil. ;)
I share with you a preference for having LE, but I tend to also want CG for the same reasons.
Maybe I just need to integrate the two systems. I like the idea of Unaligned better than I do True Neutral.

Maybe...

LG - Good - CG
Lawful - Unaligned - Chaotic
LE - Evil - CE

???

Hrm...Then why not use the nine-alignment system?
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:28 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:I like the idea of Unaligned better than I do True Neutral.
Same here. That's why I described "Neutral" as "none of the above" rather than having anything to do with "balance". I still use the word "Neutral", because that's what it's supposed to be - not taking a stand, rather than a stand of its own.

In fact, I think that a person who wanted to maintain a balance between Good and Evil would probably be more Lawful Neutral, since the whole notion of "balance" as "the way things should be" strikes me as rather Lawful. Chaotic Neutral sees room for both, but not necessarily in a balanced way.

Likewise, I would imagine that someone who wanted a balance between Law and Chaos would probably be Neutral Good, as they would see both Law and Chaos as harmful in general, which seems to involve a concern for others. Neutral Evil would be willing to make use of each, but wouldn't care if it was balanced so long as it served one's own interests.

I suppose that leaves open the question of someone who wants a balance between both Law/Chaos and Good/Evil. This would only make sense, I think, in some larger context of what "Balance" means, which should also probably extend beyond the alignment axes. In that case, it would be its own philosophy independent of alignment. So such a commitment would be classified as Neutral, but it's still in a "none of the above" sense.

Huh. I guess there are plenty of further considerations if I'm going to write this up as an article.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:56 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:I like the idea of Unaligned better than I do True Neutral.
See, I see them as completely different, which is one of my beefs with the 4e alignment system. Unaligned to me are things like animals or people who just want to be left alone (hermits for example), whereas True Neutral is taking a stand that you you aren't siding with anyone, and/or don't want any one side to dominate.

IMO, the vast majority of peasantry would be non-ideological lawful neutral - they follow the rules/laws and generally don't see them as bad/unreasonable or anything, and just want to be left to their own devices.

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Re: Alignment!

Post by BotWizo » Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:44 pm

AuldDragon wrote:
Dragonhelm wrote:I like the idea of Unaligned better than I do True Neutral.
See, I see them as completely different, which is one of my beefs with the 4e alignment system. Unaligned to me are things like animals or people who just want to be left alone (hermits for example), whereas True Neutral is taking a stand that you you aren't siding with anyone, and/or don't want any one side to dominate.

IMO, the vast majority of peasantry would be non-ideological lawful neutral - they follow the rules/laws and generally don't see them as bad/unreasonable or anything, and just want to be left to their own devices.

Jeff

doesn't come down to how much documentation you want?
unaligned can certainly have a range of people, your hermits, True nuetrals, people who don't take a side and are cruel, people who don't take a side and do not harm others.

so couldn't unaligned cover them all? with gradients in the unaligned that really don't need to be defined unless you the dm want to.?
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Re: Alignment!

Post by AuldDragon » Thu Nov 04, 2010 9:31 pm

BotWizo wrote:doesn't come down to how much documentation you want?
unaligned can certainly have a range of people, your hermits, True nuetrals, people who don't take a side and are cruel, people who don't take a side and do not harm others.

so couldn't unaligned cover them all? with gradients in the unaligned that really don't need to be defined unless you the dm want to.?
Not the way I see alignment in the D&D game. As I see it, unaligned means one of two things: something lacks the intelligence/sentience to make moral choices (i.e., standard animals like deer, dogs, wolves, squirrels) or people/creatures who have chosen to completely cut themselves off from the world.

Most of my thinking on this is from thinking about it well over a decade ago, when it seemed silly that animals would have an alignment, even true neutrality, when they lack the intelligence to live beyond instinct. I see alignment as strictly tied to sentience, and will probably always read unaligned as "without an alignment" rather than "choosing no sides" or something.

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Re: Alignment!

Post by agathokles » Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:56 am

AuldDragon wrote: Not the way I see alignment in the D&D game. As I see it, unaligned means one of two things: something lacks the intelligence/sentience to make moral choices (i.e., standard animals like deer, dogs, wolves, squirrels) or people/creatures who have chosen to completely cut themselves off from the world.

