All About Alignment

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All About Alignment

In case you were wondering, Kant was lawful good and Nietzsche was chaotic evil.

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Very informative! I think the hardest alignment for me to play would be Lawful Evil, though the way you've framed it there makes it seem a lot simpler than I was making it. Unsurprisingly, I found the Book of Exalted Deeds pretty good for information on how Paladins/Lawful Good characters in general should act, but the evil's had me a bit vexed.

It's just a yard stick for behavior and role play, not really something meant to be slavishly followed all the time. Everyone does something odd once in a while or out of character. D&D and RPG personas are no exception.

TL:DR :P

I always thought Chaotic Neutral was a cop-out for most people. I've seen very few people pull it off.

Because then you get that tool who does whatever he likes to screw up the campaign and justifies it with "BUT I'M A CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!!!!" Unfun.

image

That's pretty much me in a nutshell.

I'd rather not take the time to define the alignments of historical characters, fiction or real, sorry. But I'm sure Hitler would be an easy diagnoses for most people.

znix:
It's just a yard stick for behavior and role play, not really something meant to be slavishly followed all the time. Everyone does something odd once in a while or out of character. D&D and RPG personas are no exception.

TL:DR :P

I disagree. In some cases they should be slavishly followed. Paladins, Clerics, Druids and Rangers are four such characters I would say should be following their alignment to the letter. The former two especially, since they get their powers directly from their respective deity. That's why Paladins lose their abilities when they act outside their alignment. To them, it's not just a subjective moral code.

Biodisaster:
I always thought Chaotic Neutral was a cop-out for most people. I've seen very few people pull it off.
.

I always thought Chaotic Good was one of the easiest to play personally. It's a purely "ends justify the means" and "Screw the rules, I want to help the orphanage" sort of view.

Biodisaster:
I always thought Chaotic Neutral was a cop-out for most people. I've seen very few people pull it off.

Because then you get that tool who does whatever he likes to screw up the campaign and justifies it with "BUT I'M A CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!!!!" Unfun.

That's foolish. Actual chaotic neutral would benefit from keeping others close, whether they be considered friend or enemy by my character. Gain a sense of detached trust, and manipulate their motives to match mine along the way. Even though I may not have a total understanding of what those motives may be until we reach the end.

4th edition eschewed a lot of confusing alignments from the getgo, and explained the remaining ones very well I thought. No more Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral, or Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil.. Just Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil.. It looks a bit more like a slider, which makes more sense to most people then a 3 by 3 graph, and the alignments are explained in such a way that you can still fit all of your characters nuances into the simpler system.

The Vampire games also have (at least for the "good" characters) a sliding alignment system which is very unforgiving, but your character will often find an equilibrium, in that he'll land at the Humanity he's meant to be at - not too high, and hopefully not too low, and hopefully by the time he gets there, he's not a deranged mess.

Exalted has 4 seperate alignments that are rated from 1 to 5; Valor, Conviction, Compassion and Temperance. Then (at least for "solar" exalted), you pick your highest alignment and choose a "Eventually I go crazy And.." associated with that. If you are forced to act against your highest alignment too often, eventually you "limit break" or "snap all holy hell" and are forced to carry out your "eventually I go crazy" clause on your character sheet. For Valor it might be "Eventually I go crazy and attack everyone I see", or for Compassion it might be "Eventually I go crazy and kill whomever is harming the weak"

Both of those two games put actual gameplay into their alignments, and I think that's the weakness D&D has - alignment is an ephemeral thing. It's up in the clouds somewhere.. The large majority of players don't have the will or the want to take on a completely different persona to their own, so they'll often superimpose their own morals into their character, even subconsciously, and even if their character is chaotic neutral, they'll routinely act good, because they are themselves good. In old D&D, making a mistake like this was costly (you actually lost experience if you changed alignment), now it's not so much.. That's why I like the new Alignment system for 4th edition, because you can just put "good" or "unaligned" on your newer players sheets, and they'll act that way because that's how they are.

I personally preferr an other - in my opinion, more realistic - alignment system I know from an other game system: Life/Death and Chaos/Order. Meaning the person respects life or will not hesitate to kill, and wether the person behaves in chaotic manner or according to a rule set. The latter does not have to be a law of a country or group, just an inner set of values. You can chose 1 or 2, so there is no "true neutral" standing-on-the-fence-indecisiveness.

