D&D General Rethinking alignment yet again


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Then you have a "The DM is Satan" problem and you have a more fundamental problem than the Alignment system. Which since this is coming up in multiple threads I should probably write an essay on it at some point.

If you are dealing with a DM that is metagaming against the players and is trying to put them in no win situations, usually the best move is just play evil characters because if the universe you live in is heavily biased to evil and the supreme power of that world is in fact diabolical and perverse, then you really can't fight the system - especially not openly by declaring you are a Paladin or something.
And then we are back to "DM says kill goblin babies or lose paladinhood" because he thinks Gygax's definition of LG is the true one, and you have to go and atone everyone he thinks you are showing mercy.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
But then he wouldn't get the foozle!

Believe me I've seen the sort of players that do walk into orphanages and slaughter all the innocents get outraged that the Book of Virtue blasts them when they open it. I've seen so much Cake Eating around the alignment system where the player plays a ruthless murder hobo with nothing but self-interest and then when it's in his self-interest to have a Good alignment, claims he's Good because he's the hero. It took me 25 years to come up with an effective non-confrontational counter to the Chaotic Evil Cake Eaters that wanted to have everything their way with no consequences.
Is constant defamation Good, Lawful, Evil or Chaotic?
 

Hand of Evil

Adventurer
Oh boy... :rolleyes:


I don't think it is the GMs job to impose their will on the players and judge the moral choices of their characters.
Alignment is an element of the game, there is good and there is evil in the game, the DM manages those. I agree that it is an outdated concept, but the characters are interacting with the setting. It comes down to the how the DM wants to run the game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The game sure intends for it to, what with the fact that it has specific mention as to what happens when it does kill you.
It's an artifact. If you're encountering it at any point before the damage will be a mere annoyance, the DM is being an arse. Plus the party just casts revivify on you if you do die and you go on to the next thing.
 

Back during 1e, the groups I played in decided against level limits And yes, if a group or DM opted not to enforce 1e's teeth, they didn't exist for that game. My point, though, is that 1e's RAW had alignment teeth where 5e's RAW does not. There hasn't been RAW alignment teeth for at least 14 years.
And yet people think alignments like NG or NE are useful descriptors as play aids. "You believe in laws, but you also believe in not following laws at all". Or Neutral, switching sides constantly to maintain balance- as if the decision of whether you would want your neighbors to be good or evil have the same weight. It's like nobody wants to admit that the designers had a few ideas, and the rest of the alignments are just place fillers to complete the chart.
 

Medic

Neutral Evil
If removing alignment changes nothing,
Well, it does. If I slap "Neutral Good" on my character sheet, the DM has a vague expectation that I will be swell guy and will expect that I do swell guy things. If I wear a "Chaotic Evil" hat instead, the DM will think that I'm going to be a jerk and might even veto my character. Nobody agrees on what any alignment exactly entails, but I don't think anyone here would dispute that Lawful Neutral implies "Thinks following the rules is important." It telegraphs a rather broad idea about what your character's behavior is like and saddles players with the expectation of upholding the idea barring the occasional rare exception.

D&D is not alone in this. Plenty of RPGs have a meta system that try to push players toward behaving in a certain way that fits the game. Vampire has Humanity, Shadow of the Demon Lord has Corruption, even Mutants & Masterminds has complications that encourage you to act in accordance with your character's flaws.

Is constant defamation Good, Lawful, Evil or Chaotic?
It depends on how you do it.
 


Celebrim

Legend
May we ask what the solution that you ended up with was?

Sure. I tempt them. And I find that they basically have no resistance to temptation.

I'm fond of giving small XP bonuses for doing good RP and fulfilling alignment goals. Like good aligned PCs get XP for destroying evil magic items and vica versa.

So what tends to happen with my party that leans murder hobo is that after the party does something I feel is evil I'll say something like, "25 XP to everyone who has evil alignment". And the Cake Eaters get this strange look on their face like I offered people cookies and didn't offer them one. Sooner or later I end up with a bargain like, "I'll give you 100 XP if you change your alignment to evil." And I've never had one refuse.

And then everyone is happy. I get players that are actually playing what is on their character sheet, they are the ones making the decisions about what is on their character sheet, and they can't say "Of course I can open up the Book of Righteous Deeds" because they declared in front of the whole group that they agreed their character is Evil.

It's all about giving the player the perception that they are getting the cookie and not the whip. They don't tend to think about they'll miss out on the "25 XP to everyone who has good alignment" bonuses. They start thinking about leaning into their alignment.
 


CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
And then we are back to "DM says kill goblin babies or lose paladinhood" because he thinks Gygax's definition of LG is the true one, and you have to go and atone everyone he thinks you are showing mercy.
I feel like these GM opinions are things that should of come to light in session zero, where they were told and established what each of the alignments meant in the setting
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
And yet people think alignments like NG or NE are useful descriptors as play aids. "You believe in laws, but you also believe in not following laws at all". Or Neutral, switching sides constantly to maintain balance- as if the decision of whether you would want your neighbors to be good or evil have the same weight. It's like nobody wants to admit that the designers had a few ideas, and the rest of the alignments are just place fillers to complete the chart.
Does it matter? Alignment quite literally is only an RP aid. What does it matter to you why the player decides to do something? If you get rid of alignment, guess what. A PC can still decide to believe in laws but not following laws at all. That player is not why alignment is there. Alignment is there for the good faith player who is going to look at it and use it to guide his roleplay.

