D&D 5E Designing (Neutral)Good Mechanics For Alignment In DnD And Ways To Interact With It (+)

NotAYakk

Legend
That's very interesting. I could tying this into inspiration. Instead of something that is recharged on a short rest, if you act in a way that accords with your alignment, e.g. a lawful character standing firm even when its against his interest or a good character taking personal risk to protect someone, you can earn inspiration. The problem I've always had with inspiration, however, is that it becomes the DMs award for players playing "well". I would like it to be something more in the player's control. Some tables let other player award inspiration to each other, but that's just another flavor of the same problem. I think that I would instead just let the player roleplay a situation where they uphold their alignment in a way that poses some difficulty for them. For some players it may just be mechanical, and that's fine. But it gives another opportunity for role play and a bit of theater for players that are into that. Either way, I would rather a player say why they are inspired or inspiring than the GM or other players.
I tried to remove active DM granting inspiration.

Instead, bonds and leveling up those bonds (or leveling down). The player invokes them, reminding the DM they exist and what level. The DM and/or player can then do things to have opportunities to level up/down a bond. Ie the DM could say "you haven't protected the poor in a while; that bond loses a level".
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
If I were to do something with alignment, I wouldn't go the 9-alignment route, but the 4 or 5alignment route: Law, Chaos, Good, Evil, and maybe Unaligned/Neutral. Going for the nine alignments gets into too much nit-pickiness (as you point out with the Batman example). If someone wants to be captial-C Chaotic, then furthering the goals of Chaos is more important than whether they are Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil. As long as it's chaos, amirite?

Of course, this kind of assumes that the alignments are Things, fundamental forces, rather than just sets of morality and ethics. In the real world (as @overgeeked mentioned), people think of themselves as the good guys, but D&D works along a more concrete path.
 

payn

Legend
If you're going to do this, I suggest not doing definitions at all. Go straight up old school and make it teams. You are on the side of Good, no matter what kind of a scumbag you are. You are on Team Evil no matter how much of a huggable cinnamon roll you are. Chaos has bureaucrats, and Law has mercenaries.

Make it so Alignment is an active choice. If you don't know about it or haven't picked a side, you don't have one. But if you do, you get the bennies for it and the other guys have it out for you.

That way you get all the loaded terminology and espoused ideals the game is going to ignore anyway, and don't end up policing the players' behavior or making them feel judged where you and them disagree ethically or morally.
That would just end all of our table philosophy discussions. We might as well play checkers.
 


CreamCloud0

Adventurer
If I were to do something with alignment, I wouldn't go the 9-alignment route, but the 4 or 5alignment route: Law, Chaos, Good, Evil, and maybe Unaligned/Neutral. Going for the nine alignments gets into too much nit-pickiness (as you point out with the Batman example). If someone wants to be captial-C Chaotic, then furthering the goals of Chaos is more important than whether they are Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil. As long as it's chaos, amirite?

Of course, this kind of assumes that the alignments are Things, fundamental forces, rather than just sets of morality and ethics. In the real world (as @overgeeked mentioned), people think of themselves as the good guys, but D&D works along a more concrete path.
I think you could run both the 5 and 9-point alignment classifications if you worked it right, You use the 5-point alignment for the sides of the cosmic balance/war and the 9-point grid for labelling mortal character’s ‘personality’, who are more multifaceted than the outer plains denizens.

The 5 factions are trying to recruit from the 9 alignments of mortals and you can only be officially aligned with one side at a time, so say EVIL is trying to recruit then they don’t care if you’re LE, NE or CE just that you’re going to put Evil before Law, Chaos or Neutrality.

If you’re undeclared you have both your opposing alignments sides (neutral has a more varied grab bag from the three/four sides) sending low level goons after you because you’re a potential recruit for the enemy, but declaring yourself will have higher level goons but only from your direct opposite side (again unless neutral then you get a mix), An undeclared CG will have minor lawful and evil minions after them, but if that CG declares themselves to chaos faction then they’re going to only get lawful minions after them but they’ll be of a higher class/strength/rank.
 
