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D&D 5E A different take on Alignment

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No, but alignment was one of the things that edition messed up, so I'm not surprised you had problems with it.
The only mistake in 4e alignment was making the “even more good than Good” alignment “Lawful Good” rather than “Chaotic Good”, and making the super evil Chaotic Evil rather than Lawful Evil.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I didn't have any problems with alignment in 4e. Which is something I've repeatedly posted in this thread.

I've got no idea why you say it was "messed up".
"When I ran 4e D&D for about 7 years straight, the PCs encountered many Evil creatures. They befriended and allied with some (Duergar), they bargained with some (Hags), they fought some until they received and accepted surrenders and promises of repentance (Goblins), etc. All the Evil alignment does is tell me that these people aren't very nice and might be pretty ruthless when upset."

If that's all you get out of alignment, it's not working right. The reason for that is that they removed the aspect of alignment that helped you differentiate the types of evil beings.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I didn't have any problems with alignment in 4e. Which is something I've repeatedly posted in this thread.

I've got no idea why you say it was "messed up".
Alignment in 4E never made sense to me. Which goes back to the OP. Lawful vs chaotic has nothing to do with good vs evil. Combined together they can indicate a spectrum of default outlooks.
 

It doesn't need it to be there at all. That phrase, unlike Sorcerers, leans pretty strongly towards chaotic. It can also be part of a lawful character, though. Lawful can come from other aspects of the character and you can still have a lawful, free spirit that doesn't appreciate authority. It's just going to be far less common than a chaotic person with that trait.

So, you are saying it requires it. Because "I don't respect authority" is definitely something that makes sense for Lawful people, who are represented by clear hierarchies of authority.

Good thing alignment is only a vague guide, if it was more foggy, I'd think it didn't exist.



Not really. From @pemerton's questions, you can tell he's trying to trap @Helldritch with an, "Aha! Gotcha!" moment. Pemerton's questions are too specific to answer without setting ourselves up for him to be like, "But what about X, Y and Z behaviors? See? CE didn't cover those!" when of course CE does cover those, because there are a range of behaviors that fall within it. I don't blame Helldritch for not answering specifically.

You do know that the Draconomicon is written with the alignments of the dragon types in mind, right? There's going to be redundancy.

It isn't a gotcha, it is proving the point.

CE tells you "general behavior" but in the moment, you need specifics. If the answer to "do they care for their young" is "I don't know, it depends on the situation" then you've got to move beyond alignment to actually get details. You would need to... read more. Like, maybe a few paragraphs in the MM.

I mean, you do see the irony that the side that advocates for alignment because it means they have to read less, pointed towards an entire book that he should read to know how to run a dragon, right? All CE can tell you is that they are selfish and care about their own pleasure. Which you could also get by writing the sentence "they are selfish and only care about their own pleasure". Which, considering all of the other information you are going to need to draw from the Draconomicon, which overlaps the alignment considerations anyways... seems kind of vestigal.
 

pemerton

Legend
The only mistake in 4e alignment was making the “even more good than Good” alignment “Lawful Good” rather than “Chaotic Good”, and making the super evil Chaotic Evil rather than Lawful Evil.
We didn't have any LG characters in our game. Page 62 of the 4e PHB states the following rule for Clerics:

You must choose a deity compatible with your alignment: Good clerics serve good deities, lawful good clerics serve lawful good deities, and so on. If a deity is unaligned, your alignment doesn’t matter, so a deity such as Melora has good, lawful good, evil, chaotic evil, and unaligned clerics in her service. Similarly, if you’re unaligned, you can serve any god. For example, Pelor is served by both good clerics and unaligned clerics, but never by evil, chaotic evil, or lawful good clerics.​

But we ignored that rule, and the cleric/fighter worshipper of Moradin in our game is Good.

The reason for no LG character is that most of the players tend to think that LG is too rigid both in accommodating, and responding to, the place of chaos/creation in the working of the world. The most "lawful" of our PCs - and the only one to really dissent from the proposition I just stated - is an Unaligned invoker/wizard who serves Ioun, Vecna, Bane, Pelor, Erathis and the Raven Queen.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
So, you are saying it requires it. Because "I don't respect authority" is definitely something that makes sense for Lawful people, who are represented by clear hierarchies of authority.

Good thing alignment is only a vague guide, if it was more foggy, I'd think it didn't exist.





It isn't a gotcha, it is proving the point.

CE tells you "general behavior" but in the moment, you need specifics. If the answer to "do they care for their young" is "I don't know, it depends on the situation" then you've got to move beyond alignment to actually get details. You would need to... read more. Like, maybe a few paragraphs in the MM.

