Alignment: Opinions and Preconceptions

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I was thinking the other day that there is not enough of alignment posts on the forums. So here is one more.

But all of those other posts are full of people who talk in circles and bully you with their 3rd Edition books. They tell you that alignment is just fine the way it is (in their books) and use rules to try and prove it. When you say you don't agree, they say IT'S YOUR OPINION and go point to something in a book or you're wrong. Because book can never be wrong. It was written by the gods or something.

So this post is for opinions on alignment. If you think it is good, post here. If you think it is pointless and a lot of times bad (because it is), post here twice.
there's currently 2 threads right below this one talking about alignment and i think there was another one last week.  Maybe posting in those instead of creating a new one would be the more efficient to keep dicussions grouped.
"Non nobis Domine Sed nomini tuo da gloriam" "I wish for death not because I want to die, but because I seek the war eternal"

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Yes but this one is for opinions. If you put opinions in the other threads the same three people come and attack you with their 3rd edition books and their dead philosophers. That is why they put those threads I think. So people would post opinions and they can attack them for posting opinions. This thread fixes that.

What is your opinion on alignments? 
there's currently 2 threads right below this one talking about alignment and i think there was another one last week.  Maybe posting in those instead of creating a new one would be the more efficient to keep dicussions grouped.


Joke







-----


Noctaem.


-------------------------


OP I was thinking the exact thing. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

oh right, post twice. 



Opinion. I dislike alignment. If you try to use it in a game, I'll probably debate on leaving. 

"In a way, you are worse than Krusk"                               " As usual, Krusk comments with assuredness, but lacks the clarity and awareness of what he's talking about"

"Can't say enough how much I agree with Krusk"        "Wow, thank you very much"

"Your advice is the worst"

I was thinking the other day that there is not enough of alignment posts on the forums. So here is one more.

But all of those other posts are full of people who talk in circles and bully you with their 3rd Edition books. They tell you that alignment is just fine the way it is (in their books) and use rules to try and prove it. When you say you don't agree, they say IT'S YOUR OPINION and go point to something in a book or you're wrong. Because book can never be wrong. It was written by the gods or something.


So, are you saying that it is your belief that the RULE-BOOKS regarding the RULES of the game are somehow...incorrect?  And that you know how the system is supposd to work BETTER that the people who DESIGNED it?

D&D is a fantasy game.  As such, the rules are whatever the rulebooks claim.  Those are objective facts about the rules of the game, because they are within the confines of that game, which are layed out and presented in black and white.  If you make a claim that something is a fact, and the RAW expressly contradict that, then you are objectively wrong.

Now, if someone is of the opinion that those rules are bad, then they are entitled to their opinon.  But the thread to which you are referring (and mocking the title of in your thread here), is about clearing up misconceptions about what the alignment rules actually are.  For example, any number of people say "alignment is a straightjacket".  Well, the rules expressly say that it is not, ergo, it is not, when used in accordnce with RAW.  The only way it is a straightjacket is if someone is deviating from RAW to make it so.

There is no value judgement in there.

I have never made a value judgement on someone else's opinions on alignment.  If people don't like it, fine.  Remove it, don't use it.  But when they make false claims about what the rules say or do, I object, because the rules do not say those things.

And the rulebooks regarding the rules of a game are NOT wrong, unless they are corrected in errata.  In a game with so many houserules and deviations from RAW, the only way to have a coherent discussion about RULES is to adhere to the RAW as the only objective truth.  If we were discussing the rules of Monopoly, then the only valid basis for fact is the rules of Monopoly as written by Milton Bradley (or whoever makes it).  And those rules, as objective points of reference to which anyone can look at and read, are to be taken as the facts of that subject.  The same applies to D&D, and any ruleset one is discussing.

It's not about opinions, and whose opinion is "better".  It's about clearing up what the rules DO say and what they DO NOT say, and the RAW are the only objective references which can be used.  As such, they are the only things that can be taken as "given fact" for purposes of logical discussion.

So this post is for opinions on alignment. If you think it is good, post here. If you think it is pointless and a lot of times bad (because it is), post here twice.


Your blatant bias aside, I will humor the intent of your OP.

I like alignment.  I find it a useful tool in character creation and roleplay.  I think alignment mechanics help to reflect classic fantasy tropes which are useful not only as storytelling aides, but also to reward the implementation of those classic fantasy tropes with mechanical effect. 
I dislike alignment.  I find that most of the time it creates the expectation of a singular set of moral guidelines, the issue is that no such thing exists.  Each person on this planet has formed their own set of moral guidelines that they follow.  Most of the time people are fairly good at reconciling their minor differences unless specifically challenged on them.  However when you are told that there are objective moral guidelines you insert your own guidelines for the objective guidelines and fight tooth and nail against others with differing opinions.

