Obligation Ratings -- adding more color and detail to morality

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I posted about this before on the mature boards. Anyway, I thought I'd dredge it up and repost it, with a few more things, here.

This is a system that really, as of yet, has no mechanics, and isn't intended as a replacement for the alignment system, but could be used as a supplement, possibly. It's a bit like the Vampire: the Masquerade humanity/path system, except that instead of following one path, a character is considered to be following all paths simultaneously (though she might have low ratings on some obligation ratings and high ratings on others).

The basic idea here is to look at various issues that are thought to have moral aspects, and then find degrees of devotion to moral probity on that issue.

In all cases, an obligation rating of 0 represents no obligations.

A high rating in these obligation ratings is probably indicative of a good character. A character with mostly 3s is probably very good, and might even be exalted. A character with mostly 2s is probably good. Most neutral people have a rating in about 1. Evil people frequently have 0s. However, this is variable, and some neutrals might have a mix of 2s and 0s, for instance. Although these obligation ratings generally follow the pattern of higher ratings indicating good, there could also be obligation ratings in which higher ratings indicate chaos, evil, or law.

I should note that some characters might not consider each "moral aspect" part of their moral values. For example, some characters might simply not consider nonviolence to be part of their moral code, while others might not think of animal welfare as a moral issue. Either they wouldn't have a rating in such aspects of morality, or they would have a rating of 0. Whether players might be able to exclude some moral aspects from their overall moral code, excluding it from having an alignment impact, is an question. Of course, since there are no mechanics (so far), it's something of a moot point.

Pursuit of Retreating Enemies:
1. Using lethal force on enemies as they retreat is acceptable, but if they take the initiative to surrender, let them surrender alive.
2. Take the initiative to offer fleeing foes the oppurtunity to surrender, not attacking them as they flee until they either answer negatively or not at all after a reasonable timeframe (say, one round); once you have made sure that they are fleeing in spite of the clearly stated oppurtunity to surrender, use of lethal force is acceptable.
3. Do not use lethal force on fleeing forces, unless they resist violently (as opposed to just trying to get away). Use of nonlethal force to slow them and capture them alive, such as tanglefoot bags, rays of fatigue, saps, bolas, nets, and whips, is still acceptable.

Treatment of Prisoners:
1. Do not use torture on prisoners when interrogating them. Do not use them as hostages, threatening to execute them if enemy forces that are still at large do not cooperate. Do not use them as living shields, such as by interspersing them among your own troops on battlements so at to discourage the enemy from firing at them for fear of hitting their own troops.
2. Provide prisoners with adequate food and shelter so long as you are also able to adequately supply your own forces. Do not kill them without cause.
3. Protect them with your own life. Place the life of prisoners -- so long as they are not in open revolt or attempting to escape -- ahead of one's own. Do not force them to work (although providing them with only minimal humane -- although still human -- accomodations if they don't work, and more privileges if they do work, is acceptable)

Protection of Civilians:
1. Do not deliberately destroy civilians or their possessions, even if you believe, but without proof in individual cases, that they are sympathetic to the enemy or supply them. Relocation of civilians believed to supply enemies is acceptable, provided that their internment is of limited duration and not marked by excessive material privations.
2. Take extensive (although not unlimited) measures to avoid killing civilians in the crossfire, such as with seige weaponry, area-effect spells, etc, even at the expense of tactical advantage.
3. Take extensive measure to prevent the enemy from killing civilians, even at the expense of tactical advantage, and do not categorically intern civilians who are suspected of aiding the enemy; civilians who aid the enemy can still be imprisoned on an individual basis, after a fair trial.

Charity:
1. Help others when there is an oppurtunity to do so that does not greatly inconvenience you (for instance, if you notice a lost child in a market, take a few minutes to take her to whoever can make an announcement calling her parent or guardian).
2. Donate approximately 10% of earnings to charitable causes.
3. Devote life to helping others. This is not the same as a Vow of Poverty, and certainly characters at this obligation rating wouldn't be afraid to accept a masterwork longsword as a gift if they are warriors, but a character at this level of obligation might be expected to follow one of two paths: either going into some very non-lucrative vocation that helps the poor directly, such as being a healer in a remote, impoverished village, or going into a more lucrative profession, but only if it doesn't harm people (even if it doesn't directly help them like the previously mentioned alternative), and give approximately 50% of earnings from this more lucrative profession to charitable causes.

