Alignment should be fluff

Alignment should be fluff, I don't care if you have 0,3,5,9, or 27 different alignments I will just ignore it completly anyway, but don't tie alignment to game mechanics.  I don't want alignment restrictions on classes, or weapons doing extra damage to certian alignments, detect X alignment spells or powers.

If you must tie something like alignment to mechanics use other terms like holy, unholy, extraplaner, primordial, ect....

So the Paladin gets a 'holy aura' if he worships a good god wich means the game mechanics that effect 'holy' work on him, but not his lawful good ranger friend.

The demon prince has an 'unholy aura' and can be smited by the good paladin and prevented from entering the warded temple.  But the chaotic evil assassin sneaks though the wards like they are not there and paladin can't pin point him in the gathered crowd with his detection powers.

Also no penalties for switching alignment, just let players play them like they want to.  Now if you have one of these 'holy auras' then yes you can violate a code of ethos and beforced to take on another aura or change something up.

In 3.5 and Pathfinder most power gamers just picked to be true neutral so they were not effected by spells like unholly word, or certian weapon enchantments.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

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I definitely agree that alignment should be just fluff. But I don't think it should go away. The 9 alignment categories are a classic part of D&D. One of the few things I don't like about 4e is how they simplified alignments. Considering Next's stated goal of uniting all the editions, it seems pretty likely that the classic alignment grid is coming back.
Alignment needs to take that final spin around the toilet bowl before going down the pipes and disappearing forever.  5e is a good time for that to happen.
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Agreed wholeheartedly.

And just so it is done: Truth.



I love that pic. :D
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
I hope it's fluff-only. I want to be able to pull it out of the game and stick in FATE-style aspects and/or the d20 Modern loyalties system, preferably without having to patch holes that got torn into the spell system or classes.
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I also hope I can play a Paladin that doesn't become an instant commoner when he accidentally steps on a kitten.
What's the difference between a LG paladin having a Good aura and a Holy aura?



I think there's definitely design space for alignment to be fluff for many characters, possibly even the vast majority depending on campaign setting.  But in the D&D settings, there exist creatures that are the physical incarnation of a concept that is currently defined by the alignment system.  Maruts are creatures of pure law, demons of chaos and evil, and so on. 

As far as representing the mechanical effects of Holy Word on a demon, I don't see any reason to discard the alignment system.  It should simply stop being the default for PCs; all PCs being basically "N/A" by default.  So basically, a keyword system.  Instead of being exactly as CE as a random bandit leader, a demon would have the Chaotic and Evil keywords.  The bandit leader would have no aligned keywords.  Thus, a Holy Word would affect the demon, but not the bandit leader.

A cleric or paladin could be allowed (or required, though I expect that to be opposed by everyone in this thread, allowed works for the example) to choose one or more alignment keywords that match their deity.  For that matter, any PC could be allowed that choice (personally, I'd let any player choose it, and require that clerics take one and paladins take two, but that's me).
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Alignment should be fluff

YES! I agree as well.

Having said that, I think ankiyavon's idea is a very cool approach, if alignment should marry with the mechanics again.
I agree - I'd like to see the classic nine-point, two-axis alignment system brought back, but I'd like to see it have zero consequences for the rules. That way it can easily be swapped out for a different take on morality, or none at all. (The 3.5 campaign I'm just beginning uses a morality system based on virtue theory instead of absolute morality. I've simply had to ban all the 'Detect/Protection from X' spells outright.)

One of the things I loved about Planescape was the fact that although it used the classic system for its cosmology, there was ample room for in-character disagreement and divergence about such things. ("Cutter, will you stand by and let these hapless souls be held back from the True Death?")

Z.
I'd also like to see alignment go away, I think allegiances from Modern works better, but I expect it will be around at least as fluff.  While I don't want it to be mechanically relevant at core, I do think Ankiyavon's idea is an interesting one that would make a cool option.  At the same time though, assuming alignment is mechanically relevant at core, I want an option to remove it as soon as possible.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

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

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

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Save the breasts.

