Enforcement of being "Good"

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I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

I've tossed out the whole alignment thing. They've outlived their usefulness, at least in D&D. Without a system of penalties and bonuses, they got no use. I would glad use them if a Player could gain long term bonuses for, say, having their Lawful Goodness at X or above. Then, at least, alignment would be interesting.
I hit my players. Or get someone bigger than me to do it.

Seriously: A character is too complex in emotions to simply characterize by alignment. If killing the BBEG is going to save more lives, I'm not going to hop into the river to save those orphans.

In the games that I've seen, the games where the DM has alignment rewards/punishment is in the games where the players are the most likely to get out of hand.
I use them as little more then way posts to give people something else to role play around.  Also just because my players cannot easily tell alignment does not mean I, as the DM, don't have elements in the game that might interact with it.  If a player is good and intends to role play good iit helps a little if I know that from their character sheet - just in case the evil sorceress does an insight check on them or some such.

Also there is always the 'this place is so icky it actually radiates evil' thing.  But year - if we got rid of formal alignment there would still be good and evil in my campaign but it'd hardly be a big deal.
Even in 3E, and especially in 4E, I've always told my players that they can write an alignment on their character sheet if they like, but I will never ask what it is. Their actions will have the same consequences regardless their alignment, so the only person to whom alignment matters is themselves (I intentionally avoided alignment-based effects in 3E).

The thing that always bugged me about alignment is when a player tries to justify his actions by stating his alignment ("Mercy? You want mercy?! I'm CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!!!") This far-too-common misunderstanding of the intended nature of the alignment system, and the meaning of the various alignments, has led me to the belief that removing alignment altogether will result is more realistic, dare I say, more rational, behavior from PCs.

Standard Answer to all 5E rules questions: "Ask your DM."

I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.



Well I'm more or less on the side of not giving a damn about alignment for the most part.  I say "more or less" because in our group it does matter to a point.  But it's just your basic good/evil/unaligned.  The thing is, while alignment is useless mechanically to D&D now(thankfully) there's still a basic point.  I mean with our group we almost never allow an evil character and then only as long as the evil character isn't the type to just go slashing down random citizens who maybe look at them perceivably funny.

We've had a couple, and they worked because they had rules.  Personally I found out I'm just no good playing an evil character as a player, haha.

But being good isn't about ignore the big bad and running to save a kitten.  There's got to be a sense of intelligence.  If you're chasing down a foe unless that foe would say, shove the girl into deep water, you're most likely not going to notice the girl if she's just in the water since you're focused on getting the bad guy.  Same with donating money and such.  That's all particulars about the character, nothing that the DM should ever enforce.  If I'm playing a good character then I'll choose how I want to be good, if a DM told me because I'm good I'm expected to donate a certain amount of my money to a church every week I'd tell him he's being ridiculous and that's not my character.

Now I don't think everyone should be unaligned because that's forcing players into something they may not want.  There may be someone who wants to play the noble good guy or maybe more of a shifty evil sorta guy.  Telling a player that he has to be unaligned against his will to me is just...not a good DM tactic.  No offense, like I said just my opinion on it.     
IMO, both good and evil actions should have rewards and punishments. Its based alot on my exp with Video games to be sure, especially ones where GvE is a strong component, but the idea is thus.

Good actions, in general, should produce immediate punishments, but long term rewards.

You come a cross a "goodly" small village that's under attack. You repel the enemy. The short term? you've made a powerful enemy in the Dragonborn Warlord Thexus, and she messed you up real good before she retreated.
Long term? Assuming you weren't obliterated by Thexus's attempts at your life, you earned yourself a position of power and respect in that little village, and people everywhere offer you what they can. More importantly you've established your intentions to do good, and people trust and respect you implicitly.

Bad Actions, should do the opposite.

You help Thexus destroy the village.
Short term- You sack and pillage gaining some extra gold or an easier time establishing your power.

Long term- When you come to a new place people treat you only as well as they need to. The people you attract generally find you only as necessary as you are useful, and they covet or fear your power, meaning they want you out of the way. Instead of dealing with Thexus once relatively quickly, you find you must manipulate a half-dozen of her vile ilk just to survive against the other 1/2 dozen that you've either wronged or want to kill you and take your stuff.

See? Long term vs Short term.

Of course if your really good, you can make the PC's feel pity or remorse for doing bad deeds. Then doing bad has a short-term punishment involved. Gotta mix things up a bit of course.

Obviously the real world doesn't work like this, bad guys usually just plain get ahead, but in the game world, as long as actions have, not the "most likely" of reactions, but rather reasonably predicable reactions it should work out, you don't want the punishment for being good to be that the evil dragon master mind that wasn't even hinted at to come in and smite them.
The essential theme song- Get a little bit a fluff da' fluff, get a little bit a fluff da' fluff! (ooh yeah) Repeat Unless noted otherwise every thing I post is my opinion, and probably should be taken as tongue in cheek any way.
It is real problem if you have a generally unaligned/good party with a single exception.  Unless the whole campaign is geared around an evil party - and I think that that gets very boring very quickly - then having players play evil characters is usually a recipe for disaster.

I don't have mechanical punishments (though I can deem that their alignment changes, which might affect their ability to worship such and such a god), but in game consequences as Marcotic has mentioned. 

Also, I tell my players up front that I 'ban' evil characters, so all players start as unaligned/good/lawful good.  If during thegame the PC keep acting bad, I give the player warnings that the character is shifting alignment.  If a PC ever becomes so regularly bad a to warrant my changing their alignment to evil/chaotic evil then that PC then comes under my control as an NPC.
Playing Scales of War

Rogue.jpg

In 4E, the use of "Good" or "Unaligned" is just a brief declaration, a personality trait. Both the player and the DM can use it as a guideline as to how the PC may act given a moral decision. However it is ultimately the player's choice how the PC behaves, and (in 4E at least), not the DM's concern if the player makes a different call for the character than the DM thought they would.