Sexual Probity:
1. Don't **** people; don't coerce people into having sex, and don't have sex with people who lack the capacity for consent (i.e., unconscious people).
2. Do not have sex under false pretenses, implicit or explicit. Don't let one night stands think that they're going to get into a committed relationship. Take full responsibility for any reasonably forseeable consequences for sexual actions, such as providing for children and ensuring one's own health to avoid spreading disease.
3. Don't have sex with someone who is (willingly) already in a monogamous, closed relationship. Don't have sex with anyone other than your partner if YOU are (willingly) in a monogamous, closed, relationship. The (willingly) caveats apply to clear cases in which someone is in a forced, wrongful monogamous relationship (i.e., one's partner is someone else's sex slave), not cases in which, for example, one's partner married someone willingly and now regrets it, but doesn't want to leave, fearing that the spouse would gain custody of their children.

Animal Welfare
1. Do not be cruel to animals for the sake of amusement or curiousity. Do not harm them unnecessarily.
2. Avoid engaging in or financing gratuitously cruel practices with regard to animal husbandry, hunting and trapping, and other practices. Avoid sources of products that do not afford a minimal degree of dignity to the animals used in their products (usually leather, meat, etc). (The production process of, for instance, veal, might violate this.)
3. Avoid killing or contributing to the killing or painful treatment of animals generally, even conventional, non-gratuitous ones. Do not wear leather, fur or hide (exceptions might be made for loot). Do not eat meat, dairy, or eggs. Avoid mount-dealers who do not raise their mounts kindly, or procure them from wholesalers who don't. Do not subject mounts to lethal forced marches.

Opposition to Evil Forces:
1. Do not give aid or comfort evil forces, beyond normally expected social interaction. (i.e., if you're a store clerk, and a known mafioso walks in and buys some bread and bananas, it's okay to sell them to him like any other random customer, but don't try to become a mafioso yourself so that you can get the benefits of being a member of the family.)
2. Oppose evil when there is a clear oppurtunity to do so. (e.g., if there's a protest against the evil communist government planned, you should go too.)
3. Dedicate your life to opposing evil, regardless of risk to self.

Nonviolence:
1. Violence should not be your first resort. Use violence when other methods either fail or are sure to do so. (if an orc state is at war with you, you don't have to try to negotiate with individual units you encounter, since war is a continuous state of extant violence, but if guards stop you and try to confiscate all of your magical weapons before entering a city, try to talk, sneak, or something else rather than trying to kill them: if sneaking, diplomacy, and the like don't work, then maybe violence still fits a rating of 1 on nonviolence)
2. Even if your ends cannot be achieved by means other than violence, resorting to violence requires uniquely worthwhile and important ends. Violence is acceptable only if it prevents greater pain and suffering, if it is in self-defense, or if a failure to use violence would have catastrophic forseeable results, and the targets of such violence cannot themselves be innocent of the consequences the violence is supposed to prevent.
3. Use violence exclusively in self-defense, and even there, avoid killing: try to leave those against whom you defend yourself alive at the end of the fight.

Mental Autonomy:
1. Do not casually use charm/compulsion mind-affecting powers/spells to get what you want from other people, when the alternatives are just the normal inconveniences of society such as paying for what you want to buy, having to go through normal channels to get authorization, etc.
2. Do not use mind affecting charm/compulsion powers/spells except in the short term: use of such mind-affecting powers to prevent wrongdoing, or in the heat of battle when the alternative to a suggestion is fireball instead, is acceptable, but dominating a prisoner for days on end to lead you to his home base is not.
3. Do not use charm/compulsion mind-affecting powers or spells, unless the alternative is death.

Ideas?
I am very impressed, does a fine job of adding detail to character morality.

As to where the boundries are though may need considering. Just a few thoughts that struck me.

Animal Welfare - (3) do not subject mounts/animals to lethal forced marches - I would call that 2, I eat meat & wear leather, but I would never work an animal to death. Perhaps make 2 no lethal forced marches and 3 no forced marches.

Nonviolence I think is perhaps harsh. Eg: - (1) only use violence when other methods either fail or are sure to do so - I would say no obligation to take risks to avoid violence (eg: risk of discovery). The Nonviolence section doesn't take into account the distinction between enemy (like in a war situation) or obstruction (like the guards). That difference may need including.

Opposition of evil, to use a real-life example, the example you used was a political protest, that assumes political activity. I am not politically active, I don't go to protests etc but I would and have risked my life protecting strangers from harm.

Charity 1 states opportunity, as if the person should actively be looking to help others. That I would say is too much for level 1. Very few people I know make efforts to help others, but I assume "Obligation 1" is the basic moral standard expected.