Also, it comes with its own word, in which a "good" god can easily have a death/order aligned paladin... which is damn fun! Also, "evil" does not have to be "death" or chaos aligned! In quite many cases, (evil overlord, etc) they are in fact "order" guys.

(For those interested: it is the old, pre-d20-ified Hungarian M.A.G.U.S system... the heroes were quite a bit overpowered (read: competent from level 1) compared to D&D, but it was fun!)

Biodisaster:
I always thought Chaotic Neutral was a cop-out for most people. I've seen very few people pull it off.

Because then you get that tool who does whatever he likes to screw up the campaign and justifies it with "BUT I'M A CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!!!!" Unfun.

MERCY!?!! MERCY!?!?

I'M CHAOTIC NEUTRAL!!!

znix:
It's just a yard stick for behavior and role play...

Not in D&D, it's not. For instance, many of the best magical weapons are associated with alignment, and you can only use them if you have the matching alignment. Material planes of existence are associated with alignment, as are certain spells. Divination can actually determine if you are good, or evil, or chaotic, or whatnot. Alignment in D&D is no more a yard stick than Dark Side and Light Side are in Star Wars. Ergo, you need to have a concrete grasp on them.

Altorin:
4th edition eschewed a lot of confusing alignments from the getgo, and explained the remaining ones very well I thought. No more Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral, or Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil.. Just Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil.. It looks a bit more like a slider, which makes more sense to most people then a 3 by 3 graph, and the alignments are explained in such a way that you can still fit all of your characters nuances into the simpler system.

The Vampire games also have (at least for the "good" characters) a sliding alignment system which is very unforgiving, but your character will often find an equilibrium, in that he'll land at the Humanity he's meant to be at - not too high, and hopefully not too low, and hopefully by the time he gets there, he's not a deranged mess.

Exalted has 4 seperate alignments that are rated from 1 to 5; Valor, Conviction, Compassion and Temperance. Then (at least for "solar" exalted), you pick your highest alignment and choose a "Eventually I go crazy And.." associated with that. If you are forced to act against your highest alignment too often, eventually you "limit break" or "snap all holy hell" and are forced to carry out your "eventually I go crazy" clause on your character sheet. For Valor it might be "Eventually I go crazy and attack everyone I see", or for Compassion it might be "Eventually I go crazy and kill whomever is harming the weak"

Both of those two games put actual gameplay into their alignments, and I think that's the weakness D&D has - alignment is an ephemeral thing. It's up in the clouds somewhere.. The large majority of players don't have the will or the want to take on a completely different persona to their own, so they'll often superimpose their own morals into their character, even subconsciously, and even if their character is chaotic neutral, they'll routinely act good, because they are themselves good. In old D&D, making a mistake like this was costly (you actually lost experience if you changed alignment), now it's not so much.. That's why I like the new Alignment system for 4th edition, because you can just put "good" or "unaligned" on your newer players sheets, and they'll act that way because that's how they are.

Meh I don't like all the neutral alignments being lumped into one. Chaotic just means unstable and unpredictable, and even good characters can be those things. So limiting that to evil only feels fairly restrictive. Whether most players choose to create a persona separate from their own is of little consequence, because that's kind of the point of the game. If you're just going represent your true self throughout, you might as well pick up Monopoly instead because there really isn't any roleplaying happening there.

I have been battling to have my players understand and apply all of what is here demonstrated.

So far, I have failed, despite having written an essay of 42 pages with ample quoting from the books of Vile Darkness and Exalted Deeds.

In the end, Alignment is a complex system which most people, I've found, will defecate on. I personally love it, but when I look at the paladin tropes instituted ("Shoot first, ascertain innocence later"), I notice that a truly well-roleplayed paladin is rarer than dodos.

Oh wait.

Altorin:
4th edition eschewed a lot of confusing alignments from the getgo, and explained the remaining ones very well I thought. No more Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral, or Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil.. Just Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil.. It looks a bit more like a slider, which makes more sense to most people then a 3 by 3 graph, and the alignments are explained in such a way that you can still fit all of your characters nuances into the simpler system.

