Why Bother with Alignment?

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4e has removed all consequences and relevance of alignment from the game, and yet gamers are still worrying, obsessing and bickering over it. My question to all players and DMs of 4e is, why? Why even bother scribbling a ‘U’ or ‘LG’ on your character sheet? Why even glance at the alignment entry in a monster’s stat block?

Is it a case of old habits dying hard?
Does it help you role play?
Do you use house rules that make alignment relevant?
It dumped the negative, anti-roleplay aspects, while retained the still negative, still anti-roleplay, but only in the long run aspect of being a huge crutch for new roleplayers.

They should have just capped the whole crappy system in the head and just expanded the PH's discussion on fleshing out your character in the space wasted by alignment.
Sig to be rebuilt soon The Descendants-- the webserial that reads like a comic book! World of Ere-- A campaign setting that puts style to the fore.
I don't know why. I don't bother with it in the games I run. In the character background questionnaires I handed out to my players, there wasn't even a space for alignment.
The Expanded Psionics Group You don't have to be psychic to join, but it helps!
It dumped the negative, anti-roleplay aspects, while retained the still negative, still anti-roleplay, but only in the long run aspect of being a huge crutch for new roleplayers.

They should have just capped the whole crappy system in the head and just expanded the PH's discussion on fleshing out your character in the space wasted by alignment.

You know you want it.
Because it's a neat little guideline for fledgling players to know the basics of character personality. And by basics, I mean very basic.

As for once you've been playing a while, it becomes more like a tachometer in a car with manual transmission. Nice for people who don't know how your car drives so they know when to shift, pointless for you.
In my opinion, they are still in there because the devs, for some reason, couldn't bring themselves to ax the stupid waste of space. It's a hold over from the "Oh, that entire type of creture is PHYSICALLY EVIL, therefore it is okey to kill it and steal from it" days.
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Moo.

Not to be confused with the answer to the question: "What does a listed alignment actually say about a characters nature?" Which is "Mu."

Edit: I would like Good and Evil, it's just I'm so tired of people justifying thier sad sad misanthropy in game (and currently in politics) even if it doesn't matter much in game. I've just given up on that.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
Alignments are not popular with many gaming groups, but other groups do enjoy them a lot and like to use them. I don't really see what the big deal is here. If you don't like them then unaligned is exactly what you are looking for. If you do like them then they are there.

Why is it that everyone feels that because they don't like something that means it has to be axed. There are no mechanical benefits or penalties to the alignment system and those who like it have it.
Alignments are not popular with many gaming groups, but other groups do enjoy them a lot and like to use them. I don't really see what the big deal is here. If you don't like them then unaligned is exactly what you are looking for. If you do like them then they are there.

Why is it that everyone feels that because they don't like something that means it has to be axed. There are no mechanical benefits or penalties to the alignment system and those who like it have it.

I'm sure some people do use alighnment. However, seeing as it has no mechanical effect on the game, it seems superfluous. I mean, no one is even every going to KNOW the alighnment of an NPC unless they guess. I think that they should have simply replaced the parts of the rule books that dealt with alighnment with more advice on fleshing out your character, like VA suggested.




My personal experience tells me that alignment leads to bad things. I played a Monk in 3.5. Anytime I tried to do something remotely cretive, the DM asked "What alignment are you again?"

Alignment rules had gone from something that tells you what it's alright to kill and steal from to a mechanic used to punish players for not playing strict mockeries of real world personalities. 4E made them into a label that has no meaning whatsoever. If I play my character as someone who helps people out and tries to stop evil doers, why does it matter whether or not I have the word "GOOD!" emblazened on my character sheet?
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
I haven't used it since early 3.0, and now that we have 4e any DM's that mandate one get's Unaligned from me.

I try to play the character how he would act, not how a piece of paper says he should. I always saw alignment as a hiderance to roleplaying.

I think that DM's who do use it, are holding over to the more "black and white" style of gaming. I am a big fan of "shades of grey" world. The most fun though, is playing the "black and white" character in the "shades of grey world" as he realizes maybe everything isn't that simple.

"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 think that DM's who do use it, are holding over to the more "black and white" style of gaming. I am a big fan of "shades of grey" world. The most fun though, is playing the "black and white" character in the "shades of grey world" as he realizes maybe everything isn't that simple.

Yes, I think so too. And it's important to note that removing alignment from the books would have no impact on games with black&white morality. D&D did not invent the idea of evil and good. There will still be evil things and good things in your game even if you do not use the alignment system.

