All About Alignment

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Scow2:

Explorator Vimes:
What makes evil wrong is the fact that all the definitions describe it as such? Also, I'll stick with the original Sir Samuel Vimes quote from earlier as a better one than anything from Star Wars.

If you are unfamiliar with him as a character, he's the current head of the once corrupt and useless Watch of the largest city in the series called Discworld. He's pretty much unbribeable, unswerveable, and doesn't take well to being told that there isn't a right and a wrong in the world that's universal for everyone to follow. He's the kind of person who wouldn't care who someone was or why they did something, if it was evil or wrong or illegal he's going to arrest them because he knows that to allow one slip allows for hundreds of others and that way madness lies.

That's where I come at with saying the Evil is Wrong and Good is Right, you can tout your end results until the cows come home, but you've tainted all you've accomplished because you took the easy way out by being evil. (Note you here is the vague you, not you the person specifically.)

I use multiple quotes from multiple sources. Personally, I don't think Star Wars is as bad as people treat it as when you step back and think about it, and fill in the gaps with actual thought.

Sorry, I should've quoted that was really more directed at tetron. I wasn't directly saying that you shouldn't use Star Wars, I actually know very little about it all because whenever I have watched it I find myself not liking it all that much, so I was just preferring to use Vimes because, well, if my Forum name didn't tip off the world, I think highly of the character, and love Pratchett's work in general. I still pretty much agree with everything you've come out with though, so huzzah for cohesion on the internet.

Maybe we should try to come up with less loaded terms to cover these alignment axes. Like maybe instead of good and evil you could just have selfless and selfish. I'm kinda having a harder time coming up with a pair of opposites for Law and Chaos that don't paint one or the other in an extremely unflattering light, which seems kinda odd. Mostly I'm actually coming up with stuff like freedom or practicality for chaos though, so maybe that has more to do with my viewpoint than with the available vocabulary.

ZephrC:
Maybe we should try to come up with less loaded terms to cover these alignment axes. Like maybe instead of good and evil you could just have selfless and selfish. I'm kinda having a harder time coming up with a pair of opposites for Law and Chaos that don't paint one or the other in an extremely unflattering light, which seems kinda odd. Mostly I'm actually coming up with stuff like freedom or practicality for chaos though, so maybe that has more to do with my viewpoint than with the available vocabulary.

Good and evil are perfectly fine in D&D.
I like to liken the Good/Evil axis to a mountain over the most magnificent landscape ever, with Evil at the bottomless base, and Good at the top.

Its difficult to climb to the top of Good Mountain, but the reward is worth the effort, and while it's easy to Fall to the bottom into Evil, it really, really sucks once you get there (The Elevator at the base is Out of Order, contrary to the signs), and even the demons want out, or at least to pull others down with them (Misery loves company). How high any specific creature comes depends on the weight of their evil tendencies and sin, and (in)ability to work with each other to climb to Good. Good acts lighten a character's burden, allowing them to climb higher on their own (And from there, they usually help others climb as well. A brief sacrifice in altitude grants them an even lighter burden for their generosity and compassion, as well as a partner to help them climb the rest of the way.) Most Good people know Everyone should be at the top, and therefore are willing to help them.

Some people are selfish, but not malicious. They can get pretty high on the mountain (especially if they do Good deeds to lighten the burden), but generally won't reach the top alone. It's easy to fall to the bottom alone, though. On the other hand, it's possible for someone to pull those above him down to or below his own level. Not all social people are Good, and not all selfish people are Evil.

Because the mountain's over the most scenic landscape ever, you are still rewarded with a better sight at every point along the climb, to prevent people from giving up in discouragement. The taper does not affect how many people can be at any point, but does give a wider angle of the view.

In some real-world mythologies, the weight-reduction of Good Deeds are Lighter-than-Air balloons that will only get you so high before they stop lifting, requiring other's aid to get higher, and some say there's a guy at the top willing to take the burdens of Evil deeds off you, if you let him.

...But more on topic, it's best for a Campaign to use the moral and ethical compass the players agree on. The Agency Theory of Fun would ensure Good characters are fun to play because you actually feel like a Good character (and not just some arbitrary designation by an incomprehensible Karma Meter), since virtue really is it's own reward (Do I have to link to TvTropes to illustrate? Good Feels Good). But, it is still fun to play certain evil characters as well, thanks to the Agency Theory of Fun and character disconnect. You actually can do evil things you've always wanted to try, but in a way nobody gets hurt or suffers.

Honestly, I prefer to think in terms of Magic's White/Blue/Black/Red/Green system, which tends to be motivation-based and perception-based rather than action-based (i.e. it's not about whether a given action is of a certain alignment, rather it's about the justification for doing that action, and how you view the world).

Another great thing about it is that there are no axially opposed elements of the system: Red isn't the opposite of Blue (part of Red is the opposite of part of Blue), and Red/Blue has it's own meaning, usw.

I've always liked how Planescape Torment dealt with this. You start out as neutral, and you grow into an alignment via dialog choices. You could play psychotic, you could play as a litigious but selfish person, you could play as someone who actively embraces evil as a abstract philosophy...hell, you could even play someone who believes in True Neutrality: Moving beyond the middle path is destructive and must be avoided.

For my games, for any system, I ask the players what the alignment meants to THEIR character.

Example!

A friend of mine was playing a Chaotic Good character. I asked them what Chaotic Good meant to them. They responded that they were someone who believed that only free agency could ensure happiness and prosperity, and that law is always corrupt and evil. An anarchist, to be specific.

I said, that's great, that's how we'll treat your character.

Another friend said that they were also going to play Chaotic Good. I said, okay, and what does Chaotic Good mean for them? And they said that they followed regulations when they worked, but when they didn't, they broke them without a second thought. "Damn the rules, I'm going in." That kinda thing.

I said great! Though I suggested neutral good might be better, and we agreed that we'd see how it shook out. If they ended up following/not following an equal number of times, we'd shift to neutral good.

A non-DnD example would be in Exalted. A friend of mine made an Alchemical who had a compassion of 1. I asked why, and they said it was because they found it very hard to connect with humans, and they were doing this because Alchemicals NEED a high Clarity (machine-like ness,basically) to cast the really powerful spells. So I said, "great! Compassion 1 it is."

While another Alchemical had a compassion of 1 and he did that because his Alchemical was a Sovan Ministry of Love operative, with a 1 foot spike that he jammed into people's spines to re-write their brains to make them love Big Brother.

So, I think that DM/Player communication is really the most important part of this bizniz.

Course, that's true of pretty much every aspect of RPing...

