The Importance of Alignments (whether you realize it or not)

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This post is regularly updated with quotes and ongoing ideas about the future of Alignment in D&D.

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Quotes

From page 8 of this thread.

142855291 wrote:
It seems that a lot of the people who dislike the idea of alignment really don't understand it at all. They see it as a straightjacket controlling your character, when it isn't anything of the sort.

Alignment is a REFLECTION of your character's actions.

From page 7 of this thread.

56899298 wrote:
Alignment has consequences because of what you do. But it does not stop you from doing it. If you give no meaning, no consequences, no purpose to alignment then you get 4th ed. and soon after you get people who don't understand the purpose of alignment. And, four years later, you get this thread full of people who see it as a meaningless piece of bookkeeping that is stoping them from bashing goblins better.

From page 26 of this thread.

142977279 wrote:
I think the DM should be the arbiter of alignment. Players should be free to act however they wish and the DM can keep alignment concerns (if alignment is used in their game) to themselves. The player can choose the starting alignment, but if a player chooses lawful good and then plays a horribly evil character, it is just silly to allow the character to remain lawful good just because "the player gets to pick." The alignment of the character should be determined by how the player is playing the character. That's where the player's choice comes in. The DM can adjudicate alignment based on the player's actions.

From page 19 of this thread.

56729308 wrote:
Kids test our limits constantly by seeing what they can get away with. If we abstain as parents and let our child get away with anything they want, they stop respecting us. When we care about them enough to define 'clear' rules and enforce them consistently, they respect us more (either in the short or long term). That's what the nine alignments with mechanical consequences do in D&D, but it's only a starting point for more meaningful alignment DMing. Still, it's an important gateway to role-playing that sets precedents for alignment accountability down the road your character walks.

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Original Post

Nine alignments.

Like them or hate them, alignments are the first gateway to role-playing a D&D character. It doesn't mean you can't or won't role-play without an alignment, but it does plant a moral flag on your D&D character sheet, regardless of how seriously you take that choice.

Screw Unaligned. You might be uninvolved in the world, but your adventurer is not. That's why they took up adventuring. Make a choice. If not for you, then for your character.

And you know what else? Even if the alignments are not perfectly described for everybody's liking, it doesn't matter. People are going to have their interpretations of them, and that's just fine.

But make no mistake, your alignment will be noticed or actively sought out by other players. That includes those who find choosing from nine alignments a daunting ordeal, either because it's too big a decision for them or not big enough to encompass the entirety of their pretentious complicated selves.

Moreover, it's not always about you! Alignments set a precedent for how other people's characters and the NPCs role-play around you, especially if you made a bold end-of-the-spectrum choice. The mere presence of such a character (say, Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil) can give other characters and NPCs a reason to fall in line or a line in the sand over which to step.

In short, your alignment is the first challenge you issue to the campaign world at large.

"This is who I am. Deal with it."

Nine alignments.

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Collected Ideas About Alignment from This Thread
Suggested Changes to D&D Rules of Past Editions.



  • Alignment to represent a meaningful choice in the game with mechanical consequences.

  • Alignment approached from the perspective of "I act this way thus I am X alignment" rather than "My alignment is X thus I am expected to act this way".


    • Players still choose an alignment at character creation to reflect their imagined backstory or initial preferences.


  • DMs can force alignment change if the actions of a character are judged to be contrary to their alignment choice.


    • Forced alignment changes should be based on the overall 'purpose' of a character, rather than their individual actions in pursuit of that purpose (unless those individual actions are, more often than not, contrary to their chosen alignment).


  • As per 4th edition, a player of any class should be able to choose any alignment, removing the possiblity that a forced alignment change would create a 'fallen' character. Furthermore, this promotes player freedom to create any number of iconoclastic narratives.


    • For example, a disciplined barbarian who follows a strict code within an unstructured tribe, a rebellious monk who leads peasant revolts against a long ruling daimyo.


  • God-worshipping divine characters must choose an alignment either identical to or within one-step of their chosen god and lose mechanical features of their class for role-playing against their alignment.


    • The same would be true of characters who gain their abilties by making 'pacts' with more powerful creatures, regardless of whether they are divine abilties or not.


  • Detect alignment spells should not exist in the game, or exist at higher levels, as they tend to promote metagaming and socialogical inconsistencies, especially in worlds were magic is readily available.


    • Some iteration of a the Insight or Sense Motive skill should still give characters a 'gut feeling' about people's intentions.


  • Protection from Alignment spells and Bane Alignment magical effects returned to the game, as they provide currently missing consquences for alignment choice.

I saw the title of this thread, raised an eyebrow, and thought to myself, "This oughta be rich." Now that I've read the post, I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't more entertaining.

Long story short: I disagree with basically everything you said. Too many things to list. 
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Alignments should be an option in the new edition.