I picked up the 4th PHB just recently and found myself flabbergasted that they would change the alignment system to that. I admit I had troubles grasping the nuances of some alignments (but they're entire moral codes, a few difficulties are to be expected!), but to completely remove Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil just seemed bizarre to me, especially since a major evil force (Devils) are rigidly Lawful Evil from what I recall. It was part of what made them special. They were Evil, but if you had a contract with them they would uphold it to the letter.

You just had to watch out which letters were there.

To those disagreeing with me. It IS a yard stick. You know why? Because I say so :)
That's the beauty of such games. You can make your own rules.
Also, every person alive has both good and evil in them. It simply takes the right circumstances to bring it out. Are we suddenly saying D&D characters should be wooden caricatures instead of fleshed out fantasy denizens?

Xzi:

Altorin:
4th edition eschewed a lot of confusing alignments from the getgo, and explained the remaining ones very well I thought. No more Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral, or Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil.. Just Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil.. It looks a bit more like a slider, which makes more sense to most people then a 3 by 3 graph, and the alignments are explained in such a way that you can still fit all of your characters nuances into the simpler system.

The Vampire games also have (at least for the "good" characters) a sliding alignment system which is very unforgiving, but your character will often find an equilibrium, in that he'll land at the Humanity he's meant to be at - not too high, and hopefully not too low, and hopefully by the time he gets there, he's not a deranged mess.

Exalted has 4 seperate alignments that are rated from 1 to 5; Valor, Conviction, Compassion and Temperance. Then (at least for "solar" exalted), you pick your highest alignment and choose a "Eventually I go crazy And.." associated with that. If you are forced to act against your highest alignment too often, eventually you "limit break" or "snap all holy hell" and are forced to carry out your "eventually I go crazy" clause on your character sheet. For Valor it might be "Eventually I go crazy and attack everyone I see", or for Compassion it might be "Eventually I go crazy and kill whomever is harming the weak"

Both of those two games put actual gameplay into their alignments, and I think that's the weakness D&D has - alignment is an ephemeral thing. It's up in the clouds somewhere.. The large majority of players don't have the will or the want to take on a completely different persona to their own, so they'll often superimpose their own morals into their character, even subconsciously, and even if their character is chaotic neutral, they'll routinely act good, because they are themselves good. In old D&D, making a mistake like this was costly (you actually lost experience if you changed alignment), now it's not so much.. That's why I like the new Alignment system for 4th edition, because you can just put "good" or "unaligned" on your newer players sheets, and they'll act that way because that's how they are.

Meh I don't like all the neutral alignments being lumped into one. Chaotic just means unstable and unpredictable, and even good characters can be those things. So limiting that to evil only feels fairly restrictive. Whether most players choose to create a persona separate from their own is of little consequence, because that's kind of the point of the game. If you're just going represent your true self throughout, you might as well pick up Monopoly instead because there really isn't any roleplaying happening there.

there is nothing that says a good character cannot be chaotic minded.

Good in 4th edition is basically "for the greater good" Chaotic and Neutral Good characters can easily find a home there. In fact, that's what it is, it's an amalgamation of the two, because the difference between Neutral good and Chaotic good were slight. Likewise, Evil encompasses Lawful and Neutral evil, because again, there isn't much difference between those two alignments. To a trained player perhaps, you could find the slight nuances between them, but to 95% of the population, that's just splitting hairs. Unaligned also can mean two things, it could mean that the person either chooses not to choose an alignment - the character truly living on his whims (similar to a Chaotic Neutral character, or a similar True Neutral character), or it can mean that they've chosen a side and that side is Neutrality (such as how Druids choose to act usually, or Lawful Neutral characters - this can also be an instance of the "Stupid Neutral" in the same vein as the "Chaotic Stupid" and "Lawful Stupid" tvtropes in the main article.

There's a LOT of wiggle room in the system, and you don't have to front load all of your characters philosophy from the getgo. You can just say "Well, he's a good guy, so he'll be Good" and then build the character's true morality as you play him, which is really how D&D is supposed to be anyway. Alignment as it is in OD&D is in contrast to the "Build as you play" mentality that Macris himself has been a major proponent to. When choosing alignment, you have to think about how your character thinks before you even get a chance to play him.

And as for your other point about no roleplaying, I disagree. The role is what the character is, not who it is. If Johnny is playing a dwarf barbarian, that thinks and has the same moral compass as Johnny, it doesn't mean that Johnny isn't roleplaying. He's playing a dwarf barbarian. He's applying his moral compass in ways that are out of the scope of his everyday life.

