Alignment: Truths and Misconceptions

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Ok well I will start with the analogy,  might go back later and get to the rest of your post but I am kinda strapped for time and this seemed like the fun part. 

The design flaw in alignment rules is at a base level the concept of morality rules itself.  By creating alignment rules what the game is doing is creating an assumption of a single "correct" moral code by which to judge the actions of the characters and their alignments.  This becomes a problem because every person ever creates their own moral code based on their experiences.  This code is intrensic to human nature and each persons is a little bit different.  We can share some views because they are very basic or because our culture finds them important, but there are always differences.

When you impose a set moral guideline (especialy one as ambigious as D&D) people tend to simply take their own moral guidelines and use those as the set moral guideline.  However when you have multiple people doing this you inevitably run into the problem of conflicting ideas.

That is the issue with alignment rules.  It pits each players moral guidelines agaisnt the others in the field of ideas.  The sort of conflict that creates is awesome in a philosophical debate but not neccesarily in a D&D game.  Especially when in game stakes are involved. 


Yagami made part of my point for me, and essentially, he is correct.
As I understand it, your answer to my query was that you challenge the idea of any kind of morality/ethics system at all?
Yagami is on point with this.  D&D is a game about a fantasy world.  A world with magic, dragons, undead, and so on.  With so many other departures from reality, the idea of concrete moral objectivity is also possible.

In effect: It exists because the game designers say it does.  And the definitions of that moral scale are set by the designers of the game.  To use alignment RAW is to accept that scale and those definitions of "Good" and "Evil" and so on, regardless of one's own personal moral code.  I think this is where a lot of the issues and conflict arise, is some people's inability to set aside their own pre-concieved notions of what those moral and ethical terms mean and use the ones set down by the designers.  To me, this is not a flaw in the game design, but rather a failing in those people.  

Maybe I am the unusual one in that I am fully capable of abiding by the RAW in that regard without imposing my own moral guidelines.  This is part of what I meant in my ability to be objective.  For example: To me, personally, the example posited about killing one innocent to save thousands is morally acceptable.  But according to the objective guidelines of D&D, it's still an evil act, regardless of the motivation for doing so.  Another example to more closely involve the alignment mechanics of D&D is this: You and your party are travelling the planes, and encounter a Balor (demon), not summoned or controlled in any way, but there of it's own volition.  The party wizard, having extensive ranks of Knowledge (the planes), knows about the Blood War, and summons a trio of Bone Devils to combat the Balor, counting on inciting the Balor's intrinsic hatred of devils to prioritize those targets instead of the 5 mortals also in the combat.  Now, when using a summoning spell to summon a devil, the spell gains the [Evil] descriptor, even if it did not have that descriptor before, and thus casting that spell is, objectively, an evil act.  To my personal moral code, there is a difference between summoning a devil for one's own gain, and summoning one in the above scenario.  However, as a DM, I view it as my job to be a FAIR arbiter of the rules, and the RAW say both of those things are evil acts.  Part of a DM's responsibility is to be firm but fair in evenly judging the rules.

Of course, I often say that if D&D alignments could be applied in the real world, I would be Lawful Neutral.

But back to the point, I know that to some people, the statement "it exists because the designers say it does" seems circular and self-referential, but it's not, since we're talking about a GAME about a FANTASY world.  The rules of that game are set out by the designers, and those rules hold objective truth within the confines of that game.  Thus, within the confines of D&D, the moral and ethical guidelines set down as Good/Evil/Lawful/Chaotic are the "correct" guidelines for D&D.  At least in terms of RAW play.  Like I have always said, each individual DM can change/add/remove whatever they wish to make the kind of game they want to run.  And one would hope that their game is enoyable to them and their players.  I would hope that such a DM would make clear any such departures from RAW to their players at the start of the game, so that the players can have a reasonable idea of what to expect.

The bottom line, mestewart, is this: If you are challenging the value of the very existence of a moral/ethical scale in D&D rules at all, I don't know that this thread is the place to discuss that.  Since you seem to be challenging the value of any kind of moral/ethical system, I doubt very much that you will be able to provide quotes from RAW that show actual flaws in that system, since you'd basically be going after the entire section in the RAW on alignment.  I started this thread with the intent to clarify what the rules actually say regarding alignment, and to clear up some of the misconceptions that some alignment detractors have about it.  As I have stated a number of times, in every example of why alignment is "bad" that I have ever heard, there exists a clear case of someone making a departure from RAW regarding alignment.

Your case, to me, is a prime example of this.  You claim that the inherent problem is people using their own moral preconceptions by default and applying it to the D&D game.  Unless by some happy coincidence their sense of Good/Evil/Law/Chaos is identical to the RAW definitions, they are making a departure from RAW, and as soon as that happens, I lose all interest in defending anything they do with alignment.  My interest is in promoting the truth about RAW alignment rules exclusively.
Unless there are huge volumes of RAW liturature beyond what are in the basic books then alignments are a very very abstract concept.  If the Moral Codes are in any way abstract people start positing their own values over the systems framework.  You might not be aware that you are doing it but you are doing it.  

If the base concept of the system is flawed as I posit then clearly the parts that compose it are also flawed.  So I would say that my comments have as much right to be here as yours do. 
You're forgetting that the alignment denote cosmic forces. Don't forget, you can make your own value judgments still. The context just changes. You can value evil acts more than good acts if you want to. The designers defined how those cosmic forces look when they are represented in the lives of people. If you don't like those, then that is your right to not like those, but there they are, and they are there to serve a purpose, a purpose which they serve admirably. People who impose their own ideas onto RAW over-complicate things far beyond what is necessary. The RAW by itself really does work. The only time you run into problems is when people assume there is more to it than what is written.
You're forgetting that the alignment denote cosmic forces. Don't forget, you can make your own value judgments still. The context just changes. You can value evil acts more than good acts if you want to. The designers defined how those cosmic forces look when they are represented in the lives of people. If you don't like those, then that is your right to not like those, but there they are, and they are there to serve a purpose, a purpose which they serve admirably. People who impose their own ideas onto RAW over-complicate things far beyond what is necessary. The RAW by itself really does work. The only time you run into problems is when people assume there is more to it than what is written.



Yeah but which is the cart and which is the horse.  Is alignment used to explain cosmic forces because alignment already exists or was alignment invented to explain cosmic forces and extrapolated onto characters?  Also I can say that Demons and Devils are evil and wicked and vicious, and I can have them play to those archetypes just as easily with or without an alignment system.

Everybody imposes their own ideas onto RAW, the RAW of alignments is very simplistic.  No ammount of denial is going to change that. 
Yeah but which is the cart and which is the horse.  Is alignment used to explain cosmic forces because alignment already exists or was alignment invented to explain cosmic forces and extrapolated onto characters?



Alignments are those cosmic forces, according to RAW. 

Also I can say that Demons and Devils are evil and wicked and vicious, and I can have them play to those archetypes just as easily with or without an alignment system.



You could, but you miss out on the interplay of cosmic forces when dealing with demons and the like when you don't have alignment.

Everybody imposes their own ideas onto RAW, the RAW of alignments is very simplistic.  No ammount of denial is going to change that. 



RAW is simplistic, but as a result it covers everything it needs to. It's simplistic because there isn't anything more to say beyond what it does say. People do in fact impose their own ideas on RAW, because they can't get over the fact that RAW is simple because it works as is.
Alignments are those cosmic forces, according to RAW. 

Sooo... can I use Electromagnetic Gravity as my alignment?

I want to go on record: I support almost everything YagamiFire has said on this matter so far.

Game creators can give a "correct" moral code, however they shouldn't.  It is within their power, in that they are the ones producing the game.  However I wouldn't go so far as to call it a right.  In one sense they have the "right" to publish anything they want, just like Hall had the "right" to publish FATAL.  Should he have?  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  should a game company try and arbitrate the morality used in their game?  *much less emphasized* no


It absolutely is their right.  This is a fantasy game, and certain classic tropes of heroic fantasy depend on the dichotomy of "Good" and "Evil".  Without concrete definitions of what those words mean and a way to apply them, the implementation of those tropes is left entirely to the subjective whim of the DM.  As you yourself have pointed out, there are good DMs and bad ones.  Concrete rules, believe it or not PROTECT players from the whim of DMs.  While I do still maintain that DM can houserule what they wish, one would hope that they are not being abusive and antagonistic to their players with that power.
The designers of this game about heroic fantasy have created a "default" setting within which the game can be played, and part of that "default" setting is adherence to many classic fantasy archetypes.  Demons and Angels as beings of pure Evil and Good, respectively.  Holy weapons which cannot be used by evil people, and have great effect against the forces of Evil.  Spells that hedge out evil outsiders, or undead creatures, and so on.  Without definitions of what is Good and Evil within the confines of the game, what keeps the player of that sociopathic murdering character from being able to claim the right to wield that "holy" sword?  Only DM fiat, which, to an immature player, seems unfair.

People get morality and don't need their hands held on it.  Once again it comes down to the fact that if you don't bring morality up, most often people agree on most things and can reconcile their differences if they don't agree.  the problems come from trying to force the issue by creating the expectation of a single correct answer and tying mechanical benifits to that answer.

Just as many people would take issue with any designer given moral code as take issue with other players moral codes.


Like Yagami said, my response is "Suck it up.  Those are the rules, deal it."DISCLAIMER: I'm assuming the DM is using RAW, and not any kind of deviation.

When you are playing Star Wars RPG, do you think your Jedi character should be able to give in to anger, attack recklessly, call on Force Lightning, endangering dozens of innocents in the process, and NOT gain any Dark Side points?

When you are playing a game, you adhere to the rules of that game.  D&D is special among many games with rules systems in that it encourages customization at each given table, and DMs houserule lots of things everyday.  If we used your logic and applied it to any other rule system of D&D, you would see where are coming from.  Example: Magic.  Each player comes to the table with a different idea of what a magic system is, based on their own literary experiences and backgrounds.  One player at a 3.5e game wants wizards to be like Harry Potter, dependent on his wand, but with no limit to what he can do per day.  Should that be allowed at the same table as the other guy playing a Wizard from the PHB?

The point is that the designers CAN'T cater to everyone.  it's simply not feasible.  And having concrete definitions of "Good" and "Evil" only helps promote classic fantasy tropes and archetypes.  And if those words are used without defining them within the context of D&D, then what you are talking about happens.  Everyone just uses their own pre-concieved notions.  By defining them within the context of D&D, they create a fair scale, free of the bias of any individual at the table, by which to judge those moral/ethical issues.

Like I said above, if a DM chooses to implement his own bias, then he is DEVIATING from RAW, and I no longer care to discuss those kinds of people.  It's not relevant to the thread.

As with all other matters, when in doubt, a player should be able to consult their DM since the DM is the final rules arbiter.

 

I disagree with this, the DM should be the arbitrator of the rules but the rules shouldn't cover things like morality.  If the DM thinks that the people in his world would feel a certain way about the actions the PC's are going to take he should have full right to act on that impetus or warn the palyers about it.  However it has been shown many times over the years (especially in the whats a player to do forums) that people don't like getting their moral code thrown out in favor of another person even if that person is a psuedo authority figure vested power to run a game.


I refer to my previous statement of "Suck it up, Nancy".

And those people are always going to have a problem playing in a game. Period. Until they can swallow their own pride and accept what is being presented to them as the reality of the world they will ALWAYS argue with their DM or disagree with them or take issue with what is going on because they are not ceding control where necessary. They are being contrary.

Morality is no more immutable than gravity or the presence of magic in a fantasy construct.

The person screaming bloody murder that it isn't fair that the DM said they're murdering sociopath can't wield the Sword-Of-Infinite-Righteousness will still scream bloody murder regardless of whether or not alignment exists. And control-freak DMs with an agenda at the table will continue to utilize whatever they can to manipulate or control their players. Blaming alignment is obfuscation just like blaming traps is obfuscation. People have become so over sensitive to the reality that things can be DONE WRONG that they endlessly attack mechanics as if those mechanics have some sort of ill-intent because GOD FORBID they call out someone on poor behavior and call it objectively wrong in the game environment.

As long as the mantra remains "There is no wrong way to play D&D" bad DMs will be bad DMs and bad players will be bad players...and the worst is, now they're getting reinforced because they CAN'T be wrong under the current prevelant meta-game attitude. Ludicrous, but true.


I know I already expressed my agreement with you, but I love this.  Thank you.



And I think your entierly wrong.


And as I said above, if you are challenging the right of the designers to even make the RAW, then you really can't contribute to the discussion constructively.  I don't mean to come across as abrasive, but I mean that calmly and sincerely.  You are making a value judgement about the designers' right to make the game as they did, not trying to objectivey show that the system they created is flawed, as it exists.  Saying "it shouldn't exist at all" is not the same thing.


Apparently it is because while some people might have misunderstandings about other facets of rules or even might sometimes argue about them.  However alignment is brought up as a game shattering issue more than any other facet of the rules and possibly all other facets of the rules combined.

Fantasy has long since stepped a fair bit aways from the black and white morality paradigm.  Why should the game limit us to that?


Because that was a decision made by the designers as a part of this game.  You don't like it?  Houserule it away, but your personal preference does not carry objective weight or truth.

You are an interesting case.  You seem to have implicit trust that there are good DMs out there and they are the ones that matter.  The rules shouldn't be designed to help poor DMs and mitigate bad ones. They should be designed to do what you see as benifit and hand power to good ones.  However you seem to take the exact opposite stance on payers.  They are all greedy munchkins who would manipulate the game for their own advantage any way they could.  We should be designing the game to mitigate the bad players even at the expense of confining the good ones.  You might not be trying to but you are coming off as very anti-player.


I don't see that at all.  The way I read Yagami, he doesn't want to cter to Bad DMs or Bad Players.  Why should the problem makers get catered to?  On a personal note: I feel the same way about a lot of things.  Can't stand No Child Left Behind, either.  Why cater to the dumb kids, while the smart kids are stifled and not getting further education?

If a player is being a jerk then the issue should be handled outside of the game.  It is pretty fair to say that the best thing that has come out of evolving ideas around how to run RPG's is the concept that issues with player should under no circumstances be handled in-game.

Agreed, but that's a seperate issue.

Unless there are huge volumes of RAW liturature beyond what are in the basic books then alignments are a very very abstract concept.  If the Moral Codes are in any way abstract people start positing their own values over the systems framework.  You might not be aware that you are doing it but you are doing it.

Zaramon addressed this nicely.  The problem stems from people imposing more to the RAW, rather than just accept them.  

If the base concept of the system is flawed as I posit then clearly the parts that compose it are also flawed.  So I would say that my comments have as much right to be here as yours do. 


I'm sorry if I was unclear in my earlier statement.  I meant that this thread is intended for people to bring up direct RAW quotes to show the facts of what alignment is and isn't; what it does and what it doesn't do, according to the rules.  Your stance is a challenge to the instrinsic value of the designer's right to make a morality/ethics system at all.  That's a seperate issue, and one entirely of opinion, and not facts, as it is a value judgement.  That's what I meant.

You're forgetting that the alignment denote cosmic forces. Don't forget, you can make your own value judgments still. The context just changes. You can value evil acts more than good acts if you want to. The designers defined how those cosmic forces look when they are represented in the lives of people. If you don't like those, then that is your right to not like those, but there they are, and they are there to serve a purpose, a purpose which they serve admirably. People who impose their own ideas onto RAW over-complicate things far beyond what is necessary. The RAW by itself really does work. The only time you run into problems is when people assume there is more to it than what is written.


Quite right, Zaramon.


Yeah but which is the cart and which is the horse.  Is alignment used to explain cosmic forces because alignment already exists or was alignment invented to explain cosmic forces and extrapolated onto characters?


Does it matter?  That's a question for the designers in the pre-development stage.  As a final product, the answer is: Yes.
Also I can say that Demons and Devils are evil and wicked and vicious, and I can have them play to those archetypes just as easily with or without an alignment system.


So don't use alignment.  Your preference for the system does not project an objective value onto the system itself.  
And as far as those demons and devils are concerned, having an alignment system lays the groundwork for effects like holy weapons, anti-evil spells, corrupting effects of evil magicks, and so on.

Everybody imposes their own ideas onto RAW, the RAW of alignments is very simplistic.  No ammount of denial is going to change that. 

