Good, Evil, Neutral. They should keep alignments as simple as possible.

This will keep it from confusing new players and will make it simpler to play at the table, while keeping modifications easy through modules. At the very least this is how it should be in the core rules. No need to make them any more confusing than they need to be. Cutting out the fancy schmancy psychology debates that come with older edition alignments is a clearcut way of doing this. 
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It is admittedly true that it's the Law-Chaos axis that tends to cause more confusion and debate than the Good-Evil axis. I could live with such an alignment model as long as alignment restrictions stay dead and as long as the book makes clear that "Neutral" should not be a commonly viable PC alignment, at least not for a normal game.

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Alignment should remain fluff, with a module to pop it in as a mechanic.  Admittedly, one of the things I really liked about 4th is it treated alignment as fluff (I wonder why they didn't hack off L. Good and C. Evil while they were at it.  I always figure that leaving those two in but not the rest was absurdity...  But, my reasons behind that are filled with social/political views...  Tanget aside!)  Personally, I prefer allegiance (a la D20 Modern) over alignment, as its much more expansive and fun to tinker with.  (Allegiance Module/Alternative for 5e!  Come on, make it happen!)  I do like how alignment is used in Planescape though.  No matter.  Whose to say you can't toss the law v. chaos stuff out the window?

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It keeps the generic core set simple AND it gives WotC more modules to sell us! Think about all the money they can get by selling modules for lawful characters and modules for chaotic characters, and maybe a module that gives you advice on how to play with both in the same party! For the DM there could be all sorts of monsters, puzzles, traps, and ways to integrate both into your campaign! WotC could make a killing off this.
Khyber is a dark and dangerous place, full of flame and smoke, where ever stranger things lie dormant.
There should be 9 alignments. Alignments should be fluff. 
There should be 9 alignments. Alignments should be fluff. 


+1

I think alignment should have some mechanical interaction; I don't need there to be alignment restrictions in mechanics though, simply situational modifiers (beneficial and/or detrimental).

 
EDIT: Edited for clarity.
I just want a balanced aligment grid/axis, in this departement I don't like the 4E version, while the OP's axis is balanced I do like the pyschologycal debates so I would like a more expanded aligment.

Regardless aligment should remain fluff.
I think the current proposal of 10 alignments is broad enought while remaining simple at the same time.


Lawful Good 
Lawful Neutral
Lawful Evil
Neutral Good
True Neutral
Neutral Evil 
Chaotic Good
Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic Evil
Unaligned 
When alignment isn't a rolling ball of contention, I'll consider accepting it as anythign other than arbitray flavour text.
For very straight forward games, the Good-Meh-Evil 3 parter may work, but if you have too much moral complexity, it breaks down into squabbles over what is "Good" and what is "Evil".
Having hard rules for that runs the risk of "Don't tell me how to play my character" while having vague rules opens it up to at table philosophicla battles. 

Mind you, I'm all for some modules with mechanics, I've even seen some where people with the same affiliation or similar alignments have bonuses to social interactions with each other... which seems sorta reasonable on the surface...
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Alignments are a useless additional step in character creation and not precise enough to be a pertinent descriptors by themselves.

Once what is considered pure manifestations of good or evil is defined for mechanical aspects of the game, clumsy artefacts like alignnments are useless.

Once the moral code is defined for the classes concerend by this kind of restriction, alignments are useless.

Once an organization (including religions, civilizations, and so on) is defined regarding civil and political rights, alignments are useless.

Alignments are just a tool to turn PCs into DM's puppets when he is not pleased by the choices or directions taken by the players, they are just mechanical means of pressure to be employed against the players.

In a normal rpg sessions, consequences are the means of pressure against deviant acts from the usual behavior of the character.

Alignments are absolutely useless and cumbersome.
 

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Alignments are a useless additional step in character creation


They are as useful as you make them.  Just because you didn't doesn't mean nobody else is able to.
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Another thing to consider is from the player side. Do players actually play the alignment that they've chosen? In my games alignment is absolutely fluff because everyone basically plays a neutral or unaligned character because in their minds they can just do what they want whenever they want stopping short of mayhem and murder. However they will choose to fight an NPC if they don't get their way. Fighting is always the default solution in an encounter rather than avoiding conflict (are all beasts evil, do they always deserve to die?).

Ironically my 3.5 loyalist in my 4e game hates the changes to alignment, so we allowed him to use the old axis for his character. No matter what he picks, I can't tell any difference in his play style. He's still the same dude acting the same way in the game. I suspect that my experiences are probably pretty common too. 
Alignments are a useless additional step in character creation


They are as useful as you make them.  Just because you didn't doesn't mean nobody else is able to.