Hm... what kinda alignment wants to bring everyone freedom and sunshine and kill the dark lord, but will still steal all your crap and takes any reward you offer (though he would never ask for one first)? Is that like a True Neutral By Counterbalance?

mr_rubino:
Hm... what kinda alignment wants to bring everyone freedom and sunshine and kill the dark lord, but will still steal all your crap and takes any reward you offer (though he would never ask for one first)? Is that like a True Neutral By Counterbalance?

I'd assume so. No altruistic motives, but he's not deserving of the Evil title. (Honestly, Evil as an alignment should be applied sparingly.)

Regardless of how good or bad, clear or unclear an alignment system is, the important question is, "What purpose does it serve?"

Why have an alignment system at all? Why not scrap it entirely? I already gave an example of how you can do it without drastically modifying the game itself, so why bother with it? What does it add to the experience?

(I'm really curious to read peoples' answers to this.)

Mutak:
Regardless of how good or bad, clear or unclear an alignment system is, the important question is, "What purpose does it serve?"

Why have an alignment system at all? Why not scrap it entirely? I already gave an example of how you can do it without drastically modifying the game itself, so why bother with it? What does it add to the experience?

(I'm really curious to read peoples' answers to this.)

From a mechanical perspective it adds a system to have the Paladins smite the badguys (Smite Evil), the devious sorcerer blast the party with pure Chaos (Word of Chaos), etc. It has its uses in the actual system itself that works for how D&D magic is used.

On a meta level, one not seen by the actual characters, but merely the players. It's a decent basis for how they will interact with the NPCs. It's not a perfect yardstick, but if the group finds out that the Grand Vizier is a Lawful Evil man then they will react accordingly. In some cases is a quick and dirty way for some people to come up with strategy.

In-Universe for the characters it's an rallying point to some extent, you can generally find common footing with people of the same alignment and the games I run the characters can tend to know that this great big alignment box exists because there are spells and items to define it. Alignment is never a legal pretext to do something with a citizen, so you can't arrest based on alignment, nor can you even really check someone's alignment in a city without permission (I play a lot of Eberron where the rules for this stuff feel different than Standard Fantasy Setting).

It's also a nice crutch for new players, it gives them a hand and guidelines for a character type they want to play. Sometime we've been at it so long we forget that. I know it's how I've gotten new people to start, they aren't sure what to play, so I send them to the alignment box and it gives them a hand as to where they sit in the world.

So, yeah, not sure if I exactly answered your question, since looking at my lengthy response I can see how you might respond, but it's what I do and why I like alignment, so it's where I'm coming from in all this.

Explorator Vimes:

So, yeah, not sure if I exactly answered your question, since looking at my lengthy response I can see how you might respond, but it's what I do and why I like alignment, so it's where I'm coming from in all this.

Maybe you did. If i'm reading what you said correctly, aside from the mechanical issues (see my previous posts in this thread for stuff about that) you like it because it provides a simple way of dictating pc behavior and predicting npc behavior? Is that close to what you were saying?

Mutak:

Explorator Vimes:

So, yeah, not sure if I exactly answered your question, since looking at my lengthy response I can see how you might respond, but it's what I do and why I like alignment, so it's where I'm coming from in all this.

Maybe you did. If i'm reading what you said correctly, aside from the mechanical issues (see my previous posts in this thread for stuff about that) you like it because it provides a simple way of dictating pc behavior and predicting npc behavior? Is that close to what you were saying?

Not really dictating behavior because I personally hate the alignment as straitjacket, but it's a nice start for new players to get some context for things, I think we worry less about alignment as we gain a foothold into the system because we already know what they all are and can move onto making dynamic characters rather than flat characters that just read like the actual alignment description. I know I enjoy taking the Lawful Evil NPC and making it the patron of the main Lawful Good PC (Actual happened in my Eberron game that I ran), so it can be interesting to play with, for me at least.

I guess my ramble is really looking to say, I like alignment because it makes life much simpler to start off people with D&D and sometimes lets you use it as all the PCs need to know about the other guys. Ooo ooo look, it's a Chaotic Evil group of goblinoids, lets kill them for bling and exp.

As for your system it would take overhauling the standard understanding of the universal tropes in D&D. In that a succubus is Chaos and Evil personified. She can't act in a good nature because she can't even think that way. So barring that it seems more like Exalted's system, which to me isn't really alignment, just using dots to force certain actions more often. I actually like Exalted's less than I do D&D, but I always need to codify it might be because D&D was where I spent many many years learning to roleplay and understand systems, so there is certainly a nostalgia/grognard portion of my clinging to it all.

Edit: Sorry, forgot to quote you in this as a response the first time around, I still need to get a hand on this, I occasionally just start typing and forget to quote the person I'm responding to to start, so not sure if this still sends the, Hey you got quoted message, but if not I'm sure you'll see this and figure out my mess up.

Scow2:

ZephrC:
Maybe we should try to come up with less loaded terms to cover these alignment axes. Like maybe instead of good and evil you could just have selfless and selfish. I'm kinda having a harder time coming up with a pair of opposites for Law and Chaos that don't paint one or the other in an extremely unflattering light, which seems kinda odd. Mostly I'm actually coming up with stuff like freedom or practicality for chaos though, so maybe that has more to do with my viewpoint than with the available vocabulary.

Good and evil are perfectly fine in D&D.
I like to liken the Good/Evil axis to a mountain over the most magnificent landscape ever, with Evil at the bottomless base, and Good at the top.

Its difficult to climb to the top of Good Mountain, but the reward is worth the effort, and while it's easy to Fall to the bottom into Evil, it really, really sucks once you get there (The Elevator at the base is Out of Order, contrary to the signs), and even the demons want out, or at least to pull others down with them (Misery loves company). How high any specific creature comes depends on the weight of their evil tendencies and sin, and (in)ability to work with each other to climb to Good. Good acts lighten a character's burden, allowing them to climb higher on their own (And from there, they usually help others climb as well. A brief sacrifice in altitude grants them an even lighter burden for their generosity and compassion, as well as a partner to help them climb the rest of the way.) Most Good people know Everyone should be at the top, and therefore are willing to help them.

Some people are selfish, but not malicious. They can get pretty high on the mountain (especially if they do Good deeds to lighten the burden), but generally won't reach the top alone. It's easy to fall to the bottom alone, though. On the other hand, it's possible for someone to pull those above him down to or below his own level. Not all social people are Good, and not all selfish people are Evil.

Because the mountain's over the most scenic landscape ever, you are still rewarded with a better sight at every point along the climb, to prevent people from giving up in discouragement. The taper does not affect how many people can be at any point, but does give a wider angle of the view.