Perhaps more detail on Charity 2.

Protection of Civilians is written very Chaotic Good over Nuetral or Lawful Good, for example, is too light on civilians aiding the enemy. Obligation (3) says detain those proven guilty by a fair trial, which assumes that proven saboteurs/terrorists cannot be executed. The main reason armies detain en masse is because they often cannot devote the attention to investigate under those circumstances. The rest of that section seems ok.

Retreating Enemies, does this assume enemies attacking with lethal force? The main reason to kill fleeing foes is so they don't come back. So perhaps the potential threat of an escaping enemy is a mitigating factor? Also for (2), I would suggest pointing out that non-lethal force can still be used before offering the chance to surrender.

Hope that helps.
By "lethal forced marches," BTW, I just meant forced marches, which, in the case of animals, deal lethal damage (as opposed to nonlethal damage).

You have a point about nonviolence (1) being a bit strongly worded. I suppose what I'm saying is, "violence shouldn't be your first resort, but maybe it can be your third or fourth," although I'm not quite sure how to put that into more imperative terms.

Charity (1) doesn't mean you seek oppurtunities to help others -- just that if oppurtunities to help others at minimal cost to yourself present themselves, you should take them. For instance, if someone asks "what's the way to Lafayette Avenue?" and you know it, then you tell him.

You're right about pursuit of retreating enemies (2): nonlethal force can be used before the oppurtunity to surrender is given.

I'll have some more thoughts later.
I don't see how this helps. It looks like little more than an increase in book-keeping.
Admittedly, that's true as of now.

I suppose the main idea is to make things a bit clearer. For instance, questions like "My telepath/thrallherd avoids killing people whenever possible and tries to talk or manifest his way out of situations without hurting anyone, but frequently has people under domination. I say he's NG. My DM thinks he's LE. Who's right?" would be simpler to solve -- this guy's a 2 or 3 in nonviolence, a 0 or 1 in mental autonomy.

One might make various mechanics which would improve clarity -- for instance, say, paladins must maintain 1 or higher in all ratings, and at least one 3. Or, if there's a feat that grants a player special sacred bonuses in dealing subdual damage, they might be required to have a 2 or higher in "treatment of prisoners," because whatever gods or forces grant this ability don't want to give people the tools to take enemies prisoner instead of killing them if they're just going to abuse their prisoners.

I'm not actually proposing any such ideas, (although post some if you have any) but I'm just saying, if this were used, it might allow less ambiguity than some aspects of the alignment system.

Or maybe not. Maybe things would be just as hairy and ambiguous with my system. Just putting this out there in case anyone finds it interesting.

An idea: what if the "nonviolence" obligation rating were split into "nonlethality" and "nonaggression," the former meaning "start fights all you want, but use subdual damage, sleep spells, and the like rather than death spells or cutting people open with swords," and the latter meaning "use deadly spells and weapons all you want, but don't start fights; only fight in absolutely necessary circumstances like self-defense."
It might be helpful for people who have trouble defining their characters' personalities.

Rather than a "system" to use in game, it may be more worthwhile as a character creation "check list" to give players ideas and help them flesh out their characters.
That's another approach.

Another approach is to leave all ratings blank until the character encounters a situation where they're relevant. For instance, a character who has never dealt with prisoners has a "-" in the Treatment of Prisoners category. Once she does take a prisoner, how she interacts with the prisoner determines whether she has a 0, a 1, a 2, or a 3.
The problem with mental autonomy is that 3E does *not* assume that mental control is automatically evil or wrong, which makes the "don't use it ever" bit inappropriate. You are deemed responsible for what you coerce the subject into doing, but mental control in itself isn't aligned; even exalted characters can use it if they're careful about how and why they do so.
The problem with mental autonomy is that 3E does *not* assume that mental control is automatically evil or wrong, which makes the "don't use it ever" bit inappropriate. You are deemed responsible for what you coerce the subject into doing, but mental control in itself isn't aligned; even exalted characters can use it if they're careful about how and why they do so.

You're correct, although I'm not sure any of the "3s" are actually obligatory even for exalted characters. Exalted characters can use mind-affecting spells, initiate lethal violence (unless they have some special Vow feats), eat meat and wear leather, keep much of their wealth to themselves, force PoWs to work, and attack retreating enemies with lethal force if they aren't surrendering.

Of course, I suspect that many exalted types will have at least a few "3s."