In the sense of what I deveopped in the post.

This additional step can be avoided in every part of the game, it just adds useless complexity, and endless discussions on its nature, application, and more.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

I use alignment and faction. Alignment is good, evil, or unaligned. Faction is normally chosen and represents ideals most mortals can't truely uphold. Factions include law, chaos, and neutrality.
If adding an ethics axis to the morality axis makes the game too confusing, then quite honestly they need a different game...like paste eating.



It's not that it makes it confusing, it makes a large part of the game subjective.  It would be like adding the rule: "Whenever the greatest song in the world comes up on the playlist the party gets a boon."  The problem is everybody has a different idea of what the greatest song is.  Much like alignemnt.

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

Another thing to consider is from the player side. Do players actually play the alignment that they've chosen? In my games alignment is absolutely fluff because everyone basically plays a neutral or unaligned character because in their minds they can just do what they want whenever they want stopping short of mayhem and murder. However they will choose to fight an NPC if they don't get their way. Fighting is always the default solution in an encounter rather than avoiding conflict (are all beasts evil, do they always deserve to die?).

Ironically my 3.5 loyalist in my 4e game hates the changes to alignment, so we allowed him to use the old axis for his character. No matter what he picks, I can't tell any difference in his play style. He's still the same dude acting the same way in the game. I suspect that my experiences are probably pretty common too. 

Hehe, I know two 2nd edition loyalists who have the same profile.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

I think the current proposal of 10 alignments is broad enought while remaining simple at the same time.


Lawful Good 
Lawful Neutral
Lawful Evil
Neutral Good
True Neutral
Neutral Evil 
Chaotic Good
Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic Evil
Unaligned

+1

Danny

Honestly, I've often wondered if maybe removing the middle ground on the ethics axis might be a good idea. (This means the alignments would be Lawful/Chaotic Good/Neutral/Evil.) I try to play to the alignment I have chosen, but it can sometimes be confusing telling what the difference is between Neutral and Chaotic Neutral. I generally think of Lawful and Neutral as being extremes, with Lawful meaning that you always strive to follow the law of the region (although loopholes may be useable), while Chaotic means you couldn't care less. Neutral, for me, means anywhere between those two points. For the moral axis, I think of it as how your morals affect your conscious decisions. If you pause to consider what's right, and do that, your moral alignment is Good. If you pause to consider what's wrong, and do that, you're Evil. If you rarely (or never) allow these things to affect your decisions, you're Neutral. I like the addition of the Unaligned alignment, since it can be used for mindless automatons, animals with no particular morals, etc.
The alignments should be:

altruistic

uncaring

selfish

An altruistic person can commit evil acts, but generally means well and is trying to do "good".  Leon in the Professional is a good example here.  A hit-man who saves a little girl and takes her in once her parents have been killed.

Uncaring means you could care less one way or the other.

Selfish means you do things that are most likely to benefit you.  You might perform a good act such as saving a princess for a monetary reward. 


I chose these 3 simply because a person can run along the spectrum of both good and evil at the same time and the line tends to be blurry at best.  They also give players a sense of their motivations.
If adding an ethics axis to the morality axis makes the game too confusing, then quite honestly they need a different game...like paste eating.



It's not that it makes it confusing, it makes a large part of the game subjective.  It would be like adding the rule: "Whenever the greatest song in the world comes up on the playlist the party gets a boon."  The problem is everybody has a different idea of what the greatest song is.  Much like alignemnt.



Yeah, I've heard people say that, but I've never seen it in 30+ years across hundreds of players. It's just like 5mwd or any of the other crap - it's ONLY a problem for YOU if it is, otherwise it's perfectly fine. No objective truth to any of it.



I find it very hard to believe that you have never once come across people having a differeing opinion of alignement.  

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

This will keep it from confusing new players and will make it simpler to play at the table, while keeping modifications easy through modules. At the very least this is how it should be in the core rules. No need to make them any more confusing than they need to be. Cutting out the fancy schmancy psychology debates that come with older edition alignments is a clearcut way of doing this. 



It turns out that some people do not know the difference between good and evil.  True story.

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They should make alignments an optional module.  It can include things like the Paladin class and aligned magic items.  That way if the DM chooses to allow some yahoo to play lawful stupid, it is his to own.  The rest of us can live alignment free
The alignments should be:

altruistic

uncaring

selfish

An altruistic person can commit evil acts, but generally means well and is trying to do "good".  Leon in the Professional is a good example here.  A hit-man who saves a little girl and takes her in once her parents have been killed.

