How welcome would a wordy and somewhat philosophical treatment of alignment be here? [Thread resolved, thank you.]

FaerieGodfather

Born in the Soul of Misery
That would first require laying out which rules. In 5e, for example, alignment has no mechanical impact whatsoever.
That's one very large step in the right direction, and one very small step away from the right solution.

I don't care what alignment is written on my sheet, as long as it doesn't affect what class is written.
 

Celebrim

Legend
...point out what should be obvious, that if you need more pages of apologia to justify the rules than the rules themselves contain, that in itself is proof the rules are bad.
I find this argument spurious. Alignment is and has almost always been mostly a species of fluff. Fluff does not need to be concise and benefits from being deep. You can mechanically define something like a dwarf or an elf in no more words than you'd use for a paragraph of text, but defining socially and culturally what an elf or a dwarf or any other race is could fill a book. Yet I don't think anyone would claim that the concept of elf or dwarf would suffer from such an expansive treatment.

Likewise, alignment can be defined mechanically in short order, and hundreds or thousands of tables have been happy to just define it loosely as a game mechanic. But nothing about it detracts from other tables if they want to delve deeper into the concepts.

Your "right solution" strikes me as one that at best is right for you.
 

Mallus

Hero
You could go all-in and post a 9 page thesis on paladins. Because paladin threads are always fun!

As for your question, post away! Just take people's readability suggestions, esp. breaking your article up into multiple posts, leaving time between them to allow people to read & comment.

And by 'comment' I mean argue vigorously. It is the way (of alignment threads)
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I've seen alignment detract from a lot of tables. Not all of them I was sitting at.

Have you ever seen a table benefit from it?
Yes. It's one of multiple quick character traits. I've only seen it be an issue if someone uses alignment alone to justify behavior or as q straight jacket.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I've seen alignment detract from a lot of tables. Not all of them I was sitting at.

Have you ever seen a table benefit from it?
Ok, fine.

Every one I was ever at.

By sitting in on both sorts, I quickly came to the conclusion that opposition to alignment chiefly came from two groups: players that wanted to play evil characters but who didn't want their characters labeled evil, and players who wanted to play their characters in pawn stance because they felt this was the best way to win. Neither group in my experience was interested in more sophisticated character driven RP.

I've never once met a good RPer who was like, "Oh there is no way in a fantasy game that I can manage to play a sophisticated character if I'm slapped with a label describing archetypal morality I will gravitate toward in play." I'm sure there is some out there, and I'm sure there are tables out there of players with PhD's in philosophy and doctorates of theology for whom the system is not nearly sophisticated enough for the deeply conceived ethics that they wish to explore, but I have never met either sort.

I have played with a self-described Satanist that insisted the alignment wasn't realistic because there was no such thing as good and evil, only power and the will to take it. And he was too young to realize the irony.
 

FaerieGodfather

Born in the Soul of Misery
Becuase I don't think you can have nuanced morality in a system with harsh punishments for violating arbitrary rules, I'm a selfish munchkin and a bad roleplayer?

Yeah, I'll be taking your arguments a lot more seriously in the future.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Becuase I don't think you can have nuanced morality in a system with harsh punishments for violating arbitrary rules, I'm a selfish munchkin and a bad roleplayer?

Yeah, I'll be taking your arguments a lot more seriously in the future.
Well, likewise. I replied in the spirit of the question.

I don't think there has been any nuance to your discussion at all.

In fact, I think you've made very clear that you aren't interested in any discussion of alignment except removing it. And you are welcome to that opinion, but you can remove alignment from your game without threadcrapping on anyone that would like to discuss it.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Have you ever seen a table benefit from it?
Yep. Several. Over the course of the years, I've had opportunity to teach several folks how to play, who really needed a handle on what a "role" really was, and how you build a character and personality that isn't your own, and display it for the rest of the players. For several of these folks, having a guideline to work with was instrumental.

For a few players, the "there are consequences for your actions" was also a help, and a role-playing tool they liked to play with.

Also, for several tables that were admittedly playing in large part for escapism, the mechanical ability to just figure out, once and for all, whether the bad guys really were bad, was a solid way for them to be ale to relax more into the game.

And, in a couple, the system was well-used to drive some of the metaphysics of the world - when Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos are palpable forces, as much as gravity is, that can be a great story-driving tool.
 

Celebrim

Legend
So your contribution to this conversation began and ended in bad faith. Noted.
I don't think you know what "bad faith" with respect to debate means. But I think someone that offered to merciless criticize a piece prior to even reading it, would perhaps qualify as debating in bad faith. Likewise, someone who has decided before hand that they have no interest in something, who nonetheless persists in harassing those who do, might be said to be arguing in "bad faith".