That some people impose their ideas onto RAW does not alter the instrinsic value of RAW itself.
Alignments are those cosmic forces, according to RAW. 

Sooo... can I use Electromagnetic Gravity as my alignment?



I don't think gravity counts as a metaphysical force that can be expressed through action. Though, I wouldn't be surprised if someone somewhere worked it in as an energy type. That is basically what alignments really are already, just a different kind of energy type.

Alignments are those cosmic forces, according to RAW.  


Yeah but why?  Why can't devils be devils and angels be angels and elementals be elementals without playing this whole put morality in boxes game.  I would posit that alignment are cosmic forces because the designers tooks something they already had (alignment) and applied it to something else (Cosmic forces).


You could, but you miss out on the interplay of cosmic forces when dealing with demons and the like when you don't have alignment.


What are you saying here?  That if demons don't have a tag on them saying bad then they can't have conflict with angels (who also need a tag saying good)? Because that is what I think I am hearing.  If so that is silly.  


RAW is simplistic, but as a result it covers everything it needs to. It's simplistic because there isn't anything more to say beyond what it does say. People do in fact impose their own ideas on RAW, because they can't get over the fact that RAW is simple because it works as is.


Simplistic models of morality inevitably run into things they simply don't cover.  Denying this isn't doing you any good.
Yeah but why?



This is actually a good question to ask. Why in my setting, does this system function as it does? In the default, its just, "because it does." It makes use of inductive reasoning to say, "this is how it is." This is the same kind of question you should apply to magic, the gods, fate, and any other element of heroic fantasy.

Why can't devils be devils and angels be angels and elementals be elementals without playing this whole put morality in boxes game.



Alignment doesn't really put morality in boxes. That aside, alignment mechanics give voice to the powers that such beings represent. 

I would posit that alignment are cosmic forces because the designers tooks something they already had (alignment) and applied it to something else (Cosmic forces).



Well, as far as RAW is concerned, there really isn't anything to back that up. As they are in 3e, good, evil, law, and chaos, are elemental, cosmic energy forces. That is default though. Not everyone uses default.

What are you saying here?  That if demons don't have a tag on them saying bad then they can't have conflict with angels (who also need a tag saying good)? Because that is what I think I am hearing.  If so that is silly.



Not at all. But where does that leave the blessed sword with a virtue that turns back and burns the forces of evil? Out in the cold. What about a holy blast of power that destroys evil? Weapons like Durandal and spells like the Flame of Anor don't have representation without some kind of mechanic of that nature. 

Simplistic models of morality inevitably run into things they simply don't cover.  Denying this isn't doing you any good.



You're too hung up on alignment as morality. Don't forget, that they don't preclude value judgments. In 3.5, each of the non-evil alignments has a mutually exclusive value judgment as "best alignment." There are various reasons for each value judgment. When you realize that certain requirements must be met for any given alignment, its actually pretty simple.
wrecan:  It is a very specific campaign setting feature that is inappropriate for many campaigns
Chiba_Monkey:  Houserules.

I address houserules in another bullet point called "Unbaking Difficulties".  It would be helpful if you respond to posts holistically, rather than break them out, because it confuses the discussion.  This is a common problem with your response to my post, and I'm not going to cite each instance of you doing that.  Let's move on to more pertinent comments about my complaints...

Chiba_Monkey: I have never once advocated forcing people to use alignment, or told anyone that NOT using alignment is "wrong".  

I did not think that this thread was about us discussing your position on alignment, but rather on how alignment has manifested in prior editions of the game, and particularly in Third Edition.  If this thread was supposed to be limited to what you think of alignment, then it should be a blog.  You'll notice that I did not quote your position on alignment, so I do not know why you are taking my comments on alignment rules as a criticism of your position on alignment.  It was not, and, therefore, this post is a non sequitur.  If you intended, rather, to agree with my statement, there are certainly clearer and more diplomatic ways of doing it than the above-quoted language,

wrecan: Alignment-based spells and abilities can very much hamper certain plotlines.  
Chiba_Monkey: This is, indeed, a valid indictment of alignment mechanics, and something that (from what was posted in an earlier Ro3) is being addressed in D&DN.

Again, is the thread intended, as you indicated in your original post, to discuss problems that DMs have identified with alignment mechanics as manifested in prior editions, or to discuss how alignment is or should be handled in Next?  If the latter, then this thread should be moved to D&D Next General Discussion.

wrecan: Traditionally, alignment has been a way to limit cross-classing.  
Chiba-Monkey: I think this is a matter of opinion that concept-limiting was the PURPOSE of alignment restrictions.  .... They are there to make the classes adhere to specific classic fantasy archetypes.

I am uncertain how you can claim in the first sentence that concept-limiting was not the purpose of alignment restrictions, and then to say that alignment restrictions are there to limit classes to specific archetypes.  In what way is an archetype not a subset of concepts?

Chiba_monkey: I rarely see players take the Good domain.  And those alignment related spells were taken off the generic cleric spell list and restricted to the domain list of those alignments (Good, Law, etc.).  

Not in Third edition.  Protection from [alignment], Align weapon, Magic Circle, Dispel [alignment], Blasphemy, [Un]Holy Word, and [Un]Holy Aura are all spells on the generic cleric spell list.  They are part of the basis for clerical combat power, and are part of the mix used to try to keep clerics balanced.  In order to unbake alignment, you need to either eliminate the spells, or genericize the spells to work on all enemies.  One underpowers clerics and the other overpowers them.



YagamiFire: Also...I keep noticing a trend of people claiming Alignment "ruins stories". Hmm...aren't we against railroading players?

Not ruining stories ≠ railroading.  That is a very smarmy way to mischaracterize an argument, Yagamifire.  Please refrain from doing that if you are interested in following Chiba_Monkey's request that the thread remain civil.



mestewart3: Yeah but why?

Zaramon: This is actually a good question to ask. Why in my setting, does this system function as it does? In the default, its just, "because it does." It makes use of inductive reasoning to say, "this is how it is." This is the same kind of question you should apply to magic, the gods, fate, and any other element of heroic fantasy. 

But we're applying it to none of those things.  We are applying it to game design.  And game design should be able to answer those questions adequately.  Otherwise it violates the game design principle of parsimony in game design.  A game should contain all the mechanics needed to serve its purpose and nothing else.

So what game design purpose served in hard-baking alignment into the game.

I can tell you the historical reasons why alignment was hard-baked into D&D, and they aren't very attractive.

Alignment History
David Arneson first devised alignment after he developed the thief class.  The first players who tested the class decided that, since they were thieves, they should steal from the party.  So they first time the party slept, the thieves killed the party and took their stuff.  The next session, Dave Arneson had scrawled "Lawful" on the top of their sheets.  And when they asked what that meant, he told them it meant they couldn't kill their friends.  (So, irony of ironies, the first alignment mechanic was that thieves -- PC thieves, at any rate -- had to be Lawful.)  Arneson, as he is wont to do, gets a germ of an idea and runs with it.  So any creature that the PCs were supposed to kill guiltlessly became "chaotic" and morally ambiguous enemies were "neutral" and allies were "lawful".  Arneson was creating a world in which the heroes were vanguards of civilization (law) against the hordes of chaos.  When Frank Mentzer organized these ideas into what became Basic D&D, he simply incorporated Arneson's concept.

Arneson mentioned this to Gygax, who at that time was just beginning to develop Greyhawk.  Gygax was basing his world loosely on the ideas of universal morality he read in Michael Moorcock's  Eternal Hero novels (Elric, Hawkmoon, etc.) and Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions.  He really liked this idea, and was crafting his avatar in the game world -- Mordenkainen -- into the ultimate arbiter of neutrality.  So he took Arneson's idea, slapped good and evil onto it, and made the Great Wheel as the defining element.  So the nine-box alignment was created because Gygax wanted to make a very unique and limited game.

When he published AD&D, he just ported over all the rules he had written for his home game.  The Great Wheel became the default cosmology.  And it stayed that way from 1977 until 1984 when TSR developed Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance as full-fledged campaign settings.  By then, the mechanics of alignment were so ingrained into the game that both settings had to incorporate alignment mechanics (even though Forgotten Realms was conceived by Greenwood before alignment existed and his FR articles in Dragon never mentioned alignment).  When the decision was made to issue Second Edition, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Greyhawk all had alignment baked in, so the mechanics were brought over to the new edition.

Essentially, alignment exists because AD&D was just a codification of Gygax' home game.  No thought was given to whether this made sense from a design perspective, because Arneson and Gygax has never designed a game before and had no idea it would be the default fantasy roleplaying game.  By being the first entrant into the market, D&D cemented its role as the premiere fantasy roleplaying game, into which all the Greyhawk mechanics were baked.  Not because it served some greater goal, but because it just got grandfathered in.

After the fact, people, who had developed an emotional attachment to the game as it first incarnated, came up with all sorts of post hoc justifications for alignment mechanics.  But alignment exists because of historical happenstance.  If Gygax hadn't been fascinated with Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock, in the moment when Arneson scrawled "lawful" atop the first thieves' character sheets, we probably wouldn't have alignment in D&D at all.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />And I think your entierly wrong.



That is your right. I am glad you are willing to engage in good, healthy discussion about it. Since I think I'm right and I think you're a smart fellow, I'm sure of my ability to convince you I'm right.

I won't argue with you that videogames have been doing the silly bisected morality thing.  Then again that is a really silly game mechanic as well.



Yet Knights of the Old Republic is regarded as one of the best RPGs of all time. Also without that mechanic in place (visibly or invisibly) there is no way to gauge whether or not a player character is lightside or darkside in the context of the game. Well, you could just TELL the player which they are and not give them actual choices...but I imagine that would be far less fun.

Of course, one might say "Let them do whichever they want! They can be lightside and throw lightning and kill people! Either way!" and that person would be entirely missing the point because when consequences of choices are removed those choices become irrelevant. Alignment is a mechanic for setting up interesting choices for players...and interesting choices are choices with consequences. Choices without consequences are, at best, pandering to the choice-maker and, at worse, mocking the choice-maker.

For a lot of the same reasons as alignment and for reasons all it's own (causes weak story telling, benifits only complete sociopathy and pure righteousness).  Videogame morality systems are no better than D&D's morality system.  The only difference is we don't really go into most videogames for their good stories or ability to change based on our decisions.  It is a very pleasant suprise indeed to find a video game story that is at the level of midcore pulp fiction.



I don't go into D&D for "good stories" either. Most DMs I've played with are HORRIBLE writers that I would be reluctant to even call "juvenile" in their skill level. Didn't stop the good DMs from running good games though...because they let the players have control and do what they wished while presenting an interesting world for it to occur in.

Additionally, your remark about "complete sociopathy" and "pure righteousness" are factually incorrect. Any Good alignment is not necessarily "Pure righteousness"...hell, the Paladin in my game is not purely righteous...he is, however, Lawful Good. Also he's using a sword whose alignment restriction is only "Lawful"...so any Lawful being can gain the benefit of using it (even the LE assassin they had in their custody a short time ago). As Lawful does not represent "Pure righteousness" or "complete sociopathy" that single instance disproves your sweeping statement.

Apparently it is because while some people might have misunderstandings about other facets of rules or even might sometimes argue about them.  However alignment is brought up as a game shattering issue more than any other facet of the rules and possibly all other facets of the rules combined.



Fireballs and throws are brought up as a game shattering issue more than any other facet of Street Fighter and possibly all other facets of the rules combined...but they have NOTHING to do with the game being played at a competent level. They're people with poor understanding of something complaining about something they have a poor understanding of.

Again, I will invoke the fact that I created an ENTIRE THREAD devoted to me doing nothing but solving peoples alignment problems for them. I was attacked for it and my thread was entirely derailed.

People do not want to hear solutions. They want to whine, cry and throw a tantrum over the mechanic that touched them in their no-nos when really they should be upset with the DM that used a system so poorly. Or even with themselves for understanding a system so poorly.

Sometimes the stove is just hot. Stop touching it and start cooking.

Fantasy has long since stepped a fair bit aways from the black and white morality paradigm.  Why should the game limit us to that?



Heroic Fantasy, which D&D emulates, is black & white morality.

In fact, when fantasy strays into the realm of "gray" it pretty much invariably does worse. Look at comic books in the 90s. The stories veered away from black & white morality and the story-telling PLUNGED and comic books have never recovered. Absolute rejection of black & white morality in story-telling is generally a sign of an immature mind that is incapable of accepting a fantasy construct as presented. The mature mind can step out of itself and accept that things can be different from what they know.

The mind of a child is actually far better adapted to this because they do not insipidly ask "Why" about everything...to paraphrase Grant Morrison, when they see a talking, singing crab in a cartoon they don't ask idiotic questions like "Why is it talking? How can it do that?" just like when they read Batman they don't ask "Why hasn't he been shot yet? How can he always win?"...because they innately recognize it alll as fantasy. It is only as the IMMATURE emotion of cynicism towards fiction/fantasy creeps into the mind (usually around the teenage years...an age far too few ever grow out of mentally) that people start asking, frankly, retarded questions about fantasy like "How come Superman can fly? What's the science of that?". IT'S FANTASY! IT'S NOT REAL! Accept that he can fly and enjoy the story unless the story HAPPENS to be about how Superman flies within the context of an enjoyable narrative.

One has to understand that objective morality is no more or less limiting than any other structure of a fantasy game as presented. You might as well be asking "Why should the game limit us to not using AK-47s?"

You are an interesting case.  You seem to have implicit trust that there are good DMs out there and they are the ones that matter.



Good DM's grow D&D groups. D&D groups grow the hobby. Period.

And yes I trust that there are good DMs out there...I have gamed with them...I have read about them...I have spoken to them.

The rules shouldn't be designed to help poor DMs and mitigate bad ones. They should be designed to do what you see as benifit and hand power to good ones.  However you seem to take the exact opposite stance on payers.  They are all greedy munchkins who would manipulate the game for their own advantage any way they could.  We should be designing the game to mitigate the bad players even at the expense of confining the good ones.  You might not be trying to but you are coming off as very anti-player.



You don't understand anything in regards to what I think about players. That is not a judgement call, mind you...it's a statement I'll clarify.

No, we should not design ANYTHING to mitigate bad players. One does not design for "the bad". I design and run games for airsoft players along with my team...that includes designing entire field lay-outs for the field we are sponsored by. We NEVER design the field for anything less than the highest level of gameplay we can conceive of. Why? Because bad players will always find ways to be bad players because they are NOT INTERESTED IN PLAYING THE GAME. They are interested in amusing themselves or disrupting others (usually both simultaneously). There is NO WAY to counter that (short of shock-treatment) and one should not attempt to do so. Instead, we make the best possible lay-out and games for the best players we can imagine. We devote our time to making the experience amazing for everyone that actually wants to play.

At our last game we ran a Resident Evil event where I was in costume and in-character all day as an Umbrella scientist (another facilitator was a STARS commander) and we had fog machines, a great field lay-out, a six-and-a-half-foot Nemesis stalking players and a pair of zombie rounds...we ran that day AS HARD as we could. It was an unmitigated success not only from the positive feedback we received but from the money our sponsor made. NOT ONCE did we give a single damn about a bad player unless it was to boot them from a game (which didn't happen all day).

When one worries about bad players they are taking time away from good players. It is never a worthwhile trade. Design the game the best you can. Does that involve closing loopholes and making sure stuff works? Absolutely.

On the flipside, people that ENDLESSLY cry about alignment while telling those that have ZERO ISSUES with it that they are wrong always appear to me to be bad players or bad DMs because they are INCAPABLE of accepting that the problem is internal. No no, the problem HAS to be with the mechanics. It HAS to be with the game. I have seen this time and time again in things like fighting games (my passion) where people CRY about this or that being "broken" when they have NO IDEA what the game at a high level looks like. They cry about how throws are unfair or how throwing 40 fireballs is unfair even though those things would NEVER overpower a player with half a brain that are devoted to improving themselves.

Playing a game should be married to improving at that game. Or one can play the game without the intent to improve...but if one does that they should not complain about things they "think" aren't right because they aren't putting in the effort to actually understand it.

That applies equally to DMs and players. I've seen DMs cry about all sorts of idiotic stuff that just reveal how poorly they understand either table dynamics or the actual game itself...but they have their ears shut to criticism of what they are doing. What? ME doing something wrong?! Impossible! It must be the game!