I'd like to see alignment be entirely fluff. As for how this works with clerics and paladins, here's a consideration:

If you wish to have a "code of conduct" for such classes, I'd rather have such a code dictated by the character's deity. It shouldn't be a mechanical restriction, as having story-related issues come up if a character deviates from this code would be sufficient.
I hate alignment, so I definitely want to see it relegated to pure fluff, at most.  Let it be a roleplaying tool for those that want it.

Monsters should never have alignment, except possibly specific NPC stat blocks, to serve as roleplying guides for the DM.

On the other hand, having groupings of monsters to trigger certain effects off of makes sense.  But it should be via alignment-neutral keywords.  Elemental, Astral, Immortal, Natural, Humanoid, etc.  I could maybe see "Holy" and "Unholy", for say, distinguishing between Angels (Holy Astral Immortals) and Devils (Unholy Astral Immortals), but it should be made clear that "Holy" is a label that the conventional belief systems of most civilized cultures assigns to them, not necessarily a statement of them being "Good".  By default, it would be a label of allegiance, not alignment.  On the other hand, some DMs might choose to make Holy = Good.
Agreed wholeheartedly.

And just so it is done: Truth.




Can I get that pic on a t-shirt?  Please?
Many years ago, possibly with the announcement of 4ed I talked about an alignment system where the players were "out of bounds" so to speak. I was laughed as and told that there was no difference  with that and the players all picking true neutral.

For my money I am all in favor of a game that has the 9 alignments as fluff for the most part. Though, as some have described, I am not only in complete favor of but nearly demand the ability to have monsters that are expressions of the alignments. I think that there is something compelling and very core to the DnD experience that allows for a campaign where the forces of EVIL fight the forces of GOOD. Note the caps there. 

I think that having to micro manage a line on my character sheet based on every single action that I have ever undertaken is a terrible mechanic. But there is nothing wrong with the extraplanars being actual expressions of the 9 alignments.

As well someone mentioned codes of conduct. I think that the best way to handle clerics and paladins is exactly through such a thing. Choose a divine being and get certain powers from them based on having to follow an explicit set of guidelines. And no that is not the same as having an alignment. It is very different having a small set of explicit rules that a player must follow, as well as the concequences for failure, than something very amorphus like Be lawful good.

The core problem with alignments are not in choosing one. Nor even in striving to match one. It is in determining how many things that do not fall into that alignment a player has to do before they are no lornger that alignment. 
I think that there is something compelling and very core to the DnD experience that allows for a campaign where the forces of EVIL fight the forces of GOOD. 



The thing is, at no point is this concept dependent upon writing a word or two on one's character sheet.
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Bring back the 9 alignments. No "Chaos Hammer" spells, or if there is, they only do a modest BONUS damage damage to criters with "lawful" keyword. Too niche imo to even bother with it.

Finally, create alignment "themes"...Do you want to be a LG Rogue? Try the LG theme, now with both "Lawful" and "Good" keywords (while supplies last).
I like it but I definitely think it's easier to add than take away.  So make it a module.  I don't want detect spells for PC's and NPC's but I got no problem if they work against the great powers.  (e.g. Gods, Demigods, etc... as well as undead, devils, demons).  The DM could decide what constitutes a great power in his world.  An ultimate avatar of a belief.  I also think places of great evil could be deteced.  It definitely adds to the atmosphere if a Paladin shudders when he senses great evil.

I think a more interesting concept would be a character background questionaire that produces something more interesting but then that would be mostly for flavor.


 
I think a more interesting concept would be a character background questionaire that produces something more interesting but then that would be mostly for flavor.

Okay, but don't be surprised if it comes back with things like "my dude fights" and "I got nothing better to do on Saturday night"

I think that there is something compelling and very core to the DnD experience that allows for a campaign where the forces of EVIL fight the forces of GOOD. 



The thing is, at no point is this concept dependent upon writing a word or two on one's character sheet.


Not only that, it's terribly subjective.  Regardless of alignment, a cleric will see his god's minions as good and the minions of his enemies' gods as evil.

I'm going to use a religious example here, but I don't want to get into a debate about real-world religion.  The myth (for want of a better word) of the fallen angels in Christianity relates to them simply being disobedient to their God.  Relating this into D&D, demons or devils could simply be the disobedient angels of Pelor (just as an example).  There wouldn't need to be anything evil about them to make them demons or devils.  Rather, it would be a consequence of their expulsion by their god.

