The Alignment Question

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I was reading through the DnD Next material and came across the section on alignment. (Character Creation, p3) In light of recent (and recurring) debates I found the wording very interesting. Emphasis mine:

Alignment

A typical creature in the worlds of DUNGEONS &
DRAGONS has an alignment, which broadly
describes its moral and personal attitudes.
Alignment is a combination of two factors: one
identifies morality (good, evil, or neutral), and the
other describes attitudes toward society and order
(lawful, chaotic, or neutral). Thus, nine distinct
alignments define all the possible combinations.
Each alignment description depicts a typical
character of that alignment. Individuals vary from
this norm, and a given character might act more or
less in accord with his or her alignment from day
to day. You should use these descriptions as
guidelines, not as scripts.

Yes, but you forgot to add the question.

To make a long story short, they made the rule essentially "Player your Character, not your Alignment". 
Ant Farm
In other words, alignment is what it should have always been ... a loose, mostly-ignorable, wide guideline.

So, what's the question?
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I really wonder why it needs to be in the game at all. If it vanished as a concept, would anyone really see any change in their gameplay?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I really wonder why it needs to be in the game at all. If it vanished as a concept, would anyone really see any change in their gameplay?

Of course. The change wouldn't have anything to do with alignment vanishing, but people would claim that just the same.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The parts you emphasised are really just reworded versions of the caveats found in previous editions' alignment descriptions. Looking at the 3.0 Player's Handbook (which I happen to have to hand), it also states that alignment represents "a character or creature's general moral and personal attitudes", that it is "not a straightjacket for restricting your character", that each alignment "represents a broad range of personality types pr personal philosophies", and that "few people are completely consistent ... People are also not consistent from day to day".

The big change I can see is that the law/chaos axis in 5e is now explicitly a representation of the character's "attitudes toward society and order" rather than going the 3.0 route of defining it by personality descriptors. So lawful characters are no longer expected to tell the truth all the time or have a tendency toward close-minded judgementalism, and chaotic characters are not expected to be reckless and irresponsible. That's a big improvement, IMO. Alignment to me has always been "these are my values and this is how far I'm willing to go to uphold them" and should never have had any strong association with personality.

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

I really wonder why it needs to be in the game at all. If it vanished as a concept, would anyone really see any change in their gameplay?



I know at least one player who it would affect, as he seems oddly compelled to preface every character decision he makes by saying 'Well, I'm (alignment)*, so I have to ...'

And every time he does that, I want to slap him with a frozen fish.


*Technically hyperbole.  Sometimes he says 'Well, I'm (race) ...' or 'Well, I'm (class) ...'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
As long as it doesn't have a mechanical impact, alignment can do what it wants as long as it stays out of my games. 
The parts you emphasised are really just reworded versions of the caveats found in previous editions' alignment descriptions.

I assumed as much, but didn't have other editions handy. 

@Isirith: It doesn't HAVE to be in the game, but remember the goal of 5e is to attempt to please everyone (impossible) so for those who see alignment as integral to the "feel" of D&D, alignment is included, but for those who find it pointless it will have little if any mechanical impact. 

Dear WotC: Can you and I meet half-way and make alignment a variant system in D&D Next? You know, stick it in some dingy sidebar (the publishing equivalent of a dumpster in the back alley of a porno theater) so that maybe by 6th Edition enough people will have learned it's completely stupid and how to live without it?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

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Oh, and to those asking what my question was, there wasn't one. This was in response to the recurring debate of alignment as "rules".
Dear WotC: Can you and I meet half-way and make alignment a variant system in D&D Next? You know, stick it in some dingy sidebar (the publishing equivalent of a dumpster in the back alley of a porno theater) so that maybe by 6th Edition enough people will have learned it's completely stupid and how to live without it?

They claim to be taking more or less this approach. Those who want to can unpack and clean up the "dingy sidebar" and those who don't can scrap it entirely.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

  maybe by 6th Edition enough people will have learned it's completely stupid and how to live without it?