From a philosophical standpoint, they shouldn't be nothing more than guidelines. 
Totally agree with the OP.  The nine aligment system is absolutely brilliant, and I don't know a single living soul on this earth who would want to play D&D without it.

The hopelessly dumbed-down alignment system in 4E was not only an egregious insult, but it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  How can you eliminate Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, or Chaotic Good when there are extremely obvious examples of these kinds of alignments?

Lawful Neutral - maintaining order is all that matters, regardless of the moral implications in any one particular case
Lawful Evil - strict authoritarian order goes hand-in-hand with harming others (e.g. Hitler)
Chaotic Good - law and order typically only gets in the way of treating people fairly (e.g. Robin Hood)
Chaotic Neutral - law and order are to be avoided/thwarted unconditionally, regardless of moral implications

And 'Unaligned' sounds a lot like true Neutral, the most common example being animals that have no tendencies toward either Order or Chaos, Good or Evil.  Sentient beings typically tend one way or another on at least one of those two spectra, but it is certainly possible for a sentient to remain completely neutral on both spectra (like a Druid who is very closely tied with nature).

Again, if it ain't broke, then "fixing" it for no good reason is simply crazy, and only ends up costing WotC a hell of a lot of $$$$$$$$$.
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.


The hopelessly dumbed-down alignment system in 4E was not only an egregious insult, but it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  How can you eliminate Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, or Chaotic Good when there are extremely obvious examples of these kinds of alignments?

Again, if it ain't broke, then "fixing" it for no good reason is simply crazy, and only ends up costing WotC a hell of a lot of $$$$$$$$$.



That's true. That's why I never picked up 4E. I tend to play characters that are LN, LE or CG... so, apparently that version of the game wasn't for me. However, it should still be an option.


The hopelessly dumbed-down alignment system in 4E was not only an egregious insult, but it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.  How can you eliminate Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, or Chaotic Good when there are extremely obvious examples of these kinds of alignments?

Again, if it ain't broke, then "fixing" it for no good reason is simply crazy, and only ends up costing WotC a hell of a lot of $$$$$$$$$.



That's true. That's why I never picked up 4E. I tend to play characters that are LN, LE or CG... so, apparently that version of the game wasn't for me. However, it should still be an option.



Psst.

Alignment doesn't matter.  It has no mechanical effects.  You can write down LN, LE, CG, OK, MO, Pasta Salad whatever you want.  I don't even use it at all in my games.  You play a character, not an alignment.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The 9 Alignment system was, in my opinion, a nice starting point for roleplaying, but it got in the way more often than it helped.  I like it as a concept, but I hate that it played such a huge role in the game from a crunch standpoint: why can't a barbarian, son of the clan chieftain, who strictly adheres to the belief system and traditions of his people, be lawful?; why can't a monk, who disagrees with the way a ruler treats his people, and organizes a peasant revolt (training them to use their bodies as weapons, since they aren't allowed to carry steel) be chaotic, or even neutral good? 

The fact that they expect paladins to be lawful good in all of their actions, all of the time, is comedic.  I get where they're going with it (they're supposed to be held to higher standards, after all, and stand apart as shining examples), but it's ridiculous.  I played a paladin once who fell in love with a local barmaid, and saw a man attack and attempt to sexually assault her in an alleyway.  My character flew into a rage, and ended up beating the thug into a bloody pulp.  He was a paladin of Ilmater, and the Forgotten Realms book actually describes Ilmater as a diety who is slow to anger, but whose wrath is truly terrifying to behold when it's finally unleashed.  I felt like it was totally in-character ... my DM did not.  And it was a huge point of contention.

Anyway, I'm glad that alignment in 4E is an abstraction.  That's the way it should be, in my opinion. 

Psst.

Alignment doesn't matter.  It has no mechanical effects.  You can write down LN, LE, CG, OK, MO, Pasta Salad whatever you want.  I don't even use it at all in my games.  You play a character, not an alignment.



So what you are saying you don't actually play D&D, but something D&Dish. We are talking about D&D here right?
     

Someone needs a nap.
One of the things about 4e that alienated me and caused me not to purchase or adopt it is that instead of simply focusing on rules changes and updates, it tossed aside and altered some of ingrained mythos of D&D. Changing the alignments, the debacle with codifying demons and devils by appearance, the absence of the Great Wheel, redefining eladrin, etc. All of that was unnecessary, and served only to alienate some of us who've played for decades.

Bring back the old mythos. Bring back what made D&D distinct in feel from other fantasy games.

Azzy’s Trivial Trivia, A Blog

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

—MechaPilot

At best, alignments are unimportant, because a character should be defined by his character, not his alignment. Write the letters on your sheet if it helps you sleep at night; I am comfortable leaving that particular field blank. It has NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on my character.

