D&D General Do you use Alignment in your D&D games?

Do you use Alignment in your D&D games?

  • No

    Votes: 22 18.5%
  • "Yes, always." - Orson Welles

    Votes: 40 33.6%
  • Not for player characters, but yes for NPCs and monsters

    Votes: 7 5.9%
  • Not for player characters or NPC, but yes for monsters

    Votes: 1 0.8%
  • Not for most creatures, but yes for certain "outsiders" (ie particular fiends, celestials, etc.)

    Votes: 17 14.3%
  • Not for 5E, but yes for some earlier editions

    Votes: 1 0.8%
  • Yes, but only as a personality guideline, not as a thing that externally exists

    Votes: 37 31.1%
  • OTHER. Your poll did not anticipate my NUANCE.

    Votes: 17 14.3%

I guess it depends on your perspective. I don't think it needs mechanical weight to be useful. (I mentioned that pages ago but I don't expect anyone to go digging it up.) But there's been a lot of blanket statements thrown around that basically equates to "using alignments is bad". So if you use them, you use them. And the only option I see for not using them is holding steady at about 21%. ;)

@Oofta ninja'd!
The terms are too embedded in the culture of gaming to go away - if form this day forward WotC stopped using the word "lawful" in anything they print - we'd still call paladins 'lawful good' until we stop playing entirely. Are we "using" alignment then?

I don't want to dive to far into semantics here - the middle of the curve seems to be "it's just a way to describe characters" which works well in most cases.

But the idea of enforcing alignment died some time in the 3x era. (And good riddance says I)
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Technically the game allows a CN druid, but tell people here they are bad DMs for disallowing an alignment. I dare you.
I've yet to see anyone actually disallow that alignment. What people here mean when they say "No CN" is "I'm banning douches that use CN as an excuse to be a douche." Virtually every time someone says that, it's followed with, "The player used it as an excuse to..." The alignment itself is fine if played appropriately.
And the bard was LN in the DM's eyes. Full stop. If they entered play, I could theoretically play them as non-boring, but I'd be an Ex-Bard until the change happens per RAW.
That's an abuse of DM authority. Full stop. A code isn't enough on its own to shift alignment if the DM is adhering to RAW. If he ignores the rest of RAW and simply uses the portion allowing alignment change out of context(abuse of authority), he can do as you say.
Have you seen the 3e Fighter and Unarmed fighting rules?
Yes.
The Balance card says you have to play the new alignment.
It does not say that it ignores the context of alignment. You are allowed to play alignment as non-prescriptive per RAW and still be playing LN, so long as the majority of what you do is LN.
1) level loss is not a rule in 3e for alignment.
The Balance card itself says it.
2) Level 1 loses a level. Okay.
That's actually ideal. It would take very little exp to go to 1st level and you'd be only a little weaker than the level 1 PCs.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Right, but I would think that being 51% LN and 49% CE clearly isn't a Lawful Neutral core. (Oh crap, next village I need to follow the law instead of massacring folks randomly). Wouldn't that be N or NE?
The problem is that most of the time you are being very lawful. Maybe you are LN most of the time, but you have some very specific(and perhaps common) triggers which when you encounter them, cause you to completely lose it and wipe out everyone within sight. When calm, you're clearly LN. When out of control(again fairly common), you're CE.

The point is any semi-realistic personality is going to be consistently falling outside of the one alignment box written down and will have behaviors in multiple other alignment boxes. And even in 3e this was not enough to justify the DM changing alignment, per RAW.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
The terms are too embedded in the culture of gaming to go away - if form this day forward WotC stopped using the word "lawful" in anything they print - we'd still call paladins 'lawful good' until we stop playing entirely. Are we "using" alignment then?

I don't want to dive to far into semantics here - the middle of the curve seems to be "it's just a way to describe characters" which works well in most cases.

But the idea of enforcing alignment died some time in the 3x era. (And good riddance says I)
So the idea is more of a threat than actually coming across it. Because most of us play with people we like, know, and possibly even respect. If there is an issue, I feel confident that we can have a constructive conversation about it. So we either trust our DM, or we find one that we do.

Stop me if I'm getting too far into semantics...
 


The point is any semi-realistic personality is going to be consistently falling outside of the one alignment box written down and will have behaviors in multiple other alignment boxes. And even in 3e this was not enough to justify the DM changing alignment, per RAW.
Yes. And that’s why alignment is an utterly useless as a descriptor or predictor of behaviour.
 


Yes, indeed I do use Alignment+True Neutral. And that also includes everybody's favorite: Chaotic Evil Drow and Chaotic Evil Orcs.

However, I tend to make it know that there are cases that are not always the typical alignment. So, for me, I don't mind if the 5E monster stat blocks now include Typically as that still allows me to keep my 3.0/3.5 old school mindset in regard to Alignment and what has which Alignment, while still offering people the freedom to have the non-typical if need be.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I've yet to see anyone actually disallow that alignment. What people here mean when they say "No CN" is "I'm banning douches that use CN as an excuse to be a douche." Virtually every time someone says that, it's followed with, "The player used it as an excuse to..." The alignment itself is fine if played appropriately.
I feel like in this, and the adjacent “no evil characters” discussion, alignment obfuscates the real issue, which is players behaving disruptively. Banning the disruptive behavior, rather than the alignment, is I think much more effective. Obviously some disruptive players will try to use their character’s alignment as a shield (the “it’s what my character would do” defense), but if the behavior rather than the alignment is banned, it leaves room for people to play the alignment in a way that does not involve the banned behavior.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes. And that’s why alignment is an utterly useless as a descriptor or predictor of behaviour.
It's not meant to be, though. If you're using it for that, you're failing to use it properly. Alignment is just a vague RP tool to HELP you with your RP, not do it for you or predict behavior.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I feel like in this, and the adjacent “no evil characters” discussion, alignment obfuscates the real issue, which is players behaving disruptively. Banning the disruptive behavior, rather than the alignment, is I think much more effective. Obviously some disruptive players will try to use their character’s alignment as a shield (the “it’s what my character would do” defense), but if the behavior rather than the alignment is banned, it leaves room for people to play the alignment in a way that does not involve the banned behavior.
Right. If you have someone abusing an alignment and refusing to change, ditch the person, not the alignment.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
@Vaalingrade Not quite sure what you're going for with @Oofta here, but here's some advice.