Most of my thinking on this is from thinking about it well over a decade ago, when it seemed silly that animals would have an alignment, even true neutrality, when they lack the intelligence to live beyond instinct. I see alignment as strictly tied to sentience, and will probably always read unaligned as "without an alignment" rather than "choosing no sides" or something.
However, this is just a renaming of the "Neutral" definition in the classic Basic Set. If you prefer to call it "unaligned" rather than "neutral", no problem, but it is still an alignment, and you're still mixing non-sentients with sentients who choose no side.

G.

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Re: Alignment!

Post by AuldDragon » Sat Nov 06, 2010 3:36 pm

agathokles wrote:However, this is just a renaming of the "Neutral" definition in the classic Basic Set. If you prefer to call it "unaligned" rather than "neutral", no problem, but it is still an alignment, and you're still mixing non-sentients with sentients who choose no side.
In the situation I described, "unaligned" exists outside of the nine main alignments, including true neutrality, and is not a replacement of it. It wouldn't be something players could choose for their characters.

What it boils down to is WotC using a different definition for a term that is already set in my mind.

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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:08 pm

AuldDragon wrote:
agathokles wrote:However, this is just a renaming of the "Neutral" definition in the classic Basic Set. If you prefer to call it "unaligned" rather than "neutral", no problem, but it is still an alignment, and you're still mixing non-sentients with sentients who choose no side.
In the situation I described, "unaligned" exists outside of the nine main alignments, including true neutrality, and is not a replacement of it. It wouldn't be something players could choose for their characters.

What it boils down to is WotC using a different definition for a term that is already set in my mind.

Jeff
If I understand what you're saying, I agree. If Neutrality is a stance one can take (in the sense of being True Neutral and seeking a balance) then it should be distinguished from not taking a stand at all (whether through apathy or inability to take a stand to begin with). While I don't like the idea of True Neutral as a specific choice, I'm happy to draw a distinction in principle between Neutral and Unaligned if both are options in a campaign. I used to say that a lack of commitment is merely Neutral, while a conscious choice is True Neutral, but this works too.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Seethyr » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:20 am

What's a really good reason to knock down the number of alignments? I missed the real explanation of how it would benefit someone's game, is it less complicated? Maybe I could understand that, but it doesn't seem like too much trouble to have more alignments.

I'd definitely go with the 9 alignment system but just add unaligned for the animals. Maybe I just have something for symmetry.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:40 am

Seethyr wrote:What's a really good reason to knock down the number of alignments? I missed the real explanation of how it would benefit someone's game, is it less complicated? Maybe I could understand that, but it doesn't seem like too much trouble to have more alignments.
You can find out a bit about the changes in this article. However, it doesn't really go into why the changes were made.

That being said, I can take a few educated guesses on all of this.

1. There are no two alignments more iconic to D&D than LG and CE. Those two had to stay.

2. NG and CG becomes Good. The reason for this, I believe, is to showcase someone who does good, but puts what is good about the laws of the land. Robin Hood is a prime example. NG and CG were very close in these regards, so it would make sense to combine them.

3. LE and NE become Evil. Truthfully, I always felt like NE got lost in the shuffle. LE as the alignment of tyranny worked out great, and CE as the alignment of selfish destruction and chaos also worked out great. I think they shied away from having LE because a) it didn't fit the new symmetry and b) they wanted to put forth the idea of Evil turning upon itself (seen prominently in Dragonlance).

4. LN. So, your character just takes orders. That works fine for NPCs, but not so much as player characters. Where's the heroism in that? I tried playing a LN character a time or two, and it just didn't seem to work out too well.

5. CN is almost as problematic as the evil alignments. It's a license for players to do whatever they want, up to anything evil. It can be disruptive to a game.

6. True Neutral is perhaps the most difficult alignment to play. You might be a scholar, set to chronicle an adventure. Or you may switch sides to maintain some sort of balance. Or you're a Pacifist. Thing is, what is your motivation?

