Alignment. Must there be one?

Alignment is not required.
Spells will be written to not refer to alignment.

"Alignment"

There isn't just one form of alignment. Right?

I understand D&D wont be D&D without having the option of Good-Evil and Law-Chaos being in there. It is a well known aspect of the system. But there are other ways characters can be aligned.

Light and dark. Air-Earth-Fire-Water or the elemental axis of your preference, Community vs Self, Honor vs Dishonr, Clean vs Tainted. Open Palm vs Closed Fist (Bioware, where Jade Empire 2 at?)

Should other alignment systems be included in DDN?
When should the other alignments appear? A few in the first DMG? In setting books only?
Should there be optional heavy mechanical variants included somewhere?

I personally do not like Good-Evil Law-Chaos alignment. I prefer my alignments to be more defined in stucture or have a physical manifestation so they can be little question of who is what.

I would love for the first DMG to come with 1 or 2 extra aligment systems or an alleigement system. Then setting books can add more.

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My opinion changes on this as I get older. I don't care about enforcing alignment among my players much anymore. Npcs I do... usually as a simple tool. My own characters I may use alighnment depending on the GM. I do like the idea of taint and possible auras based on alliances, etc.

Must there be one?
No.

Should there be one?
Yes.

Why?
Useful tool sometimes, and it's iconic in D&D.

Should it be easy to opt out if you don't want to use it?
Yes. 
Yes i think alignment shoul be in and i'm happy with the way it currently stand.
+1
Moar alignment mechanics please.

 Fear is the Mind Killer

 

I want more alignment mechanics too, but i know a whole lot of people don't. So i am good with the core having simple alignment descriptor and perhaps more hardwired alignment mechanics in optional module.

This help accomodate everyone's playstyle without forcing it on anyone who don't want alignment mechanic in particular.
I dont enforce alignment, Im more about character concept. As long as they dont force alignment into nspells like 3rd I dont care if alignment is there.

These new forums are terrible.

I misspell words on purpose too draw out grammer nazis.

Because people know of the alignments. The nine are a unique D&D-ism. Even many non-D&D players know that paladins are Lawful Good. 

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Because people know of the alignments. The nine are a unique D&D-ism. Even many non-D&D players know that paladins are Lawful Good. 



And then they realized their mistake, and made many variants that had different alignment within the splatbooks.

Less mechanics based on alignment!

Keep it in if you want it, but don't use it to influence classes, I don't want another Assassin/Avenger (3.5) issue going on again because they can't decide whether to make things good or evil.
What about alternate alignment systems?

D&D has a tradition with the 4 elements of fire, water, air, and earth. I cannot explain why there is not a popular D&D setting with elemental alignments, innate magical attunement, and all that could be pulled from that.

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I've always used alignment as a sort of moral indiator of character's behavoirs but I'd never tie actual mechanics into them. For one, they're too narrow and if a player picks aligned options  I feel obgliated to throw in situations where it's useful because having your options just sit there and do nothing for an entire session or multiple sessions is a really big pain in the but and not fun. Same goes with forced alignment mechanics such as the Paladin's smite. If I don't throw in monsters that are evil then he's relegated to being a worse than a Fighter but when I do pander, it seems like I'm doing it just so he can have some spotlight and for no other reason. It feels gamist and bad IMO.

So, in short:

Should the game have Alignment? Yes.

Should the game have forced alignment mechanics? No.

Should the game have options that DMs (and players) include or implement in their game to make it how they run it? Yes.
Should the game have Alignment? Yes

Should the game have forced alignment mechanics? Yes

Should the game have options that DMs (and players) include or implement in their game to make it how they run it? Yes

I think that in the core game - targeted at younger players - it is important to be able to hold the characters to a good alignment and their foes to be evil.  For advanced players I think the system should be more flexible. 
I think the basic layout should be:
Default 9 alignments should be in PHB, with possible expansion (to seperate balance-seeking "true neutral" from the far more common "unaligned". Alternatively, balance-seeking true neutral should be dropped from the books because it's so ridiculous anyways :P but since it's kind of tied to druids it seems like it should be in there). The entry should include notes in whatever form they make common clarifying that alignment is optional and not all DMs will use it.