That is, assuming we believe that what the BoED says is worthwhile and useful in playing the game, which is considered dubious by many.
I really like this system.
But I would like to see you define a 0, -1, -2, -3 for Evil PCs.
Nicely done! So, is the idea that if you don't fit any of the above 3 listings for a heading, that you must have a 0? Argo made an interesting suggestion about fleshing out evil categories for this.

EDIT:
I understand it better after re-reading it. I think a 0-3 system works just fine. Now, from what I read, most of these could be equated to a good-evil portion of alignment. You could even go through the work of averaging them all to "determine" the character's alignment (at least in terms of good and evil). I would think (if you wanted to), you could go a step further, and create a seperate, but similar list for the lawful - chaotic portion of alignment. I'll give it a shot here, and you can tell me what you think:

Theft:
1. Only steal from people who can afford to lose the money. Do not rob from the poor.
2. Never steal from anyone. It is okay to loot graves and tombs, because the people are dead, and no longer need the items.
3. Never steal from anyone. Never loot any graves or tombs. Only loot those defeated in combat, and only items that do not obviously belong to someone else.

Honesty
1. Only lie if there is a direct benifit to you. Do not lie soley to hurt someone else's reputation.
2. Never lie unless it is necessary to protect someone, or for a greater good.
3. Never tell a lie. Even if it means facing some inconvinience.

Obidience
1. Do not openly undermine an authority figure without good reason. Be respectful to them in person.
2. Obey any legitimate athourity figures, as long as their requests do not interfere with your morality. It is okay to question an authority figure that is violating your moratily.
3. Obey any legitimate athourity figures without question. It is not your place to question them.

At this point, I'm kinda running low on ideas (and the above ones could probably use a bit of tweaking). Anyway, I liked the OP's idea enough that I wanted to elaborate a bit.
Thanks, RobbyPants!
Thanks, RobbyPants!

No problem! Did you like the idea?
Here, Robby, let me try a few. I was hoping someone would do this, but now that you started maybe I can contribute myself. Hope these work.

Promises
1: Don't break promises to close acquaintances, but for people you don't know too well, it's okay if the promise would be too inconveniencing.
2: Don't break promises without a good reason, such as if you made the promise while intoxicated or if breaking the promise gets a friend out of trouble with the authorities.
3: Never break a promise, unless it is literally a life-or-death situation.

Community and Security
1: Contribute to the community when it fits your own interests, perhaps gardening in a community plot when you already enjoy gardening.
2: Contribute to the community and its security often, donating money and time.
3: Contribute greatly to the community's security, perhaps even joining a City Guard or standing militia. Tithe regularly to the city.

Laws
1: Don't break the law without a reason, and then only if you won't get caught.
2: Don't break the law unless there is something important at stake, such as a choice between lawfulness and starvation.
3: Don't break the law, even if such will result in your own misfortune.
No problem! Did you like the idea?

Yes, it looks good to me.
I like this idea a lot, as well as the additions posted by Tim4488.

I'm thinking about implementing something similar to this into my game, that will have mechanical effects. What I'm thinking about is using these ratings as somewhat of a "survey" for the PC. When the player creates the PC, they must put the appropriate number for each entry. This way, a lot of "grey areas" are spelled out for the character ahead of time. I would probably need a sperate sheet for the character sheet just to track all these decisions.

Once they've made all their choices, their alignment can be determined. Now, this is where it gets more tricky. The simple solution is to average all the points for the good/evil questions and the lawful/chaotic questions. Then put the average up against a threshold. Something like:
[b][u]Score Alignment[/u][/b]<br /> 0.0 - 0.99 Evil<br /> 1.0 - 2.0 Neutral<br /> 2.01 - 3.0 Good<br /> <br /> [b][u]Score Alignment[/u][/b]<br /> 0.0 - 0.99 Chaotic<br /> 1.0 - 2.0 Neutral<br /> 2.01 - 3.0 Lawful

The only problem is what if the player chose a whole bunch of 2s and 3s for their good/evil questions, but put a single 0 in one? I'd be hard pressed to consider them good at that point. So, perhaps a single 0 will force them to be neutral if otherwise good? It could work. However, I don't think it works the same the other way. If the player chooses a bunch of 0s and 1s, I wouldn't think that a single 3 is enough to make them neutral. There seems to be a bias in this averaging system, but that also seems to be the way our society works. People get put into prison for a single crime, regardless of how "good" they act the other 99.99% of the time.

