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D&D 5E Do you find alignment useful in any way?

Do you find alignment useful in any way?


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
All that's part of the write-up, which I've been told busy DMs don't need because alignment tells them everything useful. By reading the description and learning useful information, you're obviating the need for the non-information alignment will give you.
Nobody has told you in this thread that alignment tells them everything useful.
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
All that's part of the write-up, which I've been told busy DMs don't need because alignment tells them everything useful. By reading the description and learning useful information, you're obviating the need for the non-information alignment will give you.

Existing write-up:


One of many horrifying byproducts of the poorly maintained magical waste depositories, hundmithanden are descended from stray dogs tainted by magics that permeate such places. The eldritch contamination has partially twisted their bodies into a quasi-humanoid forms and given them sapience.

This sapience is truly a curse to these wretched creatures because the transformation plunges them into a world of wholly alien concepts only half-understood coupled with lingering animal instincts that no longer fit their physiology. The result is that nearly ever hundmithanden is afflicted with enough wherewithal to curse their existence, but not enough to contain they fear and rage that consumes them.

From a distance, hundmithanden resemble large dogs, usually with long, curly fur ranging from brown to rust to black. Upon closer inspection, however, one will notice that the creature's front paws are painfully elongated into something resembling humanoid hands and their rear legs are over-long and the joints don't resemble those of a normal dog's. In their early days of transfiguration, the poor beasts clumsily lope along on all fours, but as their intellect progresses, they begin to walk upright and eventually begin to cloth themselves in whatever clothing they can find and wander the streets in thin human guise.

Hundmithanden, however hardly ever manage to focus on anything besides their envy and hatred for other sapient humanoids. They fixate on a single person or type of person at the time, stalking, plotting and eventually ambushing them, strangling them in their beds or in darkened alleyways. In this way, most hundmithanden quickly become brutal and prolific serial killers, haunting cities and towns until hunted down and slain.

Their canine cunning helps them elude capture, but their continually fracturing minds slowly cause them to devolve, becoming sloppy, and less careful.

Between kills, hundmithanden live as vagrants, foraging through trash, sleeping in out of the way places and avoiding human contact. If anyone disturbs them, however, they quickly become the object of the creature's obsession—their next victim.
Do you even pay attention to what people say? Alignment is one part of the picture. It answers questions other things do not. It gives insight into general behavior and reaction.

Same old loop
1. Alignment doesn't tell you everything, it's just a general indication of moral compass and how they will interact.
2. But alignment doesn't tell me details
3. Go to step 1.
 

Hexmage-EN

Adventurer
I mean, not what I was asking, but a cool piece of writing.
Well, I was inspired by the alignment Chaotic Evil. It inspired me to say that they're loners that fight amongst each other, care only about themselves, fight over ownership of their newborns and care for them only as accomplices, and were created by invoking a demon lord (Eldanoth, my favorite obscure demon lord who used to be a slave of Orcus but now lives in a fortress made of copper, from which he schemes how to become the god of crime).

Admittedly, the hands and clothes were a big inspiration, as well.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
There was someone in this thread (or some thread) who found AD&D's different weapon damage tables against giants useful. Someone somewhere will always find anything useful, but cluttering game with all sort of nonsense with the caveat that 'if you don't like it don't use it' is not a good way to design games. It leads to the game being bloated incoherent mess. I am advocating for what I see as good and coherent game design here.
Flip your take around to say that anything that someone somewhere's not going to use should be taken out of the game and you'll be left trying to sell a book of blank paper.

Further, given as D&D is intentionally going for the "big tent" approach it only makes sense that - while some things will be presented on an opt-out basis and some on an opt-in basis - they should and will all be presented so as to allow the greatest amount of potential flexibility in what the game can do.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I find it extremely distasteful if the game represents something akin to them even somewhat justified. And alignment definitely causes that. In real world various racists, bigots and other extremists have repeatedly claimed that the people they hate are inherently evil or unworthy. And I don't want to have a game in which such claims have any backing.