I hope people will learn to drop it before 2016.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Alignment has always been presented in the Alignment section of any D&D book as "broad guidelines, and not a straitjacket." And it was mostly true, right up until the moment any mechanical element intersected with alignment. Then alignment became a straitjacket, with the DMs own moral compass holding the keys.

I'd prefer alignment to be gone the way of THAC0. Failing that, I will accept no mechanics that touch alignment. Let alignment be concerned only with roleplaying and no mechanics, and then it can remain as guidleines, to be followed as tightly or loosely as the player prefers.
I've always seen alignment as something that the novelist DM uses to keep the unruly characters following his plots. "You're lawful good - of course you'll take the quest to help the church even if you the player don't find that interesting. Let's go."

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

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Huh, I actually don't absoliutely hate alignment. I even use it, although VERY loosely. That may be from playing SAGA though, where if you fall to the dark side it is tangible.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
This is ridiculous! They need to get back to true D&D. Alignment is everything. You should have a fixed, rigid alignment, and should ask your DM permission before taking any action to ensure that it's in lockstep with your alignment!!!

Wait, sorry, I think I went insane for a moment there.

Really, I don't care about alignment. It's easily ignorable. I've been using 9-point for all of my 4E characters and no one cares that I'm completely blowing off the current system, even in organized play. I have yet to have an LFR DM question the idea that my warlord is Lawful Neutral, and doubt I ever will.
Really, I don't care about alignment. It's easily ignorable. I've been using 9-point for all of my 4E characters and no one cares that I'm completely blowing off the current system, even in organized play. I have yet to have an LFR DM question the idea that my warlord is Lawful Neutral, and doubt I ever will.

Well, yeah. Just because an alignment isn't listed, doesn't mean one can't play in a way that they feel exemplifies that alignment.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I got nothing but anecdotal evidence to back this up, but I would imagine that the number of people helped by the concept of alignment are greatly outnumbered by those who find misery in its variously problematic implementations in D&D. For that reason alone, I'd drop it from the game. It quite literally serves no purpose anymore except to be used as a bludgeon by DMs and the Roleplaying-not-Rollplaying Police.

I'm with MalakLightfoot... if they recognized THAC0 as being bad, how is it alignment is still making the cut all these years later? Feel shmeel.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I got nothing but anecdotal evidence to back this up, but I would imagine that the number of people helped by the concept of alignment are greatly outnumbered by those who find misery in its variously problematic implementations in D&D.

I'd be interested to know. We hear about the people who have strong feelings and from those who would rather the game not change for no good reason. The former have had very good or bad experiences with alignment, and the latter don't see what the big deal is. I assume there are plenty who don't mind alignment, but also wouldn't mind if it was gone. Hard to know for sure.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Huh, I actually don't absoliutely hate alignment. I even use it, although VERY loosely. That may be from playing SAGA though, where if you fall to the dark side it is tangible.



I threw that out of Star Wars, too.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Huh, I actually don't absoliutely hate alignment. I even use it, although VERY loosely. That may be from playing SAGA though, where if you fall to the dark side it is tangible.

I threw that out of Star Wars, too.

Can anyone besides Jedi really fall to the Dark Side anyway? And is there really any narrative point to a Jedi who isn't either going to fall to the Dark Side or be killed in a duel with someone who will or has?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Can anyone besides Jedi really fall to the Dark Side anyway?



Yes, it's just easier for a Force-User by the Rules As Written.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I really wonder why it needs to be in the game at all. If it vanished as a concept, would anyone really see any change in their gameplay?


