D&D General Rethinking alignment yet again


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These threads always go this way. One side says alignment sucks the other says alignment is a great tool.

Yes there have been some abuses of the system in the past. That is a DM problem. Nothing more, nothing less. I have seen alignmentless system games derailed completely exactly because there was no alignment! When one player wants to "win" over the others that is what usually happen.

I/we solved the alignment problem a long time ago. I have a campaign world where alignments are viewed like what could be expected in medieval times and close to what Gygax defined. And an other such as the Realms where the visions good/evil, law/chaos is more "aligned" with the modern way of thinking.

The main point is to agree at the table at session zero. And if, and it is a big IF, a problem ever arise on whether or not a character should become evil arise from his/her actions, the table will vote if the DM is right or wrong. In the 30 years since I have been doing this, the problem occured three of four times and guess what? Every single time, the vote was on the side of my ruling.

I have the utmost thrust in players' judgement and they in mine. Maybe it is because I always explain my "though" decisions or that I share a lot of the behind the scenes. I do not know. One thing is for sure, I much prefer the toothless alignment system we have now to no alignments at all. The gain of having alignment is too great to get rid of it.

Lastly, most problems with the alignment systems is not alignment, it is the abuse that some bad DMs make that make it appear inefficient. A tool is a tool. It is how that tool is used that make it good or bad. Do not blame a screw driver if it does not hammer down a nail as good as a hammer. And if you hurt yourself with it, you only have the weilder to blame. The same.goes with alignment.
 

Celebrim

Legend
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.

The thing is, the difference between a debate and an argument is that in a debate you are listening to each other and trying to respond, whereas in an argument you just repeat the same things over and over with no attempt address the arguments the other side has made or to prove and demonstrate your own. Debates are interesting and nuanced, and arguments become nothing but contradiction until they look like that skit where Bugs and Daffy argue over what season it is.

By this point in the thread, I've addressed almost every word in that simple unsupported contradiction. My lengthy arguments that the alignment system is not a personality system, not a hinderance to nuanced characters with conflicting motivations, not incoherent, and not simplistic could be wrong but they are at least arguments. If you respond to me without any attempt to demonstrate why those arguments were wrong and just keep verbally stamping your foot over and over that you are right, well there isn't anything profitable left for us to say to each other. It's just really hard for me to take seriously the opinions of someone on the alignment system if they understand the system so poorly that they think it's a personality system. So yeah, if you want to write something that takes some effort on your part that either develops an argument against what I've written or else develops an argument of your own, then great. But otherwise, I probably won't respond further.
 

The thing is, the difference between a debate and an argument is that in a debate you are listening to each other and trying to respond, whereas in an argument you just repeat the same things over and over with no attempt address the arguments the other side has made or to prove and demonstrate your own. Debates are interesting and nuanced, and arguments become nothing but contradiction until they look like that skit where Bugs and Daffy argue over what season it is.

By this point in the thread, I've addressed almost every word in that simple unsupported contradiction. My lengthy arguments that the alignment system is not a personality system,

Yet the game has presented it as such. For example the third editions says:

Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability.

Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility.


These are personality traits.

not a hinderance to nuanced characters with conflicting motivations, not incoherent, and not simplistic could be wrong but they are at least arguments. If you respond to me without any attempt to demonstrate why those arguments were wrong and just keep verbally stamping your foot over and over that you are right, well there isn't anything profitable left for us to say to each other. It's just really hard for me to take seriously the opinions of someone on the alignment system if they understand the system so poorly that they think it's a personality system. So yeah, if you want to write something that takes some effort on your part that either develops an argument against what I've written or else develops an argument of your own, then great. But otherwise, I probably won't respond further.

You're one of those people who have, presumably over a long time, developed an internal mental model of the alignment that makes sense for you, and are thus attributing your personal rationalisations to the system, even though they're not actually present in it. We always see several such rationalisations in any alignment thread, a lot of people have them, and they often are different. That's because they're just a result of a Rorschach tests, people trying to see some sense and order in something that ultimately is just ill-though labelling of wargame factions that doesn't actually tell us anything useful.