Anyway, I'm going off on a tangent. I'm just trying to hash out the rules of this system a bit (and it probably needs some more work :P). JulesCARV, I love this idea, and wanted to let you know that I'd like to use it. Also, if you have any more ideas (for obligation categories), please post them! Great job! :D

EDIT:
Perhaps I need to lower the number for evil a bit, as the ratings seem to lean more toward "good". Maybe instead of 0.0 - 0.99, it should be more like 0.0 - 0.5. It seems like tne numbers used are not really "symetrical", and perhaps I need to use other numbers. Any suggestions?
Thank you, Robby. Glad you liked the additions. I wasn't too sure about Community and Security, but re-reading it I think it works... maybe you could void that one for a traveling Paladin, or say that the church/knightly order is his community.

While I can see reasons for a mechanical implementation, I personally think I'd use it as fluff instead. Show my players their options because I feel that in my group, a large part of problem with alignment roleplaying is that they don't know what the questions are: and once they get the questions, they don't have a good spread of answers. This system eliminates both.
EDIT:
Perhaps I need to lower the number for evil a bit, as the ratings seem to lean more toward "good". Maybe instead of 0.0 - 0.99, it should be more like 0.0 - 0.5. It seems like tne numbers used are not really "symetrical", and perhaps I need to use other numbers. Any suggestions?

As far as my original intent, yeah: one is supposed to be the "center" of neutrality, not the "lower bound" of neutrality. Zero is typical evil. One is supposed to be neutral, typically. Two is supposed to be run-of-the-mill good. Three is supposed to be real dedication to goodness (at least, my original, good-oriented ones: substitute lawful where appropriate), at least on that particular issue. Your system currently has whole numbers as boundaries of alignments (i.e., evil is at least zero on average and at most one, neutrality is at least one and at most two, etc). My original system had whole numbers as the centers of alignments (i.e., evil is zero (say, anywhere below 0.5), neutrality is one (say, from 0.5-1.5), goodness is two (say, from 1.5-2.5), extremely dedicated goodness is three (say 2.5+).).
Good point.

Of course, there's nothing to stop me from attaching my own scale to it (perhaps 0 to 10, with 5 as neutral), if I decide to use this for more mechanical purposes...
You might want to split them again on a law-chaos axis, or make more rules relating to that. That way the alignment system is a bit less arbitrary.
You might want to split them again on a law-chaos axis, or make more rules relating to that. That way the alignment system is a bit less arbitrary.

The three that Tim4488 and the three that I posted were intended for the law-chaos axis (at least, I think that's what Tim4488 intended ;)).
The three that Tim4488 and the three that I posted were intended for the law-chaos axis (at least, I think that's what Tim4488 intended ;)).

If "Laws" didn't go under law-chaos axis, I'm a little worried. :D
What I'm thinking about is using these ratings as somewhat of a "survey" for the PC. When the player creates the PC, they must put the appropriate number for each entry. This way, a lot of "grey areas" are spelled out for the character ahead of time. I would probably need a sperate sheet for the character sheet just to track all these decisions.

[b][u]Score Alignment[/u][/b]<br /> 0.0 - 0.99 Chaotic<br /> 1.0 - 2.0 Neutral<br /> 2.01 - 3.0 Lawful


The problem is that, due to the way you have phrased the questions, Chaotic people are more like caricatures than characters.

They are robbed of all reason when much of the Chaotic alignment is, in fact, an embrace of reason in the face of obeying authority and tradition.

Your questions need to be more like Authority and less like the others, which say that Chaotic people steal from the poor, lie for no reason, and try to hurt other people's reputations, none of which makes even the slightest bit of sense.

The only problem is what if the player chose a whole bunch of 2s and 3s for their good/evil questions, but put a single 0 in one? I'd be hard pressed to consider them good at that point. So, perhaps a single 0 will force them to be neutral if otherwise good?

No. Neutral is not your dumping ground.

Neutrality is its own unique alignment. Neutrality in regards to Good and Evil means that you lack the conviction to put yourself on the line to uphold Good principles but have qualms about being Evil. This is explicitly stated in the PHB.

Your rule shoves people who do have the conviction to put themselves on the line and people who don't have qualms against Evil acts in alignment, robbing it of any actual meaning.

Make them Good even if they have a 0. Alignments are a description of your general moral outlook. They aren't perfect. If they have a bunch of 3s and a 0, their willingness to put themselves on the line is a much larger part of their moral outlook, so they're Good. They just aren't a Paladin.
The problem is that, due to the way you have phrased the questions, Chaotic people are more like caricatures than characters.