I'm hoping any players I had that were playing what they thought were G or N would agree, and I'm not a fan of having E played at my table.

If we're considering irl standards, does that rule out extra-judicial killings? Does it rule out not avoiding even legally sanctioned ones where possible? Should all parties attacking anything that may be intelligent always use the 5e incapacitation rule? Should those exploring have something akin to the prime directive? Would the game be better with all of those? If so, would it still be D&D? Is it bad if it wasn't? If its set up using a war setting where there is a clear enemy (say we've satisfied the usual justifiable war arguments and have clear rules of engagement) is that different? To what effort is it necessary to avoid civilian casualties and are prisoner of war rules required? (This seems a lot more work to me than the previous exploration one I mused on).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My setting is good, so it doesn't have alignment, [...]
Is it just me, or do these two statements seem......contradictory, somehow?
What is their society, behavior and environment based on this total lack of reading the description. According to alignment proponents, this is all they need to run these guys, so let's hear it!
Late to the party and I've already read your own write-up but my first thought was some sort of rules-be-damned scavenger folk living on the edges of civilization/society and doing whatever they have to, no matter how horrible, in order to survive.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad
Do you even pay attention to what people say? Alignment is one part of the picture. It answers questions other things do not. It gives insight into general behavior and reaction.

Same old loop
1. Alignment doesn't tell you everything, it's just a general indication of moral compass and how they will interact.
2. But alignment doesn't tell me details
3. Go to step 1.
This!

And I cannot emphasize this enough: if you feel your position doesn't hold up to scrutiny without repeatedly strawmanning the views of those you disagree with by mischaracterizing that view as "alignment tells DMs everything useful" or "alignment is used by DMs objectively and universally as the fixed same thing" as opposed to what people have actually been saying, which is "alignment tells DMs just something generally helpful as a starting quick guideline" then maybe your position isn't a very strong one.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The last couple of pages really seal just how bad alignment is as a descriptor.

Law in D&D means Order, not literal writs of government. Cosmic Law is supposed to be a thing regardless of where you are or whether civilization has imposed it will there. It is possible in game for beings who have never heard of any other beings at all to be Lawful (whatever that is.

But because Law and law sound and are spelled alike, we just got three pages of arguing over whether or not a freaking Solar would run a red light.

So much for the perfect uberhumans that love alignment being perfectly aligned in what alignment means to them.
I missed this the first time around.

First the joke, because I'm a smart ass who can't resist a wise crack. I once got a Solar to pounce on my laser pen light for a good five minutes.

Now the serious answer. It goes beyond Law and Law sounding and being spelled alike. More than one edition has also called out actual laws as being part of lawful. The reason for that is you can have someone who believes very strongly that laws are good and necessary, and that a society cannot function without them. Such a person is very strongly in favor of laws and in following them. That's how his order manifests itself. A lot of people then confuse those statements with meaning that lawful = following laws, which it doesn't. It's simply one of the ways one who is lawful can be played.
 

I'm hoping any players I had that were playing what they thought were G or N would agree, and I'm not a fan of having E played at my table.

