Alignment II: Electric Boogaloo

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Whether or not it goes any farther, we'll see, but I wanted to respond to this.

Decivre wrote:
One issue that isn't covered by Neutral Good is the war between Law and Chaos. Corner alignments such as LG technically fight two wars against their two opposing alignments (Evil, Chaos, and any combination thereof). So if this organization is in fact LG, they are also fighting a war against Chaos, which, again, precludes their ability to be Neutral.

Ah, I am unfamiliar with this line of thinking. Was this war something brought to the fore in Planescape or something? I've always thought of alignments in the neutral range as using elements of both extremes without committing to either. So, a good person falling between law and chaos would use the law when it suited them, but could break it without remorse if they needed to. They could also oppose either or work with either as needed.

By its very nature, such a black ops group would have to be somewhat at odds with its church in order to perform the actions needed. And, therefore, the people in such an organization would not follow the church's tenets. I see them much like TVs The Unit or real life's The Devil's Brigade (which is where my quote comes from).

Decivre wrote:
That said, I would agree with you in 4th Edition they would likely be best represented by the Good alignment, but the unrested concept of "being good while committing evil" still stands, since D&D is largely inconsistent on defining whether it's action or intent that should decide what your alignment is.

But, I do not see them as committing evil, so I have no problem consoling them with a good alignment. Unless they are actively going out on a regular basis and committing atrocities on the scale of baby killing or taking pleasure from torture, all they are doing is using tactics the church would have to stand against normally. Assassination, subterfuge, sabotage; these are all tools of such units, but it does not, in my book, make them evil.

What kind of actions do you consider to be "evil" that would make alignment a problem here? This, in my mind, seems to be more the issue.

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. --George Orwell

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. --Howard Zinn

He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Devil\'s Brigade

I'll take this opportunity to post my argument for why alignment mechanics are undesirable, from a game design perspective.

  • PREMISE: Most1 players are discouraged from playing characters that incur negative mechanical consequences that other characters do not suffer. (Evidence: Opinion, though it seems axiomatic.)
  • PREMISE: Rules that discourage players from role-playing character personalities are bad game design, unless outweighed by other game design benefits, like game balance and encouraging teamwork.2, 3, 4, 5 (Evidence: Opinion, though it seems axiomatic.)
  • FACT: The rules of AD&D, 2nd Edition AD&D and 3rd Edition D&D contained negative mechanical consequences as part of the rules for alignment.
    • EVIDENCE: AD&D and 2nd edition imposed level loss for alignment change.
    • EVIDENCE: Pre-4th D&D restricted some classes to specific alignments.
    • EVIDENCE: Pre-4th D&D restricted some intelligent items to characters of specific alignments.
    • EVIDENCE: Pre-4th D&D restricted some spell effects to characters of specific alignments.

  • FACT: These negative consequences were unevenly distributed among different types of non-disruptive character personalities.
    • EVIDENCE: The rebellious monk (see below)
    • EVIDENCE: The orderly bard (see below)
    • EVIDENCE: The paladin of St. Cuthbert (see below)
    • EVIDENCE: The PC equipoised between two intelligent items (see below)
    • EVIDENCE: The TN cleric of Bane (see below)
    • EVIDENCE: Even the developers admitted that the rules encouraged players to create TN characters so as to avoid being hit by alignment-specific effects (link)

  • CONCLUSION: Alignment, as it was presented before 4th edition, was badly designed.

Q.E.D.

Some Counter-Arguments:
1Some players enjoy the negative mechanical consequences of alignment.
Response: I don't believe game design should be catering to masochists.

2It reinforces a campaign world in which good, evil, law and chaos are supra-deific forces.
Response: I don't believe that D&D's scope should be limited to such worlds.

3By banning evil and CN characters, it improves party harmony.
Response: Banning disruptive character personalities -- which is necessary with or without alignment -- accomplishes this without mechanics.

4Alignment allowed people to specialize in the way that Abilities, Race and Class did.
Response: No, it didn't. In no edition of D&D were characters of one alignment given mechanics that made them better at a certain aspect of adventuring than characters of other alignments. The one exception would be evil-aligned classes, which were given great advantages, with the understanding that they would be limited to evil NPCs.

5Alignment can be useful as a shorthand for personalities and/or goals.
Response: No mechanics are needed for personality tests.

The rebellious monk
In most editions of D&D, monks had to be lawful. But a perfectly viable concept of a monk is one who is self-disciplined enough to train in the martial arts, but still follows his conscience, resents being told what to do, favors new ideas over tradition, and does what he promises if he feels like it, (which is word for word the description of a chaotically-aligned character). This character, though perfectly viable is rendered non-viable through alignment mechanics.

The orderly bard
In 3rd edition, bards could not be lawful. But a perfectly viable concept of a bard is a herald who is creative and musically-inclined, but also tells the truth, keeps his word, respects authority, honors tradition, and judges those who fall short of their duties (which is word for word the description of a lawfully-aligned character). This character, though perfectly viable is rendered non-viable through alignment mechanics.