To sum up, I'm not against monsters that embody the moral and ethical extremes, but if we're talking demons and angels we should recognize that there's a difference between a fallen angel and an embodiment of all that is evil.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

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

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Those in favour of alignment as fluff only, let me ask you a question: Are you in favour of fire, cold, acid, poison, etc. being fluff only?

Because I don't get the hate on protection from evil / chaos hammer and the likes when everybody is fine wite fireball doing more dammage to an ice creature. Why are you on board with some keyword but not for others? Think about it.
Those in favour of alignment as fluff only, let me ask you a question: Are you in favour of fire, cold, acid, poison, etc. being fluff only?


Acid isn't dependent on the DM's judgment call of how consistently you play your character with his (or her) subjective interpretation of the morality rules.

Alignment (along with its cousin, the paladin code) was easily the most divisive ruleset of pre-4e editions. 
I think that there is something compelling and very core to the DnD experience that allows for a campaign where the forces of EVIL fight the forces of GOOD. 



The thing is, at no point is this concept dependent upon writing a word or two on one's character sheet.




Correct! That is why I am in favor of alignment being a thing that applies to certain monsters. PCs and most other things in the world fall into the N/A category. We preserve the 9 alignments mostly as ideals and labels for a few appropriate monsters.
Those in favour of alignment as fluff only, let me ask you a question: Are you in favour of fire, cold, acid, poison, etc. being fluff only?

Because I don't get the hate on protection from evil / chaos hammer and the likes when everybody is fine wite fireball doing more dammage to an ice creature. Why are you on board with some keyword but not for others? Think about it.



Because Fire, Ice, Acid and Poison are all actual things, with actual properties, with well understood interactions with living (and non-living) things.  Alignment is a self-description, ideology, or mere label.  It's not a given that it's an actual thing with actual properties.

If Alignment is an actual thing, baked into the cosmology, then it makes sense as being a damage keyword, or something to key effects off of.  But I hate that kind of cartoonish, black-and-white setting, and don't want it as part of the core setting assumptions, and thus incorporated into the core game mechanics.
In a similar vein to other threads:

Alignment Module 1:  No Alignments

Alignment Module 2:  Diefic Alignment (Alignment matters to all characters who can choose to follow thier gods' alignment and tenets if they follow one or more at all) (Good vs. Evil)

Alignment Module 3:  Cosmic Balance (Alignment matters to all characters involved in cosmic struggle, neutral folks sit out the big fight on the sidelines and live with the results) (Law vs. Chaos)

Alignment Module 4:  Moral Codes and Organizational Codes (thou shalt not do X if you want to be able to do Y) (Knights, Samurai, Hermits/Mystics, Magical Taboos)

Alignment Module 5:  Behavioral Rewards (Alignement is irrelevant but character actions are rewarded for staying true to character motivation)


etc...
              
I see alignment as fluff.  But I see it as important fluff.  So I'm conflicted. 

I guess I'd prefer a system - no idea what that system would be - which (fully embracing some aspects of the 4E philosophy) allowed for potential rewards for adhering to your alignment, but carried no penalties for transgressions.

But I have no concrete ideas what that system might be.  And it might well be best left up to the DM.  Perhaps a sidebar somewhere (or Dragon Article) discussing something like giving PCs bennies or actions points for acts which are particularly appropriate to their alignment?

Carl
I see alignment as fluff.  But I see it as important fluff.  So I'm conflicted. 

I guess I'd prefer a system - no idea what that system would be - which (fully embracing some aspects of the 4E philosophy) allowed for potential rewards for adhering to your alignment, but carried no penalties for transgressions.

But I have no concrete ideas what that system might be.  And it might well be best left up to the DM.  Perhaps a sidebar somewhere (or Dragon Article) discussing something like giving PCs bennies or actions points for acts which are particularly appropriate to their alignment?

Carl



Instead of alignment, actually describe your character's major personality elements ("Afraid of heights" "Vengeful" "Too trusting for his own good", etc).  When you play those elements well, the DM throws you a chip.  You can use that chip for a reroll later.
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I really hope that most of you don't get your alignment based wishes in 5e.