In some real-world mythologies, the weight-reduction of Good Deeds are Lighter-than-Air balloons that will only get you so high before they stop lifting, requiring other's aid to get higher, and some say there's a guy at the top willing to take the burdens of Evil deeds off you, if you let him.

...But more on topic, it's best for a Campaign to use the moral and ethical compass the players agree on. The Agency Theory of Fun would ensure Good characters are fun to play because you actually feel like a Good character (and not just some arbitrary designation by an incomprehensible Karma Meter), since virtue really is it's own reward (Do I have to link to TvTropes to illustrate? Good Feels Good). But, it is still fun to play certain evil characters as well, thanks to the Agency Theory of Fun and character disconnect. You actually can do evil things you've always wanted to try, but in a way nobody gets hurt or suffers.

That was... very... poetic? Yeah, poetic. Didn't actually mean much though, did it? It also seemed to have missed the point of the original article here. Pretty though.

Explorator Vimes:
As for your system it would take overhauling the standard understanding of the universal tropes in D&D. In that a succubus is Chaos and Evil personified. She can't act in a good nature because she can't even think that way.

Well...yeah. That was kind of the point. The "standard" succubus just isn't very interesting once you've seen it the first time and figured out what to expect.

I haven't played with newbies in a long time, so maybe you're right about it being a good starter, but i think it would be even easier to just say "Do whatever you feel like doing." People (even kids) have a whole lifetime of training on how to respond to people/creatures who attack them, are nice to them, or are mean to them.

I didn't really want to start advocating for ditching alignment, but after i had handled the mechanics associated with it, it just seemed unnecessary and i'm interested in hearing why it's not.

Next time: The difference between Wisdom and Intelligence. Since that line seems to get blurred at times.

Mutak:
Regardless of how good or bad, clear or unclear an alignment system is, the important question is, "What purpose does it serve?"

Why have an alignment system at all? Why not scrap it entirely? I already gave an example of how you can do it without drastically modifying the game itself, so why bother with it? What does it add to the experience?

(I'm really curious to read peoples' answers to this.)

In addition to Vimes' response, I like how it quantifies and can reward being virtuous even when you end up with bad publicity (partially from my belief that the real world has Absolute Morality, though convoluted) As fun as the Chaotic Neutral, fun-loving adventurer can be, a Paladin, when pulled off successfully, is the most awesome character to play ever. They get all the best lines, and badassery is much cooler when delivered with the knowledge your might comes reinforced with holy righteousness, against those that deserve everything that's coming to them.

And it does also help as a good reference point for a character's general personality type. Though I don't like the stigma attached to Technically Evil characters (like my Gnolls, who are brutal, but trying to improve)

tetron:

Scow2:
[quote="Jenx" post="6.248022.9144839"]Man as much as I love the Planescape campaign setting, my opinion has always been the same - the alignment system should be dragged to the back of the shed and shot in the head. It brings almost nothing of value to a game aside from wasting hours on arguments about what's Lawful Good and what isn't.

Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it is broken... The axis are sliding scales, but Good and Evil are often clearly defined, and no amount of justification would make Genocide against a sapiant, material-planed creature a Good act.

And isn't it a bit too presumptuous of you to just decide that I don't like the alignment system only because I don't understand it? Well sorry, but no I do understand the alignment system, and I can see some use in it, but I still stand by my statement - it barely brings anything of actual value to the game. Isn't it interesting how you can deal with the conflict of good vs evil in other games, without needing to slap on some alignment on the people involved?

And here's another thing - if alignments can change based on the characters actions, and not restrict him to the one he already had at the beginning (as I agree it should be) then again - what is the point of having the alignment there in the first place?

Lawful = Deontological
Chaotic = Teleologocal
Neutral = Intuitive

Gotcha.

Explorator Vimes:

I.E.D.:

Archon:

Sure you can. In fact, I just did! :)

You're doing the same, too, you're just doing it intuitively rather than explicitly.

I was about to write a lengthy response to your reply, starting a deconstructionist ordeal of the entire article, but then I realized that in doing so I would just undermine my own arguments of deterministic nature of DnD gameplay (and deterministic nature of the planes and multiverse :D) , so I'll keep this as short as possible.

By which account does the alignment system used in DnD makes the necessary agreement of experience with the player's moral concepts and other objects? The main reason behind all the alignment system arguments is the fact that there is no answer to this question. Not even Kant could answer that, should someone cast a resurrect spell on him. And when you lack an answer to a question that's because no logical system is complete.

I, as a DM, can punish a paladin player for allowing a petty, sadistic bandit to live, because the paladin knew that the same bandit murdered an entire family that provided him with a shelter for the night. I can also punish him for murdering the helpless bandit in the first place. I can even introduce a new story line involving that same bandit who escaped the hand of law, and punish the poor Lawful Retard later. That example returns us to determinism, or in the case of a DM in a bad mood it gets even worse; such actions are fatalistic, and no moral philosophy can save the poor player from the wrath of Kelemvor and eternal servitude in his gray city.

We are all products of the millions upon millions of years of evolution and the concepts of good and evil are becoming more redundant as the computational power increases.

I always tell my players my opinion of the alignment system and it's up to them to choose if the system shall be used or not. But one thing is for certain, if it's used, a lot of lulz always ensue.

So, wait. Let me get this straight, you completely admit to being an alignment Troll in a game you are personally DMing? So really you're not giving them a choice, you're saying no alignment or I will make your character's lives hell. How is that at all helpful or conducive to a game that doesn't end with someone giving you a bloody nose for being the annoying DM with a God Complex?

Dude, what are you, twelve? Reread the whole post again and introduce yourself with a couple of philosophical concepts before you fail at reading comprehension again.

Mutak:
I didn't really want to start advocating for ditching alignment, but after i had handled the mechanics associated with it, it just seemed unnecessary and i'm interested in hearing why it's not.

My fundamental reason for having alignment in Dungeons & Dragons style games is verisimilitude to the genre. In the fiction that I find most inspiring, Alignment exists. People have free will, but their free-willed decisions have a metaphysical impact.

The most obvious example here is Tolkien: The Silmarillion's antagonist, Melkior, changes alignment based on his deeds and becomes Morgoth. This results in tangible effects to his very being, including what sort of magic he can use (destruction but not creation), how he appears in the world, and so on.

Alignment is likewise fundamentally "real" in Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone and in Poul Anderon's fantasy. Consider Three Hearts and Three Lions, pg22-23: "Holger got the idea that a perpetual struggle went on between primeval forces of Law and Chaos. No, not forces exactly. Modes of existence? A terrestrial reflection of the spiritual conflict between heaven and hell? In any case, humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them were almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faerie, Trollheim, and the Giants--an actual creation of Chaos. Wars among men, such as the long-drawn struggle between the Saracens and the Holy Empire, aided Chaos; under Law all men would live in peace and order and that liberty which only Law could give meaning. But this was so alien to the Middle Worlders that they were forever working to prevent it and extend their own shadowy dominion."

