Alignment

336 posts / 0 new
Last post
I was saying in the background of playing the game.
You were saying in the character's background.

Now that that little bit of whatever is cleared up...

I feared it was so


Or, he'll respond to the actual situation he finds himself in, rather that adhering to some ill-defined concept that, basically, makes ZERO sense.

Actually, if he can adhere to that concept, he should be able to adhere to his actions and morality first.

'Nevertheless' nothing. That's a huge flaw in the alignment system.

The fact I am in the serial killer's same category doesn't mean I have to be offended, because the category "Juventini" doesn't address the whole myself.

Let me see if I understand what you're saying here:
Alignments don't cover the whole character.
The rules recommend that alignments don't cover the whole character.

In that case, alignment is useless as a meter by which a character's background / personality is measured.

Why? Measures can be imprecise,approximating, abstracting, as long as they fit their purpose; alignments' goal is to provide a quick way to make moral principles tangibles.

Really? I must have missed those sub-categories of alignment. Let me go double check...

Why has everything to be under the same measure?
I can define my character in different ways with different descriptors and different precisions, I don't have to use just one descriptor for the entire morality concerning my pcs

Not part of how alignment interacts with the game mechanics.

The entire background and your actual actions define your morality but it is impossible to sum them up in a few words, which is something needed by the mechanics.

See how "Like" is irrelevant in this case.

But having aligned spells like protection from* makes gaming simple, isn't it?
They could have invented "protection from allegiance", but would have been that useful?easy to use?
And aren't there fantasy stories where are made concrete by swords,rings and spells?

In addition, the detect happy party makes most mysteries impossible to carry out within D&D if the antagonist actually interacts with the party.

No. detect doesn't make the target guilty of anything, and that's a lame way of playing.
Those cluedo gamers could have ended the game more easily with speak with the dead spell.

Can you see how that might be read to conflict with ...
said by you earlier in that post?

Actions-->alignment
Incoherency with actions-->incoherency with alignment.
No conflict.
If the pc behaves intentionally in an incoherent way , his morality has changed, and his alignment should follow.
Alignments are vague. before saying that character has behaved incoherently, to the point of needing a change on the al,the dm must take some time to think over.

Of course. And that's one of the knocks against using it in the new edition. It's so good at disrupting story elements, and it's so poor at actually describing characters, that it really deserves to be given the boot. Well, the mechanics that are tied to it anyway.

Well, magic (especially divination)disrupts story.
Have a detect undead, suddenly the vampire who hides in the shadows, behind the king's throne, is discovered.
Have a foresight, suddenly the campaign is over...

I wasn't referring to you. I try to avoid ever doing that, just FYI. I was referring to the character, in case I was misinterpreted.

It seemed to me you'd have liked to represent the real life within a moral framework provided by a game, and I think it is an impossible and pointless goal.
So if I'm not naming names, I'm "inventing" people?

No, but taking a jerky dm to make an example of how alignments are broken, is fallacious.

Also, if something being easily broken is not a reason to fix it,

Who said alignments are broken?

Every new edition that came out attempted to fix SOMETHING that could be horribly broken (fighter/thief/mage anyone?) ...I would much rather see 4ed without the alignment system,

fixing doesn't imply throwing away.

if for no other reason than alignment then becomes a modular ruleset the DM can CHOOSE to implement (along with honor, taint, etc) rather than 5 pages of text spread all over the PHB.

Are you sure there's no need to make morality tangible in form of items and spells?

I didn't dispute your elemental statement, I was pointing out the apples/oranges nature of that comparison (although I DO wonder what would happen if you managed to give a cold subtype creature the fire subtype as well...:P )

Steam subtipe?
the outsiders are primarily outsiders(creatures made of something magical and attuned to a principle/force and for which there's a descriptor tag) so the matter named "evil" is antitethical to the matter named "good" as well as fire and water.
That's not an alignment issue.
There should be a rule for raising fiends as well as falling celestials .
I don't think "raising/falling" elementals could exists though.
My point is that alignments do define your characters in a brief way, but that is not the only mean you have to define your character.
There may be additional rules which consider allegiances even in d&d, as in Powers of Faerun, and there's no problem for those, but the fact that d&d has mechanics based on alignments doesn't mean you have to consider only them to define your character, rather alignments inter-connections with (some) mechanics gives the idea of a world where abstract and universal principles(good/evil chaos/law) come into play.

Fine, but you can add this to the system, you don't have to get rid of this.
9 boxes aren't enough to describe other aspects of your pc? fine, add others as well.
My point was that we don't have to throw away Als because they're not enough, any system which formalizes aspects of a character would be not enough if we consider any aspect of the character itself, i.e. if we don't accept the abstraction provided by the system.

we agreed in the end :dancing:

Well I'm glad that we can agree.

My point was not to throw away Alignments as they fit into the Allegiance system. Someone might not like the Allegiance system but get the same results using it. This is IMHO a much better solution of status quo vs. No Alignments at all.
I feared it was so

OK. From now on I'll use the phrase 'mechanical background' or something similar in order to be more clear. :D

Actually, if he can adhere to that concept, he should be able to adhere to his actions and morality first.

It's not a matter of 'IF'. He should always follow whatever it is rather than those vague, lame, alignment descriptions.

The fact I am in the serial killer's same category doesn't mean I have to be offended, because the category "Juventini" doesn't address the whole myself.

And then, to keep this related to the topic, when a mechanical decree is used -- like 'arrest all Juventini' -- the mechanics of alignment in the game force you to be treated the same. That's one of the problems with the alignment mechanics. In addition, this is one of the things that forces the alignment to never be considered in the mechanical background of the game.

Why? Measures can be imprecise,approximating, abstracting, as long as they fit their purpose; alignments' goal is to provide a quick way to make moral principles tangibles.

Or, leave the idea of alignment in, while removing the mechanical ties it has to the game.

Like the PHBII gave with personality quirks and background traits.

Why has everything to be under the same measure?
I can define my character in different ways with different descriptors and different precisions, I don't have to use just one descriptor for the entire morality concerning my pcs

You have to use 1 of 9. My argument is that you shouldn't have to use such a limiting measure.

The entire background and your actual actions define your morality but it is impossible to sum them up in a few words, which is something needed by the mechanics.