I also find that in most cases it limits the type of game that can be played by enforcing this concept of an objective moral system.  The game shouldn't make assumptions like that for players.  If players want to enforce an agreed upon objective moral system it should be something they concot and implement themselves.

Also alignment has commonly been used in three basic ways that cause issues:

  1. DMs punish players for doing things the DM doesn't want them doing.

  2. Limiting class archetypes for the sake of matching the designers smaller view.

  3. Ruining plot by providing ample ways of reading a persons alignment. 


(Anecdotal evidence time)
I find that commonly alignment is ignored by most groups and only really comes up when it has become an issue in some way or another.  The system shouldn't be a core assumption that the game makes for its players.  Ultimatly adding alignment in through house rules is easier then taking it out.
I dislike alignment.

You forgot to post twice, lol.

Also alignment has commonly been used in three basic ways that cause issues:

  1. DMs punish players for doing things the DM doesn't want them doing.

  2. Limiting class archetypes for the sake of matching the designers smaller view.

  3. Ruining plot by providing ample ways of reading a persons alignment. 


(Anecdotal evidence time)
I find that commonly alignment is ignored by most groups and only really comes up when it has become an issue in some way or another.  The system shouldn't be a core assumption that the game makes for its players.  Ultimatly adding alignment in through house rules is easier then taking it out.


I disgree with one of your statements in your anecdotal bit.  Adding alignment and it's mechanics in as a houserule touches on so many parts of the game, from creatures to magic items to spells, that it would be easier to complie a list of things to ignore when removing alignment.  My opinion is that it would be easrier to remove than add in.
Everybody follows the morals taught to them as a child, though many find themself changing their morality thanks to experience. One thing we tend not to do is question our beliefs. We tend, instead, to act as though what we learned must perforce be unassailable and uncontrovertible.

We never ask ourselves, "Does this work? Does this explain the world in a way that can be replicated? Is this why people do the things they do? Is it a valid explanation for why things turn out the way they do?"

We are reluctant to accept that we do certain things a certain way, and that others may hold us in error. We are reluctant to examine our actions, and we avoid correcting our errors lest we find ourselves being held in contempt for what we did.

The ultimate judgement on our actions is found in the answer to this question; What happened as a result of what we did? If harm comes of our behavior, we can call it evil. If benefit comes, than it can be called good. But, at what stage do we declare it good or evil, for often the immediate result may say one thing, while results further down the road will say quite another. My only advice in this case is to wait until the long term results have made themselves known. Saving that elf lord's life may result in a wave of executions tearing the land apart. Teaching those goblins to read might result in a chain of libraries focused on improving humanoid life and leading to the establishment of properous businesses run by gobins and orcs and even gnolls.

So call not evil that which you hate, but call instead evil that which harms, and harms the many to the benefit of a few.
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.
My opinion is that it would be easrier to remove than add in.

Why not leave the system hooks intact, but blue-box them?

My opinion is that it would be easrier to remove than add in.

Why not leave the system hooks intact, but blue-box them?



By the same token, if the system hooks are going to be in place, why not have it in as a default?  The option to remove it could be as simple as a bulleted list, "remove these:"

Functionally, what is the difference, other than one validates all of the alignment detractors' hatred and makes a major change to a traditional element of D&D that thousands of people have no issue with, making them have to do more work piece-by-piece to make the new edition more closely resemble the game they have played for years.  And the other keeps the default assumption in line with the traditions of D&D and makes an easy-to-remove list of things to ignore for those who don't want it?
I dislike alignment.

You forgot to post twice, lol.

Also alignment has commonly been used in three basic ways that cause issues:

  1. DMs punish players for doing things the DM doesn't want them doing.

  2. Limiting class archetypes for the sake of matching the designers smaller view.

  3. Ruining plot by providing ample ways of reading a persons alignment. 


(Anecdotal evidence time)
I find that commonly alignment is ignored by most groups and only really comes up when it has become an issue in some way or another.  The system shouldn't be a core assumption that the game makes for its players.  Ultimatly adding alignment in through house rules is easier then taking it out.


I disgree with one of your statements in your anecdotal bit.  Adding alignment and it's mechanics in as a houserule touches on so many parts of the game, from creatures to magic items to spells, that it would be easier to complie a list of things to ignore when removing alignment.  My opinion is that it would be easrier to remove than add in.