Uncaring means you could care less one way or the other.

Selfish means you do things that are most likely to benefit you.  You might perform a good act such as saving a princess for a monetary reward. 


I chose these 3 simply because a person can run along the spectrum of both good and evil at the same time and the line tends to be blurry at best.  They also give players a sense of their motivations.

I like this suggestion. Perhaps add "helpful" and "malicious" and you get a good terminology of what I read into the current 4e alignments (and opens up for characters who care a lot about others without being fully altruistic as well as for characters who are actively out to harm others).

Also, for 4e I really like the descriptions of the teachings of the Gods. As an example: I play a Lawful Good Fighter (Knight) MC Paladin who worships Dol Arrah. The fact that he is Lawful Good tells me nothing whatsoever, and if pressed for a definition I would probably define Lawful Good as altruistic. However, the teachings of Dol Arrah and how my character relates to them tells me very much about my character and how he views the world. So I think that is a good addition to alignments.
I think the Chaos/Law axis gives it a bit more sophistication (and nuance), rather than just goody-good, meany-evil, and I don't-care-boy.
It has occurred to me (and not for the first time) that alignment will most likely be handled in the same was as healing: with a number of separate options so that each group can pick the one that works best.  Alignment has so many interpretations, and opinions on it run the full range from "I would never use it" to "This one way is the ONLY way" and everything in between.

It takes up so little space, that it would be easy for the PHB to include a few options:

1) None.
2) Nine-point version (pre-4E)
3) Five-point version (4E)
3) Three-point version (Good, Neutral, Evil)
4) Other: whatever your DM comes up with.

It can include the usual schpiel about what alignment represents.

3) Five-point version (4E)




That was such a weird move to me, talk about defecate or get off the can.

3) Five-point version (4E)




That was such a weird move to me, talk about defecate or get off the can.

I actually liked it.  I have never really liked symmetrical systems that exist simply for the sake of symmetry, and so the whole Wheel of Alignments never sat well with me.  Alignments like CG never made much sense...the "I'm a rebel with a heart of gold thing".  In my experience, it was just taken so that people could have "good" characters without actually feeling pressured into doing the right thing, because, you know, rebel. 

The 4E version really resonated with me.  Most people are unaligned, because most people are, well, people.  They are just trying to live their lives.  They aren't evil, but they also aren't totally altruistic and good.  They will help their friends and (sometimes) neighbors, but don't care about the next town over much.  Then you have those who are Good, and beyond that are the true paragons of Lawful Good.  On the other side you have Evil and true psycho evil (Chaotic Evil).

But please, don't confuse my point here.  While I don't personally like the nine-point alignment system and I think the 4E one was perfect, I'm not saying that one is "bad" and one is "good", other than for my own purposes.  Alignment is a "to each his own" thing; it doesn't have any effect on game balance, and so should just be left as a choice for each group to make.

Alignments like CG never made much sense...



So only good can be lawful, and evil chaotic?

Seems a tad trite to me.

Alignments like CG never made much sense...



So only good can be lawful, and evil chaotic?

Seems a tad trite to me.


So don't use it.  I'm not sure I know what your point is here (other than pointing out that you don't have the same opinions as me when it comes to alignment).

So don't use it.




Sometimes I don't use alignment at all.
 
So don't use it.

Sometimes I don't use alignment at all.

Good, so we all win!  Problem solved?

So don't use it.

Sometimes I don't use alignment at all.

Good, so we all win!  Problem solved?





I wasn't aware of a problem.
Maybe I shouldn't get a vote since I'd never use the nine-boxes alignment system anyway, but I like the division of Neutral into True Neutral and Unaligned. Things that do less to imply that Boccob and a potato bug are close enough in terms of their morals and ethics that they might as well be in the same box are okay in my book. Another, possibly more radical idea would be to just say that creatures that aren't mentally capable of what anyone would consider morals and ethics and aren't tainted with the essence of some particular alignment (like a zombie is) just don't have an alignment. So a potato bug doesn't have an alignment at all. Its alignment is just --, and anything that cares about alignment doesn't care about a potato bug. It's like a table or a cloud. (A celestial potato bug is still good, because it's formed of goodness.)
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
Maybe I shouldn't get a vote since I'd never use the nine-boxes alignment system




What boxes would these be that you type of?
The Law/Chaos axis has pretty much always been stupid and confusing. The problem is that it generally comprises of many things, such as following the laws of the land, following a personal code and keeping your word. Of course, these things come into conflict.

For instance, Batman. Most people would say he's chaotic good. He is after all a vigilante. However, he also follows a rigid code where he won't kill criminals, which would generally make him lawful. He's also a monk and has undergone rigorous martial arts training, also generally a lawful trait. So what is he?