But it's not needed by the mechanics. The mechanics are ad hoc onto a system that works just fine without them. And will work just fine without them for the upcoming edition.

But having aligned spells like protection from* makes gaming simple, isn't it?
They could have invented "protection from allegiance", but would have been that useful?easy to use?
And aren't there fantasy stories where are made concrete by swords,rings and spells?

Protection from Evil/Good/Chaos/Law changes to Aura of Protection. It grants those protections regardless of the alignment of the attacking creature.
Name some stories that use alignment and aligned powers made concrete by swords, rings, and spells. (No, the D&D pulp novels do not count, as they're based off the game rules.)

I bet for every story that can be named, many more that do not use that can be named.

No. detect doesn't make the target guilty of anything, and that's a lame way of playing.
Those cluedo gamers could have ended the game more easily with speak with the dead spell.

Another problem spell. Much like Locate Object, Locate Person, Teleport, Planar Binding, Gate, etc. Which all need to be fixed, and which would be derailing the thread to talk about them here.

Actions-->alignment
Incoherency with actions-->incoherency with alignment.
No conflict.
If the pc behaves intentionally in an incoherent way , his morality has changed, and his alignment should follow.

And then it's not residing in the background of the mechanics. It's right there in everyone's face, forcing players to decide between the action his character might have taken.

Alignments are vague.

Which is one of the things that makes them useless.

My character is honorable, adaptable, trustworthy, flexible, reliable, and loves freedom. What is his alignment with regards to Law and Chaos?

It seemed to me you'd have liked to represent the real life within a moral framework provided by a game, and I think it is an impossible and pointless goal.

Quite the opposite. I think that if I want to play a character that's actually deeper than a puddle, that is as complex and dynamic and interesting as an actual person, alignment doesn't work.

And that's just in addition to some of the really stupid alignment restrictions that were in place for 3.X.

Code of Conduct: Barbarian

A Barbarian who becomes Lawful cannot Rage. Why not? There's no decent answer for that. Rage doesn't seem to require that you not tell people in advance that you're going to do it, nor does it actually force you to break promises once you're enraged. It doesn't force you to behave in any particular fashion, and no one knows why it is restricted.

Code of Conduct: Bard

If anyone can tell me why a concert pianist can't be Lawful I will personally put one thing of their choice into my mouth. Music is expressionistic, but it is also mathematical. Already there are computers that can write music that is indistinguishable from the boring parts of Mozart in which he's just going up and down scales in order to mark time.

I've spent way too much time on this thread, between reading, thinking, and posting. So I'm just going to post my final thoughts on alignment in 3.x and move on. Hopefully one of the 4e Design team will read it and take it into account as much as any one person's opinion can be taken into account.

Alignment is 3.xs thac0. It's a completely backward system that, while it works, it's completely non-intuitive. And by it's nature it's restrictive. No matter what, the alignment system we currently have says "You are one of nine types of people." Even if it says it's not a straight-jacket, that's just saying "Your player goes into one of nine boxes based on their actions. But it's not really a box, so don't act like it is." With a line that confusing, most people are just going to pick their box and stay in it. Is there anyone who doesn't think it's more straightforward to say "Here is your box. It is empty. Put a few things in it that define your character."?

Then there's that well written and clearly presented excerpt from the Book of Fiends. It's very true that Law and Chaos as presented in D&D mean next to nothing, and Good and Evil don't mean much more. Also, they're very impersonal, difficult to relate to from the human perspective. We can understand "right" and "wrong". We can understand "good" and "bad". But "Good" and "Evil"? We can intellectualize them, but like "infinity", we can't really understand them. Also, how stupid is it to have to define my character as something he isn't, in order to define what he is? Unless every aspect of Good, or Law, or Evil applies to my character, why should I have to define my character as being something he's not?

Not exactly related, but I don't really like Celestials and Fiends being the epitome of their alignments either. I don't mind if they're the epitome of their plane, but if Angels are pure Good, then if an Angel does it, it must be Good, and if it's Good, then some Angel somewhere has probably done it. Doesn't it seem strange that Angels would be "Gooder" than some of the deities they serve, simply because those deities are not made of the essence of the plane in which they've chosen to reside? Certainly, just because it's what an Angel, Archon, or Eladrin would do in a situation shouldn't mean that it's the right thing to do in that situation.
Alignment is 3.xs thac0. It's a completely backward system that, while it works, it's completely non-intuitive. And by it's nature it's restrictive. No matter what, the alignment system we currently have says "You are one of nine types of people." Even if it says it's not a straight-jacket, that's just saying "Your player goes into one of nine boxes based on their actions. But it's not really a box, so don't act like it is." With a line that confusing, most people are just going to pick their box and stay in it. Is there anyone who doesn't think it's more straightforward to say "Here is your box. It is empty. Put a few things in it that define your character."?

Gender is reality's THAC0. It's a completely backward system that, while it works, it's completely non-intuitive. And by its nature it's restrictive. No matter what, the gender system we currently have says "You are one of two types of people." Even if it says it's not a straight-jacket, that's just saying "You go into one of two boxes based on your physiology. But its not really a box, so don't act like it is." With a line that confusing, most people are just going to stay in their box. Is there anyone who doesn't think it's more straightforward to say "Here is your box. It is empty. Put a few things in it that define your character"?

There are boxes, and there are really big boxes. Alignment, like gender, is one of the latter.

Then there's that well written and clearly presented excerpt from the Book of Fiends. It's very true that Law and Chaos as presented in D&D mean next to nothing, and Good and Evil don't mean much more. Also, they're very impersonal, difficult to relate to from the human perspective. We can understand "right" and "wrong". We can understand "good" and "bad". But "Good" and "Evil"? We can intellectualize them, but like "infinity", we can't really understand them. Also, how stupid is it to have to define my character as something he isn't, in order to define what he is? Unless every aspect of Good, or Law, or Evil applies to my character, why should I have to define my character as being something he's not?

There are five characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia as recognized by the APA. To be diagnosed with the disorder, you must display any two of them. A positive diagnosis in no way implies that you have all five symptoms; that's just logically unsound. You might perhaps consider an alignment in a similar way.