If alignment actually conveyed information sensibly, people wouldn't constantly disagree about what it means. And this is just symptom of it's incoherence and failed attempts to naively simplify very complex matters. Is a reckless but honourable vigilante who breaks laws but has a personal code lawful or chaotic? No one knows, people won't agree, and any answer would be just misleading and result downplaying some of the nuances of the character. And of course the answer is completely unnecessary! We already knew what the person was like, we didn't need the alignment to tell us that.

As for your claims that it doesn't stymie moral conflict, that seemed to rely on weird "Good" is not good, interpretation, at which point I must ask why did we need to define "Good" in the first place? I literally do not understand what is gained by thinking in such simplistic terms, defining what's objectively good and what's objectively evil. Those are questions the players should be free to explore themselves, and come up with their own answers, "it's complicated" being a perfectly valid one.
 
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The thing is, the difference between a debate and an argument is that in a debate you are listening to each other and trying to respond, whereas in an argument you just repeat the same things over and over with no attempt address the arguments the other side has made or to prove and demonstrate your own. Debates are interesting and nuanced, and arguments become nothing but contradiction until they look like that skit where Bugs and Daffy argue over what season it is.

By this point in the thread, I've addressed almost every word in that simple unsupported contradiction. My lengthy arguments that the alignment system is not a personality system, not a hinderance to nuanced characters with conflicting motivations, not incoherent, and not simplistic could be wrong but they are at least arguments. If you respond to me without any attempt to demonstrate why those arguments were wrong and just keep verbally stamping your foot over and over that you are right, well there isn't anything profitable left for us to say to each other. It's just really hard for me to take seriously the opinions of someone on the alignment system if they understand the system so poorly that they think it's a personality system. So yeah, if you want to write something that takes some effort on your part that either develops an argument against what I've written or else develops an argument of your own, then great. But otherwise, I probably won't respond further.
I am on the same side as you are. But you should stop trying to explain how good alignments are simply because of the following.

I feel that some here have had bad experiences with the alignment systems because of either abusive DMs or the fact that the system is relatively vague and leads to confusion when no care is taken to put people on the same page.

In the first case, we have the people that have been burned once or more and do not want to get burned again. An understandable position but hardly a logical one. Take the example of the paladin losing his title and powers for unlawful or evil actions. Depending on the DM, it could have been entirely justified but if no warning were given then the player is justified in his resentment. If warning were given, then the resentment is unjustified if the loss was because the player continued in the path he wanted. But that same player might see the fall from grace as denying him his agency. This is where I say that at some point, you have to take responsibility for your actions.

The second case would usually be easier to solve. Talk with the players at session zero. If one player has trouble with the definitions, then adjust to the majority but let the player plead his case. If the vote goes against his view. Again two possibilities. Either the player accepts and conforms to the table or the player do not accept and leave his place to somebody else. If the player stays without accepting the resulting vote, it will lead to dissension and arguments and at some point, the player will accuse the DM of denying him his agency...

There are bad DMs out there, but there are also bad players. I once had a player that did not agree with the table but stayed pretending otherwise. It did not take long for me/us to notice that the player was constantly stretching what was accepted at our table and what was not (and it did not have anything to do with alignment but the analogy is close enough). That player git booted out after only 5 sessions and replaced with another player.

For the booted player, I am.the worst DM ever and no amount of proof to the contrary will ever sway his mind to consider otherwise.

So here, in this thread, it appears that we are simply talking with people that have been burned once too many times.
 

Yet the game has presented it as such. For example the third editions says:

Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability.

Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility.


These are personality traits.



You're one of those people who have presumably over along time developed an internal mental model of the alignment that makes sense for you, and are thus attributing your personal rationalisations to the system, even though they're not actually present in it. We always see several such rationalisations in any alignment thread, a lot of people have them, and they often are different. That's because they're just a result of a Rorschach tests, people trying to see some sense and order in something that ultimately is just ill-though labelling of wargame factions that doesn't actually tell us anything useful.