At worst, alignments are a catalyst for arguments about each player's interpretation about what they mean. This becomes especially bad when you tie in-game mechanics to alignment, because differences of opinion can lead to hot arguments that drag the game down into moral debates.
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If you want to refer to the 9 alignment system in your 4E game, go right ahead.  I do.  If you don't like that they classify demons and devils by appearance, don't do that in your game.  There's no real difference between them in mine.  If you want the cosmology of the planes to be based upon the Great Wheel, go for it.  What's stopping you?  If you want your Eladrin to be celestial beings from the plane of Arborea, rather than "high elves" with connections to the Feywild, that's certainly something you can do.

All of those things are within your reach.  There's nothing you don't like that can't be changed. 

Don't blame the developers for your inability to think outside the box.   

Psst.

Alignment doesn't matter.  It has no mechanical effects.  You can write down LN, LE, CG, OK, MO, Pasta Salad whatever you want.  I don't even use it at all in my games.  You play a character, not an alignment.



So what you are saying you don't actually play D&D, but something D&Dish. We are talking about D&D here right?


I run my D&D game with no alignment-related house rules, and I've straight up told my players that I will never ask for their character's alignment. One of them actually has "chaotic bored" written on his character sheet.

Alignment simply isn't vital to my campaign world, so I'm glad I don't have to heavily house-rule some of the core game systems to make it so mechanically, like I had to do in 3.5E.

Alignment would make a fine subsystem in the modular design idea. Tuck it away in a sourcebook with vancian spellcasting so that I can just avoid that book altogether. 
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Alignment is literally the worst thing that has ever been in D&D. Nothing else has inhibited roleplaying so much. I can't think of a single positive thing about it.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Some posters feel that an alignment system is important to them, and other don't care for it.  But that is the case for many aspects of D&D, from encumberance to spell components to a zillion other things.  

The 4E alignment system is not very good.  From what I've seen, people who actually care about alignment systems liked the 9 alignment system and really didn't like the 4E approach.  .

The 9 alignment system is iconic D&D stuff, and it would be really nice to see the next generation of D&D return to this fundamental aspect of the game. 
From what I've seen, people who actually care about alignment systems liked the 9 alignment system and really didn't like the 4E approach.


But, at least according to the polls, a lot MORE people like alignment just fine the way it is in 4E.

This poll indicates that more than 3 times as many people want alignments to be non-mechanical, and that's not even counting my vote, which wasn't included in the tally, for some reason.
Ever feel like people on these forums can't possibly understand how wrong they are? Feeling trolled? Don't get mad. Report Post.
The 4E alignment system is not very good.  From what I've seen, people who actually care about alignment systems liked the 9 alignment system and really didn't like the 4E approach.

People didn't like the 4E alignment system because people are afraid of change. The 4E alignment system was superior because it had zero effects on the game's mechanics and could effectively be ignored entirely, so it didn't inhibit roleplaying as much. If anything the only problem 4E alignment system was that it still existed when it had no reason to at all.

The 9 alignment system is iconic D&D stuff...

Lots of iconic things are bad.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Some posters feel that an alignment system is important to them, and other don't care for it.  But that is the case for many aspects of D&D, from encumberance to spell components to a zillion other things.  

The 4E alignment system is not very good.  From what I've seen, people who actually care about alignment systems liked the 9 alignment system and really didn't like the 4E approach.  .

The 9 alignment system is iconic D&D stuff, and it would be really nice to see the next generation of D&D return to this fundamental aspect of the game. 



If something is iconic because it's terrible, it needs to be removed.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The 9 Alignment system was, in my opinion, a nice starting point for roleplaying, but it got in the way more often than it helped.  I like it as a concept, but I hate that it played such a huge role in the game from a crunch standpoint: why can't a barbarian, son of the clan chieftain, who strictly adheres to the belief system and traditions of his people, be lawful?; why can't a monk, who disagrees with the way a ruler treats his people, and organizes a peasant revolt (training them to use their bodies as weapons, since they aren't allowed to carry steel) be chaotic, or even neutral good?

Excellent points. I completely agree with your interpretations of those classes. Your examples are viable and should all be permitted. Indeed, any class should be able to choose any alignment. But I still think keeping some in-game alignment mechanics is important precisely so that they are not entirely a role-playing guide. I'm talking about spells that recognize alignment types and effects that key off of your alignment. There should be consequences for making an alignment choice, which I'm sure will nettle 4th edition players who are not used to having them any more.

It's funny, but in a broader sense, I think you can link making an alignment choice to how much people like or dislike being held accountable for their actions.

A certain number of people in this world (I won't conjecture on the percentage) really don't like being brought to task for the choices they make. In D&D of old, alignment could do that with DM judgement or alignment mechanics (spells and bane weapons).

These players mistakenly believe that the alignment system can't service them. True Neutral is right there. Call it Unaligned if you like, they largely serve the same purpose. If that is too galling, then consider Chaotic Neutral and spontaneously do whatever they heck you want.

Here's an idea. Perhaps alignment choices should come with an incentive system.