Not exactly related, but I don't really like Celestials and Fiends being the epitome of their alignments either. I don't mind if they're the epitome of their plane, but if Angels are pure Good, then if an Angel does it, it must be Good, and if it's Good, then some Angel somewhere has probably done it. Doesn't it seem strange that Angels would be "Gooder" than some of the deities they serve, simply because those deities are not made of the essence of the plane in which they've chosen to reside? Certainly, just because it's what an Angel, Archon, or Eladrin would do in a situation shouldn't mean that it's the right thing to do in that situation.

Gods have a leg-up on mere celestials because they are far closer to omniscient. A celestial always strives to do what is right, but is fallible. Also, if gods rule the outer planes, as they really should (I hear Asmodeus is getting promoted), then they may not be made of the planar essence, but they've got something even better: they define the planar essence.
It's not a matter of 'IF'. He should always follow whatever it is rather than those vague, lame, alignment descriptions.

Characters follow whatever they want, is the alignment who should follow their actions,not vice versa, then there's the problem of those whose effectiveness depends on their alignment, so, yes, a character could mind to keep its alignment lawful in order not to lose his sword/power...but he could have bought a fire/cold/whatever enhanced sword as well, he's free to rely on its morality for equipment and powers.

And then, to keep this related to the topic, when a mechanical decree is used -- like 'arrest all Juventini' -- the mechanics of alignment in the game force you to be treated the same. That's one of the problems with the alignment mechanics. In addition, this is one of the things that forces the alignment to never be considered in the mechanical background of the game.

Some mechanics use just your morality: if you're evil, your evilness will be a weak spot for those who can call the powers of goodness against you, whether you're a fiendish being or a cold-blooded killer.

Or, leave the idea of alignment in, while removing the mechanical ties it has to the game.

Some mechanics could be revised/removed, but aligned spells are just a few ones.

Like the PHBII gave with personality quirks and background traits.

no problem for this.

You have to use 1 of 9. My argument is that you shouldn't have to use such a limiting measure.

For mechanics only.
Mechanics needs brief information about your character: HD,Al,ability scores..

But it's not needed by the mechanics. The mechanics are ad hoc onto a system that works just fine without them. And will work just fine without them for the upcoming edition.

Most worlds where there's a moral framework have it got some in-game mechanical influence:d&d,d20 modern,sw...
Then, obviously, D&D is made of "pieces", modules: those for the Al, these for spells....you can take away even magic, because there are other modules as well.

Protection from Evil/Good/Chaos/Law changes to Aura of Protection. It grants those protections regardless of the alignment of the attacking creature.

Incorrect: only a part of those bonuses works so.

Name some stories that use alignment and aligned powers made concrete by swords, rings, and spells. (No, the D&D pulp novels do not count, as they're based off the game rules.)

Any time you can find an item,creature or magic that is inherently evil, or good, which reacts accordingly to the morality of those who approach it, there can be room for alignment,examples are the one ring,excalibur and the witch-hunt

I bet for every story that can be named, many more that do not use that can be named.

The morality of such items could not be explicit, such as Narsil


Another problem spell. Much like Locate Object, Locate Person, Teleport, Planar Binding, Gate, etc. Which all need to be fixed, and which would be derailing the thread to talk about them here

.
Well, it is known that divination is likely to kill the game

And then it's not residing in the background of the mechanics. It's right there in everyone's face, forcing players to decide between the action his character might have taken.

Being inoherent and free to play your character are two different issues.
I'm able to play my pc as I want, without needing to be incoherent.
Incoherency isn't a merit anyway.

My character is honorable, adaptable, trustworthy, flexible, reliable, and loves freedom. What is his alignment with regards to Law and Chaos?

He may be neutral, if he's neither lawful nor chaotic; it depends on what meaning you give to those words:
-keeping a promise is more important to him than being free?
-being honorable is more important than being flexible?
...shall I continue?


And that's just in addition to some of the really stupid alignment restrictions that were in place for 3.X.

About the bard: as it is know, this class identifies a nimble-handed wandering artist, so it gives the impression of being an unlawful person, which is something questionable ,I admit, but that's not an alignment problem, it's a design's one.
About the barbarian: lawfulness implies discipline and self-control, which simply means a lawful person will hardly enter a rage status like the barbarian's; he will get angry of course, but he won't get any benefit for it, then there's the fact barbarians tend to live in poorly-structured nomad societies
Characters follow whatever they want, is the alignment who should follow their actions,not vice versa, then there's the problem of those whose effectiveness depends on their alignment, so, yes, a character could mind to keep its alignment lawful in order not to lose his sword/power...but he could have bought a fire/cold/whatever enhanced sword as well, he's free to rely on its morality for equipment and powers.

That first sentence is a contradiction within itself.

A) "Character's follow whatever they want..."
B) characters could follow their alignment to not lose their power

Some mechanics use just your morality: if you're evil, your evilness will be a weak spot for those who can call the powers of goodness against you, whether you're a fiendish being or a cold-blooded killer.

And what if you're just trying to forcibly spread your government's agenda upon unwilling people? You're a good guy, except in the eyes of those others being forced.

Some mechanics could be revised/removed, but aligned spells are just a few ones.

Alignment spells are one of those mechanics that can be eliminated.


For mechanics only.
Mechanics needs brief information about your character: HD,Al,ability scores..

Eliminate alignment, and then we agree. You don't need, and have never needed, alignment to describe a character. Alignment does more to prohibit robust characters than it does to encourage them.

That bit about personality and quirks that you agree with are all that's really needed to describe a character. You don't ever need alignment to describe a character.

I'm still waiting on the novels bit too, by the way. See, except the D&D pulp novels I've read, those simplistic alignments never come into play in the text.


Most worlds where there's a moral framework have it got some in-game mechanical influence:d&d,d20 modern,sw...
Then, obviously, D&D is made of "pieces", modules: those for the Al, these for spells....you can take away even magic, because there are other modules as well.

Ok. Leaving alignment out of 4ed, and then adding it as an option later is a good idea. In fact, as I've already said, even having an entire chapter (2~20-30 pages worth) dedicated to adding the concept of alignment back in is something I can get behind whole-hearted. Then, it actually IS a module instead of being pre-woven into the entire fabric.

I can do this because of how poorly alignment is implemented in D&D 3.X. I'm sincerely hoping 4ed will take this "module" approach and not include it as part of the base 4ed rules.

