Heroes In Shades Of Grey
  • Heroes In Shades Of Grey


    My wife and I recently began watching the HBO series Game of Thrones (based on George R. R. Martin's books) from the start. I had read the books, neither of us had seen any of the series.


    Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series (to give it its proper name) is very different from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. In LOTR we know, with few exceptions, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. The only good orc is a dead orc. Sauron is evil personified. Martin's books are much more contemporary, where no one is wholly evil or wholly good, and many are very much in between. It reminds me of typical contemporary science fiction and fantasy rather than of the older, sometimes called "pulp," style. And of course, Martin has no compunction about bumping off major characters left and right, especially in the earlier books.

    "If everything isn't black and white, I say, 'Why the hell not?'" - John Wayne

    I started writing this piece when it occurred to me to wonder whether there's any kind of parallel to this in gaming - especially tabletop gaming. I don't know, but I can see some comparisons. For example, your typical Euro style board or card game entirely lacks good guys and bad guys. That may be partly because so many are symmetrical, everyone is essentially the same. Tabletop RPGs are more of a holdout for the good guy/bad guy comparisons, although even 40 years ago most players wanted to act like Chaotic Neutrals, doing whatever they wanted but not responsible for what they did, able to act like thugs but not suffer the consequences of being of actual evil alignment. (You won't be surprised to learn that they never got away with this when I was the GM.) There are many RPGs nowadays that are shades of gray rather than black and white, and evidently many people enjoy this, not I.

    Given how much of contemporary life is littered with shades of gray nowadays, where our elected officials are often regarded as crooks, I always liked the notion that one could clearly be a hero, a good guy. I play the game by putting myself in the position of the character, rather than functioning as an actor playing a role.

    This gray is part and parcel of the contemporary dislike of constraints. Any game is a set of constraints that players agree to abide by (if they don't, they cheat). You can't have a game without constraints. Yet contemporaries seem to be less tolerant of constraints than people were 40 or 50 years ago, perhaps because there's so many more things we can do in a world with computers and the Internet than we could back when. Games are often more puzzle than game, so there are no constraints imposed by other players. It's very striking to hear someone say they don't want other people messing up the game they're playing.

    "Life isn't black and white. It's a million gray areas, don't you find?" - Ridley Scott

    It's not surprising, then, that people object to many constraints within the rules of the game. If players don't have to worry about being good, about living up to some kind of standard, if they can successfully be thugs in a world of grays rather than blacks and whites, then they've eliminated some constraints.

    There are different kinds of heroes: some who grow up wanting to be heroes, and prepare to be heroes, and have the necessary attitude to be heroes (like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings books, or Wonder Woman in the recent movie), are one kind. People who are forced to do what must be done when there's no one else to do it (like Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings) are another kind of hero, the Everyman hero. But both of these heroes require pretty clear-cut situations, black and white rather than gray situations. And we expect the first kind to be sure of their mission, as Aragorn was in the books, but not in the movies, where he was made to be modern-style sensitive and uncertain.

    Kriti Sanon said "We are all somewhere or the other a little grey, not black and white. We have our imperfections." But in a game, we can put those imperfections behind us and pretend we are black or white.

    contributed by Lewis Pulsipher
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. Lanefan -
      The alignment system in D&D has always tended to - somewhat unfortunately - pigeonhole characters into little boxes; reinforced by the 1e-era penalties for varying from one's alignment. This presents an arbitrary and in many cases unnecessary limitation on how one can play one's character and even what character one can play at all. This article seems to want to reinforce that limitation, where for 35+ years I've wanted to mitigate it in most cases while maybe not removing it outright.

      Don't get me wrong, I quite like the alignment system - but I want the character to define its alignment rather than have the alignment define the character. In other words, just play the character in character and a vague idea of its alignment will soon enough become apparent.

      I also promote the idea of - I guess you could call it shades of alignment, where for example a true paladinic type might have its alignment as LG a character who is very Good and trends a bit toward Chaotic might show as cG. Someone who is close to true Neutral but shades a bit toward Chaotic Good (i.e. by far the most common alignment seen in my games) would show as Ncg.

      And we've never really played with heroism as a goal, not since day 1 back on the very early '80s. Any heroism arising from what our characters do is often just a side effect of our killing monsters and taking their stuff and may not even always be intentional; though sometimes there's a sort-of-heroic story lurking somewhere in behind it all.