My major point is that the community is now to blame for a lot of that because of the insipid, useless notion that "every way is valid" and "there is no wrong way to play D&D". Those are TOXIC sentiments because it allows for infinite reinforcement of bad behavior. Imagine this scenario...

What's A DM to Do? - "I don't know if BLAH is good in the game. Is it?" Answer from community - "Hugs to you friend DM! BLAH is perfectly fine if you are using it because there is no wrong way to play D&D. Go for it! Neon rainbows and puppies farting skittles! Yay!"

which then becomes...

What's A Player to Do? - "My DM is using BLAH and it's awful. Is BLAH bad?" Answer from community - "If BLAH is bad for you then it's bad! Get rid of it! It's okay to do that because there's no wrong way to play D&D! Tell the DM to get rid of it! Cotton candy ponies! Weee!"

which then becomes...

What's A DM to Do? - "Uh guys...my players hate BLAH but you guys said it was not wrong and it was fine. Why do they hate it?" Answer - "If they hate it take it out! There's no wrong way to do stuff! Get rid of it! Marshmallow hugs and hershey kisses!"

which then becomes...

What's A DM to Do? - "Hey guys I took BLAH out of my game and it wrecked half a dozen things...I don't understand any of this. A bunch of my players left. What am I doing wrong?" Answer - You aren't doing anything wrong! They just might be looking for something different! Everything is cool! Kittens & string!

AND

What's A Player to Do? - "My DM doesn't seem to understand the game very well. He got rid of BLAH all-together and it made a bunch of problems."

And so on and so on and so on...

When the discussion starts an ends with "There is no wrong way" that means there is no right way either. All advice becomes equally valid and NO ONE has to prove that validity with anything factual...all they have to say is "It's fun! There's no wrong way!". It's ENTIRELY insipid. It is feel good nonsense that obfuscates points left and right. It avoids problems with feel-good garbage.

A good player will either enjoy their sociopath character and not go after the rightious weapon or play a better character to deserve the righteous weapon.  For the most part players are as invested in the story and the world as the DM (perhaps not in the ammount of time spent working on it but in the sense of wanting to see it work).  That is the main issue with DM arbitrated alignment it is marginilizing the players and telling them that we don't trust you to play right and we don't care about what you think is the right way to play.



No, your assumption is wrong. I arbitrate ALL the rules in my game. Alignment is no different. It is the DMs job. However, just like all other rules, they have to be presented to the players in a way that creates choice rather than constrains. Additionally,  you are conflating playing along with an alignment as "playing right"...my players are welcome to shift alignment. Heck, the Oracle in my game (Neutral Good) is starting to dip towards Chaotic as she rejects the concepts of organized religion and the whole shebang to embrace the power of the individual to change the world. Will she become Chaotic Good? Dunno, it's possible. We'll see I suppose.

The important thing is that I DON'T CARE which she does. Nor do I care if my Paladin falls or not. I am not invested one way or the other. it is HIS character. Will I tell him if something is Good or Evil? Absolutely, all day long. Because IT'S MY JOB to tell him the rules about alignment just like every other rule. It is no different from him asking whether or not something will provoke an attack of opportunity. And just like that ruling, the alignment rulings MUST remain consistent. It is only through consistency that informed choices can be made. My players are invested in their characters...not in any "story". They are invested in their characters motivations and goals...story is generated by that. I have ZERO investment in their characters because I am not biased towards their characters...now, mind you, things in the world may be and I am biased towards MY PLAYERS but their characters are just more sacks of HP in the world.

If a player is being a jerk then the issue should be handled outside of the game.  It is pretty fair to say that the best thing that has come out of evolving ideas around how to run RPG's is the concept that issues with player should under no circumstances be handled in-game.



If a player is a jerk they will be a jerk with or without alignment. If a DM sucks they will suck with or without alignment.

Hence, I find blaming alignment to be disingenuous. More people just need to get critical with themselves and look to what works.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.


If a player is a jerk they will be a jerk with or without alignment. If a DM sucks they will suck with or without alignment.

Hence, I find blaming alignment to be disingenuous. More people just need to get critical with themselves and look to what works.



I think this is what our disagreement boils down to.  You have created a sort of No True Scottsman Fallacy around alignment and bad DMing.  You posit that no good DM ever messes up alignment and when DMs who are good at running every other facet of the game get tripped up by alignment you simply classify them as bad DMs regardless of their history or ability.

I have seen the scenario many times where DMs who otherwise run perfectly good games and groups who have tons of fun at the table run across some aspect of the game where they need to pay attention to alignment rules and everything falls apart.  Often enough in my position as a more veteran gamer I suggest that they simply cut all things alignment from their games.  They do so and everything runs smoothly again.

You have created this imaginary world where that simply doesn't happen.  Well that assumption just isn't true.  Alignment causes problems in cases where no problems have existed prior and no problems exist after its removal. 

Also you did in fact create a thread about "fixing" alignment issues.  However what you don't seem to understand is that you can only give answers to alignment issues based on your own moral understandings and inclinations.  These universal answers you seem to think exist simply don't.  All you are doing is confusing your own opinions about morality for the universal D&D "Truth."  You just end up coming off as arogant and rubing people the wrong way.


I think this is what our disagreement boils down to.  You have created a sort of No True Scottsman Fallacy around alignment and bad DMing.  You posit that no good DM ever messes up alignment and when DMs who are good at running every other facet of the game get tripped up by alignment you simply classify them as bad DMs regardless of their history or ability.



Incorrect. I am framing a bad DM as one that refuses to admit that a facet of their DMing might be bad. I have seen many skillful players of games that were, never-the-less, bad players of those games because they failed to recognize a weakness in their game that continually popped up.

You are asserting that if a "good" DM messes up with alignment then alignment must be bad.

I am not arguing that it can not be a stumbling block...I am merely arguing that since it has NEVER been a problem for me then what I am doing must be better with alignment than those that are having a problem. In a nutshell, I do not have issues with alignment...I am willing & able to share what I do if people are ACTUALLY interested in getting over the "alignment" hurdle they are having.

It is just that, in my experience (especially on this board), many are quick to attack the system rather than get critical with that facet of their game.

If a number of football teams cannot adequately defend against a Hail Mary play (bare with me in this analogy as I know little about football) they would do better to look at those teams that CAN defend against it without a problem than they would do by running to football forums to cry and whine about the play. If they did the latter rather than the former than yes I would qualify them as a "Bad team" (like a Bad DM) because they aren't seeking to improve.

I have seen the scenario many times where DMs who otherwise run perfectly good games and groups who have tons of fun at the table run across some aspect of the game where they need to pay attention to alignment rules and everything falls apart.  Often enough in my position as a more veteran gamer I suggest that they simply cut all things alignment from their games.  They do so and everything runs smoothly again.



If a cook has major issues blowing up pressure cookers, they can solve all their pressure cooker problems by never using a pressure cooker again. It does not mean something is wrong with the pressure cooker, especially when other cooks are using pressure cookers to make wonderful dishes.

A person that eliminates obstacles by avoiding them is not overcoming anything. They're not improving. They're avoiding.

You've seen pressure cookers blow up. You've seen cooks stop using pressure cookers. You have not seen a problem overcome, you've seen an opportunity for improvement missed.

You have created this imaginary world where that simply doesn't happen.  Well that assumption just isn't true.  Alignment causes problems in cases where no problems have existed prior and no problems exist after its removal.



I fully admit pressure cookers explode.

Cancer causes problems in cases where no problems have existed prior and no problems exist after its removal. Just because the cancer is removed, however, doesn't mean we've cured cancer. We just cut it out.

The distinction between your approach and mine, however, is that I label a DM's inability to seek self-improvement as the cancer. You label alignment as the cancer. Well, I've had alignment for over a decade and never had a problem. The games of DM's with an inability to improve usually suffer and die.

Also you did in fact create a thread about "fixing" alignment issues.  However what you don't seem to understand is that you can only give answers to alignment issues based on your own moral understandings and inclinations.  These universal answers you seem to think exist simply don't.  All you are doing is confusing your own opinions about morality for the universal D&D "Truth."  You just end up coming off as arogant and rubing people the wrong way.



No, I give answers based on RAW. The designers of the game GIVE the players of the game the mechanics for alignment. That people read their own morality into it is no different than house-ruling magic then complaining why your house-rule breaks the magic system.

You're also wrong in that I do not base anything in the RAW on my own morality or inclinations of morality. I do not believe in the morality system posited by alignment. I merely find it appropriate to a heroic fantasy setting. This is identical to the fact that I enjoy heroic comic books but I do not live by the moral code espoused in them. Because it's ALL FANTASY. I can seperate my own thoughts and predilections from a fantasy construct presented to me.

As far as coming off as arrogant, our society has gotten to the point that those that pride themselves on intellect are seen as arrogant because others can only read into another persons self-assurance as an attack on their own frail, fragile ego.

When someone offers me help and they speak from a position of authority or experience I hear them out and weigh what they actually say. I do not attack them for having the temerity to presume to know something. That is the act of an ignorant fool. Instead, I hear, consider and respond to the argument, points and information. Now, I have a healthier ego than most but that's evidenced just by the fact that countless people take having any sort of ego as bad. To those people all I can say is "baaa baaaa, sheeple baaaa" because, honestly, what more is there to say that they won't take as an attack on their fragile world view?

You might notice I have never attacked you personally. In fact, I even said you seem like a reasonable, smart fellow. That doesn't mean we can't disagree. That is the difference between those who are confident in what they think...and those that have to viciously, defensively cling to what they believe. Thought is open to discussion...belief is not.9

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

All you are doing is confusing your own opinions about morality for the universal D&D "Truth."



Gonna call BS on this.  I am perfectly capable of presenting a morality system in a fantasy world which does not match my own.  All it requires is a very solid understanding of said morality system.

I do not agree with a lot of Mill's Utilitarian morality system, but I am perfectly capable of inserting a culture in my game which follows it.  And if anyone tries to argue with them, I will play devil's advocate to the best of my ability.  Is this culture "wrong"?  *I* think so, but if I do my job as DM well you will never know that I think this.

wrecan:  It is a very specific campaign setting feature that is inappropriate for many campaigns
Chiba_Monkey:  Houserules.

I address houserules in another bullet point called "Unbaking Difficulties".  It would be helpful if you respond to posts holistically, rather than break them out, because it confuses the discussion.  This is a common problem with your response to my post, and I'm not going to cite each instance of you doing that.  Let's move on to more pertinent comments about my complaints...


It is my experience that in responding to post holistically, rather than addressing inidividual points, that readers often lose track of which original points were being addressed, and it helps me, the responder, stay focused and on track as I address each point of yours.  It is a conscious choice on my part, and the downside of that choice is that yes, every so often, the focus on your post as a whole becomes less in focus than the sum of its parts.  I made a judgement call that the benefits outweighed the costs, and I'm sorry that your preference is otherwise.
To the point, however, my response to your first issue was not to simply handwave "houseruling" as a fix. The more important part was the latter half of my response.  While you are correct that alignment is innappropriate for many campaigns, it is also VERY appropriate, and indeed, helpful, to many others.  This reflects a value judgement on neither kind of campaign.  And frankly, many of those who call for the removal of alignment systems as a whole ARE making negative value judgements on the kinds of campaigns that use/require it, because they are being dismissive of those campaigns.  This is not hyperbole.  There are alignment detractors, even ones in this thread, who have previously said that EVERY game would be better without alignment.  Meanwhile, none of us on the pro-alignment side of the fence are saying that those people HAVE to use it.

Chiba_Monkey: I have never once advocated forcing people to use alignment, or told anyone that NOT using alignment is "wrong".  

I did not think that this thread was about us discussing your position on alignment, but rather on how alignment has manifested in prior editions of the game, and particularly in Third Edition.  If this thread was supposed to be limited to what you think of alignment, then it should be a blog.  You'll notice that I did not quote your position on alignment, so I do not know why you are taking my comments on alignment rules as a criticism of your position on alignment.  It was not, and, therefore, this post is a non sequitur.  If you intended, rather, to agree with my statement, there are certainly clearer and more diplomatic ways of doing it than the above-quoted language,


I'm not sure exactly what you are talking about.  I never viewed your statement as an attack on my opinion. because I have not voiced my opinion, other than inferentially in my support of alignment.  This sentence was not meant to be taken out of context, but rather as part of my response to your first issue, leading up to my point about both alignment-using and no-alignment-using campaigns having equal value, and that a value judgement cannot be made on either one.  Which was the sum total of my response to your statement about how alignment mechanics are inappropriate for some campaigns.  Ultimately my point was that your point and mine, both cancel each other out, because we're trying to keep personal value judgements out of it.

wrecan: Alignment-based spells and abilities can very much hamper certain plotlines.  
Chiba_Monkey: This is, indeed, a valid indictment of alignment mechanics, and something that (from what was posted in an earlier Ro3) is being addressed in D&DN.

Again, is the thread intended, as you indicated in your original post, to discuss problems that DMs have identified with alignment mechanics as manifested in prior editions, or to discuss how alignment is or should be handled in Next?  If the latter, then this thread should be moved to D&D Next General Discussion.


This thread is intended to discuss actual problems identified with alignment when used in accordance with RAW; and also to clear up misconceptions about other "problems with alignment" to show that they are, in fact, deviations from RAW, and are thus, not, objectively "roblems with alignment".
As I said before to Madfox, alignment detection, and the ease with which it can disrupt classic fantasy tropes (such as infiltration, as you also mentioned), is in fact a valid indictment of the alignment system, even used RAW.  Which is something this thread was created to point out.
Now, you are correct in calling me out about my comment on D&DN.  I did not create this thread to "fix" said problems, only identify what problems actually exist with the RAW, and what is merely misconceptions that arise from deviations.  My comment about the proposed fix was pure opinion and speculation, and it was therefore off-topic.

wrecan: Traditionally, alignment has been a way to limit cross-classing.  
Chiba-Monkey: I think this is a matter of opinion that concept-limiting was the PURPOSE of alignment restrictions.  .... They are there to make the classes adhere to specific classic fantasy archetypes.

I am uncertain how you can claim in the first sentence that concept-limiting was not the purpose of alignment restrictions, and then to say that alignment restrictions are there to limit classes to specific archetypes.  In what way is an archetype not a subset of concepts?


I had to go back and read my full statement there to get where you were getting my comment from (and am starting to more fully appreciate the concern about holistic posting that you prefaced your argument with).
Okay, I said that I disagree that the purpose of alignment restrictions was to prohibit certain kinds of multiclassing.  At least, that's what I meant.  And concept-limiting was an extension of that.
The narrow focus of some classes to imitate specific fantasy archetypes is an indictment of class design and NOT alignment.  I thought I made that clear in my second post in this thread.  As I referenced that post, I did not make that fully clear in my response to you, and so my statement was confusing.
That was lazy of me, I apologize for creating the confusion.

Chiba_monkey: I rarely see players take the Good domain.  And those alignment related spells were taken off the generic cleric spell list and restricted to the domain list of those alignments (Good, Law, etc.).  

Not in Third edition.  Protection from [alignment], Align weapon, Magic Circle, Dispel [alignment], Blasphemy, [Un]Holy Word, and [Un]Holy Aura are all spells on the generic cleric spell list.  They are part of the basis for clerical combat power, and are part of the mix used to try to keep clerics balanced.  In order to unbake alignment, you need to either eliminate the spells, or genericize the spells to work on all enemies.  One underpowers clerics and the other overpowers them.