In a perfect world it would be a simple on off module somewhere in the books.  It is generally agreed on these forums that this is the proper way to handle alignment.  The issue comes from the idea that the module should default to on.  While this wouldn't affect any veteran players who don't want alignment for their own reasons  the people it does effect are new players.  New players are likely to be sub par at the game (they are still learning after all) and alignment is not a sub-par friendly system as you yourself are quick to point out.  New players are also not going to know what they want from a game as well as the veterans.  They will probably end up using the default and adding more things in as they learn.  Alignment default would increase their likelyhood of catastrophic systems failure.



In a perfect world it would be a simple on off module somewhere in the books.  It is generally agreed on these forums that this is the proper way to handle alignment.  The issue comes from the idea that the module should default to on.  While this wouldn't affect any veteran players who don't want alignment for their own reasons  the people it does effect are new players.  New players are likely to be sub par at the game (they are still learning after all) and alignment is not a sub-par friendly system as you yourself are quick to point out.  New players are also not going to know what they want from a game as well as the veterans.  They will probably end up using the default and adding more things in as they learn.  Alignment default would increase their likelyhood of catastrophic systems failure.



Wait, what?
I have NEVER said that about alignment.
One of my pro-alignment points is that it's MORE helpful to new players.  By "new players" I mean people who have never played ANY tabletop RPG ANYWHERE.  To those of us who are used to playing, we often take for granted the skills of creating a character concept with a personality and stepping into that role.  But, believe it or not, the question of "how do I know what my character thinks/wants/should do?" is a major step for someone completely new to roleplaying.  Alignment helps shape a character personality for new players and is an invaluable tool in aiding with their own roleplaying.
Imagination is like a muscle.  To people not used to using their imaginations extensively, the skills of using it that we take for granted do not come so easy.  Sometimes it helps to remember that.  I very frequently have at least one such person as a player at my table, so I am very used to the trials they go through with things that come as second nature to a veteran gamer like myself.
No, alignment is ESPECIALLY good for new players, in my opinion.  I have never stated anything to the contrary. And I disagree that it would "increase the likelyhood of catastrophic system failure", because I personally find the scenario of a group of all-new people starting a game with no understanding less likely than the scenario of new people being introduced to the game by one or more veteran gamers.

Wait, what?
I have NEVER said that about alignment.


You have said that bad DM's make a mess of alignment.  Many new DMs are "bad" DMs (a harsh way to put it which is why I said sub optimal, however on a hard scale of "bad" to "good" it is true enough).  So unless I am misunderstanding something you have in fact said as much.


One of my pro-alignment points is that it's MORE helpful to new players.  By "new players" I mean people who have never played ANY tabletop RPG ANYWHERE.  To those of us who are used to playing, we often take for granted the skills of creating a character concept with a personality and stepping into that role.  But, believe it or not, the question of "how do I know what my character thinks/wants/should do?" is a major step for someone completely new to roleplaying.  Alignment helps shape a character personality for new players and is an invaluable tool in aiding with their own roleplaying.



Alignment is a terrible way of defining character, I would guess most people on this forum would tell you that, even many pro alignment people.  If you really care about helping new players create characters take a look at backgrounds and things like the FATE systems aspects.  Those are real character creation aids.  Morality isn't something people need help understanding, so I don't see how writing some letters on your character sheet benifits new players.  It just serves to confuse the issue when peoples views on what constitute good/evil and lawfull/chaotic inevitably clash.


Imagination is like a muscle.  To people not used to using their imaginations extensively, the skills of using it that we take for granted do not come so easy.  Sometimes it helps to remember that.  I very frequently have at least one such person as a player at my table, so I am very used to the trials they go through with things that come as second nature to a veteran gamer like myself.



I am an educator at the middle/high level and have spent a good deal of my time teaching young folk how to play D&D so I am intimately familiar with teaching the game as well.  I understand that people new to RP can have trouble with it.  But once again Alignment does little to help create interesting and engaging characters, people need little help understanding morality.  There are better systems that do what you say alignment does.


No, alignment is ESPECIALLY good for new players, in my opinion.  I have never stated anything to the contrary. And I disagree that it would "increase the likelyhood of catastrophic system failure", because I personally find the scenario of a group of all-new people starting a game with no understanding less likely than the scenario of new people being introduced to the game by one or more veteran gamers.



Well once again our experiences differ, for every game me or another veteran have started I have seen two or three started by groups with no experience.  Also I have never seen experienced players trying to foist alignment on new groups going well.

I dislike alignment.



Totally your right. 

I find that most of the time it creates the expectation of a singular set of moral guidelines, the issue is that no such thing exists.



There are plenty of moral guidlines and codes out there. Alignment in particular is designed to denote cosmic forces. These cosmic forces happen to have moral components. 

Each person on this planet has formed their own set of moral guidelines that they follow.



