All About Alignment

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zHellas:

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.

I view Chaotic Neutral as being the Self-Centered Douche.

Lawful Evil as being a Asshole King.

Chaotic Good as I'm-Doin'-Whatever-Good-Acts-I-Fuckin'-Want! type, even if the acts break the law.

Oh! And a True Neutral where the Character in question wants a balance between Good & Evil and helps the side that is at a disadvantage.

Totally Totally disagree.

Mr. Campaign Screwer is Chaotic Evil, (Sod the Law, I want fun) he's your Douche, Asshole King has to go to Neutral Evil because he's the Devil's Advocate, Chaotic Goods are usually what you'd like your party to be at the start - and bond into Neutral Goods.

Lawful Good's can be pain in the necks, but the UN are Lawful Good (or at least try to be). UNIT are also Lawful Good. Torchwood seem to be Chaotic Neutrals.

And poor old True Neutral, if ever there was a class that got shafted more than you.

Yoda is True Neutral(Wise). C3P0 is True Neutral(Coward). Most of the droids are TN, except IG-88 who's Lawful Evil, and R2 who is Lawful Good.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Yoda is True Neutral(Wise). C3P0 is True Neutral(Coward). Most of the droids are TN, except IG-88 who's Lawful Evil, and R2 who is Lawful Good.

and what about Mr. "Shall I destroy this meatbags master" HK-47 himself?

But to be honest I actually wonder if droids are capable of understanding the concept of morality at all?

On the topic: Personally I think that using the alignment system as "fluff" for the pole-playing part of a pen & paper and as a means to balance classes somehow breaks the system. I don't think it is able to perform well in both fields.

Zechnophobe:

TsunamiWombat:
As for the example of the Paladin, I feel it's necessary to point out Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice.

If the enemy is a drow, an avowed enemy of everything, breaking a few fingers wouldn't violate his code. He's only going to kill the drow anyway. Sparing it would be a violation of his code.

It isn't lawful either though! Remember that if we want to strictly go by alignment (which isn't real world, by the way) here I think are the outcomes:

Lawful Good: Tries to reason with the Drow, and tell him he still has a chance to redeem himself before the execution that is to come for him. However, the LG character can't cause pain even if he knows he needs the information, now will he be able to be a vigilante enough.

Neutral Good: Tries to reason with the Drow, as LG above. However when push comes to shove he puts the law aside, and will consider more forceful options to get the information out. Still probably not straight up torture, but everything but.

Chaotic Good: Maybe tries to reason with the Drow, but has no real problem crunching some fingers. The greater good is simply too important to waste time being reasonable.

Lawful Neutral: It is clearly time to strike a bargain. Afterall, the Drow has needs, and you have needs, there must be SOME intersection, right? However, if it is demonstrable that none exist, then a well planned out system of interrogation will have to be done, but know that no pleasure will be gained by it.

True Neutral: Could bargain, could reason, could go straight for the throat. Any possible strategies offer the same pull.

Chaotic Neutral: Might try to interrogate just because it would be fun. Might not be so great at it either. Clearly the Drow has something you need, and you need to get it from them, so why waste time with a process or planning?

Lawful Evil: It is clearly time to strike a bargain. You promised someone you'd get this information from the Drow, but you don't really have any personal stake in the people above. Sadly you just dislike going against your word. You aren't planning on killing the Drow anyway, not when you could get him to be your minion and swear loyalty to you.

Neutral Evil: First, you'd hurt him just to make him know you mean business. Make him realize this isn't some joke. You'd give him one chance after that, one final opportunity to do this the easy way. If he fails, you torture the information out of him, and then kill him. Not because you think he is bad or wrong, but because he dared to defy you.

Chaotic Evil: You were promised shiney somethings for this information, so why beat around the bush? You start hurting him while asking him questions, and hopefully he gives you the answer before he dies. Sadly, him giving the answer isn't really going to help him any, since torture and death are both his reward and punishment.

Note that I assume here that the PC involved is actively trying to get the information, no matter the alignment.

No proper paladin, or no proper Good character for that matter, would ever consider torture, because causing explicit harm to others, intentionally, for whatever gain, is a severe breach of alignment. The Books of Exalted Deeds and Vile Darkness actually set this as an Evil act, not just Chaotic;

The Book of Exalted Deeds:

For good characters who devote their lives to hunting and exterminating
the forces of evil, evil's most seductive lure may be the
abandonment of mercy. Mercy means giving quarter to enemies
who surrender and treating criminals and prisoners with compassion
and even kindness. It is, in effect, the good doctrine of
respect for life taken to its logical extreme-respecting and
honoring even the life of one's enemy. In a world full of enemies
who show no respect for life whatsoever, it can be extremely
tempting to treat foes as they have treated others, to exact
revenge for slain comrades and innocents, to offer no quarter
and become merciless.
A good character must not succumb to that trap. Good characters
must offer mercy and accept surrender no matter how
many times villains might betray that kindness or escape from
captivity to continue their evil deeds. If a foe surrenders, a good
character is bound to accept the surrender, bind the prisoner,
and treat him as kindly as possible. (See Mercy, Prisoners, and
Redemption in Chapter 2 for more about the proper treatment
of prisoners.)

[...]