Every monster manual entry should have traditional-style alignment indicators ("always evil", "usually lawful neutral", etc.). Even if a DM isn't formally using alignment, it can be a good rp hint to give a little more insight into how they (canonically) act. Similarly, alignment can be mentioned with some classes, preferrably as a "usually" in the fluff description. At worst, they can have it as a hard rule, which is clearly non-applicable to those who don't use alignment as a module.

Any spells/powers that interact with alignment need to be one of several choices (no free "Detect Evil" for paladins unless they have at least one alternative). And they should be seperated out in the same fashion as martial healing.. whether that means they're gathered together in one place (at the end of the alignment section?) or in the typical list but with some kind of flag to make it clear you don't use it without the module.

---

I personally would like a few more alignment options. For example it'd be great if they could use the alignment system from Dungeons: the Dragoning as an option. (Rather than being aligned with something abstract like, "Lawful Evil" you are aligned with a deity of your choice. The degree of your alignment shifts based on how well you keep that particular deity's dogma. So alignment: Torm is very similar to alignment: Bahamut due to both being "lawful good" but there's a lot of differences in terms of things one or the other doesn't care about and would let you get away with. Each diety can have a fairly clearly laid out dogma section that lets you know in fairly unambiguous terms what it means to be aligned with that diety. (avoiding the classic problem of DM and player not agreeing on what Lawful Good means in a particular situation.)
I like the 9 alignment system.  Of course, I also believe player races are a bit more nuanced than a strict interpretation of their alignment.  But providing an alignment indicator provides a good short-hand for players and DM's.

I also like the idea that some sentient weapons/items are imbued with a force linked to a particular alignment.  And the item's alignment related to the player's provides some interesting difference in life philosphies.

Some of the most interesting stories revolve around issues of alignment.  For instance, Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, etc.
You fight for your freedom? Well, I fight for the freedom of all.
HONESTE VIVERE , ALTERUM NON LAEDERE, SUUM CUIQUE TRIBUERE

(= To live honorably, to harm no one, to give to each his own.)

Ulpian.

----

The aligment key in the divine spells was the way to show how Heaven and Hell forces were linked to cleric´s magic.

If you don´t want the aligment system, or you would rather a change, my suggestion is using allegiances from d20 Modern. For example "Magic circle against Chaos" becomes "Magic circle againts infidels". My house-rule is magic can hurt enemies with same aligment but different allegiances, for example a CE drow priestess (Lolth) againts a CE orc shaman (Gruumsh).

And we ought to be more... flexible about caothic aligment.  Even the criminals in the prisons have got a convict´s code. A paramilitary group could be illegal but so disciplined like a lawful army. 

For me being lawful is when character accepts a sacrifice what could be avoied but he would rather be loyal to a sense of duty or honor, and being caothic when he doesn´t obey rules but only his allegiance. Allegiance is a cause somebody is ready to accept serious sacrifices (loved beings, fatherland, religion, honor...). 

"Say me what you're showing off for, and I'll say you what you lack!" (Spanish saying)

 

Book 13 Anaclet 23 Confucius said: "The Superior Man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony"

 

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius 

Personally, I like alignment in its current form in D&D Next.

---

brian ®

Guitars & Gaming

If one of the points of DDN is to hearken back to the essential elements which have the brand its identity, I don't think it's I good idea to immediately confuse the issue with every sub-paradigm which anyone every tried over the life of the brand. Certainly an Oriental Adventures (or Magic: the Gathering) setting book might ask players to make an alignment with a natural element, or a Planescape setting might use a faction system, but not the basic PHB.
I don't care.  I think the monsters should be aligned where appropriate no matter what but the rest I can handle.  

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  • Present the concept of the 9 alignments pretty much as they've always been, and add that tenth one.

  • Remove "always" and "never" from where they've always been, and replace them with "usually" and "rarely".

  • Leave screwjobs up to the DM.

If one of the points of DDN is to hearken back to the essential elements which have the brand its identity, I don't think it's I good idea to immediately confuse the issue with every sub-paradigm which anyone every tried over the life of the brand. Certainly an Oriental Adventures (or Magic: the Gathering) setting book might ask players to make an alignment with a natural element, or a Planescape setting might use a faction system, but not the basic PHB.



Is Water-Earth-Fire-Air alignment or factions that confusing?