Actually, in my experience, most peoples' "personal moral codes" consist of amalgamations of ideas, or are just whole-cloth rips of other peoples' ideas. 

Most of the time people are fairly good at reconciling their minor differences unless specifically challenged on them.  However when you are told that there are objective moral guidelines you insert your own guidelines for the objective guidelines and fight tooth and nail against others with differing opinions.



Sorry, I do what now?

I also find that in most cases it limits the type of game that can be played by enforcing this concept of an objective moral system.



All it does is change the context of personal value judgments. It doesn't negate or eliminate them. Where's the limit?

The game shouldn't make assumptions like that for players.  If players want to enforce an agreed upon objective moral system it should be something they concot and implement themselves.



Also alignment has commonly been used in three basic ways that cause issues:

DMs punish players for doing things the DM doesn't want them doing.

DMs who don't use alignment just use other methods of doing this. I also haven't seen a case where this is caused by anything other than a deviation from RAW.


Limiting class archetypes for the sake of matching the designers smaller view.


Generally, the "designer's smaller view" is inspired by myth and legend. They wanted to represent specific archetypes, and that was how they chose to do it.


Ruining plot by providing ample ways of reading a persons alignment.


Alignment can admittedly make this more difficult, but it is still doable.


Ultimatly adding alignment in through house rules is easier then taking it out.



Wrecan made a pretty good point about unbaking the mechanics of aligmment, and how tough that can be. He also voiced dislike concerning alignment mechanics, which I don't agree with, as I enjoy the extra flavor they provide.

There are plenty of moral guidlines and codes out there.


my point exactly.


Alignment in particular is designed to denote cosmic forces. These cosmic forces happen to have moral components.

 
Horse and cart.



Actually, in my experience, most peoples' "personal moral codes" consist of amalgamations of ideas, or are just whole-cloth rips of other peoples' ideas.


Well yeah, obviously our codes are shaped by our experiences, and everybody has different experiences.  There are no two people who have all of the same ideas and feel the same way about every aspect of morality. 


Sorry, I do what now?


Sorry I am working from the assumption that you are a human being.  If you are some sort of alien who doesn't act in a human way then I apologize for misrepresenting you.


All it does is change the context of personal value judgments. It doesn't negate or eliminate them. Where's the limit?


No alignment RAW pretty clearly gets rid of personal value judgments.



DMs who don't use alignment just use other methods of doing this. I also haven't seen a case where this is caused by anything other than a deviation from RAW.



Not really, if the expectation of a definable, enforcable moral code tied to game mechanics wasn't presented then people would be less likely trip over it.


Generally, the "designer's smaller view" is inspired by myth and legend. They wanted to represent specific archetypes, and that was how they chose to do it.



Myth and legend don't use anything like the alignment system so I don't see how this could be true.  If this was the designers attempt they failed quite spectacularly.
 
My opinion is that people don't even agree on the purpose of alignment being in the game at all.  If they do then they don't agree on how it does, or should do its job.  If by some miracle they still agree on that then they don't agree on interpretations of details: "This alignment means this, that alignment doesn't mean that".

Although I certainly beleive that an alignment system can be well-written to accomplish what _I_ believe it should do and how it should do it, I think there is a VERY noisy group that will refuse to let anyone ever have such a system because they just get too much mileage out of being ignorant jerks about it.

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

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

I guess I am neutral in this debate.  While I do "force" my players to choose an alignment for their characters because, in my opinion, it helps the player answer the who/what/where/when/why/how questions posed to his character, I rarely enforce those alignment choices unless the player is doing something completely antithetical to his character's alignment (extreme example: a paladin killing children).  But alignment is also why I discourage players playing paladins because I know that alignment is VERY difficult to play "correctly."

That being said, I just re-read the RAW alignments, and in all honesty I think the intent is clear as stated in the opening sentence: "A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment."  To me, that implies a guideline not a hard and fast rule.  A LG paladin that saves the world by killing an innocent child (a situation posed in another thread), would not lose his paladinhood, in my game.  He would probably end up "on probation," as it were, though and I would inform the player of the consequences of that probation.

I also think that part of the problem is that too many focus on the "downsides" as listed in the RAW:

Law: "On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability."

Chaos: "On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility."

When we should be focusing on the upsides:

"Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability.
"Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility.

What I mean by this is that players choose to play out the negatives of an alignment more often than the positives.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.

That being said, I just re-read the RAW alignments, and in all honesty I think the intent is clear as stated in the opening sentence: "A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment."  To me, that implies a guideline not a hard and fast rule.  A LG paladin that saves the world by killing an innocent child (a situation posed in another thread), would not lose his paladinhood, in my game.  He would probably end up "on probation," as it were, though and I would inform the player of the consequences of that probation.