The principles of good make certain demands about how
criminals are treated. The death penalty for serious crimes is
commonly practiced and widely accepted and does not qualify
as evil, even if many good characters, firm in their belief that
redemption is always possible, would rather see even the vilest
criminals offered the opportunity to find their way to righteousness
during their imprisonment. Torturing prisoners,
either to extract information or simply as a means of punishment,
is unequivocally evil, however.
This leads good characters (especially lawful good characters)
into a dilemma: Is it wrong to turn a prisoner over to legitimate
authorities knowing that the prisoner will be tortured and
abused in captivity? Fortunately, the answer is straightforward,
if sometimes difficult to implement. Yes, delivering a person
over to be tortured, even if the person is thoroughly evil and the
torturers are a legitimate authority, is evil. How to avoid being
put in that position is a more difficult question, and one that
depends greatly on the circumstances.

Thus, I severely disagree with the prospect that a chaotic good would readily consider torture. I would rather say that, while a Lawful Good character would never go out of his way to extract information from an unwilling person, a Chaotic Good character would resort to whatever means they are free to reach for; divination, subterfuge, lying, enchantments. Torture is something only Neutral and Evil alignments can consider, ever. A Good character that does so is earning him or herself a possible alignment shift.

Another fact that must be pointed out; while Paladins are one of the classes that face the most dillemmas about how they should act in given situations, there is actually a very simple answer given; When in doubt, go for the Good option rather than the Lawful option. A Paladin is sworn to do Good and defend Good - whether its abstract notion or a God embodying it. This notion overrules all else in a Paladin's code, because the Paladin's code is dedicated to the preservation, and the striving for, the virtues. For a Paladin, there should never be any doubt whatsoever as to what actions he or she should do in this regard.

The main issue I've always had with people citing the Book of ED/VD is that they are the extreme outliers of alignment, meant for those going way way way too far above and beyond their chosen label. I've read both, and actually had a fellow PC who used ED. It was more of a pain than it was worth, but back on topic. The torture question is pretty black and white, I will agree just from the moral standpoint of one doesn't injure your captives, that's an evil act. The two alignment books, try to supplant modern moral philosophies onto the whole of a medieval system and that's where my large problem with them shows up.

Also, those two books turn alignment into the appalling straitjacket I've seen too many times. Alignment for all this philosophizing isn't the be all and end all of your character. Sure it affects certain spells and magic items, but so what? We're still playing dynamic mortal characters who should make a choice based on who they are not what two letters you have written on your character sheet. The people who try and unwaveringly stick to it tend to do the worst roleplaying from the various groups I've been in. It's the people willing to explore the character rather than the alignment that makes the game work.

TsunamiWombat:
As for the example of the Paladin, I feel it's necessary to point out Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice.

If the enemy is a drow, an avowed enemy of everything, breaking a few fingers wouldn't violate his code. He's only going to kill the drow anyway. Sparing it would be a violation of his code.

Would it? Morality isn't set in stone and Drows are sapient humanoids just like the PCs. It's entirely reasonable that the captive could change their ways given the chance. It's not as if we haven't met good Drows before like that famous one which everyone loves. Druzt? Drijt? Oh, something like that.

Not only that but you're killing your captive who has been disabled. It's not a great distance to stretch that to Murder which is most definetly against Paladin codes. Killing, no, but murder? That's evil.

I can't see a Paladin justifying the torture and subsequent murder of a drow captive, or a DM accepting that justification. I believe the proper thing to do would be to negotiate for the information they have, turn them in to the proper authorities once able to and try to redeem them.

Explorator Vimes:
The main issue I've always had with people citing the Book of ED/VD is that they are the extreme outliers of alignment, meant for those going way way way too far above and beyond their chosen label. I've read both, and actually had a fellow PC who used ED. It was more of a pain than it was worth, but back on topic. The torture question is pretty black and white, I will agree just from the moral standpoint of one doesn't injure your captives, that's an evil act. The two alignment books, try to supplant modern moral philosophies onto the whole of a medieval system and that's where my large problem with them shows up.

Also, those two books turn alignment into the appalling straitjacket I've seen too many times. Alignment for all this philosophizing isn't the be all and end all of your character. Sure it affects certain spells and magic items, but so what? We're still playing dynamic mortal characters who should make a choice based on who they are not what two letters you have written on your character sheet. The people who try and unwaveringly stick to it tend to do the worst roleplaying from the various groups I've been in. It's the people willing to explore the character rather than the alignment that makes the game work.

I completely agree. I often like to take a more realistic view of alignment, one that people could internalize in the real world. The problem with the most extreme forms of alignment, is that lets be honest, there are more than 9 types of people in the world. That's even sillier than Astrology.

If you were to try and put those 9 alignments on the real world, and have each roughly equally represented, how would you describe them? Obviously Evil would not be nearly the extreme hate/pain lovers that we see in a fantasy game.

Furthermore, I think there is this odd attachment to the idea of Good vs Pure Good. We like the idea of being Pure Good. Except when it prevents us from doing what we want to do. Then it gets boring.

Amnestic:

TsunamiWombat:
As for the example of the Paladin, I feel it's necessary to point out Lawful Good doesn't mean Lawful Nice.

If the enemy is a drow, an avowed enemy of everything, breaking a few fingers wouldn't violate his code. He's only going to kill the drow anyway. Sparing it would be a violation of his code.

Would it? Morality isn't set in stone and Drows are sapient humanoids just like the PCs. It's entirely reasonable that the captive could change their ways given the chance. It's not as if we haven't met good Drows before like that famous one which everyone loves. Druzt? Drijt? Oh, something like that.