Hmmm...I really am getting sloppy as I get older.  I knew that holy Smite had been removed from the generic cleric list, and when I saw Holy Word/Dictum/etc on the domain lists for the respective alignments, I guess I just assumed that they had been too, since they are essentially higher-level versions of holy smite/what-have-you.  That is my mistake, thank you for the correction.
The problem with equating these spells as "accounted for" as a necesary part of a cleric's combat repetoire is that they have an effect on EVERY creature that does not share the alignment as the descriptor in the spell.  Many D&D adventuring parties consist of people with a gamut of alignments.
Anecdotal example used to highlight the point: The game I currently run has a LG cleric, a NG wizard, a CN barbarian, TN fighter, and (recently altered by the Rod of Seven Parts) LN rogue.  For him to use Holy Word (or Dictum) would place his own comrades in danger, and unlike other AoE spells like Flame Strike, he doesn't have the option to center it on a different target, since HW has to be centered on HIM.  As the only healer in the party (and since he wears heavy armor, and has a move speed of 30 WITH boots of striding and springing), he tries not to let party members get more than 40' away from him.
I know this is anecdotal evidence, but it highlights points about the class that need to be taken into account.  Clerics are often the only healer in the party (3.5e considered a party of 4 players to be the ideal), and frequently wear heavy armor (evidence for this is that the class is given heavy armor proficiency) which restricts speed.  The large AoE of Holy Word (and it's other alignment equivalents) and caster-centred origin point mean that it is only effecient to use if and only if everyone in the party shares that same descriptor.  Holy Smite shares some similar issues, but the AoE is smaller, point of origin of the burst can be moved, and has a mitigated effect on non-good-or-evil creatures.
Given the narrow use of the offensive spells, it is my opinion that removing them would not underpower the cleric.
Show
One more anecdote: I recently wrapped up a 3.5 game wherin I actually got to PLAY as opposed to DM.  We went up to 18th level, and had a large party (6 people).  Our clerics NEVER used those spells, and were still BEASTLY in combat.  Using those spells would have certainly harmed other party members.
Dispel [alignment], Align Weapon, Protection From [alignment] and Detect [alignment] are summarily useless and can be thrown out if a game is not using alignment.  (Un)Holy Aura and the like, however, would be best suited to making more generic, and not overpowered.  You're talking about an 8th level spell, defensive in nature, with a 1 round/level duration, making its effects apply generically does not seem game-breaking.
The final point in your statement is correct.  That kind of thing is time-consuming and beyond the ken of some DMs.  I'm a verteran gamer and it took me about 30 minutes just to go through all those spells and make that kind of determination, and I wasn't trying to take the extra step of actrually codifying such decisions into concrete rules to use in a game.  I acknowledge your point about the difficulty in "unbaking" some of these mechanics.  It is not as simple as "throw it out".

HOWEVER, the difficulty inherent in removing a rule mechanic does not reflect a flaw in the rule mechanic itself, objectively.  Does it make it harder for those people who wish to opt out of alignment?  Yes, but many houserules likewise cause similar fallout that an individual DM must address.  Sometimes more than 5 minutes work has to be put in if one wants to customize the rules to fit with what one desires from the game.
3.5e was not designed with the intent of alignment being modular and easily removed.  I understand that, from your perspective, this is a flaw with the RAW, but I am hesitant to agree.  Namely, because it is my stance to not cater to the people deviating from RAW in this thread.  Let me close this point by saying that I-personally-understand your point in the difficulties, and sympathize that so much extra work is demanded if you wish to competently remove alignment mechanics in order to make your game what you want.  But that is my personal feelings on that matter, and my official stance remains "That is not an indictment of a flaw in RAW alignment rules, as it relates specifically to deviation from RAW."

I can tell you the historical reasons why alignment was hard-baked into D&D, and they aren't very attractive.

Alignment History
David Arneson first devised alignment after he developed the thief class.  The first players who tested the class decided that, since they were thieves, they should steal from the party.  So they first time the party slept, the thieves killed the party and took their stuff.  The next session, Dave Arneson had scrawled "Lawful" on the top of their sheets.  And when they asked what that meant, he told them it meant they couldn't kill their friends.  (So, irony of ironies, the first alignment mechanic was that thieves -- PC thieves, at any rate -- had to be Lawful.)  Arneson, as he is wont to do, gets a germ of an idea and runs with it.  So any creature that the PCs were supposed to kill guiltlessly became "chaotic" and morally ambiguous enemies were "neutral" and allies were "lawful".  Arneson was creating a world in which the heroes were vanguards of civilization (law) against the hordes of chaos.  When Frank Mentzer organized these ideas into what became Basic D&D, he simply incorporated Arneson's concept.

Arneson mentioned this to Gygax, who at that time was just beginning to develop Greyhawk.  Gygax was basing his world loosely on the ideas of universal morality he read in Michael Moorcock's  Eternal Hero novels (Elric, Hawkmoon, etc.) and Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions.  He really liked this idea, and was crafting his avatar in the game world -- Mordenkainen -- into the ultimate arbiter of neutrality.  So he took Arneson's idea, slapped good and evil onto it, and made the Great Wheel as the defining element.  So the nine-box alignment was created because Gygax wanted to make a very unique and limited game.

When he published AD&D, he just ported over all the rules he had written for his home game.  The Great Wheel became the default cosmology.  And it stayed that way from 1977 until 1984 when TSR developed Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance as full-fledged campaign settings.  By then, the mechanics of alignment were so ingrained into the game that both settings had to incorporate alignment mechanics (even though Forgotten Realms was conceived by Greenwood before alignment existed and his FR articles in Dragon never mentioned alignment).  When the decision was made to issue Second Edition, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Greyhawk all had alignment baked in, so the mechanics were brought over to the new edition.

Essentially, alignment exists because AD&D was just a codification of Gygax' home game.  No thought was given to whether this made sense from a design perspective, because Arneson and Gygax has never designed a game before and had no idea it would be the default fantasy roleplaying game.  By being the first entrant into the market, D&D cemented its role as the premiere fantasy roleplaying game, into which all the Greyhawk mechanics were baked.  Not because it served some greater goal, but because it just got grandfathered in.

After the fact, people, who had developed an emotional attachment to the game as it first incarnated, came up with all sorts of post hoc justifications for alignment mechanics.  But alignment exists because of historical happenstance.  If Gygax hadn't been fascinated with Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock, in the moment when Arneson scrawled "lawful" atop the first thieves' character sheets, we probably wouldn't have alignment in D&D at all.


Thanks for the history lesson! Edit: When I read this back to myself it seems as if I come across sarcastic.  It is not meant so. The intent is geniune.
As far as history goes though, one must ask: What source are you citing for this information?  How can I know that you did not, for example, make this up?  I'm not calling you a liar, I am willing to dubiously accept what you have posted, but am honestly asking for your sources.

If a player is a jerk they will be a jerk with or without alignment. If a DM sucks they will suck with or without alignment.

Hence, I find blaming alignment to be disingenuous. More people just need to get critical with themselves and look to what works.



I think this is what our disagreement boils down to.  You have created a sort of No True Scottsman Fallacy around alignment and bad DMing.  You posit that no good DM ever messes up alignment and when DMs who are good at running every other facet of the game get tripped up by alignment you simply classify them as bad DMs regardless of their history or ability.


Ironically, in calling out one percieved fallacy, you have committed another.  Strawman.  Because that isn't what he was saying AT ALL.  His point was that, even when you remove alignment, Bad DMs and Jerk Players will still find ways to be Bad DMs and Jerk Players, regardless.  The problem is with those people, and alignment is only incidentally realted in that sometimes those people use alignment as a vehicle for their abuses.  To wit: Blaming alignment is like criticizing drive-by-shootings, and blaming cars.

Even Good DMs make mistakes.  Learning from the is key.

Where I disagree with Yagami is that I do not attach a value judgement of "Bad DM" on someone who prefers an alternate system.  One of the few things we disgree on, is his assertation that by using alignment (and using it RAW) he is "doing it right".  I shy away from that because of the inherent value judgement that anyone who does it differently is "doing it wrong", when D&D is a game that thrives on customization and houserules.  If he were to clarify that for the purposes of such a statement "doing it right" equates simply to "staying strictly within the confines of RAW", then I would accept that point, because then it does not imply a negative judgement on those who deviate from RAW.

I have seen the scenario many times where DMs who otherwise run perfectly good games and groups who have tons of fun at the table run across some aspect of the game where they need to pay attention to alignment rules and everything falls apart.  Often enough in my position as a more veteran gamer I suggest that they simply cut all things alignment from their games.  They do so and everything runs smoothly again.


I'm interested in how you address the issues that wrecan raised of "unbaking" the hard-coded alignment mechanics.  But that, alas, is a topic for another thread.  You could share with me in PM, or start another thread, but your discussion is beginning to get off-topic.

You have created this imaginary world where that simply doesn't happen.  Well that assumption just isn't true.


And you have created an imaginary argument of his that precludes any kind of understanding or tolerance on his part.  Please.  He said no such thing, so do not argue against that.

Alignment causes problems in cases where no problems have existed prior and no problems exist after its removal.


Except that you cannot possibley prove that to be objectively true in all cases.  If you could, you would have much firmer ground to stand on.  Your anecdotal evidence can be contradicted by similar anecdotes from Yagami and myself about Bad DMs who were adversarial and/or controlling without even using alignment.  Some of the problems with players that get blamed on alignment would still exist in games where alignment was removed because jerk players are going to be jerks no matter what because they are the problem, not alignment.  THIS is what was meant by his post that you quoted.

Also you did in fact create a thread about "fixing" alignment issues.  However what you don't seem to understand is that you can only give answers to alignment issues based on your own moral understandings and inclinations.  These universal answers you seem to think exist simply don't.  All you are doing is confusing your own opinions about morality for the universal D&D "Truth."  You just end up coming off as arogant and rubing people the wrong way.


No, because he was trying to do what I'm doing here.  The difference being that I did not open the door to invite people to address their inidividual anecdotes and attempt to address them.  I'm appealing to the people who want to address the RULES.  I am not espousing my opinions on alignment, I am clarifying what the rules DO say, and what they DO NOT say, because that seems to be a serious cause of a lot of the contention.  You would not BELIEVE (or maybe you would) how many people hate alignment because they think it's a fact that alignment is intended as a straightjacket to inhibit characters.  The RAW expressly state that it is not, in those exact words.  Ergo, as per RAW, it is not.  And any use of alignment AS a straightjacket, is a deviation from RAW.  Those kinds of misconceptions are what is the intent behind this thread.

Yagami had similar intent, but opened up a can of worms by inviting people to come in and post their individual problems, which he would then attempt to reconcile by pointing them towards RAW.  I invited no such thing, but rather requested that alignment detractors directly address the rules that they are criticizing.  And over 50 replys later, not one alignment detractor has supplied RAW text to highlight a flaw in alignment RAW.

I'm curious...why do you think that is?


A person that eliminates obstacles by avoiding them is not overcoming anything. They're not improving. They're avoiding.
*snip*
The distinction between your approach and mine, however, is that I label a DM's inability to seek self-improvement as the cancer. You label alignment as the cancer. Well, I've had alignment for over a decade and never had a problem. The games of DM's with an inability to improve usually suffer and die.


Yagami, I loved your pressure cooker analogy.  But please, keep value judgements of people who choose to abandon alignment out of the discussion.  Because you're wrong.  It's not always an "inability" to handle alignment.  Some people prefer a more "morally-gray" scale of Good and Evil than what is presented in the PHB.  If those people attempt to implement that houserule of their choosing and leave alignment and its mechanics in place, the game can break down.  Sometimes it's a matter of personal preference.  And it's not for you or for me to make a value judgement on someone else's personal preference.

No, I give answers based on RAW. The designers of the game GIVE the players of the game the mechanics for alignment. That people read their own morality into it is no different than house-ruling magic then complaining why your house-rule breaks the magic system.


QFT.  That's one point I don't think he's ever addressed in responding to me.  That using one's own personal morality system and NOT the one in the RAW is already, by definition, a deviation from RAW.  ANd problems are going to arise because the alignment mechanics in the core rules assume that the core rules of RAW are going to be used.

You're also wrong in that I do not base anything in the RAW on my own morality or inclinations of morality. I do not believe in the morality system posited by alignment. I merely find it appropriate to a heroic fantasy setting. This is identical to the fact that I enjoy heroic comic books but I do not live by the moral code espoused in them. Because it's ALL FANTASY. I can seperate my own thoughts and predilections from a fantasy construct presented to me.


Again, +1.
Mestewart, however, operates under the belief that NO ONE is capable of doing so because of how deeply ingrained in human nature it is.  What he fails to realize is that his points about things "intrinsic to human nature", while as a generaliztion, are correct, that those things do not literally apply universally.
I, too, do not personally believe in the morality system espoused by D&D alignment.  As I think I mentioned above...or was it in one of the other threads that the trolls started to mock mine?  Hard to keep it straight.  But in any event...While my personal values and morality is not in keeping with the RAW system of alignment, my judgement as a DM is.  Because in the event that I am asked to make an alignment related judgement call, I look to the RAW and base my ruling on that.  Like you, I am perfectly capable of seperating my own thoughts and predilections from a fantasy construct.

Out of curiosity I'm wondering what are the actual benefits of using alignment within a game, if by RAW they don't force a character to act a certain way? As far as I can tell there are detect spells (which can be considered both positive and negative), class restrictions (which can cause problems if the alignment were to change), deity restrictions (can cause problems if alignment were to change), and the use of certain items and spells are restricted to certain alignments. Most of these just serve as functional limiters on certain combinations of abilities, and the question becomes how beneficial is it to include such limiters?

Additionally I'm wondering why presenting some sort of morale dilemma along the lines of "An innocent life must be sacrificed to save the world" is considered jerk DMing. What exactly defines jerk DMing and why does presenting questions of morality fit into its mold. Perhaps it was just that example that qualified.

I ask anyone responding to this to please keep the post short, not that there is anything wrong with long posts, just makes it easy on new members of the discussion.



   

wrecan:  It is a very specific campaign setting feature that is inappropriate for many campaigns
Chiba_Monkey:  While you are correct that alignment is innappropriate for many campaigns, it is also VERY appropriate, and indeed, helpful, to many others.  

I never said otherwise. In fact, I specifically stated " It is a very specific campaign setting feature that is inappropriate for many campaigns" and "many" does not mean "all".  So your post was a non sequitur.  It also gives off the impression that you are unwilling to allow any criticism of alignment stand without feelign the need to counter it with a compliment, like some cosmic tit-for-tat.

This conclusion is bolstered by your statement further along that "Ultimately my point was that your point and mine, both cancel each other out, because we're trying to keep personal value judgements out of it."  Statements don't "cancel each other out".  In fact, your statements aren't even disagreeing with my statements, except that you feel I wasn't complimentary enough towards alignment. I made no universal statement about alignment being bad for all groups so there's nothing to cancel out.

Chiba_monkey: And frankly, many of those who call for the removal of alignment systems as a whole ARE making negative value judgements on the kinds of campaigns that use/require it, because they are being dismissive of those campaigns.  

But I wasn't.  So dragging your issues with other people in a response to me makes me feel like you are lumping me in with the people do disparage campaigns that use alignment.  It's not a great way to encourage civil discourse, so I would really appreciate it if you don't engage in that sort of behavior.  I tried very hard to frame my post in a way that would not disparage campaigns that find alignment useful.  So it's very disheartening to have that effort disregarded and have people use my post as a springboard to launch an agenda against other people.

Chiba_monkey: Okay, I said that I disagree that the purpose of alignment restrictions was to prohibit certain kinds of multiclassing.  At least, that's what I meant.  And concept-limiting was an extension of that. The narrow focus of some classes to imitate specific fantasy archetypes is an indictment of class design and NOT alignment.  

Except that alignment is the tool used.  And it doesn't "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  I can play Sir Galahad as a Lawful Good paladin whether or not paladins are required to be lawful good.  Alignment-based class restrictions do not serve to "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  They serve to eliminate other concepts.

Chiba_monkey: The problem with equating these spells as "accounted for" as a necesary part of a cleric's combat repetoire is that they have an effect on EVERY creature that does not share the alignment as the descriptor in the spell.  Many D&D adventuring parties consist of people with a gamut of alignments.

Irrelevant.  The spells are there as one of the tools that a cleric uses.  So eliminating or changing it changes the concepts and power structure in the class. That's definitional.

Certainly, some party-compositions make some spells less useful.  In the same way, a party with a character vulnerable to cold spells, is going to discourage a wizard from using cone of cold.  But that doesn't mean that cone of cold is irrelevant to determining how poerful a wizard can be, in general.

Chiba_monkey: You're talking about an 8th level spell, defensive in nature, with a 1 round/level duration, making its effects apply generically does not seem game-breaking.

First, I gave you a list of spells that ranged from 2nd to 8th level.