You don't want an alignment? No problem. You don't have one. Call it whatever you like. But if you choose one of the nine alignments, then perhaps you can receive some small mechanical benefit. It means you are now recognizable with detection spells, protection spells, and subject to bane weapons, but you made a choice. You can change your mind later, but as of right now, good for you. Making any choice is better than making no choice.

What sort of mechanical benefit? That could be anything, but nothing huge. Perhaps you gain class access to an alignment-themed skill or a bonus to an alignment-themed skill. That's not necessarily the idea to run with, but I think the scale is right.

Psst.

Alignment doesn't matter.  It has no mechanical effects.  You can write down LN, LE, CG, OK, MO, Pasta Salad whatever you want.  I don't even use it at all in my games.


Yeah, and whether my character has red or black hair doesn't matter mechanically either... or whether he speaks with an accent, or has a dog named 'Lumpy'.

I hate to break it you, but D&D is a ROLE-playing game. It's truly sad that I have to keep repeating that on this forum, of all places. Just because something doesn't have a direct mathematical effect doesn't mean it can't be part of the game. In fact, the nuances of character personalities are an integral part of the role-playing experience for every adult D&D player I have ever known. Playing a character is 90% of the fun, while the competitive, power-gaming, min/maxing, and dice-rolling stuff is only 10% (more or less).

I mean come on, are you serious?  It has "no mechanical effects"... sheesh. I honestly can't believe you even typed that.

Furthermore, as I've already pointed out in another post, drifting from one's alignment can indeed have in-game effects, just as it has for decades in D&D (e.g. angering your spell-granting deity by moving away from his/her preferred alignment(s)). Just because a small minority of players don't like alignment for whatever reason, does that mean that it should be taken away from all the rest of us that have always enjoyed having the elegant nine-alignment system? It's that very scorched-earth attitude that caused 4E to be such a miserable failure in the first place.

The 9 Alignment system was, in my opinion, a nice starting point for roleplaying, but it got in the way more often than it helped.  I like it as a concept, but I hate that it played such a huge role in the game from a crunch standpoint: why can't a barbarian, son of the clan chieftain, who strictly adheres to the belief system and traditions of his people, be lawful?; why can't a monk, who disagrees with the way a ruler treats his people, and organizes a peasant revolt (training them to use their bodies as weapons, since they aren't allowed to carry steel) be chaotic, or even neutral good? 

The fact that they expect paladins to be lawful good in all of their actions, all of the time, is comedic. I get where they're going with it (they're supposed to be held to higher standards, after all, and stand apart as shining examples), but it's ridiculous.  I played a paladin once who fell in love with a local barmaid, and saw a man attack and attempt to sexually assault her in an alleyway.  My character flew into a rage, and ended up beating the thug into a bloody pulp.  He was a paladin of Ilmater, and the Forgotten Realms book actually describes Ilmater as a diety who is slow to anger, but whose wrath is truly terrifying to behold when it's finally unleashed.  I felt like it was totally in-character ... my DM did not.  And it was a huge point of contention.


Obviously your DM isn't too bright. Alignment is for the most part a long-term thing, and it can't be completely changed overnight by a rare act of passion.  After all, the characters are mortal beings, and mortals make mistakes. Sure, if your Paladin started murdering people in cold blood, then he would be in for some damning repercussions, but something such as you describe would warrant only a stern caution and some repentance, not a punishment that would irrevocably end his character path as a Paladin of Ilmater. It's just common sense.

And I agree with you about things like the Barbarian being able to be whatever alignment suits his personality. As a DM, I see no problem with those kinds of things whatsoever.

Your post also highlights another issue, and that is when players mistakenly blame a tried-and-true core part of the game simply because they had one or two bad DMs. Blame the DM, don't blame the game. Why? Because the DM's very job as defined in the books is to fit the game to the needs of his gaming table. If you don't think that your DM is doing a good job in that regard, then get a different DM.  It's as simple as that.
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
Yeah just tossing in my 2 cents - the 9 alignment system was part of why I didn't play D&D until 4E. Because "chaotic good"? Seriously that's "Robin Hood"? Robin Hood wasn't chaotic. He had a very specific plan. In order to be chaotic, he'd have to rob from the serfs just as much as the nobles. But then he wouldn't be "good" right? Also, in order for "the law" to actually matter, there has to be a rule of law, which there wasn't in Robin Hood's day. L'etat c'est moi, so to speak, so he wasn't fighting "the law" he was fighting a ruler, which could be totally evil. Which means he's not "unlawful" or "chaotic" he's just good. You're acting as though a paladin wouldn't fight said nobles, oppressing the serfs, because that wouldn't be "lawful." Of COURSE a paladin would fight them! Does your Robin Hood play the same as a paladin? No of course not. But that's a play style difference, not a "morality."

And that other example? Hitler was lawful evil?

Hitler was lawful.