Not only that but you're killing your captive who has been disabled. It's not a great distance to stretch that to Murder which is most definetly against Paladin codes. Killing, no, but murder? That's evil.

I can't see a Paladin justifying the torture and subsequent murder of a drow captive, or a DM accepting that justification. I believe the proper thing to do would be to negotiate for the information they have, turn them in to the proper authorities once able to and try to redeem them.

I second this, no paladin code is going to let them torture and then murder their captive, it comes with the territory of being the Lawful Good guy that if you take a prisoner you gotta turn them in. You don't get to be Judge, Jury, and Executioner, especially if you're a Paladin. A Lawful Good noble might do it because it's just an alignment and the occasional hit isn't going to automatically shift them, but the paladin and even sometimes the cleric don't really get that leeway, it's why they get the nicer toys overall.

Sweet discussion man, having done ethics for A level i feel somewhat in awe of your perfect understanding >< (WHERE WERE YOU IN JUNE FOR CHRISTS SAKE...)

I'm most interested by Lawful Evil, the overarching nememis, the evil twin, I myself am a Chaotic Good kind of person, i like to go my own way and in the end, save the day.

This has been without a doubt the best Check for Traps article/thread combo to date.

The insight and research that went into this one really showed. =)

And as a note on alignments, I let veteran players of D&D pick what they want. Fore new players, I never even mention alignments to them and let them play their characters however. It's pretty rare that any game mechanic makes a check for alignment before 3rd level or so.

Once new players get the groove of things, a gaming group can instruct/guide them on melding their character's actions to thier alignment to enhance the roleplaying, and the gameing experience.

Otherwise, what's the point?

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. [5]

Actually, I tend to agree with your argument. Mainly because despite being a fairly rules-heavy system, D&D alignment has essentially no rules mechanics. Yes, there are classes with alignment requirements and spells that detect/affect alignment, but it ultimately boils down to "read the DM's mind". Is this a LG act? Does the DM consider that NPC to be CN?

Palladium has a definitive list of "commandments" for each of its alignments, even though alignment is very clearly a set of guidelines in that system. In White Wolf's Storytelling system, there's a similar list of sins and clear mechanical effects for gaining or losing Morality. Not so in D&D. The closest I'm aware of is the alignment tracking chart from the 1st edition Dragonlance campaign setting.

On his YouTube channel, John Wick addressed this recently, and suggested a possible solution:

Falseprophet:

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. [5]

Actually, I tend to agree with your argument. Mainly because despite being a fairly rules-heavy system, D&D alignment has essentially no rules mechanics. Yes, there are classes with alignment requirements and spells that detect/affect alignment, but it ultimately boils down to "read the DM's mind". Is this a LG act? Does the DM consider that NPC to be CN?

Palladium has a definitive list of "commandments" for each of its alignments, even though alignment is very clearly a set of guidelines in that system. In White Wolf's Storytelling system, there's a similar list of sins and clear mechanical effects for gaining or losing Morality. Not so in D&D. The closest I'm aware of is the alignment tracking chart from the 1st edition Dragonlance campaign setting.

On his YouTube channel, John Wick addressed this recently, and suggested a possible solution:

First thing before I actually respond, who was that and does he have other stuff, I am rather intrigued by him, seems like a pretty smart guy.

I think his take on this whole thing is interesting, I am completely opposed to what he actually suggested though. I don't think a lack of mechanics makes alignment unimportant, and trying to mechanize it detracts from the experience. I've never liked the idea of codifying alignment, it seems anathema to the basic ideas. Though I do like how he explained it all for whatever universe he's creating/created.

It also seems rather cumbersome to tack on more modifiers to everything trying to decide where it falls on the alignment spectrum, and it doesn't really change the argument because the DM is already in control of what falls into a certain alignment. Now you're just potentially handing out modifiers that can unbalance people by playing into the straitjacketed alignment system.

Edit: It should be noted when discussing alignment I really only mean D&D, I've never read or played Palladium, and I don't really believe I've played another system that has an actual alignment system in it.

The last time i ran a game i stopped using alignment and i didn't miss it one bit.

I changed anything that keyed off of Good or Evil to be Celestial or Abyssal, and everything that used Law or Chaos became Order and Entropy and treated them like elemental descriptors. Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Law, Chaos, Celestial, Abyssal - all were related to some intrinsic part of your physical being, not about how you acted.

Paladins were not paragons of virtue, but instead chosen and marked by specific gods. They were expected to act in their gods' interests at all times and could lose their powers if they strayed from that, but it wasn't nearly as straight-jacketing as traditional alignment.

An example of some of the interesting things this allows: A succubus who helped the party and tried to be a good person even though anyone who could detect abyssal would always be able to pick her out of a crowd. She understood her nature and used her powers when she deemed them necessary, but did not let them dictate who she was or how she behaved generally.

The best part about the whole thing was never having an argument about alignment or whether or not an action was in character. Of course, it helps to have mature players who are interested in more than just looting and pillaging.

Altorin:

PaulH:
Surely you're not suggesting there no place for a PC like that are you? ;D

I'm mostly saying that Evil tends to be solitary. That concept of a druid only works with other characters that follow that same creed, and would be wholly disruptive to a group that does not. As a DM it would certainly make me roll my eyes if my players were designing villains rather then heroes, because it makes my job a LOT harder.