Despite (or more likely because of) the millions of words written about morality in D&D and the real world, the definition of morally good is so subjective and woolly, that the DM is well advised to steer clear of defining what it means to the point interfering with how a player runs the character. It just leads to pointless arguments.

Luckily in 4E, there is no in-game benefit to categorising your own character. So there is also no need to argue about it, or demand in-game penalties to offset any benefits. Everything can be based on character actions directly, and without reference to what is written on the sheet.

A system of moral judgements can be made to work in a game - I quite liked how The Litany worked in Werewolf the Apocalypse for example. The difference here for me is that the system was based around well described rules and actions and closely tied to the game world.
Alignments don't dictate what exact actions should be taken: by your example, you seem to think a "good" character would save the drowning orphan instead of chasing the BBEG.  That's not good, that's stupid, or it's blind obedience to a code, or it's because you just like cute kids.  Anyone can save the damn orphan, only you the mighty PC can stop the bad guy.  Saving the orphan saves one life, the orphan's, while stopping the BBEG will save the lives of all the people he's going to murder.  It's the kind of moral dilemma only an Assimov-esque robot would face: human morality is not simple system of rules and laws.

The best way I've seen the morality simplified is thusly:

The good/evil scale is a measure of how much the character weights the needs of certain people against others.  The smaller the group he favors, and how much he favors them, determines how evil that character is.  The most evil person in the world acts on the needs of a single individual (usually himself) and doesn't care at all about anyone else.  The most good person in the world weighs every single individual equally, not even placing his own life or that of a loved one ahead of a random stranger.  Most people are neutral: they place their own needs and the needs of their family ahead of others, but still care about other people and will sacrifice some comforts to prevent their misery if he feels like he can do so without risking those he cares about.

The lawful/chaotic scale is a measure of how much importance the person places on how things are done.  The most lawful person in the world would live by a strict code: no matter what cost, they will stick to that code.  Even if it means their goals will never be accomplished, they will stick to that code.  The most chaotic person in the world is utterly ruthless.  They will do whatever it takes to meet their goals, break any rule, what do they care?  As long as what needs to get done gets done, the ends always justify the means.  This does not have to be "the law"  This can be the laws of another country, the religious commands of the gods, or a personal code of conduct: your lawful/chaotic rating is only your willingness to follow that code.  The serial killer compelled to an exact methodology?

The other scale people don't think about much is the intelligent/stupid scale.  A person who is capable of calculating every factor, can determine the likelihood of every outcome, will make very different decisions then a person who can only see what's right in front of them, even if they have an identical moral code.  Go read/watch Watchmen, there is a very good example of a good character that seems evil because his intelligence is sufficiently high and his lawfulness is sufficiently low.

So, in your example, the decision to save the orphan instead of chasing the BBEG could be:

Stupid: Your character can't reach the logical conclusion, that he can stop the BBEG, anyone can save the orphan, the letting the BBEG go has bad bad consequences.  He's too short-sighted, so he dives in, and may or may not realize later that he made a horrible mistake.

Lawful: Your character swore a pact to never allow an innocent to drown, or worships a god that commands her followers to save children at all costs or something.  You know letting the BBEG go will have bad consequences, but your code does not allow you to neglect the orphan.

Evil: You like children better than whoever it is the BBEG might kill.  The orphan is cute, maybe, and you really like cute kids.  Kids deserve a shot at life, it's a shame to die so young.  This is placing the needs of one group (kids/orphans/cute things) before the needs of another (the people the BBEG may kill)

Alignment threads are a can of worms, and I can think of 3 people who I am expecting to jump into this thread with a string of anti-alignemnt rhetoric any minute now, but here it goes:

As a DM, I use alignments.  I find that alignments are useful to character creation and roleplay, especially to new players.  I have introduced dozens of people to the game, many of whom have never played any kind of tabletop RPG ever, and alignment is something that helps to develop a personality in detail for this fictitious character that the player is going to control.  Some will argue that "a devolped personality makes alignment obsolete", and that's all well and good for the experienced gamer who can create a detailed personality.  maybe such a person doesn't need alignment to make a character.  but that doesn't mean it's useless for everyone.

Furthermore, I'm of the school of thought for alignment that it is NOT an absolute barometer of action nor affiliation.  Just because someone is Evil doesn't mean they're out to get you, and just becayse they're Good doesn't mean they're on your side.  Likewise (using the pre-4e model), just because someone is Chaotic doesn't mean they are random or cannot be trusted.  And just because they are Lawful doesn't mean that they're honorable.  A Neutral Evil Bartender might just be a sour old man who only loves his money, but he keeps his tavern in good condition and never robs or cheats his guests, because they are his source of income.  Contrariwise, a Lawful Good Paladin who comes to power in a city and attempts to guide its citizens to a more moral lifestyle becomes a dictator, instituting a harsh regime not unlike that seen in "V For Vendetta", for the good of the people of the city.  Alignment is a grossly oversimplified summary of a character's general outlook and values.