You cannot reflect the sort of universe that occurs in Three Hearts & Three Lions, Elric, Lord of the Rings, and many other works of high fantasy without Alignment. Therefore, there should be rules for it.

i was disagreeing with it

like i said, how you interpret the DnD allignment is influenced by your own allignment/tendencies

Gildedtongue:
Next time: The difference between Wisdom and Intelligence. Since that line seems to get blurred at times.

that's easy. Intelligence is knowing that rain is caused by the heat of the sun propelling tiny droplets of water skyward - they collect via winds and heat currents into collections called clouds - when their density becomes high enough, the droplets form into drops, and finally, their weight overcomes the pull of the wind keeping them in the air and they fall towards the ground.

Wisdom is thinking to use an umbrella.

basically, intelligence is your reasoning and your ability to come up with new ideas
wisdom is your ability to use older ideas, and solving puzzles by remembering things that happened in the past.

Intelligence is logic
Wisdom is memory

Alignment in DnD is a funny thing--I think it is a brilliant tool for considering morality, and can lead to some very deep discussions. The two axis system is so brilliant it seems like something a famous philosopher would come up with. But as far as actually having a role in the game itself, I usually don't bother with it too much.

The problem I have with it is that the places where it gets introduced always seem so petty. These thoughtful, philosophical questions often degenerate into "can I do this without violating my alignment?" and "how do I rationalize this so I don't lose my class abilities?" Nowhere is this more annoying than using DnD supplements like the Book of Exalted Deeds. The few campaigns I have been in that allowed use of this book spent a sizable amount of session time arguing over whether certain actions would cause the permanent loss of exalted feats--a valid concern, since once lost an exalted feat becomes a glaring hole in the character that, in many campaigns, is almost worse than death, if the character's build is heavily dependent on it. But by reducing morality to such pettiness, it kind of misses the point, and completely ruins the natural flow of the game. For all its potential, the Book of Exalted Deeds basically defines Good as "hostility towards Evil," which is a really uninteresting way to do it.

I've always thought alignment was more interesting when it represented a statement by the players, rather than some vague and poorly defined set of rules combined with the personal biases of the DM. In my old DnD world I defined Paladins not as followers of some code, but as Judges of it. Paladins were this small order of individuals who were basically responsible for determining good and evil in the world--a Paladin Smiting something was that Paladin's judgement of that creature as Evil. The Paladin could Smite whoever or whatever he wanted, but that decision would have consequences on the game world--for instance, a Paladin Smiting a thief would establish a precedent for thievery as 'evil.' This would give supernatural creatures, like demons and devils, power over those judged as Evil. To Smite something was to cast it out of the realm of Goodness, and if Paladins were indiscriminate there would eventually be very little that was Good left in the world. Smiting was necessary to defend Good from the armies of Evil, but every new thing judged as Evil added to the power of the armies of Evil. So if you Smote a devil, you wouldn't really cause any problems--after all, devils are already part of the armies of Evil. But when the party arrived in a new part of the world and witnessed all the different cultural beliefs, they had to be very careful about judging cultural differences as Evil, because by doing so they were handing over that culture to the armies of Evil, strengthening Evil and denying Good the benefits and wisdom of that culture.

This made the Paladin much more interesting and also much easier to play, since they weren't constantly bumping up against alignment problems. It also meant that the Paladin could participate in more of the party's activities, since in many groups everyone conspires to keep the Paladin in the dark as much as possible--if the Paladin doesn't know about it, he can't stop you and won't lose his class abilities. It can end up being very exclusive, and sucks for the person playing the Paladin. My old group had a name for this, 'The Paladin Effect.'

In the end, I feel that however alignment is used, it should be Interesting, not Annoying.

Altorin:

Gildedtongue:
Next time: The difference between Wisdom and Intelligence. Since that line seems to get blurred at times.

that's easy. Intelligence is knowing that rain is caused by the heat of the sun propelling tiny droplets of water skyward - they collect via winds and heat currents into collections called clouds - when their density becomes high enough, the droplets form into drops, and finally, their weight overcomes the pull of the wind keeping them in the air and they fall towards the ground.

Wisdom is thinking to use an umbrella.

basically, intelligence is your reasoning and your ability to come up with new ideas
wisdom is your ability to use older ideas, and solving puzzles by remembering things that happened in the past.

Intelligence is logic
Wisdom is memory

Actually, you screwed it up. Intelligence is Memory, Logic, and basic Comprehension (ie. reading a diagram/chart).
Wisdom is Awareness, Judgement, intuition, and Deeper Comprehension("Reading between the Lines", noticing patterns, catching subtext, finding Fridge Brilliance, and catching Fridge Logic). I pity the foo' who uses WIS as a dump stat ;)

A good Paladin has at least a decent(as far as Heros go, it needs to be Exceptional compared to a commoner) Wisdom, as it allows them to act with greater conviction drawn from deeper understanding of the code they serve. Clerics need a high WIS to understand the Will of His/Her God, and work Greater wonders from it. Lawyers and Lawmakers need high INT, Judges and Juries need high WIS (though Lawyers like to choose Juries with low WIS, since they are easier to manipulate).

I would posit that Snape from Harry Potter is in fact Chaotic Good, in that he say his mission as ensuring that Harry ( the one destined to kill the greatest evil in the land) lives, no matter what the cost. doing otherwise evil acts (killing Dumbledore) to preserve the greater good.

MorganL4:
I would posit that Snape from Harry Potter is in fact Chaotic Good, in that he say his mission as ensuring that Harry ( the one destined to kill the greatest evil in the land) lives, no matter what the cost. doing otherwise evil acts (killing Dumbledore) to preserve the greater good.

I agree that Snape was Chaotic Good, but you've messed up his motives... It wasn't a matter of "No matter the cost" (which translates as No Matter the Consequences, which is opposed to the Chaotic Good alignment. Chaotic =/= irresponsible), as much as "No matter how" (Which translates as "Disregard the method to get there".

I really hate it when people use "The Greater/Common Good" as justification of an evil act, because usually, that goal isn't good, especially when it cannot be elaborated upon to explain how it's Greater or Good.

Helmutye:
Alignment in DnD is a funny thing--I think it is a brilliant tool for considering morality, and can lead to some very deep discussions. The two axis system is so brilliant it seems like something a famous philosopher would come up with. But as far as actually having a role in the game itself, I usually don't bother with it too much.