If we're considering irl standards, does that rule out extra-judicial killings? Does it rule out not avoiding even legally sanctioned ones where possible? Should all parties attacking anything that may be intelligent always use the 5e incapacitation rule? Should those exploring have something akin to the prime directive? Would the game be better with all of those? If so, would it still be D&D? Is it bad if it wasn't? If its set up using a war setting where there is a clear enemy (say we've satisfied the usual justifiable war arguments and have clear rules of engagement) is that different? To what effort is it necessary to avoid civilian casualties and are prisoner of war rules required? (This seems a lot more work to me than the previous exploration one I mused on).
I don't expect D&D characters to be moral paragons. It is fine for the world to be brutal, for characters to be somewhat grey. Hell, I don't even necessarily mind characters who have some rather terrible qualities, especially if it is agreed upon beforehand. But what I don't want is to have terrible characters to do things that closely reflect real life racist atrocities, the player thinking that their character is actually good and justified and the rules backing them up. And this is not some imaginary connection I am making; Gygax's views have been alluded to, he literally said that it was lawful good to kill 'monster' (to not mention the species that shalt not be named) non-combatants, women and children, and quoted a person who committed real life atrocities against Native Americans in his explanation.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't expect D&D characters to be moral paragons. It is fine for the world to be brutal, for characters to be somewhat grey. Hell, I don't even necessarily mind characters who have some rather terrible qualities, especially if it is agreed upon beforehand. But what I don't want is to have terrible characters to do things that closely reflect real life racist atrocities, the player thinking that their character is actually good and justified and the rules backing them up. And this is not some imaginary connection I am making; Gygax's views have been alluded to, he literally said that it was lawful good to kill 'monster' (to not mention the species that shalt not be named) non-combatants, women and children, and quoted a person who committed real life atrocities against Native Americans in his explanation.
So pretty much anything bad you can think of has been done by one group to another and to individuals. You literally cannot do anything "terrible" and have it not reflect some racist atrocity somewhere.

As long as the player(s) aren't doing something to deliberately mirror a real life atrocity(ie saying something like, this monster race is like real life race X and so I'm going to...") then I'm okay with it. It's a fantasy game with fantasy races and bad things happen. I'm not going to go out of my way to create associations with real life that aren't there. If they are there, though, like the Vistani/Romani connection, then I'm against it and it should be changed/removed. Real racism has no place in my game, at my table, or in my house. Nowhere, really, but I can control those locations.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Further, given as D&D is intentionally going for the "big tent" approach it only makes sense that - while some things will be presented on an opt-out basis and some on an opt-in basis - they should and will all be presented so as to allow the greatest amount of potential flexibility in what the game can do.

If everything anyone ever might want to use in the game is presented, the game becomes intractable and moribund in its options. To be useful in a practical sense, a game must be edited. Choices must be made.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I don't expect D&D characters to be moral paragons. It is fine for the world to be brutal, for characters to be somewhat grey. Hell, I don't even necessarily mind characters who have some rather terrible qualities, especially if it is agreed upon beforehand. But what I don't want is to have terrible characters to do things that closely reflect real life racist atrocities,

Feels like a lot of this comes down to where the line is drawn about what counts as an atrocity vs. what is just brutal or a shade of grey. Feels hard to get into that without getting into things that were in the news a lot this past year and a road best not gone down. I'm guessing our views on it aren't that different if we sat down to discuss them over a beer (or whatnot). I'm also guessing that discussion won't fair well in text with the mod rules here.

I'm not sure having the two characters on the character sheet for PC, NPC, or particular monster changes any of it. And I'm for removing them from the humanoid (or similar) species listing in the monster books.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If everything anyone ever might want to use in the game is presented, the game becomes intractable and moribund in its options. To be useful in a practical sense, a game must be edited. Choices must be made.
Yes, but alignment has been proven to be includable in the game without creating that situation. The game has become neither intractable or moribund due to alignment being included. The vast majority of issues with alignment were mechanical in nature and are now gone, and the remaining few are almost universally created by player/DM misunderstandings, rather than the rule itself.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
...he literally said that it was lawful good to kill 'monster' (to not mention the species that shalt not be named) non-combatants, women and children, and quoted a person who committed real life atrocities against Native Americans in his explanation.

So pretty much anything bad you can think of has been done by one group to another and to individuals. You literally cannot do anything "terrible" and have it not reflect some racist atrocity somewhere.
Mod Note:
Folks,

I want everyone to consider carefully where this discussion is likely to go. I do not expect it to go anywhere constructive. I see several signs that at this point, the sides are dug in, and positions will not substantially change at this point.

"I can't let the other side win," is not a tenable position to take in a discussion of how to pretend to be elves. Ask yourself if, in your next post, you are actually adding anything new. Also ask if you are actually going to consider what others are saying.