They are robbed of all reason when much of the Chaotic alignment is, in fact, an embrace of reason in the face of obeying authority and tradition.

Your questions need to be more like Authority and less like the others, which say that Chaotic people steal from the poor, lie for no reason, and try to hurt other people's reputations, none of which makes even the slightest bit of sense.

Good point. Part of it was the way the original statements were worded. I followed the pattern without putting much thought into the chaotic half of it. I'm still not sure I can put any one axis on a linear scale easily measured by choice answers to a series of questions. Part of the problem of some of the questions I posed is that the high end point to lawful behavior, but the low end points more toward evil behavior, rather than chaotic behavior.

No. Neutral is not your dumping ground.

Neutrality is its own unique alignment. Neutrality in regards to Good and Evil means that you lack the conviction to put yourself on the line to uphold Good principles but have qualms about being Evil. This is explicitly stated in the PHB.

Your rule shoves people who do have the conviction to put themselves on the line and people who don't have qualms against Evil acts in alignment, robbing it of any actual meaning.

Make them Good even if they have a 0. Alignments are a description of your general moral outlook. They aren't perfect. If they have a bunch of 3s and a 0, their willingness to put themselves on the line is a much larger part of their moral outlook, so they're Good. They just aren't a Paladin.

You do have another good point here.

This is the type of criticism I was looking for. Do you have any ideas how any of the examples could be improved, or should I scrap the whole idea?
Vaelan's right, unfortunately.

Hmm. Perhaps for Lawful and Chaotic, make two separate rating scales, from 1-3 with no 0's. Chaos could encompass things like fighting authority, adaptability, wanderlust? It's a bit harder to define, but possible.
I don't think an actual numerical scale would work well.

Let's say you made 0s indicative of Chaotic and Evil, 1s indicative of Neutrality, and 2 through whatever number you stop at Lawful and Good.

Instead of having a simple numerical breakdown to tell the players what they are, have the players use those scales as a guide. If they have a lot of 2s and 3s, they're probably going to be Good or Lawful. If they have a lot of 1s, they're probably going to be Neutral. If they have a lot of 0s, they're probably going to be Evil or Chaotic.

While this doesn't eliminate all ambiguity, it does serve what I consider a very valuable purpose: it emphasizes that alignments are not absolutes. Not every Good character is a Paladin and not every Evil character is Sir Baby-skinner the Vile.

As for the specifics with Law and Chaos, you have to focus on the points where they contradict most strongly.

I would split Authority up into Enforcement and Guidance. Enforcement is to what degree you believe society should be able to restrict a person and Guidance would be how much you let external points of view sway you. These points will also serve to differentiate Lawful characters from one another.

To flesh out the list, I would go with Honesty and Adaptability.

I think one more category would be nice though.
What you're suggesting is essentially what I'm doing - I'm using it as a guideline, not a strict scale.

I agree, I'm having trouble figuring out what points make up Chaos though... especially since chaotic characters tend to vary in outlook a little more than lawful characters (in my experience). Any more suggestions?
One thing that might help would be to simply flesh out the 0 ratings for chaos so that they don't come across as evil or mean, but rather as a voice of freedom from constraints. From the SRD: "Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it."

Theft:
0. Stealing is perfectly fine. Ownership is defined by laws and who can really "own" something anyhow. Besides, possession is really 10 / 10ths of the law...
1. Only steal from people who can afford to lose the money. Do not rob from the poor.
2. Never steal from anyone. It is okay to loot graves and tombs, because the people are dead, and no longer need the items.
3. Never steal from anyone. Never loot any graves or tombs. Only loot those defeated in combat, and only items that do not obviously belong to someone else.

Honesty:
0. If it fits your needs at the time, lie. Its hard to be truly free when you can't even tell a fib.
1. Only lie if there is a direct benifit to you. Do not lie soley to hurt someone else's reputation.
2. Never lie unless it is necessary to protect someone, or for a greater good.
3. Never tell a lie. Even if it means facing some inconvinience.

Obidience:
0. Do not allow authority to constrain your actions. Authority is simply a social construct with no moral basis. Why is one person's will more valid than another's?
1. Do not openly undermine an authority figure without good reason. Be respectful to them in person.
2. Obey any legitimate athourity figures, as long as their requests do not interfere with your morality. It is okay to question an authority figure that is violating your moratily.
3. Obey any legitimate athourity figures without question. It is not your place to question them.