If you're going to take something out of context by using boldface to make your point, you might want to ditch the actual context. Its a lame tactic anyway, but it looks even lamer when you do it wrong. Try this:

"Alignments are only guidelines but they have a purpose. Without them, players are free to act whatever manner suits them best at the moment. That's more important to me than mechanical effects. In this day and age, I think we need that now more than ever."

Hope that helps. Good luck making your case! ;)
 

Oofta

Legend
I feel like in this, and the adjacent “no evil characters” discussion, alignment obfuscates the real issue, which is players behaving disruptively. Banning the disruptive behavior, rather than the alignment, is I think much more effective. Obviously some disruptive players will try to use their character’s alignment as a shield (the “it’s what my character would do” defense), but if the behavior rather than the alignment is banned, it leaves room for people to play the alignment in a way that does not involve the banned behavior.

Evil PCs aren't inherently disruptive. But I've played with people who ran evil PCs, that got way into too much detail about how they slowly choked someone to death because they enjoyed watching the life slowly fade from their eyes. That was one of the milder things they said.

If you actually play an evil PC as evil, I don't want anything to do with it and it wouldn't matter what TTRPG I'm playing. I also ask people to not play disruptive PCs and if someone is too disruptive I'll have a chat with them. Also doesn't have anything to do with alignment.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
@Vaalingrade Not quite sure what you're going for with @Oofta here, but here's some advice.

If you're going to take something out of context by using boldface to make your point, you might want to ditch the actual context. Its a lame tactic anyway, but it looks even lamer when you do it wrong. Try this:

"Alignments are only guidelines but they have a purpose. Without them, players are free to act whatever manner suits them best at the moment. That's more important to me than mechanical effects. In this day and age, I think we need that now more than ever."

Hope that helps. Good luck making your case! ;)
So exactly what I said. You use alignment to control behavior.
 




Bluebell

Explorer
Now, about pure good and evil, honestly, it's never been that hard, especially considering that alignement has always been fuzzy guidelines, non-prescriptive and descriptive only, and that people have never been expected to be absolutely consistent with their alignment, except possibly the paladin in 1e, hence my reference to Galahad. But note that, even then, a paladin was alway free to commit an evil act, it was not prescriptive. What it did, however, is record what had been done and there were consequences, as is normal with all acts, although quite drastic in the case of a paladin.
Yes, and that's why alignment works for me as fuzzy guidelines that everyone has room to interpret for themselves but not as a top-down DM-controlled god or force imposing their own interpretations on the players.

For paladins, I prefer for their restrictions to be based more on their oath -- which may be related to alignment or it might not, but either way I would expect that to be a conversation between player and DM. Which again goes back to players having space to interpret the alignments for themselves and work out with the DM where the lines are on that interpretation.

My table is made up of a diverse group who aren't all from the same country or religious background. They like exploring issues of morality in the game. They don't like having heavily culturally Christian-leaning ideas of good and evil pushed on them, particularly if it's something that they, as players, don't have space to push back at.

As for the definitions, you can use what works in your game, but good is simply caring about the welfare of others, possibly above yours, and evil is about not caring at all or even purposefully hurting others.
I recently played with someone who played a traditional paladin -- roamed around questing to help people, prayed to his god every morning, proselytized to everyone who would listen. But we were playing in a setting that was hostile to adventurers because they have historically entered the area simply to loot it and destroyed the ecosystem on the way. The paladin constantly refused to understand this perspective and happily talked about taking loot and killing local fauna right in front of my character, the local guide who had reluctantly agreed to help the party despite said hostility towards adventurers.

Was the paladin acting according to his oath? Sure, he was doing what his god told him to do. Was the paladin objectively good? I actually find that debatable, and I would have had objections if the DM had chosen to validate his supposed goodness by presenting him with some magical item that is supposed to measure inherent goodness.

It's a matter of taste, but note that the alignment restrictions might be LG for the Grail, but might actually be CG/CN for Mjolnir, because of where Asgard is on the Great Wheel. You might also go the way of the Weapons of Legacy, where specific acts done please or displease the weapon/object, allowing you to wield it or not, and/or develop powers. The possibilities are endless, and choosing the right one for your table is really a matter of taste.
Right, and my taste is more about the specific acts and goals of the PCs aligning with such objects. But you do make a very good point about the Grail vs Mjolnir alignments. I suppose the objects themselves can be seen to have an alignment that makes them likely to choose someone who seems to be a match.

I really do appreciate your explanation about how it works in older editions because it is very interesting. The question was about whether we use alignment in our own games, though, so I answered based on my own experiences with it.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
He said he hadn't seen anyone say it. I showed him someone saying it.
No, you didn't actually. You took someone else's words out of context to suit your narrative. My words. And you didn't ask me about it, so let me use other words of mine to respond to your current behavior:
5. If you think you know somebody because they use option A or play with rule B, that says more about you than what you want to say about your ideal character for a game that you feel was created entirely for you.
 


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