I think alignment is best handled as its own track(s) with zones.
The game almost entirely a tactical miniatures wargame. Who wants to get into an ethical debate while killing monsters?
Those of us who want to add certain roleplaying elements might want to do just that.
I have two volumes with me right now containing ancient Chinese stories, and most of them involve monks going out into the world and doing whatever they thought they needed to, law and tradition be damned.
Let me provide an example. I was playing a cleric recently. A LN, Inquisitor-style cleric. Several games into the campaign, the DM informed me that I was playing my cleric as more Good than anything else. And he's right, I was. My character was a nice, sweet, helpful guy. It just so happened that we hadn't come across anything to interact with my character's "punish, torture, kill!" side yet. By the rules in the DMG, he was absolutely correct to remind me that I could shift.
If a character repeatedly acts in ways not appropriate for his listed alignment, then the DM is encouraged to intervene.
Err, the former can't be Lawful. Says so in the rules. Of course, by the description of the alignments,
Lawful describes every tribal concept I've ever seen, even those from which barbarians supposedly hail, but the rules say they can't be Lawful-aligned.
And what about monks who don't give a wet slap about the rules? Plenty of them in the stories, too.
The point is how much repeatedly is; according to RAW, it can't be just a few times, moreover the way you play AL depends heavily on your bg.
The example doesn't work well though, being a conservative is much more specific than being LN, since it identifies a range of well defined ideas and contexts.
Personally, I'd check your bg:if you've always been a "sweet" guy who learnt inquisition means just to better protect your country/faith, you could be LG as LN, if you ,because of work of inquisitor, became the lonely cleric who makes the "hard work" ,with little mercy for his foes, then you should shift to LG.
Anyway, not providing situations where your char's personality could be shown, is troublesome for the definition of your AL during the campaign.
Wait, I said there were two types of barbarians:
- the true-world "barbarian" concept: the "non-roman" who belongs to germanic-celtic tribes
- the "barbarian" character class in d&d: the tribe man who can enter rage and other things.
For the first one, there's no definition in d&d, so it can have any AL matches his background.
D&D borrowed the idea of barbarian class from Roman culture: uncivilized,violent and furius beings, but "barbarians" don't have to get some levels of barbarian class to be what they are in D&D.
There are plenty of stories where, to become a martial artist, you have to wake up very early in the morning, train (painfully)all the day, being focus on some idea of purity/spiritual strength/truth, and obey your superiors and monastery taboos as well.
Being lawful means believing that there's a way of living, made of "law" and principles to adhere to, it doesn't address any particular law.
I can be a redeemed monk ,who grew in an evil monastery, and broke the laws I used to believe, to follow new ones, which I drawn on my own.
I too think the alignment system is oversimplified. It makes it hard to play an evil PC and not have him kill for fun. Most people expect it of you. "You are the evil PC, so why havent you gone on a murderous rampage yet?" "Cause I am not THAT evil!" It should be by degrees. Not every CE person you meet is going to be anywhere near as bad as a demon. Just like that LG Paladin over there may not be as virtous and just as an Astral Deva.
There it is: Martial Artist is someone who trained in martial Arts; Fighting Monk is someone who had intense physical and Spiritual training, following more or less precise teachings (something like Zen or whatever else)... that's in what the Monk is Lawful: he follows those rules, though he may wander, disagree with/disrespect others' traditions (besides, any person can despise traditions which don't belong to him, even the stereotype of Legality)...
I don't agree with Monk's Alignment restriction (especially 3.5's), but I understand what the developers wanted to say, and I must admit that the thought is not wrong...
Alignment is only one part of what shapes a character's world view. Other influences include but are not limited to: age, race, gender, ability scores, character class(es), social/economic class, education, religion (or lack therof), national origin, political views, membership in any organizations, and the specifics of personal experience.
Yes, alignment has bearing upon all of those things, and is in turn influenced by all of those things, but it is by no means the end-all of a character's thoughts or actions.
You can have two people who match up exactly in all of the above catagories, and yet still have differences in their personalities and outlook.
The whole point is that it's simplified. Alignment is not supposed to be a personality assessment of your character. It's a rough way of categorizing what values are considered important in the default setting. The labels "conservative" and "liberal" are also oversimplified. But in the right contexts, they can be useful for making comparisons.
Well, the problem is isn't so much with alignment, as with alignment restrictions for classes. Furthermore, I think the reason you find alignment so stifling is because you take it too literally.
As long as their behavior coincides with their alignment, perhaps with small exceptions. I've had friends tell me what they thought my alignment would be, in DnD terms, and why. I've heard everything from LG to CN. And each and every one of them was fully justified. The alignment system is insufficient to describe me, a rather young man from an unremarkable background in the modern United States. Are fantasy adventurers supposed to be less complex?