If alignment actually conveyed information sensibly, people wouldn't constantly disagree about what it means. And this is just symptom of it's incoherence and failed attempts to naively simplify very complex matters. Is a reckless but honourable vigilante who breaks laws but has a personal code lawful or chaotic? No one knows, people won't agree, and any answer would be just misleading and result downplaying some of the nuances of the character. And of course the answer is completely unnecessary! We already knew what the person was like, we didn't need the alignment to tell us that.

As for your claims that it doesn't stymie moral conflict, that seemed to rely on weird "Good" is not good, interpretation, at which point I must ask why id we need to define "Good" in the first place? I literally do not understand what is gained by thinking in such simplistic terms, defining what's objectively good and what's objectively evil. Those are questions the players should be free to explore themselves, and come up with their own answers, "it's complicated" being a perfectly valid one.
No, remove the word player and put group or table and there you have much better premise to work with.

Yes, this means that the system will be a bit different from.one table/group to the other and even from campaign to campaign but that is exactly what makes it so great. The system is easy to bend, ply and adapt to each table/group.

The only weakness of the system is exactly this, it should be stated that the limits accepted by each tables/groups should be discussed at session zero or with any new players.
 

No, remove the word player and put group or table and there you have much better premise to work with.

Yes, this means that the system will be a bit different from.one table/group to the other and even from campaign to campaign but that is exactly what makes it so great. The system is easy to bend, ply and adapt to each table/group.

The only weakness of the system is exactly this, it should be stated that the limits accepted by each tables/groups should be discussed at session zero or with any new players.
Why? Why we need it in the first place? What does it matter if the players or the characters disagree? If we don't have the bizarre system that requires objective good and evil to be defined, such consensus is not necessary.
 

Why? Why we need it in the first place? What does it matter if the players or the characters disagree? If we don't have the bizarre system that requires objective good and evil to be defined, such consensus is not necessary.
Do you have houserules? I knew it. So consider this a simple house rule.

For us, alignment is a simple tool. A sort of guide line where foes and players alike can refer to for a comparison of how they are expected to play/act. It does not replace personality or traits or whatever. It is simple nudge in a direction.

For foes, it is a good first glance at how to play it. I have had lawful evil foes turning against their superior that the players had wounded on the worst possible moment for the foes and thus saving the group. The classic case where the lieutenant wanted to be the leader but needed an opportunity. The group is about to get trashed, the evil ones about to win but if allowed to rest, the leader will again be unbeatable for the lieutenant.

Or the chaotic evil foes convinced to betray their employer for money or whatever. Why fight when you get more without fighting? Without the alignment system, this can still be done, but it relies only on the DMs judgment and sometimes, if it is not in his interest (read hear the story he had in mind) an alignmentless system might not see these cases or these cases will become easy and common to see. With the alignment system the DM will have at least a good idea if this or that have a good chance to happen. It removes a bit of the whimsiness of the DM's shoulder by giving a simple guideline or inspiration on how to play out an encounter. Especially the random ones.

Again, alignment is a tool. You can use it or not. I much prefer to use it because it gives that little plus that alignmentless systems do not have.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I feel that some here have had bad experiences with the alignment systems because of either abusive DMs or the fact that the system is relatively vague and leads to confusion when no care is taken to put people on the same page.

You are definitely right about all of that.

So here, in this thread, it appears that we are simply talking with people that have been burned once too many times.

You are probably right about that too.

But the thought is not novel to you. I have had very much the same suspicion for pages now. Which is one of the reasons earlier in the thread I suggested that people instead of focusing on "Alignment is awful." express personal experiences of how they felt the alignment system had gone bad for them and steer the discussion toward "How do you avoid table problems with alignment." The problem with "Alignment is awful" or "Alignment is good" (to be fair) is that it's going to run head long into personal experience and ultimately as you note you are going to try to end up arguing that the personal experience people have had isn't the experience that they had. Those sort of arguments go nowhere regardless of the subject.
 

