log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E A different take on Alignment

Status
Not open for further replies.

AnotherGuy

Explorer
I take applied to imply meaningfully or usefully. As opposed to pointlessly, arbitrarily or uselessly.

Pemerton there are numerous threads in numerous forums of why people find alignment useful and you have participated in plenty of them on Enworld. You may not agree with them, and that is perfectly fine, but they do not require the validation by literary critics or a philosophers of ethics to tell them why they (the rpgers) cannot find them useful.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

TheSword

Legend
Well upthread a poster said one cannot apply alignment to fictional characters (because they are not D&D). I disagreed and pointed to the poster's own post as well as the numerous alignment memes which exist for the fictional characters of comics, literature and film. Thus people can and do utilise alignment to describe non-D&D characters. The argument that one cannot is bollocks.

But perhaps you can tell us why you have inserted yourself so prominently in such a pointless debate.
This thread is so going to get shut down anyway but swearing at Aldarc in your posts is only gonna speed that up. I can see you only posted a few dozen times so you may not have picked up that the forums are kept well moderated.
 

AnotherGuy

Explorer
This thread is so going to get shut down anyway but swearing at Aldarc in your posts is only gonna speed that up. I can see you only posted a few dozen times so you may not have picked up that the forums are kept well moderated.

Apologies I have seen the word s!!! and bulls!!! on these boards frequently of late so I figured the b-word was permitted. I have edited my post.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Do all Green Dragons have schemes? Well, the MM says that is a defining feature of them. So... yeah, seems like they do.

What are the goals of the schemes? Well, considering I said "I show my power" and "corrupting and twisting" it is likely that the majority of these schemes are for self-empowerment or chaos and ruin of others. You don't generally corrupt people to build a structured society for the betterment of others, generally it is for the purposes of ruin.

Tyrants generally rule through intimidation and fear, it is a defining feature of tyrannical rule. A Hierarchy could be done, but that seems like a more specific details. Sort of like whether or not they would eat adventurers or take care of their children. Sure, I can provide those details, but you didn't ask me to set up an entire NPC plus plot for you, you asked for different ideals that highlighted differences in Green Dragons and Red Dragons. Something that I did. If you wanted an entire socio-political commentary on how Red Dragons run their empires, that is a bit of a different question than "what is their ideal"

These describe specific, individual dragons. They are in no way general to all dragons of that type. It also leaves so many blank spots. What if they don't have a kingdom? Do all dragons have kingdoms even the young ones? A tyrant just tells us they're an unjust ruler, not how they rule. It tells us almost nothing about a moral compass other than that they're evil.

If this is good enough for you ... there's nothing I can say. But this whole conversation is pointless. Have a good one.
 

pemerton

Legend
Pemerton there are numerous threads in numerous forums of why people find alignment useful and you have participated in plenty of them on Enworld. You may not agree with them, and that is perfectly fine, but they do not require the validation by literary critics or a philosophers of ethics to tell them why they (the rpgers) cannot find them useful.
How did the topic move to alignment can be useful from alignment can be meaningfully applied to characters outside of the context of D&D?

These are different assertions. Even if the first is true, that doesn't entail anything about the second. I reiterate: if alignment was really a useful all-purpose tool for the moral classification of real or imagined conduct, we would see people whose job it is to do that using it. But we don't!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't see how this is any different from alignment. The Sherriff of Nottingham is (presumably) LE and locks people up. Sahuagin are LE and sacrifice people to their diabolic deity.

If an imp isn't harvesting souls then what are they doing? I don't know - other than they're not doing their job - but I don't see how being told they're LE would help answer that question. I also don't see the contrast between trickery and fine print - the latter just seems like a particular case of the former. How do they interact with imps more powerful? Maybe they trade them souls, maybe they suck up to them, maybe they try to backstab them - wouldn't it vary from imp to imp and occasion to occasion?
It tells us next to nothing about general outlook on life and behavior.

In any case, if this is it, it falls far short of what alignment tells me. In combination with alignment? It still only tells me one small aspect of what role an imp might fulfill, and even then it's a misleading one. An imp could be a familiar for example. Their job wouldn't be harvesting souls (it may be harvesting an individual soul) but it tells me nothing about their preferred methods, how they'll respond to negotiations, general view of the world.