Second, we're not talking about "breaking the game".  We're talking about excising alignment witout materially altering the power level of the class.  It's one thing if the players as a whole opt to create a party structure that negates a bunch of spells available to one character.  If's another thing if I as a DM houserule my camapign world so as to either underpower or overpower a class, thus hampering the group's ability to design their own PCs

Chiba_Monkey: I acknowledge your point about the difficulty in "unbaking" some of these mechanics.  It is not as simple as "throw it out".

Thank you.

Chiba_Monkey: HOWEVER, the difficulty inherent in removing a rule mechanic does not reflect a flaw in the rule mechanic itself, objectively.  

As I said I have no problem with alignment as a guideline for character motivation.  I have a problem with baked-in alignment mechanics. And on that basis, yes, the difficulty inherent in removing baked-in alignment mechanics does directly reflect a flaw in baked-in alignment mechanics.

Chiba_Monkey: 3.5e was not designed with the intent of alignment being modular and easily removed.  I understand that, from your perspective, this is a flaw with the RAW, but I am hesitant to agree.  Namely, because it is my stance to not cater to the people deviating from RAW in this thread.  

Except I gave you three reasons why unbaking is a flaw and your response to those flaws was "remove them".  So if we are taking "remove them" off the table as an option, then the first four reasons become paramount: (i) they limit the viable fantasy-appropriate campaigns you can run with the system, (ii) they limit the viable fantasy-appropriate plots you can run within the system, and (iii) they limit the viable fantasy-appropriate character concepts you can realize within the system.

If unbaking were simple, then it would not be an issue.  But as you acknowledge, it is not simple, and is therefore an issue.  

Now, if your position seems to be that the game is only intended for people who are comfortable playing by RAW, then your argument become circular.  

Chiba_Monkey: As far as history goes though, one must ask: What source are you citing for this information?  How can I know that you did not, for example, make this up?  I'm not calling you a liar, I am willing to dubiously accept what you have posted, but am honestly asking for your sources.

I don't track my sources, and you are welcome to disregard my recollection based on it.  I am a voracious reader of interviews with the people who started D&D.  I remeber reading an interview with Dave Arneson in which he related the tale about when he first introduced thieves.  The question to which he responded was about his attitude towards infighting in campaigns (obviously, he's not a fan), and not alignment per se.  I remember Gygax talking about the origin of Greyhawk and the stories he wanted to tell in a convention somewhere where someone asked him about plaing Mordenkainen and how Mordenkainen was different from him.  (He went on at length about Mordenkainen being True Neutral and how Gygax though -- or hoped -- that he was more neutral good.)  I'm sorry I can't give you more detail.  I don't know these things can even be found online.


Out of curiosity I'm wondering what are the actual benefits of using alignment within a game, if by RAW they don't force a character to act a certain way? As far as I can tell there are detect spells (which can be considered both positive and negative), class restrictions (which can cause problems if the alignment were to change), deity restrictions (can cause problems if alignment were to change), and the use of certain items and spells are restricted to certain alignments. Most of these just serve as functional limiters on certain combinations of abilities, and the question becomes how beneficial is it to include such limiters?



A number of reasons:
1- It is a tool for helping develop character identity.  In my personal experience, people who are BRAND-NEW to tabletop gaming in general are helped by it, as they may not be used to the idea of making a character and behaving "in character" and alignment is a tool that helps guide them.
2- Alignment mechanics serve to implement many classic fantasy archetypes.  Among them True Evil, holy spells and weapons to combat them, corrupting influence of evil actions and it's fallout effects on an individual in a world with such spells and weapons.  There's more, but that's just a few to highlight the point.
3- For those who prefer well-detailed planned out campaigns, it is a tool in assisting the DM in writing stories and motivating characters.  For example, if I have a party of entirely LN, TN, and CN characters, they may be less motivated by altruistic story hooks, contrarywise, a party composed mostly of Good-aligned characters is more likely to be.  While this is of course not true in all instances, the generalization is true in enough instances to make it a valid benefit of alignment.
4- Limitations.  I know you cited that as a "con" of alignment, but when used appropriately, those limitations can make for compelling storytewlling and games.  Such as concrete, mechanical reasons as to WHY the party paladin can't use the Sword of Kas, a powerful evil artifact.  And those alignment mechanic spells help set out a guideline for how one might destroy such an artifact, a worthy hihgh-level quest.

Additionally I'm wondering why presenting some sort of morale dilemma along the lines of "An innocent life must be sacrificed to save the world" is considered jerk DMing. What exactly defines jerk DMing and why does presenting questions of morality fit into its mold. Perhaps it was just that example that qualified.


Keep in mind the scenario was also coached in the context of a paladin.  DMs who intentionally create "no-win" scenarios that even a Good Player- who id trying to roleplay his character well will fail and suffer detriment no matter what course of action he takes-are being antagonistic to their players.  D&D is a cooperative game.  That means cooperation not only between players against the DM, but DM with the players as well.  Having somone intentionally misuse their authority for no reason to the detriment of your gaming experience is inexcusable, and the sign of a Contrary (or "jerk" if you prefer) DM.

I hope my response wa short and concise enough for you, and still answered your question.  And welcome to the forum community!
1- It is a tool for helping develop character identity.  In my personal experience, people who are BRAND-NEW to tabletop gaming in general are helped by it, as they may not be used to the idea of making a character and behaving "in character" and alignment is a tool that helps guide them.
2- Alignment mechanics serve to implement many classic fantasy archetypes.  Among them True Evil, holy spells and weapons to combat them, corrupting influence of evil actions and it's fallout effects on an individual in a world with such spells and weapons.  There's more, but that's just a few to highlight the point.
3- For those who prefer well-detailed planned out campaigns, it is a tool in assisting the DM in writing stories and motivating characters.  For example, if I have a party of entirely LN, TN, and CN characters, they may be less motivated by altruistic story hooks, contrarywise, a party composed mostly of Good-aligned characters is more likely to be.  While this is of course not true in all instances, the generalization is true in enough instances to make it a valid benefit of alignment.
4- Limitations.  I know you cited that as a "con" of alignment, but when used appropriately, those limitations can make for compelling storytewlling and games.  Such as concrete, mechanical reasons as to WHY the party paladin can't use the Sword of Kas, a powerful evil artifact.  And those alignment mechanic spells help set out a guideline for how one might destroy such an artifact, a worthy hihgh-level quest.



I'd like to point out that reasons 2 and 3 are redundant.  Both of them rely on alignment as character definition: reason 2 is the player using it to guide character motivation and reason 3 is the DM relying on alignment to predict character motivation.  But it's really one reason.

Also, reasons 1 and 4 appear redundant too.  Both of them are talking about character limitations to fit archetypes.  A paladin cannot use an evil artifact because paladins wielding an evil artifact would not be consistent with the archetype.  In fact, if the limitations don't serve the archetype, that would be an example of a poorly defined alignment mechanic (as you've already acknowledged you feel the alignment restriction on bards to be).

Chiba, you correct a few things I said and are more accurate. I will clarify my own position.

The value judgement I am attaching is only in a poor craftsman blaming their tools way. I am not value judging someone that removes alignment in favor of more moral gray. I am only speaking about those that do so because they blame alignment for some perceived wrong.

I have removed alignment in games where I am not running heroic fantasy because alignment doesn't work for that. Similarly, I have run entirely different flavors of games like Star Trek or superheroics where the alignment system would be SIMILAR but still not useful for its RAW purposes. I have removed alignment in gothic horror D&D and in other styles of game.

The value judgement I am trying to communicate is that the players/DMs that call out and blame alignment for THEIR issues with alignment when they either do not understand it or are not running a game that would fit into that alignment system, are "bad". Bad in that they are blaming a system instead of taking the time to reflect on what they're doing wrong. If someone removes alignment because they want to do something different, more power to them. Heck, I've removed quite a bit of RAW stuff in my own game...not because it "ruins" anything but because I am trying to achieve a particular flavor. I've also added stuff too.

Essentially, if people scream BROKEN! at the top of their lungs, the burden of proof is on them just as if someone in Street Fighter claimed a tactic or strategy was broken. In those instances, BROKEN! is disproven by someone overcoming it with no effort or effort comparable to other game situations. As I have said elsewhere, "BROKEN!" is the mating call of the scrub...and a scrub is defined as someone incapable of learning to overcome their own shortcomings because they'd rather blame the game than learn.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.



A number of reasons:
1- It is a tool for helping develop character identity.  In my personal experience, people who are BRAND-NEW to tabletop gaming in general are helped by it, as they may not be used to the idea of making a character and behaving "in character" and alignment is a tool that helps guide them.
2- Alignment mechanics serve to implement many classic fantasy archetypes.  Among them True Evil, holy spells and weapons to combat them, corrupting influence of evil actions and it's fallout effects on an individual in a world with such spells and weapons.  There's more, but that's just a few to highlight the point.
3- For those who prefer well-detailed planned out campaigns, it is a tool in assisting the DM in writing stories and motivating characters.  For example, if I have a party of entirely LN, TN, and CN characters, they may be less motivated by altruistic story hooks, contrarywise, a party composed mostly of Good-aligned characters is more likely to be.  While this is of course not true in all instances, the generalization is true in enough instances to make it a valid benefit of alignment.
4- Limitations.  I know you cited that as a "con" of alignment, but when used appropriately, those limitations can make for compelling storytewlling and games.  Such as concrete, mechanical reasons as to WHY the party paladin can't use the Sword of Kas, a powerful evil artifact.  And those alignment mechanic spells help set out a guideline for how one might destroy such an artifact, a worthy hihgh-level quest.

Keep in mind the scenario was also coached in the context of a paladin.  DMs who intentionally create "no-win" scenarios that even a Good Player- who id trying to roleplay his character well will fail and suffer detriment no matter what course of action he takes-are being antagonistic to their players.  D&D is a cooperative game.  That means cooperation not only between players against the DM, but DM with the players as well.  Having somone intentionally misuse their authority for no reason to the detriment of your gaming experience is inexcusable, and the sign of a Contrary (or "jerk" if you prefer) DM.

I hope my response wa short and concise enough for you, and still answered your question.  And welcome to the forum community!




1.) I'll agree with that point that it can help new players get into character, but we both can agree that new players don't need it to actually get into character.  Unfortunately this benefit isn't as useful for more veteran role-players, although admittedly it might help some.

2.) It's possible to have divine and infernal energies without calling them good and evil, while that may be associated with good and evil it doesn't mean it's required to have them in the campaign.

3.) Player character motivations and by extension player motivations are hard to figure out anyway.  Alignment doesn't ensure a player's character acts a certain way when a certain stimulus is put in front of them.

4.) I never said that limitations were strictly a con, it's just they could be viewed as a con.  If it is mechanically needed to have those constraints for balance reasons then that's fine, but the question I posted is are they really needed?  It's also still possible to have sword of power that the player can't use and must destroy without using good and evil as needed.

You're also getting away from the point I was getting at.  By RAW of the rules all alignment does is impose constraints.  Your Reponses were grounded in further extensions of the rules, but not the rules themselves which I was hoping to originally discuss.


Ok now that I understand the context I agree that giving a player a Morton's fork is unfair to the recipient.

Lastly, I’m sorry for sending the wrong message but I’m not new to the forums only new to this discussion.

Okay, in reading your response, I now fully understand why you would have preferred a more holistic response.  I failed to see how your points were so closely intertwined.  However, despite that, I do need to break up your last set of responses a little bit, in order to fully address the points without losing track.

wrecan:  It is a very specific campaign setting feature that is inappropriate for many campaigns
Chiba_Monkey:  While you are correct that alignment is innappropriate for many campaigns, it is also VERY appropriate, and indeed, helpful, to many others.  

I never said otherwise. In fact, I specifically stated " It is a very specific campaign setting feature that is inappropriate for many campaigns" and "many" does not mean "all".  So your post was a non sequitur.  It also gives off the impression that you are unwilling to allow any criticism of alignment stand without feelign the need to counter it with a compliment, like some cosmic tit-for-tat.

This conclusion is bolstered by your statement further along that "Ultimately my point was that your point and mine, both cancel each other out, because we're trying to keep personal value judgements out of it."  Statements don't "cancel each other out".  In fact, your statements aren't even disagreeing with my statements, except that you feel I wasn't complimentary enough towards alignment. I made no universal statement about alignment being bad for all groups so there's nothing to cancel out.

Chiba_monkey: And frankly, many of those who call for the removal of alignment systems as a whole ARE making negative value judgements on the kinds of campaigns that use/require it, because they are being dismissive of those campaigns.  

But I wasn't.  So dragging your issues with other people in a response to me makes me feel like you are lumping me in with the people do disparage campaigns that use alignment.  It's not a great way to encourage civil discourse, so I would really appreciate it if you don't engage in that sort of behavior.  I tried very hard to frame my post in a way that would not disparage campaigns that find alignment useful.  So it's very disheartening to have that effort disregarded and have people use my post as a springboard to launch an agenda against other people.


I apologize for the impression I have been giving you.  I mean no disrespect, and I am sorry if you feel I misrepresented your point.  It was an honest misunderstanding of your point on my part.

However, I did not feel obliged to counter any criticism of alignment or let that slide.  It seemed to me that your first point was a criticism of alignment solely because it is limiting to SOME campaigns.  Given that, I was attempting to mitigate the impact of that point as a flaw, because there are just as many campaigns that benefit from alignment.  And as those are both subjective issues, they weren't valid objective criticisms of RAW.

Chiba_monkey: Okay, I said that I disagree that the purpose of alignment restrictions was to prohibit certain kinds of multiclassing.  At least, that's what I meant.  And concept-limiting was an extension of that. The narrow focus of some classes to imitate specific fantasy archetypes is an indictment of class design and NOT alignment.  

Except that alignment is the tool used.  And it doesn't "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  I can play Sir Galahad as a Lawful Good paladin whether or not paladins are required to be lawful good.  Alignment-based class restrictions do not serve to "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  They serve to eliminate other concepts.

Again, I addressed this in my second post in this thread.  The (pre-4e)paladin class was an attempt to adhere to a specific fantasy archetype, one in keeping with what the word "paladin" means in the English language.  Going by that definition of paladins, a Chaotic Evil "paladin" could not exist.  And the alignment-based class restrictions absolutely do serve to imitate specific fantasy archetypes.  Look back to post #2 and read what I posted regarding the monk and barbarian.  The fact is that those classes are meant to represent specific fantasy archetypes, and the developers made the restrictions regarding them because those archetypes were the most common, and resonate with the most people.  And the developers are trying to make a game that they can SELL.  WotC still has to make money.  I addressed all this in post #2.  Including acknowledging that YES, those restrictions DO, in fact, limit some other concepts.  But in order to make money, when they made the rules, they made a decision to make the classes adhere to the archetypes that resonate with the majority, and not the minority.  They can't possibly account for all concepts, everywhere.  That would be ridiculous, and I'm sorry if I'm off-base, but that's what it seems like you are saying.  That because of their failure to account for ALL other archetypes of those classes, that those class designs fail.  I might be off, but that is my perception of your point.
If not, ignore the next bit.  But if so, then I contest your assumptions.  The classes were not INTENDED to cover all archetypes, everywhere.  They do a good job of respresenting the specific archetypes they were intended to do.  It is my position that RAW are sacrosanct, and that I am not in a position to say that the class design failed, because it fulfills it's intended purpose.

Chiba_monkey: The problem with equating these spells as "accounted for" as a necesary part of a cleric's combat repetoire is that they have an effect on EVERY creature that does not share the alignment as the descriptor in the spell.  Many D&D adventuring parties consist of people with a gamut of alignments.

Irrelevant.  The spells are there as one of the tools that a cleric uses.  So eliminating or changing it changes the concepts and power structure in the class. That's definitional.

Certainly, some party-compositions make some spells less useful.  In the same way, a party with a character vulnerable to cold spells, is going to discourage a wizard from using cone of cold.  But that doesn't mean that cone of cold is irrelevant to determining how poerful a wizard can be, in general.

Chiba_monkey: You're talking about an 8th level spell, defensive in nature, with a 1 round/level duration, making its effects apply generically does not seem game-breaking.

First, I gave you a list of spells that ranged from 2nd to 8th level.