Most of your post is well-reasoned and I like it, but a minor nitpick here.  The issue of the paladin-killing-a-child thing is not just alignment.  Because you are right about how general alignment is.  Killing that child would NOT force him (or any other character) to immediately change alignment.

HOWEVER, paladins are a special case.  Under the description of the paladin class, it also says that "any time the paladin willingly commits an evil act"  he or she loses their powers.  So, whie the paladin remains Lawful Good, he or she has just commited an objectively evil act (kiling an innocent child).  But, as he/she is still Lawful Good, he/she is eligible for redemption under the rules for doing so (and is likely wracked with guilt over what he/she had to do in order to save the world).

That being said, I just re-read the RAW alignments, and in all honesty I think the intent is clear as stated in the opening sentence: "A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment."  To me, that implies a guideline not a hard and fast rule.  A LG paladin that saves the world by killing an innocent child (a situation posed in another thread), would not lose his paladinhood, in my game.  He would probably end up "on probation," as it were, though and I would inform the player of the consequences of that probation.


Most of your post is well-reasoned and I like it, but a minor nitpick here.  The issue of the paladin-killing-a-child thing is not just alignment.  Because you are right about how general alignment is.  Killing that child would NOT force him (or any other character) to immediately change alignment.

HOWEVER, paladins are a special case.  Under the description of the paladin class, it also says that "any time the paladin willingly commits an evil act"  he or she loses their powers.  So, whie the paladin remains Lawful Good, he or she has just commited an objectively evil act (kiling an innocent child).  But, as he/she is still Lawful Good, he/she is eligible for redemption under the rules for doing so (and is likely wracked with guilt over what he/she had to do in order to save the world).



True, Chiba. I think the important qualifier he put in though was "in my game". He seems to have a softer restriction involving the mentioned probation period probably so the player can maintain their powers but still be under tangible threat of being stripped.

I don't mean to answer for you DaBeerds, so I hope you don't mind especially because I'm pretty sure Chiba won't mind me trying to clarify...he's a well-reasoned individual from what I've seen.

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.

The trouble I most often see regarding allignment is that some take it to the extreme polar of a particular alignment, (sometimes while watering down another alignment.) 

Alignments represent a range of behavior with a good deal of overlap. For example Neutral represents a range from basically good (but not willing to self sacrifice) to corrupt and selfish (but having compunctions against murdering/harming others)

Even Law and Chaos can overlap. A Chaotic Neutral person might oppose a Monarchy in favor of a Constitutional, Democratically elected government, and a Lawful Good person could support the same idea. In the same way that a Lawful Good person would oppose the same oppresive laws that a Chaotic Good person opposes, and likewise a CG person would cheer laws made by a LG of LN government that protected the freedoms and rights of the people.

The only thing I think the allignments really lack is the stress on the Range of behavior within each alignement, which would prevent most of the perceived restrictions. Either by breaking each into several sub-alignments (that might be confusing though, Evil: Selfish-Corrupt-Diabolical?) or encourage assigning a number range between 1 to 10 in each to represent how moderate or extreme one is.

I like the number range idea best because it not only represents how moderate/extreme one is, but also would aid in shifting an allignment, and would also show which of the 2 allignments were primary, ie a Lawful (5) Good (10) Paladin would be focused on helping people whereas a Lawful (9) Good (5) paladin might be focused on the fight against Evil or service to his order, and breaking alignment would at worse result in loosing a point, and possibly one could add points into an oppising allignment (granted good isnt likely to have points in evil)

That being said, I just re-read the RAW alignments, and in all honesty I think the intent is clear as stated in the opening sentence: "A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment."  To me, that implies a guideline not a hard and fast rule.  A LG paladin that saves the world by killing an innocent child (a situation posed in another thread), would not lose his paladinhood, in my game.  He would probably end up "on probation," as it were, though and I would inform the player of the consequences of that probation.


Most of your post is well-reasoned and I like it, but a minor nitpick here.  The issue of the paladin-killing-a-child thing is not just alignment.  Because you are right about how general alignment is.  Killing that child would NOT force him (or any other character) to immediately change alignment.

HOWEVER, paladins are a special case.  Under the description of the paladin class, it also says that "any time the paladin willingly commits an evil act"  he or she loses their powers.  So, whie the paladin remains Lawful Good, he or she has just commited an objectively evil act (kiling an innocent child).  But, as he/she is still Lawful Good, he/she is eligible for redemption under the rules for doing so (and is likely wracked with guilt over what he/she had to do in order to save the world).