I say 'generally', but I would also add that evil does not mean complete and utter douchebaggery.

Okay it sorta does ... but an evil character does not have to be at odds with a primarily neutral party of adventurers who are in it to make some quick gp because of various reasons. There's no reason why alignment prohibits characters of varying moralities in taking up a sword in common purpose.

Lawful Good Fighter wants to end the tyrannical oppression, and rampant feeding, upon/of a group of people from town 'A' by a powerful vampire lord residing in a nearby castle 'B'.

A neutral evil druid picks up a sword and joins the fight becase ... hey ... he's undead and needs to be destoyed like the vile scum he is.

Similarly, Neutral Evil druid and lawful good fighter would have the same attitude to a cabal of evil wizards, underground infestation of aberrations, horde of orcs, Drow incursion, or even a ruthless gang of thieves and assassins (Druids might not care for coin, but who knows what pretty magical items these bandits have picked up over the years?).

You're morelikely going to have conflict between a neutral good and lawful good druid and fighter respectively over an argument about the rights for a town to clear a nearby grove then you are about moral inclinations towards specific aspects of the campaign.

Unless either the good player or the evil player are being douchebags by being stupidly good or stupidly evil, theres no reason why you can't have evil and good working for common goals ... atleast in the short term.

LG Cleric: "In Ilmater's name we shall deliver you from this vile demonic threat!"

NE/CE Druid/Cleric of Malar: "We shall drink blood and victory from a chalice of bones made from the broken bodies of our prey!" .. or if you're not feeling too wordy and dramatic for that particular gaming session, there's always the classic;

"[prolonged growl] A demon/Orc captain/Drow matriarch will make for a fine hunt and feast!"

Neutral characters in general : "How much do we get now, and how much after we do the job?" <.<

Explorator Vimes:
First thing before I actually respond, who was that and does he have other stuff, I am rather intrigued by him, seems like a pretty smart guy.

John Wick's a professional RPG designer. He's most known for his work on Legend of the Five Rings and for creating 7th Sea. I never really played those games, but I am intrigued by his the ideas he expresses on YouTube. Check out the rest of his channel, especially the Santa Vaca stuff.

Explorator Vimes:
I think his take on this whole thing is interesting, I am completely opposed to what he actually suggested though. I don't think a lack of mechanics makes alignment unimportant, and trying to mechanize it detracts from the experience. I've never liked the idea of codifying alignment, it seems anathema to the basic ideas. Though I do like how he explained it all for whatever universe he's creating/created.

I should clarify that this was from his "Santa Vaca" (sacred cow) series of videos, where he discusses his problems with the D&D/Pathfinder rules and suggests alternatives to them, with the caveat that he cannot add or subtract any fields from the character sheet itself. He's basically publicly brainstorming major rules modifications and inviting his viewers to experiment with them, as he plans to himself.

Also, I don't think alignment is unimportant. For roleplaying and narrative, it can be very important. It's at least as important as other character-defining things like whether your dwarf PC is racist towards elves, or what kind of people your rogue steals from. But those things aren't governed by rules mechanics, and neither is alignment. That makes alignment a guideline or tool for roleplaying characters and writing campaign plot, but not a rule.

While the alignment system isn't perfect, I still feel that it can give a good base to figure out how a character should act.

The interesting thing I find is that each alignment would look at the alignment system differently. Lawfuls and Goods would probably follow and apply it quite often (as they tend to have more black and white morals). Evils and Chaotics wouldn't really bother with it, either because they don't care (Evil) or they are against such black-and-white category systems (Chaotic). Neutrals of course could go a number of ways ("I'm True Neutral, I go both ways."). Either they think that they should go beyond morality (Lawful Neutral doesn't follow the law because its "right" or it benefits them, they do its because its the law), they don't care (True or Chaotic Neutral just don't care about the morality of a choice), they have other interests (they want money, they're looking for vengeance, or mastery of the arcane arts), they're pragmatists (True and Chaotic again), they seek balance, or because they don't really think about (more True Neutral as they just follow their instincts).

There are a lot of fine lines and different interpretations of it (Chaotic Neutral vs. Chaotic Evil; Chaos for the sake of Chaos vs. Chaos because its fun), but I just find it more interesting. You have to think about certain actions to figure out what alignment it falls under.

And I like the idea of different societies having different alignment systems (Lawful Evil with its Slavish/Master and Honorable/Dishonorable axises (axi? axis?)).

Oh, and I figure I'm True Neutral (especially the way I live). Partly because I don't believe in any hard-and-fast rules that are never to be broken and partly because I just don't swing that hard either way on either axis. Is it any wonder that I like the color grey/gray?

Hmm... well according to those definitions, my personal moral compass and behavior are Neutral Good, while my ideal society would be Chaotic Neutral. That... actually sounds about right.

Falseprophet:
Snip

Oh geez, that's why the guy's name sounded minorly familiar. I have played a bunch of Legend of the Five Rings, and well, it's an interesting system, not particularly well made or balanced, but interesting to say the least. Yeah, it sounds like we're in pretty much agreement about this because I would rate alignment on the same level as you do in importance. His series makes more sense now that I know what Santa Vaca means, Sacred Cow being him taking things held as core to this system and turning them on their head. Thanks for all that info.