Amnestic:

Altorin:
4th edition eschewed a lot of confusing alignments from the getgo, and explained the remaining ones very well I thought. No more Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral, or Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil.. Just Lawful Good, Good, Unaligned, Evil, and Chaotic Evil.. It looks a bit more like a slider, which makes more sense to most people then a 3 by 3 graph, and the alignments are explained in such a way that you can still fit all of your characters nuances into the simpler system.

I picked up the 4th PHB just recently and found myself flabbergasted that they would change the alignment system to that. I admit I had troubles grasping the nuances of some alignments (but they're entire moral codes, a few difficulties are to be expected!), but to completely remove Chaotic Good and Lawful Evil just seemed bizarre to me, especially since a major evil force (Devils) are rigidly Lawful Evil from what I recall. It was part of what made them special. They were Evil, but if you had a contract with them they would uphold it to the letter.

You just had to watch out which letters were there.

Those devils and those deeds still exist (and I agree, differentiating Devils from Demons was always interesting when they had such a large overlap), but those are just "Evil" things now. It's Evil to trick someone using a contract.

Chaotic Good is Good, Neutral Good is Good or Unaligned, Lawful Evil is Evil, Neutral Evil is Evil or Unaligned, True Neutral is Unaligned. Now the "tricky" one is Unaligned. What they've basically done is just broaden True Neutral into a viable choice, because it encompasses so much of the original pie. You can pick Unaligned and not feel like you're copping out.

znix:
To those disagreeing with me. It IS a yard stick. You know why? Because I say so :)
That's the beauty of such games. You can make your own rules.
Also, every person alive has both good and evil in them. It simply takes the right circumstances to bring it out. Are we suddenly saying D&D characters should be wooden caricatures instead of fleshed out fantasy denizens?

Every person does have good and evil within them, but every person also has their own viewpoint on what good and evil actually mean. That's kind of what this article was about. Depending on your personality you may view yourself as good even if you generally choose evil actions. Or you may view the entire argument of good vs evil as entirely objective and mundane, thus making you neutral up until the point where you are forced into or FEEL forced into action for one side or the other.

There are people in the world who have dedicated themselves to be entirely good or entirely evil, believe it or not, and they accomplish this by viewing themselves as RIGHT. Not necessarily right in the sense of some religious moral code, but right in that they can justify whatever action they're taking at any given moment.

znix:
To those disagreeing with me. It IS a yard stick. You know why? Because I say so :) That's the beauty of such games. You can make your own rules.
Also, every person alive has both good and evil in them. It simply takes the right circumstances to bring it out. Are we suddenly saying D&D characters should be wooden caricatures instead of fleshed out fantasy denizens?

The opposite of "yard stick" is not "wooden caricature." I mean, did you read the same column I wrote? About the time I started to contrast act- and rules-based utilitarianism as representing differences between chaotic and neutral, I think we moved well past "wooden caricatures" into "detailed philosophies of life".

Altorin:

Those devils and those deeds still exist (and I agree, differentiating Devils from Demons was always interesting when they had such a large overlap), but those are just "Evil" things now. It's Evil to trick someone using a contract.

True, but the Lawful aspect is now lost to them, meaning that while before they would never think of breaking it, now there is no such restriction. Some of the charm and uniqueness has been lost in that way I think. Now they're just "Evil" whereas before, which includes everything Neutral Evil.

I doubt I'll shift on it. I'm not a fan of the 4th Ed. alignment system and it's not likely I'll ever develop a fondness for it. Too set in my ways it seems.

Right, and D&D is a game. It's about having fun. It's not a philosophy class, when you sit down to bash in Orc heads and steal loot from a Dragon's Lair. Rather, it's fun. Even Mother Teresa, angel she is, wasn't all that squeaky clean. The meekest church going weakling can be stirred into a rage if you kill his family in front of him, wanting to destroy those who do it, rather than angrily calling the police - simply because it's the lawful good thing to do.

It's about fun, and as such it's merely a yard stick. Hey, I'm not saying anyone has to agree with me. But that is what it comes down to in pretty much every game I've ever been in, and that's quite a few with several different groups of people.

