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D&D General D&D doesn't need Evil


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You don't have to create an alignment system. You already have one that's been around since 1e. Just import it.
And for the new players who don't have anything prior? And it's not just a simple import. You want me to through and figure out the alignments for hundreds of creatures. That would take hours and I have the experience. You can ignore alignment in 0 seconds.
Are there any orc nations in the Realms--not nations in which orcs are welcome but are not the dominant beings--that aren't CE?
I assume so in Eberron. And despite your protestations, it counts.
And are you OK with the vast majority of orcs, drow, and other such creatures being good or neutral as long as the leadership is evil, in the same way you're insisting that most Zhentarim are good or neutral but their leaders are bad?
I really don't care if the majority are good in your game.

And it's still a False Equivalence to try and equate default orcs and drow with default Zhentil Keep. The lore is very different. Zhentil Keep is a city with common folk just trying to get through life, mostly left alone by the leadership. Orcs and drow have their own lore.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As for there being any Good-aligned undead in RAW 1e, it seems I have to retract my earlier statement; as on a look through the three monster books it seems there aren't any.

There's several Neutral ones that are more powerful than the basic skeleton-zombie stuff, but no Good ones of any kind.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
As for there being any Good-aligned undead in RAW 1e, it seems I have to retract my earlier statement; as on a look through the three monster books it seems there aren't any.

There's several Neutral ones that are more powerful than the basic skeleton-zombie stuff, but no Good ones of any kind.
I wasn't sure when Baelnorns appeared.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
So yanking this back to the OP (I think).

My general preference is for an objective alignment in the background. That in no way prevents players from acting how they want, BUT it also let's me keep track on a separate way, in case it ever becomes relevant. Now, this is with the full recognition that "objective" is, of course, subjective to me (as DM) but as long as I'm consistent and make sure players understand (and perhaps even influence) my perspective - for me, that works.

I'm leery of the concept of subjective alignment in the game - it comes too close to cultural relativism, with alignment constantly shifting based on perspective. I don't like that in most games - I prefer things more cut and dried - mostly.

Though, I do think exploring the concept of intersubjective alignment would be quite useful and interesting. Intersubjectivety is conscious minds sharing a concept together and thereby giving it a form of reality. For ex. borders exist solely because enough people believe that's where they are. In the same way - what's good is defined by what people believe good is and the reality of it gets stronger the more people share the same definition (get enough beings to believe a certain something is good and it can effectively supplant even an objective reality of it's good or not). - Of course, that's more a campaign concept than a game mechanic (so sorry if it's tangential).
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
And that context makes the LE part unnecessary.
No, it doesn’t. I derived the behavior of the NPC from her alignment. The fact that there are also other factors doesn’t erase that fact.
Does that mean it?
Yes.
Wow, that’s a whole lot of stuff that I guarantee not everyone is going to agree is true of lawful evil characters. Again, ask any 10 people what lawful evil means and you’ll get 12 different answers.
Irrelevant. I’m the one running the scenario. D&D isn't meant to produce homogenous gameplay experiences.

I know what LE means, and so does Max, and so does Oofta. Whether we agree doesn’t matter on any level, ever. Even if we played together, what the alignment of an NPC means is 100%, unambiguously, always, without exception, up to the DM. Even at my table, where we reject the “god dm” concept.
I don’t want alignment to be a straight jacket. I don’t want alignment to be a thing. But if it’s going to be a thing, it should at least justify itself by ever mattering.
So either get rid of it, or go back to mechanically enforced alignment!?

No. You can hate it all day, that doesn’t mean it can’t exist between those extremes.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
No, it doesn’t. I derived the behavior of the NPC from her alignment. The fact that there are also other factors doesn’t erase that fact.

Yes.

Irrelevant. I’m the one running the scenario. D&D isn't meant to produce homogenous gameplay experiences.

I know what LE means, and so does Max, and so does Oofta. Whether we agree doesn’t matter on any level, ever. Even if we played together, what the alignment of an NPC means is 100%, unambiguously, always, without exception, up to the DM. Even at my table, where we reject the “god dm” concept.

So either get rid of it, or go back to mechanically enforced alignment!?

No. You can hate it all day, that doesn’t mean it can’t exist between those extremes.
Same old argument, repeated over and over. Alignment in 5E is only as useful as people make it. If the person running the character is reasonably clear, consistent, and in the same general ballpark on what it means it works just fine.

I never know the alignment of my player's PCs. They don't know the alignments of my NPCs or monsters. But when I chose to use alignment, it gives me a handy shortcut to general outlook.