      Most of the real heroism we see in our games comes when characters risk themselves to save other characters.

      Lan-"Paladins, however, still have to play to alignment; which is probably why they stick out like sore thumbs"-efan
    1. pming's Avatar
      pming -
      Hiya!

      Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
      Don't get me wrong, I quite like the alignment system - but I want the character to define its alignment rather than have the alignment define the character. In other words, just play the character in character and a vague idea of its alignment will soon enough become apparent.
      Bingo! We have a winner!

      Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
      And we've never really played with heroism as a goal, not since day 1 back on the very early '80s. Any heroism arising from what our characters do is often just a side effect of our killing monsters and taking their stuff and may not even always be intentional; though sometimes there's a sort-of-heroic story lurking somewhere in behind it all.

      Most of the real heroism we see in our games comes when characters risk themselves to save other characters.

      Lan-"Paladins, however, still have to play to alignment; which is probably why they stick out like sore thumbs"-efan
      And again, my thoughts and experience is very similar to your, Lanefan. I have had Players "not get" the Alignment system, insisting that it was "broken" or that it "forced you to...". Usually, after explaining that it doesn't work that way, and that your choices determine your PC's alignment and not the other way around, they usually get it. Usually. I still had one player who's loathing for the Alignment system was so deep that he just couldn't accept that his view wasn't how I read it at any rate. The way I fixed it for him was to tell him "Don't write down an alignment for your guy then. Leave it blank. Let me worry about it". The repressed light bulb kinda flickered a dull yellow (I could tell he was skeptical), but after a few months of weekly AD&D therapy...he "got it".

      Heroism? Sure...that pays more, right?

      ^_^

      Paul L. -"Just don't ask me about Chaotic Neutral"- Ming
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      I don't think you're looking at constraints properly. There are still plenty of constraints in D&D, but some of the more useless ones have been disregarded over time. People got tired of having to be lawful stupid in order to keep their class abilities, people got tried of having to eat babies to stay a warlock (which required an evil alignment at the time). They got tired of them not because they wanted to play thugs who never took responsibility for their actions, but because these elements did not lend themselves towards good gameplay, or even good role-play. They forced people to make bad decisions when there was no inherent reason for them to do so, other than some gamest mechanic required them to do so in order to keep their alignment.

      Arguably, I would say that the "shades of grey" heroes from Martin's books are perhaps, more heroic than the heroes from Tokein's books. But that's because these people are fighting two different kinds of evil. The former fight a more subtle, internal evil. The latter fight an obvious, external evil. If the orcs are always bad guys, are you really a hero for fighting them? But what if they orcs might not be bad guys? What if they're desperate wanderers who have been forced from their home for *reasons* and in that process, have turned into essentially a nomadic army, like locusts. Is it heroic to fight them? Sure it is. But it's also heroic to understand them. It's also heroic to look for better solutions than "beat up the bad guy".

      Heroism isn't just about fighting evil. It's about being able to tell what is evil, and what isn't. If the Gm just tells you that the bad guys are evil, there's really no heroism in fighting them. Heck, you could be evil and fight evil! You just happen to not like those evil doers. Does that make you a good guy? Does that make you heroic?

      The heroes in Martin's books also fight evil within themselves. The urge to do evil because it is easier, because it is faster, because it is a more permanent solution to the problem. It makes for deep characters who resonate with their audience, who likewise have to fight evil within themselves. To take the easy route, to cheat, to steal.
      This doesn't exist in black-and-white games, in these games you are the hero because your alignment says LG. The bad guys are the bad guys because their stat-block says LE/CE/etc... These games can be fun and enjoyable, but they are largely two-dimensional. Characters move along predictable paths, those who are not good, die, those who are good, live. But these games can get boring and repetitious and as people grow and realize there is more to life than black-and-white, they want to experience these higher concepts within the hobbies they enjoy.

      What people have discovered is that heroism is less about stomping the bad-guys face (which may not be very heroic), but heroism is about "doing the right thing". This may at times include stomping the bad-guy's face, but that has become a much smaller element of "doing the right thing". Sometimes doing the right thing is letting your enemies live, sometimes it's taking them to jail, sometimes it's outright killing them. Sometimes you must sacrifice your goodness to stop a greater evil. Sometimes heroism is judged a thousand years from now, sometimes it is judged in the moment.

