D&D General Rethinking alignment yet again

Andvari

Hero
The elves certainly do not see themselves as chaotic nor would the halfling see themselves as lawful. But, it is how humans perceives them so that is the general alignment that was given to them. All races were given this treatment and so were the monsters.
Interestingly, elves are listed as “Lawful or neutral” in BECMI and “Chaotic good” in AD&D. Perhaps there was a desire to keep players on the same “faction” by avoiding Chaotic playable races and then shifting that to the Good/Evil axis when it was added with AD&D.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Interestingly, elves are listed as “Lawful or neutral” in BECMI and “Chaotic good” in AD&D. Perhaps there was a desire to keep players on the same “faction” by avoiding Chaotic playable races and then shifting that to the Good/Evil axis when it was added with AD&D.
Yep, 100% right on that one. And remember that in the beginning, lawful stood for "civilized" and not necessarily good.
 

I'm gonna just go ahead and try it again...

What is alignment FOR in D&D?
How does alignment go about fulfilling its purpose as you just defined it?
Do you have rules citations for any of that, or is it all just your own interpretation?
 

Oofta

Legend
I'm gonna just go ahead and try it again...

What is alignment FOR in D&D?
How does alignment go about fulfilling its purpose as you just defined it?
Do you have rules citations for any of that, or is it all just your own interpretation?
Not sure who you're directing this to, but according to the PHB alignment is "A typical creature in the game world has an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes ... Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment." (emphasis mine).

That's all. It's not a straightjacket. It doesn't dictate every aspect of behavior. Two individuals may have the same alignment and make different choices, it's just one descriptor of the individual's personality just like traits, ideals, bonds and flaws.

Personally I've always looked at alignment from a Psych 101 viewpoint: alignment is the general framework you use to view the world. Someone lawful views life like a clockwork mechanism that works best when things follow a pattern. A chaotic person doesn't see any inherent pattern and believes any patterns are one we artificially impose. Good is empathetic and cares about others, evil is self-centered and generally cares little for the welfare of others outside of how it helps them.

Ultimately it's just a quick tool for deciding NPC's and monster's if I don't have any other details that dictate behavior. As it says in the MM: "A monster’s alignment provides a clue to its disposition and how it behaves in a roleplaying or combat situation."
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
What is alignment FOR in D&D?
As GM, alignment is a two letter short hand for the general goal and methods that a character will employ. This helps both planning out an adventure ahead of time, and also assists with improvisation on the spot. For example, if an NPC is benevolent or unkind, willing to kill easily or not.

As a player, alignment serves as a guide to personal identity for my characters. You can align strongly to an alignment and play to it from the start, or allow it to form organically through play. The flexibility is available if you want it, but also the challenge of playing to type.

For everyone, alignment has tangible effects on the setting and gameplay. Gods, magic, planar beings, and items can come into gameplay in interesting ways. Cosmic matters can be a focus, a development, or nothing at all depending on desire of group.
How does alignment go about fulfilling its purpose as you just defined it?
The last part, for everyone, is game specific. I am still a 3E/PF1 player, but on occasion play 5E. The tangible part through magic and items is very limited in 5E by design. In 3E/PF1, there are spells and magic items that will be more or less effective against matching or cross alignment during game play.

For characters, alignment helps inform how the character will likely act. Examples; Join an old established order (law), become part of a rebellion (chaos), perhaps neither or both (neutral). Will the character kill only as a last resort when all options have been exhausted (good), or do they see murder as perfectly expedient way to solve problems (evil). The real heart of the game, for me of course, are the moments when your alignment is tested to the limit and the character acts out of type. These dramatic moments and their conclusions are why I play the game. (I fully note that some past mechanics (pally) have made a mockery out of this process and do not support such heavy handed rules execution)
Do you have rules citations for any of that, or is it all just your own interpretation?
A typical creature in the game world has an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes. Alignment is a combination of two factors: one identifies morality (good, evil, or neutral), and the other describes attitudes toward society and order (lawful, chaotic, or neutral). Thus, nine distinct alignments define the possible combinations. These brief summaries of the nine alignments describe the typical behavior of a creature with that alignment. Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment.

A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, or chaotic evil.

Alignment is a tool for developing your character’s identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting your character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two characters of the same alignment can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent.

Anarchic​

An anarchic weapon is chaotically aligned and infused with the power of chaos. It makes the weapon chaos-aligned and thus bypasses the corresponding damage reduction. It deals an extra 2d6 points of damage against all of lawful alignment. It bestows one negative level on any lawful creature attempting to wield it. The negative level remains as long as the weapon is in hand and disappears when the weapon is no longer wielded. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded. Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the chaotic power upon their ammunition.