It's partly fault of the 3rd Ed. PHBs. When you look into the 2nd Ed. PHB, you'll find alignment throughly and easily understabable explained.
Yes, they are.
They are not real people, they are fictional characters in a fantasy setting. In that setting, Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos are very real forces very basic to reality. Mortals are affected by this, and their personal natures are described in those cosmic terms.
And you're True Neutral, because you have both Lawful and Chaotic aspects. :P See, we have the same alignment, and we don't agree on stuff! :D
New Alignment Choice: None
I suggest this as a half-step between retaining alignment and abandoning it wholesale. The "None" selection means the character simply has not chosen affirmatively to align with one of the cosmic/philosophical poles. He doesn't particularly care about such concerns, which really should really only concern the gods and their servants (clerics and others who affirmatively choose to serve an alignment).
That's a personal choice though, it doesn't have to be like that, even with alignments.
The basic rules state clearly that within each alignment are a broad number of personality types and that nobody should be expected to be entirely consistent with their alignment every day.
It should really only come into question if someone is broadly, clearly and consistently playing their character in a way that is structurally different from his chosen alignment. Small to moderate aberrations are inconsitencies are normal.
Cosmic forces they may be, but mortals aren't celestials or infernals...they are 'flawed' and mercurial compared to archetypes such as angels and devils.
That's what I use "Neutral" for in my games. Makes it more flexible and realistic I think.
No, because serving the Neutral alignment brings in the baggage of supposedly seeking "balance" between Good and Evil and Law and Chaos. You're free to ignore that, but the RAW suggest he does have an investment in the cosmological struggle and cares for such things.
A character with an alignment of "None" expresses his lack of concern with such things better than "Neutral." Like it or not, Neutral is supposed to be an alignment with a cosmological agenda, same as any other.
Neutral, “Undecided”: A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil—after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.
Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.
Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.
"Good and evil are not philosophical concepts in DnD. They are he forces that define the cosmos."
The stories the monks themselves tell about their greatest legends tell a different story. Chaotic like you wouldn't believe. Without telling specific stories, I don't know how well I can convey the concept, but any number of them didn't give a flying **** about tradition, enlightenment, etc., and just wanted to be better fighters and/or go out and do what they personally thought needed to be done. Many DnD characters played as chaotic didn't fit the alignment this well.
But less defensible than those -- which at least you can define, if vaguely -- is this Law/Chaos thing, which supposedly have no moral component to them, but are "equally good" or "equally bad" depending on one's moral alignment.
And, once again, the actual cosmic absolutes of law and chaos are not concerned with Authoritarian Socialism versus Libertarian Minarchism, but with creating a clockwork universe (Law) or destroying the universe in favor of seething randomness (Chaos). Planar-level chaos has nothing to do with "chaos" as humans practice it, and ditto for law. Why would a Chaotic Neutral human *ever* actually support the goals of the Slaad? Why would a Lawful Neutral human support the Inevitables?
And if the alignment axes aren't well-defined enough to tell when you're being true to your placement on either, why are they rules at all?
I was raised by a sect of St Cuthbert zealots that viewed themselves as the judge, jury, and executioners of evil beings, including people who performed a broad range of evil acts. We fully encouraged the use of torture to procure more information on conspirators. It's just that we could be very nice to people who weren't evil.
Yes. Yes, it is. So if the campaign gravitates toward other situations, your character's actions may look entirely contrary to his actual motivations. And the DMG says "too bad!"
You don't think Conan, Tarzan, and similar stories played a part in the development of the class? Because I think so. Tarzan, however, is the only rules-appropriate barbarian I know of, because even in Roman prejudices, the ignorant barbarians tended to be rigidly superstitious, adhering to odd taboos.
And there are lots more stories where great martial artists didn't behave a thing like that. In fact, unless you're watching Kung Fu Theatre, most of the actual stories about monks are about them wandering around doing whatever they saw fit, and not following the rigid monastic lifestyle you describe. Besides "lawful" and "disciplined enough to train" should not be related.
"Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
1. controlled behaviour; self-control
2. enforced compliance or control
3. a systematic method of obtaining obedience
4. a state of order based on submission to authority
5. punishment intended to train
6. a set of rules regulating behaviour
to train someone by instruction and practice
I thought the 3E PHB was pretty clear on all of this, but people keep insisting that it says one thing when it clearly says just the opposite. I'd like to think that it's just a vocal minority, but I'm starting to wonder.
It's quite clear, but only for those of us who actually read it.
They're descriptive rules, you just choose, they're vague in order not to be a straitjacket and ,as you pointed out, close alignments,i.e. those who have one step of distance between each other, can share lots of ideas/behaviours.
Being LN makes you close to NN,LG and LE, so you have something in common with them.
As we said, they're not so strict.