What does this mean for players?  Well, I ask my players for their characters' backgrounds and personalities.  When a player does something grossly out of character, I'll say something to the player (sometimes he's just being silly or rash).  But if he can justify it, I let it go.  After all, people are fallible.  Just because someone is Lawful Good, doesn't mean everything they do is Lawful and Good.  Check out Roy from Order of the Stick as a prime example.  Even in 3e, I was not a "gotcha" DM who would try and nix a Paladin's powers.  The things that cause a paladin to lose powers was a short list: Intentional commiting of an evil act, and change of alignment. Those were 2 seperate things.  Commiting one evil act does not make one stop being Lawful Good, that's why the attonement spell even existed.  A paladin who commited such an act, perhaps in a fit of passion, would (if he was worth his oath as a paladin) seek to make amends for what he did.  A paladin whose alignment was changed (by that cursed helm or what have you), needed to have that issue fixed before he could attone.

Now in 4e, we don't have any mechanics for changing alignments.  None at all.  You won't find it in the books at all.  And alignment restrictions only apply to Divine classes.  I've seen some anti-alignment people argue that "I can make an Evil paladin of Bahamut, using RAW, by havign him be LG when he became a paladin, and then he changed his alignment to Evil, but because there's no rules that say he loses his powers, he's still a paladin of Bahamut"  Well, that's bull, because thre's no rule in the PHB that says you CAN change your alignment.  Nor is there anythign saying the DM can change it on you.

So, to what end would one enforce alignments?  Well, story continuity and roleplaying are good reasons.  i mentioned before that I warn players if I feel that they are trying to act out of character.  But there's got to be some flexibility there.  Especially during the first several sessions of a game where the player is getting a feel for how he wants to play this character.  If I have aplayer who wrote "Good" on the sheet for his dwarf Ranger, and over the course of the first few sessions continuously ignored the needs of innocents, contantly acting in a mercenary fashion and demanding a reward for any good deeds, I would talk to the player (not in front of the other players), and let him know his character hasn't been behaving in a fashion consistent with "Good".  He can just change what he wrote on his sheet to Unaligned, because that's realy what he'd been playing like, or, perhaps it would make him re-think how he'd been playing.  I've had players who are so used to playing Unaligned types that they wanted to play Good or LG as somethign new, and old habits just die hard.  Maybe from then on, he'd make it a point to start acting more Good, who knows?


As to the OP's example: (I am amazed I am typing this) I agree with Damon_Tor.  the decision to save the orphan vis chase the BBEG is one of character and personality, not just alignment.  Alignment is not an absolute barometer or action or affiliation.  That means that it's not some straightjacket that defines how you must always act in a given situation, nor does it cover every situation.
So...should a Good character stop chasing the bad guy to save the orphan?  The only right answer is: It depends on the values and outlooks of the character.  Alignment itself is insufficient a scale to determine the answer.

Oh, and as for making charitable donations, I always handled that on a case-by case basis, too.  Back in 3e, I regulated paladins into Paladin Orders base don deity.  Some of the orders indeed asked that a paladin tithe a certain amnount to the order (which in turn sponsored works of charity).  Other had no such requirment.  One of my paladin orders was a group who's deity was the judge of the dead, and final judgement.  His paladins were authorized to pass sentence and judgement as they saw fit, and had absolutely no requirements towards aiding the weak, or the infirm.  They were, however, expected to stamp out undeath, and perform rites over corpses (when possible) to prevent said corpses from being raised as undead, something other paladin orders were not required to do, and indeed, an act they found repulsive, if not beneath their dignity.

Wow, I'm long-winded.  Hope that helped.

Barbossa said it best: "the code is more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules."
Here are the PHB essentia, in my opinion:
  • Three Basic Rules (p 11)
  • Power Types and Usage (p 54)
  • Skills (p178-179)
  • Feats (p 192)
  • Rest and Recovery (p 263)
  • All of Chapter 9 [Combat] (p 264-295)
A player needs to read the sections for building his or her character -- race, class, powers, feats, equipment, etc. But those are PC-specific. The above list is for everyone, regardless of the race or class or build or concept they are playing.
It has always struck me as very odd when people want a system of punishments for the Good alignments.  Alignment is simply an aspect of the character's personality; a guideline (as Barbossa said) to help the player decide what their character will do in different situations.  The important word there (besides 'guideline') is actually 'a'.  Alignment is not THE guideline, it is just another part of the huge personality pie.  Punishing someone for not playing the way you think the alignment should be played is just as rediculous as punishing them for not playing the way you think any other personality trait should be played.  "Sorry Bob, your PC doesn't get any XP this session.  You had him leap into the marsh to battle the Otyugh, but your background stated that he is very cleanly."  And the key here is that there are no hard and fast rules about alignment.  There is just a rough description for each one, with the lines purposely blurry. 

Alignment should be used as just another tool.  It is not a straightjacket, and does not (and should not) dictate your actions (as in, "I HAVE to do this, my alignment is [insert choice of alignment here]"). 
I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.



My DM requires the PCs to be the three usual alignments of unaligned, good or lawful good. I'd say good is the most common. We use the alignment for roleplaying purposes.
I've tossed out the whole alignment thing. They've outlived their usefulness, at least in D&D. Without a system of penalties and bonuses, they got no use. I would glad use them if a Player could gain long term bonuses for, say, having their Lawful Goodness at X or above. Then, at least, alignment would be interesting.



As said above, we use alignment for roleplaying purposes. Playing a lawful good paladin has a different feel compared to playing an unaligned one. As a lawful good paladin I was forced to save every burning village along the way. With an unaligned Paladin I had the option of moving on if there happened to be an army of orcs 'burning the village'. Very different gaming experiences if alignment is used correctly.
The very question of how one 'enforces' alignment is one of the reasons that I never have used it (even in previous editions).  If one must use it, I prefer it be descriptive rather than prescriptive.  By which i mean your character is considered 'Good' because he acts in a manner consistent with the alignment rather than having the fact that he has the word 'Good' written in a particular place on his character sheet determine how he acts.