I mean, you do see the irony that the side that advocates for alignment because it means they have to read less, pointed towards an entire book that he should read to know how to run a dragon, right? All CE can tell you is that they are selfish and care about their own pleasure. Which you could also get by writing the sentence "they are selfish and only care about their own pleasure". Which, considering all of the other information you are going to need to draw from the Draconomicon, which overlaps the alignment considerations anyways... seems kind of vestigal.
Do you have in-depth details on every monster and NPC? Spell out exactly how they'll react to every option? Every single one?
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
"When I ran 4e D&D for about 7 years straight, the PCs encountered many Evil creatures. They befriended and allied with some (Duergar), they bargained with some (Hags), they fought some until they received and accepted surrenders and promises of repentance (Goblins), etc. All the Evil alignment does is tell me that these people aren't very nice and might be pretty ruthless when upset."

If that's all you get out of alignment, it's not working right. The reason for that is that they removed the aspect of alignment that helped you differentiate the types of evil beings.

This doesn't seem like a very objective critique if I'm being honest. I had no issues with alignment in 4e and in fact I preferred it to all prior incarnations because it felt just a bit more properly abstracted, IMO the way alignment should. The way it felt prior to 4th was an overly simplistic and somewhat rigid way of setting up categories of intelligent beings that felt both unrealistic and unneeded.

It also always felt wrong that entire races and cultures had intrinsic alignments (other than perhaps planar creatures like angels and demons) - something they've been slowly moving away from for a long time.

I think ultimately this comes down to whether someone is comfortable with ambiguity or not. I am, and so are many others. It's something that can be taken in a lot of different directions with no true right or wrong method.

My only real argument with regard to alignment is that given how much it's had its teeth pulled, it might as well no longer exist and is probably time for it the concept to evolve in a totally different direction -- which is why I like incorporating alignment into new ability scores.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So, you are saying it requires it. Because "I don't respect authority" is definitely something that makes sense for Lawful people, who are represented by clear hierarchies of authority.

Good thing alignment is only a vague guide, if it was more foggy, I'd think it didn't exist.
Dude! This is why it's so hard to take you seriously when you complain that we accuse you of twisting things. I mean, my very first sentence was, "It doesn't need to be there." and you respond with, "So, you are saying it requires it."

Stop twisting my words.
 

? What are you even talking about????? Read the PHB man. Read! At certain ideal, there are words that restricts (more or less) the alignment that can take them. (And Helldritch throws his arms in the air in exasperation)

And now it makes sense. This is the problem right here.

Helldritch, the list of personality traits, ideals, bonds and flaws in the PHB is not prescriptive. You don't have to take one of those, you can make your own. In fact, you are encourage to.

Your alignment can't restrict you from taking them, because you are writing them and figuring them out yourself. This isn't a list that you pull from, it is a blank space you fill in. And, yes, I am aware that they tried to make ideals that correlated to some alignments. Generally very poorly, because they were not well-written examples. But, trying to claim that your alignment restricts the ideals you can take is ludicrous, because you are writing your own ideals. Will there be a correlation? Sure, if you picked "I want to be evil" on your character sheet, you probably aren't going to choose an ideal like "Charity towards the poor" as your ideal. That isn't the character you want to build. But that isn't a restriction any more than deciding that your character has an elven name because you picked an elf is a restriction.


1) Nope. Read the PHB man. Read.
2) Nope. Any general ideal. Even specific ones could be used. Some can not. What are you arguing about that was not clear from the beginning.
3) The claim only fell apart in your mind. With the generic ideal, it worked out as intented. Which kinda prove my point as you had to invent a wonky ideal (my journal) and a very specific one to prove me wrong, forgetting the specific beats general in the process. You are the one stretching the debate.

1) I do read. Attempts to discredit my points by declaring I must not read are childish and I wish you would stop. It is unbecoming.

3) As I have said, your generic ideal was not only far too vague, but then you yourself started tying it in knots to justify your point. Making "Defending the Weak" about "Destroying my Enemies (and incidentally defending the weak in the process)

Again, inventented bonds that are not in the PHB is your prerogative but you have to provide context so that I can debate. Of course if you truly want I could twist it for evil.

Bond: My journal.
The evil character takes great care of his journal as he wrote down every single crimes he ever committed and will ever commit. He also has in his journal every single piece of information that could be used against notables, nobles and merchant that he has ever blackmailed. The evil character is ready to kill so that is journal does not fall into anyone else's hand. All his dark secret are in there.