Promises:
0: Do what you promise to do only if you feel like it.
1: Don't break promises to close acquaintances, but for people you don't know too well, it's okay if the promise would be too inconveniencing.
2: Don't break promises without a good reason, such as if you made the promise while intoxicated or if breaking the promise gets a friend out of trouble with the authorities.
3: Never break a promise, unless it is literally a life-or-death situation.

Community and Security:
0: Work within communities only as long as they do not try to place constraints upon your actions.
1: Be a part of the community, but don't actively support or discourage it.
2: Contribute to the community when it fits your own interests, perhaps gardening in a community plot when you already enjoy gardening.
3: Contribute to the community and its security often, donating money and time.

Laws:
0: Follow the law only as it fits your personal needs. Laws have no inherent value as they are simply rules imposed on your actions by other beings.
1: Don't break the law without a reason, and then only if you won't get caught.
2: Don't break the law unless there is something important at stake, such as a choice between lawfulness and starvation.
3: Don't break the law, even if such will result in your own misfortune.
Araes... ooooh.

Well, well done. Thank you. I think that was an excellent addition to our work.
Some of those, such as Honesty/Promises and Obedience/Law seem a bit too similar.

Keeping promises is pretty much just being honest about statements that involve your actions in the future and obedience has to do with your reaction to authority while law is basically authority communicating what it wants you to do.
Hmm. Partly agree, partly don't. Either way, Vaelan, keep it coming - we need someone telling us what to fix.

For Law, what about something like this?

Personal Code/Flexibility
0: You have no personal code, and act according to the moment.
1: You try to hold a personal code, but are not very strict about it.
2: You may break your personal code when there is good reason to, but you generally try to stick to it.
3: You do not deviate from your personal code.

This would encompass things like a Paladin or Knight's code (a Knight with a 3 may never break it, whereas a Knight with a 2 might if doing otherwise would result in an ally's death), or even other restrictions we place on ourselves - a spellcaster might make a personal code not to use certain spells (fire, summoning, whatever), a rogue might make a personal code never to steal from someone she personally knows, etc.

Just a thought.
Yeah... on the theft one, it seems to me that the thief who steals from everyone vs. the thief who only robs those who can afford it, and never steals from the poor, is the difference between a CE thief and a CN thief (possibly), not the difference between a CE thief and an NE thief. Law doesn't imply any special treatment for the poor. Similarly, it seems to me that not lying to hurt others' reputation seems more like a goodness issue than a law one.
Mental Autonomy:
1. Do not casually use charm/compulsion mind-affecting powers/spells to get what you want from other people, when the alternatives are just the normal inconveniences of society such as paying for what you want to buy, having to go through normal channels to get authorization, etc.
2. Do not use mind affecting charm/compulsion powers/spells except in the short term: use of such mind-affecting powers to prevent wrongdoing, or in the heat of battle when the alternative to a suggestion is fireball instead, is acceptable, but dominating a prisoner for days on end to lead you to his home base is not.
3. Do not use charm/compulsion mind-affecting powers or spells, unless the alternative is death.

i might have read it all too fast, but it seems that you're basically saying that you can't have a good-aligned Enchanter, which i wholeheartedly disagree with.

ways that good characters could use charm-stuff:
1. temporarily incapacitating an evil foe.
2. extracting information from an unwilling party when that info is vital to saving innocent lives.

hell, look at the jedi mind trick even!

-chris
i might have read it all too fast, but it seems that you're basically saying that you can't have a good-aligned Enchanter, which i wholeheartedly disagree with.

ways that good characters could use charm-stuff:
1. temporarily incapacitating an evil foe.
2. extracting information from an unwilling party when that info is vital to saving innocent lives.

hell, look at the jedi mind trick even!

-chris

Well, the "Mental Autonomy" restrictions are about on par with the "Nonviolence" restrictions. It's true that my guidelines put enchanters in a tough position, but they also put barbarians, evokers, fighters, etc, in a tough position. Remember that good people can still have a few 1s, and 2 is perfectly acceptable for a good person.

Honestly, someone with 3s in every single "good-evil" obligation rating would be a bit weird.

He never uses force against retreating enemies. He places the lives of prisoners ahead of his own. He gives up significant tactical advantages to prevent the enemy from killing civilians. He gives about 50% of his wealth away to charity. He won't have sex with anyone already (voluntarily) in a relationship. He's vegan. His life is dedicated to opposing evil. He does not fight except in self-defense, and even in self-defense he does not kill. And, finally, he doesn't use charm or compulsion powers or spells unless the alternative is death.