Moderate evocation [chaotic]; CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, chaos hammer, creator must be chaotic; Price +2 bonus.

Axiomatic​

An axiomatic weapon is lawfully aligned and infused with the power of law. It makes the weapon law-aligned and thus bypasses the corresponding damage reduction. It deals an extra 2d6 points of damage against all of chaotic alignment. It bestows one negative level on any chaotic creature attempting to wield it. The negative level remains as long as the weapon is in hand and disappears when the weapon is no longer wielded. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded. Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the lawful power upon their ammunition.

Moderate evocation [lawful]; CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, order’s wrath, creator must be lawful; Price +2 bonus.

Holy​

A holy weapon is imbued with holy power. This power makes the weapon good-aligned and thus bypasses the corresponding damage reduction. It deals an extra 2d6 points of damage against all of evil alignment. It bestows one negative level on any evil creature attempting to wield it. The negative level remains as long as the weapon is in hand and disappears when the weapon is no longer wielded. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded. Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the holy power upon their ammunition.

Moderate evocation [good]; CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, holy smite, creator must be good; Price +2 bonus.

Unholy​

An unholy weapon is imbued with unholy power. This power makes the weapon evil-aligned and thus bypasses the corresponding damage reduction. It deals an extra 2d6 points of damage against all of good alignment. It bestows one negative level on any good creature attempting to wield it. The negative level remains as long as the weapon is in hand and disappears when the weapon is no longer wielded. This negative level never results in actual level loss, but it cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded. Bows, crossbows, and slings so crafted bestow the unholy power upon their ammunition.

Moderate evocation [evil]; CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, unholy blight, creator must be evil; Price +2 bonus.
 

Hand of Evil

Hero
Epic
I have a soap box; The DM should be defining what is EVIL in their games! The players need to know this for alignment to be effective where good and evil are concerned. Lawful and chaos is how they move/view between the two poles.

So, I as the DM will tell my players that the following are evil, Cold-blooded murder, Stealing, Slavery & Mind-control, Cannibalism, Evil Gods (list provided). Orcs (because they worship Evil Gods), and so on. This is not for every campaign, like if I was doing a barbarian game evil would be just killing your clan members, oath breaking, not paying were-guild and leaving a campfire unattended.

Players have to know what Evil is. Take the time and define it.
 

I have a soap box; The DM should be defining what is EVIL in their games! The players need to know this for alignment to be effective where good and evil are concerned. Lawful and chaos is how they move/view between the two poles.

So, I as the DM will tell my players that the following are evil, Cold-blooded murder, Stealing, Slavery & Mind-control, Cannibalism, Evil Gods (list provided). Orcs (because they worship Evil Gods), and so on. This is not for every campaign, like if I was doing a barbarian game evil would be just killing your clan members, oath breaking, not paying were-guild and leaving a campfire unattended.

Players have to know what Evil is. Take the time and define it.
What is gained by this? Why can't the characters just have differing opinions regarding good and evil like real people without the GM telling some players that that characters are objectively wrong?
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
What is gained by this? Why can't the characters just have differing opinions regarding good and evil like real people without the GM telling some players that that characters are objectively wrong?
So that everyone in a game has the same consistent reference point for what is going to be considered good, evil, lawful and chaotic, Just for the purposes of in the game in that campaign,
Edit: so that you don’t suddenly have player and GM going at each other complaining “what do you mean that holy spell affected me? I’m Chaotic good!” “No you’re not, your character has clearly been performing Neutral evil actions”
 
Last edited:

Oofta

Legend
I have a soap box; The DM should be defining what is EVIL in their games! The players need to know this for alignment to be effective where good and evil are concerned. Lawful and chaos is how they move/view between the two poles.

So, I as the DM will tell my players that the following are evil, Cold-blooded murder, Stealing, Slavery & Mind-control, Cannibalism, Evil Gods (list provided). Orcs (because they worship Evil Gods), and so on. This is not for every campaign, like if I was doing a barbarian game evil would be just killing your clan members, oath breaking, not paying were-guild and leaving a campfire unattended.

Players have to know what Evil is. Take the time and define it.
I have a no evil policy for games I run as a personal preference and will let people know if I think they're going to do something I consider evil. For example, I think torture is evil (and doesn't really work in most cases anyway) so I just let people know. I don't do a detailed checklist though and rarely have to tell people they're crossing the line.

I've never had an issue because I let people know what kind of game I run when inviting people to join.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
So that everyone in a game has the same consistent reference point for what is going to be considered good, evil, lawful and chaotic, Just for the purposes of in the game in that campaign.
And to make the social relationship at the table super-weird when the DM reveals they think drinking and eating junkfood is inherently evil right as the rogue is cracking open a beer and the fighter pays for the pizza.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Recent & Upcoming Releases

Top