The paladin of St. Cuthbert
St. Cuthbert, a Greyhawk god is described as being Lawful neutral, but has an order of paladins who are lawful good. Under all prior editions of D&D, paladins who are not LG lose their powers. This means that a paladin of St. Cuthbert loses his powers if his personality becomes more closely attuned to his own god. This character, though perfectly viable is rendered non-viable through alignment mechanics.

Equipoised between Two Aligned Items
Let's assume a specific character's personality straddles the line between CG and CN (however you define those alignments). Obviously he must pick one, though his alignment might change during the course of the campaign. In third edition, character's suffer negative levels when using intelligent aligned items different from his own alignment. If the character finds a TN item, he can only use it when he is CN. If he finds a NG item, he can only use it when he is CG. This is so, even though the shift in personality needed to bring this character from CG to CN is miniscule. At any given time, this character would need to rely on his DM to let him use either item when it is advantageous to do so. Yet, a CG character who is nowhere near straddling an alignment can rest assured that his CG item will always work for him. This discourages characters whose personalities straddle the alignments, no matter how viable the personality might otherwise be.

TN Cleric of Bane
Bane is a deity in the Forgotten Realms who is LE, though he has a lot of TN adherents. Because third edition's alignment rules required clerics to be within one step of the god's alignment (and LE and TN are two steps apart), those adherents could never be clerics, even though Bane seems to value their participation in his church. In contrast, a LN character who verges on being LG, could become a cleric of Bane with no alignment issues, even though Bane would clearly prefer the TN follower to the LN (with good tendencies) cleric. This character, though perfectly viable is rendered non-viable through alignment mechanics.
wrecan:

Is it a correct assumption that you believe feats should only be restricted for balance issues? That if there were no balance issues, all features should be available to all characters?
Is it a correct assumption that you believe feats should only be restricted for balance issues? That if there were no balance issues, all features should be available to all characters?

I believe feats should not be restricted based on character personality. It should be restricted for valid game design issues. In 4th edition, the game design goals are maintaining balance and encouraging teamwork.

This argument arose because you argued that meeting feat and paragon path pre-requisites was itself fun. I took issue with that. Meeting pre-requisites are not fun. It might be necessary for other reasons, but it is not a benefit to the game for its own sake.
I believe feats should not be restricted based on character personality. It should be restricted for valid game design issues. In 4th edition, the game design goals are maintaining balance and encouraging teamwork.

This argument arose because you argued that meeting feat and paragon path pre-requisites was itself fun. I took issue with that. Meeting pre-requisites are not fun. It might be necessary for other reasons, but it is not a benefit to the game for its own sake.

It is fun if not all feats/features/powers are available and characters need to be built in certain ways to obtain certain abilities. One would hope that the requirements would make sense.

So the fun comes not just from knowing your fighter and my fighter are "different" but that you have to weigh and decide what type of abilities you want to have. That's part of the whole "creating a character" idea.

If every 3.5 fighter could achieve every 3.5 fighter prestige class and had access to all 3.5 fighter feats, then the creation process of the fighter would some lose elements of resource management and decision making, which I (and I assume many people) find quite fun.
Since we're restating our positions:

1) I feel that negative consequences can create roleplay opportunities and are not automatically a Bad Thing(tm). In the case of alignment and divine characters, it encourages the character to consider their actions more carefully.

2) I feel that alignment's main purpose has nothing to do with the PC's, but the structure of the multiverse. Law, Chaos, Good, Evil are all forces that not even the gods can control or divine. They are written into the very fabric of the multiverse. This provides a good multiplanar structure, and takes D&D out of the realm of "relativist" thought and into the world of concrete good and evil.

3) Alignment follows actions. That is, a player plays his character. Over time, the characters actions show a pattern which becomes his alignment. At chargen, the starting alignment is assumed to be the result of his actions up to that point.

4) Using alignment in no way limits your ability to create and play a detailed character with a rich backstory.

5) Using alignment and alignment detection spells does not prevent "mystery" type adventures.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few, but those are the ones I can remember.
If every 3.5 fighter could achieve every 3.5 fighter prestige class and had access to all 3.5 fighter feats, then the creation process of the fighter would some lose elements of resource management and decision making, which I (and I assume many people) find quite fun.

Why? A fighter has a limited number of feats to take. So if you're building your fighter to meet a specific concept and someone else is building a fighter to meet a different concept, they will appear very different, and prerequisites are irrelevant to that goal.

Characters of a class only begin to look the same if players are optimizing and the game is insufficiently balanced so that there results one clear superior build.

Could you try to tie this argument into alignment, please? It seems you've gone far afield from your initial argument that since any impediment to a feat/paragon path/prestige path is a good impediment, alignment has value simply by serving as an impediment.
Why? A fighter has a limited number of feats to take. So if you're building your fighter to meet a specific concept and someone else is building a fighter to meet a different concept, they will appear very different, and prerequisites are irrelevant to that goal.

Characters of a class only begin to look the same if players are optimizing and the game is insufficiently balanced so that there results one clear superior build.