I assure you, there has been no duplicity or mendacity upon my part. I wear my opinions on my sleeve.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:
Gentlemen, stop it.

Neither one of you seems to understand the concept of not making a discussion personal. If I see either one of you continue with the statements or insinuations about the character or motivations of the other are flawed, I shall boot you off the site for a week. Is that clear?

If it is not, PM me. The OP has a right to have a thread without this inappropriate interpersonal drivel.
 

FaerieGodfather

Born in the Soul of Misery
Yep. Several. Over the course of the years, I've had opportunity to teach several folks how to play, who really needed a handle on what a "role" really was, and how you build a character and personality that isn't your own, and display it for the rest of the players. For several of these folks, having a guideline to work with was instrumental.
That's actually a fair argument, if it's still wholly outside my experience-- I haven't really been responsible for introducing many people to the game, and obviously I would have downplayed the significance of alignment those times I have. The person who taught me to play is also responsible for much of my negative outlook on the alignment system.

For instance, he disallowed Lawful Evil PCs because it was a "contradiction in terms", and defrocked a Paladin for failing to attack a much more powerful Evil monster that was peacefully negotiating with us. It got better when I started playing with other people... but not much better.

I've been here since 1999, and on other RPG forums not long after. In the last twenty years, the only thread about Paladins I've seen that wasn't a Humane Society dumpster fire was Sepulchrave's Story Hour.

Also, for several tables that were admittedly playing in large part for escapism, the mechanical ability to just figure out, once and for all, whether the bad guys really were bad, was a solid way for them to be ale to relax more into the game.
This is also entirely fair... but the exact opposite of what most of the system's defenders say it's good for.

In fact, I'd argue it's this quality that makes alignment unsuitable for the exact kind of game those defenders claim they want and that alignment is necessary for.

And, in a couple, the system was well-used to drive some of the metaphysics of the world - when Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos are palpable forces, as much as gravity is, that can be a great story-driving tool.
I saw a game like that once. I will readily admit, it was great. (Sepulchrave again.) I'm not sure how relevant it is to the vast majority of D&D games, however... and I have seen a lot of games derailed by the glaring contradictions in alignment.
 
Law vs Chaos or Good vs Evil would work better for me than the 9-alignment system, but I still think no system at all would be preferable. D&D's default world has always revolved around a good vs evil conflict (even when it was called Law vs Chaos it was really good vs evil), with Law vs Chaos being quite superfluous.

My other problem is that D&D couples its alignments with biological racial determinism and an assortment of races, the "savage humanoids" that have many parallels with real world colonised peoples. Frex, orcs in 1e AD&D have "witch doctors".

In the real world, people don't have an allegiance to "good" or "evil". Those aren't sides in a cosmic struggle. They have an allegiance to religions, cultures, ideologies, institutions, nations, clans and so forth and they call those "good" and those of the other lot are "evil".

Which is not to say that I think good and evil have no applicability, just that they don't align with peoples and gods as they do in D&D.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The person who taught me to play is also responsible for much of my negative outlook on the alignment system.

For instance, he disallowed Lawful Evil PCs because it was a "contradiction in terms", and defrocked a Paladin for failing to attack a much more powerful Evil monster that was peacefully negotiating with us.
Yes. And you cannot blame someone for not liking Brussels sprouts, if the only preparation they've had was having them boiled to death. If the only version of the thing you've seen is a bad one, yeah, you'll want to avoid it. That's understandable.

This is also entirely fair... but the exact opposite of what most of the system's defenders say it's good for.
Well, most folks who like a subsystem like it because it serves some particular purpose in their gaming. And that's fine. They'll defend it for use in that purpose. I just happen to have seen multiple good purposes for it.

In fact, I'd argue it's this quality that makes alignment unsuitable for the exact kind of game those defenders claim they want and that alignment is necessary for.
So, you can sink a screw into wood with a screwdriver. A naive consideration would then say that the tool would be inappropriate for removing screws. But, really, all you need to do is twist the other way to do that. What you can do with a tool often depends upon your approach to that tool.

I'm not sure how relevant it is to the vast majority of D&D games, however... and I have seen a lot of games derailed by the glaring contradictions in alignment.
You'd have to be more clear about what you think are glaring contradictions before we could address that.

But, honestly, this thread isn't about your thoughts on alignment, or mine. It was about the OP's thoughts on the matter.
 

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