Instead of alignment, actually describe your character's major personality elements ("Afraid of heights" "Vengeful" "Too trusting for his own good", etc).  When you play those elements well, the DM throws you a chip.  You can use that chip for a reroll later.



Well - that is also a useful idea.  But that's not the same as alignment.  Alignment is the driving force behind what you do.  I can be LG and vengeful and you can CE and vengeful.  But that doesn't tell me what you are willing to do to gain your revenge or what you feel deserving of the same.  You may be afraid of heights - but what is important to you to get you to overcome that fear.

So, yes, you could try to parse alignment down into smaller motivations - generosity, altruism, self-sacrifice, greed, vengeance.  But I happen to think that a big picture is both easier to describe and works better in a broad fantasy context.

I also don't think that small motivators are significant enough to be worthy of reward in a system where such rewards are few and far between.  In a system where bennies are given out on the order of dozens a session (as some games do) then playing quirks like "afraid of heights", "trusting'a or "vengeful" is worthy of a reward. 

Carl
Well, that's as good as I'm getting, considering that I think alignment needs to, as I like saying, take that final spin around the toilet bowl and go down the pipes forever.  Alignment didn't even enter the equation for me ... this isn't 'parsing alignment', it's actual personality and roleplaying, which alignment does nothing but impede.
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I get that.  I've seen enough arguments about Alignment and how it should be applied to understand why people are done with it.

But despite that - I see value in asking the question "is my character a good person or not?"  "When no one is looking, does my character do 'the right thing' or the expedient thing".

The problem isn't in asking that question - I think it ultimately is more important then asking whether or not you are afraid of heights or afraid of spiders.  The problem is in deciding what 'the right thing' is. 

In short - If my character is 'lawful good' - a useful concept, I should always be trying to do 'the right thing'.  But what is 'the right thing' isn't always easy to define and there probably isn't only one 'right thing'.  So its difficult/  impossible to base punitive mechanics on it.  But the idea that I am trying to find and do that right thing is important and if I am going out of my way to stay true to that motivation it is not unreasonable to reward that effort.

Of course, you don't have to use alignment for these grand driving forces.  You could go with terms like "Heroic", "Venal", ""Selfish".  But since alignment has a long standing history as a part of the game and works adequately, why discard it.

Besides which - if it exists as a reward only mechanic with no other hook into the rules (i.e.  no "protection from alignment spells", no weapons keyed to specific alignments", etc.) those who don't want to use alignment can just not use it - and their game is wholly unaffected by its absence

That said - I do like the Essential's paladin which is somewhat restricted in alignment (although this is a hook into the rules, I think it still works as long as unaligned is also an option) and which connects them to a specific virtue.  It raises the issue of what happens if a Paladin of Valor is consistantly cowardly.  But I like the idea as an option - as long as there are other Paladins without this restriction for those who don't want to deal with it.
Instead of alignment, actually describe your character's major personality elements ("Afraid of heights" "Vengeful" "Too trusting for his own good", etc).  When you play those elements well, the DM throws you a chip.  You can use that chip for a reroll later.

So... a Pavlovian rewards system, huh?
It was a straightjacket in West End's Star Wars, and will be a straightjacket here.

Of course, you don't have to use alignment for these grand driving forces.  You could go with terms like "Heroic", "Venal", ""Selfish".  But since alignment has a long standing history as a part of the game and works adequately, why discard it.



Appeal to tradition fallacy.  Just because 'it's always been this way' doesn't mean it was EVER a good idea.
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Only a fallacy if optimum mechanics is the only goal.

But since marketing, appeal to current and former players, and maintaining a place in the public Zeitgeist is ALSO a necessary goal of game design - not a fallacy.  Respecting the traditions of the game is important.  We've already seen what happens when the game strays too far from "what is D&D".

Features which are strong, well-known and iconic parts of "D&D" the brand and franchise cannot and should not be simply discarded unless it can be shown that they significantly harm the game experience.
In my opinion, alignment as described above satisfies the requirement of being useful, not being damaging and being consistent with its historical context.

Carl
Only a fallacy if optimum mechanics is the only goal.