What about Robin Hood. Another character people would say is chaotic good. He's disobeying the sheriff. However, the Sheriff is actually working against the king, and since the king is the higher authority, doesn't that make Robin in fact lawful, because he's working to keep the rightful ruler in power? So... lawful or chaotic?

And of course you run into the typical question: Does a paladin have to obey the laws in an evil city, simply because he's lawful, even if the law happens to be wrong?

In the end, the game would be better off without law/chaos. You can keep around the planes dealing with them, but as far as personal alignment, it hardly matters. Nobody ever casts detect law or chaos anyway. 
The Law/Chaos axis has pretty much always been stupid and confusing.



Never to me and mine, this must be a you and yours dilemma.

I find it bright and illuminating.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Never to me and mine, this must be a you and yours dilemma.

I find it bright and illuminating.



Okay, then you should have no problem providing me an unambiguous definition of what makes a character lawful, chaotic or neutral.
The Law/Chaos axis has pretty much always been stupid and confusing. The problem is that it generally comprises of many things, such as following the laws of the land, following a personal code and keeping your word. Of course, these things come into conflict.

For instance, Batman. Most people would say he's chaotic good. He is after all a vigilante. However, he also follows a rigid code where he won't kill criminals, which would generally make him lawful. He's also a monk and has undergone rigorous martial arts training, also generally a lawful trait. So what is he?

What about Robin Hood. Another character people would say is chaotic good. He's disobeying the sheriff. However, the Sheriff is actually working against the king, and since the king is the higher authority, doesn't that make Robin in fact lawful, because he's working to keep the rightful ruler in power? So... lawful or chaotic?

These are oversimplifications that are creating a conundrum that is separate from what law and chaos embody. Law is order and predictability, whereas chaos is disorder and unpredictability. Batman lives an ordered existence, and his choices are predictable; he's a lawful individual. Robin Hood lives by his wits, makes decisions that reflect the moment he's in, and can't be counted upon to make the same move or decision twice; he's a chaotic individual. Batman rigidly adheres to a set of tenets (they are personal and outside the law, but they are strict and shape his person), and Robin Hood has a very loose process of making choices (they can be wild and only serve to promote good without regard for any reasoning beyond uplifting the poor), which makes pretty solid examples of lawfulness and chaoticness.

And of course you run into the typical question: Does a paladin have to obey the laws in an evil city, simply because he's lawful, even if the law happens to be wrong?

He does not, no. Lawfulness is not specific to man's law, and lawfulness is separate from good and evil. Laws of an evil city or structured by evil, which is in opposition to the goodness a paladin champions. He must maintain his belief in what is right and righteous; the maintenance of which exemplifies his lawful character.

In the end, the game would be better off without law/chaos. You can keep around the planes dealing with them, but as far as personal alignment, it hardly matters. Nobody ever casts detect law or chaos anyway.

I think the game is made rich with the inclusion of law and chaos, I just think they need to be presented more coherently (and with better examples).

Danny

..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Never to me and mine, this must be a you and yours dilemma.

I find it bright and illuminating.



Okay, then you should have no problem providing me an unambiguous definition of what makes a character lawful, chaotic or neutral.



I don't have that kind of time, go and read some philosophy, chief.

And, ambiguity is part of the deal. 
Okay, then you should have no problem providing me an unambiguous definition of what makes a character lawful, chaotic or neutral.



I don't have that kind of time, go and read some philosophy, chief.

And, ambiguity is part of the deal. 



Why am I not surprised you can't defend your position when called out on it.

If there's ambiguity then people being confused is natural. You can't claim it's clear and then claim that it's also ambiguous.

Your house of cards is knocked over by the slightest breeze.
These are oversimplifications that are creating a conundrum that is separate from what law and chaos embody. Law is order and predictability, whereas chaos is disorder and unpredictability. Batman lives an ordered existence, and his choices are predictable; he's a lawful individual. Robin Hood lives by his wits, makes decisions that reflect the moment he's in, and can't be counted upon to make the same move or decision twice; he's a chaotic individual. Batman rigidly adheres to a set of tenets (they are personal and outside the law, but they are strict and shape his person), and Robin Hood has a very loose process of making choices (they can be wild and only serve to promote good without regard for any reasoning beyond uplifting the poor), which makes pretty solid examples of lawfulness and chaoticness.



Batman lives by his wits a lot. He's a master of improvisation. He's anything but predictable. One of his main features in fact is his ability to outwit his enemies by coming up with some original strategy or tactic.


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