Alignment threads are a can of worms, and I can think of 3 people who I am expecting to jump into this thread with a string of anti-alignemnt rhetoric any minute now, but here it goes:




You called?

Yes, alignment is horsecrap, both as intended and as implemented.  In 3e, it was absolutely ridiculous the way it insinuated its way into every aspect of the game, from classes to feats to spells.  Having something so utterly subjective with mechanical repercussions was ridiculous.  The sheer number of alignment (and especially Paladin) argument threads is a testament to that.

My favorite Paladin story:  Our group just blew into town, and we were introducing ourselves before the town guard.  I rattled off my 'holy knight of Heir-can'tspellitanymore' title, and the guard looks visibly nervous and excuses himself.  I give him the Pali-dar scan (more on that later), and he registers as evil.  Once I get a quick second, I lean over to the party rogue and ask him to shadow the guy, he's kind of suspicious.

DM: "You're not going to kill him?"
Me: "Of course not.  I don't know what he's done, so I don't know what the appropriate punishment would be.  I have no evidence that he's earned an execution, so I'm not going to attack him."

And my powers get yanked.  It was apparently evil for me to want to have evidence of wrongdoing and want to determine a fair and just punishment.

And then there's Detects, also known as the Plot Shredder.  "This guy's acting a little funny, can I make a Sense Motive/Insight check?" "Don't bother, let me ... oh, yeah, he's evil."  Having concrete representation of abstract metaphysical concepts was ridiculous.  And how do you find the one cultist of Vecna infiltrating the church of Ioun?  Find the guy who can't cast Protection from Evil because it's against his alignment.

4e made a great step forward by removing alignment's mechanical consideration (though it's taken a step back with the Cavalier/Blackguard crud).  When 5e rolls around eventually, I hope they take the final step and jettison it completely in favor of simply writing down aspects of your character's personality and playing that.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The reason alignment threads deteriorate so quickly is because there are two groups that lurk and then pounce on them with 2 different expressions of their own experiences. The first group states, "I had a terrible DM, and here's my examples", while the other group is touting, "I had good DMs, and here's my examples". Alignment is too tied to personal bias to be effective, and it used to require too much DM-fiat to be of any value. Good DMs will make it flow just like any other rule. Bad DMs can make your life miserable with them. It was simply too much to put on the DM, when each particular DM might not be as apt as others at intelligently applying the rules to facilitate a fun, engaging game. 

Let's face it...there are some extremely bad DMs out there. Some were forced into the job by the rest of the group refusing to DM, so the one takes on the job so the game can be played. Others think they're awesome at DMing, and their group is too nice to point out the contrary. Either way, if you find yourself gaming under a bad DM, letting them continue to get away with it isn't helping anyone, and might actually encourage that bad DM to continue DMing badly.

The old alignment rules were NOT bad rules. I made them work smoothly and seamlessly since the mid '80s, as did hundreds and thousands of other DMs. I never used them as ways to screw over players. I never used them as a bludgeon. They were simply another rule amid a stack of other rules. When people without the intellect to apply sound reasoning get a hold of rules that are open to interpretation, bad things will happen. Alignment is the all-time best example of this. I used to think that an IQ test should be required to take on the title of DM, but I suppose removing any and all rules that the lowest common denominator can screw their players with is another way to go about it.
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I disagree, Hocus.

I've had DMs who I'd call both good and bad, and I've had DMs I'd call fantastic and others I'd consider downright villainous and detrimental to the hobby as a whole to let them continue running games for other people.

Among the lot of them, the handling of Alignments was varied.  Some ignored it, some used it, some abused it, some subverted it, others dropped only hints that it had any impact at all.  The thing is, the way they handled it wasn't always related to what kind of GM they were overall.  I've had GMs I thought were otherwise fantastic who got way too hung up on Alignment-based rules.  I've had GMs who were an absolute pain to deal with at the table who all but ignored Alignment, or used it sparingly in ways that made sense.

You note the problem yourself:  "Alignment is too tied to personal bias to be effective, and it used to require too much DM-fiat to be of any value." "Good DMs will make it flow just like any other rule. Bad DMs can make your life miserable with them."

Just because a "Good DM" can make it work does not make it an acceptable rule.   A good DM can make FATAL run well, which does not speak to FATAL's depth of play.  The fact that so many players choose "Neutral" (now Unaligned) alignments is the first symptom that something's wrong with the rule.  They choose the option given to them where the rule has the least possible say in how they get to continue.


Conversely, I don't think anyone who chooses to use Alignments will do a bad job of it,  or that it's the hallmark of a bad DM, but I do think it is (as you noted) to unclear and tied to the bias of multiple different individuals who all need to be operating off of the same definitions for it to work as stated, and requires far to much juggling and hand waving from ALL involved to be called a "good rule."  

Good rules are clear, concise, easy to use, fair, accessible, and work well both initially and even with some misinterpretation or even alternate interpretations.

Alignment rules have never been any of these things. 
Jackonomicon™ It's not always safe for work, but it's great for play. It's my blog, yo.

Alignment threads are a can of worms, and I can think of 3 people who I am expecting to jump into this thread with a string of anti-alignemnt rhetoric any minute now, but here it goes:




You called?

Yes, alignment is horsecrap, both as intended and as implemented.  In 3e, it was absolutely ridiculous the way it insinuated its way into every aspect of the game, from classes to feats to spells.  Having something so utterly subjective with mechanical repercussions was ridiculous.  The sheer number of alignment (and especially Paladin) argument threads is a testament to that.