I mean even kids get hot blooded fire people and flighty, evasive minded, air people. 

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  • Present the concept of the 9 alignments pretty much as they've always been, and add that tenth one.

  • Remove "always" and "never" from where they've always been, and replace them with "usually" and "rarely".

  • Leave screwjobs up to the DM.




This is essentially the goal of core D&DN, right?  They've mentioned Unaligned with the 9 already.

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Is Water-Earth-Fire-Air alignment or factions that confusing? 


No, but it's not core either.
Is Water-Earth-Fire-Air alignment or factions that confusing? 


No, but it's not core either.


 
But neither is the 9 Alignments

Chapter ??: Alignment 
- The 9 Alignments
--Good and Evil 
--Law and Chaos
--Mechanical Taint
-Honor
--Mechanical Honor
-Factions
--Reputation
-The 4 Elementals
 

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Chapter ??: Alignment 
- The 9 Alignments
--Good and Evil 
--Law and Chaos
--Mechanical Taint
-Honor
--Mechanical Honor
-Factions
--Reputation
-The 4 Elementals
 


One of the things they absolutely CAN'T do is force new players to design their own game before they've ever had a chance to play it.  One of the systems is going to have to be the default.  The other options may be present, but I think they will need to be in a supplementary publication to avoid confusion.
The 9 can be the default aligment if you use alignments. But with the hatred associated with it, I find it weird how D&D is afraid to use other alignment systems anywhere near the GoodEvil LawChaos axises. Okay, there is no need for 8 alignment options right away. But if FR is the first setting, how long until a second alignment option appears?

How is it modular if there is only one option for Yes for some many aspects of the game? That is the struggle with having the game so modular. It doesn´t really count if the options take 5 years to appear.

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The 9 can be the default aligment if you use alignments. But with the hatred associated with it....


I think that may be significantly overstating the case.  "Hatred?"  It's one of the most iconic features of the game.  "Lawful Good" and similar terms have entered the popular lexicon because of it.  Certainly a few very vocal grumblers dislike it, and got it pretty well neutered in 3e and eliminated entirely in 4e...but I've never seen anyone who didn't want to play with it who wasn't completely capable of simply ignoring it.  This seems a case in which the value to the brand of having the iconic system in place is pretty clear, and the damage done to those who didn't want it is negligible.


I think the Good/Evil/Chaotic/Lawful matrix was kind of a mess, and assigning personalities to them even more so.

I actually liked 4e's "Lawful Good - Good - Unaligned - Evil - Chaotic Evil" line.  It keeps some of the iconic terms (like "Lawful Good"), but doesn't try to explain things like "Chaotic Good" (So, you want to topple human civilization as a whole, but you don't want anybody to get hurt?)

So, D&D needs alignements, and they need to be some kind of good/evil and/or law/chaos thing, because it's D&D.
Chapter ??: Alignment 
- The 9 Alignments
--Good and Evil 
--Law and Chaos
--Mechanical Taint
-Honor
--Mechanical Honor
-Factions
--Reputation
-The 4 Elementals
 


One of the things they absolutely CAN'T do is force new players to design their own game before they've ever had a chance to play it.  One of the systems is going to have to be the default.  The other options may be present, but I think they will need to be in a supplementary publication to avoid confusion.


"Here are some options, pick the one that suits your party best." is not designing your own game.
Moar alignment mechanics please.


I agree with this and I personally hate alignment.  Now that's really contradictary, so let me explain.

I hate alignment.  I've always felt that, of all the rpgs that I've played, D&D has implemented alignment in the poorest way.  Palladium actually does alignment better, and that's saying something since it's Palladium.  With this in mind, I'm thrilled to remove as much mechanical weight as we can from alignment.

Now, having said the above, we need all the alignment tages to be present on the monsters and spells, and we need the alignments in the PHB, to facilitate adding on mechanical weght to alignment later.  While I'll never use that added weight, the option needs to be there for those who like it, and it should be as easy to implement as possible.