The problem I have with it is that the places where it gets introduced always seem so petty. These thoughtful, philosophical questions often degenerate into "can I do this without violating my alignment?" and "how do I rationalize this so I don't lose my class abilities?" Nowhere is this more annoying than using DnD supplements like the Book of Exalted Deeds. The few campaigns I have been in that allowed use of this book spent a sizable amount of session time arguing over whether certain actions would cause the permanent loss of exalted feats--a valid concern, since once lost an exalted feat becomes a glaring hole in the character that, in many campaigns, is almost worse than death, if the character's build is heavily dependent on it. But by reducing morality to such pettiness, it kind of misses the point, and completely ruins the natural flow of the game. For all its potential, the Book of Exalted Deeds basically defines Good as "hostility towards Evil," which is a really uninteresting way to do it.

I've always thought alignment was more interesting when it represented a statement by the players, rather than some vague and poorly defined set of rules combined with the personal biases of the DM. In my old DnD world I defined Paladins not as followers of some code, but as Judges of it. Paladins were this small order of individuals who were basically responsible for determining good and evil in the world--a Paladin Smiting something was that Paladin's judgement of that creature as Evil. The Paladin could Smite whoever or whatever he wanted, but that decision would have consequences on the game world--for instance, a Paladin Smiting a thief would establish a precedent for thievery as 'evil.' This would give supernatural creatures, like demons and devils, power over those judged as Evil. To Smite something was to cast it out of the realm of Goodness, and if Paladins were indiscriminate there would eventually be very little that was Good left in the world. Smiting was necessary to defend Good from the armies of Evil, but every new thing judged as Evil added to the power of the armies of Evil. So if you Smote a devil, you wouldn't really cause any problems--after all, devils are already part of the armies of Evil. But when the party arrived in a new part of the world and witnessed all the different cultural beliefs, they had to be very careful about judging cultural differences as Evil, because by doing so they were handing over that culture to the armies of Evil, strengthening Evil and denying Good the benefits and wisdom of that culture.

This made the Paladin much more interesting and also much easier to play, since they weren't constantly bumping up against alignment problems. It also meant that the Paladin could participate in more of the party's activities, since in many groups everyone conspires to keep the Paladin in the dark as much as possible--if the Paladin doesn't know about it, he can't stop you and won't lose his class abilities. It can end up being very exclusive, and sucks for the person playing the Paladin. My old group had a name for this, 'The Paladin Effect.'

In the end, I feel that however alignment is used, it should be Interesting, not Annoying.

I agree entirely with the Book of ED in games, I had a fellow PC use it as well, and he wasn't even a paladin, but had sunk something like 4 feats into Exalted stuff, and as you said losing that is as good as losing the character entirely in 3.5. It was such a hassle that after the campaign ended he apologized to the group for the headaches it caused. We collectively agreed to not use it again since we came to the same conclusion that it lost the dynamic part of his character since he always had to check if the action or actions around him would ruin the build.

As for your change of how Paladins work, I must say, I like core alignment, but that is a completely fascinating idea to use. I would never in a lifetime have thought or making that kind of connection and change to how Paladins work. I might actually borrow that concept at some point because I'm curious to see it play out in an actual game.

Edit: We also called it the Paladin Problem, but that's because we like alliteration.

Archon:
My fundamental reason for having alignment in Dungeons & Dragons style games is verisimilitude to the genre. In the fiction that I find most inspiring, Alignment exists. People have free will, but their free-willed decisions have a metaphysical impact.

The most obvious example here is Tolkien: The Silmarillion's antagonist, Melkior, changes alignment based on his deeds and becomes Morgoth. This results in tangible effects to his very being, including what sort of magic he can use (destruction but not creation), how he appears in the world, and so on.

Alignment is likewise fundamentally "real" in Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone and in Poul Anderon's fantasy. Consider Three Hearts and Three Lions, pg22-23: "Holger got the idea that a perpetual struggle went on between primeval forces of Law and Chaos. No, not forces exactly. Modes of existence? A terrestrial reflection of the spiritual conflict between heaven and hell? In any case, humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them were almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faerie, Trollheim, and the Giants--an actual creation of Chaos. Wars among men, such as the long-drawn struggle between the Saracens and the Holy Empire, aided Chaos; under Law all men would live in peace and order and that liberty which only Law could give meaning. But this was so alien to the Middle Worlders that they were forever working to prevent it and extend their own shadowy dominion."

You cannot reflect the sort of universe that occurs in Three Hearts & Three Lions, Elric, Lord of the Rings, and many other works of high fantasy without Alignment. Therefore, there should be rules for it.

That all seems to come down to having thematic elements in your game. The struggles of the forces of Law and Chaos, God and Evil can play out in an alignment-less game and imo they become all the more interesting because there is no scoreboard for how any individual is doing in those struggles.

In your examples, it's not that alignment is "real", but that moral choices have physical consequences. IMO my mechanics work even better than traditional alignment for those sorts of overt struggles. They handle the transformation of Melkior to Morgoth as well as Elric's journey. It has been more than 20 years since i read Three Hearts and Three Lions, so forgive me if i've got it wrong, but Holger is an utter outsider to the world and his observations of how things work should not be taken for factual cosmology, but even if you do want that cosmology, it still seems like my system works better. Law and Chaos exist and creatures are created by it, shaped by it, but not limited to their source. From the quote you provided: "humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos."

Apparently i have switched to full-on advocacy mode. I probably should have seen that coming. ;)

To criticize it from another angle, alignment reduces player agency. If they are doing something because their alignment demands it instead of because they want to or because it's fun, then they have less immediate control of their characters. Sure, they chose the alignment in the first place, but what seemed fine when designing the character might not fit after a few levels in the world. The obvious answer to that is (unless they're a paladin) they have varying degrees of freedom to change their alignment, and if, mechanically speaking, changing alignment doesn't matter all that much for most characters, then why use it at all? For situations where a particular set of behaviors is encouraged or required, more concrete forces can easily fill the void that alignment leaves. Culture, Religion, even the direct action of the Gods and Goddesses themselves.

To be clear: i'm not suggesting that any character should do anything the player feels like doing at any time. Choices should be based on the character's concept, history, the situation at hand, and the player's wishes. No meta-game labels are necessary.

In the end, i'd say the proof is in the pudding. It's easy to hang on to alignment because it has been in our games for 30+ years and we're all familiar with it, but because it's such a weak mechanic, it's also easy to drop it entirely. Try it next time you play. I doubt you'll miss it.