It needs to be there because SOME players need a much firmer hand from a DM, the rules, or other players in order to keep their Wahoo!  Free-for-all! tendencies in check.  Some players I could trust to never even bother to choose an alignment and yet play a character with wonderfully intriguing and subtle morals and ethics which make the game a joy to participate in.  Others I can trust to create a LG paladin, beat the crap out of the first shopkeeper that looks at them funny, undertake a lengthy and costly quest to break up a slavery ring, ignore the torture of a captive, kill a PC who insults his deity, and then simply laugh when a PC assassin murders a party enemy.  For THAT player alignment is needed.  Not only for him to use for guidance as to how to make a character behave in an appropriately/acceptibly roleplayed manner, but for ME to use as DM to hold him to it when he can't or won't toe the line.

I've been playing D&D in various editions for well over three decades and I still use alignment for EVERY character I create to guide MY choice of that characters actions.

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

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Huh, I actually don't absoliutely hate alignment. I even use it, although VERY loosely. That may be from playing SAGA though, where if you fall to the dark side it is tangible.



I threw that out of Star Wars, too.

I suppose theres no reason not to chuck it, although having dark side points isn't the same as being an evil or CE character. All it cuts you off from is using the weak Light side keyword powers.  You would really only become an evil character when you reach all dark side, by which point you would probably be trying to. And you can atone for it.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
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141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Huh, I actually don't absoliutely hate alignment. I even use it, although VERY loosely. That may be from playing SAGA though, where if you fall to the dark side it is tangible.

I threw that out of Star Wars, too.

Can anyone besides Jedi really fall to the Dark Side anyway? And is there really any narrative point to a Jedi who isn't either going to fall to the Dark Side or be killed in a duel with someone who will or has?




Is there any narrative point to a paladin who dosen't either become evil or die in a battle with some enemy of his god? Sure, but you probably wouldn't see it in the most dramatized versions of D&D, i.e. the six movies of Star Wars.
"The real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development." -Albert Einstein Resident Left Hand of Stalin and Banana Stand Grandstander Half of the Ambiguously Gay Duo House of Trolls, looking for a partner Wondering what happened to the Star Wars forums?
Show
Star Wars Minis has a home here http://www.bloomilk.com/ and Star Wars Saga Edition RPG has a home here http://thesagacontinues.createaforum.com/index.php
Show
141722973 wrote:
And it wasn't ****. It was subjectively concensual sex.
57036828 wrote:
Marketing and design are two different things. For instance the snuggy was designed for people in wheel chairs and marketed to people that are too incompetent to operate a blanket.
75239035 wrote:
I personally don't want him decapitated.
141722973 wrote:
And do not call me a Yank. I am a Québecois, basically your better.
And the greatest post moderation of all time...
58115148 wrote:
I gave that (Content Removed) a to-scale Lego replica. (Content Removed) love to-scale Lego replicas. (ORC_Cerberus: Edited - Vulgarity is against the Code of Conduct)
Others I can trust to create a LG paladin, beat the crap out of the first shopkeeper that looks at them funny, undertake a lengthy and costly quest to break up a slavery ring, ignore the torture of a captive, kill a PC who insults his deity, and then simply laugh when a PC assassin murders a party enemy.  For THAT player alignment is needed.  Not only for him to use for guidance as to how to make a character behave in an appropriately/acceptibly roleplayed manner,

What if he just chose Chaotic Evil, instead? Then he'd be acting appropriately, wouldn't he?

If Chaotic Evil is not an acceptable alignment, then this comes down to acceptable player behavior, like not swearing or not smoking. It's not an in-game issue at all.

 but for ME to use as DM to hold him to it when he can't or won't toe the line.

How does having an alignment allow the DM to hold him to that alignment? That might seem like a facile question, but I think it's valid. If a paladin player doesn't "toe the line" you can take away his powers. The rules are specific about that, at least in past editions. Well done. But what if a fighter doesn't? Don't you just change his alignment? And if so, then what?

Edit: The point of what FlatFoot posted seems to be that the DM isn't supposed to hold a player to his or her character's alignment. They are "guidelines" and guidelines are useful for people who mostly know the way, but not for people who are deliberately headed off track.

I've been playing D&D in various editions for well over three decades and I still use alignment for EVERY character I create to guide MY choice of that characters actions.