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Smackpixi

Adventurer
I know the entire point of this forum is over thinking things, but I use alignment and I use it casually and I don’t really care about it. I view monster alignment as personality informative (lawful evil rules lawyer dick) or whatever. I ignore it when convenient just like my players. I will call out a lawful good player stealing someone’s food, what’s your excuse? But anyone can do whatever they want anytime, justify it to the table or not, I don’t really care, but try to be consistent in your behavior, monsters and people. Alighment is inclination, not a rule.
 

Aldarc

Legend
If you'll go that way, Theros also has a Piety track for nonbelievers that you could replicate for Neutrally-aligned people (I believe it's the Iconoclast option under Supernatural Gifts).
Thanks for the reminder. To replace that section with Alignment language:
If you don't devote yourself to an Alignment, you don't have an alignment score and you gain no rewards for alignment, but you don't suffer any negative consequences. The Iconoclast/Neutral/Balance supernatural gift (described in chapter 1) offers a way for characters to gain benefits similar to rewards for alignment without being devoted to an Alignment.
I would also add that using Piety for Alignment could also serve as a method to tie-in alignment-based magic items. Being a Good aligned may not be not enough to wield a certain magic sword. It may require that the character accumulates a certain Piety score. Or maybe they can wield the sword, but as they increase in Piety level, it unlocks more of the magic sword's power.

Making Alignment more analogous to factions works, IMHO, better at tying characters to the meta-setting. Selecting an alignment is picking a side in this cosmological conflict, much in the manner of Elric and Moocock's Multiverse. This also, IMO, makes it easier for the GM because they can play the faction and NPCs associated with that alignment. And the players' behavior is less a matter of how well they conform to more abstract notions of alignment, but, rather, how well their behavior conforms with the goals, agendas, and character of the cosmological factions.

If I were to do something with alignment, I wouldn't go the 9-alignment route, but the 4 or 5alignment route: Law, Chaos, Good, Evil, and maybe Unaligned/Neutral. Going for the nine alignments gets into too much nit-pickiness (as you point out with the Batman example). If someone wants to be captial-C Chaotic, then furthering the goals of Chaos is more important than whether they are Chaotic Good, Chaotic Neutral, or Chaotic Evil. As long as it's chaos, amirite?
I think you could run both the 5 and 9-point alignment classifications if you worked it right, You use the 5-point alignment for the sides of the cosmic balance/war and the 9-point grid for mortal characters, who are more multifaceted than the outer plains denizens.

The 5 factions are trying to recruit from the 9 alignments of mortals and you can only be officially aligned with one side at a time, so say EVIL is trying to recruit then they don’t care if you’re LE, NE or CE just that you’re going to put Evil before Law, Chaos or Neutrality.

If you’re undeclared you have both your opposing alignments sides (neutral has a more varied grab bag from the three/four sides) sending low level goons after you because you’re a potential recruit for the enemy, but declaring yourself will have higher level goons but only from your direct opposite side (again unless neutral then you get a mix), An undeclared CG will have minor lawful and evil minions after them, but if that CG declares themselves to chaos faction then they’re going to only get lawful minions after them but of a higher class.
Yeah, I think that this works and would be easier to port it to the aforementioned Theros Piety system. You could even use the Piety Score as a means as well for determining the "heat" or level of goons that are sent against the character.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I tried to remove active DM granting inspiration.