My favorite Paladin story:  Our group just blew into town, and we were introducing ourselves before the town guard.  I rattled off my 'holy knight of Heir-can'tspellitanymore' title, and the guard looks visibly nervous and excuses himself.  I give him the Pali-dar scan (more on that later), and he registers as evil.  Once I get a quick second, I lean over to the party rogue and ask him to shadow the guy, he's kind of suspicious.

DM: "You're not going to kill him?"
Me: "Of course not.  I don't know what he's done, so I don't know what the appropriate punishment would be.  I have no evidence that he's earned an execution, so I'm not going to attack him."

And my powers get yanked.  It was apparently evil for me to want to have evidence of wrongdoing and want to determine a fair and just punishment.

And then there's Detects, also known as the Plot Shredder.  "This guy's acting a little funny, can I make a Sense Motive/Insight check?" "Don't bother, let me ... oh, yeah, he's evil."  Having concrete representation of abstract metaphysical concepts was ridiculous.  And how do you find the one cultist of Vecna infiltrating the church of Ioun?  Find the guy who can't cast Protection from Evil because it's against his alignment.

4e made a great step forward by removing alignment's mechanical consideration (though it's taken a step back with the Cavalier/Blackguard crud).  When 5e rolls around eventually, I hope they take the final step and jettison it completely in favor of simply writing down aspects of your character's personality and playing that.




Response to Salla:  
Fortunately, you can just ignore it.  Also, your DM was an idiot; just because someone is "lawful good" doesn't necessarily mean they're a crazy, reactionary zealot.  Cassavir isn't like that in NWN2.   

Response to the issue: 
Well, in 4e at least, I see alignment as being just a rudimentary umbrella that other more specific personality traits tend to fall under.  It's actually more realistic than it's often credited for being.  

A "good" character is just someone who for the most part follows the golden rule, which is mostly independent of culture.  They generally are not terribly concerned with mores and folkways.  In real life, this would describe your average free-thinking, emotionally mature person.

A "lawful good" character is somone who is similar but has the added dimension of hyperfocusing on mores and folkways within a given society.  Being lawful good doesn't mean you are "extra good" it just means that you are a well-intentioned person who follows strict ideolgies and interpretations about what being good entails.  In real life, this would describe most mainstream religious people and organizations.  

An unaligned character is likely someone who follows no set pattern or is self-centered in a mostly benign way.  It can also be someone who is lawful but not necessarily benevolent or just about anything else that doesn't fit into the other alignments.  In real life, this would describe most people who are simply emotionally immature, whatever allegiences or ideoligies they may or many not subscribe to. 

"Evil" basically describes malignant selfishness, someone who is only concerned with what benefits himself or herself to a pathological degree, which can be ascribed to a quite a large number of real-life people.  People like this are rarely concerned with lawfulness or observance of tradition and culture.  In real life, this would describe people with substantial personality disorders such as narcissism that tend to be physically or emotionally abusive to others.   

"Chaotic evil" is like above, but adds the dimension of someone who is consciously sadistic and reckless in their behavior.  I think of someone who is chaotic evil as being totally sociopathic - they derive pleasure from tearing others down and actively work to see it happen. I.e. actively evil rather than just passively evil.  In real life, this would describe very warped people that usually end up in institutions

Keep in mind that these are basic personality traits that do not necessarily define a character's allegiences, sources, etc.  I think where some people misstep is in incorrectly interpreting the words "good" and "evil" as always indicating an allegience to some sort of entity that represents their viewpoints, which is incorrect.

Moreover, while RAW could be clearer about a few things, I think it's pretty intuitively obvious how alignments should and should not be used, so examples like cited above really just demonstrate an incompetent DM and the blame can't really be put on the system itself.   


A "good" character is just someone who for the most part follows the golden rule, which is mostly independent of culture.  They generally are not terribly concerned with mores and folkways.  In real life, this would describe your average free-thinking, emotionally mature person.




As much as we like to pretend that the whole 'do unto others' thing is a universal rule, it is not and never has been. In our past it was more of "be nice to those above you in social hierarchy but feel free to treat those beneath you like dirt." OR depending on culture "sacrifice the people who are diffirent so as to appease the gods" or a various other things. This whole idea of being nice to everybody is a fairly recent addition to human culture.
Characters currently: Abscense makes the heart grow fonder but the characters disappear.


A "good" character is just someone who for the most part follows the golden rule, which is mostly independent of culture.  They generally are not terribly concerned with mores and folkways.  In real life, this would describe your average free-thinking, emotionally mature person.




As much as we like to pretend that the whole 'do unto others' thing is a universal rule, it is not and never has been. In our past it was more of "be nice to those above you in social hierarchy but feel free to treat those beneath you like dirt." OR depending on culture "sacrifice the people who are diffirent so as to appease the gods" or a various other things. This whole idea of being nice to everybody is a fairly recent addition to human culture.



1. That doesn't make it right.
2. That's our world history, which is irrelevant to game world history.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.


A "good" character is just someone who for the most part follows the golden rule, which is mostly independent of culture.  They generally are not terribly concerned with mores and folkways.  In real life, this would describe your average free-thinking, emotionally mature person.




As much as we like to pretend that the whole 'do unto others' thing is a universal rule, it is not and never has been. In our past it was more of "be nice to those above you in social hierarchy but feel free to treat those beneath you like dirt." OR depending on culture "sacrifice the people who are diffirent so as to appease the gods" or a various other things. This whole idea of being nice to everybody is a fairly recent addition to human culture.