      Sure, you can take the Doctor's approach in a grey world:
      Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Who View Post
      "Goodness is not goodness that seeks advantage. Good is good in the final hour, in the deepest pit, without hope, without witness, without reward. Virtue is only virtue in extremis."
      But then you're going to have to take the lumps that come with such an approach, and if your character isn't an immortal, half-mad genius half-bleeding heart, you may find this leads your character to a very short lifespan. And indeed, one of The Doctor's defining elements is that doing good literally kills him.
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      I was always a fan of Pendragon's traits system. If I remember right you had 10 traits that were paired off as opposites. If one rose, the other fell. Reach a certain score with the right traits and you'd get a bonus. And the traits changed according to your actions, not the other way around.
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Quote Originally Posted by pming View Post
      I still had one player who's loathing for the Alignment system was so deep that he just couldn't accept that his view wasn't how I read it at any rate. The way I fixed it for him was to tell him "Don't write down an alignment for your guy then. Leave it blank. Let me worry about it". The repressed light bulb kinda flickered a dull yellow (I could tell he was skeptical), but after a few months of weekly AD&D therapy...he "got it".

      Heroism? Sure...that pays more, right?

      ^_^

      Paul L. -"Just don't ask me about Chaotic Neutral"- Ming
      Hi, my name is Shidaku, I'm that player.
    1. billd91's Avatar
      billd91 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Von Ether View Post
      I was always a fan of Pendragon's traits system. If I remember right you had 10 traits that were paired off as opposites. If one rose, the other fell. Reach a certain score with the right traits and you'd get a bonus. And the traits changed according to your actions, not the other way around.
      Pendragon's traits were pretty cool, but a truly famous trait value (I think 16+) actually could force your actions. Extreme traits could take on a life of their own.
    1. PMárk's Avatar
      PMárk -
      Well, I like antiheroes and troubled heroes and reluctant heroes. I like heroic deeds. However, the archetypical white knight in shining armor do-gooder-type hero, I always found that boring and unrelatable.

      Suffice to say, i never had an inclination to play a paladin. :P
    1. Von Ether's Avatar
      Von Ether -
      Quote Originally Posted by PMárk View Post
      Well, I like antiheroes and troubled heroes and reluctant heroes. I like heroic deeds. However, the archetypical white knight in shining armor do-gooder-type hero, I always found that boring and unrelatable.

      Suffice to say, i never had an inclination to play a paladin. :P
      Again, Pendragon had you playing only knights and it was rather unboring. But then again, if you judge a character on only two axis, you get rather two-dimensional.
    1. Ath-kethin's Avatar
      Ath-kethin -
      I have to say, I love the alignment system, and I actually don't like how it's been downplayed in 5e. In D&D, good and evil aren't abstract concepts; they are physical essences, and moving with or against them has consequences.

      What I DO like in 5e's approach is it's descriptions of the alignments. Short, punchy, and relatable.

      I also enjoy playing Lawful Good characters. There is no role-playing challenge in being a self-centered jerk who does as they please.

      YMMV, obvs.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      We chose alignments and then let alignment drift with behavior. I still do this. It takes some judgment on the DMs part and some honesty on the PCs part. And vice versa And a clear definition of good / evil and lawful / chaotic. For example, killing prisoners? Evil. Period. You could argue it's necessary and I would reply "necessary evil". Unless you are the law it's pretty much an act of chaos as well. Bringing said prisoners in for a court's judgment would be a lawful (neutral) act. Saving a wrongly condemned man, good, but chaotic. Executing a man you know to be wrongly condemned, evil, but lawful. Killing someone in combat to save your own life, neutral. Dungeon crawling (on it's own) neutral (on both axis). Good / evil and lawful / chaotic acts can cause some movement, shifting alignment in increments or reinforcing it. Neutral acts (on either axis) don't make for much movement. Having said this I think of alignment like a large ship It has momentum and it takes a lot of small corrections or some really major ones to change it. And it should be obvious by the time it happens why it is happening. Back in the day, the only character with anything to immediately lose was a Paladin. Druids or Clerics, maybe. But if you chose to play those characters you were conscious of the requirements and, hopefully ready to live up to it. Or down to it...