Yet, ironically, it sounds like you are least in need of that guidance.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I really wonder why it needs to be in the game at all. If it vanished as a concept, would anyone really see any change in their gameplay?


It needs to be there because SOME players need a much firmer hand from a DM, the rules, or other players in order to keep their Wahoo!  Free-for-all! tendencies in check.  Some players I could trust to never even bother to choose an alignment and yet play a character with wonderfully intriguing and subtle morals and ethics which make the game a joy to participate in.  Others I can trust to create a LG paladin, beat the crap out of the first shopkeeper that looks at them funny, undertake a lengthy and costly quest to break up a slavery ring, ignore the torture of a captive, kill a PC who insults his deity, and then simply laugh when a PC assassin murders a party enemy.  For THAT player alignment is needed.  Not only for him to use for guidance as to how to make a character behave in an appropriately/acceptibly roleplayed manner, but for ME to use as DM to hold him to it when he can't or won't toe the line.

I've been playing D&D in various editions for well over three decades and I still use alignment for EVERY character I create to guide MY choice of that characters actions.



No, for THAT player, you need to take him aside and say 'The character you're playing is not appropriate for this game' or 'you're being disruptive' or 'this isn't working out' or some other way of dealing with this obviously out-of-game issue in an out-of-game manner.  Since actions determine alignment and not the other way 'round, alignment isn't a preventative measure for anything.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Since actions determine alignment and not the other way 'round, alignment isn't a preventative measure for anything.

As you know, I agree with your main point, but I've always had questions about this one.

Are you talking about "real world" alignment, as in someone is evil because they've done evil things, or good because they've done good things, etc? Because if someone wants it to be, alignment can be the determining factor in their character's behavior. I've never really seen this done, but I could imagine a player who, when presented with an opportunity to act looks first at the alignment of the character they're playing, and gives serious weight to it. Past actions might figure into the decision, especially for "neutral" characters trying to balance out their choices, but the choices might otherwise be made with consideration first and foremost toward alignment.

Of course, this has nothing to do with controlling the behavior of other players. I'm just curious how you're coming at the idea.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Since actions determine alignment and not the other way 'round, alignment isn't a preventative measure for anything.

As you know, I agree with your main point, but I've always had questions about this one.

Are you talking about "real world" alignment, as in someone is evil because they've done evil things, or good because they've done good things, etc? Because if someone wants it to be, alignment can be the determining factor in their character's behavior. I've never really seen this done, but I could imagine a player who, when presented with an opportunity to act looks first at the alignment of the character they're playing, and gives serious weight to it. Past actions might figure into the decision, especially for "neutral" characters trying to balance out their choices, but the choices might otherwise be made with consideration first and foremost toward alignment.

Of course, this has nothing to do with controlling the behavior of other players. I'm just curious how you're coming at the idea.



I'm not sure how else to put it.  If you use an alignment system in the first place, anyway ...

If you perform good actions, your alignment becomes Good.  If you perform evil actions, your alignment becomes evil.  Ditto Law/Chaos.

The correct technique is 'My character does (or doesn't do) this, therefore he is (alignment)', not 'My character is (alignment), therefore he does (or doesn't do) this'.  I have rarely, if ever, encountered a player in a D&D game who doesn't do this (blah blah anecdotal blah, I know).   Alignment is dynamic, not static, and serves as no form of 'character control' at all.  You don't play an alignment, or a class, or a race.  You play a character.

I don't frell with alignment at all anymore, though, so it's largely irrelevant.  I got corralled into a 3e game recently ('dragged' may be a better word, but you do things for your friends ...) and when the DM asked me my alignment, I said, albeit more politely, 'you tell me 'cause I don't care'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
The correct technique is 'My character does (or doesn't do) this, therefore he is (alignment)', not 'My character is (alignment), therefore he does (or doesn't do) this'.  I have rarely, if ever, encountered a player in a D&D game who doesn't do this (blah blah anecdotal blah, I know).   Alignment is dynamic, not static, and serves as no form of 'character control' at all.  You don't play an alignment, or a class, or a race.  You play a character.