All the D&D games I run have had fairly simple morality. There are badguys and there are goodguys. Sometimes badguys disguise themselves as goodguys, and you can never tell who the goodguys are by the color of their scales alone, but other than that it's pretty black&white. Yet I still don't like using the alignment system.
The Expanded Psionics Group You don't have to be psychic to join, but it helps!
My personal experience tells me that alignment leads to bad things. I played a Monk in 3.5. Anytime I tried to do something remotely cretive, the DM asked "What alignment are you again?"

That has nothing to do with alignment. That is designer asshattery. Alignment = morality quantified (and given tangibility). Having a problem with the idea of objective morality does not give you any leverage in debating its merit.
I rarely do. However, it is better to have it in the rulebook than not have it. For players who don't want it, it's easily dismissed. For players that appreciate it, it's available for use.
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EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
I still use alignment and am far from a new player. I use it to help define the character. In those early days of a character when they're little more than stats and an idea, alignment reminds me how I would like the character to act.

It's not the most important part of defining characters but it does help.
I think that DM's who do use it, are holding over to the more "black and white" style of gaming. I am a big fan of "shades of grey" world. The most fun though, is playing the "black and white" character in the "shades of grey world" as he realizes maybe everything isn't that simple.

I do the latter too. Alignment exists, but nearly everyone is Neutral, because people don't tend to ponder their personal ethics when there's bills to pay and mouths to feed. I played a Paladin once in a campaign that included some shady (though not necessarily Evil) characters. He ended up sorting most of them out and managed to persuade them to adopt concrete philosophies and strong principles. 'Twas fun.

Alignment actually does make room for shades of gray, for those interested in learning. We call it "Neutral."
I still use alignment and am far from a new player. I use it to help define the character. In those early days of a character when they're little more than stats and an idea, alignment reminds me how I would like the character to act.

It's not the most important part of defining characters but it does help.

I still use alignment after 10 years of playing. Maybe its because I always have used it or maybe its because I enjoy it, I doubt I'll ever know for sure. For me, I use alignment to label myself for my DM and for anyone interested what ideals I fight for and where I stand on morality.

I've never found it to be a restraint or a crutch. I made my character then gave him an alignment always. However, as I said, for those who don't like it there is no reason to use it at this point as there are no real rules for it.
I actually use Alignment but fairly loosely. For each new character first ask them what kind of character they have in mind, then run down the questionnaire found in the Personality section of the PHB (p23-24,) and have the players choose which train their character would choose and write down their choice in the Personality section on the back of their character sheet. This gives each a rough idea of the characters personality and attitude and from their they can either choose to pick an alignment or go unaligned.

More advanced players don't need to write down an artificial alignment at all but many still enjoy going through the questionnaire in a RP fashion.


To be frank I much prefer the Virtue & Vice system of the World of Darkness. It's very simple but gives even a basic player a very solid idea of what drives them. I've often considered converting it to my D&D games but it would require a fair bit of change to work, but still I think over all it's far superior.
Thank you for your responses so far. I'm well aware that some of you fear alignment more than God's wrath, but I'd like to focus on those DMs and players who still use it in 4e, and why. After my curiosity is sated by a few more comments from those folks, feel free to awaken the undying beast that is all the alignment bicker-fest threads that ever have been and ever will be. Give me until page two, that's only eleven more posts.

TS
As a player? Pointless. On some base level, though, I do like how some creatures are absolute embodifications of good and evil. But that's just flavor.

As a DM? Well, it can be a nice to just glance at a stat block and get a very abstract idea of that creature's personality. Though "unaligned" is incredibly ambiguous and unhelpful in this department.
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
Umm... I don't understand what you are talking about. I have no right to voice my opinion on the matter of "quantifiable", objective alighnment?

Having a problem with the idea of objective morality does not give you any leverage in debating its merit.

Having a problem with the idea of objective morality does not give you any leverage in debating its merit.

Having a problem with the idea of objective morality

Having a problem with the idea of objective morality

Umm... I don't understand what you are talking about.

Understatement of the century. The point is that personal opinions don't give anything concrete and thus are not permissible as evidence any more than "I don't like the idea of a round earth."
And really, that was my biggest beef with alighnment, in 3E especially. It was tangible. You could actually PHYSICALLY ASSAULT someones morals.