      Despite the above I have never gotten "judgy" about characters. They are what they are, they do what they do, and they live with the results (good, bad, or indifferent). And most of them feel "justified"/ right in their actions. It's the ones who don't, the ones who are bothered by something they did in game who make conscious efforts to change their behavior (and perhaps eventually their alignment). It's part of the game, and I think an interesting part. It's not the easiest part or the most comfortable part though. And I think that this, as much as differences over the nature of "good vs. evil" or lawful vs. chaotic" is why so many don't like it. In this, imho, they are missing out on some good role playing.

      *edited* For clarity and distracted spelling / grammar.
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Quote Originally Posted by R_Chance View Post
      We chose alignments and then let alignment drift with behavior. I still do this. It takes some judgment on the DMs part and some honesty on the PCs part. And vice versa And a clear definition of good / evil and lawful / chaotic. For example, killing prisoners? Evil. Period. You could argue it's necessary and I would reply "necessary evil". Unless you are the law it's pretty much an act of chaos as well. Bringing said prisoners in for a court's judgment would be a lawful (neutral) act. Saving a wrongly condemned man, good, but chaotic. Executing a man you know to be wrongly condemned, evil, but lawful. Killing someone in combat to save your own life, neutral. Dungeon crawling (on it's own) neutral (on both axis). Good / evil and lawful / chaotic acts can cause some movement, shifting alignment in increments or reinforcing it. Neutral acts (on either axis) don't make for much movement. Having said this I think of alignment like a large ship It has momentum and it takes a lot of small corrections or some really major ones to change it. And it should be obvious by the time it happens why it is happening. Back in the day, the only character with anything to immediately lose was a Paladin. Druids or Clerics, maybe. But if you chose to play those characters you were conscious of the requirements and, hopefully ready to live up to it. Or down to it...

      Despite the above I have never gotten "judgy" about characters. They are what they are, they do what they do, and they live with the results (good, bad, or indifferent). And most of them feel "justified"/ right in their actions. It's the ones who don't, the ones who are bothered by something they did in game who make conscious efforts to change their behavior (and perhaps eventually their alignment). It's part of the game, and I think an interesting part. It's not the easiest part or the most comfortable part though. And I think that this, as much as differences over the nature of "good vs. evil" or lawful vs. chaotic" is why so many don't like it. In this, imho, they are missing out on some good role playing.

      *edited* For clarity and distracted spelling / grammar.
      The highlighted has always been my problem with the alignment system. The DM wants to run a grey setting, but gets judgy about good/evil. Or the DM wants to run a hard good/evil setting, but doesn't make an effort to define what is good and what is evil. Or worse: they don't make any mention of how they want to run alignments and make contradictory judgments on actions, often to the benefit of people playing "the way they like".

      It doesn't help that the system wants to have alignments, but then doesn't clarify what constitutes "goodness" or "lawfulness" or "evil" is.
    1. Ratskinner's Avatar
      Ratskinner -
      Problem with the alignment system is pretty simple:

      There really isn't any effective objective definition of "good" or "evil". Sure, sometimes you can make it seem that way, but whatever definition you come up with always fails around the edges somewhere. ("Law" and "Chaos" make even less sense.) So, of course, players balk at what always end up being vague descriptions, particularly when their character's abilities are at stake.

      OTOH, we have (as others have noted above) fantasy universes where the universe really is divided up into team "good" and team "evil".

      So, the solution is pretty simple. Skip the abstract definitions and go straight towards an "allegiance" system.

      If you want a system to apply restrictions on behavior, the alignment system is inadequate for that. However, some of those Background traits (Ideals, in particular) combined with Inspiration begin to approach it.

      IMO.
    1. felicia's Avatar
      felicia -
      As a player, GM, and reader of fantasy and SF, my problem with clearly defined "good" and "evil" is that often the label of good or evil replaces a character's motivation. Why is this guy attacking us? He is evil. Period. In some games this is going to be fine. When I ran "The Temple of Elemental Evil", my players weren't really looking for a lot of deep motivations on the part of the hobgoblins. On the other hand, in an all-female-player Ars Magica game that I was in, we managed to avoid every single combat the GM threw at us by finding out the reasons for the conflict and resolving them. Our little settlement wasn't being attacked because the attackers were evil. They were attacking us because we had trespassed on their land.