Again, it's a specific individual imp and a specific slice. There's no point.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Interesting. I once GMed a game where one of the central PCs kept a bath of acid in his basement for the purposes of torture and/or body disposal, and he betrayed his city to an invader in exchange for the promise of a magistracy.

In a campaign that used alignment it would be inconceivable that this character would not have the "evil" label. In a campaign that didn't use alignment, though, he was one of the more memorable and engaging characters I've seen in a game.

I also don't see how you can enforce "no evil" if @Maxperson is correct and the GM isn't allowed to declare the alignment of a PC based on conduct. Because if that's true, then the player can just write Good on their sheet but play their PC doing evil things.

Easy. Using a tub of acid to torture and hide evidence is evil. That behavior is not allowed in my game. I don't care if they're memorable and engaging, come up with a different concept or the PC becomes an NPC because I set that parameter before the session 0. If that doesn't work for you find a different game.

Has nothing to do with alignment.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think that one reason why "no evil" is even necessary in the first place is because 'evil' even exists as a possible choice for character alignment. This is fundamentally about trying to fix a self-created problem. This is a conversation that is generally not required in other games that lack alignment but establish clear genre, setting, and play expectations. You will be playing heroes opposed to the shadow of Sauron in The One Ring. You will be playing crooks in Blades in the Dark. You will be playing noble, adventuring member's of The Queen's Finest in Blue Rose. Furthermore, many of these games don't require alignment because certain actions are linked to mechanics that risk corruption, insanity, despair, etc. These are things that don't often require the GM's questionable moral judgment to adjudicate.
Evil may be a possible choice in your games, in mine it is not.

Evil still exists for NPCs and monsters as well as other people's games. Some people enjoy games with evil PCs, I don't
 

Human nature says that they are following the rules more than they are ignoring them, especially since alignment has zero issues in 5e, unless the DM puts the very, very few magic items that use it into the game AND decides to be a jerk about something that has only one line of fluff to it.

No. The evidence(human nature and the nature of 5e alignment) implies use of rules, not lack of their use. Not to mention that the odds of every single new player not using alignment are far worse than the odds that I'm winning the lotto tomorrow.
See, it’s stuff like this why I find it hard to take you seriously. You call another poster on making stuff up, and when he points out he is simply responding to the premises you set up, it turns out you are doing what you accused him of.

It makes it very difficult to conclude that you are arguing in good faith.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well upthread a poster said one cannot apply alignment to fictional characters (because they are not D&D). I disagreed and pointed to the poster's own post as well as the numerous alignment memes which exist for the fictional characters of comics, literature and film. Thus people can and do utilise alignment to describe non-D&D characters. The argument that one cannot is false.

But perhaps you can tell us why you have inserted yourself so prominently in such a pointless debate.

EDITED.

I would say that it can be difficult at times to assign an alignment to a fictional character because we don't always get their personal thoughts and views. That, and some characters are not exactly written consistently, especially ones that exist over decades.

Like I pointed out eons ago, Darth Vader had around 30 minutes of screen time across the original movie trilogy. Probably had 10 minutes or so of speaking. Kind of hard to zero in on a character's moral compass in that amount of time.
 

Strongly disagree. If you choose to play the character static that is on you, not alignment.
One can play a static character with regards to traits, flaws, class, background, religion, hobbies....anything and yet we do not blame these other things.
From this and the following example, my understanding that you agree that an NPC can be one way at work (lazy and unmotivated), a different way at home (loving and dutiful), and yet a third way among strangers (wary and mistrustful). This seems to be what I characterized in my post as “weak” alignment: at any given moment, the NPC’s alignment is a useful predictor. So what is the point of alignment?

Last session, a good-natured character engaged in threat of torture and lying and in the end sanctioned a murder. The victim of all of this was a goblin. The player motivated that his character's knowledge of and history with goblins was that they were rapists, killers, pillagers and just in general a destructive force and that her views was that all goblins were vile, evil, irredeemable creatures. It was backstory created on the spot for a pregenerated character.
So, a Good character murdered (not killed) a goblin because he was Evil. You don’t specify in your post whether the character was L, N or C, but given that your argument is that this does not modify their alignment, suppose, for the sake of argument that the character was LG.