Or would you prefer good?
The good character has a secret journal where he keeps the location of fugitives of an evil warlord that could kill for this information. The good character must keep this journal safe as one day, the true heir to the throne will need to come back and only the character knows that the location is in his journal in a language that even he can't read so that the secret can not be pried easily from his mind.

See? I can do it. It is not perfect but it can be done. Not graciously as I would like. But I can do it. And I could do it with your father example too. It's not that hard to do. As long as the bond or ideal isn't too specifically ingrained into an alignment. I can do it.

Again. specific beats general. Nothing new there. That you ignored it to "win" is not a good debate strategy.

First off, that bolded phrase? That is showing that you are trying to limit this discussion to the examples in the PHB, as though that is all PIBF are.

Those are examples. Just like you claiming that I could name my character Moonswallow, but invented character names outside of the PHB aren't part of the discussion. The examples in the book are not the end all be all of what can be done with these blanks spaces.

And, also again, you are right. Specific beats General. "My journal full of refugees I saved" is very different from "My Journal full of horrific crimes I committed" and I don't need alignment to tell me which is which. But I am also not going to sit here and claim that these are the same bond. They are clearly different bonds, even if they started from the same seed.

The problem is you are limiting the tool to only the example list, and not considering the full scope of the tools you were given.

Again you missed the point entirely. To ask the questions that were asked means a basic understanding of how dragons reacts because of their alignments. Any one can read the basics of the MM. But. To have more details read the Draconomicon. That book is 150 pages about dragons. It is a treasure trove of information about dragons.

And then I answered. Yes I answered! What a shock! Did I mentioned a few things from the Draconomicon? Of course I did. An advice is not the end of the world. And you mixed things with alignment where questions were about red dragons (which are covered in the Draconomicon as you can guess). And to you I give the same advice. Read the draconomicon to know more about dragons in D&D. It will help you. I know it helped me.

But as @Oofta often points out, Alignment is used because he doesn't want to read all those five paragraphs in the MM. So why are we suddenly saying an entire book of more lore is useful?

If more lore is more useful, then wouldn't getting rid of alignment and just using a few sentences of lore to give a more complete picture than two words. Honestly, you wouldn't even have to add anything. The current set up in the MM is more than enough. I've never felt the need to look at something's alignment when I've had their lore to read instead.
 

pemerton

Legend
"When I ran 4e D&D for about 7 years straight, the PCs encountered many Evil creatures. They befriended and allied with some (Duergar), they bargained with some (Hags), they fought some until they received and accepted surrenders and promises of repentance (Goblins), etc. All the Evil alignment does is tell me that these people aren't very nice and might be pretty ruthless when upset."

If that's all you get out of alignment, it's not working right. The reason for that is that they removed the aspect of alignment that helped you differentiate the types of evil beings.
Huh? In fact, double Huh?

4e D&D has two sorts of evil alignment: Evil and Chaotic Evil. Among gods, this differentiates between being ruthless and probably also domineering with a tendency to cruelty (Bane, Vecna, Torog, Zehir, Tiamat, Asmodeus) and being an enemy of creation because either aligned with the Abyss (Lolth, Tharizdun) or wantonly destructive (Gruumsh). Among other creatures, being Evil has much the same meaning as for gods, while being Chaotic Evil tends to mean either wantonly destructive, much like Gruumsh (this is Orcs, most Ogres and Trolls, some Giants), or demonic or Abyssal or otherwise aligned with the metaphysical forces of destructive chaos (eg Gnolls, Demons, Slaads, some other Elementals, etc).

But knowing that a person is ruthless, or domineering, or even wantonly destructive, doesn't tell me what they will do if someone approaches them for a chat, or offers to sell them something, or even asks for a favour. I wouldn't expect it to. I don't look to alignment to tell me a creature's motivations or actions; as an aspect of personality all it does it set some general parameters around where their moral boundaries are, and how self-aggrandising they are likely to be.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
But as @Oofta often points out, Alignment is used because he doesn't want to read all those five paragraphs in the MM. So why are we suddenly saying an entire book of more lore is useful?

If more lore is more useful, then wouldn't getting rid of alignment and just using a few sentences of lore to give a more complete picture than two words. Honestly, you wouldn't even have to add anything. The current set up in the MM is more than enough. I've never felt the need to look at something's alignment when I've had their lore to read instead.

An entire unique short story on each and every NPC and creature you come across would be more useful. That doesn't mean alignment is useless.

I don't want to have to read a book on every monster in order to get a general idea of their moral compass.
 

Do you have in-depth details on every monster and NPC? Spell out exactly how they'll react to every option? Every single one?