Falseprophet:

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. [5]

Actually, I tend to agree with your argument. Mainly because despite being a fairly rules-heavy system, D&D alignment has essentially no rules mechanics. Yes, there are classes with alignment requirements and spells that detect/affect alignment, but it ultimately boils down to "read the DM's mind". Is this a LG act? Does the DM consider that NPC to be CN?

I would argue that while there aren't mechanical effects on characters specifically there are mechanical rules for alignments, at least looking at many of the core settings for D&D:

The planes and their denizens. When the universe is designed to embody those alignments in an objectively observable form it tends to suggest such an objective morality exists.

Why doesn't this work in the real world? We don't have quantifiable gods and divine planes to observe; we don't have objectively true morality in any provable way. D&D does not work like this* and morals are shown to be objectively true. It adds a deeper fantastic element to the game and makes for a fun break from grey reality.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this article as it articulated well the alignment system that I, like so many others, had grown bored of. Damn you, though, for making me want to play D&D again.

*Though, of course, it can if one so chooses.

PaulH:

Altorin:

PaulH:
Surely you're not suggesting there no place for a PC like that are you? ;D

I'm mostly saying that Evil tends to be solitary. That concept of a druid only works with other characters that follow that same creed, and would be wholly disruptive to a group that does not. As a DM it would certainly make me roll my eyes if my players were designing villains rather then heroes, because it makes my job a LOT harder.

I say 'generally', but I would also add that evil does not mean complete and utter douchebaggery.

Okay it sorta does ... but an evil character does not have to be at odds with a primarily neutral party of adventurers who are in it to make some quick gp because of various reasons. There's no reason why alignment prohibits characters of varying moralities in taking up a sword in common purpose.

Lawful Good Fighter wants to end the tyrannical oppression, and rampant feeding, upon/of a group of people from town 'A' by a powerful vampire lord residing in a nearby castle 'B'.

A neutral evil druid picks up a sword and joins the fight becase ... hey ... he's undead and needs to be destoyed like the vile scum he is.

Similarly, Neutral Evil druid and lawful good fighter would have the same attitude to a cabal of evil wizards, underground infestation of aberrations, horde of orcs, Drow incursion, or even a ruthless gang of thieves and assassins (Druids might not care for coin, but who knows what pretty magical items these bandits have picked up over the years?).

You're morelikely going to have conflict between a neutral good and lawful good druid and fighter respectively over an argument about the rights for a town to clear a nearby grove then you are about moral inclinations towards specific aspects of the campaign.

Unless either the good player or the evil player are being douchebags by being stupidly good or stupidly evil, theres no reason why you can't have evil and good working for common goals ... atleast in the short term.

LG Cleric: "In Ilmater's name we shall deliver you from this vile demonic threat!"

NE/CE Druid/Cleric of Malar: "We shall drink blood and victory from a chalice of bones made from the broken bodies of our prey!" .. or if you're not feeling too wordy and dramatic for that particular gaming session, there's always the classic;

"[prolonged growl] A demon/Orc captain/Drow matriarch will make for a fine hunt and feast!"

Neutral characters in general : "How much do we get now, and how much after we do the job?" <.<

I'm not saying there is NO room for evil characters, but I am saying that it's a much larger hassle getting good and evil characters to want to do the same things then it is for a group of good characters. And the druid you described certainly wouldn't work well with others, unless they were members of their circle (and even then, they'd have to be weaker members - this neutral evil druid wants to dominate and wouldn't be happy in a subservient position). They're interested in destroying one small hamlet after another - either bringing icy winds to freeze them out - or my take on the "Neutral Evil Druid", the "Fire Cleanses All" type of scenario, where the druid burns civilization to the ground because it is an afront to nature.

These characters don't play well with people who they aren't leading to do wholly evil acts.

Altorin:

I'm not saying there is NO room for evil characters, but I am saying that it's a much larger hassle getting good and evil characters to want to do the same things then it is for a group of good characters. And the druid you described certainly wouldn't work well with others, unless they were members of their circle (and even then, they'd have to be weaker members - this neutral evil druid wants to dominate and wouldn't be happy in a subservient position). They're interested in destroying one small hamlet after another - either bringing icy winds to freeze them out - or my take on the "Neutral Evil Druid", the "Fire Cleanses All" type of scenario, where the druid burns civilization to the ground because it is an afront to nature.

These characters don't play well with people who they aren't leading to do wholly evil acts.

Well ... Neutral Evil Malarite is less 'Kill it with fire for attrocities against nature' and more 'let's make them suffer, or use them for sport'.

As I said I love 3.5 druid, and barring bard (and ocasionally monk if GM isn't a stickler on the 'lawful' adspect of monk) that pretty much all I play. And 80% of my druids are NE Malarites (In FR/PS campaigns)<.<

And frankly it suits me fine ... unless a player ius telling me he expressly wishes to play paladin I'll concede and play a CG character instead (Sunite Bard-Sublime chord, or CN Bard-druid-sublime chord-fochlucan lyricist) ... of course CN Bard-Druid and Paladin mix worse then my Sunite CG bards so generally the former.

Though the absolutely worst alignment based argument (roleplaying of course, we don't take it personally of course) I have ever had was actually between an anal Paladin of Tyr and my CG Bard of Sune.

That CG Bard of Sune (A strong second favourite... effete Sunite RP kicks arse) who cares only for his beauty and finery. Whilst seeming to indulge in nothing but whatever his passions should want and seems to be enraptured only by his own image in that jewel encrusted, polished platinum mirror....