That is... actually not true. Almost every single religion in the world was originally born out of the golden rule and then became corrupted in the hands of people with too much power.  However, the golden rule is the main reason that progress happens in society.  Do you think that all Aztecs favored ritual sacrifice?  Do you think if their culture had continued to grow and flourish that it would still be happening?  It's very unlikely, just like how we dealt with slavery.  

It's true that much of morality is subjective and defined within a societal context, but things like altruism vs. selfishness, or free-thought vs. blind allegience, are innate and have always existed within a certain percentage of any population... and while nuances that are sketchy and hard to categorize certainly exist, D&D's alignment system is general enough that it isn't directly contradictive toward the real-world understanding of morality.

Now, having said that, I'm actually pretty ambivalent toward the usage of alignments in D&D, I don't think it would harm the game at all to just remove them, I'm just playing devil's advocate and suggesting a different way of viewing it  so that it makes a modicum of sense.   


That is... actually not true. Almost every single religion in the world was originally born out of the golden rule and then became corrupted in the hands of people with too much power.  However, the golden rule is the main reason that progress happens in society.  Do you think that all Aztecs favored ritual sacrifice?  Do you think if their culture had continued to grow and flourish that it would still be happening?  It's very unlikely, just like how we dealt with slavery.  

It's true that much of morality is subjective and defined within a societal context, but things like altruism vs. selfishness, or free-thought vs. blind allegience, are innate and have always existed within a certain percentage of any population... and while nuances that are sketchy and hard to categorize certainly exist, D&D's alignment system is general enough that it isn't directly contradictive toward the real-world understanding of morality.

Now, having said that, I'm actually pretty ambivalent toward the usage of alignments in D&D, I don't think it would harm the game at all to just remove them, I'm just playing devil's advocate and suggesting a different way of viewing it  so that it makes a modicum of sense.   




The idea of a "Universal Truth" really only showed up in the Classical Greek era(about 500 bce), and has been debated by philosophers since then. However, preciously few ancient religions had such an idea at their heart. The Eqyptian concept of world order as defined by their gods Ma'at for example still let them enslave neighboring peoples. (As did Greek, Persian, and Roman religions later.) Historically, groups have won the rights through violence and bloodshed. (with exceptions.) 


As noted none of this relates to magical fantasy worlds, but then our concept of alignments don't really relate to them either. Remember very few people consider themselves 'evil' 
Characters currently: Abscense makes the heart grow fonder but the characters disappear.


That is... actually not true. Almost every single religion in the world was originally born out of the golden rule and then became corrupted in the hands of people with too much power.  However, the golden rule is the main reason that progress happens in society.  Do you think that all Aztecs favored ritual sacrifice?  Do you think if their culture had continued to grow and flourish that it would still be happening?  It's very unlikely, just like how we dealt with slavery.  

It's true that much of morality is subjective and defined within a societal context, but things like altruism vs. selfishness, or free-thought vs. blind allegience, are innate and have always existed within a certain percentage of any population... and while nuances that are sketchy and hard to categorize certainly exist, D&D's alignment system is general enough that it isn't directly contradictive toward the real-world understanding of morality.

Now, having said that, I'm actually pretty ambivalent toward the usage of alignments in D&D, I don't think it would harm the game at all to just remove them, I'm just playing devil's advocate and suggesting a different way of viewing it  so that it makes a modicum of sense.   




The idea of a "Universal Truth" really only showed up in the Classical Greek era(about 500 bce), and has been debated by philosophers since then. However, preciously few ancient religions had such an idea at their heart. The Eqyptian concept of world order as defined by their gods Ma'at for example still let them enslave neighboring peoples. (As did Greek, Persian, and Roman religions later.) Historically, groups have won the rights through violence and bloodshed. (with exceptions.) 


As noted none of this relates to magical fantasy worlds, but then our concept of alignments don't really relate to them either. Remember very few people consider themselves 'evil' 



Yes, but that's why the word "evil" in D&D's context should not be interpreted so literally.  

The one thing I will raise as a counter-point is that you are referring to the dawn of civilization, we do not understand much of the inner workings of these people, who by our standards operated in very savage ways.  However, keep in mind that in earliest societies the elite controlled literally everything, most people were uneducated to the point of illiteracy and just lived, so what we have left to study is very heavily filtered.  However, as people become more educated society tends to become more free and egalitarian.

More revelantly, D&D (at large) does not reflect the ancient, savage beginnings of civilization possessing dubious mores and a ridiculously skewed power structure; in fact it depicts a largely modern, egalitarian and free-thinking society that has a fantasy-medieval style because it developed through gods and magic rather than science and technology.
I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.



There are many 4e games were alignments are meaningless.    In those games people don't ask, "what would my character do?" They tend to just do whatever they feel is most beneficial at the moment for their characters.  I view alignments as a simple system to help people roleplay.  

I like to think of D&D as a world with good and evil and where alignments are absolute truths that manifest via supernatural powers.   That means that we typically omit concepts like moral relativism, theology, and philosophy from our game.    

For that reason, we still use the nine alignment system and even a tendency in our 4e games.  We have alignments like NG(L)  or LN(G) and that helps identify those odd situations when the character might be willing to break out of his alignment box and do something unusual.      I like to hand out role playing xp.  Part of that xp award is for how well the player is rping their alignment.       So even if there is an in game consequence characters are still compensated and encourage to play their alignments.  

btw, in previous editions you would actually lose a level if you changed alignments.    




I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.



There are many 4e games were alignments are meaningless.    In those games people don't ask, "what would my character do?" They tend to just do whatever they feel is most beneficial at the moment for their characters. 