I don't use alignment. So, yes, if the players are going to do more than walk up and kill them, I do try and think about what is important for the story. What their motivations and goals are, what are they willing to do to reach them, who they have alliances or bonds with.

If they aren't important enough to give a name or some consideration about, then they are faceless. Usually only applies to things like "The Merchant" who is getting glossed over so I don't need to consider those things about.
 

Dude! This is why it's so hard to take you seriously when you complain that we accuse you of twisting things. I mean, my very first sentence was, "It doesn't need to be there." and you respond with, "So, you are saying it requires it."

Stop twisting my words.

Then why did you follow that with "It can also be part of a lawful character, though. Lawful can come from other aspects of the character and you can still have a lawful, free spirit that doesn't appreciate authority. It's just going to be far less common than a chaotic person with that trait. "


If you can't tell that it is chaotic, because it could also be lawful, then you are saying that they needed that alignment descriptor there. Because it was somehow vague enough to be a chaotic ideal and a lawful ideal at the same time.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Then why did you follow that with "It can also be part of a lawful character, though..."
Because................................it can, which is why it doesn't need to be there. Why write something down that will cause a lot of people who will take it wrong to pick chaotic, when they don't have to pick chaotic? Just get rid of it and let people pick how they want. Most will pick chaotic anyway, but some will pick lawful or neutral for that axis.
If you can't tell that it is chaotic, because it could also be lawful, then you are saying that they needed that alignment descriptor there. Because it was somehow vague enough to be a chaotic ideal and a lawful ideal at the same time.
I didn't say that, though. I explicitly said that it just leans(pretty strongly) chaotic, but doesn't have to be.

Stop trying to interpret my words. Just take them as I write them and you will not go wrong so often. You just literally "interpreted" my words to be the exact opposite of what I said and meant.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But knowing that a person is ruthless, or domineering, or even wantonly destructive, doesn't tell me what they will do if someone approaches them for a chat, or offers to sell them something, or even asks for a favour.
It's not supposed to tell you what to do. It's supposed to broadly inform your thinking so that given the circumstances of the encounter, you can choose an action that fits the alignment and the circumstances.

You keep looking for alignment to tell you what you should say and do, except that's not it's function. It's like looking at money and expecting it to tell you how to spend it.
I wouldn't expect it to.
Now I'm confused. You keep asking us to explain how it will tell you what to do, but now you said that you don't expect it to tell you what to do.
 

pemerton

Legend
Alignment in 4E never made sense to me. Which goes back to the OP. Lawful vs chaotic has nothing to do with good vs evil.
Alignment in 4e D&D doesn't speculate that there is a connection between law and chaos and good and evil. It stipulates it, as part of the cosmological set-up.

The whole premise of the 4e default cosmology is that life and creation emerge out of chaos, but are constantly vulnerable to destruction by those same chaotic forces. Especially because, somewhere near the beginning of mortal time, the Abyss was created at the heart of the Elemental Chaos which tainted the "purity" of the Elemental Chaos with a destructive, cruel and hateful orientation.

The gods were the ones who imposed order and regularity on the creation that emerged out of chaos, and hence made mortal life feasible.

At least as I have experienced it, this set-up generates questions like how ruthless am I prepared to be in order to prevent the forces of chaos from eroding destruction? and how much am I prepared to flirt with the risk of destruction in order to allow the creative aspect of chaos to manifest? The invoker/wizard in our game answers the first question pretty ruthless and the chaos sorcerer/bard answers the second question quite a bit. Both are Unaligned. The cleric/fighter of Moradin answers not very ruthless (though perhaps a bit more so since having replaced Torog as the god of pain, punishment and imprisonment) and not very much. He is Good, which means that he not only sides with the gods over the Abyss but that he does so out of a moral conviction of the need to avoid mortal suffering, and that conviction informs his day-to-day conduct.

As I already posted upthread, if one were running a 4e game that didn't adopt this default framework (eg 4e Dark Sun) then I think alignment would not only be unnecessary but potentially unhelpful. For instance, in Dark Sun the set-up means that the forces of order (ie the Sorcerer-Kings) also tend to be a cause of suffering rather than wellbeing.
 

pemerton

Legend
You keep asking us to explain how it will tell you what to do, but now you said that you don't expect it to tell you what to do.
Because @Oofta said, and has reiterated, that typically all he needs to know to run a NPC or creature is that being's alignment. And some other posters in this thread - @Helldritch and you being the main ones but I think @Flamestrike might be there too - have agreed with and/or defended Oofta in respect of this claim.