My understanding is that this would be a problem for several of the posters here who are in favor of alignment. In fact, in my experience, this exact scenario has led to players leaving the game (obviously, I can’t speak for your specific case).
 

AnotherGuy

Explorer
I would say that it can be difficult at times to assign an alignment to a fictional character because we don't always get their personal thoughts and views. That, and some characters are not exactly written consistently, especially ones that exist over decades.

Like I pointed out eons ago, Darth Vader had around 30 minutes of screen time across the original movie trilogy. Probably had 10 minutes or so of speaking. Kind of hard to zero in on a character's moral compass in that amount of time.

Sure those situations can occur - and people can even disagree.
My initial example was that of Stannis Baratheon - for which there is plenty of material to consume.
 

AnotherGuy

Explorer
From this and the following example, my understanding that you agree that an NPC can be one way at work (lazy and unmotivated), a different way at home (loving and dutiful), and yet a third way among strangers (wary and mistrustful). This seems to be what I characterized in my post as “weak” alignment: at any given moment, the NPC’s alignment is a useful predictor. So what is the point of alignment?

So your issue with alignment here appears to be that alignment doesn't assist in understanding one's behaviour in all particular areas of one's life. The examples you have provided, and its supposed limitations, truly highlight, at lease in part, why the two camps seem to have such a disconnect.

I daresay using alignment to determine if one is lazy at work is not the best use of alignment.

So, a Good character murdered (not killed) a goblin because he was Evil. You don’t specify in your post whether the character was L, N or C, but given that your argument is that this does not modify their alignment, suppose, for the sake of argument that the character was LG.

My understanding is that this would be a problem for several of the posters here who are in favor of alignment.

So yes, he allowed another party member with a more colourful sense of morality to murder the captured goblin that had provided them information after promising to let the goblin go free if he answered the party's questions. These were 5e official pregen characters with a background blurb but that did not have alignment or TBIF listed on their character sheets. From the descrip, the table agreed that that particular character was good, we did not establish whether she was lawful, neutral or chaotic. We have a new player at the table who is finding his feet so we are introducing things slowly.

Personally, and EVERY table is different, like with all rules/rulings, I allowed the motivation through given the backstory introduced. My feeling is her alignment would not change based on her feelings/experience about goblins alone. If this character trait however extended to other races then our table would reassess.

In fact, in my experience, this exact scenario has led to players leaving the game (obviously, I can’t speak for your specific case).

How do you mean - the content of my particular game? or are we talking about a DM-force via change of alignment?
 
Last edited:

pemerton

Legend
Using a tub of acid to torture and hide evidence is evil. That behavior is not allowed in my game. I don't care if they're memorable and engaging, come up with a different concept or the PC becomes an NPC because I set that parameter before the session 0. If that doesn't work for you find a different game.

Has nothing to do with alignment.
But upthread @TheSword told me that this is a useful thing that alignment helps with.

Which is it?
 

pemerton

Legend
@Oofta - I'm really at a loss to see what being LE tells you about an imp that being an imp who is a devil at the bottom of a terrible diabolic hierarchy doesn't.

In my experience of GMing D&D, an imp almost never players the same role or reacts to situations like a hobgoblin does. For instance, hobgoblins typically like to fight; imps don't. Hobgoblins typically are rather forthright; imps aren't. Hobgoblins work in groups; imps typically work solo.

And green dragons - also LE - behave differently again. Like hobgoblins they don't mind fighting; like imps they are sly; unlike imps and unlike a typical hobgoblin soldier they don't have superiors to suck up to.

I don't see how the LE label helps add anything to the running of an imp, or a hobgoblin, or a green dragon, that isn't coming out of other features of them as characters which might be summed up in simply DW or BW-style motivation descriptors. Are you able to give some concrete examples here from actual play?
 

TheSword

Legend
But upthread @TheSword told me that this is a useful thing that alignment helps with.

Which is it?
I said doing evil breaks the social contract, not that it against the rules of the game.

Not-Evil, is a useful descriptor for excluding a whole range of unsavory behaviour that would otherwise disrupt a heroic group... torture, murder of innocents and general heinousness!