It's sorely tempting based off of this to rate the alignment of certain countries based on the definitions in this article, but I don't find the thought particularly promising...

Far too many countries would end up labelled as evil...

And not the ones you'd usually think of in that context either.

Altorin, I concur with your assessment of the 4th edition alignment system by and large. Based on the 4E descriptions, I would actually place 3.5E Neutral Evil into 4E Chaotic Evil, as it seems clear that 4E Evil characters are organized and honor contract obligations and so on, i.e. more like 3.5E Lawful Evil.

I think the only alignment that is genuinely absent from 4E is Lawful Neutral. The new system gives you now way to create a character like Javert or Serenity's Operative (or, in real life, Thomas Hobbes) who prioritizes "law and order" over justice and mercy. You can't represent this as Unaligned because they are clearly aligned with law, nor with Lawful Good because they lack benevolence, nor with Evil because they lack malice.

Amnestic:

Altorin:

Those devils and those deeds still exist (and I agree, differentiating Devils from Demons was always interesting when they had such a large overlap), but those are just "Evil" things now. It's Evil to trick someone using a contract.

True, but the Lawful aspect is now lost to them, meaning that while before they would never think of breaking it, now there is no such restriction. Some of the charm and uniqueness has been lost in that way I think. Now they're just "Evil" whereas before, which includes everything Neutral Evil.

I doubt I'll shift on it. I'm not a fan of the 4th Ed. alignment system and it's not likely I'll ever develop a fondness for it. Too set in my ways it seems.

You make very good points.. I just think "deals with the devil" doesn't come up nearly enough for everything else to be muddied under confusing labels. I do think that that same contract wielding devil is very feasible in the new system. Most of the time, the Devil gets the better of you with them (that's why they're making contracts, because it works), and the few times you're actually able to trick your way through a devil's contract, an appropriately knowledgeable DM would have the devil abide by it. If he wasn't going to abide by it anyway, it makes the whole thing a moot point.

You do make valid points, and I'm not really trying to convert you to 4ed (I'd really have to be pretty daft to try that on ANYONE around here), I'm just trying to elaborate on how it's not total garbage, lol

Actually, I just remembered. Try and take a peek at the alignment page in the original D&D. Does it seem particularly deep? No. They also treat it as a yard stick. :p

From wikipedia, here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_(Dungeons_&_Dragons). OMG, someone who agrees with me. ;)
Alignment is only a tool for guiding gameplay, not an immutable declaration of how a character must act, and is used only as a guideline. Still, characters in a party should have compatible alignments - Lawful Good characters are compatible with Lawful Evil characters if they have a common goal, but the addition of a Chaotic Evil character may tear the party apart. Characters may even have some influence on the alignment of their companions - a Lawful Good leader may influence their companions to act in a more noble fashion. The authors of Dungeon Master For Dummies have found that a party of good or neutral characters works better: the impetus for adventures is easier, group dynamics are smoother, and it allows the "heroic aspects of D&D [to] shine through".[5]

I perfer Lawful Evil characters as it allows me to act totaly selfish when I can get away with it, and yet still have a reason to act in the best interests of the Party and NPC's.

Well, that was enlightening. Pretty much what I thought of it, just clarified and written down.

*WARNING, multiple 1950's Sci-fi references coming*

First: Singer didn't come up with that circles of morality concept, unless he did it before he was 13. Robert Heinlein said pretty much the EXACT same thing in Starship Troopers (yes, the book talks about comparative morality. Who knew! Awesome book...), in 1959. I can look it up if you want, got the book right here (checked the publishing date) He may have written it down, but it was definitely there before it.

Also, the Lawful Good/Chaotic good reminds me of Asimov's Zeroth/First law. "A robot shall not harm humanity, by action or inaction" and "A robot shall not harm a human, by action or inaction, unless it conflicts with the Zeroth Law" The Zeroth is like Chaotic Good, where you can harm the one to save the many, but the First Law is Lawful Good, simply not hurting anyone.

Archon:
Altorin, I concur with your assessment of the 4th edition alignment system by and large. Based on the 4E descriptions, I would actually place 3.5E Neutral Evil into 4E Chaotic Evil, as it seems clear that 4E Evil characters are organized and honor contract obligations and so on, i.e. more like 3.5E Lawful Evil.