The fact that I don't have a particular expectation of alignment doesn't change the fact that other posters appear to, and I am asking them to elaborate on that expectation by showing how it would work in concrete instances.

Do you have in-depth details on every monster and NPC? Spell out exactly how they'll react to every option? Every single one?
How many NPCs and monsters do you have per session? I can have a couple dozen. I am not going to go into details on each and every NPC and monster.
The number of NPCs I have to consider in a session can vary from a handful to hundreds, depending on what is going on.

Depending on the system I am running and the current trajectory of things, I use different ways to work out how the NPC will act.

For instance, in my Prince Valiant game the scenario I am using often describes how the NPCs will behave, at least by default. I extrapolate from that as necessary, and also apply the consequences of Presence checks made by the players for their PCs.

In my Traveller game I am typically preparing my own scenarios. I might make notes as to what a NPC is likely to do, or what their motivation is. Otherwise I lean heavily into reaction rolls, filtered through the relevant context. I also look to a NPC's background, stats (especially INT, EDU and SOC) and skills to get a sense of their personality: eg someone with low INT but high EDU is likely to be disciplined but lack initiative; someone with mid-to-high SOC and skill in Foil (the bladed weapon) and Leadership is apt to be dashing rather than plodding; etc. If they have low INT then we can add that they may also be a little naive.

In Burning Wheel I will give a NPC up to three Beliefs to reflect their basic orientation and place in the fiction. In Cortex+ Heroic a NPC's Distinctions play a similar sort of role. And of course the results of social interaction also make a difference.

In 4e D&D there is no reaction roll mechanic but like Prince Valiant, BW and Cortex+ Heroic there are social skills. And most creature descriptions also outline the basic disposition of the creature. For NPCs I'm creating from whole cloth, I will generally have an idea of who they are and what they want. As I've posted, alignment can be a way of signalling a cosmological affiliation, and of saying something about how ruthless they are (if Evil) and how indifferent to destructive consequences of their actions (if Chaotic Evil).

It's not supposed to tell you what to do. It's supposed to broadly inform your thinking so that given the circumstances of the encounter, you can choose an action that fits the alignment and the circumstances.

You keep looking for alignment to tell you what you should say and do, except that's not it's function.
I choose actions that fit the personality and disposition of the NPC or creature in question.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't use alignment. So, yes, if the players are going to do more than walk up and kill them, I do try and think about what is important for the story. What their motivations and goals are, what are they willing to do to reach them, who they have alliances or bonds with.

If they aren't important enough to give a name or some consideration about, then they are faceless. Usually only applies to things like "The Merchant" who is getting glossed over so I don't need to consider those things about.
My campaign is too dynamic for that. On a fairly regular basis, the darn group doesn't follow the script. Which is probably my fault for encouraging them to do ... interesting ... things. 🤷‍♂️
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Alignment in 4e D&D doesn't speculate that there is a connection between law and chaos and good and evil. It stipulates it, as part of the cosmological set-up.

The whole premise of the 4e default cosmology is that life and creation emerge out of chaos, but are constantly vulnerable to destruction by those same chaotic forces. Especially because, somewhere near the beginning of mortal time, the Abyss was created at the heart of the Elemental Chaos which tainted the "purity" of the Elemental Chaos with a destructive, cruel and hateful orientation.

The gods were the ones who imposed order and regularity on the creation that emerged out of chaos, and hence made mortal life feasible.

At least as I have experienced it, this set-up generates questions like how ruthless am I prepared to be in order to prevent the forces of chaos from eroding destruction? and how much am I prepared to flirt with the risk of destruction in order to allow the creative aspect of chaos to manifest? The invoker/wizard in our game answers the first question pretty ruthless and the chaos sorcerer/bard answers the second question quite a bit. Both are Unaligned. The cleric/fighter of Moradin answers not very ruthless (though perhaps a bit more so since having replaced Torog as the god of pain, punishment and imprisonment) and not very much. He is Good, which means that he not only sides with the gods over the Abyss but that he does so out of a moral conviction of the need to avoid mortal suffering, and that conviction informs his day-to-day conduct.

As I already posted upthread, if one were running a 4e game that didn't adopt this default framework (eg 4e Dark Sun) then I think alignment would not only be unnecessary but potentially unhelpful. For instance, in Dark Sun the set-up means that the forces of order (ie the Sorcerer-Kings) also tend to be a cause of suffering rather than wellbeing.

Well I just dislike the 4E version of alignment. I agree with the OP that they're separate. There is no "imposed" order, alignment is just a simplified version of the perceptual framework theory.
 

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