Whilst fair-minded and kind who strives to see the inner beauty of all people whilst attempting to spread love, friendship and beautify the world wherever he goes .... he always shirked responsibility whenever it is laid to bare infront of him.

Naturally such roleplaying is going (and did x.x) to collide strongly with the ethics of that uptight, self-denying, overzealous Paladin of Tyr who he's 'buddies' with.

Frankly I find that alignment matters not in 90% of situations as most goals overlap, and some don't certainly don't regardless of whether both characters are 'good'.

Some combinations don't actually work however, and I will concede that;

A NE druid of Malar (yes, as you can tell I love Malar rp far too much than is healthy) and a NG werebear fighter of Selune ... diametrically opposed ... the two meet, they try to kill eachother with fire.

But that is to say my worse alignment scuffle rp moment (whilst enjoyable like all conflict and heated roleplaying) was between two good party members.

[Edit:] I will say that it was probably my fault because I interrupted a public proclamation of new tax reform outside a Temple of Tyr (of where it was being held) about how the local Lord shouldn't be taxing people for their hard earned coin ... given that if he truly needed finances to rebuild a damaged wing of said temple all he'd have to do is eat coal as he would shit diamonds due to how tight-arsed he is with the county's coffers ;P

... I really, really like this explaination, as it sums up how I've always interpreted the alignment axis, with the "Empathy Disc" (Can't remember what you called it) for Good/Evil (Though I see Good as being the limited one, with no end to evil), and Action/Effect relationship between Law/Chaos.

The Nine Alignments are Distinct from each other, not

Spoilering a Wall of Text dissertion on my translation of Paladin:

I like the Chaotic alignment because it's very resilient, while the Lawful alignment's rigid. However, playing the Lawful alignment properly and uncorruptibly is generally more awesome when you pull it off.

As far as Neutral goes, there aren't "Two" defintions. There are at least 3.
1. Balance [both axis] Those who seek "Balance" between Good and Evil and/or Law and Chaos (Usually, it means "Support the Status Quo" as well). This doesn't mean Stupid Neutral "Support the weaker side, and switch sides when it gets the upper hand". Nor does it mean they will automatically support the weaker side (especially if his support would make it much stronger). It means he'd support whichever side would be the least disruptive in its success. This is Standard Druid Alignment. (Its circle of Morality looks identical to Good, but only comes up about halfway)

2. Mediocrity [Good/Evil axis] Those who aren't compassionate and empathic enough to be "Good", yet aren't evil or notably selfish either (Average Person, and the Circle of Morality is as described in the article: Gently sloping away the further it gets) OR (Law/Chaos axis) Not steadfast enough to be Lawful, yet not so mentally flexible to be Chaotic, though they usually idealize and half-heartedly strive for one end(Average commoners).

3. Apathy. [Good/Evil] They generally don't care about anyone other than themselves of immediate family, but still respect the lives of others. It's a muted form of Evil's Circle of Morality. Default alignment of Hermits. [Law/Chaos] Same as Neutrality through Mediocrity, though without caring at all about the axis, instead of striving for one or the other.

So, default types of characters:
Lawful Good: Superheroes
Neutral Good: Saints
Chaotic Good: Action Heroes
Lawful Neutral: Middle Management (Law Enforcement usually acts very chaotic to counter criminals)
Neutral: Pretty much everyone.
Chaotic Neutral: Le Parkour practitioners
Lawful Evil: The Attorney profession (Though individual Attornies can be any alignment, the profession requires acting along a strict set of guidelines, and serving the Client at the expense of all others)
Neutral Evil: Sociopaths (by defintion of Antisocial Personality Disorder, though some end up Apathic Neutral)
Chaotic Evil: British Soccer Hooligans.

I could go into more detail about Evil and how the alignments interact, but the article does a better job (though I have a few details of mild quibbles where he's concerned)

Mutak, I like your ideas here. Questions for you:
1) Under your system, could a succubus who consistently opposed Entropy and Abyssal goals be stripped of her powers or demonhood?
2) Would a mortal man who consistently acts on behalf Entropy or Abyssal goals begin to be "marked" by those powers?

Mutak:
I changed anything that keyed off of Good or Evil to be Celestial or Abyssal, and everything that used Law or Chaos became Order and Entropy and treated them like elemental descriptors. Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Law, Chaos, Celestial, Abyssal - all were related to some intrinsic part of your physical being, not about how you acted.

Paladins were not paragons of virtue, but instead chosen and marked by specific gods. They were expected to act in their gods' interests at all times and could lose their powers if they strayed from that, but it wasn't nearly as straight-jacketing as traditional alignment.

An example of some of the interesting things this allows: A succubus who helped the party and tried to be a good person even though anyone who could detect abyssal would always be able to pick her out of a crowd. She understood her nature and used her powers when she deemed them necessary, but did not let them dictate who she was or how she behaved generally.

The best part about the whole thing was never having an argument about alignment or whether or not an action was in character. Of course, it helps to have mature players who are interested in more than just looting and pillaging.

Lord_Kristof:
Why is this series only focused on D&D? It's cool that you, obviously, put a lot of effort into analysing the D&D alignment system in the light of philosophy and all, but the subtitle of the article series is "Your introduction to tabletop gaming." and it's very rare that you DON'T focus on D&D. It's not the only tabletop game, you're just worsening an already bad tendency with not giving your readers a chance to broaden their horizons by referring to more RPGs. Please do? As it is, I'm a great RPG fan but there's really not much I can take out from your articles.