You are definitely right about all of that.



You are probably right about that too.

But the thought is not novel to you. I have had very much the same suspicion for pages now. Which is one of the reasons earlier in the thread I suggested that people instead of focusing on "Alignment is awful." express personal experiences of how they felt the alignment system had gone bad for them and steer the discussion toward "How do you avoid table problems with alignment." The problem with "Alignment is awful" or "Alignment is good" (to be fair) is that it's going to run head long into personal experience and ultimately as you note you are going to try to end up arguing that the personal experience people have had isn't the experience that they had. Those sort of arguments go nowhere regardless of the subject.
I have followed you argumentation very closely and I agree with everything you brought on the board.

In my line of work, I need pressure gauges ranging from 1 psi to 850 psi. (1 kpa to 5500kpa). For most people, a pressure gauge of this magnitude is useless, for me, I need dozens of them. This is the same for the alignment system.

Some people need it and find it useful. Some people do not know why they should have one and they do jot need it. And some do not need bit should use it.

When used with a grain of salt as the the tool it is supposed to be, the alignment system is of great help in role playing and a useful guide and it can actually prevent a lot of dissension within a group. There are reasons why people like @Oofta and I have a strict policy of no evil in our group. Such a policy can not be done in an alignmentless system. I have seen more horrifying things done in Vampire the Masquerade (and its companions games like Demon the fallen, Werewolf and Mage) Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars (d6) and such than in any game of D&D with alignment on. I even had to insist that the story teller forces a humanity roll because the actions of a fellow player were horrid.

Many claims that the alignment brings bad thing and restricts them in their role play. To this I answer, It might be a good thing. You just do not know it yet (or have not seen the horrors I saw in alignmentless systems).
 

Do you have houserules? I knew it. So consider this a simple house rule.

For us, alignment is a simple tool. A sort of guide line where foes and players alike can refer to for a comparison of how they are expected to play/act. It does not replace personality or traits or whatever. It is simple nudge in a direction.

For foes, it is a good first glance at how to play it. I have had lawful evil foes turning against their superior that the players had wounded on the worst possible moment for the foes and thus saving the group. The classic case where the lieutenant wanted to be the leader but needed an opportunity. The group is about to get trashed, the evil ones about to win but if allowed to rest, the leader will again be unbeatable for the lieutenant.

Or the chaotic evil foes convinced to betray their employer for money or whatever. Why fight when you get more without fighting? Without the alignment system, this can still be done, but it relies only on the DMs judgment and sometimes, if it is not in his interest (read hear the story he had in mind) an alignmentless system might not see these cases or these cases will become easy and common to see. With the alignment system the DM will have at least a good idea if this or that have a good chance to happen. It removes a bit of the whimsiness of the DM's shoulder by giving a simple guideline or inspiration on how to play out an encounter. Especially the random ones.

Again, alignment is a tool. You can use it or not. I much prefer to use it because it gives that little plus that alignmentless systems do not have.
I just think it is so bad of a tool that it is actively a hindrance. I don't think coming up rough stock personalities for NPCs is hard, and I don't think alignment helps in that.

It is easy to say that these orcs are recklessly aggressive but honourable and respect traditions like the Klingons. Agonising over whether they're chaotic or lawful is pointless and saying that they're either would omit significant aspects of their nature.
 
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When used with a grain of salt as the the tool it is supposed to be, the alignment system is of great help in role playing and a useful guide and it can actually prevent a lot of dissension within a group. There are reasons why people like @Oofta and I have a strict policy of no evil in our group. Such a policy can not be done in an alignmentless system. I have seen more horrifying things done in Vampire the Masquerade (and its companions games like Demon the fallen, Werewolf and Mage) Call of Cthulhu, Star Wars (d6) and such than in any game of D&D with alignment on. I even had to insist that the story teller forces a humanity roll because the actions of a fellow player were horrid.
Nope. Alignment is so uselessly vague that you need to define what you mean by "evil" anyway, and once you're doing that you don't need the alignment anymore, you can just directly outline what sort of things you don't want the characters doing in the campaign. And of course doing that and setting the rough tone for the campaign (amoral scoundrels like Jack Sparrow are fine, but not utter Game of Thrones level psychos etc) is pretty common session zero stuff.
 

Nope. Alignment is so uselessly vague that you need to define what you mean by "evil" anyway, and once you're doing that you don't need the alignment anymore, you can just directly outline what sort of things you don't want the characters doing in the campaign. And of course doing that and setting the rough tone for the campaign (amoral scoundrels like Jack Sparrow are fine, but not utter Game of Thrones level psychos etc) is pretty common session zero stuff.
My table exactly knows what evil is. So do you.
Alignments only serves as a guide line both for PCs and NPCs. A simple tool. Nothing more, nothing less.

And without alignment, your session zero on "what is ok or not" must be way bigger than mine when facing new players. Explaining alignment takes about a minute or two. Evil do bad things, Good do good things. Lawful follow law and order. Chaos do not like constrains. Neutral has no real preference on these issue think of it as a balanced view. Finished. As for your example: Who is Jack Sparrow? I actually had to lend my DVDs to a friend that do not watch movies (nor tv). He slept on the first movie, did not watch the rest. Too boring. But he plays with us. No cinematic references can get in your way.

Back to alignments. Hey a teenager understands it very fast (I was 10 when I started to play and I understood alignment immediately). I have made groups with teenagers and absolutely none of them, ever, have had any troubles with alignments. Heck, even adults get the concepts quite fast, under two minutes. Vague? Just the limits, not the basics.

If you go too far on alignment, that is where you get problems. Use it as vague guidelines and session zero about what you can or can't do is faster than explaining concepts.
 

My table exactly knows what evil is.
I see. And they all agree?

So do you.
I do? I wouldn't claim I do. It is insanely complex topic philosophers far smarter than me have been pondering for several millennia.

Alignments only serves as a guide line both for PCs and NPCs. A simple tool. Nothing more, nothing less.
But my claim is that it is a bad tool.

And without alignment, your session zero on "what is ok or not" must be way bigger than mine when facing new players. Explaining alignment takes about a minute or two. Evil do bad things,
What kind of bad things? Who defines what is bad?

Good do good things.
What kind of good things? Who defines what is good?

Lawful follow law and order.
Whose law?

Chaos do not like constrains.
What sort of constrains? Aren't personal morals constrains? How can one be chaotic and good?

Neutral has no real preference on these issue think of it as a balanced view.
Balanced or conflicted? Could be either, it seems, and that's pretty different.

Finished. As for your example: Who is Jack Sparrow? I actually had to lend my DVDs to a friend that do not watch movies (nor tv). He slept on the first movie, did not watch the rest. Too boring. But he plays with us. No cinematic references can get in your way.
You you whatever reference the people are familiar with, but you don't need to use such a refence at all, just explain the general gist of things. I think most people get the difference between somewhat self-serving scoundrel mostly played for laughs and grim psychopaths that graphically torture people.


Back to alignments. Hey a teenager understands it very fast (I was 10 when I started to play and I understood alignment immediately). I have made groups with teenagers and absolutely none of them, ever, have had any troubles with alignments. Heck, even adults get the concepts quite fast, under two minutes. Vague? Just the limits, not the basics.

If you go too far on alignment, that is where you get problems. Use it as vague guidelines and session zero about what you can or can't do is faster than explaining concepts.
I'm sure people can get the general idea, but it is still completely unnecessary and misleading simplification. I certainly wouldn't teach it to new players, people exposed to basically any sort of decent media are capable of organically coming with personalities for characters, and I wouldn't want to stymie their creativity by forcing them to shove their characters into uncomfortable alignment boxes.
 