Could you try to tie this argument into alignment, please? It seems you've gone far afield from your initial argument that since any impediment to a feat/paragon path/prestige path is a good impediment, alignment has value simply by serving as an impediment.

I think paths and options should be limited (to the character, not the player). Characters should have options that other characters don't always have. This is something that we disagree on, but it is just a matter of opinion.

To me, alignment can be another "stat" to sort characters and develop them.
I think paths and options should be limited (to the character, not the player).

To what end? I explained that the finiteness of character resources necessarily limits characters. You didn't appear to respond to that. What does adding yet another arbitrary impediment to learning a feat add?

I understand why racial feats exist, why ability-based feats exist and why class-based feats exist (though they are not always implemented cleanly). They exist to differentiate members of a party from one another so as to prevent any one character from being able to do everything, and thus to encourage teamwork.

But alignment was never intended to differentiate people from one another, so it does not serve the same purpose as race, class and ability. Diversity in alignment is often divisive and troublesome. The game usually went to some lengths to encourage players to be of the same alignment, by discouraging evil PCs, requiring paladins not to associate with evil characters, and generally increasing the tension when characters of different alignment adventured together.

Racial diversity, class diversity and ability diversity is encouraged to encourage teamwork. Alignment diversity has never been encouraged and so is not a very good basis on which to differentiate characters.

Traditionally, alignment-based prerequisites existed for one purpose: to allow NPCs access to powers that PCs would not have. That's why the blackguard and the assassin were limited to evil characters, and why the creation of undead was often described as evil. The goal was not to have one evil necromancer working alongside a blessed paladin, each with their unique alignment-based powers. The goal was to prevent PCs from getting their hands on powers that would be unbalancing.

Characters should have options that other characters don't always have. This is something that we disagree on, but it is just a matter of opinion.

To me, alignment can be another "stat" to sort characters and develop them.

Except this isn't a justification of alignment qua alignment. This is just a call for arbitrary impediments to character building. There's nothing special about alignment in this regard. You could just as easily tell people they have a 35% chance of never being able to learn a given feat.

This isn't far from the way spell learning worked in AD&D and 2d edition, when a wizard has to roll a chance -- based on Intelligence -- of understanding a spell he encounters for the first time. If he failed, he couldn't use that spell until he gained a level -- when he would then get to roll again to see if he could understand the spell.
> I feel that alignment's main purpose has nothing to do with the PC's, but
> the structure of the multiverse. Law, Chaos, Good, Evil are all forces that
> not even the gods can control or divine. They are written into the very
> fabric of the multiverse. This provides a good multiplanar structure, and
> takes D&D out of the realm of "relativist" thought and into the world of
> concrete good and evil.

I dislike the way they were used in old-E for just that reason. I don't really want my game universe to be dominated by alignment forces; 4E is a remarkable improvement in that regard because alignment isn't used in that way, both in the setting and in the rules structure.
I loved the 9-Align System, but actively punishing Players for choosing a specific option is called a Trap Choice. I had many friends who loved Chaotic Neutral, and only one of them played it as the stereotypical Chaotic Stupid, "I do X just 'cause I can!" In fact, the only reason he was annoying with it was because he really wanted to play a CN Monk, but the Rules were in the way. The way they built the Monk was from the ground up based on a specific mindset, and that mindset pretty much ignored that a Chaotic person might just some day want to play some kind of Martial Artist (Wisdom is NOT high on a CN person's Stat List).

Now, don't get me wrong. Again, I love the 9-Align System because it can do a whole lot of things: you can use it as a minor crutch, to help you more accurately define who your character is going to be; you can use it as a means to better explain why your character acts a certain way (but not an excuse); and lastly, I always felt it was accurate enough for a PnP game that didn't really require a 200 question personality test (hello, WoD!) or some such thing. I always liked the System, but including it in many of the mechanics* was a huge mistake, and I'm glad they didn't make that mistake again in 4E.


*With the exception of Divine Classes who are based off of their patronage. If they're based off of an Ideal, then w/e.
Resident Logic Cannon
wrecan:

I don't think the game was designed to encourage everyone to be the same alignment (as seens by the alignment restrictions in previous editions on classes). This would make you believe it was designed to have a group of diverse personality. But I do agree that there seems to be a goal of discouraging good and evil characters from traveling together. So I believe, the goal was to have a diverse group of good-aligned PCs with some neutral and groups of evil-aligned NPCs.

Additionally, alignment is not a randomly determined restriction. It is affected by character actions, which is exactly the point of the system I want.

Again, I want a system where character actions and personality affect the game in predictable ways. These ways can be, but are not limited to character creation/development options, magic items, spells, story reactions, NPC interactions, etc.
Racial diversity, class diversity and ability diversity is encouraged to encourage teamwork. Alignment diversity has never been encouraged and so is not a very good basis on which to differentiate characters.

Traditionally, alignment-based prerequisites existed for one purpose: to allow NPCs access to powers that PCs would not have. That's why the blackguard and the assassin were limited to evil characters, and why the creation of undead was often described as evil. The goal was not to have one evil necromancer working alongside a blessed paladin, each with their unique alignment-based powers. The goal was to prevent PCs from getting their hands on powers that would be unbalancing.