I don’t think there is the great philosophical schism between myself and Oofta/Maxperson that you think there is. What we do have are different opinions about what kind of behavior we prefer in the party.
 
Last edited:

Chaosmancer

Legend
Human nature says that they are following the rules more than they are ignoring them, especially since alignment has zero issues in 5e, unless the DM puts the very, very few magic items that use it into the game AND decides to be a jerk about something that has only one line of fluff to it.

No. The evidence(human nature and the nature of 5e alignment) implies use of rules, not lack of their use. Not to mention that the odds of every single new player not using alignment are far worse than the odds that I'm winning the lotto tomorrow.

Well, claiming "human nature" is not only one of the poorest examples I've ever heard, but so vague that I can't tell what you are talking about.

Are you talking about people's cognitive loads, which studies have found people tend to focus their attention to some things and not others, leading them to ignore things they can't find uses for?

Maybe you are talking about the tendency not to read the rules or only skim them, leading to many people just skipping over small sections of the rules like alignment or encumbrance.

Maybe you are talking about the human nature of following the pack, which means that unless the leader of the pack (maybe a celeb like Matt Mercer, or just their local DM) uses alignment, they won't either.


So tell me Max, which part of "Human Nature" is guaranteeing that they are following the rules of a highly complex game and not ignoring them because they don't seem to serve a purpose?
 

AnotherGuy

Explorer
How did the topic move to alignment can be useful from alignment can be meaningfully applied to characters outside of the context of D&D?

These are different assertions. Even if the first is true, that doesn't entail anything about the second. I reiterate: if alignment was really a useful all-purpose tool for the moral classification of real or imagined conduct, we would see people whose job it is to do that using it. But we don't!

Alignment Meme.png


Presumably some found the framework useful despite all these experts whose validation you seek to garner.
 

Maxerson is entitled to his view. People who like alignment don’t get made in a factory using a .329 stainless steel die.
I understand your point: different people can agree on a conclusion but either disagree on the reasons for that conclusion or implement it differently.

But here’s the thing: in this case, this disagreement undercuts the main arguments supporting alignment.

@Oofta, @Maxperson and @Helldritch principally rely on the following two arguments to support alignment:
1) Alignment has been rendered vestigial and a simple roleplaying guide so removing it doesn’t improve anything;
2) The negative experiences people who oppose alignment cite are either because they are beholden to previous incarnations of alignment, or because their groups are applying alignment wrong.

Many of the alignment horror stories described are precisely the DM changing a character’s alignment because he disagrees with the actions taken by the character. So if a DM who does that is correctly applying alignment, then alignment is clearly not only a roleplaying guide, undercutting the first argument.

The fact that about half of the posters who support alignment agree that the DM can change a character’s alignment and the other half disagree undercuts the second argument. You can’t say that one group is applying alignment wrong when there is no consensus as to how to apply alignment, and you can’t really say that one group is beholden to previous incarnations of alignment when the same d*mn thing keeps happening in 5e.

As a final point, indicating that it is OK for a DM to change a character’s alignment when a character is acting more Evil than Neutral or Good is threading a very fine needle. Earlier on in this thread, I gave the example of a game where the DM threatened to change my character’s alignment to Chaotic, because he disagreed with the way I played the extremely Lawful character. I pointed out that despite the fact that I don’t care about alignment, the attack on player agency bothered me. Many posters agreed that the DM was out of line.

Why is the DM threatening to change a character’s alignment to Evil not an issue but threatening to change a character’s alignment to Chaotic problematic? I think everyone agrees that in the PHB and DMG, no distinction is made between the two situations.

* @Flamestrike, an alignment supporter, specifically called out @Helldritch for changing his character’s LG alignment for showing mercy.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Topics.
(1) Can alignment be applied to fictional characters.
(2) Is alignment a useful framework for applying to fictional characters.

I was debating (1).
You are debating (2). I'm not interested in your flawed strawman debate.

Just pointing out, this is like Flat Earth theory. You can apply a wrong framework to reach conclusions about a system, but if it isn't a framework that gives useful answers, then you aren't using the tool correctly.


Sure, you CAN apply alignment to anything in fiction and in reality. But it isn't useful to do so in more than the most shallow sense, because it doesn't work.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top