D&D General Alternate Alignment Axis Ideas

My house rule is adding allegiance (tribe, religion, guild, brotherhood, nation, family..). Then the legal-chaotic aligment would be the behavior with people out of the allegiance. And spells or powers with aligment key can hurt enemies with same aligment but different allegiance.

Other idea is "chaotic" would be "attuned" to primal forces/nature. In an article by D&D Beyond they suggested other "aligments" as esoteric, material and spiritual.

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Follower of the Way
Two alignment ideas I've considered for making "blue and orange" morality characters:

Beauty vs Utility
Prestige vs Secrecy

So, for example, the Borg represent pure, unconstrained Utility. They don't care about anything except function, that's why their vessels are all either neat geometric solids (e.g. spheres, cubes) or funky purpose-built designs. They project their power and explicitly request obedience, with everything else being dismissed as "irrelevant." Conversely, faerie nobility (lords/ladies/etc.) are almost always sticklers for some form of aesthetics and may go absolutely apoplectic about unbeautiful things, or things out of place, or "ugly" materials etc.

In my Jewel of the Desert game, Prestige and Secrecy are the twin poles of a more political alignment, particularly favored by the genie nobility of Jinnistan. They put extreme emphasis on saving face, preserving public image, playing the game of thrones, never showing (political) weakness, etc. The party has been drawn once or twice into Jinnistani political machinations, and both times ended up being used, but not in a way that was meaningfully harmful to them. Quite the opposite. In fact, they were both times rewarded by the person who used them, because they had served as most excellent tools for the task, and to treat such useful envoys as disposable would be a loss of face, not a gain. Ensuring that such envoys go on to do greater things reflects better on them, so it behooves them to pay their debts and treat their "employees" well. The prestige of one's servants, even former servants, enhances one's own prestige.

On the flipside, other factions value secrecy to such an extent because...well, they're either subversive criminals or terrorists or secret cults or the like. Can't really do any of that stuff if people know about you, right? So they work to have no widely-known prestige or reputation whatsoever--to be genuinely unknown, unseen. And, in general, groups that favor the one side tend to really dislike the other, though not always. The Lawful Secretive Raven-Shadow assassin-cult despises the Chaotic Secretive Shadow Druids. for example, but sees the Lawful Prestigious Jinnistani nobility as a dangerous but controllable, or at least managable, force.

I prefer the old-school approach of alignment as law vs chaos and it's more about factions than personal ethics.
The perpetual problem I have with that is that neither "side" makes any sense nor is beneficial to living beings, so why the heck would anyone alive side with either except bribes? They don't make sense as factions to me. Reading Moorcock actually made this increasingly more obvious as an issue.

I really like what Pendragon RPG does with their 13 traits, and I think it would be a deeper and more interesting replacement for alignment for some styles of gameplay in D&D. Each axis is on a scale of 0-15. No trait is neccessarily better or worse than another, although different cultures value different traits. Your character gets benefits for having (and keeping, through gameplay consistent with high scores in those traits) high scores in the traits your culture values, but too high a score will force your character to act in ways that may not be in your best interest.

The trait axises are Chaste/Lustful, Energetic/Lazy, Forgiving/Vengeful, Generous/Selfish, Honest/Deceitful, Modest/Proud, Just/Arbitrary, Merciful/Cruel, Prudent/Reckless, Spiritual/Worldly, Temperate/Indulgent, Trusting/Suspicious, Valourous/Cowardly.
Yeah I think this is the sort of approach that can produce actually-interesting results and characters.

I do think campaign-specific or setting-specific axes can be potentially interesting, but you have to avoid the Law-Chaos problem of "The only reason to side with either is bribes".

The Authoritarian-Egalitarian axis looks at whether political power belongs in the hands of the few or the many.
The Materialist-Spiritualist axis looks at whether the unknowns of the multiverse can be explained by natural laws or the existence of something greater.
The Militarist-Pacifist axis looks at whether the military options should be used offensively or strictly defensively.
The Xenophile-Xenophobe axis looks at whether other species and cultures should be embraced or distrusted.
These being from Stellaris, I note.

But notably whilst Stellaris does see these as opposing, they're not really axes because you pick two or three out of a large array, which I think works a lot better than if they forced you to pick a position on all of those. They're also a bit more civilizational rather than individual.

As a general point too I think Materialist-Spiritualist is incompatible with about 95% of D&D settings, because they're all materialist. D&D's basic concept of the universe is purely materialist - the planes aren't places that might exist, we don't know, they're places that definitely do exist. The gods aren't in question. You could go chat to them if you were rich and powerful enough to pay spellcasters to track them down for you. There's no real room for conventional spiritualism.

The only one I can think of where it even sorta-works is Eberron.


I don’t like any of these ideas. I think the old alignment systems works well enough. Just give guidelines for flexibility and grade on a curve. Alignment shouldn’t be a gotcha but people have guidelines in real life and most people would not associate with a hobo murderer who cannot keep their word. The only absolutes for alignment should be out planar creatures with exceptions for a truly special case such as a good soul being trapped in the abyss.

Voidrunner's Codex

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