Hitler. Lawful. I don't know on what world murdering 11 million people fits within the realm of "the law" but I certainly don't want to ever live on that world. 

But see, this is why I refused to play a system with these 9 alignments. They're too granular to be an abstraction, and too abstract to be meaningful.  Good, evil, insane/evil - the rule of three in action. If you're not interested in any of them, then you're unaligned. [Edit: Lawful Good, Good, Evil, Chaotic Evil, Unaligned - should've known it was 5 total, as that's the rule of prime.] All other differences are just play style.

I wouldn't care if there were some minor mechanics that could key off alignments - to be honest I thought I already saw some class options in the Book of Vile Darkness that did so - but the idea that we need nine alignments in some kind of grid is, to me, ridiculous. I mean, even World of Darkness, with its robust morality systems, only has 1 axis.

And come on man, consequences? Players deal with consequences all the time if their GM is halfway decent.


And come on man, consequences? Players deal with consequences all the time if their GM is halfway decent.



Exactly.  Roleplaying consequences not:
"You suddenly lose access to your spells, feats, and class abilities." or
"You lose a level and a chunk of XP." or
"The gods send a monster after you; if you lose, you're unrecoverably dead, if you win, you get taken off to serve your god and are out of the game."
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Exactly.  Roleplaying consequences not:
"You suddenly lose access to your spells, feats, and class abilities." or
"You lose a level and a chunk of XP." or
"The gods send a monster after you; if you lose, you're unrecoverably dead, if you win, you get taken off to serve your god and are out of the game."

I don't think anybody is talking about returning to those days or giving that kind of power back to DMs. This is especially the case if any class can be any alignment.

But if you are a good-aligned character who worships a good-aligned god and you decide that ransacking a village of peaceful peasants for food is an acceptable idea because your need outweighs their needs, there should be consquences defined by your connection to that god. Moreover, these should come with strong infraction examples versus mechanical penalties.Wikipedia: i definition: the one who is speaking or writing. Wikipedia: collective definition: denoting a number of persons or things considered as one group or whole.
Yeah just tossing in my 2 cents - the 9 alignment system was part of why I didn't play D&D until 4E. Because "chaotic good"? Seriously that's "Robin Hood"? Robin Hood wasn't chaotic. He had a very specific plan. In order to be chaotic, he'd have to rob from the serfs just as much as the nobles. But then he wouldn't be "good" right?


You're taking the Robin Hood example way too literally. Chaotic Good just means that a person cares nothing for the actual law, and instead only cares about doing what is morally right (and I know people who are exactly like that in real life, whereas I lean a little more neutral myself). Whether the real Robin of the Hood did in fact hurt the serfs or live by an orderly code is not really important. I obviously just meant it as a simple example that most people could relate to, as in "willing to break the law to help the poor".

That's clearly Chaotic Good. It's simple.

And that other example? Hitler was lawful evil?

Hitler was lawful.

Hitler. Lawful. I don't know on what world murdering 11 million people fits within the realm of "the law" but I certainly don't want to ever live on that world.


Lawful means believing in strict order. It has nothing to do with whether that order is morally good or evil. In Hitler's case, it was clearly evil. So yeah, Hitler is the perfect example of Lawful Evil that just about everyone can relate to. Go back and read my concise definitions again.  They make perfect sense, as long as you understand that there are two dimensions. If you keep confusing the two, then you will never understand how simple it really is.

I wouldn't care if there were some minor mechanics that could key off alignments - to be honest I thought I already saw some class options in the Book of Vile Darkness that did so - but the idea that we need nine alignments in some kind of grid is, to me, ridiculous.


No one is saying that you have to adhere to them. You 4E people keep advocating this scorched-earth policy of getting rid of all of our previous options, when all WE are asking is that we HAVE those options. You don't have to use them, so why advocate their elimination when all you are likely to do is make the game less popular? Don't you want 5E to succeed?

Heck, maybe you people don't. I don't know.

But I, for one, will not let D&D die without a fight.

Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
Exactly.  Roleplaying consequences not:
"You suddenly lose access to your spells, feats, and class abilities." or
"You lose a level and a chunk of XP." or
"The gods send a monster after you; if you lose, you're unrecoverably dead, if you win, you get taken off to serve your god and are out of the game."

I don't think anybody is talking about returning to those days or giving that kind of power back to DMs. This is especially the case if any class can be any alignment.

But if you are good-aligned character who worships a good-aligned god and you decide that ransacking a village of peaceful peasants for food is a good idea because your need outweigh their needs, there should be consquences defined by your connection to that god. Moreover, these should come with strong infraction examples versus mechanical penalties.Wikipedia: going definition: an act or instance of going.



But you don't need mechanical penalties for that. Your god could come down (or send a messenger) and be like, listen ... You need to make this up to this village, here do this hard quest.

