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%


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Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
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Voadam

Legend
I dislike general mechanics dictating how to play characters, so DMs policing PCs' alignments is something I find distasteful.

I am OK with occasional exceptions. I had decent fun being charmed by a Vrock bard in a 3.5 game and then roleplaying convincing our party paladin we needed to ally with the Vrock against a greater evil Devil in the dungeon.

I find most alignments are broad and open to different interpretations. I feel most can justify most any action or view so as a DM I feel fine not sweating whatever a player puts down on their character sheet. If a player views their character following their individual code as being chaotic or lawful it is fine by me. For my characters I think how I want to portray them then pick an alignment to put on the sheet that seems like it should work then hopefully not think about it again. I really do not try to use the alignment on the sheet as a guide to roleplay.

As a DM I generally use alignment in thinking about monsters and NPCs. Most monster descriptions could work with any alignment but different alignments are roleplay and characterization hooks I can use. Similarly the good evil axis is a good quick guide for characterization for whether the monster or NPC is generally hostile or not in some way as a default.

Take say Orcs. Their general monster description as bullying warriors is fairly consistent across editions but they were LE in AD&D and CE in 3e-5e. Lawful orcs suggest they are more follower soldier types who seek out evil armies because they like that type of lifestyle. So warrior minions of evil. Chaotic warriors might fight with or for an evil warlord and might join up in hordes, but they like fighting and raiding as opposed to the military structure of an army life. Different hooks for different characterizations of mostly the same basic Orc descriptions.

I really enjoyed 3e's descriptor alignments with a lot of mechanical impacts. It allowed a level of alignment as cosmic forces instead of as morality guide which had fun aspects for me. In 3e/Pathfinder I eventually came up with house rules where mortals were neutral/unaligned by default, being divinely powered (cleric, paladin, druid, etc.) could give you an alignment, outsiders would have their alignment tags but free up their personal actions, planetouched I gave alignment descriptors for the outsider connection but allowed complete freedom of roleplay good or evil or whatever, and I assigned some alignment tags to some monsters (Undead got the [Evil] descriptor, fey go the [Chaos] descriptor and constructs all got the [Lawful] descriptor). So using an [Evil] spell tapped into cosmic [EVIL] and would detect as evil even if you were using summoned demons to rescue orphans out of a burning building.

4e and 5e did away with most every mechanical impact of alignment so I don't sweat it much in my 5e game and mostly use monster alignment as a characterization hook.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So exactly what I said. You use alignment to control behavior.
That's literally the opposite of what he said. He's using the lack of alignment(no evil) to help eliminate bad behaviors, not as a control.

Edit: Nevermind. Thought you were repyling to Oofta and not someone who has me blocked. Please disregard.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
How can it help if it doesn’t actually say anything concrete about the character?
As an aid to roleplay. It's not an aid that everyone needs or wants, and that's fine. It is a very useful aid, though, to a great many people, and it should remain in the game for them and for DMs like me who use it a great deal on the DM side of things.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
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.

There are two separate things there. Being fuzzy and leaving to the players is one thing, having concrete manifestation in the game (aligned planes, magic based on alignmemt) is something else.

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.

I'm generally fine with that, note that 3e had paladins for every alignment and therefore it was already not a question of good and evil. But I agree that the 5e take on oaths is a really good direction.

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.

And that's absolutely fine if it's your tables preferences. And I do agree that if the views on alignment are maybe not specifically christian, they are certainly extremely western.

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.

There are again two things here, the concept of the paladin, which I think was fine, and the interpretation by a player who was there for the fighting and the looting.

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.

This is indeed a common fantasy trope, and it was in D&D since the early editions.

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.

No worries, all tables are different, preferences are always OK, and to each his own. :)
 

Bluebell

Explorer
There are two separate things there. Being fuzzy and leaving to the players is one thing, having concrete manifestation in the game (aligned planes, magic based on alignmemt) is something else.
I must not have communicated clearly, because that's what I was talking about from the start. I like the former use of alignment, but not the latter. It's not for me and doesn't suit the style of play that my table veers towards. But thanks for giving examples of how the latter might work, because it does sound more nuanced than it looked to me before.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I dislike general mechanics dictating how to play characters, so DMs policing PCs' alignments is something I find distasteful.

I am OK with occasional exceptions.
This is just fascinating to me. I didn't even cut anything out between those two sentences. And I hate to pick on this because I'm generally in agreement with everything said. But to say you find something distasteful, and then immediately follow it up by allowing yourself some exceptions? :unsure:

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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...
Are you suggesting that because you don't play that way anymore, it never happened?
 


What way, exactly? Seems like a lot of people are making a lot of assumptions that I didn't talk about. And very few have been keen to ask me anything.
Well, you said the idea that alignment should be enforced is ... just an idea, not a thing that happens. As in, the idea is real but not an actual occurrence.