Hm. I think some people do play "alignment first," though maybe only when it suits them. I have heard, and I think other people have heard players say "I'm (alignment) so I do (or don't do) this." It's usually an excuse for annoying behavior, but it's a good bet there are people who do it with good intentions.

I have never though of alignment as dynamic. DMs here always talk about changing a character's alignment, but I don't know what rules they follow for it. Even when a 3.5 palading breaks its code, I don't think its alignment actually changes, it just loses its powers.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Well, it's a gradual thing, not just 'you did something 'chaotic', so now you're chaotic'.  There really aren't any rules for it unless the DM makes some.  Though my preferred technique is simply to jettison the entire concept and all game mechanics related to it (including the Paladin class).
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Well, it's a gradual thing, not just 'you did something 'chaotic', so now you're chaotic'.  There really aren't any rules for it unless the DM makes some.  Though my preferred technique is simply to jettison the entire concept and all game mechanics related to it (including the Paladin class).

Hear, hear.

(That said, though, I really like Dungeon World's version of alignment, and I could really dig an Aspect-based form of alignment.)

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Something my group and I enjoy is describing characters using the mtg color system.
Such as a White/Black mercanary or a Red/Blue wizard.
Heya everyone, here are my homebrew threads: (yes there is only one right now, but there are more to come!) And Let There Be Fish-Men: KUO-TOA
Something my group and I enjoy is describing characters using the mtg color system.
Such as a White/Black mercanary or a Red/Blue wizard.

Sure, sounds good. I have no problem with alignment as description.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Something my group and I enjoy is describing characters using the mtg color system.
Such as a White/Black mercanary or a Red/Blue wizard.

Sure, sounds good. I have no problem with alignment as description.



I would rather the player write down words with less ambiguity.  Just write down 'Greedy' or 'Altruistic' or 'Trusting' or 'Intellectual' or 'Snobbish' or 'Impulsive'.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Something my group and I enjoy is describing characters using the mtg color system.
Such as a White/Black mercanary or a Red/Blue wizard.

Sure, sounds good. I have no problem with alignment as description.



I would rather the player write down words with less ambiguity.  Just write down 'Greedy' or 'Altruistic' or 'Trusting' or 'Intellectual' or 'Snobbish' or 'Impulsive'.

No, I'd rather not anything close to the White Wolf Nature/Demeanor thing poison D&D.

Character alignment should be "This is how Fred is roleplaying his thief" and little more.  If the DM wants to subjectively track each player's alignment, that's the DM's prerogative.
Fair enough. It's probably cuz we get a nerdy pleasure out of applying the color pie to random things (such as dnd characters).
However, after the first session or two it'd be pretty clear whether they are greedy or whatnot. 
Heya everyone, here are my homebrew threads: (yes there is only one right now, but there are more to come!) And Let There Be Fish-Men: KUO-TOA
Oh, and to those asking what my question was, there wasn't one. This was in response to the recurring debate of alignment as "rules".



Well, my alignment says there HAS to be a questions.  If I don't see a question here, I'm going to lose my class bonuses!


Dear WotC: Can you and I meet half-way and make alignment a variant system in D&D Next? You know, stick it in some dingy sidebar (the publishing equivalent of a dumpster in the back alley of a porno theater) so that maybe by 6th Edition enough people will have learned it's completely stupid and how to live without it?



LOL - I wouldn't quite have phrased it that way, but yeah, +1.

Although, just to be stubborn and contrary, I'll play Devil's Advocate.  Don't throw alignment out completely, keep it for a handful of those pigeon-holed planar outsiders... it's bizarre to force a human (or humanoid) character to act according to alignment, but it might make some sort of sense for devils and angels from alien planes of existance to act in so rigid and unnatural a fashion.  As a mechanic, it might illustrate how angelic beings fall irrevocably from grace, or whatever.  Sure, I can do all that without alignment, and most of you can, too, but perhaps there are some DMs who need mechanical help with that.  And use that side-bar for an optional rule that could extend alignment to PCs, but only if a group really, really, really must do so.