Eh your mind reading is horrible...  but also perhaps insulting I suspect its intended as such. 
I think many people who think allignment is important fail to think about the nature of there character in more than simplistic black and white terms and may never explore complexity of character and characterization where as those who dont have a hammer over there head (mechanical allignment impact) think about there characters culture upbringing and background and motivations  shrug.

  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

It's like this.  If you look on your character sheet, read that your alignment is "Lawful Good", and make a choice based on that--then you're doing it incompletely and backward.

You conceive of what your PC (or monster, or NPC, or whatever) is like, and what kind of decisions he or she would be willing to make (or refrain from making), even under stressful conditions.  You form an idea of what kind of things the PC has done in the past, and how he or she feels about that.  Then you write down an alignment that reflects that personality, assuming you can simplify it down that far and feel like doing so.

But since alignment doesn't dictate actions (creatures of the same alignment could act differently in the same situation) and actions don't dictate alignment (creatures who take the same action in the same situation could be doing so for drastically different reasons)... the game is better off without it.
My take on Alignment since the late '70's as a DM was this:

"Don't give me an alignment; give me a personality."

I never have stripped a paladin or cleric of their powers, nor have I chastised an evil rogue for being too good.  In the case of paladins and other characters classes that had moral and ethical based strictures, I provided a write up of what the expected behaviors were for that particular religion, church, region, race, order, code; whatever the case was.

Now, I have razzed a few players for being schizo, insane, jerks-- the guys who simply do whatever based on their whims at the moment rather than based on what the character might do.  In these cases, I simply let the world handle it.  Burn a village?  Fine.  Don't whine if the surviving villagers hire mercenaries or enter a dark pact to hunt you down.  In the worst cases, it was usually a player simply acting like a jerk (using alignment as an excuse in some cases) and for those times I simply stepped in as DM and told him, "To knock it off."  No complex rules needed.

In 3e I never used axiomatic weapons and the like.

The only use out of alignments I got was as an aid for description:  "The aura of the place has a foreboding, creepy feel-- some what of a neutral evil alignment-- where sinister deeds happened long ago..."  That sort of thing to help the players get the gist.  Beyond that, I found life was much easier for player and DM alike if I mostly ignored alignment.

Oh, and I never understood Alignment language.  That was just plain weird...no... make that stupid.

Oh, and I never understood Alignment language.  That was just plain weird...no... make that stupid.



Oh dear Ceiling Cat yes.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.



There are many 4e games were alignments are meaningless.    In those games people don't ask, "what would my character do?" They tend to just do whatever they feel is most beneficial at the moment for their characters. 


Eh your mind reading is horrible...  but also perhaps insulting I suspect its intended as such. 
I think many people who think allignment is important fail to think about the nature of there character in more than simplistic black and white terms and may never explore complexity of character and characterization where as those who dont have a hammer over there head (mechanical allignment impact) think about there characters culture upbringing and background and motivations  shrug.




A personality system could replace alignments, but I think it would be very complex to deal with in game.     Alignments are more like a color scale than one that is only black and white.   In general, I find that most players who don't use alignments typically fall into a Neutral alignment without even realizing it.   Those who don't look at their characters in black in white terms (good and evil) are actually just playing a flavour of Neutral.

The great thing about alignments is that they do not deal with upbringing and background.   Those factors are typically the justification for the alignment you have chosen.      

  



Now, I have razzed a few players for being schizo, insane, jerks-- the guys who simply do whatever based on their whims at the moment rather than based on what the character might do. 




There is an alignment for that..  Chaotic Neutral or as we used to call it Chaotic Insane.   

Seriously: A character is too complex in emotions to simply characterize by alignment. If killing the BBEG is going to save more lives, I'm not going to hop into the river to save those orphans.


So I take it you're not lawful good?
CoC-Watcher of the House of Trolls
I think alignment dictating actions is exactly the issue. When confronted with a situation, a Good character needs to decide what the best (Goodest) thing to do is. If the BBEG is getting away across a 200 mile wide flatland, then the hero has time to rescue the orphan. If the BBEG has the orphan as a hostage with a knife to his throat, it might be that the PC has to aim his sword down to get a better opportunity. If the BBEG is getting away and his minions are running into the village to slaughter the women and children, and you are the only one there to defend them, then you let the BBEG get away temporarily and rescue the defenceless villagers.

The situation combined with Alignment dictates to some extent the PCs actions. An Evil or Unaligned might think nothing of letting the villagers die if it means they take out their enemy, the BBEG. But a Good PC has to do the Right Thing, at least most of the time.

In past editions I've played with people who played "Good" Knights, Paladins, Rangers and Clerics and would just kill people in the street for mishandling their horse or whatnot. Clearly they violated their alignment. But 4E has not mechanic for that, just DM fiat, right?

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

Seriously: A character is too complex in emotions to simply characterize by alignment. If killing the BBEG is going to save more lives, I'm not going to hop into the river to save those orphans.


So I take it you're not lawful good?



I think that is what is known as "Justifying". It really is not Good, it could be the using of logic to explain away what you wanted to do anyway.

The BBEG is only going to be an hour down the road, but the orphans will still be alive. What is more important, saving the life in "The Hand" or the lives "In the Bush"? You can't be sure the BBEG is going to kill anyone else before you catch up to him, but you can be sure the orphan is going to die.

I had to go over this time and again with the Jedi in my Star Wars d20 game. I'd hand them out a Dark Side Point for allowing the burning car of tourists to be cooked to death, as they decided instead to fight the Darkside Bad Guy to the Death. Usually they bought the trade off and accepted it, but sometimes they would argue for hours about how what they did was for the Greater Good.

Is Good about saving lives, or it is about doing what is Right? Or.... Is it about defeating Evil?