Which is a false statement. People used to enforce alignment all the time. It's baked into the rules of older editions. It's absolutely a thing that happened.

Because you pulled one line out of my statement, ignored the context, and misconstrued it.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Looks like the majority prefers to use alignments. Case closed. :cool:

View attachment 151177

Or let's continue bickering like its 2002 again. Just a few things to keep in mind, though:
  1. If you're using words like "repressed", "freedom", or "autocracy" to strengthen your case for something as trivial as a roleplaying game, then your argument was already weak. This just makes it weaker.
  2. Characters don't choose their players. If you think they do, then you may have more serious issues to address.
  3. D&D isn't necessarily a co-op game, but it is a social one. That means people, not characters, need to find common ground and get along for the benefit of the group. You know, like most mature adults.
  4. Alignment has always, and will forever be, a part of the D&D game. But like everything else in the game, you can choose to ignore it or change it however you see fit.
  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.
And if someone takes offense to any of these, just call it a receipt. I've already taken offense from several comments in this thread. And this discussion has run its expected course.

I was prompted to make this thread as a reaction to this one: D&D 5E - Orcs and Drow in YOUR game (poll */comments +)

...in which the OP has created a poll with a variety of options, yet none of them anticipate the possibility that people just wouldn't use alignment at all. Since my perception is that a significant minority of players/DMs in fact don't use it at all, and a majority of players/DMs do use it but only "lightly", I was surprised by the assumption made by that poll that everyone uses Alignment as a matter of course. I was curious about whether my perception was wrong (it wasn't) but the purpose of this thread isn't to determine the one, true God or to convince others that there use/non-use of Alignment is wrong. (Of course, it's devolved into that - but I was more interested in taking the temperature for where Alignment use currently stands.)

I do think the one point you make above, that Alignment "always will be" part of D&D, is less set in stone than you think. Personally, I expect that in 2024 it will be relegated to an "Optional Rules" or appendix of the core books.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Well, you said the idea that alignment should be enforced is ... just an idea, not a thing that happens. As in, the idea is real but not an actual occurrence.

Which is a false statement. People used to enforce alignment all the time. It's baked into the rules of older editions. It's absolutely a thing that happened.
Oh! I thought you were talking about me personally doing this. I never considered myself as enforcing anything, and neither did anyone I ever played with. Can you see my confusion?

Personally, I only experienced it one time. It upset me, not because I thought it was wrong, but because the DM treated it like a gotcha and started bragging about it. There was no discussion during or after, either. But I'm not carrying a white-hot rage with me to every game or edition. I just decided I didn't care for that DMs style and moved on to another game.

No, check that. I took some of his players with me and started running games for them. They weren't happy with it, either. Hope that makes more sense to you.
Because you pulled one line out of my statement, ignored the context, and misconstrued it.
I didn't ignore it. I just prefer to cut to the heart of the matter. I thought I might be getting somewhere with that. Maybe not. Or maybe you just don't see it yet. That's why we have these conversations, right? :)
 

payn

Legend
I was prompted to make this thread as a reaction to this one: D&D 5E - Orcs and Drow in YOUR game (poll */comments +)

...in which the OP has created a poll with a variety of options, yet none of them anticipate the possibility that people just wouldn't use alignment at all. Since my perception is that a significant minority of players/DMs in fact don't use it at all, and a majority of players/DMs do use it but only "lightly", I was surprised by the assumption made by that poll that everyone uses Alignment as a matter of course. I was curious about whether my perception was wrong (it wasn't) but the purpose of this thread isn't to determine the one, true God or to convince others that there use/non-use of Alignment is wrong. (Of course, it's devolved into that - but I was more interested in taking the temperature for where Alignment use currently stands.)

I do think the one point you make above, that Alignment "always will be" part of D&D, is less set in stone than you think. Personally, I expect that in 2024 it will be relegated to an "Optional Rules" or appendix of the core books.
Be interesting to see what surveys say now. Lot of new gamers now hanging out that probably were not back in 2012 or whenever they did them last.
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
I do think the one point you make above, that Alignment "always will be" part of D&D, is less set in stone than you think. Personally, I expect that in 2024 it will be relegated to an "Optional Rules" or appendix of the core books.
As long as there are previous editions of D&D, it will always be a part of D&D and consequently brought up in threads like this one. :)

Also, I remember similar promises made when 5e was announced regarding optional modules and modes of play for everyone... you can hope, but don't hold your breath. fingers crossed ;)
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Be interesting to see what surveys say now. Lot of new gamers now hanging out that probably were not back in 2012 or whenever they did them last.

I'm think about that as well - particularly because so many of them are coming in through Critical Role, where alignment hasn't been mentioned at all since Campaign 1 (2015-17).
 



Scribe

Hero
The ones who might not ever been impacted by mechanics of alignment? Curious what they think?
Yeah, I think they probably make note of it, consider it, but very unlikely they believe its a straight jacket like some here continue to claim it is.
 

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