And I do mean guide. A complex personality isn't going to fall within one or probably even two alignments. Alignment is just where most of your actions fall. If most of what you do is NG, write NG down. If there is no category where most of your actions fall, you're neutral. Let alignment give you ideas and leave it at that.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Alignment quite literally is only an RP aid.
You keep saying this, but there are still non-RP elements of it left in the game.

It doesn't matter if they're rare, or that you say to ignore them, or... the amount of damage they do? (I honestly don't know why you're arguing about the built in murder laser; it tries to kill you for being naughty. Attempted murder? What is that, you're honor? Do they give a Nobel prize for attempted chemistry?), they're there.
 

Celebrim

Legend
And yet people think alignments like NG or NE are useful descriptors as play aids. "You believe in laws, but you also believe in not following laws at all". Or Neutral, switching sides constantly to maintain balance- as if the decision of whether you would want your neighbors to be good or evil have the same weight. It's like nobody wants to admit that the designers had a few ideas, and the rest of the alignments are just place fillers to complete the chart.

I assure you, NG or NE is not "You believe in laws, but you also believing in not following laws." NG and NE disagree diametrically about almost everything, but one thing that they do agree on is that law/chaos doesn't really matter and misses the point. Both agree you can't use the law/chaos measuring stick to decide anything. But for that matter, the law/chaos measuring stick isn't so much about following laws or not following laws, but what you consider to be the source of meaning and truth - something internal to yourself or something external to yourself. Is everyone's truth personal or is truth something imposed on you by something greater than you are? The duality here is similar to the argument Newton and Leipzig had over the possible nature of the universe during the foundational days of physics, which is probably best elucidated in this context by reading Neil Stephenson's masterful "Baroque Cycle". Fundamentally it is about what is more important, the individual or the system the individual finds themselves in. Both NE and NG believe that this is a distraction and ultimately a question that doesn't answer any really meaningful questions because NG would say you can't meaningfully have one without the other and be NE would say that both are valueless.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
You keep saying this, but there are still non-RP elements of it left in the game.
Two artifacts(and I think maybe one other minor thing) don't alter what I'm saying. 99.99% of players and tables aren't ever going to find those artifacts, and if they do, they're high enough level to deal with a bit(at those high levels) of damage. None of those items changes alignment to anything but an RP aid.
 

I assure you, NG or NE is not "You believe in laws, but you also believing in not following laws." NG and NE disagree diametrically about almost everything, but one thing that they do agree on is that law/chaos doesn't really matter and misses the point. Both agree you can't use the law/chaos measuring stick to decide anything. But for that matter, the law/chaos measuring stick isn't so much about following laws or not following laws, but what you consider to be the source of meaning and truth - something internal to yourself or something external to yourself. Is everyone's truth personal or is truth something imposed on you by something greater than you are? The duality here is similar to the argument Newton and Leipzig had over the possible nature of the universe during the foundational days of physics, which is probably best elucidated in this context by reading Neil Stephenson's masterful "Baroque Cycle". Fundamentally it is about what is more important, the individual or the system the individual finds themselves in. Both NE and NG believe that this is a distraction and ultimately a question that doesn't answer any really meaningful questions because NG would say you can't meaningfully have one without the other and be NE would say that both are valueless.
...which demonstrates just how useless this is as an aid to roleplaying.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Two artifacts(and I think maybe one other minor thing) don't alter what I'm saying. 99.99% of players and tables aren't ever going to find those artifacts, and if they do, they're high enough level to deal with a bit(at those high levels) of damage. None of those items changes alignment to anything but an RP aid.
They (and it isn't just the artifact books, the BoED is just the first I could find) require the table to have an understanding of what alignment a character is, which requires an understanding of why you're getting blasticated by a dumb book; what either the game or the DM are judging you for.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
They (and it isn't just the artifact books, the BoED is just the first I could find) require the table to have an understanding of what alignment a character is, which requires an understanding of why you're getting blasticated by a dumb book; what either the game or the DM are judging you for.
Not really. I think there are three objects. The Book of Exalted Deeds, The Book of Vile Darkness, and some third one that I can't remember right now. None of them require you all to be on the same page regarding alignment. If you aren't, you take a bit of damage, heal up and move on. No need to get worked over that any more than you'd get worked up at finding a Staff of Magi as a Champion Fighter.
 


Now I can tell you right now how players that hate alignment want the Trolley Problem solved in game. They want it solved with "Whatever helps the party win. Stop worrying about moral predicaments and just metagame. Be practical. Be ruthless. Don't let the DM keep you from winning."

Nothing could be further from the truth. People dislike alignment because it is a simplistic and incoherent mess of morals/personality system that is hindrance to actually developing nuanced characters with interesting and conflicting motivations.
 

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