I think the only alignment that is genuinely absent from 4E is Lawful Neutral. The new system gives you now way to create a character like Javert or Serenity's Operative (or, in real life, Thomas Hobbes) who prioritizes "law and order" over justice and mercy. You can't represent this as Unaligned because they are clearly aligned with law, nor with Lawful Good because they lack benevolence, nor with Evil because they lack malice.

Yeah, you're probably right aboute Neutral Evil, and I completely agree with Lawful Neutral not being appropriately represented (A small aside, Lawful Neutral is actually my favorite alignment - I love Lawful Neutral outsiders, St. Cuthbert is my mack daddy, and if I make a Monk, you know it's going to be Neutral).. I intentionally left it out of my large digression because it's the hardest one to grasp in the new system.

I think characters in general, make their own alignments, and the universe puts them into categories. That's why evil characters, even if they think they're good, are evil, because there is actually a cosmic thermometer of Morality. So Lawful Neutral characters would just act Lawful Neutral (or what you would consider Lawful Neutral), and your own Universe would set them as Lawful Neutral, and the 4e universe would either put them as Lawful Good (if they aren't generally malicious), or Unaligned if they are truly neutral in terms of morality. It's muddy, and it's imperfect, but there it is.

It's a whole other ballgame for Lawful Nuetral Outsiders, and honestly, I don't really have an answer to that. The best I could postulate is that Justice, even Blind Justice, is a cosmically "good" thing, so Lawful Neutral outsiders from older D&D would be Lawful Good in 4e.. Or, again, if the Neutrality is more important (Justice being truly blind), then Unaligned would work. Look at Deities like the Raven Queen - Goddess of Death, but not Evil rather Unaligned, Death comes for the good, the bad, and the undecided, Death is Blind, Justice is Blind, So Unaligned, But again, I'm not positive.

znix:
From wikipedia, here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_(Dungeons_&_Dragons). OMG, someone who agrees with me. ;)
Alignment is only a tool for guiding gameplay, not an immutable declaration of how a character must act, and is used only as a guideline. Still, characters in a party should have compatible alignments - Lawful Good characters are compatible with Lawful Evil characters if they have a common goal, but the addition of a Chaotic Evil character may tear the party apart. Characters may even have some influence on the alignment of their companions - a Lawful Good leader may influence their companions to act in a more noble fashion. The authors of Dungeon Master For Dummies have found that a party of good or neutral characters works better: the impetus for adventures is easier, group dynamics are smoother, and it allows the "heroic aspects of D&D [to] shine through".[5]

I agree with you. However, you're acting like a bit of a tosser. See my mention in my last post regarding lawful Neutral characters, and it points to a "yard-stick" like view of alignment.

HOWEVER, like I also said, "Alignment as a yard-stick" only applies to free-willed creatures, such as player characters and most native creatures (material plane).

Outsiders can be entirely different beasts, as alignment to them is how they act. They can't act against it. For angels or demons, there is no "cosmic thermometer" or "yardstick" as you put it. The universe doesn't look at their actions and place them in the appropriate alignment - they are predisposed and compelled to act only within the bounds of that alignment.

Nice article :D

Personally I love the idea of the Neutral Evil druid. Cold, manipulative poison in the veins of society moreso then the big 'Level 15 Control Winds-that-will-wreck-your-shit' spellcasting druid whenever she encounters a town she doesn't like.

Moreso the spread of disease, and feral hunting of loggers and trophy hunters ... making all those in the town slowly suffer as you wilt their crops and reduce their access to essential mineral supplies and lumber through systematic hunting of the locales ...

Confounding local authorities by stealthily spreading horrible contagious diseases throughout the public ... whilst keeping your subversive activitie secret from the local constabulary and government bodies in the area.

Eventually stirring the public into slow moral and social decay as the full force of nature's horrible wrath has found delivery through you as the great messenger of Death and Decay.

That level 15 control winds maybe easier, but far less fun and calculating.... not to mention more dangerous as people attempt to seek you out after your public display of hatred for 'civilization'.

PaulH:
Nice article :D

Personally I love the idea of the Neutral Evil druid. Cold, manipulative poison in the veins of society moreso then the big 'Level 15 Control Winds-that-will-wreck-your-shit' spellcasting druid whenever she encounters a town she doesn't like.