True, Chiba. I think the important qualifier he put in though was "in my game". He seems to have a softer restriction involving the mentioned probation period probably so the player can maintain their powers but still be under tangible threat of being stripped.

I don't mean to answer for you DaBeerds, so I hope you don't mind especially because I'm pretty sure Chiba won't mind me trying to clarify...he's a well-reasoned individual from what I've seen.



Chiba's "nit-pick" is accurate, but so is qualification of "in my game" and you read my mind.  No harm no foul

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.

That being said, I just re-read the RAW alignments, and in all honesty I think the intent is clear as stated in the opening sentence: "A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment."  To me, that implies a guideline not a hard and fast rule.  A LG paladin that saves the world by killing an innocent child (a situation posed in another thread), would not lose his paladinhood, in my game.  He would probably end up "on probation," as it were, though and I would inform the player of the consequences of that probation.




The Paladin would and should loose their Paladinhood for killing an innocent child to save the world, but not their alignment. He can however Atone and regain his Paladinhood. This could be as simple as getting an Atonement spell cast or doing some sort of penance (in such a case the DM could make it very easy, almost a tokenary penance) Something I would play up for the sake of drama, but would be very easy to do.
 
I also think that part of the problem is that too many focus on the "downsides" as listed in the RAW:

Law: "On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability."

Chaos: "On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility.



This extreme is usually the problem most have with alignments, they jump to these extreme ends where the downside would occur. Yes the Chaotic Barbarian is likely to fly into a rage in an arguement and do something arbitrary and reckless. However the Chaotic Bard is just wanting to travel the world, not be tied down, enjoy his personal freedom and to heck with The Man!


@MrCustomer:

you did not read YagamiFire's post did you?

He pointed out, rightly, that I qualified the statement with "in my game".  If a paladin did this, in my game, he would not lose his paladinhood.  He would be on probabtion.  That probation would include things like having to honestly and deeply express his remorse for committing such an act, paying reparations to the family of the child, having to commit to several weeks of prayer and soul searching.  the list goes on.

That being said, I would never create a situation like that for any group I run for.  It was simply an extreme (preposterous) example that was posed in another thread on these forums that gave me an opportunity to show how I deal with alignment, in my game.

 

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@MrCustomer:

you did not read YagamiFire's post did you?

He pointed out, rightly, that I qualified the statement with "in my game".  If a paladin did this, in my game, he would not lose his paladinhood.  He would be on probabtion.  That probation would include things like having to honestly and deeply express his remorse for committing such an act, paying reparations to the family of the child, having to commit to several weeks of prayer and soul searching.  the list goes on.

That being said, I would never create a situation like that for any group I run for.  It was simply an extreme (preposterous) example that was posed in another thread on these forums that gave me an opportunity to show how I deal with alignment, in my game.



That is the most important part.

A DM that sets up that situation for their group (especially one that includes a paladin) is not playing heroic fantasy...and if that group DOES include a paladin, that DM is also being a jerk.

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?

 

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@DaBeerds,

In your game is not relevant to my reply. I am saying that there are tools available in Everyones game to deal with such scenerios.

In the case that you refer to in another thread,  as per this line in the Paladin Class

-She regains her abilities and advancement potential if she atones for her violations, as appropriate.-

Given the circumstances atonement could be trivial, especially for someone who was willing to risk life and limb and possibly die to save the world, the problem posed in that other thread amounts to a minor inconveneince.

As for the DM deliberately setting up a trap. The game is organic so sometimes mistakes happen, or a series of mistakes made by a well intending player. An important part of the alignment system is that the ability to correct such occurances is readily available. In short the trick questions, such as they are, are accounted for.


True, Chiba. I think the important qualifier he put in though was "in my game". He seems to have a softer restriction involving the mentioned probation period probably so the player can maintain their powers but still be under tangible threat of being stripped.

I don't mean to answer for you DaBeerds, so I hope you don't mind especially because I'm pretty sure Chiba won't mind me trying to clarify...he's a well-reasoned individual from what I've seen.



Chiba's "nit-pick" is accurate, but so is qualification of "in my game" and you read my mind.  No harm no foul


I did, in fact, overlook that "in my game" qualifier.  I thought we were talking about judging RAW.  Mea Culpa.  I apologize.

Looks like we're well-reasoned individuals all around!  Cheers!
What I mean by this is that players choose to play out the negatives of an alignment more often than the positives.

A character struggling with his alignment (his morality and ethics), is almost certainly MUCH more interesting and challenging to play than one who isn't.  This is not to say that characters who aren't conflicted about their behavioral choices are necessarily dull by comparison.  What it indicates to me is that alignment is simply doing it's job, keeping a player mindful of motivations leading to and consequences following his characters behavior.