I'm not saying you focus ONLY on D&D - there's a fair amount of references to RPGs in general (though I find that most of the time I don't agree with your philosophy of gaming, but that's beside the point), but you really rarely call upon other systems when discussing stuff. I just think that's hurting people's views on the hobby, or at least puts them askew.

Kristof, great question. This particular article is *very* D&D heavy. That's because it was specific to the problem of alignment, and alignment system that has been both the best-known and most-influential is the D&D system.

For the rest of the articles, the D&D influence is because (a) I currently am running two D&D campaigns; (2) D&D was my gateway into gaming; (3) D&D is most other people's gateway into gaming; (4) D&D is the only tabletop RPG one can write about and hope to have a plurality of the audience familiar with it. This last point is particularly important. If I use a D&D game mechanic as an example to make a general point, I can feel confident that most people can reason from the example to then apply it to their system of choice. Whereas if I use a game mechanic from a less-popular system, then it can't be generalized from. (For instance if instead of talking about D&D's 'critical hits' I were to talk about Savage World's 'raises', would someone know what I meant? probably not.)

Where possible articles have had a broader focus (I've referenced Mutants & Masterminds, Cyberpunk 2020, Hard Nova, and many other games) but they will likely always be using D&D as the main touchpoint for discussion. Even the column name (Check for Traps) is derived from D&D...I didn't call it "Roll for Humanity Loss" or "Explode the Wild Die."

Scow2:
... I really, really like this explaination, as it sums up how I've always interpreted the alignment axis, with the "Empathy Disc" (Can't remember what you called it) for Good/Evil (Though I see Good as being the limited one, with no end to evil), and Action/Effect relationship between Law/Chaos.

Scow2, holy cow that was awesome! That was like having someone write a For Dummy's Guide to my article. I think I understand what I was saying myself better now!

Scow2:
snip

Personally I think people try to look at alignment in ways that are far too open to re-interpretation, and people then try to take these highly morphic concepts and try to cement them in ways that are either not fun to play, or have too many cracks in them that many player archetypes fall through them.

Frankly I think it's much easier to look at Good - Evil Axis in terms of motives, law-chaos in terms of ethics.

What are your motives/goals? How do you/wish to go about achieving them?

A person only needs to ask themselves these two questions and you'll get a pretty uniform answer whether it is the person playing the character or the DM.

Frankly it's much easier ... if you still can't decide whether a character is good or evil, or whether they are lawful or chaotic, then there's a good chance that they are gravitating predominantly towards True Neutral.

I find that players are most likely going to change their ethics on how they go about their operations more than they are core moral beliefs (or from Kant's perspective, how many times people deviate and justify their actions when they differ from the categorical imperative) ...

Rather than getting your players together and saying 'This is what makes someone chaotic neutral' (of which no one is going to play a character that is exactly alike in all forms and mannerism to 'set' qualities asigned to one particular alignment), but more get your players to constantly ask those two questions to identify both in the player's head and the GM's exactly how much the character is deviating from a set path.

that Paladin lied in order to save face ... well thats okay ... that not chaotic. She shouldn't do it again though ... of she's doing it again ... well twice aint bad in as many game time weeks ... oh no, now it's a daily thing ... better ask her how her character is acting ethically o.o

Far more natural than just saying "these are set qualities ... DO NOT TRANSGRESS EVER! Play that template and don't deviate!

CG Bard: Motives: Spread mutual love and affection throughout the world! Ethics: Any means necessary!

Being good doesn't automatically mean good conduct, it merely represents good intentions.

Archon:
Mutak, I like your ideas here. Questions for you:
1) Under your system, could a succubus who consistently opposed Entropy and Abyssal goals be stripped of her powers or demonhood?

No. Her powers are just a part of what she is. The paladin is entirely empowered by an outside source - his deity. The succubus just IS what she is. I did include ways for creatures to gain or lose the descriptors, but behavior by itself was not one of them. Think of the elemental descriptors as analogues. A fire elemental doesn't stop being fiery if it breaks a dam and floods a huge area, extinguishing a raging forest fire, nor does it gain the ability to survive underwater because of those actions.

Archon:
2) Would a mortal man who consistently acts on behalf Entropy or Abyssal goals begin to be "marked" by those powers?

Not just by their actions, but it was possible to gain those descriptors or others if a powerful being took notice of the actions and chose to imbue you with that power or transform you into a new creature of the appropriate type. Mechanically, it usually happened via prestige classes (for characters) or the addition of templates to the base creature. Similar mechanics existed for losing descriptors too.

And oh, yes, you could potentially gain or lose a descriptor against your will, but that's some powerful mojo.

I personally like alignment, but i find it restricting.

Me and my friends came to the agreement just to put a question mark for my alignment. Its upside is that you never know what will happen with me. Because my alignment is constantly changing based on the situation, i cant use any alignment based items, which balances it out pretty nicely.

I guess you could call him Questionably Chaotic. You never know what hes going to do, until hes already thrown the thief who took his wallet into a well.

"Dam..... i forgot to get my wallet back!" *Jumps in after thief*

TheBlackKnight:

The_root_of_all_evil:

Yoda is True Neutral(Wise). C3P0 is True Neutral(Coward). Most of the droids are TN, except IG-88 who's Lawful Evil, and R2 who is Lawful Good.

and what about Mr. "Shall I destroy this meatbags master" HK-47 himself?