Wow, I haven't read the thread all the way through yet, but it seems like those in favor of alignment are a minority.  I'll have to try harder to be a proper D&D iconoclast, I guess.  Down with Classes!  THERE is an extremist position!  I'd like nothing better than to see an end to "well, my character is a Rogue (or Paladin, or whatever), so that means my character HAS to act like an annoying, antisocial creep!  There's no other way to play that Class...."
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I would rather the player write down words with less ambiguity.  Just write down 'Greedy' or 'Altruistic' or 'Trusting' or 'Intellectual' or 'Snobbish' or 'Impulsive'.

No, I'd rather not anything close to the White Wolf Nature/Demeanor thing poison D&D.


So, writing down words that actually mean something is bad?  Explain this to me.

(Bleah, screwed up the quoting.  Well, you all know who said what.)
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
....I have heard, and I think other people have heard players say "I'm (alignment) so I do (or don't do) this." It's usually an excuse for annoying behavior, but it's a good bet there are people who do it with good intentions.



That's rather more fair than I tend to be about it - I prefer to dismiss all of them as trolls using alignment as an excuse to be annoying, an RPG version of "I'm only kidding, can't you take a joke?"

But, yeah, I have to admit the possibility that there might be quite a few well-meaning players who genuinely believe that's the way the game is supposed to be played.  "They wouldn't have put a Rogue in the game, if everyone didn't think that having a thief stealing from other party members was a good time, right?"  "I'm a Paladin, and I'm supposed to be Lawful and Good beyond all reason... I don't want to break the rules by portraying a real human being!"  "As a DM, I'm just not doing my job, if I'm not finding a way to make the Paladin fall and lose his Paladin abilities somehow... that sort of thing makes a really good, dramatic story, and the player wouldn't have chosen to play a Paladin, if that wasn't what he wanted, right?"

I think that in these sorts of cases, the players and DM are wanting to do the right thing, and play the game the way they think they are supposed to.  I guess it's just that something is being lost in translation somehow... they're hearing what they want to hear and seeing what they want to see and reading things between the lines in ways that somehow result in a very misguided interpretation.

And maybe that's at the heart of one of the biggest reasons I've long been skeptical of alignment and, more recently, class:  they aren't particularly effective methods of communicating a character's personality and background.


I suppose there are also in a few cases the sorts of Armchair Generals conducting an elaborate game of chess who see tossing out alignment as being effectively the same as making both sides of a game of chess the same colour:  they need the good and evil alignment to tell two otherwise similar sets of playing pieces apart from each other as they run one fantasy war game scenario after another.  I don't think these players see alignment in the same way that "role-players" or "storytellers" and so on do, but, in any case, I'm sure they do use or "misuse" alignment in a way that they see as being in the right spirit of the game as they understand it.



I have never though of alignment as dynamic. DMs here always talk about changing a character's alignment, but I don't know what rules they follow for it. Even when a 3.5 paladin breaks its code, I don't think its alignment actually changes, it just loses its powers.



Now here is one of the places where I think the use of alignment gets genuinely weird:  changing a character's alignment is usually mentioned almost in the same breath as punishing players:  DMs seem to see their role in the game as the guy who judges players' acting or storytelling abilities, and then dish out "punishments" on those who fail to meet a minimum standard, with the punishments taking the form of changing alignments and taking away character "privileges" - typically, class abilities and equipment.  From there, the whole thing starts sounding to me like some creepy sado-masochistic power trip, and not the sort of game I want to be involved in.

But, perhaps there really is some attraction for certain groups to get together once a week or two and punish each other.  Just because I don't understand or appreciate it, doesn't make it wrong, so I suppose it's fair of me to just say "that's not my 'thing'", and leave it at that.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri