D&D General Rethinking alignment yet again

Celebrim

Legend
Yes it is, because the rules expects us to have one objective definition.

Of nine different broad moral categories, each of which I can and have created PCs and NPCs for who can passionately defend the correctness of that morality over the other eight. Yes, the rules expect you to have objective definitions of each of the nine ways of looking at the world in a singular framework. But no, the rules have never required you to be single alignment. This isn't like WEG D6 where if you turn evil under the rules definition of evil you become an NPC. This is a game that encourages you to make complex characters of different alignments. And if you are say Lawful Neutral (to pick a culturally very unpopular alignment), the rules don't tell you that you are wrong.

Without that requirement it doesn't matter if people disagree what "good" means.

I think that statement is unintentionally revealing.

Their PCs can debate moral issues in-character like people do in the real life, without anyone having to determine who is "objectively correct."

You mean in real life people don't try to determine who is objectively correct?

Really, the fact that you are still stuck on the idea that if it is called Good it must be objectively correct (which is clearly false) suggests to me that this is a proxy argument for something else entirely. Why is that a sticking point? Do you really think that having "Detect Alignment" would solve moral questions, and most especially that it would solve moral questions in a "Great Wheel" type cosmology of moral peers? Why do you think that is a given how obviously false it is? Do you really think that people in the Great Wheel multiverse cast Detect Alignment on an Archon and say, "Well, that settles my question. He must be right?" Obviously they wouldn't. There would still be the open questions of moral authority - like who has the authority to decide what is right and wrong. And there would still be questions like, "Even if your alignment sounds great, it doesn't actually conform to the world we observes exists. Your alignment only works on paper. It's a pretty but childish fantasy. As practical matter, it only leads to grief."

I don't know you, but I have never played with a person who told me how alignment was too constraining and it meant that there couldn't be meaningful exploration of the concepts of good and evil who in actuality wanted to do any of that exploration. Invariably, they just want to do what that want to do without having to think about it. They aren't interested really in even questioning themselves about "is that what my character would do". Eighty percent of all players in my experience only play themselves through their character. They play the same character in every game and that character has the majority of their personality. And most of those aren't interested in moral dilemmas or exploring philosophical space. They are mostly like, "How can I survive this combat and get the loot?" And I get that. It's a game. Most people play games to win and to hang out.

But really weird thing for me that I don't get is even in the worst case, where your GM insists on defending an offensive definition of good, if you really were interested in exploring morality why couldn't you lean into that? Why couldn't you rebel against the universe? Why couldn't couldn't take on the label of a rebel and say, "If you are the moral authority, then I'm standing against you!" That at least would be interesting and matter. But I really strongly get the vibe from your arguments that the real underlying thing you are arguing for is that it shouldn't matter, and can we get back to the game where we kill things and take there stuff please? Which is fine. That's a perfectly valid way to play. When in groups like that I try to lean into that process of play.
 
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@Micah Sweet
I could not agree more. People nowadays, often downgrade the cosmological aspects of alignments. Afterall, gods are real in D&D and though they act trough agents, they are very real as they give powers to their worshipers.

The multi pantheon aspect is also over looked as these explains evil gods and why a god of evil might work with a lawful good of his pantheon during a pantheon war. This aspect has been lost with monopantheonic settings. It does explain why two LG societies might war on each other.

And the gods have means to impose their will on their worshipers too. Using the cosmological aspect if alignment means that alignments will be stronger with stronger mechanics (this is what I do in my two campaigns) but it is also a dangerous path to thread as going into excess is easy and care must be taken. Extra explanations about alignments will be needed and an easy reference will need to be built and given to players so that everyone is on the same page.

In my campaign, detect evil/good works on the following: "Priests, Paladins and Warlocks" of level 5 or more. Being favored enough by a supernatural being means that you are acting in total accordance to your alignment and (or?) desires of your patron.
 



But I really strongly get the vibe from your arguments that the real underlying thing you are arguing for is that it shouldn't matter, and can we get back to the game where we kill things and take there stuff please? Which is fine. That's a perfectly valid way to play. When in groups like that I try to lean into that process of play.
No, you're completely wrong. I want moral questions to explored at least semi-intelligently and I find a childish nine-point framework of outdated cartoon morals to be a hindrance to that.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I love it. I'm instituting this Immediately.

In my game it is a resisted roll using your Bluff with your alignment rating as a penalty on the check. You essentially trick the spell by thinking pure or impure thoughts while it's being cast, and if you are good enough at method acting no one will be the wiser. And unless you are some sort of moral paragon, chances are you don't have a detectable alignment to speak of anyway.
 

In my game it is a resisted roll using your Bluff with your alignment rating as a penalty on the check. You essentially trick the spell by thinking pure or impure thoughts while it's being cast, and if you are good enough at method acting no one will be the wiser. And unless you are some sort of moral paragon, chances are you don't have a detectable alignment to speak of anyway.
It is a nice way to do it too! Thanks for sharing.
 

Celebrim

Legend
It is a nice way to do it too! Thanks for sharing.

It's pretty typical of my approach in that I have found that it pays to quantify everything. So for example, a spell of 'undetectable alignment' would give you a +20 enchantment bonus on bluff checks to resist alignment detection. If you don't quantify everything and you don't make skill matter, then you're going to end up with a game where only the spellcasters matter. To me this is a much bigger value and reason for making detecting alignment skill dependent than it is for making for easier detective stories or villain reveals.
 

It's pretty typical of my approach in that I have found that it pays to quantify everything. So for example, a spell of 'undetectable alignment' would give you a +20 enchantment bonus on bluff checks to resist alignment detection. If you don't quantify everything and you don't make skill matter, then you're going to end up with a game where only the spellcasters matter. To me this is a much bigger value and reason for making detecting alignment skill dependent than it is for making for easier detective stories or villain reveals.
Always had the reverse. A rogue can bluff his/her way out (the mind master is right there for that) but the unreadable alignment spell can be foiled too with a good psychology check (the person does not act as it should or claims to be)

There is no true way to do it. As long as the table is ok. I am fine with or without a fixed definition. Most of the time, my players say what they want to do and skill or not, they have a chance to do it.

Example. Anyone can do athletics. Having the skill gives you a DC 15 to do something hard. The unskilled will have a DC of 15 too but will only have his stat to do it. The character succeeding is a bit lower. But if the player uses Role Play to justify a bonus, skilled or not, I might and often do give advantage to the roll. This is what I call cinematic advantage. The character takes risks and through role play (using terrain feature, a psychological weakness of the enemy and so on) the character can have advantage. We do this because inspiration is hard to track and we often forget about it. We found it way more elegant than inspiration.
 

Celebrim

Legend
But if the player uses Role Play to justify a bonus, skilled or not, I might and often do give advantage to the roll. This is what I call cinematic advantage.

I'm pretty much always willing to grant a PC a small boon in a situation when they are trying to interact with the situation appropriately. Particularly in a social encounter if the PC's have figured out the NPC's character and pushed the right buttons (appeal to the memory of the NPCs dead daughter, or appeal to the NPCs vanity by flattering him, or whatever would make that NPC more likely to listen and critically would give the movie of the game a better script), that social encounter is going to be a lot easier than if they are just relying on character skill alone. And even if they are interacting recklessly or inappropriately and doing something crazy, I'm willing to make that a test - roll a skill and if you pass get a small boon and if you fail you make a small fumble.
 

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