So, I was watching an interview with Alexander Macris, a game developer promoting his Kickstarter (link) on dwarven civilizations. During the interview, a bit of a discussion on alignment came up, and he made an interesting point: the alignment system (and particularly the chaotic and evil axes) really only make sense from the perspective of Lawful Good. Creatures and races that are commonly described as evil (and all the problematic discussions such an idea devolves into) only make sense to think of that way if the person making the assessment is lawful good. They don't make sense from an internal perspective (for example, the Drow wouldn't think of themselves as evil).

In fact, we know this in a broader sense. The villain is the hero of his own story. Nobody thinks of themselves as the bad guys. Being evil is bad, and people just don't think of themselves that way. Aristotelian ethics is brought up as a way of understanding this: That "the good" is that which best represents that which allows the creature in question to flourish, to be 'itself' to as great an extent as possible. A wolf will have a different concept of The Good than a human would, which would be different than an elf (Drow or otherwise), a dwarf, an orc, etc.

This understanding of The Good is not an abstract utilitarian concept. It is embedded in the identity of the being. How can one be the best human? The best Drow? The best dragon?

So where does this lead? Alex's example was that Drow wouldn't view law as good and chaos as bad, or choose the same sorts of good and evil as humans. This is part of the problem of trying to understand different races using the law/chaos/good/evil grid. Instead, he suggests that Drow would likely have a grid of something like Honorable vs Dishonorable, and Strong vs Weak. The society is structured around families, obeying those higher than you in the hierarchy, and nasty repercussions for betrayal. Honor holds society together, while Strength is the primary virtue.

A similar approach could be made with orc warband societies. While strength is still a thing, it's different than with the Drow. I'd say that the primary virtue is Bravery (vs Cowardice), and that what holds society together is Loyalty. To them, humans might seem to be cowards who are easily swayed by a bit of gold, and thus 'evil'.

Overall, then, the Law-Chaos axis is about what keeps society stable, while the Good-Evil axis is about what the primary virtue of the individual should be to achieve the Aristotelian 'Good', and be held in high regard, vs the failure to hold that virtue, and be correspondingly looked down upon. Put in more generic terms, we'd have the Social Axis crossed with the Virtue Axis.

In a typical human kingdom, Law is paramount, and those who break or flout the law undermine the stability of the society (even if excused as being "for the greater good"). Thus, Chaos is bad. For the Virtue Axis, the game kind of cheaps out by just saying 'good' vs 'evil', but we can kind of understand what the intent of those words are.

Personally, I'm really liking this approach. I'm wondering what other people's thoughts are on this model, and maybe what sort of axes you think other racial (or other) societies might adopt.

Note: This divorces alignment almost entirely from the cosmic/celestial approach to alignment from the earliest editions of D&D. I have different ideas of how things work from the cosmic perspective.
This is super useful for how to structure factions and for RP and for how PCs can deal with those factions by knowing what different societies value.

It also helps to differentiate various races as having different values as opposed to being creatures with human values but wearing different masks. Depending on what you choose on the two axis, you can get some societal norms that could truly be alien to a typical human society.
 
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Oofta

Legend
Nope. Alignment is so uselessly vague that you need to define what you mean by "evil" anyway, and once you're doing that you don't need the alignment anymore, you can just directly outline what sort of things you don't want the characters doing in the campaign. And of course doing that and setting the rough tone for the campaign (amoral scoundrels like Jack Sparrow are fine, but not utter Game of Thrones level psychos etc) is pretty common session zero stuff.
Everyone I've ever played with seems to understand the line. This insistence that the DM is going to arbitrarily decide that if you state a preference for the color green is evil or whatever is hyperbole. About the only gray area I've ever encountered was torture, and I just let people know that I consider it evil and don't allow it in my games. It's never been an issue.

I don't know, or care, what the alignment of my players is. I sometimes give a general overview of how I use alignment in session 0, but most people understand the basic idea without that. It's handy for monsters and NPCs now and then when they outlast their expected 15 seconds of fame. It's a handy tool for me, something that's easy to ignore. In versions of the game from decades ago, it was far too dictatorial and controlling if the group followed the strict reading of the rules. We never did that and now? Now it's just a general descriptor to use if it helps.