I agree with Wrecan on this one for the most part. I still think they should have made another class for non lawful good paladins, but that's just me and my sacred cows.

Most of the alignment based prestige classes were either designed for NPC's or for divine characters - who would already meet the alignment requirements by virtue of being the same alignment, or at least within on step, of their deity. There's some sense to having those prestige classes require the same alignment as the deity for deity specific classes (like the maidens of pain).

The only case in contrast I can think of was back when assassin was a core class - they were required to be evil. They worked well with neutral parties, and you could even have a ranger (they were required to be good) in the party as well. So you could have a paladin or an assassin in the party, but not both. I think assassins were the only class able to learn more than one alignment language as well... It's a shame they got relegated to prestige class status in 3.x. They brought back the monk, assassins would have been nice too.
Additionally, alignment is not a randomly determined restriction. It is affected by character actions, which is exactly the point of the system I want.

Ah, no. See, again, this actively punishes a certain player for choices he might make, and it isn't YOUR job as DM to do that to him. If some character starts to act out-of-alignment, a lot, then you might have to make him change it, and doing so shouldn't just completely nullify half his Feats, and some of his Class Features, and some of his Paragon Path Features, and he can't cast these specific spells, and these other spells now kill him horribly, etc, etc. It's really not your job to screw Players over.

Making him change his alignment (say, from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Evil) should be something the Party deals with. You are not the final arbiter of who does what, when; THEY are. It's the DM's job to react to these actions, not decide them.
Resident Logic Cannon
If some character starts to act out-of-alignment, a lot, then you might have to make him change it, and doing so shouldn't just completely nullify half his Feats, and some of his Class Features, and some of his Paragon Path Features, and he can't cast these specific spells, and these other spells now kill him horribly, etc, etc. It's really not your job to screw Players over.

It wasn't about "screwing players over", it was about game balance. Paladins started off as a subclass of fighters which were very hard to qualify for. They got lots of great abilities. To balance that, they limited the amount of equipment and money the character could have, and used the code (the paladin was also the penultimate D&D hero type). But as using roleplay consequences to balance mechanical advantages doesn't work very well (players will find a way to avoid the RP consequences and are left with the advantage), the put in a mechanical reinforcement.

You could also say it worked in reverse - building the class around the strict alignment and then giving them lots of cool bonuses to balance it, in fact that's the way I think it probably went, but the end result is the same either way.

If you roleplay a paladin as a paladin, you should really never have any troubles with changing alignment and losing your powers unless you have a twisted DM who loves to put paladins in contrived moral catch-22's.

The same goes for other classes that use or are affected by alignment based spells. The DM isn't "screwing them over" but just reacting to the choices the character made. Which is what you said a DM should do.
No, the DM is screwing them over because a decision the DM made now has extreme mechanical choices that punish the player.

THAT'S what I mean by that. The System is at fault there, not the DM.

Oh, and Pally built like that is a horrible idea. "I'm better than you, Mr. Fighter!" :S
Resident Logic Cannon
Laying down my own tenets:

- Alignment hurts roleplaying because it penalizes or outright makes impossible certain character concepts that are not only valid, but fantasy staples (court bards, honor driven barbarians/berserkers)

- All non-mechanical elements said to be provided by alignment can be done better via character personality, background and roleplaying. Using those things makes alignment superfluous.

- The offered alternative interpretation of alignment (causes for the PCs to fight for) is too narrow in scope to be useful and is better replaced by allegiances as part of roleplaying and background. Again, doing tihs makes alignment superfluous.

- Prior treatment of alignment unstated a world building issue (objective morality and ethos) that I find unpalatable and the implementation therein obviated the need of the gods, as they were just as straitjacketed by alignments as PCs.

- Regardless of what the PH says, prior treatments of alignment was a straitjacket. If you did not follow an alignment, in most cases, bad things happened to your character; from loss of class features, to increased encounter CR, to having your character stolen from you by vindictive DMs.

- Alignment as written is a problem in and of itself. For all it's talk of objectivity, it is wholly up to interpretation and demands some form of consensus at the table over what are probably deeply held beliefs on the part of the players. As politics and religion are hot point issues that are not meant for polite conversation, alignment is essentially the politics of fantasy religion and thus doesn't have much place at the table unless everyone is willing to go there. It should not be a core issue.
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.
As long as positions are being stated:

My Position

Alignment as a mechanical restriction is just pointless. Everyone is going to have a different view on whether an action is good or evil; justifiable or unforgivable. On top of that, when you can lose your powers or lose abilities (including feats that you have taken) just for acting in character (but against alignment), I then see it as not only pointless, but actually restrictive to roleplay.