So yes, more options for mechanical weight, and make sure you lay the groundwork for those options in a way that doesn't enforce alignment on those who don't care for it.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Chapter ??: Alignment 
- The 9 Alignments
--Good and Evil 
--Law and Chaos
--Mechanical Taint
-Honor
--Mechanical Honor
-Factions
--Reputation
-The 4 Elementals

One of the things they absolutely CAN'T do is force new players to design their own game before they've ever had a chance to play it.  One of the systems is going to have to be the default.  The other options may be present, but I think they will need to be in a supplementary publication to avoid confusion.

Not only can they, I would argue there is no other way to make D&D modular. If D&D Next is to have a hope of appealing to a large audience of former and new players, It must ensure that every game of D&D conforms to the needs of that specific table at that specific time as a core element of the game. If modularity isn't core, the game itself inherently isn't modular.
To bring this back to the topic at hand, alignment shouldn't be a part of the basic ruleset, but should be a core modular option. While alignment is traditional, it is not fundamental. It is not needed to play a D&D game, for all it is an iconic element of D&D.
Alignment is an extremely usefull tool,  and I would say it's exclusion should only occur in experienced groups...

-It provides a guideline to the Player on how to Roleplay his character.

-It prevents "My morality is whatever gets me the best result",  a common event where players frequently flip between moral standpoints just to receive the optimal reward.  

-It helps guide the DM as he's designing adventures/campaigns by deliniating who are the "Opponents" for the PC's.

-It gives the Monsters intrinisic qualities that reduce Player confusion.  If Mind Flayers are evil in one campaign,  and good in another,  over time the Player's lose their grasp on the world and it makes it hard for them to interface with it.  It becomes a guessing game,  where you never know which monsters are a threat.  It's even worse if monsters routinely flip-flop within a campaign.  The Players rapidly find themselves in a position where everything is a potential ambush.

-It gives monsters personality. A Gold dragon and a Red dragon are significantly different because of alignment,  without it,  they start to become MMO critters.  Same thing,  different color.

-It facilitates memorable games.  An artifact with an opposing alignment slowly corrupting a character can be great fun for the DM and the Player to play,  and potentially make for a memorable story if the rest of the Party decides to redeem him.

-It also serves to give the PC's and DM guidelines on magic items their characters might covet or find distasteful (or even consider an abomination).

All of these things can be achieved without alignment,  but it takes a good DM and party to keep the game consistent.  New ones are going to misplay it so badly that the game ends up a degenerate mish-mash.       
Alignment is an extremely usefull tool,  and I would say it's exclusion should only occur in experienced groups...

-It provides a guideline to the Player on how to Roleplay his character.

-It prevents "My morality is whatever gets me the best result",  a common event where players frequently flip between moral standpoints just to receive the optimal reward.  

-It helps guide the DM as he's designing adventures/campaigns by deliniating who are the "Opponents" for the PC's.

-It gives the Monsters intrinisic qualities that reduce Player confusion.  If Mind Flayers are evil in one campaign,  and good in another,  over time the Player's lose their grasp on the world and it makes it hard for them to interface with it.  It becomes a guessing game,  where you never know which monsters are a threat.  It's even worse if monsters routinely flip-flop within a campaign.  The Players rapidly find themselves in a position where everything is a potential ambush.

-It gives monsters personality. A Gold dragon and a Red dragon are significantly different because of alignment,  without it,  they start to become MMO critters.  Same thing,  different color.

-It facilitates memorable games.  An artifact with an opposing alignment slowly corrupting a character can be great fun for the DM and the Player to play,  and potentially make for a memorable story if the rest of the Party decides to redeem him.

-It also serves to give the PC's and DM guidelines on magic items their characters might covet or find distasteful (or even consider an abomination).

All of these things can be achieved without alignment,  but it takes a good DM and party to keep the game consistent.  New ones are going to misplay it so badly that the game ends up a degenerate mish-mash.       


I have to disagree with this.  There is very little that alignment does that simply writing out what a characters'/monsters' goals and motivations are.  And, with regard to flip-flopping, I don't think anyone does that.  They may have a single monster, or clan/group of a given monster that goes against alignment, but I have never heard of anyone saying all red dragons are bad in one game then that they're all good, and then nah, they're really all bad again.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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It provides a guideline to the Player on how to Roleplay his character.

Why should there be guidelines on how to roleplay one's character? Doesn't that begin to take away from one's character in order to enforce a stereotype?
It helps guide the DM as he's designing adventures/campaigns by deliniating who are the "Opponents" for the PC's.