Except for evil. Decide that you're going to describe how you slowly strangle an innocent to death and enjoy watching the light go out of their eyes and you can find a different DM.
 

RuinousPowers

Adventurer
People keep saying it's a useful tool, but I have never seen an example of it. Alignment doesn't mean personality (even though personality traits are constantly being applied to it) nor does it have anything to do with what the character loves, what motivates them, what interests them- all the things that are actually roleplayed at the table.

We have the creator of alignment's concrete definitions and examples dismissed as "that's not how it is in my game". This doesn't happen with Armor Class or Ability Modifiers. Why? Because everyone has different views on what is Good and Evil. So if I bring my CG slave trader or LG orc baby killing specialist into other people's games then there would be problems, despite the fact that these are specifically alignment appropriate activities.

In my experience, only AD&D players find it useful- Basic didn't use the G-E spectrum, and had good paladins and evil kings sharing the same alignment, Lawful. And they had Detect Evil before there was any such alignment. You never hear Runequest or Ars Magica players saying they need alignment. No Amber diceless player said they needed to define themselves in such a way. No one has told me how they needed to bring it into their Vampire games. No, this idea that it is a useful tool only comes from the mouths of one type of gamer.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
In my experience, only AD&D players find it useful- Basic didn't use the G-E spectrum, and had good paladins and evil kings sharing the same alignment, Lawful. And they had Detect Evil before there was any such alignment.
For Moldvay basic anyway, it kind of feels like Law is pretty explicitly the ballpark of good.
1657985687770.png

On the other hand, except for the first and last sentence, Chaos doesn't seem particularly tied to Evil.
1657985487927.png

And Detect evil makes this explicit. It also notes what to do if there is a disagreement about evil.

1657985381028.png
 

Oofta

Legend
People keep saying it's a useful tool, but I have never seen an example of it.

From the intro to the MM "A monster’s alignment provides a clue to its disposition and how it behaves in a roleplaying or combat situation. For example, a chaotic evil monster might be difficult to reason with and might attack characters on sight, whereas a neutral monster might be willing to negotiate."

It's just a general guideline, one that may be superseded by other factors.

Alignment doesn't mean personality (even though personality traits are constantly being applied to it) nor does it have anything to do with what the character loves, what motivates them, what interests them- all the things that are actually roleplayed at the table.

We have the creator of alignment's concrete definitions and examples dismissed as "that's not how it is in my game". This doesn't happen with Armor Class or Ability Modifiers. Why? Because everyone has different views on what is Good and Evil. So if I bring my CG slave trader or LG orc baby killing specialist into other people's games then there would be problems, despite the fact that these are specifically alignment appropriate activities.

In my experience, only AD&D players find it useful- Basic didn't use the G-E spectrum, and had good paladins and evil kings sharing the same alignment, Lawful. And they had Detect Evil before there was any such alignment. You never hear Runequest or Ars Magica players saying they need alignment. No Amber diceless player said they needed to define themselves in such a way. No one has told me how they needed to bring it into their Vampire games. No, this idea that it is a useful tool only comes from the mouths of one type of gamer.

Alignment came around almost by accident because we had one group that organized troops by civilization (law) and one that organized by good and evil. It wasn't purposely designed but that doesn't mean it's worthless or that it hasn't evolved with the rest of the game. Virtually nothing in the game is required, that doesn't make it pointless.

If you don't find it useful, don't use it. For me? LE means mafioso type who will say "It's nothing personal, just the rules" before murdering you. They won't break a contract by the letter of the law, but beware the fine print. CE means The Joker laughing as he kills you just for the hell of it. If he feels like breaking his word will simply shrug and say "I lied". It helps me add flavor and depth to the world on a regular basis and gives me something to work with so I'm not starting from scratch.

I could continue, but I find it hard to believe that people don't understand the basic concepts. Is everyone of the same alignment going to agree on every issue or march lockstep towards the same conclusion? Of course not.
 

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