Incorrect: only a part of those bonuses works so.

You misunderstand. I was saying that those spells become a single spell that just grants those bonuses if (when!) alignment is eliminated for 4ed.

Any time you can find an item,creature or magic that is inherently evil, or good, which reacts accordingly to the morality of those who approach it, there can be room for alignment,examples are the one ring,excalibur and the witch-hunt

And any time you can find an item, creature or magic that cannot be discerned to be evil, or good, and must instead be interacted with in a more meaningful way, there is a reason to ban alignment.

The morality of such items could not be explicit, such as Narsil

The who?

Well, it is known that divination is likely to kill the game

And? That's some sort of reason to leave alignment in for 4ed how exactly?

Being inoherent and free to play your character are two different issues.
I'm able to play my pc as I want, without needing to be incoherent.
Incoherency isn't a merit anyway.

That doesn't follow what I said at all.

He may be neutral, if he's neither lawful nor chaotic; it depends on what meaning you give to those words:
-keeping a promise is more important to him than being free?
-being honorable is more important than being flexible?
...shall I continue?

Continue to avoid the question? If you want.

He's not neutral. None of those adjectives are contradictory. None of them is more important than the other.

Is he Lawful or his he Chaotic?

About the bard: as it is know, this class identifies a nimble-handed wandering artist, so it gives the impression of being an unlawful person, which is something questionable ,I admit, but that's not an alignment problem, it's a design's one.
About the barbarian: lawfulness implies discipline and self-control, which simply means a lawful person will hardly enter a rage status like the barbarian's; he will get angry of course, but he won't get any benefit for it, then there's the fact barbarians tend to live in poorly-structured nomad societies

So, by that "wandering" bit, all adventurers are chaotic.

Alignment is part of the game design. That means it can't be shuttled off as just a design problem, when alignment is the design problem.

Is that all lawfulness implies?

Lawfulness does not imply discipline and self control. A chaotic person can control himself. A chaotic person can be disciplined. A chaotic person can be honorable. A chaotic person can be trustworthy. A chaotic person can obey the laws of the land. A chaotic person can be completely truthful. A chaotic person can have a code he follows.

If lawfulness implies discipline and self control in your mind, what does chaotic imply?

A barbarian tribe wanders to several different places throughout the year. Most of them are commoner or experts. The ones that are not commoner or expert are barbarians. This is their tribe's customs:
  • We must travel to our three traditional hunting grounds depending upon the season to sustain the tribe and insure its survival.
  • Obey your elders and the customs [laws] of our tribe.
  • Do not kill your fellow tribesmen, women, or children.
  • Do not consort with fiends.
  • Attack the enemies of your tribe on sight.
  • Venerate our tribal gods.
  • Do not act in a way that brings shame to tribe.
  • Do not tolerate persons attempting to cause harm to the tribe, including theft or imprisonment.
  • Upon reaching the age of majority, you must travel alone in the wilderness and slay a ferocious predator in order to become a warrior (barbarian) of this tribe.


So, the Barbarian (class) members of that tribe follows that. They're all chaotic.
That first sentence is a contradiction within itself.

A) "Character's follow whatever they want..."
B) characters could follow their alignment to not lose their power

You still haven't got my point: being incoherent doesn't imply being free and, as you choose to gain powers for adhering to some morality/philosophy, you accept to adhere to them,period.
If I'm told that to be a pelorite I must be "good" (ie g-aligned) , I know that, that's a constraint I accept as soon as I get to know the power I'm going to get relies on my morality.

And what if you're just trying to forcibly spread your government's agenda upon unwilling people? You're a good guy, except in the eyes of those others being forced.

The DM is the objective pov ,the one that matters for such things; relativism can exist, but an objective and final judgement is made, eventually, if it comes to alignments mechanics

Eliminate alignment, and then we agree. You don't need, and have never needed, alignment to describe a character. Alignment does more to prohibit robust characters than it does to encourage them.

Questionable, and I never said I need those to describe a character -period.
I need them if there's a moral framework, after having described the character independently from that framework,ie I think first to the background and personality of the character and then to the alignment.

That bit about personality and quirks that you agree with are all that's really needed to describe a character. You don't ever need alignment to describe a character.

I always said that what matters are background and actual actions..

Ok. Leaving alignment out of 4ed, and then adding it as an option later is a good idea.

I still fear it would make d&d like a grey reality.

And any time you can find an item, creature or magic that cannot be discerned to be evil, or good, and must instead be interacted with in a more meaningful way, there is a reason to ban alignment.

Ehm...no.
You see, we have flaming and holy swords, they coexists.

The who?

Isn't it Aragorn's sword? I could be wrong anyway...

And? That's some sort of reason to leave alignment in for 4ed how exactly?

That's not a reason to throw away alignments though.


That doesn't follow what I said at all.

I told you that incoherency with alignments was likely due to an incoherency with character's action, and being incoherent is something easy to notice and is not directly related to the freedom of the character himself, this should also answer the question about being free and aligned.

Continue to avoid the question? If you want.

Not really.

He's not neutral. None of those adjectives are contradictory. None of them is more important than the other.

Trustworthiness leaves you free?
Your honour implies a code of conduct which may hinder your flexibility.
it could imply not backstabbing your foe, not having business with criminals and "unworthy people"...

And why can't he be neutral?

So, by that "wandering" bit, all adventurers are chaotic.

Wandering without a specific purpose..

Alignment is part of the game design. That means it can't be shuttled off as just a design problem, when alignment is the design problem.

Well, you know, If I'd try to build Dante or Shakespeare with the bard class, they both would be able to cast illusions and make sleight of hand checks, does it fit their historical background?no
The one of celtic bards?maybe.

Is that all lawfulness implies?

Some of the major aspects of lawfullness are discipline and self-control, this doesn't mean other alignments imply not to have those traits, those traits are simply secondary to others.
Being chaotic implies being freewilled, then freewill will be a major trait, while discipline and others won't.
Alignments are like sliding areas on a spectrum, one for axes; the more you're close to a boundary, the more it is likely you're of the alignment addressed by the boundary, and the spectrum is continuous.
Gender is reality's THAC0. It's a completely backward system that, while it works, it's completely non-intuitive. And by its nature it's restrictive. No matter what, the gender system we currently have says "You are one of two types of people." Even if it says it's not a straight-jacket, that's just saying "You go into one of two boxes based on your physiology. But its not really a box, so don't act like it is." With a line that confusing, most people are just going to stay in their box. Is there anyone who doesn't think it's more straightforward to say "Here is your box. It is empty. Put a few things in it that define your character"?