Helmutye:
In my old DnD world I defined Paladins not as followers of some code, but as Judges of it. Paladins were this small order of individuals who were basically responsible for determining good and evil in the world--a Paladin Smiting something was that Paladin's judgement of that creature as Evil. The Paladin could Smite whoever or whatever he wanted, but that decision would have consequences on the game world--for instance, a Paladin Smiting a thief would establish a precedent for thievery as 'evil.' This would give supernatural creatures, like demons and devils, power over those judged as Evil. To Smite something was to cast it out of the realm of Goodness, and if Paladins were indiscriminate there would eventually be very little that was Good left in the world. Smiting was necessary to defend Good from the armies of Evil, but every new thing judged as Evil added to the power of the armies of Evil. So if you Smote a devil, you wouldn't really cause any problems--after all, devils are already part of the armies of Evil. But when the party arrived in a new part of the world and witnessed all the different cultural beliefs, they had to be very careful about judging cultural differences as Evil, because by doing so they were handing over that culture to the armies of Evil, strengthening Evil and denying Good the benefits and wisdom of that culture.

This made the Paladin much more interesting and also much easier to play, since they weren't constantly bumping up against alignment problems. It also meant that the Paladin could participate in more of the party's activities, since in many groups everyone conspires to keep the Paladin in the dark as much as possible--if the Paladin doesn't know about it, he can't stop you and won't lose his class abilities. It can end up being very exclusive, and sucks for the person playing the Paladin. My old group had a name for this, 'The Paladin Effect.'

In the end, I feel that however alignment is used, it should be Interesting, not Annoying.

That is a VERY interesting cosmology! I'm not sure how to represent it mechanically, or whether a mechanical representation is even necessary, but it is a neat twist!

I never had much problem with the alignment system because I thankfully didn't have a bunch of giggling morons in my gaming group (well, maybe one or two over the years) that thought it was cool to be a jerk by playing an evil character, but that's not to say I didn't have people that played evil characters. One was a necromancer and he was quite content with 'saving the world' because it gave him the opportunity to become quite powerful and enabled him to use his 'righteous cause' to bring down other powers that stood in his way. It helped that it was a darker fantasy setting where everything was political and byzantine, and none of the other players were likewise sillyheaded 'I'm good so I kill bad guys, you're a bad guy!' but found themselves having to work within the party to accomplish their goals.

To me the most interesting discussions of alignment and morality came up during my Storyteller gaming days (Vampire, Werewolf and Mage, mostly) where you had a whole range of issues that cropped up. Especially a campaign regarding a coterie of Sabbat vampires, a sect that was entirely divorced from the concept of humanity, yet they weren't out of control psychopaths (not most of the time, at least).

Scow2:
Actually, the Paladin is closer aligned to Good than Law. His code automatically breaks him for commiting an Evil act, but not a Chaotic one... A Paladin is under no obligation to follow an unjust Law, nor is he forbidden from breaking a law that would hinder him from doing truly greater good... There is no greater Lawful Act than upholding a code bestowed upon you by the Highest of Powers (Either a Greater Diety or the Cause of Good itself) with Steadfast Conviction even in the face of the transient shadows of authority occassionally acquired and bandied about by Mortals, upholding and defending a Code and Cause that has existed before Creation, and must and will hold throughout the aeons, as even the Acts and Lives of the greatest dieties rise and fall in power.

First of all, a paladin does in fact break his code of conduct and lose his abilities for going against Law. Everything about a paladin must exemplify the highest ideals to which he devotes his life. To (most) paladins, this is not Good alone, but also Law (speaking about lawful good paladins here, there are other kinds!).

Secondly, a paladin cannot simply wander around breaking "laws of the land" wantonly, even if the laws are totally unjust. This is seen the best in cities ruled by lawful evil tyrants. A paladin tasked with hunting down a fugitive who performed an act which is unlawful in this city, but good in another, MUST violate his alignment in choosing one side or another, and require atonement either way.

And finally, in case you don't like the previous example, a paladin must be lawful to the code of his patron deity. This code may, in certain instances, conflict with either local laws, or even Good itself. For an example, take a (normal) paladin who worships St. Cuthbert, the patron god of vengeance. This paladin would be obligated to seek appropriate vengeance on anyone who crosses him, not for personal reasons but for his god. This could easily cause him to come into an alignment conflict with Good, and he can't simply pick good and go on his merry way. He'd have violated his god's will, forcing atonement to be needed. He also can't just take vengeance, because an evil act will violate his code, forcing atonement to be needed.

I refer to a "normal" paladin as LG, but here's a few other variants (I believe they're in the Unearthed Arcana of 3.5):
Paladin of Freedom: CG
Paladin of Slaughter: CE
Paladin of Tyranny: LE

Mutak, thanks for the detailed response. To respond in turn:

1) Alignment being the game's system for categorizing moral choices, to say that moral choices have physical consequences *is* to say that alignment is "real".
2) If you'll recall, the first questions I asked you with regard to your system were whether moral choices could change a person's relationship to the Celestial/Abyssal/Order/Chaos hierarchy. Your answer was no. To the extent that the answer is "yes", I think your system *is* an alignment system, with different names. To the extent that the answer is "no", then your system doesn't provide for moral choices have real consequences.
3) Alignment does not remove player agency. In order for agency to exist, choices have to have consequences. If my choice of A or B leads to C regardless, than neither A nor B is an actual choice. They are pseudo-choices (illusions of choice) that lead to a fixed outcome. Alignment provides a set of consequences to moral choices that would not otherwise exist. If killing the surrendered foe or tying up the surrendered foe leads to the same outcome (the party moves on to the next dungeon and never really interacts with the surrendered enemy again), then it's a meaningless choice. If killing the helpless prisoner, on the other hand, supports one alignment and the other choice is vice versa, than its a meaningful choice. Alignment therefore makes choice more important, and therefore makes free will more important. Heck, the absence of any moral meaning to the universe is exactly the conundrum that the philosophy of existentialism has to deal with - if everything is meaningless, then all outcomes are equally absurd, and our lives themselves become absurd. So I couldn't really disagree with you more on this one, I regret!
4) I've played plenty games that lack alignment systems - Cyberpunk 2020, for one, Travelle another. I've found I do miss alignment when it's not present. I tend to find that in the absence of alignment, most players drift into sociopathic behavior simply because they don't actually "feel" the post-traumatic shock/guilt/empathic injury from bad behavior the way a real person would from doing awful deeds - so called "virtual sociopathy;' the same phenomenon that makes people jerks in online discussions, or griefers in MMOs, lends itself towards a drift towards evil in RPGs in the absence of a countervailing force. n addition to its thematic role, alignment thus serves a useful purpose in reminding players of their character's [not their own] conscience.
These two points are almost worthy of their own column... Hmm.