      I haven't been part of games where the players were looking to be thugs, except perhaps in Shadowrun. Mainly, they were looking to get loot and xp. Of course, if they behaved like thugs to do that, I would have had there be consequences, even if they weren't alignment-related. If you start killing people in Hommlet, someone from Verbobonc might eventually notice....

      This isn't to say that there is no place for alignment in games. It can be a good basis for creating an interesting character. I ran a game where the paladin was moody and tormented by his relationship with his deity. There was another where the cleric had a "book of sin" and, when not setting furniture on fire, would loudly threaten to write you in for minor infractions, which was incredibly funny.

      Having black and white morality can be fine, but it can also be an excuse for skipping characterization. It depends on what you are going for in your game.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by shidaku View Post
      The highlighted has always been my problem with the alignment system. The DM wants to run a grey setting, but gets judgy about good/evil. Or the DM wants to run a hard good/evil setting, but doesn't make an effort to define what is good and what is evil. Or worse: they don't make any mention of how they want to run alignments and make contradictory judgments on actions, often to the benefit of people playing "the way they like".

      It doesn't help that the system wants to have alignments, but then doesn't clarify what constitutes "goodness" or "lawfulness" or "evil" is.
      To make the alignment system work the DM has to define the actions in the system that are good, evil, lawful, chaotic, etc. He has to be upfront about it, apply the system evenhandedly, without judging how he wants to play (after all, he's not the player), and be ready to discuss issues with players. I think the alignment system is one of the hardest things to "do right" in the game. It helps that I run a sandbox. People can choose what they do / do not want to do without being boxed into a required alignment or role. I've had *very* different groups of players over the years. If you are running an adventure path type game some of those choices are restricted for the players.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ratskinner View Post
      Problem with the alignment system is pretty simple:

      There really isn't any effective objective definition of "good" or "evil". Sure, sometimes you can make it seem that way, but whatever definition you come up with always fails around the edges somewhere. ("Law" and "Chaos" make even less sense.) So, of course, players balk at what always end up being vague descriptions, particularly when their character's abilities are at stake.

      OTOH, we have (as others have noted above) fantasy universes where the universe really is divided up into team "good" and team "evil".

      So, the solution is pretty simple. Skip the abstract definitions and go straight towards an "allegiance" system.

      If you want a system to apply restrictions on behavior, the alignment system is inadequate for that. However, some of those Background traits (Ideals, in particular) combined with Inspiration begin to approach it.

      IMO.
      As I said in my reply to shidaku above, its really up to the DM to go the extra mile to make the system work. But then that's true of a lot about the game. One of the problems players have with the D&D alignment system is the lack of definition (as you point out), another is the justification of actions as "good" (or whatever) because it seems appropriate / useful to the player. "Well, we killed the prisoners because they might escape and commit more crimes. What's wrong with that? We had to.". Evil, even if true. It's just what I might term a necessary evil. I'm not trying to restrict behavior, just evaluate it. Where it starts out and where it goes is really up to the players -- as long as the ground rules are set.
    1. R_Chance's Avatar
      R_Chance -
      Quote Originally Posted by felicia View Post
      As a player, GM, and reader of fantasy and SF, my problem with clearly defined "good" and "evil" is that often the label of good or evil replaces a character's motivation. Why is this guy attacking us? He is evil. Period. In some games this is going to be fine. When I ran "The Temple of Elemental Evil", my players weren't really looking for a lot of deep motivations on the part of the hobgoblins. On the other hand, in an all-female-player Ars Magica game that I was in, we managed to avoid every single combat the GM threw at us by finding out the reasons for the conflict and resolving them. Our little settlement wasn't being attacked because the attackers were evil. They were attacking us because we had trespassed on their land.

      I haven't been part of games where the players were looking to be thugs, except perhaps in Shadowrun. Mainly, they were looking to get loot and xp. Of course, if they behaved like thugs to do that, I would have had there be consequences, even if they weren't alignment-related. If you start killing people in Hommlet, someone from Verbobonc might eventually notice....

      This isn't to say that there is no place for alignment in games. It can be a good basis for creating an interesting character. I ran a game where the paladin was moody and tormented by his relationship with his deity. There was another where the cleric had a "book of sin" and, when not setting furniture on fire, would loudly threaten to write you in for minor infractions, which was incredibly funny.