There are boxes, and there are really big boxes. Alignment, like gender, is one of the latter.

HecScrivener, I'm not going to argue with you or the evil idiot about alignment anymore. You're both intent on holding up all the things I feel are problems with it, and saying that they're what make alignment good. Which is fine.

But this argument here is dead wrong. Gender is a product of our culture, not reality. There are cultures in the world that recognize more than two genders, sometimes including men who live as women, or women who live as men, or both. Added to that are people whose physiology does not indicate one particular gender over another. And of course, there are varieties of frogs and fishes that can change at will, as well as simple organisms that reproduce asexually. Reality gives us the whole gamut and says "You figure out whats what. Or don't. I don't care." And you can bet some of those people who fall between our clearly marked gender lines would prefer that we stopped trying to make them choose to be one or the other.
I read the thread and I'm not going to go through and quote everyone I'm responding to, or even be that specific on what I am responding to, so I apologize ahead of time for possibly misquoting, strawmanning or misrepresenting ideas that have been put forth, although I will try not to do that.

In regards to the aspect of Murder (or other heinous crimes in modern society, throughout history, and in fantasy worlds) and Morality, I disagree completely with the idea that Murder is a crime because it is "Evil" or "wrong".

The whole concept of Murder, or **** or anything else being a crime exists as part of a social contract. We may view, as part of our culture, that **** or murder as wrong, objectively and absolutely, but that is not why they are illegal. They are illegal, because we ourselves do not wish to be murdered, stolen from, raped etc. We exist in a society that protects us, and as such we must agree to protect by way of abstinence from that which we wish to be protected from, our fellows who exist in our society.

In DnD terms, if you want to really philosophize about it, being that self-preservation (adherence to a social contract) over "doing the right thing" is inherently seen as evil, then not murdering evil-doers as part of a social contract is also evil. Law, chaos; good and evil interact even if those are supposed to be on a separate axis.

There have been cultures and peoples throughout history who live in a society who do not kill and steal from each other as part of their social contract, but did not view murder and theft as objectively wrong. They felt perfectly justified in killing and stealing from outsiders, and the outsiders most likely felt the exact same way and were far from innocent victims.

One of my main complaints with D&D alignment, is that it is based off of our modern, 21st century, American concept of morality and ethics, and paints them on various game worlds that more closely resemble medieval Europe.

Certain people are holding up the "It's just a game" argument, which should hold up, because it is indeed just a game; unfortunately that game adheres to real world concepts of ethics, instead of ones that exist inside of the game world exclusively.

If the game (or specific campaign setting) set up a moral code as it existed in that fantasy world and a DM made a judgement call, "No, this is how I interpret the game material, campaign setting and based on my knowledge I determine that you are acting in an evil way" isn't hardly as much a cause for an argument as "No, I know you are playing your character in a way that you feel, in real life, is good, but I'm saying your concepts of modern morality are wrong, and that your are in fact doing evil, and that you as a person are apparently incapable of determining between right and wrong."

Obviously no DM is going to put it that way, but I think the hyperbole serves well enough in the second example. In a game where the morals being presented are similar to modern morals, and you are told "No, you are wrong" is in fact telling the player that his moral compass is broken in some fashion. Still a potential for disagreement, less potential for insult.

If people want to play a Harry Potter game, where they play characters with modern sensibilities and moral compasses inhabiting a world that is inherently racist, unjust, etc then they should be able to. I actually like that kind of setting however I usually accomplish it by putting the PCs in a foreign lands with alien ideals (which is the same way the themes are presented in the HP series), but PCs shouldn't really be "in a foreign land" in their native land, which is almost how it is presented in the alignment write ups as compared to the write ups of the campaign settings. I love those themes, of the heroes challenging the socially accepted wrong doing, but that shouldn't be the presumed mode of play, but an option.

I don't necessarily want to play that game every time I play. Sometimes I want to play in a party of characters that are just as harsh and uncaring as the world they come from. They love their friends and family. They fight the good fight, but they don't necessarily feel the need to negotiate in-character what to do with every unconscious orc. I just want them to CDG and have it done with, not dragging them to the nearest city to stand trial for attacking caravans. I want them to play characters that really are a product of their society, not a product of our society.

Alignment really needs to be a representation of the game world, and not our world to not only minimize arguments, but to also give a better frame of reference for newer players to get into characters shoes. I frequently have run the problem with running with different than my normal groups, and especially new players having different concept of what is "right and wrong" in character in specific campaign settings. Using modern concepts of right and wrong to what is supposed to be a much harsher epic fantasy game, where people fight and die all the time.

To use another examples from fantasy literature; Conan is a good guy. Conan kills people. He hates the Hypoboreans and other Nordic tribesmen. He generally hate the Stygians. He often kills them without having any restless night reliving the deaths of those nameless faces in long past battles.

Conan being the good guy, the exemplar of what it is to be the good guy, and those he fights being the cronies of evil forces such as Stygian sorcerer's, or Vanir Warlords makes them evil by association. This "alignment" distinction lets him faces his enemies in mortal combat without delving into the psychological, and moral ramifications of taking a human life as part of his day to day adventuring. Such a thing does not fit in the world of Conan as crafted by Howard. Remorse is for the weak, and Conan is a good guy.

This is a bit different than the original theme behind alignment as a descriptor for characters, but one that is essential to the theme of Conan. Conan is not so unique that that style of play can't be adapted to any DnD campaign setting, yet Conan's alignment wildly shifts from Chaos to Law, and from Good to Evil from story to story based on what he is facing. This doesn't make him True Neutral either. It just means his moral code and theme of morals in the Conan world doesn't easily fit into the confines of the alignment system as it currently exists. This is a problem.

Tolkien takes this a step further. His villains are largely not human. The heroes cut down orc after orc and hardly give it a second though. The characters run afoul of a group of orcs, the orcs die. They run afoul of a Gondorian patrol, or the Horse-Lords and no one dies. There is tension, and threats, but combat is avoided. There is a very clear cut example of what is right and wrong in the narrative of that world. What is good and evil.