EDIT: As a non-mechanical implament, I feel alignment is then outclassed by character personality. Without mechanical restrictions what is alignment, other than a personality test? A personality for your character that changes as he develops works better than alignment.
If anything I say is wrong, clueless or spelt incorrectly, it is because, I am, in general, wrong, clueless and... Well, I'm usually spelt correctly.
It wasn't about "screwing players over", it was about game balance. Paladins started off as a subclass of fighters which were very hard to qualify for. They got lots of great abilities. To balance that, they limited the amount of equipment and money the character could have, and used the code (the paladin was also the penultimate D&D hero type). But as using roleplay consequences to balance mechanical advantages doesn't work very well (players will find a way to avoid the RP consequences and are left with the advantage), the put in a mechanical reinforcement.

You could also say it worked in reverse - building the class around the strict alignment and then giving them lots of cool bonuses to balance it, in fact that's the way I think it probably went, but the end result is the same either way.

If you roleplay a paladin as a paladin, you should really never have any troubles with changing alignment and losing your powers unless you have a twisted DM who loves to put paladins in contrived moral catch-22's.

The same goes for other classes that use or are affected by alignment based spells. The DM isn't "screwing them over" but just reacting to the choices the character made. Which is what you said a DM should do.

Roleplaying restrictions are not and never will be good balancing factors.

And it's not just because they stifle roleplay by making you follow the 'script' or 'rails' to get power, but the designers of 3e have actively said that they had nothing to do with balance and everything to do with the playtesters failing at life.
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.
Ah, no. See, again, this actively punishes a certain player for choices he might make, and it isn't YOUR job as DM to do that to him. If some character starts to act out-of-alignment, a lot, then you might have to make him change it, and doing so shouldn't just completely nullify half his Feats, and some of his Class Features, and some of his Paragon Path Features, and he can't cast these specific spells, and these other spells now kill him horribly, etc, etc. It's really not your job to screw Players over.

Doing so, should have a major negative impact on his character ONLY if his character was focused to an ideal.

If someone creates a cleric who worships Wee Jas AND decided to take all their feats as something that is tied to law and judgement, THEN decides to play their character drastically different than they stated during character creation, how is that the DMs fault?

Additionally, why is it crazy to think that a character who was built upon the idea of law AND worships a goddess who is all about law would not be affected if they drastically changed their ways.

You are not screwing the player over if they decide to act in a way that is counter to the way their character was designed.

Let's say I created a character with high charisma. But I play them like a jerk who takes advantage of everyone. My allies became disposable as long as I survived. This does not become a problem if my feats are not tied into my personality. BUT if I took the leadership feat, I should expect a ton of negatives because I mistreat my allies and cause the death of henchmen/etc. Is it the DM's fault that I played my character in a way that is counter to his feats/abilities/etc?

Making him change his alignment (say, from Chaotic Neutral to Chaotic Evil) should be something the Party deals with. You are not the final arbiter of who does what, when; THEY are. It's the DM's job to react to these actions, not decide them.

Yes, where is this counter to what I said. I never said that the DM should control PC characters (unless obvious stuff like the player is not there or whatever).
Because it wasn't answered ont he other thread:
Mouser, if you're at the table with me and every time your character, say, tries to talk to a barmaid, I whip out a stun gun and give you a shock, would you say I'm discouraging you from interacting with barmaids? Would you keep trying to talk to barmaids? Would you continue to play at my table if I keep insisting on doing this?

Or in character, if talking to the barmaid made your encounter powers unavailable for the rest of the day because I rule that you're too distracted thinking about the barmaid and he sauciness?

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.
As above, it's a problem with the System, not the DM. And as above, Divine Classes BASED on a specific mindset are not subject to Alignment Problems; they're based on them, so it usually works out. However, Mr. Monk doesn't appreciate being FORCED to be Lawful, and building the entire Class out of that alignment was really crap-tastic. 4E will do an infinitely better job.
Resident Logic Cannon
As above, it's a problem with the System, not the DM. And as above, Divine Classes BASED on a specific mindset are not subject to Alignment Problems; they're based on them, so it usually works out. However, Mr. Monk doesn't appreciate being FORCED to be Lawful, and building the entire Class out of that alignment was really crap-tastic. 4E will do an infinitely better job.

So are you saying that alignment restrictions for specific cases is fine?

I also agree that the core classes in 3.5 were not written well with respect to alignment. From the core classes, only the clerics and paladins should have had alignment restriction. (Although paladins should not have had to been LG.)
, Scypio. Perfect.
Resident Logic Cannon
> If someone creates a cleric who worships Wee Jas

Then the character's standing should be based on the question, "Are you upholding the tenets of Wee Jas" rather than "Are you upholding the tenets of Lawful Neutral (or Lawful Evil, or both, since Wee Jas never really decided which side of that fence to be on)?"

This goes hand in hand with the decoupling of alignment from everything else in that now the tenets of Wee Jas can be whatever is suitable to the god, rather than having to be structured around the stipulations of the alignment system.
My argument is that alignment is full of fail. If you can make a fully fleshed out character then it is not needed at all. If playing a cleric or paladin you should only have to follow your gods tennets, however breaking those tennets should not lead to any mechanical consequences only rp ones, because any dm that strips a player of powers does not deserve to be a DM. I would much rather have seen rules for fleshing out characters.