Second, we're not talking about "breaking the game".  We're talking about excising alignment witout materially altering the power level of the class.  It's one thing if the players as a whole opt to create a party structure that negates a bunch of spells available to one character.  If's another thing if I as a DM houserule my camapign world so as to either underpower or overpower a class, thus hampering the group's ability to design their own PCs


Those offensive spells are not the only offensive spells in a cleric's repetoire.  Plenty of clerics can be effective in combat without using those particular spells.  Are they less effective?  That would be hrd to prove.  
Another anecdotal reference: I don't allow the Spell Compendium for any caster at my table.  Am I unfairly limiting the power of spellcasters at my table?  No, because that ruling is universal at my table, and I don't use spells from it on the players, either.  Are they underpowered compared to a caster at a table who allows those spells?  Likely.  I've dubbed that book "The Big Book of Broken Spells" for a reason.
Furthermore, I addressed more than just the one 8th level spell.  But of the ones you brought up, that one was the only one I said would probably be okay keeping in the game, but making it apply generally.  I specifically addressed which ones could also be "thrown out" if one is dismissing alignment mechanics.  The fact that each spell has to be addressed on a case-by-case basis was a big part of me acknowledging how complicated removing it was.

Chiba_Monkey: I acknowledge your point about the difficulty in "unbaking" some of these mechanics.  It is not as simple as "throw it out".

Thank you.

Chiba_Monkey: HOWEVER, the difficulty inherent in removing a rule mechanic does not reflect a flaw in the rule mechanic itself, objectively.  

As I said I have no problem with alignment as a guideline for character motivation.  I have a problem with baked-in alignment mechanics. And on that basis, yes, the difficulty inherent in removing baked-in alignment mechanics does directly reflect a flaw in baked-in alignment mechanics.


You realize that's logically flawed, right? "The flaw in the system is that I cannot remove the system"  As I said, 3.5e alignment mechanics were not designed to be modular.  If they were INTENDED to be modular, and they were that difficult to remove, you would be correct.  As it is not a failure of mechanics to follow design, it is not a flaw.

Chiba_Monkey: 3.5e was not designed with the intent of alignment being modular and easily removed.  I understand that, from your perspective, this is a flaw with the RAW, but I am hesitant to agree.  Namely, because it is my stance to not cater to the people deviating from RAW in this thread.  

Except I gave you three reasons why unbaking is a flaw and your response to those flaws was "remove them".  So if we are taking "remove them" off the table as an option, then the first four reasons become paramount: (i) they limit the viable fantasy-appropriate campaigns you can run with the system, (ii) they limit the viable fantasy-appropriate plots you can run within the system, and (iii) they limit the viable fantasy-appropriate character concepts you can realize within the system.

If unbaking were simple, then it would not be an issue.  But as you acknowledge, it is not simple, and is therefore an issue.  

Now, if your position seems to be that the game is only intended for people who are comfortable playing by RAW, then your argument become circular.


Not circular at all, because of one key difference between my position, and what you phrased here, above.
My position is that "The RAW of the game are intended for people who are going to be playing with RAW, and not deviating."
They seem similar, but the difference is that what you posited implies a judgement on those who wish to deviate from RAW that the game as a whole is not for them.  Which is not the case.
The RAW cannot possibly account for ALL POSSIBLE deviations from RAW.  It's enough that "Rule 0" exists.  The RAW need to be a set of concrete guidelines for the rules of the game.  And when you have people whose preference is to cherry-pick from those rules, you cannot possibly make everyone happy when you make the rules, because invariably, SOMEONE is going to say "hey, the rules don't account for my preference of _____!".  As a personal note on the side: this is why I am a little trepidatious in regards to what D&DN is trying to.  Attempting to please everybody is a monumental task.  I maintain cautious optimism, though, and hope for the best.

I'm sorry, but part of making the decision to deviate from rules means a little bit of extra work.  When you want to change or eliminate a rule, the burden is on you to go through and make sure you deal with everything that rule affects.  If it's something simple, like ignoring multiclassing penalties, the it's easy.  The only other thing that affects is that you also ignore favored class under the race entry.  When it's something as far-reaching as alignment, that becomes a Herculean task.  I empathize with you for how difficult your task is, but it is a task you chose to take upon yourself.  After all, no one FORCED you to deviate from RAW.

And as for the bit about the origin of alignment.  I believe you about what you read, and that you are representing it here to the best of your recollection.  However, it remains anecdotal, and is not actually relevant to the discussion of facts about alignment.


1.) I'll agree with that point that it can help new players get into character, but we both can agree that new players don't need it to actually get into character.  Unfortunately this benefit isn't as useful for more veteran role-players, although admittedly it might help some.

2.) It's possible to have divine and infernal energies without calling them good and evil, while that may be associated with good and evil it doesn't mean it's required to have them in the campaign.

3.) Player character motivations and by extension player motivations are hard to figure out anyway.  Alignment doesn't ensure a player's character acts a certain way when a certain stimulus is put in front of them.

4.) I never said that limitations were strictly a con, it's just they could be viewed as a con.  If it is mechanically needed to have those constraints for balance reasons then that's fine, but the question I posted is are they really needed?  It's also still possible to have sword of power that the player can't use and must destroy without using good and evil as needed.


You are entering circular logic because I said those things in response to your request that I ask what alignment can bring to the table.  To turn around and say "oh, but to SOME people that's not necessary" is irrelevant.  I answered your query.

You're also getting away from the point I was getting at.  By RAW of the rules all alignment does is impose constraints.  Your Reponses were grounded in further extensions of the rules, but not the rules themselves which I was hoping to originally discuss.


Please prove your claim of fact that "By RAW all alignment does is impose constraints".
I can certainly show some ways that it does NOT impose some of the constraints that some people claim it does.
3.5e PHB, page 103 (bold added on my part for emphasis):
A creature's general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment...

Alignment is a tool for developing your character's identity.  It is not a straightjacket for restricting your character.  Each alignment represents a broad range of personal philosophies, so two lawful good characters can still be quite different from each other.  In addition, few people are completely consistent.  A lawful good character may have a greedy streak that occasionally tempts him to take something or hoard something he has, even if that's not lawful or good behavior.  People are also not consistent from day to day. A good character can lose his temper, a neutral character can be inspired to perform a noble act, and so on.

 
From the next page (104),in the section titled "The Nine Alignments"
Each alignment description below depicts a typical character of that alignment.  Remember that individuals vary from this norm, and that a given character may act more or less in accord with his or her alignment from day to day.





Lastly, I’m sorry for sending the wrong message but I’m not new to the forums only new to this discussion.



Sorry, I saw the "Joined Aug 2012" tag under your profile name.  To me, that's "new to the forums"
Chiba_Monkey:  Okay, I said that I disagree that the purpose of alignment restrictions was to prohibit certain kinds of multiclassing.  At least, that's what I meant.  And concept-limiting was an extension of that. The narrow focus of some classes to imitate specific fantasy archetypes is an indictment of class design and NOT alignment.  

wrecan: Except that alignment is the tool used.  And it doesn't "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  I can play Sir Galahad as a Lawful Good paladin whether or not paladins are required to be lawful good.  Alignment-based class restrictions do not serve to "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  They serve to eliminate other concepts.

Chiba_monkey: The (pre-4e)paladin class was an attempt to adhere to a specific fantasy archetype, one in keeping with what the word "paladin" means in the English language.  Going by that definition of paladins, a Chaotic Evil "paladin" could not exist.  

That's not "imiat[ing] specific fantasy archetypes".  It is eliminating nonconfroming concepts.  It's an important, albeit subtle, difference that you are avoiding. Since I can play Galahad without alignment mechanics, the alignment mechanic is not enabling me to imitate the noble paladin archetype.  All the mechanic does is prevent me from playing a paladin that fails to conform with this archetype.


chiba-monkey: And the alignment-based class restrictions absolutely do serve to imitate specific fantasy archetypes.  Look back to post #2 and read what I posted regarding the monk and barbarian.  The fact is that those classes are meant to represent specific fantasy archetypes

Except I could play those archetypes ven if the alignment mechanics did not exist.  What I can't do -- and remain RAW -- is play a monk or barbarian other than those delineated within the archetypes.  Again, I am not saying these archetypes don't exist.  I am taking issue with the idea that the alignment mechanics foster those archetypes.  They don't.  They only prevent people from doing much else with that class.



Chiba_Monkey: "The flaw in the system is that I cannot remove the system"  As I said, 3.5e alignment mechanics were not designed to be modular.  If they were INTENDED to be modular, and they were that difficult to remove, you would be correct.  As it is not a failure of mechanics to follow design, it is not a flaw.
Chiba_Monkey: My position is that "The RAW of the game are intended for people who are going to be playing with RAW, and not deviating." They seem similar, but the difference is that what you posited implies a judgement on those who wish to deviate from RAW that the game as a whole is not for them.  Which is not the case.

And this gets back to your circular argument.  You asked us for problems with alignment. But each time I come up with one, you counter that it doesn't count because we should only discuss people content to play within those alignment restrictions.  So the person who want to play a non-lawful monk doesn't count because non-lawful monks aren't RAW. And the person who wants to play a lawful neutral paladin doesn't count because lawful neutral paladins aren't RAW.  

By definition a person dissatified with alignment is dissatisfied with playing within the confines of RAW since alignment is RAW.

So the request you made in the beginning of the thread turns out to be a disingenuous rhetorical trap.  Because based on what you've just written you want to find people satisfied with RAW who are dissatisfied with alignment (which is RAW).  That's a logical impossibility.  Which is why this conversation is rapidly being explosed as a fruitless endeavor designed only to justify in your own mind why there's no problem with alignment than can't be placed on bad DMs or players who don't want to play the game as you feel it should be played.


Chiba_Monkey: Those offensive spells are not the only offensive spells in a cleric's repetoire.  Plenty of clerics can be effective in combat without using those particular spells.  Are they less effective?  That would be hrd to prove.  

No it isn't.  If the spell has an effect, then denying that effect without replacing it with an equally effective effect makes it less effective.  QED


wrecan: As I said I have no problem with alignment as a guideline for character motivation.  I have a problem with baked-in alignment mechanics. And on that basis, yes, the difficulty inherent in removing baked-in alignment mechanics does directly reflect a flaw in baked-in alignment mechanics.

Chiba_Monkey: You realize that's logically flawed, right?

You realize the way you phrased that sentence makes you sound like a condescending a-hole, right?


Chiba_Monkey: The RAW cannot possibly account for ALL POSSIBLE deviations from RAW.  It's enough that "Rule 0" exists.  

However, if Rule Zero is difficult to implement -- and you've acknowledged that unbaking alignment is difficult to implement -- then it is an impractical solution.  So if Rule Zero is included as a solution for those dissatisfied with RAW, but is impractical, that is a game design flaw.


Chiba_Monkey: I'm sorry, but part of making the decision to deviate from rules means a little bit of extra work.  

Except you have already acknowledged that the work is more than a "little bit".  So stop trying to back away from what you previously wrote.


Chiba_Monkey: And as for the bit about the origin of alignment.  I believe you about what you read, and that you are representing it here to the best of your recollection.  However, it remains anecdotal, and is not actually relevant to the discussion of facts about alignment.

I included it because I thought people would find it interesting.  It's why I included it in spoiler blocks so as to minimuze the thread drift caused thereby.  I also included it in response to Zaramon who was discussing with mestewart the "purpose" of alignment.  It should be acknowledged that the purpose of alignment is murky at best.  And to that purpose it was on-topic.

You are entering circular logic because I said those things in response to your request that I ask what alignment can bring to the table.  To turn around and say "oh, but to SOME people that's not necessary" is irrelevant.  I answered your query.


Please prove your claim of fact that "By RAW all alignment does is impose constraints".
I can certainly show some ways that it does NOT impose some of the constraints that some people claim it does.
3.5e PHB, page 103 (bold added on my part for emphasis):
A creature's general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment...

Alignment is a tool for developing your character's identity.  It is not a straightjacket for restricting your character.  Each alignment represents a broad range of personal philosophies, so two lawful good characters can still be quite different from each other.  In addition, few people are completely consistent.  A lawful good character may have a greedy streak that occasionally tempts him to take something or hoard something he has, even if that's not lawful or good behavior.  People are also not consistent from day to day. A good character can lose his temper, a neutral character can be inspired to perform a noble act, and so on.

 


From the next page (104),in the section titled "The Nine Alignments"
Each alignment description below depicts a typical character of that alignment.  Remember that individuals vary from this norm, and that a given character may act more or less in accord with his or her alignment from day to day.



 
Sorry, I saw the "Joined Aug 2012" tag under your profile name.  To me, that's "new to the forums"




Where the source of your confusion has to do with the fact that we're not looking at the game from the same scope.  So let me reframe the context of what I said so that we're on the same page.  I'm looking at the game from a strict mechanical level whereas the topic we moved onto discussing was the subjective part of the mechanic.   


To stress again I'm talking about chaos hammer does more damage to lawful creatures, and good characters can't wield the sword of Kas.  Not the more subjective question of how does it affect character actions.


My original post's question that I was trying to purpose was if alignment was really needed.  You did cite benefits, and I did agree with much of what you had to say, but my overall point was that those same things can be accomplished without alignment.  Once again I could have been clearer, but now you see where I'm coming from.


To further reiterate the rules on alignment in the player's handbook on the pages 103 are not the constraints I'm referring to.  I'm talking about mechanical constraints, not whatever subjective role-playing constraints some may argue exist.


I will ask that you not continue with the new to the forums comment.  Thank you.





Chiba_Monkey:  Okay, I said that I disagree that the purpose of alignment restrictions was to prohibit certain kinds of multiclassing.  At least, that's what I meant.  And concept-limiting was an extension of that. The narrow focus of some classes to imitate specific fantasy archetypes is an indictment of class design and NOT alignment.  

wrecan: Except that alignment is the tool used.  And it doesn't "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  I can play Sir Galahad as a Lawful Good paladin whether or not paladins are required to be lawful good.  Alignment-based class restrictions do not serve to "imitate specific fantasy archetypes".  They serve to eliminate other concepts.

Chiba_monkey: The (pre-4e)paladin class was an attempt to adhere to a specific fantasy archetype, one in keeping with what the word "paladin" means in the English language.  Going by that definition of paladins, a Chaotic Evil "paladin" could not exist.  

That's not "imiat[ing] specific fantasy archetypes".  It is eliminating nonconfroming concepts.  It's an important, albeit subtle, difference that you are avoiding. Since I can play Galahad without alignment mechanics, the alignment mechanic is not enabling me to imitate the noble paladin archetype.  All the mechanic does is prevent me from playing a paladin that fails to conform with this archetype.


chiba-monkey: And the alignment-based class restrictions absolutely do serve to imitate specific fantasy archetypes.  Look back to post #2 and read what I posted regarding the monk and barbarian.  The fact is that those classes are meant to represent specific fantasy archetypes

Except I could play those archetypes ven if the alignment mechanics did not exist.  What I can't do -- and remain RAW -- is play a monk or barbarian other than those delineated within the archetypes.  Again, I am not saying these archetypes don't exist.  I am taking issue with the idea that the alignment mechanics foster those archetypes.  They don't.  They only prevent people from doing much else with that class.


"Imitating specifc fantasy archetypes" and "eliminating nonconfroming concepts" are not mutually exclusive.  By doing the former, the latter follows.  The mechanics are not what enables you to play Galahad, but it shapes the paladin class as conforming to that archetype.

that doesn't mean that the "lawful barbarian" or "chaotic monk" or "LN paladin" are invalid concepts?  No, but they're concepts outside of what the designers felt would be the most appealing and widely resonating fantasy concepts.

Chiba_monkey: They can't possibly account for all concepts, everywhere.  

Nor did I ask for that.

Forgive me, but that seems to be exactly your point, is that they should.

Chiba_monkey: The classes were not INTENDED to cover all archetypes, everywhere.  
Chiba_Monkey: "The flaw in the system is that I cannot remove the system"  As I said, 3.5e alignment mechanics were not designed to be modular.  If they were INTENDED to be modular, and they were that difficult to remove, you would be correct.  As it is not a failure of mechanics to follow design, it is not a flaw.
Chiba_Monkey: My position is that "The RAW of the game are intended for people who are going to be playing with RAW, and not deviating." They seem similar, but the difference is that what you posited implies a judgement on those who wish to deviate from RAW that the game as a whole is not for them.  Which is not the case.