This is not the profile of a typical good adventurer. A typical good adventurer might be something more like a mix of twos, with an occassional one or three.

In short, when looking at the "mental autonomy" obligation rating, bear in mind that "3" is not compulsory for good characters. It's just the furthest you can take respect for the autonomy of others' minds.

Although some might argue that it isn't really a good obligation at all, but a chaotic obligation, with lawful people being willing to use domination and charm, while chaotic people are more inclined to eschew it, regardless of their places on the good-evil axis.
Moreover, a good Enchanter with a 2 can still do everything a typical adventuring Enchanter does. He dominates foes in battles, charms the guard to get into the castle, and so on. He does not dominate a foe for more than a day - which is a pretty bad thing to do. He doesn't charm the merchant just to get a cheaper price.

To me that sounds both Good and a fine Enchanter.
Another thought:

We've mostly been listing universal, moral obligations so far, but this could be adopted to more particular obligations. In this case, having zero in most particular obligations would be the norm. For instance, a particular obligation might be Patriotism (Breland) or Patriotism (Thrane) (the former is likely to emphasize a sort of liberalism, while the latter might emphasize faith in the Silver Flame). Most people outside of Thrane will have a rating of zero in Patriotism (Thrane), even if they don't have a problem with Thrane. Similarly, Religious Devotion (Erythnul) is something no one but Erythnul worshippers are expected to have a high rating in (and a high rating in Devotion (Erythnul) likely corresponds to a low rating in most moral obligations of the sort that started out this thread).

So we might create a particular obligation system of Devotion (Pelor), and ordinary clerics must maintain a 2 or higher in that rating, but Radiant Servants of Pelor must maintain a 3 or higher in that rating (and possibly a 2 or higher in all "morally good" obligation ratings, just because they're supposed to be good.)
[spooky voice] Internet necromancy... [/spooky voice]

So what are you thinking about? How would these regional/religious obligation values effect the game? Would your rating limit your behavior (i.e. someone with a 3 for Pelor would have to be neutral good, while someone with a 0 has no concern what-so ever)? Would there be obligation requirements (clerics need a 2 or 3)?

This could be cool. I really liked this concept for alignment when you first posted it, but after some other posters picked your idea and my additions apart, I began to doubt it a bit. I think it's tricky getting a numeric system to work well with a fairly subjective system.

Still, the idea is cool.
Jules, what you just brought up is rather like Affiliation Scores in concept, though a very different execution. (PHB2, Complete Champion,and probably one or two other places.)

You could certainly use this system for churches. A Cleric or member of a prestige class associated with the deity has to keep a 2 in the deity's Religious Devotion rating or lose some class features. Takes some of the confusion out of the Cleric's code of conduct. Same would go for a Paladin affiliated with a church.

Same deal for the Patriotisms, or any other rating. You have to have at least a 2 in Loyalty (Assassins of the Shadow) to pick up the Darklore Stalker prestige class, or whatever other organizations you want to go with. Maybe having a high Patriotism rating helps you with officials of that government, as your reputation as a good citizen precedes you (say, the rating of 1, 2, or 3 is added to any Charisma-based skill checks such as Diplomacy, or even double the rating if you're feeling generous.) All sorts of spin-offs on these ratings could be made, we've already got Devotion (church), Patriotism (country), and Loyalty (organization). But again, that's all very similar to the Affiliation Score system. Not necessarily overlapping in a bad way (heck, a Devotion Rating of 2 could be required to join some of the Church Affiliations), but more an interesting way.
Now the question is, can you spoof it?

For worshipers of a deity (who is a lot harder to fool), this probably woudn't work. But what about joining the theive's guild (or whatever). Lets say you want them to have a loyalty rating of 2+ (or whatever). Now, how does the theive's guild leader know what your loyalty is? And, even if you join at a 2, could you lower to a 1 by your actions, but keep them hidded, so that everyone believes your loyalty is a 2?

I guess the question is how do you handle the difference between your actual loyalty score and your preceived loyalty score?
Well, if you join some magical prestige class associated with the thieves' guild that has some sort of supernatural power and a code of conduct, then you might have to maintain actual loyalty to retain class features.

If you're just a member, though, and you start, say, dropping anonymous tips with the guard, then they don't know unless they somehow figure it out. You can fake loyalty in the mundane sense, just as an evil person can fake being good in the mundane sense to people who don't use a lot of divinations under the normal alignment system.

Or so it seems to me.
Moved at VCL request.