That said I would not mind seeing an allegiance type system with alignments being possible alliegances. In fact such a system would be incredibly dynamic.

As for paladins. No class should be restricted to a certain alignment or only one arctype. In previous edditions all paladins looked and acted the exact same 90% of the time because of the code and alignment. It allowed for almost no variation you had to be the "paragon" of virtue 100% of the time or your powers would be stripped. What if I wanted a paladin whose seen too much and has an alcholhol abuse problem? Certain dms would use that as an excuse to strip player of powers, rather than doing rp consequences. To me thats bad design and bad story telling.
I thought this discussion was more about having alignment in a game and less about proving it's futility via listing all the classes that have alignment restrictions. Showing that you can have a character concept such as a chaotic wandering monk or a lawful court bard isn't telling me why one can't have fun using the mechanic in a general sense.

I'm also a bit confused as to some of the viewpoints stating that alignment, by it's very existence, hurts roleplaying. Could someone please explain that to me further without resorting to using a story where table communication or other DM/player interaction is the obvious problem? If possible, I'd prefer it without snark or a verbose "my game concept is better than your game concept" approach. Let's leave our e-reps and forum egos checked at the door, please.
I thought this discussion was more about having alignment in a game and less about proving it's futility via listing all the classes that have alignment restrictions. Showing that you can have a character concept such as a chaotic wandering monk or a lawful court bard isn't telling me why one can't have fun using the mechanic in a general sense.

I'm also a bit confused as to some of the viewpoints stating that alignment, by it's very existence, hurts roleplaying. Could someone please explain that to me further without resorting to using a story where table communication or other DM/player interaction is the obvious problem? If possible, I'd prefer it without snark or a verbose "my game concept is better than your game concept" approach. Let's leave our e-reps and forum egos checked at the door, please.

Sure Id be happy to. To me it hurts role playing because if you develop alingment first your not really thinking of your characters personality all your doing is wrapping a few contrite concepts around alignment and calling it a character, if you go with personality first you then have to try and shove that concept into a little box. To my mind having those little boxes at all hurts my creativity and ideas for character concept because its one more thing I have to think of rather than simply playing how the character would act.

It also leads to metagaming as in a paladin player will never break alignment because that would neuter his character, even if it made sense for the character to act against alignment. Thus as far as I am concerened alignment is at best a crutch and at worse a hinderance.

Those who use it as a crutch will have a much harder time developing characters without it or coming up with real personalities.
> If someone creates a cleric who worships Wee Jas

Then the character's standing should be based on the question, "Are you upholding the tenets of Wee Jas" rather than "Are you upholding the tenets of Lawful Neutral (or Lawful Evil, or both, since Wee Jas never really decided which side of that fence to be on)?"

This goes hand in hand with the decoupling of alignment from everything else in that now the tenets of Wee Jas can be whatever is suitable to the god, rather than having to be structured around the stipulations of the alignment system.

From the way I see it, there are two main advantages to checking against LN instead of against Wee Jas's tenets.

1) It provides a simplier structure for initial checking and comparision. It is easier to remember the 4 to 6 concepts of law/neutral/chaos and good/neutral/evil or the 9 alignments than it is to remember the tenets of all the gods. You can get a "quick" picture easier. Additionally, it allows you to "sort by a category". If I have a particular idea of my cleric's personality, I can assign an alignment, then see what gods would be applicable. This could eliminate much of the gods that are clearly not suitable.

2) It also provides a framework which gives a basis of expectations. Yes, the idea of good/evil law/chaos can change between tables, but there are guideline which provide some consistency. Its easier to know consequences if I know that killing an innocent will make me evil, hence I lose features A, B, and C. It does require DMs judgement, but without a framework, it would be completely up to DMs judgement. If I break one of Wee Jas's tenets, does that mean anything? If I continually break one, what can I expect?
I'm also a bit confused as to some of the viewpoints stating that alignment, by it's very existence, hurts roleplaying. Could someone please explain that to me further without resorting to using a story where table communication or other DM/player interaction is the obvious problem? If possible, I'd prefer it without snark or a verbose "my game concept is better than your game concept" approach. Let's leave our e-reps and forum egos checked at the door, please.

From what I see, the argument is that players would meta-game as to not change alignments (or to change alignments). Players would (out of fear) not perform any acts that could be borderline or require a judgement call from the DM.

Additionally, there is the idea that it causes newer players to be constrained by the ideas suggested by the alignment descriptors.
And it's not just because they stifle roleplay by making you follow the 'script' or 'rails' to get power, but the designers of 3e have actively said that they had nothing to do with balance and everything to do with the playtesters failing at life.

I was referring to the 1st edition versions. Where the only reason you would be a fighter was if you didn't qualify for ranger or paladin (or didn't want to be Good for some reason).

Illusionists were a cool class too. Specialist wizards never quite captured the feel of that class. They didn't have alignment restrictions though.
I thought this discussion was more about having alignment in a game and less about proving it's futility via listing all the classes that have alignment restrictions. Showing that you can have a character concept such as a chaotic wandering monk or a lawful court bard isn't telling me why one can't have fun using the mechanic in a general sense.

