Awsome, it is extremely likely that were I to sit down at your gaming table that I would seriously enjoy the campaigns set forth. There is every reason for me to believe that I would enjoy the depth and attention given to it to bring it to life. I also believe you would enjoy my character design and not find it trite and one dimensional.
I hope so. I work to make my games as fun as possible, and I'm always open to fun new characters.
I'm not trying to say that alignment is the best invention for RPing. I am also largely being a Devil's Advocate against complexity and character design. I do believe that sometimes people get the concepts of melodrama and interesting characters confused, but that's another issue altogether.
Objective notions of good and evil are, to me, more or less the essence of melodrama. Take a look at how wikipedia defines melodrama,
"characterizations will accordingly be somewhat more one-dimensional: heroes will be unambiguously good and their entrance will be heralded by heroic-sounding trumpets and martial music; villains are unambiguously bad, and their entrance is greeted with dark-sounding, ominous chords.
Melodramas tend to be formulaic productions, with a clearly constructed world of connotations: A villain poses a threat, the hero escapes the threat and/or rescues the heroine. The term is sometimes used loosely to refer to plays, films or situations in which action or emotion is exaggerated and simplified for effect."
That, to me, sounds like a hard and fast alignment system. Villains are villains and heroes are heroes, we always know who is good and who is evil, and who we should be rooting for and why. The only possible emotional outcomes are classically happy (good guy wins) or melodramatically tragic (villain wins).
True drama, as opposed to melodrama, is to be found in shades of gray; in human beings acting not like embodiments of good or evil but like human beings, in partial victories and losses, in ambiguous conflict without a clear resolution.
I DO feel that alignment has a place.
- As an introduction of "something more" to the game. That "something more" being a characters that are driven by goals, motivations, fears, etc.
See, this is where I feel alignment pushes characters *away* from a complex set of motivations, and towards simplistic, rigid moral codes. Yes, if you're sitting down at some LFR event which is likely to consists of nothing but a 4-encounter delve in which the players will just kill a bunch of monsters, alignment can be useful for pushing players to come up with a modicum of personality that they might otherwise have neglected.
But for a long-term, rp-heavy campaign? One in which entire sessions might consists of nothing but rp and skill challenges, and in which each character will undergo significant personal development? Alignment is, at best, an oversimplified, very minor piece of each character's personality--so much so that you could remove the oversimplified shorthand and lose nothing whatsoever.
- As an interesting philosophical basis. If alignment were dealt with better I think it is a brilliant spring board for 1) Discussion "What IS good?" 2) Self-awareness "What do I believe good is?"
If a simple, stupid childish RPG can drive people toward self-awareness and enlightenment (decidedly NOT the goal of everyone) then... well, it become the most important "game" ever invented.
But this debate is only meaningful if it takes place on the same terms as it takes place in life--i.e. without objective answers. That is, in life we don't have any access to objective answers. None of us do. We can choose to believe a given holy text or philosophy or political system, or just muddle along as best we can. We can approach things logically via philosophy, or simply take cues from our own emotions and gut sense of morality. We can argue with others and attempt to convince them, or draft laws to enforce certain behaviors. But we will never arrive at an objective, definite answer.
And, if you think about it, that lack of an objective answer is the fundamental basis for all major human conflict. Democrats have a different notion of "good" then Republicans, and therein lies the foundation of our political conflict. Israelis have certain ideas of good, and Palestinians have others. Capitalism and communism, and all the muddled systems in between. Hell, just look at pretty much any divorce in modern day america--the husband will have certain ideas of what is right, both for him and the relationship but also in general, and the wife will have others.
Using D&D to explore moral questions is awesome. But they have to be genuine questions. If the answers are right there, bound up in some god's degree, the planar structure of the universe, or an overbearing mechanic, then there are no questions.
Games like White Wolf can't do that because the system that they've developed is only a "Wants vs. Self-Control" (Which they call Virtues and Vices) Again, a good, perhaps great, system.. but "Virtues and Vices" stop short of "the big picture". It's not epic.. it's just.. common.
Epic is just the common writ large. The battle of troy was fundamentally about two dudes wanting to bone the same chick. WW1 was the result of a network of alliances forged for the basest and most common political reasons imaginable. People are people, always. Presidents and dictators and kings just as much as the rest of us. And the wars we fight are always for human reasons--even when we do our damndest to find some biblical or philosophical basis for declaring our cause "objectively good".
These are the only reasons that I believe alignment has a place. I am GLAD that it's mechanical aspects have been diminished. I'd look forward to them being removed altogether.. but even then, I still believe it belongs as part of D&D and NOT just because it's a "Sacred Cow". I couldn't give a damn about tradition.
Making it so people can ignore is a bonus. Some people don't like it, others don't understand it. But I will speak my mind about it being an option so long as forums are available to do so.
Well, on this we can agree--they've made it easy to completely ignore alignments, so it doesn't particularly bother me that a line on my character sheet has space for one, I simply don't fill it out.
Side note, I hope people who are against "realism" in RPGs can gain a little insight from this thread. We take the physical world and treat it the same way we treat the mental world of the characters. Trying to make things as consistent, logical, and parallel to the real world as possible.
Actually, I'm against granular simulationism in gaming as it applies to the physical world for the much the same reason I'm against a rigid alignment system--because a system that truly simulates morality would consist of an infinite number of possible alignments (one, at least, for every person who has ever lived), just a system that attempted to codify the skills associated with any possible human action would consist of an essentially infinite number of possible and distinct skills.
That doesn't mean I don't care about realism. I mean, I don't to the extent that I'm interested in playing a fantasy game full of wizards and dragons. But to the extent that I want people to act like people, or them to employ skills much like they'd take actions in the real world, realism is actually really important to me. I just find that its much, much easier to develop that sense of realism as a DM on a situation-by-situation basis than it is to employ a rigid system that tries (and, inevitably, fails) to codify realism, whether its in morality or skills.
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way. Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken. Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken. King Fisher Does an excellent job at keeping an enemy disabled in a few ways. Strong. Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading. Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered. Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square. Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong. Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked. Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic. Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation. Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses. Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat. Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent. Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof. Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it. Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways. Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful. The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken. Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken Unnamed Avenger|Runepriest/Hammer of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered. Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5. Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong. Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight, only far more broken. Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken. Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.