Mutak:
[quote="Archon" post="6.248022.9152749"] That all seems to come down to having thematic elements in your game. The struggles of the forces of Law and Chaos, God and Evil can play out in an alignment-less game and imo they become all the more interesting because there is no scoreboard for how any individual is doing in those struggles.

In your examples, it's not that alignment is "real", but that moral choices have physical consequences. IMO my mechanics work even better than traditional alignment for those sorts of overt struggles. They handle the transformation of Melkior to Morgoth as well as Elric's journey. It has been more than 20 years since i read Three Hearts and Three Lions, so forgive me if i've got it wrong, but Holger is an utter outsider to the world and his observations of how things work should not be taken for factual cosmology, but even if you do want that cosmology, it still seems like my system works better. Law and Chaos exist and creatures are created by it, shaped by it, but not limited to their source. From the quote you provided: "humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos."

Apparently i have switched to full-on advocacy mode. I probably should have seen that coming. ;)

To criticize it from another angle, alignment reduces player agency. If they are doing something because their alignment demands it instead of because they want to or because it's fun, then they have less immediate control of their characters. Sure, they chose the alignment in the first place, but what seemed fine when designing the character might not fit after a few levels in the world. The obvious answer to that is (unless they're a paladin) they have varying degrees of freedom to change their alignment, and if, mechanically speaking, changing alignment doesn't matter all that much for most characters, then why use it at all? For situations where a particular set of behaviors is encouraged or required, more concrete forces can easily fill the void that alignment leaves. Culture, Religion, even the direct action of the Gods and Goddesses themselves.

To be clear: i'm not suggesting that any character should do anything the player feels like doing at any time. Choices should be based on the character's concept, history, the situation at hand, and the player's wishes. No meta-game labels are necessary.

In the end, i'd say the proof is in the pudding. It's easy to hang on to alignment because it has been in our games for 30+ years and we're all familiar with it, but because it's such a weak mechanic, it's also easy to drop it entirely. Try it next time you play. I doubt you'll miss it.

Scow2:

Altorin:

Gildedtongue:
Next time: The difference between Wisdom and Intelligence. Since that line seems to get blurred at times.

that's easy. Intelligence is knowing that rain is caused by the heat of the sun propelling tiny droplets of water skyward - they collect via winds and heat currents into collections called clouds - when their density becomes high enough, the droplets form into drops, and finally, their weight overcomes the pull of the wind keeping them in the air and they fall towards the ground.

Wisdom is thinking to use an umbrella.

basically, intelligence is your reasoning and your ability to come up with new ideas
wisdom is your ability to use older ideas, and solving puzzles by remembering things that happened in the past.

Intelligence is logic
Wisdom is memory

Actually, you screwed it up. Intelligence is Memory, Logic, and basic Comprehension (ie. reading a diagram/chart).
Wisdom is Awareness, Judgement, intuition, and Deeper Comprehension("Reading between the Lines", noticing patterns, catching subtext, finding Fridge Brilliance, and catching Fridge Logic). I pity the foo' who uses WIS as a dump stat ;)

A good Paladin has at least a decent(as far as Heros go, it needs to be Exceptional compared to a commoner) Wisdom, as it allows them to act with greater conviction drawn from deeper understanding of the code they serve. Clerics need a high WIS to understand the Will of His/Her God, and work Greater wonders from it. Lawyers and Lawmakers need high INT, Judges and Juries need high WIS (though Lawyers like to choose Juries with low WIS, since they are easier to manipulate).

my use of the word "memory" was perhaps incorrect, and I sort of knew it, but I didn't screw it up entirely. I don't think of Wisdom as actual awareness, but more of the ability to recognize patterns, using either things taught to you or actual experience. Spot and Listen are not Wisdom checks because Wise people have really good sight or hearing. It's Wisdom because a wise person is more likely to recognize that the foot prints or the whisper in the wind is significant. I think that ability is a function of their memory.

Of course remembering the specifics of something is a factor of intelligence - religious scholars are intelligent as well as wise (one would hope). Remembering specific scripture verses for instance. But using that scripture to profound effect (remembering what it really means) is wisdom.

Considering I completely agree with your definitions, and I agree with mine as well, they must be congruous somehow, lol. I just have a different denotation of the word Memory.

Ah...this is good.

Archon:
1) Alignment being the game's system for categorizing moral choices, to say that moral choices have physical consequences *is* to say that alignment is "real".

Not necessarily - it could be saying that forces beyond the player's control (whether they are primal forces or powerful beings) respond to the characters' choices. Is there a compelling game reason for systematically and universally categorizing moral choices in general? Why not just deal with them individually? Even if your world has primal forces of good and evil that every creature is allied with, why is it important to classify individual creatures on that spectrum with an easy-read label instead of just relying on their actions and words to convey that alliance? What does the alignment label add to the experience? Why have the mechanic in there at all? The most fun it seems to promote are the arguments about what alignment Darth Vader/Batman/Captain Picard would be.

Archon:
2) If you'll recall, the first questions I asked you with regard to your system were whether moral choices could change a person's relationship to the Celestial/Abyssal/Order/Chaos hierarchy. Your answer was no. To the extent that the answer is "yes", I think your system *is* an alignment system, with different names. To the extent that the answer is "no", then your system doesn't provide for moral choices have real consequences.

There's a bit of mishmash between the system and my campaign setting going on here. The confusion is probably due to the sort of off-hand way i started talking about it in the first place.

Yes, you could easily take my mechanics and turn them into an alignment system - something akin to Fable's. I think it would be the worse for it, resulting mainly in players gaming the system in order to get cool powers. "If I kill one more guy I get cool demon wings!"

You're right that my system (setting really) doesn't provide automatic consequences for moral choices. The system provides additional ways for other beings in the world to reward or punish players for their moral choices.

Archon:
3) Alignment does not remove player agency. In order for agency to exist, choices have to have consequences. If my choice of A or B leads to C regardless, than neither A nor B is an actual choice. They are pseudo-choices (illusions of choice) that lead to a fixed outcome. Alignment provides a set of consequences to moral choices that would not otherwise exist. If killing the surrendered foe or tying up the surrendered foe leads to the same outcome (the party moves on to the next dungeon and never really interacts with the surrendered enemy again), then it's a meaningless choice. If killing the helpless prisoner, on the other hand, supports one alignment and the other choice is vice versa, than its a meaningful choice. Alignment therefore makes choice more important, and therefore makes free will more important. Heck, the absence of any moral meaning to the universe is exactly the conundrum that the philosophy of existentialism has to deal with - if everything is meaningless, then all outcomes are equally absurd, and our lives themselves become absurd. So I couldn't really disagree with you more on this one, I regret!