7. Unaligned kills the Neutral alignments and takes their stuff. "Just let me go about my business." That's the motto of Unaligned. It takes on the ideas of freedom of choice, not taking sides, but discards the "anything goes" mentality of CN and the trappings of TN. UA lends itself to adventure a lot easier than LN and TN did. Besides, Unaligned sounds cool. ;)

8. Someone at WotC plays WFRP? ;)

9. I think WotC also wanted a simpler alignment system for new players.

That's all a guess. It's weird, 'cause at first, I didn't like the changes. But as I examine this, I can see a lot of reasoning behind it.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:29 am

Dragonhelm wrote:That being said, I can take a few educated guesses on all of this.
Sounds about right to me, although I'd add another point - these are problems with how people have played with alignment, not a problem with alignment itself. I've known people to say, "But I'm Chaotic Neutral," as an excuse for being a jerk, so I won't pretend that this isn't an issue. Chaotic Neutral is actually one of my favourite alignments to play, although I don't think it's an excuse to go against the rest of the party. See my own interpretation of CN above - such characters, as I play them, are perfectly willing to work with others, as long as they don't feel forced to do so against their will.

While eliminating the mechanical effects of alignment was a reasonable move (I could go either way on that), I'm not sure if all of the other problems go away. It doesn't take a playing a paladin to make some players interpret Lawful Good to mean that they can boss others around, beating them with the moral stick. And I can easily see some people abusing Unaligned the way Chaotic Neutral has been. Hell, even Neutral Good can be abused. I remember a player with a supposedly Neutral Good character who often engaged in questionable acts. Every time he was called on it, he'd say, "I'm good, not stupid." I never entirely agreed with that judgment.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:41 pm

Philosopher wrote:Sounds about right to me, although I'd add another point - these are problems with how people have played with alignment, not a problem with alignment itself. I've known people to say, "But I'm Chaotic Neutral," as an excuse for being a jerk, so I won't pretend that this isn't an issue.
Agreed. The nine-alignment system is perfectly viable and nicely symmetrical.

It's like kender in Dragonlance. They have a bad reputation because people often use them as an excuse to steal from everybody. In fact, those players are missing the point. There's nothing wrong with kender, just the player.
While eliminating the mechanical effects of alignment was a reasonable move (I could go either way on that), I'm not sure if all of the other problems go away. It doesn't take a playing a paladin to make some players interpret Lawful Good to mean that they can boss others around, beating them with the moral stick. And I can easily see some people abusing Unaligned the way Chaotic Neutral has been.
Agreed on all points. I've come to realize that LG does not necessarily mean "holier than thou." I think Unaligned could be as bad as CN, but WotC's flavor text (is that an oxymoron? ;) ) at least attempts to steer away from that.
Hell, even Neutral Good can be abused. I remember a player with a supposedly Neutral Good character who often engaged in questionable acts. Every time he was called on it, he'd say, "I'm good, not stupid." I never entirely agreed with that judgment.
Wow. In a way, that reminds me of how I've heard CG described - "good at any cost." So, for example, you have the Punisher. He goes out and kills bad guys left and right. Is he CG? He's getting rid of the criminals that plague society, but he kills in order to do it. He is judge, jury, and executioner. What happens when a player character takes on a similar stance?
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Philosopher » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:58 pm

Dragonhelm wrote:It's like kender in Dragonlance. They have a bad reputation because people often use them as an excuse to steal from everybody. In fact, those players are missing the point. There's nothing wrong with kender, just the player.
That's a good analogy, even though I don't care for kender myself (personal preference, not because of how they're played).
Dragonhelm wrote:Wow. In a way, that reminds me of how I've heard CG described - "good at any cost." So, for example, you have the Punisher. He goes out and kills bad guys left and right. Is he CG? He's getting rid of the criminals that plague society, but he kills in order to do it. He is judge, jury, and executioner. What happens when a player character takes on a similar stance?
Good questions. "Good at any cost" doesn't make much sense, if you ask me. Which goods? Even at the cost of other goods? I can imagine an overly zealous CG-type acting this way, but I can also imagine the same zealousness in a LG character. In both cases, however, their status as Good might be in jeopardy, depending on what "costs" they're willing to accept.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Seethyr » Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:53 am

IMO, they shouldn't have taken the alignment problem on with a systematic change. A Dragon article or helpful advice in a rulebook on how to handle players who abuse alignment would have sufficed. I think they [cliche] threw the baby out with the bathwater. [/cliche]

I'm also not too happy with how some monster alignments have been changed, particularly the metallic dragons.
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Re: Alignment!

Post by Dragonhelm » Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:00 am

Seethyr wrote:I'm also not too happy with how some monster alignments have been changed, particularly the metallic dragons.
Don't get me started. ;)
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