But since marketing, appeal to current and former players, and maintaining a place in the public Zeitgeist is ALSO a necessary goal of game design - not a fallacy.  Respecting the traditions of the game is important.  We've already seen what happens when the game strays too far from "what is D&D".

Features which are strong, well-known and iconic parts of "D&D" the brand and franchise cannot and should not be simply discarded unless it can be shown that they significantly harm the game experience.
In my opinion, alignment as described above satisfies the requirement of being useful, not being damaging and being consistent with its historical context.

Carl



+1
I like alignment, but I hate how far out of context it began to be taken before 4th edition stripped it of its mechanical significance. Alignment was meant to be a tool to aid roleplaying, not a club to bludgeon people with. I'd rather not have alignment than return to paladins running around smiting anyone who turns up darker than neutral on "detect evil" consequences be damned.


Of course, you don't have to use alignment for these grand driving forces.  You could go with terms like "Heroic", "Venal", ""Selfish".  But since alignment has a long standing history as a part of the game and works adequately, why discard it.


Appeal to tradition fallacy.  Just because 'it's always been this way' doesn't mean it was EVER a good idea.



Sadly being a good idea and being D&D have often been mutually exclusive. I love fate's skill pyramid, but that's definitely not going to be D&D. If we're going to be playing D&D, nostalgia is a factor whether we like it or not. Otherwise you may as well rename the game to something else.

 
Different alignment systems even have a place in the DMG, talk about the nine traditional, just good vs. evil, others that are used in different systems, just make it all not tied to any mechanics at all.

It just seems like such an easy way to handle it some pc's, npc's, and monsters have key words that mean they are extra evil,good,chaotic, or lawful and then can be effected by certain magics.  Those without these keywords alignment is fluid and nothing more than two words on paper to help them have a moral compass for their character.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

Things you should check out because they are cool, like bow-ties and fezzes.

https://app.roll20.net/home  Roll20 great free virtual table top so you can play with old friends who are far away.

http://donjon.bin.sh/  Donjon has random treasure, maps, pick pocket results, etc.. for every edition of D&D.

The only reason why people seem to find this complicated is that they couldn't decide which alignment fitted their NPC or PC.


The problem isn't an inability to "decide", but an inability to "agree".  If I think my character is NG, but my DM thinks he's CG, and therefore not eligible to be a monk, it's a problem.  If I think my character is NG, but my DM thinks he's LG, and thus ineligible to be a bard, that's a problem.

It's even more of a problem in editions where changing alignment had immediate mechanical consequences, like losing a level.

IF they are there just take them out
IF they are there just use them as fluf
IF someone wants them good for them

Can we stop beating a dead unicorn with this topic. Or at the least keep it in one of the many threads that started it?
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The point is it is not easy to take them out in a system like 3e.  Dozens of spells, multiple class restrictions, smite evil, magic weapons, intelligent items, ect....  If you want that in add it but don't make the core with it built in.

Remember this is a public forum where people express their opinions assume there is a “In my humble opinion” in front of every post especially mine.  

 

Things you should check out because they are cool, like bow-ties and fezzes.

https://app.roll20.net/home  Roll20 great free virtual table top so you can play with old friends who are far away.

http://donjon.bin.sh/  Donjon has random treasure, maps, pick pocket results, etc.. for every edition of D&D.

The problem isn't an inability to "decide", but an inability to "agree".  If I think my character is NG, but my DM thinks he's CG, and therefore not eligible to be a monk, it's a problem.  If I think my character is NG, but my DM thinks he's LG, and thus ineligible to be a bard, that's a problem.

It's even more of a problem in editions where changing alignment had immediate mechanical consequences, like losing a level.




I think this is a big part of it IMO. If alignment is going to be mechanical it needs serious resources devoted to proper descriptions and the ways to resolve what actions are of what sort of alignment so people don't have these protracted arguments about whether executing the lawful evil magic item merchant in town is grounds for expulsion from Paladin-hood.
I agree, alignment works better as just fluff. If it's not fluff you can run into problems like players arguing about whether or not they're playing within their specified alignment, for instance, in order to avoid negative consequences of alignment specific effects or alignment change.

As far as nine alignments versus the five in 4e, I couldn't care less.  Old system and new system are equally ok with me.