If the answer to either of these is "no", then it is time to walk away from the conversation.
 

transmission89

Adventurer
So pretty much anything bad you can think of has been done by one group to another and to individuals. You literally cannot do anything "terrible" and have it not reflect some racist atrocity somewhere.

As long as the player(s) aren't doing something to deliberately mirror a real life atrocity(ie saying something like, this monster race is like real life race X and so I'm going to...") then I'm okay with it. It's a fantasy game with fantasy races and bad things happen. I'm not going to go out of my way to create associations with real life that aren't there. If they are there, though, like the Vistani/Romani connection, then I'm against it and it should be changed/removed. Real racism has no place in my game, at my table, or in my house. Nowhere, really, but I can control those locations.
Yup, and that infamous quote can trace its origins back to the brutal campaigns against the Irish during Cromwell’s regime (possibly further but that’s the earliest recorded version I can find).

At no point is anyone advocating that it’s ok to replicate these hideous moments of human barbarity and cruelty to one another, using anything as a stand in.

The word monsters was in quotes. That’s the problem if this is the brutalistic setting that wants to be evoked.

If one wishes to humanise the monsters, that creates the moral discomfort one is feeling. If that is a route one wishes to take with their game, that’s the assumption that needs to be challenged.

Were xenomorphs real, I’d have no problem in describing them as evil, nor in joining Ripley in toasting the eggs, the queen, and the cute wittle chestbursters. These things ain’t ants.

Were I wanting to create a helpful, almost humanesque goblin society, certainly, that would have implications on my description of their good or evilness, and thus dictate what actions fall within a Paladin’s view.

Of course, as always, what you do at your table is your business, and I shan’t moralise or compel you to play my way

EDIT: Apologies to mod, missed note when typing this. Will be happy to delete at Mod request.
 

Feels like a lot of this comes down to where the line is drawn about what counts as an atrocity vs. what is just brutal or a shade of grey. Feels hard to get into that without getting into things that were in the news a lot this past year and a road best not gone down. I'm guessing our views on it aren't that different if we sat down to discuss them over a beer (or whatnot). I'm also guessing that discussion won't fair well in text with the mod rules here.

I'm not sure having the two characters on the character sheet for PC, NPC, or particular monster changes any of it. And I'm for removing them from the humanoid (or similar) species listing in the monster books.
Sure, it's not clear cut, though at the point the notion of killing babies is seriously entertained the line has been crossed a long time ago, regardless of where exactly it was (and I don't even like babies!) And also, yeah, I doubt our views differ much in practice. And removing the alignment from humanoids would definitely be a big step in the right direction; it would solve the most obvious issues that have unfortunate real world implications, and that's most important. I still think alignment is a terrible system on its own right and should go for that reason, but that's just about game design preferences, and ultimately not a big deal.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad
If everything anyone ever might want to use in the game is presented, the game becomes intractable and moribund in its options. To be useful in a practical sense, a game must be edited. Choices must be made.
Sure but if a meaningfully large portion of the customer base likes and uses that game element, I hope you agree it should probably make the editing cut?
 

Malmuria

Adventurer
The vocal minority is as it always is...............loud. The vast majority of people who are happy with something don't go out of their way to say so. It's human nature to speak up to complain far more often than to compliment. It's a serious mistake to assume that people who complain loudly and SEEM to be in the majority, really are.
Hmm see from my perspective, wotc decided to not add alignment to stat blocks in candlekeep, float racial ability scores in tasha's, and include one (1) sidebar in ravenloft suggesting people be mindful of stereotypes, and we see a very vocal reaction from some of the fanbase. Some people going so far to claim that wotc no longer wants them as fans (i.e. customers), which seems crazy to me.

The fact is, when corporations have these discussions, it is for the sake of their brand, and for wotc as a gaming company, one part of the game--morality as hard-coded fate or even tendency--is no longer on brand.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Yes, but alignment has been proven to be includable in the game without creating that situation.

When you go on vacation, each individual item in your wardrobe will individually fit in your suitcase. But, your entire wardrobe will not all fit at once. You must leave behind many items, each of which individually is small.
 

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