This same distinction is originally what alignment was supposed to represent I believe, and it is a very valid way of playing the game, but it is not the only way of playing. What's more, in neither of these very heavily borrowed from settings does any rule need to exist in which there is a mechanical effect from being a particular alignment.

I have no qualms with alignment, especially an alignment system that is representative of the game world, and not the real world so that players can differentiate more easily from characters. I absolutely despise mechanically latching alignment onto the game system.

Alignment should be a tool for fleshing out characters and should help new players develop a personality for characters, and it should not be the only such tool presented in the PHB.

If players wish to play in a campaign setting, or play as a character that uses a theme of alignment as a real and tangible core to their character and the game world in general should be able to do so with supplemental material without forcing this mode of gaming on everyone else, especially those of use who played 2nd Ed and earlier where this mode of play was non-existent.

The rules in The Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds are perfectly adequate for presenting a ruleset for a tangible force of good and evil in a game world, should a DM decide to use such a theme.

As it stands, both of those books are kind of pointless because the rules presented in them exist in base DnD. A person who does the kind of totally totally abhorent or selfless things as described in those books is no more evil or holy than any average thief or do-gooder. They can do more, but they are rarely subjected to more.

Personally if I wanted to play a character, like the classic Paladin (which I do like to do occasionally), I would prefer a total lack of any of the base mechanical alignment rules and to smite people with my holy power in a way presented in Exalted Deeds.

The fact that my special powers work on anyone who is arbitrarily "evil" just cheapens the effect of calling down that holy power from the Gods of all that is good and just. When I call down the holy thunder I don't want it to be on some one who just tried to pick pocket me, nor do I think spells and abilities that effect "evil" should affect that kind of evil. Unfortunately in DnD it does, making those holy (or evil) powers very, very lame.

Right now, alignment supports a certain type of play and shuns the rest. By leaving it out, or significantly altering to the point that it is merely a tool for fleshing out a character (and as such completely optional) they can satisfy both camps. As it stands now, you can't remove/alter alignment without massive revision.
In regards to the aspect of Murder (or other heinous crimes in modern society, throughout history, and in fantasy worlds) and Morality, I disagree completely with the idea that Murder is a crime because it is "Evil" or "wrong".

The whole concept of Murder, or **** or anything else being a crime exists as part of a social contract. We may view, as part of our culture, that **** or murder as wrong, objectively and absolutely, but that is not why they are illegal. They are illegal, because we ourselves do not wish to be murdered, stolen from, raped etc. We exist in a society that protects us, and as such we must agree to protect by way of abstinence from that which we wish to be protected from, our fellows who exist in our society.

I think that you are saying it's really a Law/Chaos conflict- what society wants as opposed to what an individual wants. But others are approaching the question from the view of Postmodern Relativism: the idea that there is no such thing as right and wrong, or good and evil, these things are only cultural opinions and no opinion is better or more correct than any other. Ultimately, even truth itself does not exist, it is merely an illusion of opinion.

They think the alignment rules are absurd because they try to place an objective standard on something that is inherently subjective, regardless of context.

In the interest of disclosure, I think that Postmodern Relativism is absurd, and that is part of where I'm coming from.

As to criminal law, sure murder might be illegal mainly because it must be in order for society to function, but it is also an evil act. (Arguably, it's both- it's a Chaotic Evil act.) If souls are real, then any creature with a soul has rights inherent in its existence and should not be killed without good reason.

There have been cultures and peoples throughout history who live in a society who do not kill and steal from each other as part of their social contract, but did not view murder and theft as objectively wrong. They felt perfectly justified in killing and stealing from outsiders, and the outsiders most likely felt the exact same way and were far from innocent victims.

It's debatable as to whether this applies to Medieval Europe, though it probably does. Once you get into fantasy lit, though, especially high fantasy, you're dealing with settings that have at least some objective standard of morality and ethics.

One of my main complaints with D&D alignment, is that it is based off of our modern, 21st century, American concept of morality and ethics, and paints them on various game worlds that more closely resemble medieval Europe.

I think you've got it kinda backwards. Alignment is based on the ideas of Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos, concepts which have existed for thousands of years- in particular as these ideas were used by fantasy authors ranging from Tolkien to Moorcock. The alignment system uses those ideas as a framework upon which to build a narrative of cosmic struggle. In such a context, it's best to avoid acting like a demon.

Certain people are holding up the "It's just a game" argument, which should hold up, because it is indeed just a game; unfortunately that game adheres to real world concepts of ethics, instead of ones that exist inside of the game world exclusively.

Notsomuch. D&D does not adhere to real world ethics, at least not contemporary ones. It adheres to the ethics and morality established in the PHB and the various campaign settings. Again, the way that you think makes more sense is the way it actually is. Reminds me of people who say that it's a straitjacket, when the PHB explicitly and precisely says that it's not.

We see the game in the context of our own ethics. That's only natural. We can use our own ethics to give us some idea of the ethics and morality in-game. Those won't always be exactly the same, but that's fine. The basics generally are the same. Your character should not betray the trust of the other PCs, or run around randomly killing villagers. Most of the time common sense will suffice.

Obviously no DM is going to put it that way, but I think the hyperbole serves well enough in the second example. In a game where the morals being presented are similar to modern morals, and you are told "No, you are wrong" is in fact telling the player that his moral compass is broken in some fashion. Still a potential for disagreement, less potential for insult.

That depends on what the player is doing. If he wants to kill the other PCs in their sleep and take their stuff, then yeah, I might say something like that. But who am I to tell him that's wrong, huh?

I don't necessarily want to play that game every time I play. Sometimes I want to play in a party of characters that are just as harsh and uncaring as the world they come from. They love their friends and family. They fight the good fight, but they don't necessarily feel the need to negotiate in-character what to do with every unconscious orc. I just want them to CDG and have it done with, not dragging them to the nearest city to stand trial for attacking caravans. I want them to play characters that really are a product of their society, not a product of our society.

Fine. Those characters are Neutral or Chaotic Neutral. No big deal.