Or ooh ooh, even better - he comes during the night, disrupting your rest. And does so ever night until you complete it, so you can't ever get an extended rest until you complete the quest! That would be awesome.  Then your Daily powers drain away ... but you get more APs because of milestones. Man that'd be hardcore, haha. I need to remember that actually.

But that's a roleplaying consequence that's fun. And maybe if the guy doesn't want to do it, he's approached by a different god, an evil god, who says "Hey, come to my team, we have cookies" - but to prove yourself, you have to complete this quest ...

These are types of consequences characters should suffer for pissing off a god, if that's what they do.

But I just realized something that's even more important - what if you have an evil person in a party full of good people? Or a Lawful Good person in a group full of unaligneds? The unaligned think ransacking the village is fine to them, and you definitely benefit from it food wise. If you suffer penalties for that, it leads to out-of-character strife. Or if you have to do evil things all the time in order to make up for your group doing "good" that would also lead to OOC stife. You could only give bonuses to playing to type, but that's an individual GM thing I think. Hard to codify that without it getting gamed.
Exactly.  Roleplaying consequences not:
"You suddenly lose access to your spells, feats, and class abilities." or
"You lose a level and a chunk of XP." or
"The gods send a monster after you; if you lose, you're unrecoverably dead, if you win, you get taken off to serve your god and are out of the game."

I don't think anybody is talking about returning to those days or giving that kind of power back to DMs. This is especially the case if any class can be any alignment.

But if you are a good-aligned character who worships a good-aligned god and you decide that ransacking a village of peaceful peasants for food is an acceptable idea because your need outweighs their needs, there should be consquences defined by your connection to that god. Moreover, these should come with strong infraction examples versus mechanical penalties.Wikipedia: i definition: the one who is speaking or writing. Wikipedia: collective definition: denoting a number of persons or things considered as one group or whole.



That makes a rather large setting assumption that gods
a. Exist and
b. Meddle in the affairs of the natural world.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The purple haired pony needs to look up "iconic" it generally is used in reference to items of reverence, which is generally a positive thing. It's an object or suject or "thing" that is approached with reverence.

Iconic thus, equals good.

However, the unrealistic equine has a point.

Alignments have as much effect as you allow them to. You could, indeed, write "cupcake afficianado" on your sheet as an alignment. Enforcement of alignments is DM dependant.

If you don't like how your DM is handling it, try another DM.

I guess that just gave me an insight into the "scorched earth" viewpoint. After all, if all the rules are exactly what you want bad DMs will be forced to run good games.

But it doesn't work that way. Sorry. Bad DMs will still run crappy games even if all the rules are as sparkly happy shiny as everyone could ever dream of.

Rules are a great framework, but your DM runs the game. Take a moment and try to think if it's a DM issue or a rules issue first, not that I expect anyone will.

*shrug* I tried.

Exactly.  Roleplaying consequences not:
"You suddenly lose access to your spells, feats, and class abilities." or
"You lose a level and a chunk of XP." or
"The gods send a monster after you; if you lose, you're unrecoverably dead, if you win, you get taken off to serve your god and are out of the game."

I don't think anybody is talking about returning to those days or giving that kind of power back to DMs. This is especially the case if any class can be any alignment.

But if you are a good-aligned character who worships a good-aligned god and you decide that ransacking a village of peaceful peasants for food is an acceptable idea because your need outweighs their needs, there should be consquences defined by your connection to that god. Moreover, these should come with strong infraction examples versus mechanical penalties.



That makes a rather large setting assumption that gods
a. Exist and
b. Meddle in the affairs of the natural world.


For example, in my campaign where all the gods except one have left the mortal realm to explore the heavens, no longer interested in mortal affairs in any way. The less that divine "magic" is assumed in the system, the more easily D&D will jive with my setting.
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I play Pathfinder, but I like the 4e alignment system better. I usually ignore alignment altogether, or just choose chaotic neutral. It's nice to have the unaligned option instead.
But you don't need mechanical penalties for that. Your god could come down (or send a messenger) and be like, listen ... You need to make this up to this village, here do this hard quest.

Or ooh ooh, even better - he comes during the night, disrupting your rest. And does so ever night until you complete it, so you can't ever get an extended rest until you complete the quest! That would be awesome.  Then your Daily powers drain away ... but you get more APs because of milestones. Man that'd be hardcore, haha. I need to remember that actually.

All great ideas that, if you are a DM, I hope will be implemented in your game instead of mechanical penalties. Indeed, they are awesome.

Please note, anybody who is reading along, these awesome ideas were keyed off a conversation about making an alignment choice other than 'unaligned'.

But that's a roleplaying consequence that's fun. And maybe if the guy doesn't want to do it, he's approached by a different god, an evil god, who says "Hey, come to my team, we have cookies" - but to prove yourself, you have to complete this quest ...

Alignment temptation. I love it.

These are types of consequences characters should suffer for pissing off a god, if that's what they do.