Why do opponents need to be of a differing alignment, or even have an alignment? Doesn't such delineation limit the game?
It gives the Monsters intrinisic qualities that reduce Player confusion.  If Mind Flayers are evil in one campaign,  and good in another,  over time the Player's lose their grasp on the world and it makes it hard for them to interface with it.  It becomes a guessing game,  where you never know which monsters are a threat.  It's even worse if monsters routinely flip-flop within a campaign.  The Players rapidly find themselves in a position where everything is a potential ambush.

Or they have to judge things by the actions they see and hear about. Isn't that a preferred option?
It gives monsters personality. A Gold dragon and a Red dragon are significantly different because of alignment,  without it,  they start to become MMO critters.  Same thing,  different color.

Isn't it their differing philosophies and anatomies that make them significantly different as opposed to their alignment?
All of these things can be achieved without alignment,  but it takes a good DM and party to keep the game consistent.  New ones are going to misplay it so badly that the game ends up a degenerate mish-mash.

I really don't see this happening.
Some worlds need alignment rules, some worlds don't, and the alignment system of one world may be wildly different from another.


Not only can they, I would argue there is no other way to make D&D modular. If D&D Next is to have a hope of appealing to a large audience of former and new players, It must ensure that every game of D&D conforms to the needs of that specific table at that specific time as a core element of the game. If modularity isn't core, the game itself inherently isn't modular.



I'm not sure that's the only way to implement modularity.  After all, 2e was remarkably modular, inasmuch as you could purchase supplements which fed the game you wanted to play...but the Main Three books (the "core" of 2e) were relatively static.


Not only can they, I would argue there is no other way to make D&D modular. If D&D Next is to have a hope of appealing to a large audience of former and new players, It must ensure that every game of D&D conforms to the needs of that specific table at that specific time as a core element of the game. If modularity isn't core, the game itself inherently isn't modular.



I'm not sure that's the only way to implement modularity.  After all, 2e was remarkably modular, inasmuch as you could purchase supplements which fed the game you wanted to play...but the Main Three books (the "core" of 2e) were relatively static.


Hopefully they don't take that track again.  We've seen what happens when you put out an edition that denies people the options to play how they prefer to from the start.  And we've even seen the lack of willingness to try later products that put those options in.  Modularity from the start is really the best way for them to grab the largest possible segment of the D&D fanbase.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Modularity from the start is really the best way for them to grab the largest possible segment of the D&D fanbase.



Again, not sure that's true, and I certainly question whether the desires of any current fan stack up against the absolute necessity of making an edition which is easy for new players to get into.  But that's getting somewhat off topic.  I've spoke my piece.

What about alternate alignment systems? D&D has a tradition with the 4 elements of fire, water, air, and earth. I cannot explain why there is not a popular D&D setting with elemental alignments, innate magical attunement, and all that could be pulled from that.



Ok, how did you want to work the Element system?

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Moar alignment mechanics please.


I agree with this and I personally hate alignment.  Now that's really contradictary, so let me explain.

I hate alignment.  I've always felt that, of all the rpgs that I've played, D&D has implemented alignment in the poorest way.  Palladium actually does alignment better, and that's saying something since it's Palladium.  With this in mind, I'm thrilled to remove as much mechanical weight as we can from alignment.



I always thought Palladium was overly detailed - but it had some good ideas as well.

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What about alternate alignment systems? D&D has a tradition with the 4 elements of fire, water, air, and earth. I cannot explain why there is not a popular D&D setting with elemental alignments, innate magical attunement, and all that could be pulled from that.



Ok, how did you want to work the Element system?




Something simple

A Air-Earth (Progrss/Conservation) axis with a Fire-Water (Actice/Reactive) axis for the base DMG version.

Then more philosophical attrbute  system for settings with more Elemental foci with traits for each elemental, paraelement, and quasilement.

Paladin Alignments:
Cavalier: Lightning, Radiance, Mineral, or Steam
Blackguard:  Vacuum, Ash, Dust, or Salt
Warden: Earth, Ooze, Mineral, Salt, or Magma.

Lightning Paladins: The Emotion of Air, Sensation of Fire, and the Benevolence of Light.

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