D&D General Rethinking alignment yet again

It's something I can look at in a glance and get a general idea of how the monster/npc is going to interact with the world around them. I know why they're being encountered, I have a rough idea of what their motivations could be, otherwise I wouldn't have them.

Every other option I've seen presented leaves big gaping holes or is magnitudes more text. Mafioso is just a quick, off the top of my head example of a group that is stereotypically LE. LE means they'll kill you without hesitation, they abide by rules (which doesn't make them trustworthy), they probably value tradition. That's a lot for 2 letters. Of course it's not going to tell you details, I'll fill in the details when and if I spend more than a few minutes fleshing out their story. But 90% of the time? Alignment is a start. Probably 80% of the time I don't need much more because they're just henchmen. If their 15 seconds of fame turns into something more it gives me a guideline.

Don't like alignment? Don't use it. Your loss.
Alignment doesn't tell you why something is being encountered.

And having shorthand knowledge that every creature of a given alignment has the same motivations is as silly as you claiming you wouldn't be able to understand them without a convenient label.
 

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Are all LE mafioso? Nope. But they share some of their "qualities"
LE is about yourself in a group. How can you make the group work for you and how you fit in the group. LE organisations and individuals are hard to infiltrate because they are coordinated. Cranial rats will have sentries and will work well within the group. Sometimes evil is only about how the creature will act toward other races. In the case of Cranium rats, they might care about each others but certainly not about other species. Their goal is to eat all. Even resorting to canibalism if needed because food is scarce. For Cranium Rats, I would refer to the novel RATS from James Herbert. An excellent novel that will show how LE critters might think.

LE humanoids might be organised (at la hobgoblins) with sentries, defined tactics and so on. But each and every hobgoblins strive to be one day the boss. They know their place but they will wait for a good opportunity to do it. They might respect the chain of command, but friendly fire happens sometimes. That is why most leaders of LE do lead from the rear.

Whereas the CE version would be easier to infiltrate. They rely on "I know who's with me" for security. They will have sentries, but these sentries might be a bit lax. Sleeping on duty, playing dice/bones, or doing all sorts of shenanigans but their duty. The CE will strike down the leader as soon as it feels it has a good chance, especially if the leader appears weak and the CE will do it, oblivious to the consequences. Where the LE might do it near victory to ensure that its side wins, the CE might do it as soon as the hated/feared leader is wounded. Both might cost the victory, but the nuance is clear enough.

And the NE? Anything between and at these two extremes will work. The NE do not follow a leader because of fear or admiration. It follows the leader because it suits its need. These needs might range from the chance to kill, get treasure, or souls. Who really cares. NE is in for itself but can show restrain if need. The CE will not.

And stats will influence the actions too. High wis or int will affect how a LE, CE and NE will present themselves. As a 20 intel CE foe, you might be likable (if of at least average cha) but it does not mean that all your underlings are. Demons would have won the Bloodwar by now. Their leaders are feared, intelligent and sometimes wise. But Demons are demons and following orders is not their nature.

And the beauty of this is: " I only extrapolate from two letters LE, NE and CE." Anyone playing with alignment will come up with these with more or less details and emphasis. But the basics are there. @Oofta might play LE a little bit different, more honorable, less devious depending. But I am sure that I am relatively close to what he sees. Same for @Celibrim, @Maxperson, @Lanefan and many other posters.

Again, alignment is a basic system on how to play the basic tendencies of a character or NPC. It is not the only defining factor of personality and motivations. That is another part of the game entirely. I do not put motivations and full personality on shmooks my players will encounter. But I will for major foes, allies and recurring vilains. These two letters just help me play out NPCs with flavor in a pinch.
I don't find these labels useful, just like I don't find the OP's idea that each race has its own alignment axis useful. And frankly, I'm amazed how many people think these are needed to visualize a character. In my experience alignment has always just been a vaguely worded stick for DMs to wave at players.
 

I don't find these labels useful, just like I don't find the OP's idea that each race has its own alignment axis useful. And frankly, I'm amazed how many people think these are needed to visualize a character. In my experience alignment has always just been a vaguely worded stick for DMs to wave at players.
Agreed lawful paladins . I think it crept into second edition for them. Really that’s about it. It tells you nothing about your character. I’m chaotic neutral- pointless compared to other background stuff
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
We already have the "mafioso" stereotype, so why do we need LE? Are all mafioso LE? Are there no NE or CE mafioso? Barghests, cranial rats, and displacer beasts, and hellwasps are LE- does that mean they all act like mafioso? Maybe nafioso is a better alignment than LE?