Those concepts are things people want to play that alignment keeps them from playing. And keeping people from playing the character that want means they can't have fun -- or at least can't have as much fun as they could have without it.
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.
Ah, no. See, again, this actively punishes a certain player for choices he might make, and it isn't YOUR job as DM to do that to him. If some character starts to act out-of-alignment, a lot, then you might have to make him change it,

The problem is, what are you possibly going to change my alignment to? All of my characters are solidly in 3+ alignments, because I create actual personalities. Are you going to keep changing my alignment round robin? What's the point?
1) It provides a simplier structure for initial checking and comparision. It is easier to remember the 4 to 6 concepts of law/neutral/chaos and good/neutral/evil or the 9 alignments than it is to remember the tenets of all the gods. You can get a "quick" picture easier. Additionally, it allows you to "sort by a category". If I have a particular idea of my cleric's personality, I can assign an alignment, then see what gods would be applicable. This could eliminate much of the gods that are clearly not suitable.

Problem: Many gods portfolios and tenets have no alignment conection or have connections beyond alignment. If you are LN and believe all undead must be destroyed or magic is evil you are less suited to follow We Jas then a CG person who has no issues with undead and enjoys magical research. The existance of alignment gives a series of false negatives and positives when used to cull deities.

2) It also provides a framework which gives a basis of expectations. Yes, the idea of good/evil law/chaos can change between tables, but there are guideline which provide some consistency. Its easier to know consequences if I know that killing an innocent will make me evil, hence I lose features A, B, and C. It does require DMs judgement, but without a framework, it would be completely up to DMs judgement. If I break one of Wee Jas's tenets, does that mean anything? If I continually break one, what can I expect?

Both systems require DM fiat, but when you disagree with the DM over a tenet he says nothing about your personal beliefs and has the option to overlook the incident. If you disagree with a DM over alignment you are dragging each others real world views into the picture. And the DM doesn't have the option of pretending the deity didn't notice or is willing to overlook the fact, because alignment is a deity overriding unfeeling force that must be consitant. Your DM must decide that either his real life beliefs are wrong, or your are.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
Because it wasn't answered ont he other thread:

Mouser, if you're at the table with me and every time your character, say, tries to talk to a barmaid, I whip out a stun gun and give you a shock, would you say I'm discouraging you from interacting with barmaids? Would you keep trying to talk to barmaids? Would you continue to play at my table if I keep insisting on doing this?

Or in character, if talking to the barmaid made your encounter powers unavailable for the rest of the day because I rule that you're too distracted thinking about the barmaid and he sauciness?

Well, truthfully, I probably wouldn't play a character with that restriction. But if a divine classed character who took a vow of chastity as part of his class tenets started sleeping with barmaids, then some consequences would be appropriate. And if I was playing such a character, I would roleplay resisting the temptations of such women (for some reason I have the picture of the swordsman from Final Fantasy VI in mind here).

Alignment changing stuff isn't (or shouldn't be) little things. A paladin with a drinking problem is certainly playable (at least at my table), so long as he didn't go and start murdering and raping people when he was drunk or something extreme like that.

I think the game was designed with flawed (or potentially flawed) characters in mind, at least in later editions (1st edition was unforgiving - in a lot of ways, not just alignment). That's why the rules say it takes a gross violation of the paladin's code to cause a loss of powers. Not any time he slips up.
I can see how it would foster a restrictive environment for some. Thank you both for those timely replies.

Perhaps "crutch" and "tool" are synonymous as far as others are concerned, but I like to use alignment as a tool. I would also be inclined to think that I have a decent amount of creativity for a young stick-in-the-mud and that the character concepts I've made thus far in my short time playing the game were at least fun for me(and hopefully the rest of my group as well). I have much more limited experience with open ended type alignment systems such as WW games or Shadowrun, but I enjoyed those as well.

I'm not sure how I feel about class based alignment restrictions...I suppose it would be on a case by case basis. I DO, however, have a tendency to enjoy some of the alignment based spells/magic items/etc. that tend to turn up in games like 3.5 D and D. Having Good with a capital G and Evil with that awesome capital E really helps me feel those cosmic forces and their conflict in the universe. Being able to see those two forces in action in the sword the BBEG holds or the spell that I'm casting to save my companion really seems to fit the genre for me. On occasion, it really makes the game for me. This isn't to say I didn't enjoy the other systems of course. I definitely geeked out in my first game of Shadowrun playing my juggernaut of a troll street sammy and didn't have any trouble making the character sans slapping a "Lawful Neutral" somewhere on my character sheet.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, alignment has it's place in certain games. Of course, everyone at the table should be in agreement on it's use(the agreement being not only to use it but how to use it) for it to work properly. Being a person who can enjoy a game with or without it, I get a bit confused when I see people Grognarding for the sake of keeping things the same or "raging against the nerd rule machine" because they feel that their creativity would be absolutely stifled by a little set of two capital letters somewhere on their character sheet. Can't we have it both ways when the system fits and the people are happy with it?
So are you saying that alignment restrictions for specific cases is fine?