Moreso the spread of disease, and feral hunting of loggers and trophy hunters ... making all those in the town slowly suffer as you wilt their crops and reduce their access to essential mineral supplies and lumber through systematic hunting of the locales ...

Confounding local authorities by stealthily spreading horrible contagious diseases throughout the public ... whilst keeping your subversive activitie secret from the local constabulary and government bodies in the area.

Eventually stirring the public into slow moral and social decay as the full force of nature's horrible wrath has found delivery through you as the great messenger of Death and Decay.

That level 15 control winds maybe easier, but far less fun and calculating.... not to mention more dangerous as people attempt to seek you out after your public display of hatred for 'civilization'.

showcasing here why "evil" is usually best left to the villains ladies and gentlemen (who am I kidding? Gentlemen and Gentlemen)

Altorin:

PaulH:
Nice article :D

Personally I love the idea of the Neutral Evil druid. Cold, manipulative poison in the veins of society moreso then the big 'Level 15 Control Winds-that-will-wreck-your-shit' spellcasting druid whenever she encounters a town she doesn't like.

Moreso the spread of disease, and feral hunting of loggers and trophy hunters ... making all those in the town slowly suffer as you wilt their crops and reduce their access to essential mineral supplies and lumber through systematic hunting of the locales ...

Confounding local authorities by stealthily spreading horrible contagious diseases throughout the public ... whilst keeping your subversive activitie secret from the local constabulary and government bodies in the area.

Eventually stirring the public into slow moral and social decay as the full force of nature's horrible wrath has found delivery through you as the great messenger of Death and Decay.

That level 15 control winds maybe easier, but far less fun and calculating.... not to mention more dangerous as people attempt to seek you out after your public display of hatred for 'civilization'.

showcasing here why "evil" is usually best left to the villains ladies and gentlemen (who am I kidding? Gentlemen and Gentlemen)

I don't get what you're trying to say ;.; .... I like playing neutral evil druids of Malar (FR/Planescape campaigns only of course <.<).

You have to balance the beastial with the slow and cunning hunter that hides in the shadows of society whilst making it rot from within and without. Surely you're not suggesting there no place for a PC like that are you? ;D

Altorin:

znix:
"cosmic thermometer" or "yardstick"

Altorin - Your concept of the "cosmic thermometer" exactly mirrors my own sentiment. Free-willed beings act as they will and call it good or evil, honorable or dishonorable, or what other terms they choose. The "cosmic thermometer" says what they really are. It's actually easy to think of it in terms of a videogame paradigm. You can say your character is good or evil, but based on what you do in Fable III, it will assign you Good or Evil, and the game's gauge has real, binding effects.

Znix - Altorin's response already covered what I was trying to say. My point is that while (lower-case) good and evil may be mere yardsticks, Good and Evil are gauged in D&D by a cosmic thermometer that has real effects, as real as the effects of alignment are in Fable III or KOTOR etc. You are right that D&D For Dummies, OD&D, and so on are confusing on these points, but that confusion is what prompted me to write this article. If the rules had done a good job explaining alignment, I'd not have bothered!

Pretty good article, but I have a problem with its attempt to lump virtue ethics and rule-utilitarianism together. They might both be "neutral" insofar as neither is strictly deontological or strictly consequentialist in the conventional sense, but they are also very different from each other--and the description in the article fits Aristotelian virtue ethics much more closely than it fits rule-utilitarianism. Rule-utilitarianism holds that there are principles that individuals are morally obligated to follow, and the reason individuals must follow those those principles is because having everyone be obligated to follow some general rule will (according to the rule-utilitarian) leads to better overall results than having everyone try to figure out for themselves which course of action would best maximize utility. It has nothing to do with the character traits motivating the actions.

Ernil Menegil:
In the end, Alignment is a complex system which most people, I've found, will defecate on. I personally love it, but when I look at the paladin tropes instituted ("Shoot first, ascertain innocence later"), I notice that a truly well-roleplayed paladin is rarer than dodos.

To properly role-play a Paladin requires cooperation and trust between the player and the DM. The essence of the traditional Paladin is sacrifice. With the exception of the tools of the Paladin's trade (sword, shield, armor, warhorse) he or she should be willing to give up everything else in the service of the deity. The player needs to be able to count on the DM providing opportunities to provide for a character's needs in a way that keeps the game fun.

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