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"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

What I mean by this is that players choose to play out the negatives of an alignment more often than the positives.

A character struggling with his alignment (his morality and ethics), is almost certainly MUCH more interesting and challenging to play than one who isn't.  This is not to say that characters who aren't conflicted about their behavioral choices are necessarily dull by comparison.  What it indicates to me is that alignment is simply doing it's job, keeping a player mindful of motivations leading to and consequences following his characters behavior.



I quite agree.
What I mean by this is that players choose to play out the negatives of an alignment more often than the positives.

A character struggling with his alignment (his morality and ethics), is almost certainly MUCH more interesting and challenging to play than one who isn't.  This is not to say that characters who aren't conflicted about their behavioral choices are necessarily dull by comparison.  What it indicates to me is that alignment is simply doing it's job, keeping a player mindful of motivations leading to and consequences following his characters behavior.



I quite agree.



As do I.

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.


My five cents:

- I think having alignment in the game is a good thing

- I think it has a purpose in helping to shape character and aid in roleplaying

- I think that alignment is strongly connected to how the character acts; both intent and actions

- I think characters of any class can be any alignment and still be true to both

- I think that utterly ignoring alignment is detrimental to the game


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There are plenty of moral guidlines and codes out there.



my point exactly.



I find that most of the time it creates the expectation of a singular set of moral guidelines, the issue is that no such thing exists.



How can you say that there are plenty of moral codes and guidelines out there, when you said only a post or two previously that no such guideline or code exists?

Horse and cart.



You're trying to imply that one comes before the other, when it isn't the case. The two are one and the same. The actual alignment rules are expressions of those cosmic forces which alignments are.

Sorry I am working from the assumption that you are a human being.



To borrow a rather funny bit of dialogue, I'm actually a Hutt in human form plotting to take over the galaxy. 

If you are some sort of alien who doesn't act in a human way then I apologize for misrepresenting you.



Not everyone has a violent reactionary episode upon the challenging of their world views. There are plenty of people who don't even think that objective morality is a thing, so how could they even posit a theory that would qualify as objective morality? No, not everyone does fight tooth and nail for external validation of their own ideas. There are a lot of people, myself included, that are content with merely having them.


All it does is change the context of personal value judgments. It doesn't negate or eliminate them. Where's the limit?



No alignment RAW pretty clearly gets rid of personal value judgments.



Not at all. It just changes the context in which those judgments are made. Example:

Non alignment-based value judgment: "I believe that x is good and y is evil." Fill x and y in with whatever you want. Say x is classic rock while y is country western, I think we can all agree on that.

Alignment-based value judgment: "I believe that the good alignment isn't beneficial, and the evil alignment is beneficial." See? The only thing that changes is the context, the essence of the value judgment remains the same. Just because alignment good is moral good, doesn't mean a character has to think it is good. Even if they think it isn't morally good, which would make them incorrect, they can still think that. They would be wrong, but nothing stops them from thinking it.

What's more, is that they can judge the good alignment on an amoral scale, where value isn't determined by moral nature, but by how beneficial it is to the individual. For example, "I don't like good-aligned behavior, because when I practice it, the self-sacrifice involved and personal risk diminishes me. I get hurt, I spend resources on people other than myself, and sometimes gain nothing for putting myself at risk." This example value judgment isn't actually wrong, because it isn't speaking to morality, but something else entirely.

DMs who don't use alignment just use other methods of doing this. I also haven't seen a case where this is caused by anything other than a deviation from RAW.



Not really, if the expectation of a definable, enforcable moral code tied to game mechanics wasn't presented then people would be less likely trip over it.


If epic level NPCs weren't a thing, DMs would be less likely to abuse them and use them to punish and railroad players. Of course if something isn't there people can't misuse it, it isn't there for them to misuse. But that can't be a reason for removing something, otherwise we could remove everything on the premise that it can be misused. Since your original comment that spoke to this is the railroading of players, epic NPCs are bad because DMs use them to railroad players, all the time. Also, what are you saying not really to? Are you speaking to my experience of people testifying to alignment problems? I can't imagine how you would be qualified to tell me what I have and haven't seen. So you must be talking about something else. What is it?


Myth and legend don't use anything like the alignment system so I don't see how this could be true.  If this was the designers attempt they failed quite spectacularly.



Of course myth and legend don't use anything like an alignment system. They don't use weapon and armor proficiencies or spell slots either. Those systems are all designed to represent things and ideas seen in heroic fantasy, myth, and legend. Alignment in the case of 3e mechanically represents fluidity and transformation, creative life, death and the dark, and the keeping of the impressive configuration, all concepts that are dealt with in Campbell's work.