It's also unrelated to the OP's theme, which I disagree with. I think the game is better off with a general theme of good vs evil or, in MCEU terms, heroes vs villains. Even better, that's just a general suggestion that can be tossed out the window if you want.

It's a game. Simplified concepts help sell the game and for a lot of people that's all we want most of the time. To roll the dice and be heroes for a bit without having to suffer from PTSD because too many times in the real world there is no right answer.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
The best part of all these threads is how the goalposts get shifted and arguments twisted until they're contorted back to the point where the same core dogma can then be applied to cut off all discussion.

This thread was about whether or not the reductionist motivation of 'evil' is necessary to the game's theme and function and it's spine has been crushed into a double helix until people can shout it down with 'well alignment is useful to me - don't badwrongfun me, bro', which is a complete non-sequitor to the actual thread.

Every thread.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
The best part of all these threads is how the goalposts get shifted and arguments twisted until they're contorted back to the point where the same core dogma can then be applied to cut off all discussion.

This thread was about whether or not the reductionist motivation of 'evil' is necessary to the game's theme and function and it's spine has been crushed into a double helix until people can shout it down with 'well alignment is useful to me - don't badwrongfun me, bro', which is a complete non-sequitor to the actual thread.

Every thread.
Yeah, it's frustrating when I see the same posters bringing the same tangents into different threads, triggering responses from the same posters who drag things into the same arguments which lead to threads being locked.

It's okay to not respond, even when you disagree with someone!

The part of this thread I enjoyed the most was challenges and additions that helped me refine my own ideas. I created this thread as a response to things I've read in other threads, but without a completely realized idea. Reading other people's perspectives can be very rewarding, both when they agree or disagree!

Personally, I still don't see a need for objective Evil in D&D. I recognize that many posters like objective evil. And yet I still think it's something of a straightjacket.

I wonder if part of my issue is that the PHB and Monster Manual are written as if they are setting agnostic, and yet certain monsters are labeled as Evil when that would be totally dependent on a setting!

If I were publishing D&D, I'd have a default setting, but I'd include sidebars about the roles certain monsters and factions play, and how those roles can and should be adapted to each person's own game.

Something else that struck me in this thread is the idea of what is evil being decided by the DM. For some reason that never came up for me before! I think I set what is evil to each community in the game, but I let the players (and their characters) decide what they think is evil.
 

It says she's willing to work within the system and likely works ok in a group (lawful). And that she's willing to use means good people wouldn't to accomplish her goals which also (as she's an adversary) conflict with those of the group in some way.

That's about right. Although I'd render it in a slightly more complicated fashion

Lawful- willing to work with a majority of the following: Groups, plans, codes/patterns of behavior, society/the system/the establishment, OR is very enthusiastic about or heavily characterized by at least one

Evil- Willing to engage in both ruthlessness and cruelty, or heavily characterized by either by itself.
 


happyhermit

Adventurer
Like pretty much everyone, I don't think D&D needs "evil", in other words of course it can function without it. IME though, it can be a super useful tool and I find myself "needing" it in order to maximize the fun in my games.

It's funny that others have pointed to problems coming from newer players because those are the ones who have really made me see the usefulness of the concept. A lot of the newer players I have run for are not the stereotypical (and probably never accurate) D&D nerd boys, most are female but IME that makes even less difference in playstyles than it did back a while.

Anyways, what I am trying to get at is that my players see the moral grey in EVERYTHING and it's great fun. Murderhobos they are not, 90% of the time. They and their characters often struggle with killing anything, often even wounding them is guilt inducing. Again though, we have great fun though it's sometimes a bit of a tightrope, especially with anything human-like (don't get me started on animals) to have them see how bad the NPCs are without it getting super dark. If they don't see vividly that they are really bad than at most they are going to end up captured and then questions of how to deal with them.

Basically, it's fun, we appreciate the stakes and the negotiations and the angst... but it's hard... and these same players REALLY enjoy some hack-n-slash, it just doesn't work for them to have their characters kill the lizard men (as mentioned earlier in the thread) or something to that effect. So, a world where Evil exists and they can just kill the; demon, devil, 5e gnoll, etc. without doing a thorough background check or catching them red handed, is fundamentally just more fun for them. Sure, there are middle-ground adversaries like robots, constructs, pop culture zombies, trust me, I use them too but they are a different tool.

IME this kind of player is very common these days; sensitive, feeling it necessary to show mercy if at all possible, and yet still straight up enjoying combat and occasionally wanting that to come without a bunch of baggage ie; prisoners, guilt, being shown/told how bad these guys are.
 