And this gets back to your circular argument.  You asked us for problems with alignment. But each time I come up with one, you counter that it doesn't count because we should only discuss people content to play within those alignment restrictions.  So the person who want to play a non-lawful monk doesn't count because non-lawful monks aren't RAW. And the person who wants to play a lawful neutral paladin doesn't count because lawful neutral paladins arent' RAW.


Unless the system is DESIGNED to be removed, difficulty removing it is not an inherent flaw in said system.  And the class restrictions are, as I mentioned above, an indictment of the limitations of class design.  I have asked for people to cite problems with what alignment is and isn't.  What it does and does not do.

By definition a person dissatified with alignment is dissatisfied with playing within the confinces of RAW since alignment is RAW.

So the request you made in the beginning of the thread turns out to be a disingenuous rhetorical trap.  Because based on what you've just written you want to find people satisfied with RAW who are dissatisfied with alignment (which is RAW).  That's a logical impossibility.  Which is why this conversation is rapidly being explosed as a fruitless endeavor designed only to justify in your own mind why there's no problem with alignment than can't be placed on bad DMs or players who don't want to play the game as it shoudl be played.

This is deliberately misrepresenting my points, and it's beneath you, wrecan.
What I have asked for is for people who ARE playing with alignment, or HAVE played with alignment-and had issues-to discuss what they believe are the problems with the system.  It is my experience that most of those problems stemmed from a deviation from RAW.  If it can be shown that the RAW do not support those examples, the alignment cannot be said to be an objectively bad system, can it?  I've stated this openly from the OP, so there is nothign disingenuous.

Chiba_Monkey: Those offensive spells are not the only offensive spells in a cleric's repetoire.  Plenty of clerics can be effective in combat without using those particular spells.  Are they less effective?  That would be hrd to prove.  

No it isn't.  If the spell has an effect then denying that effect without replacing it with an equal effects makes it less effective.  QED


You either dodged the question, or I was not clear enough.  Can you show, objectively, that a cleric who CHOOSES not to use those spells, but instead uses other offensive spells is a less effective combatant for it?

wrecan: As I said I have no problem with alignment as a guideline for character motivation.  I have a problem with baked-in alignment mechanics. And on that basis, yes, the difficulty inherent in removing baked-in alignment mechanics does directly reflect a flaw in baked-in alignment mechanics.

Chiba_Monkey: You realize that's logically flawed, right?

You realize the way you phrased that sentence makes you sound like a condescending a-hole, right?

Sorry.  Happens with my in-person speech, too.  I tend to come across that way when I was not intending to.  Poor choice of words.  Allow me to rephrase.
The phrase "the flaw in the system when it is used is that it is difficult to extract the system from the rules so I can NOT use it" is logically inconsistent.  How can the difficulty in removing the system from the game possibly reflect a flaw in using that system?


Chiba_Monkey: The RAW cannot possibly account for ALL POSSIBLE deviations from RAW.  It's enough that "Rule 0" exists.  

However, if Rule Zero is difficult to implement -- and you've acknowledged that unbaking alignment is difficult to implement -- then it is an impractical solution.  So if Rule Zero is included as a solution to be dissatisfied with RAW, but is impractical, that is a game design flaw.


Chiba_Monkey: I'm sorry, but part of making the decision to deviate from rules means a little bit of extra work.  

Except you have already acknowledged that the work is more than a "little bit".  So stop trying to back away from what you previously wrote.


I'm not backing away from anything.  If you wish to deviate from RAW, then you have some work ahead of you.  Depending on what you want to houserule, that work might range from a few lines of text, to a massive undertaking.  My saying "a 'little bit' of work" was not meant to be taken in the most literal way possible.  I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.  But in making the decision to deviate, you accept the workload.

Chiba_Monkey: And as for the bit about the origin of alignment.  I believe you about what you read, and that you are representing it here to the best of your recollection.  However, it remains anecdotal, and is not actually relevant to the discussion of facts about alignment.

I included it because I thought people would find it interesting.  It's why I included it in spoiler blocks so as to minimuze the thread drift caused thereby.  I also included it because people were making references to the "purpose" of alignment, and it should be acknowledged that the purpose of alignment is murky at best.



I did find it interesting.  And in that spirit, I thank you for posting it.
But we're applying it to none of those things.  We are applying it to game design.  And game design should be able to answer those questions adequately.  Otherwise it violates the game design principle of parsimony in game design.  A game should contain all the mechanics needed to serve its purpose and nothing else.



Well, the ideas are taken from Michael Moorcock's Multiverse. His setting has law, chaos, good, and evil as elemental forces. They are varieties of energy that have real impact and interplay with each other. They actually harken back to Joseph Campbell's work on the monomyth. I thought that much in the same way classes like the wizard represent the trope of the fantastic magic user in heroic fantasy and myth, that alignment likewise represents those ideas.

The question you're bringing up about the purpose of the game needs to be defined if we are to define the purpose of alignment. Last I checked, the purpose of D&D was to narratively simulate heroic fantasy. Those Moorcockian/Campbellian forces are very much a part of heroic fantasy. Alignment mechanics represent those. Unless this game's purpose isn't a narrative simulation of heroic fantasy, I can't see how the alignment system isn't serving a purpose.
Any argument that amounts to "alignment is great but 90% of D&D players are doing it wrong" is, to me, utterly bogus.

If 90% of D&D players are doing it wrong, it SUCKS.


Nobody said that, you are using Strawman Fallacy to try and make your point.  Debate honestly, please.

Okay, here's an example where someone IS offering an argument that amounts to "alignment is great but 90% of D&D players are doing it wrong":

Exactly how and why it sucks is still open to debate. Maybe it is a good idea presented incredibly badly, so what it is supposed to be doesn't get through to people.


It gets through to some people just fine.  I have encountered dozens of people who have no confusion regarding the rules.  And if the problem is not universal, then it not objectively true.

Gee, that wasn't hard.
"The world does not work the way you have been taught it does. We are not real as such; we exist within The Story. Unfortunately for you, you have inherited a condition from your mother known as Primary Protagonist Syndrome, which means The Story is interested in you. It will find you, and if you are not ready for the narrative strands it will throw at you..." - from Footloose
Well, the ideas are taken from Michael Moorcock's Multiverse. His setting has law, chaos, good, and evil as elemental forces. They are varieties of energy that have real impact and interplay with each other. They actually harken back to Joseph Campbell's work on the monomyth.


Moorcock's Eternal Hero harkens back to the monomyth, but objective alignment does not.  Moorcock's law-chaos stuggle was inspired by the theomachia of Greek myths (Titans vs. Olympians), but he added the objective alignment forces.  That's all him.  So let's not pretend that alignment is in any way Campbellian, okay?  Campbell never posited "law, chaos, good, and evil as elemental forces".

Last I checked, the purpose of D&D was to narratively simulate heroic fantasy. Those Moorcockian/Campbellian forces are very much a part of heroic fantasy.


And this gets back to the same logical fallacy that Chiba_Monkey makes.  If the purpose of D&D is to allow people to simulate hroic fantasy then alignment mechanics as an option would be great to allow people to run a Moorcockian campaign. But making alignment mechanics mandatory limits D&D to a Moorcockian world.  And that's antithetical to the goal of representing narrative historical fantasy in general.

Alignment mechanics represent those. Unless this game's purpose isn't a narrative simulation of heroic fantasy, I can't see how the alignment system isn't serving a purpose.


The fact that you can't see how restricting the D&D world to Moorockian metaphysics doesn't change the fact that the D&D world has traditionally been limited to Moorcockian metaphysics.  Which is fine if all you want is Moorockian metaphysics.  But if the goal of D&D was to allow simulation of a variety of types of fantasy, then hard-baking alignment into the system is antithetical to that goal.
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Chiba_Monkey: "Imitating specifc fantasy archetypes" and "eliminating nonconfroming concepts" are not mutually exclusive.  

We're just repeating ourselves on this point without adding anything new.  Suffice to say I disagree.

Chiba_Monkey: Unless the system is DESIGNED to be removed, difficulty removing it is not an inherent flaw in said system.  

You're repeating yourself here as well.  I included removal as an issue because the common retort to the first three problems I posited was "Well, remove them."  And, in fact, that was precisely your initial response to the first three problems I identified.   So if removal is a valid response to alignment problems, which, based on your reference to them, you think it is, then pointing out the difficulty of that endeavor is a valid response.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too, Chiba.  If you don't think the removability of alignment mechanics is relevant, then you should never reference it as a point in alignment's favor.

Chiba_Monkey: What I have asked for is for people who ARE playing with alignment, or HAVE played with alignment-and had issues-to discuss what they believe are the problems with the system.  It is my experience that most of those problems stemmed from a deviation from RAW.  If it can be shown that the RAW do not support those examples, the alignment cannot be said to be an objectively bad system, can it?  I've stated this openly from the OP, so there is nothign disingenuous.

What you claim to want to do and what your behavior reveals are two different things.  You can claim that you want to discuss alignement all you want, but your responses in this thread have exposed that what you want to do is minimize any problems with alignment, dismiss criticisms as uninformed and blame the players for problems inherent with the alignment system as it has manifested in prior editions.
Moorcock's Eternal Hero harkens back to the monomyth, but objective alignment does not.



It actually does. The Hero is called a being of fluidity, transformation, adn change. The Hero is also referred to as the champion of creatie life. Whereas the Tryant Holdfast, on the other hand, is a being who keeps and preserves the impressive configuration. Campbell likens this freezing of the cycle of life to death. While Campbell may not use words like law, chaos, good, and evil directly, he is dealing with the forces that those names denote.
 
Moorcock's law-chaos stuggle was inspired by the theomachia of Greek myths (Titans vs. Olympians), but he added the objective alignment forces.  That's all him.  So let's not pretend that alignment is in any way Campbellian, okay?  Campbell never posited "law, chaos, good, and evil as elemental forces".



Those are in fact mentioned in Campbell's monomyth, and those kinds of ideas aren't unique to the Greeks either. They are seen in various forms all across the globe, which is, again, what Campbell's seminal work deals with.

And this gets back to the same logical fallacy that Chiba_Monkey makes.  If the purpose of D&D is to allow people to simulate hroic fantasy then alignment mechanics as an option would be great to allow people to run a Moorcockian campaign. But making alignment mechanics mandatory limits D&D to a Moorcockian world.  And that's antithetical to the goal of representing narrative historical fantasy in general.



It's only a logical fallacyis the Multiverse is the only one, or is part of only a small group that makes use of those forces. They appear in multiple forms all across the world, hence why they are used. Ahura Mazda and Angru Manyu, Seelie and Unseelie, Apollo and Dionysus, Letter of the Law and the Life Giving Spirit, Yin and Yang the list goes on. This is actually a central concept to the Taoist school of thought, as is the principle of balance and harmony, which these same ideas also express.

One example of that is the god created by the merger of Apollo and Dionysus, the god of balance, Cognus. Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis. The idea of opposing metaphysical forces is far from unique to Moorcock, and all Campbell does is point out the existence of that idea all across the world's myths and legends. This is as common as the warrior hero and the sagely guide, and those tropes are likewise represented in D&D.

Interestingly enough, moral values weren't attached to these ideas of opposing forces until around 600 B. C. when Zorastrian religion became really popular in Persia. Generally Ahura Mazda and Angru Manyu are seen as the big starters of that whole morality thing.
The Hero is called a being of fluidity, transformation, adn change. The Hero is also referred to as the champion of creatie life. Whereas the Tryant Holdfast, on the other hand, is a being who keeps and preserves the impressive configuration. Campbell likens this freezing of the cycle of life to death. While Campbell may not use words like law, chaos, good, and evil directly, he is dealing with the forces that those names denote.


But he doesn't use objective forces of alignment.  He is discussing storytelling tropes, not metaphysical forces.  It's really inappropriate to try to shoehorn Campbell into an alignment scheme, because that's not what he's discussing.

Moorcock's law-chaos stuggle was inspired by the theomachia of Greek myths (Titans vs. Olympians), but he added the objective alignment forces.  That's all him.  So let's not pretend that alignment is in any way Campbellian, okay?  Campbell never posited "law, chaos, good, and evil as elemental forces".


Those are in fact mentioned in Campbell's monomyth, and those kinds of ideas aren't unique to the Greeks either. They are seen in various forms all across the globe, which is, again, what Campbell's seminal work deals with.


Please, Zaramon, you're not reading what I write.  I understand that the theomachia is consitent with Campbell's monomyth.  My statement is that neither Campbell nor the theomachy posit elemental forces of morality and ethos.  That was Moorcock's contrubtion and his contribution alone.

And this gets back to the same logical fallacy that Chiba_Monkey makes.  If the purpose of D&D is to allow people to simulate hroic fantasy then alignment mechanics as an option would be great to allow people to run a Moorcockian campaign. But making alignment mechanics mandatory limits D&D to a Moorcockian world.  And that's antithetical to the goal of representing narrative historical fantasy in general.


It's only a logical fallacyis the Multiverse is the only one, or is part of only a small group that makes use of those forces. They appear in multiple forms all across the world, hence why they are used. Ahura Mazda and Angru Manyu, Seelie and Unseelie, Apollo and Dionysus, Letter of the Law and the Life Giving Spirit, Yin and Yang the list goes on.


None of those match Moorcockian metaphysics.  If the intent was to allow Seelie and Unseelie, or Zoroastrian cosmology then the better approach was to make each of those moral frameworks modular so that you can insert a Zoroastrian morality into the game, or an Appollonian one.  But Gygax chose one -- Moorcockian -- and made it the only one.  He did not introduce a series of rules so that you could choose from among the many moral schema found throughout fantasy and myth.  

Moreover, I would take issue with the idea that any of these moral schema really represent alignment.  Appollo and Dionysus do not represent cosmic forces beyond the gods (as a Moorcockian metaphysics do) -- thay are the gods!  Ahura Mazda and Angru Manyu represent divine entities, not cosmic morality and Zoroastrian is very clear that the positions staked out by the gods is not universal in the way the Moorcockian physics is.  "Seelie and Unseelie" is equally absurd.  These are faerie courts -- their morality in Celtic myth doesn't even extend to moratl worlds, much less comprise a universal objective system of morality.

Essentially, you are simply grabbing random example of opposing forces and trying to use their existence to justify alignment in the most inappropriate (and with respect to the real-life and still-practices religion of Zoroastrianism, astoundingly offensive) ways.  Moreover, my reference to the theomachy which is similarly a cosmic struggle between the good gods and evil titans to illustrate that these myths (and thus Campbell's monomyth) don't contain objective standards of morality should have clued you into that fact.

But I don't think you really read what I wrote.  You just saw me mention things liek theomachy and felt the liberty to just go off on random tangents about how you might shove square mythology pegs into round alignment holes.

Interestingly enough, moral values weren't attached to these ideas of opposing forces until around 600 B. C. when Zorastrian religion became really popular in Persia. Generally Ahura Mazda and Angru Manyu are seen as the big starters of that whole morality thing.


Interestingly enough, I'm beginning to think you're using my posts as a springboard to talk about stuff you like but which have very little to do with what I wrote.
But he doesn't use objective forces of alignment.  He is discussing storytelling tropes, not metaphysical forces.  It's really inappropriate to try to shoehorn Campbell into an alignment scheme, because that's not what he's discussing.



What exactly do you mean by the bolded? I think you may have been misunderstanding what I have been saying. All of those things that Campbell mentioned are ideas, specifically ideas that speak to people across the world on the same instinctual level. That's why there's so much commonality in the world's symbolism. All of those ideas that I mentioned earlier are just metaphors for a person's desires and the condition of their spirit. The same forces that alignment provide a mechanical representation of, are likewise metaphorical.

Please, Zaramon, you're not reading what I write.  I understand that the theomachia is consitent with Campbell's monomyth.  My statement is that neither Campbell nor the theomachy posit elemental forces of morality and ethos.  That was Moorcock's contrubtion and his contribution alone.



I am reading what you write. All I'm saying is that all Moorcock did was express those same ideas in a different way. That said, Moorcock did not apply moral or ethical values to those forces either. When his characters said words like "good" or "evil" in his books, they were not refering to any kind of morality. In fact Moorcock has said in the past that he hated moralizing fantasy stories, and for that reason, he didn't care for Tolkien or Lewis. If people took "moral" good and evil, and "ethical" law and chaos from Moorcock's work, they took something other than Moorcock intended.