Yes, and when it comes to D&D, worshipping gods and choosing an alignment within one step of your chosen god go hand in hand (from a mechanical standpoint).

But I just realized something that's even more important - what if you have an evil person in a party full of good people? Or a Lawful Good person in a group full of unaligneds? The unaligned think ransacking the village is fine to them, and you definitely benefit from it food wise. If you suffer penalties for that, it leads to out-of-character strife.

Out of character strife? The whole point of participating in a role-playing game is to make it inner-character strife.

These are very good questions indeed. What does that Lawful Good person do when the other party members feel that ransacking the village is fine? Do they stand against the party and defend the villagers? Or does the Lawful Good character find a way to justify the act as serving a greater good? Therein lies the role-playing.

How will the unaligned party members respond to a Lawful Good party member who defends the village from their depradations? What happens next could very well 'define' the alignments of those previously 'unaligned' characters. Heck, some of them may turn out to be Chaotic Evil based on their ensuing decisions.

You're actually making me miss the nine alignment system more with this conversation.
Honestly, I like the concept of the 9 alignment system.

But I always found it was more of a hindeance to utilize in game. Over the years I've found so many players just choose Chaotic Neutral so they can pretty much do whatever they want and consider it justified. It caused more arguments than it was ever worth. The examples they wrote really just muddled the whole thing further. Eventually I just stopped using them at all.

I really liked what they did with alignments in 4e and hope they don't go back to the 9 alignment axis.

Personally I'd be fine if they paired it down to 3: good, unaligned, evil.

I think unaligned taking the place of neutral was also brilliant. 

If they bring them back, which I imagine they will, make them an optional module instead of a core part of a character.
Honestly, I like the concept of the 9 alignment system.

But I always found it was more of a hindeance to utilize in game. Over the years I've found so many players just choose Chaotic Neutral so they can pretty much do whatever they want and consider it justified. It caused more arguments than it was ever worth. The examples they wrote really just muddled the whole thing further. Eventually I just stopped using them at all.

I really liked what they did with alignments in 4e and hope they don't go back to the 9 alignment axis.

Personally I'd be fine if they paired it down to 3: good, unaligned, evil.

I think unaligned taking the place of neutral was also brilliant. 

If they bring them back, which I imagine they will, make them an optional module instead of a core part of a character.



I'm still of the mind that they should flush alignment once and for all.  Not as a core rule, not as an optional rule.  Get rid of it COMPLETELY.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

It's funny, but in a broader sense, I think you can link making an alignment choice to how much people like or dislike being held accountable for their actions.

A certain number of people in this world (I won't conjecture on the percentage) really don't like being brought to task for the choices they make. In D&D of old, alignment could do that with DM judgement or alignment mechanics (spells and bane weapons).

These players mistakenly believe that the alignment system can't service them. True Neutral is right there. Call it Unaligned if you like, they largely serve the same purpose. If that is too galling, then consider Chaotic Neutral and spontaneously do whatever they heck you want.



That's remarkably insightful.  I've considered the concept before, but I haven't put a lot of thought into it.  I think you're spot on, by the way.  Most of the people I game with play Unaligned characters in 4E, and almost all of them played some kind of Neutral (Chaotic Neutral, usually) in 3.x; mostly, I've always thought, because it meant they didn't have to put a lot of thought into their characters, motivations, etc, and they don't need to be held accountable for the things they do or say. 
The thing about Unaligned that's always bothered me is that I just ... can't imagine a person who would identify themselves that way.  Personally, I consider myself Lawful and Good; I'm concerned about matters of justice, social equality, and order, just like most everyone else.  By saying, "I'm Unaligned", it would be like saying, "In the grand scheme of Good vs. Evil, I don't care; some people want to be war heroes, guardians of the weak, etc, and others want to be thieves and rapists and murders ... but it's all whatever to me.  I don't care one way or the other.  And in the grand scheme of Law vs. Chaos, I still don't care; I have no opinion as to whether a world with strong societal traditions and familial bonds is any better or worse than a world of complete anarchy and utter entropy.  I just don't care."

That's "Unaligned" to me, and again; I just can't imagine an actual person holding that belief.
Alignments suggested a motivation.  Unaligned just means a lack of motivation.
The Alignment system is archaic and antiquated. Thier was a point that I thought alignment was integral to playing the game.  These days I think it doesn't matter.  I think it should be optional and unless there is going to be some game effect that goes along with alignment.
Don't blame the developers for your inability to think outside the box.   



Wow, how very insulting. I hope you're feeling all superior now.

It has nothing to do with thinking outside the box or not. If I wanted to play a fantasy game without the feel of the old D&D mythos, there are plenty of other games out there I could play instead... Some of them with better and/or more flexible game mechanics. That said, when I play D&D I want to play D&D not a "reinvention of D&D". None of the changes that I mentioned made 4e a better game IMO, just different from the existing traditions of D&D. And that's what was so alienating about them--not changes to make the playing experience better, just change.