Yeah, and why wouldn't you? If you have a choice between bombing everything in your path and bombing only the Evil creatures attacking you, which would you rather have? The latter tends to spare lives, you know.
It just seemed dumb to me that my characters personality can be used to punish me by making an enemy beat me over the head with it.

It's no different from getting fire thrown in your face.
But, yeah, I guess since I don't share your veiw, my opinion doesn't matter, right?

That's a heinous mischaracterization of my position and a seriously paranoid thing to say.
That's a heinous mischaracterization of my position and a seriously paranoid thing to say.

I dunno, man. I kinda got the same impression from your post as rustmonster.
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EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
I dunno, man. I kinda got the same impression from your post as rustmonster.

So? What I said is abundantly clear: Opinions do not count as fact. Ever. I don't know how he or anybody could have gotten from it that I was exalting myself above others when it's spelled out so categorically.

Then again, I have debated some ridiculously irrational people. Like, "if you don't want rapists to get the death penalty then you are pro-****" irrational. So it's not implausible that someone could derive it.
So? What I said is abundantly clear: Opinions do not count as fact. Ever. I don't know how he or anybody could have gotten from it that I was exalting myself above others when it's spelled out so categorically.

Then again, I have debated some ridiculously irrational people. Like, "if you don't want rapists to get the death penalty then you are pro-****" irrational. So it's not implausible that someone could derive it.

The point was that you were being incredibly rude about it. It's like you were trying to start something. The only purpose your response served was to tell him is opinion didn't matter.
I'm sorry I didn't place "In my opinion" in front of what I said. I wasn't saying it as any sort of "evidence", I have no idea where you got that idea. I never realized I was on trial and had to defend my opinion.

...

I will say again, since you probably were not listening, it was my opinion only. Sorry to offend you so badly that you felt the need to waste page space being obnoxious.

If I am being wrong here, stop being antagonistic, and actually realize that I never wanted to brandish my opinion as "evidence", so that you don't feel the need to have to "defend" against me.

I stated a fact and you act like I put you on trial. So answer me: Am I being defensive or are you being hysterical?
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EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
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EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
Again, I never meant to state it as "fact". YOU are the one who implied I did.

I implied no such thing.
Really, calm down. If you agree to be civil about this, we can all forget this dumb fight.

I am calm. Note the lack of bombast in my writing pattern. And the lack of all-caps (which actually means I'm mocking you, but I only do that when I'm annoyed).
I implied no such thing.

Neutral third party: You did.

If you didn't mean to, and meant something else, you botched the delivery.
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EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
Is it a case of old habits dying hard?
Does it help you role play?
Do you use house rules that make alignment relevant?

It helps me roleplay and old habits die hard. No house rules and our DM does not seem to care. In my head I use the old system when first starting out deciding what motivates and drives my character.

So my current gnome control wizard is NG in my mind, but I am not sure my DM even knows this. He is devoted to his community and his family and is willing to risk his life to defend those things. He is also willing to go out of his way to help people in need, even those he does not know that well. My previous 4th edition character (a dwarf cleric of kord) was more pure N and was mainly motivated by the desire for action, money, and glory.
Implying that I need/ was trying to present "evidence" seems to suggest I am on trial.

No, it implies that if you want a dicussion, you have to give something more than "I don't like it." If everyone did that, this would be a poll and not a discussion.
Apparently, I need to provide "evidence" in order for my opinion, which I have now said numerous times was only my opinion, for it to be valid.

This actually goes without saying, but note how I didn't attack your position of "I don't like alignment." I criticized one of your reasons for not liking it.
Saying "You have no evidence" seems relativly defensive to me.

Sure. I never said that, though, nor anything related.
Me being hysterical? How do you see that? I was simply saying how I saw it.

The hysterics immediately followed my criticism of a single reason you gave for not liking alignment, followed by a general statement regarding one of the natures of logic. You thought it was an attack when it wasn't, and since then this thread has been about your claim of being the victim of a heckler trying to assassinate your character.

I'm not a heckler and I'm not trying to make you look like an idiot. Further, I don't think you are an idiot. I think you analyzed one aspect of alignment badly (that it can be used to limit, which does not mean it will or should) and that's it.
It helps me roleplay and old habits die hard. No house rules and our DM does not seem to care. In my head I use the old system when first starting out deciding what motivates and drives my character.