The archetypal Hero is a being of fluidity and transofmration, and is the champion of creative life. Holdfast, the Tyrant, is the keeper of the impressive configuration, who wields the power of death and dark. Campbell identifies how these forces appear all over myth and legend across the world's cultures. Later, Moorcock, inspired by the monomythical hero's journey, chose to represent those ideas as law, chaos, good and evil in his setting. Then alignment in D&D was taken from Moorcock's ideas.

You have to ask yourself what the mechanics are representing in the game world, just like you have to ask that for things like spell slots, weapon and armor proficiencies, and other things.
What I mean by this is that players choose to play out the negatives of an alignment more often than the positives.

A character struggling with his alignment (his morality and ethics), is almost certainly MUCH more interesting and challenging to play than one who isn't.  This is not to say that characters who aren't conflicted about their behavioral choices are necessarily dull by comparison.  What it indicates to me is that alignment is simply doing it's job, keeping a player mindful of motivations leading to and consequences following his characters behavior.



I quite agree.



As do I.



I three

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
The desire to see players in moral dilemmas is the start of alignment-based problems with one's players.

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

What I mean by this is that players choose to play out the negatives of an alignment more often than the positives.

A character struggling with his alignment (his morality and ethics), is almost certainly MUCH more interesting and challenging to play than one who isn't.  This is not to say that characters who aren't conflicted about their behavioral choices are necessarily dull by comparison.  What it indicates to me is that alignment is simply doing it's job, keeping a player mindful of motivations leading to and consequences following his characters behavior.



I quite agree.



As do I.



I three

I always felt (opinion) that alignment was more of a methodical guideline to help define what a character's general bent is for the purpose of detect evil, protection from evil and a general idea of the player's behavior, morals and ethics.

If it is to be used to guide the player's behavior... perhaps this might be better...

Character 1: I'm totally a good guy! See! I'm sharing these corpses I dug up so we can animate them together!

Character 2: I'm totally a good guy, too! Thank you for the corpses. Here's one of the children I was saving for the great sacrifice to my devil lord. See! I too can share. I thank you for the example, good sir. Would you like to join my Paladin order? I can use someone who understands the value of teamwork. Together we might get these pesky serfs to quit their rebellion and learn to work for free without complaint for the greater good of the social order!

DM: Interesting. A voice from the sky speaketh...

I AM YOUR CREATOR. I PUT YOU IN THIS WORLD AND I'M TAKING YOU OUT.

DM: You die of dysentery. The End.

A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
The desire to see players in moral dilemmas is the start of alignment-based problems with one's players.

Iz badd?
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
The desire to see players in moral dilemmas is the start of alignment-based problems with one's players.

Iz badd?

I guess that depends on what one thinks about having problems with one's players.

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

The desire to see players in moral dilemmas is the start of alignment-based problems with one's players.

Iz badd?

I guess that depends on what one thinks about having problems with one's players.


I see moral dilemmas as interesting things that happen to characters in stories and I see figuring out 'problems' as one of the key elements of the game... or any endeavour worth doing, for that matter.

Not disagreeing with your statement. When I DM I try to assess how interested the player is in dealing with such problems and weigh the value of placing the dilemma versus how much time it will take to resolve and how the other players will be affected by the pause in the game as one of the characters weighs an important decision.

I feel that having important decisions to make for your character keeps you more engaged with the character and... ditto on what dabeerds wrote earlier (I four).
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
The desire to see players in moral dilemmas is the start of alignment-based problems with one's players.

Iz badd?

I guess that depends on what one thinks about having problems with one's players.

I see moral dilemmas as interesting things that happen to characters in stories and I see figuring out 'problems' as one of the key elements of the game... or any endeavour worth doing, for that matter.

That's not the kind of problem I mean.

By "problems with one's players," I mean "problems between one and one's players." The DM wants one thing, the player isn't interested in what the DM wants, and alignment is the method the DM is going to use try to get the behavior he or she wants from the player (i.e. the struggle with the moral dilemma). The player, seeing this as manipulative, pushes back, and there are problems.

When I DM I try to assess how interested the player is in dealing with such problems

What if they're not at all interested?

I feel that having important decisions to make for your character keeps you more engaged with the character and... ditto on what dabeerds wrote earlier (I four).

This is too obvious for words. But it has nothing to do with alignment, otherwise roleplaying games that don't utilize alignment couldn't pose important decisions to characters, yet somehow they do. And just because a decision is important doesn't mean a player will weigh it for any length of time at all.

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

What if they're not at all interested?



There are ways. Ask yourself, "What intrigues them?"
One dagger is a plot point. A thousand daggers is inventory. Thank you for disrailing this thread.