That was merely the way in which Moorcock represented those timeless forces, which are merely metaphorical for real world ideas.

None of those match Moorcockian metaphysics.  If the intent was to allow Seelie and Unseelie, or Zoroastrian cosmology then the better approach was to make each of those moral frameworks modular so that you can insert a Zoroastrian morality into the game, or an Appollonian one.  But Gygax chose one -- Moorcockian -- and made it the only one.  He did not introduce a series of rules so that you could choose from among the many moral schema found throughout fantasy and myth.

 

They only don't match Moorcockian metaphysics when viewed through a moral framework. While Zarathustra was the first major (As far as I know.) religious figure to tout morality as we know it today, Zoroastrian ideas aren't any less functional when the moral component is removed, and they funtion likewise as all of those other ideas. Even DC started to pick this up with the Black and White Lanterns, and the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor.

Moreover, I would take issue with the idea that any of these moral schema really represent alignment.  Appollo and Dionysus do not represent cosmic forces beyond the gods (as a Moorcockian metaphysics do) -- thay are the gods!  Ahura Mazda and Angru Manyu represent divine entities, not cosmic morality and Zoroastrian is very clear that the positions staked out by the gods is not universal in the way the Moorcockian physics is.  "Seelie and Unseelie" is equally absurd.  These are faerie courts -- their morality in Celtic myth doesn't even extend to moratl worlds, much less comprise a universal objective system of morality.



The gods are all just metaphors. In that way, they are also real. Just like every single element of the monomyth and the Hero's Journey is a metaphor. The real world doesn't work in terms of "moral" good and evil, and neither do these ideas, as they are metaphors of ideas in the real world. They only look so vastly different when viewed through the lens of a moral system. Remove that, and then there is very little difference between, say, Dionysus and Angru Manyu, or Beilobog and Apollo.

Essentially, you are simply grabbing random example of opposing forces and trying to use their existence to justify alignment in the most inappropriate (and with respect to the real-life and still-practices religion of Zoroastrianism, astoundingly offensive) ways.  Moreover, my reference to the theomachy which is similarly a cosmic struggle between the good gods and evil titans to illustrate that these myths (and thus Campbell's monomyth) don't contain objective standards of morality should have clued you into that fact.



They aren't random examples of opposing forces, they are each culture's expression of a specific set of ideas. One is always an experssion of things like culture, refinement, and order, while the other is always representative of things like abandon, emotion, and primal nature. Both Campbell and Jung make a convincing case that that is because these are core elements of human nature. Interestingly, the one follower of Zoroastrianism that I have expressed these ideas to thought it was interesting, and he didn't seem the least bit offended.

Then again that was just one guy. Maybe others would be offended. Hard to say. I try not to offend anyone, but it seems these days you can't even talk about certain aspects of culture in an anthropological or academic sense without someone getting angry. If anyone in this thread was offended by what I said, I offer my sincerest apologies, offense was most certainly not my intent.

But I don't think you really read what I wrote.  You just saw me mention things liek theomachy and felt the liberty to just go off on random tangents about how you might shove square mythology pegs into round alignment holes.



I'm not trying to fit myth into alignment, I'm just saying that the same forces that alignments are in D&D are likewise symbols of the same ideas that other like myths symbolize. If anything, I would be trying to fit sqaure alignment pegs into round myth holes, but I don't see the shapes as any different.
Any argument that amounts to "alignment is great but 90% of D&D players are doing it wrong" is, to me, utterly bogus.

If 90% of D&D players are doing it wrong, it SUCKS.


Nobody said that, you are using Strawman Fallacy to try and make your point.  Debate honestly, please.

Okay, here's an example where someone IS offering an argument that amounts to "alignment is great but 90% of D&D players are doing it wrong":

Exactly how and why it sucks is still open to debate. Maybe it is a good idea presented incredibly badly, so what it is supposed to be doesn't get through to people.


It gets through to some people just fine.  I have encountered dozens of people who have no confusion regarding the rules.  And if the problem is not universal, then it not objectively true.

Gee, that wasn't hard.


You either don't understand what I'm saying, or you don't understand how you are coming across.
I have never said that "90% of D&D players are doing it wrong" or anything to that effect.  Don't claim that this is what I am trying to say, doing so is Strawman Fallacy, which invalidates whatever you are trying to say or "prove" about my points, because you are misrepresenting my points which you are attempting to counter.
First off, you state that it is somehow an objective fact that alignment "sucks", as if that was some kind of self-evident truth that you didn't need to back up with any kind of fact or evidence.
That's grossly untrue.  If alignment rules were objectively and factually bad, then the problems would be universal.  ANY evidence of example that they are not automatically disproves that.
You go on to presume a great deal about what Zaramon, Yagami and myself have been saying.  What we HAVE said is that many of the people who have problems with alignment experience those problems because they (or their DM) were deviating from RAW, and that if all problems with alignment only stem from deviations from RAW about alignment, then alignment itself is not inherently bad.
Now, if you could somehow prove that the number of people deviating from RAW was as high as 90%, then you would be correct, because that would be objective evidence that something about the alignment RAW makes those rules hard to follow.

But you can't.  That kind of data does not exist, and NOTHING exists to support your claim that the problems are THAT widespread. 

So if you wish to discuss flaws in the alignment system, you are welcome to.  But do so with ACTUAL facts.  Don't just claim that alignment is bad as if it's a fact and try and work from there.  Back up your claims.  Say what it is alignment does that you think is bad.  Then find where, exactly, in the rules that supports that.  If you can't, then perhaps we can show you that the actual printed rules do not support that about alignment.  And remember not to succumb to Munchkin Fallacy-which states that just because the rules don't explicitly say you can't do something, that they say you can.
So if you wish to discuss flaws in the alignment system, you are welcome to.  But do so with ACTUAL facts.  Don't just claim that alignment is bad as if it's a fact and try and work from there. Back up your claims.  Say what it is alignment does that you think is bad.  Then find where, exactly, in the rules that supports that.  If you can't, then perhaps we can show you that the actual printed rules do not support that about alignment.  And remember not to succumb to Munchkin Fallacy-which states that just because the rules don't explicitly say you can't do something, that they say you can.



I would like to point out specifically what kind of statement that Chiba is calling out. It's called a tautological statement, which is a statement that operates under the assumption that it is automatically true. Now, at some point you have to start at a place like that with inductive reasoning, because using solely deductive reasoning, you wouldn't be able to prove to yourself that you exist. However, you only engage in inductive reasoning once you reach the realm of absurdity with deductive reasoning, e. g. how do you know your senses are working correctly.

The thing Chiba calls munckin fallacy is also known as appeal to ignorance, assuming that because there is no evidence to the contrary, the point must be true.
Chiba_Monkey: "Imitating specifc fantasy archetypes" and "eliminating nonconfroming concepts" are not mutually exclusive.  

We're just repeating ourselves on this point without adding anything new.  Suffice to say I disagree.

Chiba_Monkey: Unless the system is DESIGNED to be removed, difficulty removing it is not an inherent flaw in said system.  

You're repeating yourself here as well.  I included removal as an issue because the common retort to the first three problems I posited was "Well, remove them."  And, in fact, that was precisely your initial response to the first three problems I identified.   So if removal is a valid response to alignment problems, which, based on your reference to them, you think it is, then pointing out the difficulty of that endeavor is a valid response.

You cannot have your cake and eat it too, Chiba.  If you don't think the removability of alignment mechanics is relevant, then you should never reference it as a point in alignment's favor.

I don't "reference it as a point in alignment's favor".  I say "remove it" if you don't like it, which is something any DM can do with any aspect of the ruleset.  As is their right, if that is their preference.  But don't make false claims about alignment that aren't true as the reasoning for that decision.  I argue points about RAW of alignment, and against claims about alignment that do not adhere to RAW.  That is all.  There is no more to read into it that this.


As far as re-addressing your specific claims about alignments limitations.


  • Point 1- That the feature of objective morality posited by the alignment system is innappropriate for some campaigns, and thus those campaigns experience jarring difficulties when playing D&D.

  • Point 2 - Plot Wrecking.  Certain alignment based mechanics, such as detection spells, make adherence to other classic fantasy tropes (especially ones that pertain to storylines like infiltration) nearly impossible without resorting to conrtrivances like a ring of mind shielding

  • Point 3 - Concept limiting because of alignment restrictions on certain classes.


Ok, I admit that I was being subtle when perhaps a more direct approach would have sufficed.  I apologize in advance for the abrasiveness of it.  Points 1 and 3, to me are no different from complaints that "D&D is not World of Darkness", especially Point 3.  Those are the default rules of D&D, it's part of the game.  As much as Vancian casting.  For those that don't like it, I recommend houserules.  But distaste for an element of the rules does not reflect an objective failing in the rules themselves.
Point 2, I have addressed when mestewart brought it up.  This is indeed a valid point about alignment when alignment is used, even when used completely RAW.  It is an objective fact that the way the RAW are, that an evil character will radiate evil to a detect evil spell, unless specific measure are taken by the DM to counter that.  These kinds of measures can be used sparingly without seeming contrived*, but start to appear so when used too often, and if the measures are not taken, then the evil-aligned character will be exposed, potentially ruining a plot in which the mystery of a villain's identity is central.  So in that we are agreed.

If people's opinion about alignment is negative and they do not wish to use it, they may remove it, as any DM may houserule anything.  Yes, that means more work for them, but it is work they chose to accept when deciding to deviate from RAW.  And I have no desire to discuss them.  That's not what this thread is for.  This thread is for addressing the specific claims about alignment when it IS used or HAS BEEN used.  Once that is no longer a factor, it ceases to be a relevant point to this discussion.

Chiba_Monkey: What I have asked for is for people who ARE playing with alignment, or HAVE played with alignment-and had issues-to discuss what they believe are the problems with the system.  It is my experience that most of those problems stemmed from a deviation from RAW.  If it can be shown that the RAW do not support those examples, the alignment cannot be said to be an objectively bad system, can it?  I've stated this openly from the OP, so there is nothign disingenuous.

What you claim to want to do and what your behavior reveals are two different things.  You can claim that you want to discuss alignement all you want, but your responses in this thread have exposed that what you want to do is minimize any problems with alignment, dismiss criticisms as uninformed and blame the players for problems inherent with the alignment system as it has manifested in prior editions.


I do not want to "minimize problems with alignment", I want to show which problems are actually problems with the rules, and which ones are problems with people who have deviated from the rules.  If the problem is, in fact, a result of deviation from the rules, that shows, objectively and logically, that the rules are not the source of the problem.  A key example here is the issue with detection potentially ruining storylines.  That much is a valid criticism of alignment RAW, and has nothing to do with deviation.  I have no suggestion for a fix, only an expressed opinion about hope for a fix in the next set of rules.
I do not "dismiss criticisms as uninformed".  When criticisms arise about alignment that are not supported by RAW, I bring direct quotes from RAW that contradict them.
Those criticisms that prove to be unsupported by RAW are dismissed, yes.  I freely admitted from the get-go that I expect that most problems people claim about the alignment systems result from deviations from RAW.  Therefore this is not duplicitous or disingenuous of me, and it is insulting that you would state such.
Logic states that a problem which stems ONLY from a deviation from the RAW of a system is NOT an "inherent problem" with the system, as the only "inherent" qualities of the system are those that objectively exist in RAW.


None of those match Moorcockian metaphysics.  If the intent was to allow Seelie and Unseelie, or Zoroastrian cosmology then the better approach was to make each of those moral frameworks modular so that you can insert a Zoroastrian morality into the game, or an Appollonian one.  But Gygax chose one -- Moorcockian -- and made it the only one.  He did not introduce a series of rules so that you could choose from among the many moral schema found throughout fantasy and myth.  


I know this was addressed to Zaramon, but I have a point to add here.  "Gygax chose one--Moorcockian--and made it the only one."  He also chose Vancian casting for spellcasters.  And dragons with breath energies beyond simply fire.  And a medieval-era technological level.  This was a part of the choice in game design.  Saying he should have introduced more morality options is like saying he should have introduced DOZENS of possible systems for magic, and rules for 20th century technology levels, and any number of other choices that were made, instead of the ones he did.  That you prefer some options that are outside those of the default does not reflect a failing in the default rules.  You have the permission to alter the rules to make the game what you want to play.  But that's stepping into the shoes of one of the game designers, and game design is WORK.  So you have assigned yourself some work to make the game what you want in your deviation.
Your cry for "a series of rules that one could choose from" is exactly why I said it seems that your argument equated to "the flaw in the rules is that they do not account for ALL CONCEPTS, everywhere".  If you will humor me for a moment...If what you claim about him not presenting multiple moral schema is, in fact, a flaw, and they presented, say, 5 different systems, there would still be many other sets of moral schema that were not accounted for.  And then the people who want those systems in the rules would cry out for the inclusion of those ones.  And if we accepted your initial premise as a valid flaw, then those people's claims is equally valid.  So the only solution would be to account for ALL concepts.  Since that is not a workable solution, the result is to choose one to be the default for the rules of D&D.  Those who wish to impose a different one may do so, but it's going to involve some work.
Well... a lot of good stuff here.  And a lot of pretty damn smart people posting (not being sarcastic).  I mean, Zoroastrian? What the heck is that?  You guys know your stuff!

I'd like to comment on the pervasive theme of nihilism (in this I mean moral nihilism) I see among the thread, and how I'd like some clarification from you regular posters.  I understand this thread is focused on moral themes in a fantasy setting, but I strongly believe that our real-world beliefs on moral systems is important to our storytelling, as it gives meaning and substance to story, metaphors, and the like.  A fantasy story without substance pertaining to our real-world paradigms isn't as compelling; a hint of allegorical substance gives life to the story (in my personal opinion).

So, I ask you this:


  • Do you believe, for at least some situations, there is a basic objective code for how one ought to act?  For instance: "One ought to take care of their children."  Again, this is for some situations; you can believe in moral objectivity, and simultaneously think most situations have no moral value and are therefore purely subjective in nature (i.e. chocolate ice-cream or vanilla).

  • Or do you believe any code for behavior is always subjective, and any statement detailing how one "ought" to act is merely describing preference.  To use the previous example, it would be: "I prefer that people take care of thier children, as the idea of parents abandoning their children is displeasing to me".  This statement is describing your personal preference, and not alluding to some code of conduct.


 For clarification, I am using the word "ought" to describe a rule based on objective standards of behavior not reliant on personal preference of outcome or nature or value.  While a nihilist can say "One ought to study if one wants to get good grades," this use of 'ought' is saying "If you value good grades, you ought to study".  However, this discussion is about a statement of "You ought to value X" independant of personal preference, which is the basis for moral objectivity vs. subjectivity.

If your opinions favor nihilism (that moral values are always based on subjective preference), then you must fully accept that you can never use reason to explain why one ought to have a specific preference over another based soley on thier attributes.  While it may be a fact that "being compassionate to people is a nice thing to do and helps people of the world", it does not logically follow that "therefore, you ought to value compassion".

The result of this world-view means you cannot use reason or logic to explain why something ought (or ought not) be done without referring to personal subjective preferences.  A nihilist cannot say the nazis were wrong in their extermination of millions of jews using reason alone.  Afterall, the nazi can simply say: "A jew is repulsive to me, so I chose to value antisemetic violence"; in a nihilistic world-view, this is just as reasonable as saying the opposite.
This scene from Inglorious Basterds points this out better than I can:
[video=1514527]
Hans Landa ("the Jew Hunter") is a nihilist, and explaining his point of view.  The important bit of dialogue here is, even when he explains why the animosity to a rat (as opposed to a squirrel) doesn't have any strong logical basis to it (which the farmer finds "interesting"), it still does not affect how the farmer feels about them.  And his subjective feelings about a rat are all that matters in a nihilistic world-view.  Substitue "rat" with "jew", and you've got what Hans was really getting at.

If you truly favor nihilism, you may have personal preferences favoring compassion and kindness (most nihilists do, I'd wager), but that means that any use of moral values as having any real substance in a fantasy story is fairly meaningless.  Good vs. Evil, Chaos vs. Law, becomes just as meaningful as Chocolate vs. Vanilla, or Black vs. White.  All it does is describe the preferences that are motivating the characters, without any substantive value to those preferences.  In my humble opinion, this removes alignment as any meaningful element to a story's overall purpose or allegorical value.