Back on topic, though...

Alignment is.. and always should be...  a guideline for roleplaying, not a straightjacket. The problem with some people's experience seems to be that their DM's didn't bother to understand that or the descriptions of the alignments.

I can understand the desire to decouple alignment from rules to a certain extent, but I think the example given for that speaks more of a DM not bothering to understand alignments than an actual failing of an alingment/rule coupling. Would this not have been an issue if the paladin class had a brief guideline for the character's moral behavior rather than specifying lawful good?

Are there any other alignment rule interactions aside from paladins losing powers that people have an issue with? Detect/potection from alignment spells? What?


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The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

—MechaPilot

That said, when I play D&D I want to play D&D not a "reinvention of D&D". None of the changes that I mentioned made 4e a better game IMO, just different from the existing traditions of D&D. And that's what was so alienating about them--not changes to make the playing experience better, just change.



Then don't use them.  Nobody's holding a gun to your head, forcing you to accept Wizards' fluff.  Like I said before: if you want the cosmology of your game world to be based on the Great Wheel, go for it; if you want to use the 9 alignment system, go for it; if you want your Eladrin to be celestial beings from the plane of Arborea instead of "high elves" from the Feywild, go for it!  It's your world.  Make what you want of it.

My original statement stands.

And look, I don't have anything against you -- I just hear this from people a lot.  They think that everything in the books is written in stone, and that if you make any adjustments, you're "no longer playing D&D".  And that's just silly.   
That said, when I play D&D I want to play D&D not a "reinvention of D&D". None of the changes that I mentioned made 4e a better game IMO, just different from the existing traditions of D&D. And that's what was so alienating about them--not changes to make the playing experience better, just change.



Then don't use them.  Nobody's holding a gun to your head, forcing you to accept Wizards' fluff.  Like I said before: if you want the cosmology of your game world to be based on the Great Wheel, go for it; if you want to use the 9 alignment system, go for it; if you want your Eladrin to be celestial beings from the plane of Arborea instead of "high elves" from the Feywild, go for it!  It's your world.  Make what you want of it.

My original statement stands.

And look, I don't have anything against you -- I just hear this from people a lot.  They think that everything in the books is written in stone, and that if you make any adjustments, you're "no longer playing D&D".  And that's just silly.   



The problem with that, though, is if I can play the way I want with and existing edition without making changes, why switch to a new edition if I have to make changes? It's not leting me do the things I want and already do any better, so it just seems like a waste of time and money.

If 5e wants to attract me as a customer, it needs to do the things I want and already do better than what I'm used to. It also need to carry on and support the traditions of D&D that make D&D distinct from other fantasy games.

Azzy’s Trivial Trivia, A Blog

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

—MechaPilot

I'm still of the mind that they should flush alignment once and for all.  Not as a core rule, not as an optional rule.  Get rid of it COMPLETELY.


Why? Can you provide even one rational explanation as to why we shouldn't have alignment, at least as an optional rule? I think it's like that other poster said: some players just don't want their characters to have to be held accountable for their actions - like they are just playing video game, and not an actual role-playing game.

With the D&D game settings like Grayhawk and Forgotten Realms clearly divided into good and evil factions, are you suggesting that your players don't care at all about how their characters view their respective worlds ethically and morally? Are your characters just conscience-free automatons? I assume that you and your players have real-world political and religious views, yes? So wouldn't the characters in your game also have moral and ethical opinions of their own? I am not saying that you have to agree with their in-game views - not at all - just that they surely must believe in something, right?

Furthermore, perhaps the most glaring problem with your extreme "scorched-earth" approach is that there have always been entire pantheons in D&D in which the gods operate under very clear terms of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil, and these gods expect their followers to be of similar mindset or else be denied access to spells/powers/etc. If you get rid of alignment, then you senselessly erase decades of canon with respect to all of this stuff, and you might as well just chuck Grayhawk and Forgotten Realms out with the trash, because they would no longer make sense anymore as game settings. Meilikki, Malar, Shar, Selune... what's the difference, right? By the gods, I would absolutely hate to play with you guys. The thought that you could have an entire campaign where everyone is essentially Unaligned or Neutral seems so myopic that I don't know how you could stand it. You might as well just go play Halo. 

Regardless, 5E absolutely must have our nine alignments in order for it to make any sense. And as I've said before, if the devs listen to the scorched-earth crowd, then 5E will be an utter waste and a total business failure (i.e. 4E all over again), as their castrating our world any more than they already have will just guarantee that the rest of us will not buy the books. That's not going to make anybody happy.
Leadership and class choice should have NOTHING to do with each other, EVER. Conflating the two is simply horrendous game design.
But what if you want to run a setting of low magic with no influence/presence from the gods? 

Any alignment mechanic should be optional.