La la la la not canon la. ;)

But to be honest I actually wonder if droids are capable of understanding the concept of morality at all?

You don't have to really. Robots are Lawful Neutral, Droids - all having emotion chips like the Zeroids, tend to revolve around getting shit done.

On the topic: Personally I think that using the alignment system as "fluff" for the pole-playing part of a pen & paper and as a means to balance classes somehow breaks the system. I don't think it is able to perform well in both fields.

It doesn't. It's useful as a pointer, but anything that DEMANDS IT, is the same thing that is sadly lacking when your 13th level fighter falls from orbit, gets up and fights on.

kouriichi:
I personally like alignment, but i find it restricting.

Me and my friends came to the agreement just to put a question mark for my alignment. Its upside is that you never know what will happen with me. Because my alignment is constantly changing based on the situation, i cant use any alignment based items, which balances it out pretty nicely.

I guess you could call him Questionably Chaotic. You never know what hes going to do, until hes already thrown the thief who took his wallet into a well.

"Dam..... i forgot to get my wallet back!" *Jumps in after thief*

That sounds like Chaotic Neutral... Or Bloody Stupid. (Chaotic is about results, not random). I forgot to put that as one of the other definitions of Neutral (Uncommitted/Stupid Neutral), partially because it's usually unrealistic. In fact, the DMG and Players Handbooks say that a character who constantly shifts alignment (or acts in the extreme of both ends of the Alignment spectrum) defaults to Neutral.

And HK-47 is Chaotic Evil (Evil is obvious, Chaotic due to him doing whatever necessary to get the desirable outcome, though said outcome isn't his own). A chaotic character might still follow orders (And often make excellent commanders), as long as the orders don't tell them how to do it.

Generally, when I play, unless Exalted characters or Paladins are involved, I find alignments aren't that hard to figure out. If I can say yes to "Does he deserve the full blast of a Holy Smite", he's evil. I have good clearly defined in my mind.

And I find alignment VERY well implemented in D&D. What wasn't was the Paladin's failure to jump from AD&D to 3e, because I've always held to the belief that "Evil is easier, but Good is ultimately Stronger." I like Pathfinder's Paladin upgrade.

Scow2:

kouriichi:
I personally like alignment, but i find it restricting.

Me and my friends came to the agreement just to put a question mark for my alignment. Its upside is that you never know what will happen with me. Because my alignment is constantly changing based on the situation, i cant use any alignment based items, which balances it out pretty nicely.

I guess you could call him Questionably Chaotic. You never know what hes going to do, until hes already thrown the thief who took his wallet into a well.

"Dam..... i forgot to get my wallet back!" *Jumps in after thief*

That sounds like Chaotic Neutral... Or Bloody Stupid. (Chaotic is about results, not random)

I forgot to put that as one of the other definitions of Neutral (Uncommitted/Stupid Neutral). In fact, the DMG and Players Handbooks say that a character who constantly shifts alignment (or acts in the extreme of both ends of the Alignment spectrum) defaults to Neutral.

Exacty! He cares about the outcome of every situation differently! Hence, Questionably Chaotic.

And i would set him to Neutral, but it feels to much like a lable. They see good and evil, while my character doesnt care for such things. He doesnt belive in law or chaos. Hence, he really isnt even Neutral.

Hes Questionably Chaotic. He does what he does when he does it. Good, evil, law, chaos, none of those effect he judgement. He could save the city. He could doom it. He could say, "I could care less what happens to you, i just like the adventure". Ofcourse, he could drink himself deep into the bottle and hit on the nearest living thing insted, costing dozens of people theyer lives. But hes not doing it because he wants to save people, or because he cares if people die or not. But because he does what he wants.

If you still can't read it, look up Batman Alignment on Google.

I think George W. Bush Jr. would be Lawful Neutral. If he benefits from it, he'll make a move. If he doesn't see the clue of it, he'll leave it be. But all within the laws and moves of his presidential power he had.

I agree that the good/evil slider is inherently judgmental, and for that matter, not many real people would identify themselves as "evil" even if they where torturing orphans to death; one way or another circumstances demanded it. I think you could make the same sort of slider just based on what tenant actually separates good and evil as far as you're concerned; for example, altruistic/opportunistic.

If I am given 100$, and someone else needs it fairly badly, how will I divide it? A purely altruistic person will give it all away regardless of their need, a purely opportunistic person will keep it regardless, and in the middle, there's room for negotiation.

On the other hand, that also exposes a problem with using even these opposing views as a simple slider, because there's different actions you can take that should have the same level in that slider. If I am neutral in altruistic/opportunistic, would I split the money 50/50, or try to figure out who objectively needs it more?

This was awesome, thank you all, and I posted this to FB.

On the other hand, there are a few technicalities, that got glossed over:
Jews don't care. If it's life or death, you can do just about anything short of killing someone and it's cool.

Kant's imperatives only work if it presupposes universal acceptance (the categorical part). Otherwise, you're handing an axe to the person about to bury it in your skull and he admits it.

Lastly, instead of Singer's circle, what about Rousseau's social contract?

Falseprophet:
On his YouTube channel, John Wick addressed this recently, and suggested a possible solution:

The article was pretty good and for the first time, I kind of liked the idea of alignment. But the idea John Wick had is simply awesome. You could also use it to promote deity worship for non cleric/paladin characters.

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