Alignment doesn't remove agency - it limits it. The extent to which it limits agency is dependent on how thoroughly and rigidly you define and enforce the alignments. Alignment is not the only source of consequence. As i said before - Culture, Religion, Deities, etc. Plenty of other forces are available to provide consequences for actions.

I find this whole discussion of consequences coming from Alignment to be pretty bizarre in general because aside from a few specific cases (Paladins are LG, Druids and Barbarians must be Chaotic, etc.) the alignment system does not have any consequences associated with it. Example: A Chaotic Good rogue kills an innocent shopkeep just to steal his money - pure greed. DM says, "Oh naughty boy - you're chaotic neutral now. Keep it up and you'll be Chaotic Evil." But what are the real consequences? Nothing. Even with this alignment system in place, the consequences (if any) are coming from an outside source. That's why i keep saying the alignment mechanic is so weak that you ought to ignore it completely and focus instead on the other sources of consequence.

Incidentally, if the game is meaningless without alignment then life is meaningless because human beings don't have alignments, at least not ones you can reliably check with a quick incantation.

Archon:
4) I've played plenty games that lack alignment systems - Cyberpunk 2020, for one, Travelle another. I've found I do miss alignment when it's not present. I tend to find that in the absence of alignment, most players drift into sociopathic behavior simply because they don't actually "feel" the post-traumatic shock/guilt/empathic injury from bad behavior the way a real person would from doing awful deeds - so called "virtual sociopathy;' the same phenomenon that makes people jerks in online discussions, or griefers in MMOs, lends itself towards a drift towards evil in RPGs in the absence of a countervailing force. n addition to its thematic role, alignment thus serves a useful purpose in reminding players of their character's [not their own] conscience.
These two points are almost worthy of their own column... Hmm.

Every example you've given is an issue not due to a lack of alignment, but a lack of consequence. No, you can't make them feel guilty, but you can certainly impose appropriate social sanctions against them. Even in situations where in-game consequences are not appropriate, alignment is not the only way of handling that issue. In fact i don't even think it's a good way - plenty of players would be perfectly happy writing down "Chaotic Evil" on their character sheet if it gave them a pass to do whatever they wanted. Communication works better - tell the players before, during, or after the game starts that psychotic/sociopathic characters are not going to fly - you're just not interested in paying that kind of game. I don't think that's any more unreasonable than saying you prefer fantasy to sci-fi. If a player insists that he simply MUST play a serial killer...well...you might be better off not playing with that guy.

Mufujumon:

First of all, a paladin does in fact break his code of conduct and lose his abilities for going against Law. Everything about a paladin must exemplify the highest ideals to which he devotes his life. To (most) paladins, this is not Good alone, but also Law (speaking about lawful good paladins here, there are other kinds!).

Secondly, a paladin cannot simply wander around breaking "laws of the land" wantonly, even if the laws are totally unjust. This is seen the best in cities ruled by lawful evil tyrants. A paladin tasked with hunting down a fugitive who performed an act which is unlawful in this city, but good in another, MUST violate his alignment in choosing one side or another, and require atonement either way.

And finally, in case you don't like the previous example, a paladin must be lawful to the code of his patron deity. This code may, in certain instances, conflict with either local laws, or even Good itself. For an example, take a (normal) paladin who worships St. Cuthbert, the patron god of vengeance. This paladin would be obligated to seek appropriate vengeance on anyone who crosses him, not for personal reasons but for his god. This could easily cause him to come into an alignment conflict with Good, and he can't simply pick good and go on his merry way. He'd have violated his god's will, forcing atonement to be needed. He also can't just take vengeance, because an evil act will violate his code, forcing atonement to be needed.

I refer to a "normal" paladin as LG, but here's a few other variants (I believe they're in the Unearthed Arcana of 3.5):
Paladin of Freedom: CG
Paladin of Slaughter: CE
Paladin of Tyranny: LE

What's this bullshit about a Paladin needing to uphold the ideals of his diety? That's only in 4e (Which took the Crusader's fluff, instead of 4e's). In fact, MOST Paladins don't have a Patron Diety, and are sworn to Good (though many turn to a Good or Lawful Good Diety for support). A Paladin's power comes from the cosmic force of Good, a power even greater than the Dieties in the D&D cosmos. Except the Paladin of 4e, which is the equivalent of 3e's Crusader (From Tome of Battle).

The Paladin code says the Paladin must be of the Lawful alignment. He has the same range of behavior in regards to Law/Chaos as any other Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral character. Generally, just Deontologically shunning evil acts and performing good acts as they arise keeps him Lawful. So, it's really hard to break the Lawful quality of the code without a Helm of Opposite Alignment and fumbled Will save. Essentially, the Lawful alignment thing is more a byproduct of being adamantly and dogmatically opposed to Evil. To a Paladin all being Lawful means is they Cannot make concessions to evil.

They, and other Exalted characters, are not meant for every party.

Scow2:

Mufujumon:

Snip

What's this bullshit about a Paladin needing to uphold the ideals of his diety? That's only in 4e (Which took the Crusader's fluff, instead of 4e's). In fact, MOST Paladins don't have a Patron Diety, and are sworn to Good (though many turn to a Good or Lawful Good Diety for support). A Paladin's power comes from the cosmic force of Good, a power even greater than the Dieties in the D&D cosmos. Except the Paladin of 4e, which is the equivalent of 3e's Crusader (From Tome of Battle).

The Paladin code says the Paladin must be of the Lawful alignment. He has the same range of behavior in regards to Law/Chaos as any other Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral character. Generally, just Deontologically shunning evil acts and performing good acts as they arise keeps him Lawful. So, it's really hard to break the Lawful quality of the code without a Helm of Opposite Alignment and fumbled Will save. Essentially, the Lawful alignment thing is more a byproduct of being adamantly and dogmatically opposed to Evil. To a Paladin all being Lawful means is they Cannot make concessions to evil.

They, and other Exalted characters, are not meant for every party.

I've never really seen a paladin who was just for Good, all the one's I've dealt with picked a deity and stuck with that, but I still feel it comes to the same. No where in any of the fluff does it say they have to uphold their specific deities dogma and teachings, though I've never read them in 4e because I tend to detest that system as little more than idiotic combat. Only that they need to not perform evil acts. There is a line that they must respect legitimate authority, but the word legitimate gives them plenty of leeway, if another nation deems the LE tyrant illegitimate well them he's fair game for the Pally. Paladins have always (In my mind and all those I've played with) been about Good over Law. This should be a rarity for a Lawful character of any stripe, but when the need is dire the Paladin can use Good to trump any of the Lawful aspects because he has to serve Good at the end of the day.

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