You may know ALL the rules, but I KNOW the Spirit of the Game.

Seriously: A character is too complex in emotions to simply characterize by alignment. If killing the BBEG is going to save more lives, I'm not going to hop into the river to save those orphans.


So I take it you're not lawful good?



I think that is what is known as "Justifying". It really is not Good, it could be the using of logic to explain away what you wanted to do anyway.

The BBEG is only going to be an hour down the road, but the orphans will still be alive. What is more important, saving the life in "The Hand" or the lives "In the Bush"? You can't be sure the BBEG is going to kill anyone else before you catch up to him, but you can be sure the orphan is going to die.

I had to go over this time and again with the Jedi in my Star Wars d20 game. I'd hand them out a Dark Side Point for allowing the burning car of tourists to be cooked to death, as they decided instead to fight the Darkside Bad Guy to the Death. Usually they bought the trade off and accepted it, but sometimes they would argue for hours about how what they did was for the Greater Good.

Is Good about saving lives, or it is about doing what is Right? Or.... Is it about defeating Evil?


According to Aristotle, it is not the action that makes something wrong or right, it is the motive. I think it is a reasonable enough. Justification is what you do when you do something that is wrong, or that you do when you are unsure of whether something was right or wrong.
Is there an evil outcome to this situation? Not unless if you throw a hand grenade or a fireball at the orphans.
I was wondering what kind of enforcement people do on alignments. Specifically relating to being Good.

Being Good can mean a lot more then simply fighting Evil. It can seriously handycap a PC if being Good means that the PC has to stop chasing the BBEG to dive into the river and save the orphans. Or if they are expected to donate a sizable chunk of their income to noble causes.

In former editions there were DM assigned penalies such as loss of powers and experience penalties. I was wondering what people do in 4E, other then to ignore the whole thing.

Personnally, I think everyone should be Un-aligned to simplify the game, but that is me. I know many people like alignments, even Lawful Good.



There are many 4e games were alignments are meaningless.    In those games people don't ask, "what would my character do?" They tend to just do whatever they feel is most beneficial at the moment for their characters. 


Eh your mind reading is horrible...  but also perhaps insulting I suspect its intended as such. 
I think many people who think allignment is important fail to think about the nature of there character in more than simplistic black and white terms and may never explore complexity of character and characterization where as those who dont have a hammer over there head (mechanical allignment impact) think about there characters culture upbringing and background and motivations  shrug.




A personality system could replace alignments, but I think it would be very complex to deal with in game.     Alignments are more like a color scale than one that is only black and white.  


Red and green are without value judgements... good and evil are not.

In general, I find that most players who don't use alignments typically fall into a Neutral alignment without even realizing it.  



There you go with your mind reading again... most games that dont use allignment asume a "heroic" personality from my experience and most players in them do exactly that act like heros...

Most people using alignment want to choose to be an a***le to other players so the allignment is an excuse... hey look how fun it is to insult?? 


  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I always found alignment as a useful tool for defining a character, but never used it as a weapon against players. I might ask a player if an action was consistant with his alignment and if the character showed the same tendancies after several sessions, migrate them to an alignment that more suited the way the wanted to play (without penalties). Certainly Salla's example, despite what Red Jack said (most of which I agree with), was the result of a poor DM. I agree the Paladin's actions were fine in the scenario described... Lawful Good isn't stupid. Even if a Paladin player were to attempt actions outside of his alignment, there would be warnings, including a final 'if you want to do that, you are placing your paladinhood at risk'.

Veteran of The Transfer... Add 700 to my post count... 

I always used Alignment as a starting point to define character. I haven't played a game with it having any mechanical benefits.

I have an Eberron Paladin who when he runs across someone who is being robbed, kills the robber and then charges the person being robbed a tithe of 10% of what he would have lost and gets furiously angry when someone disagrees with it. All the money goes to an orphanage he personally funds.

He feels bad the Prostitutes have to do what they do, not that he looks down on them for being sex workers but that sex workers had a tendency of being abused. When he gave them money they'd work anyways because they always needed more money, rather then give them money, he'd pay them for time spent with him and partake of there wares because they felt they were not being charity cases, he's always kind to them and figures there safer with him then others. 

So I have a Paladin that some of my allies think is a Robber and Whoremonger and others think is a protector of Orphans and Prostitutes. Evil for some and Good for others (they all use me as a shield when they need me though). That could be a difficulty for a DM that cared about Alignment am I bad for Tithing those I save or good for using said money to feed orphans, am I bad for using whores, by some religious traditions yes or am I good for being good to whores by some "Pretty Woman" traditions that's a yes.

Good and Bad I think are too subjective to apply a modifier to a characters abilities. I don't think they should get rid of the alignment system, but I think they should emphasize that it is for roleplaying purposes and don't use it to be a d***
I've never really had to enforce alignment. On rare occasion I have had to remind players that certain actions will be considered 'evil' or 'chaotic' in the D&D cosmos (usually citing the Book of Exalted Deeds), but never anything beyond that.

I imagine a good DM would make sure to tell players what general behavior and specific actions are expected of them based on their chosen alignment before a campaign starts. Not to control how PCs act, but to ensure they fit into how the rest of the world operates.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.

Alignment was ripe in 2nd edition back in the day and while it didnt really dictate anything substantial we always used it as a tool to measure each persons role playing ability, Lawful Good no one chose of course except for the paladin, Neutral Good was common, as was Chaotic Neutral.  Of course the Druid was Neutral.


But like most things it was a yardstick and a tool to help players define their characters personality, but not much more.


A couple of times there was an Evil PC (who hid it from the party) which made things colorful.


 

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