Alignment really needs to be a representation of the game world, and not our world to not only minimize arguments, but to also give a better frame of reference for newer players to get into characters shoes. I frequently have run the problem with running with different than my normal groups, and especially new players having different concept of what is "right and wrong" in character in specific campaign settings. Using modern concepts of right and wrong to what is supposed to be a much harsher epic fantasy game, where people fight and die all the time.

Again, that's fine, in fact that's probably for the best. Just take a minute to think about the context. If it helps, write out a page or so on the laws of the land and such.

This is a bit different than the original theme behind alignment as a descriptor for characters, but one that is essential to the theme of Conan. Conan is not so unique that that style of play can't be adapted to any DnD campaign setting, yet Conan's alignment wildly shifts from Chaos to Law, and from Good to Evil from story to story based on what he is facing. This doesn't make him True Neutral either. It just means his moral code and theme of morals in the Conan world doesn't easily fit into the confines of the alignment system as it currently exists. This is a problem.

Arguably, Conan is Neutral. FWIW, his setting is much darker and more sparse than most D&D settings. Again, in the interests of disclosure, I've only read about half of the short stories and didn't really like them much.

Tolkien takes this a step further. His villains are largely not human. The heroes cut down orc after orc and hardly give it a second though. The characters run afoul of a group of orcs, the orcs die. They run afoul of a Gondorian patrol, or the Horse-Lords and no one dies. There is tension, and threats, but combat is avoided. There is a very clear cut example of what is right and wrong in the narrative of that world. What is good and evil.

This same distinction is originally what alignment was supposed to represent I believe, and it is a very valid way of playing the game, but it is not the only way of playing. What's more, in neither of these very heavily borrowed from settings does any rule need to exist in which there is a mechanical effect from being a particular alignment.

In Tolkien, it's much more cut and dried, at least the Good/Evil axis is.

No, I don't recall Gandalf casting Detect Evil or Holy Smite, but Tolkien is not the end-all be-all of the genre. (I'm just piling on the blasphemy today, huh? )

I have no qualms with alignment, especially an alignment system that is representative of the game world, and not the real world so that players can differentiate more easily from characters. I absolutely despise mechanically latching alignment onto the game system.

I think we might be closer to agreement than it seems. Like I've said, Detect Evil is almost certainly out, and that's fine. I'll miss Chaos Hammer and Smite Evil, but I can live without them I guess. But what about a trap that only triggers when an Evil creature steps on a floor tile? Is that a problem?

Alignment should be a tool for fleshing out characters and should help new players develop a personality for characters, and it should not be the only such tool presented in the PHB.

Absolutely. There's race, class, nationality, and many other facets to the character himself, as well as organizations, contacts, etc. I do think that game mechanics can encourage RP, and there should be some mention of that stuff in the PHB.

The fact that my special powers work on anyone who is arbitrarily "evil" just cheapens the effect of calling down that holy power from the Gods of all that is good and just. When I call down the holy thunder I don't want it to be on some one who just tried to pick pocket me, nor do I think spells and abilities that effect "evil" should affect that kind of evil. Unfortunately in DnD it does, making those holy (or evil) powers very, very lame.

Paladins should not be smiting pickpockets, no. I think that if there still is some version of Detect Evil, for example, that it should not even trigger unless that evil is supernatural in nature- an outsider, fey, etc.

Right now, alignment supports a certain type of play and shuns the rest. By leaving it out, or significantly altering to the point that it is merely a tool for fleshing out a character (and as such completely optional) they can satisfy both camps. As it stands now, you can't remove/alter alignment without massive revision.

I think that is ultimately what they will do. Alignment will be there, but it will not be in half of the Cleric's spell list, and it will be fairly easy to remove it entirely if that's what the DM wants to do. I'd like to see them go a step further and make it like a "dial"; the default is "5", but the DM can turn it down to "0" (completely gone) or "11" (very important). The rules for how to adjust that dial would of course be in the DMG.

As for styles of play, it's much more than alignment that is a factor. Many people feel that D&D just can't cope with a gritty low-magic setting like Game of Thrones, for example. But I digress.
I prefer to do away with required alignments. I like the Allegiance system in d20 Modern. Player's could still pledge allegiance to an alignment if they wanted too. I allow them to do this in my d20 Modern campaigns.
I read the thread and I'm not going to go through and quote everyone I'm responding to, or even be that specific on what I am responding to, so I apologize ahead of time for possibly misquoting, strawmanning or misrepresenting ideas that have been put forth, although I will try not to do that.

In regards to the aspect of Murder (or other heinous crimes in modern society, throughout history, and in fantasy worlds) and Morality, I disagree completely with the idea that Murder is a crime because it is "Evil" or "wrong".

The whole concept of Murder, or **** or anything else being a crime exists as part of a social contract. We may view, as part of our culture, that **** or murder as wrong, objectively and absolutely, but that is not why they are illegal. They are illegal, because we ourselves do not wish to be murdered, stolen from, raped etc. We exist in a society that protects us, and as such we must agree to protect by way of abstinence from that which we wish to be protected from, our fellows who exist in our society.

In DnD terms, if you want to really philosophize about it, being that self-preservation (adherence to a social contract) over "doing the right thing" is inherently seen as evil, then not murdering evil-doers as part of a social contract is also evil. Law, chaos; good and evil interact even if those are supposed to be on a separate axis.

There have been cultures and peoples throughout history who live in a society who do not kill and steal from each other as part of their social contract, but did not view murder and theft as objectively wrong. They felt perfectly justified in killing and stealing from outsiders, and the outsiders most likely felt the exact same way and were far from innocent victims.

One of my main complaints with D&D alignment, is that it is based off of our modern, 21st century, American concept of morality and ethics, and paints them on various game worlds that more closely resemble medieval Europe.

Certain people are holding up the "It's just a game" argument, which should hold up, because it is indeed just a game; unfortunately that game adheres to real world concepts of ethics, instead of ones that exist inside of the game world exclusively.

If the game (or specific campaign setting) set up a moral code as it existed in that fantasy world and a DM made a judgement call, "No, this is how I interpret the game material, campaign setting and based on my knowledge I determine that you are acting in an evil way" isn't hardly as much a cause for an argument as "No, I know you are playing your character in a way that you feel, in real life, is good, but I'm saying your concepts of modern morality are wrong, and that your are in fact doing evil, and that you as a person are apparently incapable of determining between right and wrong."