I don't need an alignment to tell me a CE monster might attack on sight, or might not; might be difficult to reason with, or might not. How is this helpful information?
You clearly seem to just not like alignment. That's fine. Enjoy not using it in your own game, and let other people use it in theirs. Some people clearly find worth in it (like me).
 

Oofta

Legend
Alignment doesn't tell you why something is being encountered.
Huh? What does that have to do with the price of beans? I regularly filter monsters based on alignment because I want some grunts running around and I want them to fit the scenario. But no ... alignment wouldn't tell me why.
And having shorthand knowledge that every creature of a given alignment has the same motivations is as silly as you claiming you wouldn't be able to understand them without a convenient label.

If it doesn't help you, don't use it. I find it a useful quick guide to their approach to the world.
 

Oofta

Legend
This is the scarecrow of old 1ed when a paladin would lose its status because the class was too powerful and with the UA rolling method, they had become more common than fighters. So with such a powerful class, DM were seeking a way to expunge the interest about paladins and came up with: "Lawful Stupid". The gate to restrict this powerful class had been broken and thus, from rare, they became the norm...

I never had to enforce Lawful Stupid, but I have witnessed it in a few games. Heck, I saw a 1ed with 3 paladins, 1 cleric, 1 wizard and 1 wizard/thief. And paladins were supposed to be rare...

And since paladins were so powerful, some DM found that alignment was the "perfect" tool to remove them from the game and enforced stupid requirements that were not even there or if present not meant to be used that way. UA did a lot of damage to the alignment system and to the paladin. Heck some DM were not even aware of the spell Atonement! There is no fun in being gated behind stupid requirement. It is to the DM and players to reach an understanding and common ground on what is good and what isn't. Many of the players of that DM decided to flock to my game because I was not doing Lawful Stupid. But, I did only use the 4d6 in order and that made some of them turn back.

Alignment still suffers from that period and to a lesser extent the 2ed era where the remnants of Lawful Stupid were still enforced by some. But now, alignment is exactly where it should be. A small set of guidelines on how to play. If you want more, Ideals and Bonds are right there for that.

I understand where it came from ... half a century ago. But nowadays? In versions of the game released in the 21st century? I don't see it.

The only people that complain that a DM could tear up their character sheet while laughing maniacally are people who don't want to use alignment. Since they don't want to use it, they don't want anyone to have it. 🤷‍♂️
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
And the beauty of this is: " I only extrapolate from two letters LE, NE and CE." Anyone playing with alignment will come up with these with more or less details and emphasis. But the basics are there. @Oofta might play LE a little bit different, more honorable, less devious depending. But I am sure that I am relatively close to what he sees. Same for @Celibrim, @Maxperson, @Lanefan and many other posters.
I've stayed out of this thread so far - what am I supposed to be agreeing with here? :)
 

I understand where it came from ... half a century ago. But nowadays? In versions of the game released in the 21st century? I don't see it.

The only people that complain that a DM could tear up their character sheet while laughing maniacally are people who don't want to use alignment. Since they don't want to use it, they don't want anyone to have it. 🤷‍♂️
The Devil is an invention that predates us by a bit more than two thousand years and yet there are people actively believing it will come to tempt them and blame him for all sorts of thing... A scarecrow is still a scarecrow.

Taking bad experiences from the past and putting them back to the front is a thing that happens all the time on various experiences and topics. This is nothing new. We have a say in French: "A cat burned by hot water fears cold water". In other words, if it looks like something that hurt you; there's a big chance you will not even go near it. This is what we are seeing.
 

I've stayed out of this thread so far - what am I supposed to be agreeing with here? :)
I just cited you as an example on how to use alignment. Your way of doing CN still makes me think about allowing it again. I should not stop myself to a bad example when I tell others not do it themselves. (And yes, we did talk about it for our next campaign. For the moment, people are unsure but so far, the resistance is... mild.)
 

Oofta

Legend
The Devil is an invention that predates us by a bit more than two thousand years and yet there are people actively believing it will come to tempt them and blame him for all sorts of thing... A scarecrow is still a scarecrow.

Taking bad experiences from the past and putting them back to the front is a thing that happens all the time on various experiences and topics. This is nothing new. We have a say in French: "A cat burned by hot water fears cold water". In other words, if it looks like something that hurt you; there's a big chance you will not even go near it. This is what we are seeing.
Also don't forget: alignment is worthless because it doesn't tell us whether or not they like pineapple on their pizza. ;)
 

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