D&D 5E Alignment


So who keeps standard alignment, and who discards it?

What do you use instead? Does this affect the standard cosmology based upon alignment?

Thoughts and discussion.

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I keep the standard alignments. I do not really enforce it beyond the "no evil" policy we have. I use alignment as a basic guideline on how to play some foes. Beyond that, not much. But strangely, that not much is pretty much unavoidable and required. Way more simple than writing a paragraph about intents and motivations.


At our table, alignment is just a shorthand designation that tries (and usually fails) to encapsulate a character's needs, wants, desires, attitudes, personality quirks and so on. What will happen is that after the player has figured out all of these things of their personality both before and as they play... usually an alignment can be determined after the fact for what their alignment might be. But we never start with alignment and build out.

It's for this reason that I don't have a "no evil" policy. Because my players might very well create a character that works completely fine as part of the group, might go along with everything the group wants to do... but when you look at their personality and desires they might very well be classified as "evil". But at that point, it's all good.

My house rule is using aligment with allegiance, and even when these may be opposite, for example a chaotic sherif who breaks the rules usually to defend the law, or a zealot doing evil actions in the name of the supreme goodhood. And spells or other powers with aligment key can hurt enemies with the same alignment but different allegiance (race, brotherhood, country, religion, family, tribe, clan...) for example a drow cleric vs an orc shaman. I think the chaothic characters need a common allegiance too cooperate to work together as a team. And "chaotic" characters can behave totally "lawful", but only with the members of the their allegiance.

Other house rule is chaotic good means to be attuned with the primal forces, or behaving "lawful" but only with the members of an allegiance.

the Jester

I keep alignment. However, I encourage Unaligned as an option; having an alignment is an active choice that requires work to maintain.

I use alignments as cosmic forces, so I still have (f'rinstance) Anarchic and Axiomatic Weapons in my game. In fact, the struggle between Law and Chaos, how either extreme can be bad, and how Neutrality can be an active force (in the form of seeking the Balance) has been a dominating theme for the entire campaign, since the mid-90s.

I keep it, but do not enforce it. It's just something in the background that summarizes your deeds, and slowly changes depending on how you act. It occasionally comes up when determining the effects of a spell or ability, but mostly it's just an invisible descriptor.

I do run alignment as determined by outside forces. So you might rationalize your actions, but the universe doesn't agree.


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Depends on the campaign. Mostly I don’t bother with it any more; if a player really wants to write an alignment on their character sheet I won’t stop them, but it means about as much as writing down that their character is a Sagittarius, or an ENTJ or whatever.

Occasionally, I’ll run a campaign where alignment actually matters. In that case it’s defined in pretty strict terms, and the alignment a player writes on their sheet is a statement of intent. It’s how the character sees themselves, or an ideal they try to live up to. The character’s “true” alignment is based on their actions, and it’s what matters for the purpose of any mechanics that care what their alignment is.


Elder Thing
I have yet to find a better alignment description and application than 3.x had.

And in my games your actions determine your alignment, not the other way around, and those decisions and resulting alignments have real consequences

So while you may feel it's unfair that your kitten-torturing rogue can't get the benefit of a lawful and good cleric's protective magicks and other characters can, my position is that nobody forced you to act like a psychopath and now you get to deal with it.


Magic Wordsmith
In most of my games, alignment doesn't matter. In some of my games, like a Planescape adventure or campaign, alignment does matter so we replace Ideal with a statement about what the alignment they chose means. If they then play to that Ideal, the players can claim Inspiration.


I tell my players no evil as part of the social contract of the group. Beyond that they can use it as one of their descriptors along with traits, bonds, etc if they find it useful. I don't care what the PC's alignments are.

I use it for monsters and NPCs because it gives me a quick view into their general outlook and moral compass.

There is no universal alignment IMHO, just a general high level shared concept by the people sitting at the game table. D&D isn't some high level philosophy course, alignment is simply a useful descriptor an starting point for why people do what they do.


CR 1/8
For characters, I treat alignment like RP guideline similar to BIFTs-- pretty much like I always have.
In some campaigns, "elemental alignment" might be a thing, but typically has little to do with behavior or outlook except for certain NPCs.


In most of my games, alignment doesn't matter. In some of my games, like a Planescape adventure or campaign, alignment does matter so we replace Ideal with a statement about what the alignment they chose means. If they then play to that Ideal, the players can claim Inspiration.
That is an excellent idea.


I discarded alignment in 1982 ... and then brought it back inthe 1990s because players constantly raised questions with me because I did not make use of it.

However, I didn't really bring it back. Instead, I told them it was in the game, I had them put it down on their character sheet, etc... but I never made reference to it in what I, as a DM, did. Whenever there was a game mechanic being used that centered around alignment, I'd just think about what the force that was granting the power for the mechanic (usually a divine power) would think and then applied that to the situation.

Li Shenron

I don't enforce any alignment rule, my players are free to put whatever they want under "alignment" in their character sheets, including nothing. In fact, I moved it to under the "character personality" box on the optional roleplay sheet. The idea is that you can put something there if you want to use it as a broad compass for roleplaying your character, but it won't be treated as a straitjacket if you do.

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