Obviously no DM is going to put it that way, but I think the hyperbole serves well enough in the second example. In a game where the morals being presented are similar to modern morals, and you are told "No, you are wrong" is in fact telling the player that his moral compass is broken in some fashion. Still a potential for disagreement, less potential for insult.

If people want to play a Harry Potter game, where they play characters with modern sensibilities and moral compasses inhabiting a world that is inherently racist, unjust, etc then they should be able to. I actually like that kind of setting however I usually accomplish it by putting the PCs in a foreign lands with alien ideals (which is the same way the themes are presented in the HP series), but PCs shouldn't really be "in a foreign land" in their native land, which is almost how it is presented in the alignment write ups as compared to the write ups of the campaign settings. I love those themes, of the heroes challenging the socially accepted wrong doing, but that shouldn't be the presumed mode of play, but an option.

I don't necessarily want to play that game every time I play. Sometimes I want to play in a party of characters that are just as harsh and uncaring as the world they come from. They love their friends and family. They fight the good fight, but they don't necessarily feel the need to negotiate in-character what to do with every unconscious orc. I just want them to CDG and have it done with, not dragging them to the nearest city to stand trial for attacking caravans. I want them to play characters that really are a product of their society, not a product of our society.

Alignment really needs to be a representation of the game world, and not our world to not only minimize arguments, but to also give a better frame of reference for newer players to get into characters shoes. I frequently have run the problem with running with different than my normal groups, and especially new players having different concept of what is "right and wrong" in character in specific campaign settings. Using modern concepts of right and wrong to what is supposed to be a much harsher epic fantasy game, where people fight and die all the time.

To use another examples from fantasy literature; Conan is a good guy. Conan kills people. He hates the Hypoboreans and other Nordic tribesmen. He generally hate the Stygians. He often kills them without having any restless night reliving the deaths of those nameless faces in long past battles.

Conan being the good guy, the exemplar of what it is to be the good guy, and those he fights being the cronies of evil forces such as Stygian sorcerer's, or Vanir Warlords makes them evil by association. This "alignment" distinction lets him faces his enemies in mortal combat without delving into the psychological, and moral ramifications of taking a human life as part of his day to day adventuring. Such a thing does not fit in the world of Conan as crafted by Howard. Remorse is for the weak, and Conan is a good guy.

This is a bit different than the original theme behind alignment as a descriptor for characters, but one that is essential to the theme of Conan. Conan is not so unique that that style of play can't be adapted to any DnD campaign setting, yet Conan's alignment wildly shifts from Chaos to Law, and from Good to Evil from story to story based on what he is facing. This doesn't make him True Neutral either. It just means his moral code and theme of morals in the Conan world doesn't easily fit into the confines of the alignment system as it currently exists. This is a problem.

Tolkien takes this a step further. His villains are largely not human. The heroes cut down orc after orc and hardly give it a second though. The characters run afoul of a group of orcs, the orcs die. They run afoul of a Gondorian patrol, or the Horse-Lords and no one dies. There is tension, and threats, but combat is avoided. There is a very clear cut example of what is right and wrong in the narrative of that world. What is good and evil.

This same distinction is originally what alignment was supposed to represent I believe, and it is a very valid way of playing the game, but it is not the only way of playing. What's more, in neither of these very heavily borrowed from settings does any rule need to exist in which there is a mechanical effect from being a particular alignment.

I have no qualms with alignment, especially an alignment system that is representative of the game world, and not the real world so that players can differentiate more easily from characters. I absolutely despise mechanically latching alignment onto the game system.

Alignment should be a tool for fleshing out characters and should help new players develop a personality for characters, and it should not be the only such tool presented in the PHB.

If players wish to play in a campaign setting, or play as a character that uses a theme of alignment as a real and tangible core to their character and the game world in general should be able to do so with supplemental material without forcing this mode of gaming on everyone else, especially those of use who played 2nd Ed and earlier where this mode of play was non-existent.

The rules in The Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds are perfectly adequate for presenting a ruleset for a tangible force of good and evil in a game world, should a DM decide to use such a theme.

As it stands, both of those books are kind of pointless because the rules presented in them exist in base DnD. A person who does the kind of totally totally abhorent or selfless things as described in those books is no more evil or holy than any average thief or do-gooder. They can do more, but they are rarely subjected to more.

Personally if I wanted to play a character, like the classic Paladin (which I do like to do occasionally), I would prefer a total lack of any of the base mechanical alignment rules and to smite people with my holy power in a way presented in Exalted Deeds.

The fact that my special powers work on anyone who is arbitrarily "evil" just cheapens the effect of calling down that holy power from the Gods of all that is good and just. When I call down the holy thunder I don't want it to be on some one who just tried to pick pocket me, nor do I think spells and abilities that effect "evil" should affect that kind of evil. Unfortunately in DnD it does, making those holy (or evil) powers very, very lame.

Right now, alignment supports a certain type of play and shuns the rest. By leaving it out, or significantly altering to the point that it is merely a tool for fleshing out a character (and as such completely optional) they can satisfy both camps. As it stands now, you can't remove/alter alignment without massive revision.

Excellent post. Almost everything said here is absolutely the way designers ought to look at it.
And it's a bad roleplaying contrivance, being oversimplified.

I have always liked alignment. It can give a good arrow when you are stuck in a roleplaying moment. I have been saved many times by this. Maybe some newer players do not have as much roleplay in their games. I have personally spent large chunks of a session with 5 & 6 players and never drawn a weapon! Some of these have been the best D&D experiences I've ever had.



By the way, paladins of Asmodeus have been confirmed for 4E. Looks like paladins being required to be LG is gone.

every read unearthed arcana? Alt rule for paladins of any EXTREME alignment. I thinks this approach is very likely.

I agree that the restriction for barbarians is pretty lame.

A lawful neutral monk would go about and do what needed to be done without violating alignment restrictions anyway.
lawful = wants/needs/prefers an ordered structure
chaotic = wants/needs/prefers an organic structure

It also had THAC0. I don't miss that. Do you?

praise that statement! :bounce:

Off topic: I think single weapon proficiency slots (way old school) would be great, instead of blanket (martial,simple etc..)