      Having black and white morality can be fine, but it can also be an excuse for skipping characterization. It depends on what you are going for in your game.
      To put it simply, I do not view alignment as replacing motivation. Motivation is something the player finds in the world or creates internally. I see alignment as the outcome of actions. A player might set out to do great things and save the world (and succeed) but his actions may make him "evil" (or the reverse for that matter). And, I agree, alignment, or the actions that lead to it, are an interesting part of the game. The "Book of Sin" bit is hilarious. Especially for someone with their habit of using furniture for kindling
    1. Lanefan -
      Quote Originally Posted by felicia View Post
      There was another where the cleric had a "book of sin" and, when not setting furniture on fire, would loudly threaten to write you in for minor infractions, which was incredibly funny.
      What is it about furniture that so annoys characters?

      One character I ran with a long time ago couldn't tolerate furniture of any kind until and unless it had been - violently, if possible - reduced to its component parts and then those component parts had several times met the business end of his mighty 2-handed axe.

      Much more recently I DMed a character who, like yours, preferred furniture only when it was on fire. He kept having to roll saving throws vs smoke inhalation because he'd insist on remaining in the room with it until it was good and burnt...and he didn't always succeed on those saves...

      Having black and white morality can be fine, but it can also be an excuse for skipping characterization.
      Black and white furniture, however, is all the excuse you need...
    1. LuisCarlos17f's Avatar
      LuisCarlos17f -
      My house rule is adding allegiance(fatherland, race, family, tribe, religion guild, code of honor) to alligment system, and spells (with alligment key) could hurt enemies with same alligment but different allegiance.

      And my own interpretation of caothic aligment is different, about behavior with folk of different allegiance, and more attuned to nature/primal forces. For example an assasin would be totally "legal" with his order, but for the rest of the people he would be caothic. In the real life groups need rules to work together. A D&D caothic race couldn't survive a serious crysis like the invasion of the white walkers and the night king (from "Games of Thrones"). Have you readen the book "the Lord of the flies" or watched the movie "the Beach" with Leonardo di Caprio? Or a better example about "caothic groups" in a serious menace: the comics and teleserie "Walking Dead".

      To end I want to say about the real life we can't forget this: Our civilitation has thought to respect the human dignity, the basis of our rights. And the character of Joffrey Baratheon may be the best example to explain the reason of Voltaire's words: "I would not wish to have to deal with an atheist prince, who would find it to his interest to have me ground to powder in a mortar: I should be quite sure of being ground to powder. If I were a sovereign, I would not wish to have to deal with atheist courtiers, whose interest it would be to poison me: I should have to be taking antidotes every day. It is therefore absolutely necessary for princes and for peoples, that the idea of a Supreme Being, creator, ruler, rewarder, revenger, shall be deeply engraved in people's minds".
    1. Over the Hill Gamer's Avatar
      Over the Hill Gamer -
      I am a big fan of Adventures in Middle Earth (a 5e system for Lord of the RIngs) and its shadow point system. There are no alignments in this version of DnD 5e. Instead, characters may accumulate shadow points if they commit dishonorable acts like stealing from the innocent and murder. Characters could also receive shadow points for witnessing distressing events or crossing areas blighted by shadow. Shadow points impact the game in a variety of ways. For instance, if attacked by a wight's evil, your shadow point total is added to your DC. Even the most well-intentioned characters will accumulate shadow points, especially if they confront the Enemy. Characters who go about murdering and stealing from honest people will find themselves overcome by shadow.
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Quote Originally Posted by Over the Hill Gamer View Post
      I am a big fan of Adventures in Middle Earth (a 5e system for Lord of the RIngs) and its shadow point system. There are no alignments in this version of DnD 5e. Instead, characters may accumulate shadow points if they commit dishonorable acts like stealing from the innocent and murder. Characters could also receive shadow points for witnessing distressing events or crossing areas blighted by shadow. Shadow points impact the game in a variety of ways. For instance, if attacked by a wight's evil, your shadow point total is added to your DC. Even the most well-intentioned characters will accumulate shadow points, especially if they confront the Enemy. Characters who go about murdering and stealing from honest people will find themselves overcome by shadow.
      Reminds me of Madness or Corruption or Taint other systems use, does it have a similar "When your Shadow is this high *raises hand over head* you become an NPC?" I mean, aside from making life generally more difficult, whats the endgame?
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