I also agree that the core classes in 3.5 were not written well with respect to alignment. From the core classes, only the clerics and paladins should have had alignment restriction. (Although paladins should not have had to been LG.)

I disagree with this completely. Alignment should have next to nothing to do with paladins or clerics. Only the tenets of their God should have meaning. In virtually every case, you can follow a Gods tenets from multiple alignments.
Problem: Many gods portfolios and tenets have no alignment conection or have connections beyond alignment. If you are LN and believe all undead must be destroyed or magic is evil you are less suited to follow We Jas then a CG person who has no issues with undead and enjoys magical research. The existance of alignment gives a series of false negatives and positives when used to cull deities.

Wee Jas may prefer the CG person more, but neither characters are suitable as a follower of Wee Jas. Your character should still adhere to the tenets of the god; alignment is only the "first check".

Both systems require DM fiat, but when you disagree with the DM over a tenet he says nothing about your personal beliefs and has the option to overlook the incident. If you disagree with a DM over alignment you are dragging each others real world views into the picture. And the DM doesn't have the option of pretending the deity didn't notice or is willing to overlook the fact, because alignment is a deity overriding unfeeling force that must be consitant. Your DM must decide that either his real life beliefs are wrong, or your are.

But it does not have to be so confrontational with alignment. I've played under DMs with VERY different world views than my own. This did cause a problem when I disagreed with a certain morality ruling, but I learned (his view) and accepted it (for the game world). Remember, its just a game and in this game, acts like genocide, racism, and religious perecution are not only non-evil, but many times good.
From the way I see it, there are two main advantages to checking against LN instead of against Wee Jas's tenets.

1) It provides a simplier structure for initial checking and comparision. It is easier to remember the 4 to 6 concepts of law/neutral/chaos and good/neutral/evil or the 9 alignments than it is to remember the tenets of all the gods. You can get a "quick" picture easier. Additionally, it allows you to "sort by a category". If I have a particular idea of my cleric's personality, I can assign an alignment, then see what gods would be applicable. This could eliminate much of the gods that are clearly not suitable.

It's also simpler for a Judge to just pronounce a sentance with no trial, jury, or evidence. Simpler =/= better.

2) It also provides a framework which gives a basis of expectations. Yes, the idea of good/evil law/chaos can change between tables, but there are guideline which provide some consistency. Its easier to know consequences if I know that killing an innocent will make me evil, hence I lose features A, B, and C. It does require DMs judgement, but without a framework, it would be completely up to DMs judgement. If I break one of Wee Jas's tenets, does that mean anything? If I continually break one, what can I expect?

That just makes absolutely no sense. Becoming evil for killing an innocent is NOT a consequence. Jail, maiming and/or death are consequences. Nor does knowing that you will become evil help you to understand those consequences.

As for your end questions, which edition are you breaking them in?

Edit: I just realized from your "simpler" example. You don't have to remember the tenets of every God. That's just silly. You only have to remember the tenets of the one you're a cleric or paladin of, and that's very easy to do.
As for paladins. No class should be restricted to a certain alignment or only one arctype. In previous edditions all paladins looked and acted the exact same 90% of the time because of the code and alignment. It allowed for almost no variation you had to be the "paragon" of virtue 100% of the time or your powers would be stripped. What if I wanted a paladin whose seen too much and has an alcholhol abuse problem? Certain dms would use that as an excuse to strip player of powers, rather than doing rp consequences. To me thats bad design and bad story telling.

Damn,buddy, you are bitter. Did you get burned often by adversarial DMs?

I did not see this with paladins. Sure, I will grant you that due to their alignment limitations and code, they were some similarities, but I did not see them as pretty much all being identical. Maybe that goes to the imagination of the people playing them. I do know that the paladin class was one of the worst offenders for this, though, and an easy trap to fall into.

There was a good article in Dragon way back in the day that would still be of interest to any that may have access to it. It was in issue #148 page 24 "Good Does Not Mean Boring". It lays out four different types of paladins and a few other tips all based on the Lawful Good paladin.

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. --George Orwell

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. --Howard Zinn

He who fights with monsters must take care lest he thereby become a monster. --Friedrich Nietzsche

Devil\'s Brigade

Wee Jas may prefer the CG person more, but neither characters are suitable as a follower of Wee Jas. Your character should still adhere to the tenets of the god; alignment is only the "first check".

Why should alignment be a "first check?" Why is a CG researcher of death and magic a poor follower of Wee Jas? Especially considering how sadly vague the term Chaotic is, and how little Law as a theme matters to Wee Jas' church. A god of Wee Jas' intelect would be more then happy to ignore the paperwork for good results, so as long as said CG person delivered he should be just fine.

But it does not have to be so confrontational with alignment.

There's no non confrontational way to tell someone they personally are Evil. Some people just care less then others. The fact that it also usually comes with character derailment is just injury to insult.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....