So my current gnome control wizard is NG in my mind, but I am not sure my DM even knows this. He is devoted to his community and his family and is willing to risk his life to defend those things. He is also willing to go out of his way to help people in need, even those he does not know that well. My previous 4th edition character (a dwarf cleric of kord) was more pure N and was mainly motivated by the desire for action, money, and glory.

I think that many old time players still will apply alighnments of old to their characters. I mean, it seems logical, and is quite simple since alighnment doesn't do anything. I mean, you could say "My character is Chaotic Breakfast!" if you want.:P

The question becomes: Should NEW players be introduced to the (emptied out shell) of the old alighnment system? Since it doesn't mean anything anymore, why should it be taught to new players in the core rules?
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
There is one place that alignment comes in handy. It lets you skip reading the deity entries, even when you are making a cleric.

"Moradin is the god of family and he's like crazy lawful good. That shows a huge difference between him and Erathis, god of civilization, who is unaligned.

Bam. Time saved.
Then why are you acting as if I meant it as "fact"?

I'm not acting like that. I'm acting like I'm confused over your overreaction to my stating a simple fact that wasn't even solely addressed to you.

And believe me, I'm confused. I haven't been this confused since my ex-girlfriend's fit over me being sick on a date.
Would it make this all better if I edited my original post to say "In my opinion"?

I honestly could not care less if you did. I know what you meant.
Well, you did do that little "Hey, let's act as if he is stupid and needs me to repeat something over and over while increasing the font size!" thing. You are being obviously antagonistic. You are trying to annoy me.

No, that was also the result of confusion.
Would it make this all better if I edited my original post to say "In my opinion"? Because I'd really rather you just stop antagonizing me. If you don't stop, I will put you on ignore. It's your choice.

What about the third option: You understand that I'm not antagonizing you and instead of throwing a hissy fit over me stating a simple logical fact, ignore that simple fact (because you obviously know it) and let others read and internalize it. I did say other things in that post, you know.
I hate alignments and have no use for them.
I ask players to briefly describe their characters motivations and personality on their sheets... and they then must abide by them...
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EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
I have to diagree. You were heckling me. What do you call the afformentioned post where you felt the need to repeat yourself over and over and raising your voice (or font, in this case)? That has no purpose other than to make me seem stupid

No, that's just hypersensitivity on your part. This is criticism. If you don't want others to criticize or pass judgments on what you write, make that clear at the beginning. Or better yet, not write anything at all. At least that way you will never risk having any criticizm directly addressed to you.

Also, bolding is used to emphasize stuff. In this case, I'm emphasizing, basically, my innocence of attacking you.
I also said that my feelings of restriction were from personal experience. I thought that that would get my point across that it happened to me, but maybe not to others.

Everybody who went by that rule has had that personal experience. It was a horrible design ideal, but it has nothing to do with the merit of alignment itself.
Really, this is getting very frustrating. Just to throw it out there, the post I keep refering to actually really hurt me. yeah, I'm a wuss, whatever. I have explained multiple times that I was only voicing my opinion of why alighnment is still in. I have said multiple times that this was just my opinion and my experience.

And I know it's your opinion. I've explicitly said I'm not attacking your opinion. You can hate alignment all you want. But hating it because it could be used to destroy character concepts is blaming the blameless.
I also noticed that you removed a post of yours. The one where you said something to the effect of "Because it's cool to bash alighnment rules" then made a comment about "emos threatening to kill themselves". Did you feel that that wouldn't offend me?

No, that was a joke that the WizOs found guilty of being not funny. Oh well, your harshest critics are your best friends, I guess.
I want to say "I guess there was just a misunderstanding, let me rephrase my opinion in a better way, and let's forget all that bad stuff", but really, I don't know if I'm up for it. This has all really worn me out.

I'm all for forgetting this whole thing ever transpired. I mean, I was basically done in my original post. Until it got misunderstood, that is.
What about the third option: You understand that I'm not antagonizing you and instead of throwing a hissy fit over me stating a simple logical fact, ignore that simple fact (because you obviously know it) and let others read and internalize it. I did say other things in that post, you know.

You have made several statements which can be construed to be objectively true or false, but you've offered no evidence or rational basis for those statements. The mere assertion of them should somehow be sufficient for all to see that they are Facts and therefore True. Interestingly, the negation of any of these statements turns them into mere Opinions, which happen to look remarkably like Facts except 1) they're not evidence of anything, and 2) you don't hold them.
You have made several statements which can be construed to be objectively true or false, but you've offered no evidence or rational basis for those statements.

Name one example of such a statement.