Aldarc

Legend
It's also unrelated to the OP's theme, which I disagree with. I think the game is better off with a general theme of good vs evil or, in MCEU terms, heroes vs villains. Even better, that's just a general suggestion that can be tossed out the window if you want.
Thank Thanos for the MCEU inventing the concept of heroes vs. villains. Where would our primitive storytelling be without our Disney corporate overlords inventing such novel ideas?

It's a game. Simplified concepts help sell the game and for a lot of people that's all we want most of the time. To roll the dice and be heroes for a bit without having to suffer from PTSD because too many times in the real world there is no right answer.
Sure, but I don't think that we need "evil" to sell the motivations of the antagonists to PCs. It's much as the OP says. It's more about whether the PCs have interesting challenges and opposition that conflict with their goals rather than whether their opposition is evil or not. Are the PCs trying to stop the Necromancer because they are "evil" or, rather, is it because the Necromancer plans on exacting their revenge on the noble lord who hired the PCs? I don't think that any of this requires the argumentative stretch that this somehow forces people to suffer from PTSD. There is a lot of room between those extremes.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Thank Thanos for the MCEU inventing the concept of heroes vs. villains. Where would our primitive storytelling be without our Disney corporate overlords inventing such novel ideas?


Sure, but I don't think that we need "evil" to sell the motivations of the antagonists to PCs. It's much as the OP says. It's more about whether the PCs have interesting challenges and opposition that conflict with their goals rather than whether their opposition is evil or not. Are the PCs trying to stop the Necromancer because they are "evil" or, rather, is it because the Necromancer plans on exacting their revenge on the noble lord who hired the PCs? I don't think that any of this requires the argumentative stretch that this somehow forces people to suffer from PTSD. There is a lot of room between those extremes.

Good vs evil, heroes vs villains sells better than moral gray or anti-heroes because it feeds into a core desire of people everywhere to be the hero in their own life story. I think the game is better off with that flavor of the PCs being the good guys. It's why most public mods are save the world, or at least save the region.

Lucky for you, you can ignore it all you want since it's no longer core to the game and has no mechanical impact.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Good vs evil, heroes vs villains sells better than moral gray or anti-heroes because it feeds into a core desire of people everywhere to be the hero in their own life story. I think the game is better off with that flavor of the PCs being the good guys. It's why most public mods are save the world, or at least save the region.

Lucky for you, you can ignore it all you want since it's no longer core to the game and has no mechanical impact.
Would you mind engaging my argument rather than tilting at strawmen arguments about what sells? Thanks. It would be highly appreciated. Otherwise, I'll start arguing your points with irrelevant nonsense too and see how you like it.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Would you mind engaging my argument rather than tilting at strawmen arguments about what sells? Thanks. It would be highly appreciated. Otherwise, I'll start arguing your points with irrelevant nonsense too and see how you like it.
Oh, right. Silly me. People who sometimes have clear cut conflicts between good and evil are just primitive people who have been brainwashed by Disney. Can't possibly be that some people just want a little bit of a relief and escapism/wish fulfillment while playing a game or watching a movie. Obviously entertainment must be morally ambiguous to be worthy.

Some opponents have simple motivations in my campaign, some do not. I'm not going to belittle your preferences. Since you seem to be incapable of doing the same I see no reason to continue with replies.
 

Aldarc

Legend
Oh, right. Silly me. People who sometimes have clear cut conflicts between good and evil are just primitive people who have been brainwashed by Disney. Can't possibly be that some people just want a little bit of a relief and escapism/wish fulfillment while playing a game or watching a movie.
This is not what I am arguing nor have I implied as such, Oofta.

Obviously entertainment must be morally ambiguous to be worthy.
I have never said otherwise in this thread, and you would be hard pressed to find evidence that I did.

Some opponents have simple motivations in my campaign, some do not. I'm not going to belittle your preferences. Since you seem to be incapable of doing the same I see no reason to continue with replies.
That's not my intention or point nor am I doing so with yours. I was merely reformulating the OP's point to get the conversation back on track.
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
There are no need for DnD alignments, they make no sense and in many ways are like the Palladium alignment system. It forces players, and npc's into a set of behaviour that is not their own.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
This is not what I am arguing nor have I implied as such, Oofta.


I have never said otherwise in this thread, and you would be hard pressed to find evidence that I did.


That's not my intention or point nor am I doing so with yours. I was merely reformulating the OP's point to get the conversation back on track.

Not sure how else to interpret things when you say stuff like:
Where would our primitive storytelling be without our Disney corporate overlords inventing such novel ideas?
 

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