Instead, bonds and leveling up those bonds (or leveling down). The player invokes them, reminding the DM they exist and what level. The DM and/or player can then do things to have opportunities to level up/down a bond. Ie the DM could say "you haven't protected the poor in a while; that bond loses a level".
What is the effect of a bond levelling up or down? Is this related to faction rewards? If I have a level 2 bond, what can I do with that as a player?
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Yeah, I think that this works and would be easier to port it to the aforementioned Theros Piety system. You could even use the Piety Score as a means as well for determining the "heat" or level of goons that are sent against the character.
You might want to rename it to something like Allegiance--or even Alignment--unless the alignments and the gods were basically one and the same (instead of a setting where the gods themselves are allied with a particular alignment, which is the case in most D&D settings).

Having a setting with only four or five gods, one for each alignment, would be pretty interesting. You could still have lesser or demigods, saints, powerful spirits, or even aspects of the greater gods that are in charge of the day-to-day things, like agriculture or war or whatever.

Hmm... or perhaps these lesser gods are all the Neutral/Unaligned gods, because no one neutral god, in and of itself, is as powerful as the Good or Chaos or whatever.
 

Aldarc

Legend
You might want to rename it to something like Allegiance--or even Alignment--unless the alignments and the gods were basically one and the same (instead of a setting where the gods themselves are allied with a particular alignment, which is the case in most D&D settings).

Having a setting with only four or five gods, one for each alignment, would be pretty interesting. You could still have lesser or demigods, saints, powerful spirits, or even aspects of the greater gods that are in charge of the day-to-day things, like agriculture or war or whatever.

Hmm... or perhaps these lesser gods are all the Neutral/Unaligned gods, because no one neutral god, in and of itself, is as powerful as the Good or Chaos or whatever.
When I earlier suggested using the Theros Piety system as a potential model for creating alignment mechanics, I indicated that I would use it to represent "alignment" rather than "piety" that was associated with a god(s). My interest would be in focusing on taking a side in the cosmological conflict that Alignment represents rather than gods. Moorcock, for example, doesn't care how many lords/gods of Chaos or Law there are. What matters is simply Law vs. Chaos.

There are benefits to using the Piety System as a model: (a) it provides a point system, (b) the points gains/losses are tied to particular character actions, and (c) those point values can be tied to other mechanics.
EARNING AND LOSING PIETY
You increase your piety score to Athreos when you honor him or the cycle of life and death through acts such as these:
• Providing coins and overseeing burial rites for those slain during a tragedy
• Ensuring that the deeds and knowledge of someone who has died are preserved
• Slaying a Returned and its associated eidolon

Your piety score to Athreos decreases if you diminish the River Guide's influence in the world, impede his work, or disrespect the dead through acts such as these:
• Denying a dying person their final rites
• Removing wealth from a corpse or defiling a tomb
• Aiding those who seek to escape from the Underworld, or who already have
One could easily create a comparable Alignment system that functions along similar principles. Instead of Alignment being tied to vague notions of morality, it can be tied to actions that further the agenda of an Alignment's factions. How can a character further the cosmological agenda of Law through their actions? For example, a character's Law score may go up by killing/thwarting demons, slaad, and fey or even the minions of Chaos-aligned deities, but their Law score may go down for killing/thwarting archons, devils, and modrons. Moreover, the Piety System has a point value. As one increases in Piety, one also accesses new abilities associated with each God. That point system can be used to key-in a number of other Alignment systems (e.g., opposition heat, alignment-attuned magic items, special abilties, etc.).

I do agree, particularly for the sake of simplicity, that characters should not be able to pledge themselves to more than one alignment, though they may be more nuanced with two (e.g., Chaotic Good).
 

NotAYakk

Legend
What is the effect of a bond levelling up or down? Is this related to faction rewards? If I have a level 2 bond, what can I do with that as a player?
As it stands, when you tap it for a reroll, you get an extra +2 (or -2) on the result. So gaining/losing levels is good/bad, but not crippling.

It being 1/SR bounds the impact.

That is all the mechanics I got as yet.

We then align bonds - is it a Lawful (organization loyalty), Chaotic (personal loyalty), Good (self sacrifice) or Evil (exploitive).

Having concordence mechanics or whatever along side that is plausible.
 

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