D&D General Rethinking alignment yet again

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I am baffled by this statement as it seems to be straight up nonsense. Yes, in D&D there is an objective answer to what is meant by "Good". But having an objective answer for what is good does not solve many or even any moral dilemmas. So this is fundamentally obvious and I've explained why it doesn't solve any moral dilemmas so much in this thread that I'm at a loss how you can assert your claim axiomatically without any attempt to defend it. I feel like you are fighting over the label and not any normative, ethical or moral claims. Are you just offended that something is called "Good"? Is the label so important to claim?

If it's not important, why does it need to be given to the powers in the game?

So, what's your favorite moral quandary when an oracle of a supreme being can tell you which of two choices is more good/less evil?
 

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I am baffled by this statement as it seems to be straight up nonsense. Yes, in D&D there is an objective answer to what is meant by "Good". But having an objective answer for what is good does not solve many or even any moral dilemmas. So this is fundamentally obvious and I've explained why it doesn't solve any moral dilemmas so much in this thread that I'm at a loss how you can assert your claim axiomatically without any attempt to defend it. I feel like you are fighting over the label and not any normative, ethical or moral claims. Are you just offended that something is called "Good"? Is the label so important to claim?
This results the bizarre interpretation that "Good" is not good. Which indeed would be what a lot of people would think in a world with alignment detection. But I don't see such childishly simplistic moral frameworks, let alone codifying them in the rules in manner that forces the characters to deal with them, adding of anything of value. Instead they're just a hindrance for proper examination of morals and a source of semantic confusion.
 

I am baffled by this statement as it seems to be straight up nonsense. Yes, in D&D there is an objective answer to what is meant by "Good". But having an objective answer for what is good does not solve many or even any moral dilemmas. So this is fundamentally obvious and I've explained why it doesn't solve any moral dilemmas so much in this thread that I'm at a loss how you can assert your claim axiomatically without any attempt to defend it. I feel like you are fighting over the label and not any normative, ethical or moral claims. Are you just offended that something is called "Good"? Is the label so important to claim?
There is no "moral dilemma" when there is a clear and definitive answer about what is moral. If the "trolley problem" has been answered 100% in regard to good and evil, law and chaos, then there is no dilemma.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It as an attempt to provide a non-political example of the very real issue people want to bury and ignore: that alignment's primary effect is to impose a morality over the game.
That is no longer true, though. In 5e it's just a roleplaying aid with no teeth. It literally can't impose anything on anyone.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
A heavy clasp, wrought to look like angel wings, keeps the book’s contents secure. Only a creature of good alignment that is attuned to the book can release the clasp that holds it shut. Once the book is opened, the attuned creature must spend 80 hours reading and studying the book to digest its contents and gain its benefits. Other creatures that peruse the book’s open pages can read the text but glean no deeper meaning and reap no benefits. An evil creature that tries to read from the book takes 24d6 radiant damage. This damage ignores resistance and immunity, and can’t be reduced or avoided by any means. A creature reduced to 0 hit points by this damage disappears in a blinding flash and is destroyed, leaving its possessions behind.
Quoth the Book of Exalted Deeds item for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

So... how does one determine who gets to open the book and who gets unfairnessed to death?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Having a person force you to deal with their interpretations of morality in what is supposed to be a leisure activity, and having the ability to punish you, through your character, is not fun. A DM who strongly believes in Gygax's alignment definitions and demands you either kill goblin children or you lose your character that required a great deal of luck to get, is not fun. Or in 5e having everyone just treat you as evil for not killing goblin children would not be fun either.
What ability to punish? Alignment quite literally has no teeth. The DM disagrees with the alignment you've chosen, so what. There's nothing he can do. Even if he oversteps and says, "You aren't NG, you're CG." Well, okay. Continue acting the same way and keep the NG on your sheet.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Quoth the Book of Exalted Deeds item for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

So... how does one determine who gets to open the book and who gets unfairnessed to death?
Nobody gets unfairnessed to death unless the DM screwed up and gave you that book at low level. At worst it's going to be, "Ow, quit it!" and you sell it for lots of money and get something else. It's also so exceedingly rare as to not be worth consideration in an alignment debate. Alignment is about how your PC is roleplayed. Nothing else really matters, including the DM's opinion.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
What ability to punish? Alignment quite literally has no teeth. The DM disagrees with the alignment you've chosen, so what. There's nothing he can do. Even if he oversteps and says, "You aren't NG, you're CG." Well, okay. Continue acting the same way and keep the NG on your sheet.

Is this a 5e thread or a D&D general thread?

Edit: Nevermind. saw the item was 5e
 

Celebrim

Legend
If it's not important, why does it need to be given to the powers in the game?

I didn't say it wasn't important? What are you even responding to?

So, what's your favorite moral quandary when an oracle of a supreme being can tell you which of two choices is more good/less evil?

There are no supreme beings in D&D. You're approaching polytheism from the standpoint of a monotheist. In D&D there are gods, sometimes explicitly even the Greek Gods depending on the campaign. These Gods represent different beliefs and values and so while they can tell you what is more Good or less Evil, they can't tell you why you ought to be Good and not Evil. Each of them can offer an argument as to why you ought to agree with them, but none of them can prove that they are right. So if Asmodeus comes to you and says, "Do this thing for me and I'll reward you", the moral question is not whether Asmodeus is Good - because no one claims he is, but whether one ought to do it. People aren't evil in the D&D world merely because they have twirly mustaches and kick puppies. They have intellectual reasons for being Evil that have to do with how you view the world. I mean sure, we can in D&D define Good as an alignment that wants to protect the weak and prevent suffering, but even knowing that is Good doesn't tell you why you ought to do that. It could be that it's stupid to protect the weak and prevent suffering. Certainly many beings in the D&D world (and some in the real world) feel the same.
 
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Vaalingrade

Legend
Nobody gets unfairnessed to death unless the DM screwed up and gave you that book at low level. At worst it's going to be, "Ow, quit it!" and you sell it for lots of money and get something else. It's also so exceedingly rare as to not be worth consideration in an alignment debate. Alignment is about how your PC is roleplayed. Nothing else really matters, including the DM's opinion.
Except for the magic items that are just being casually ignored because they don't fit the assertion?
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I didn't say it wasn't important? What are you even responding to?
You asked "Is the label so important to claim?"

There are no supreme beings in D&D. You're approaching polytheism from the standpoint of a monotheist.

You said "Yes, in D&D there is an objective answer to what is meant by "Good". I'm not sure how to take that in a way that isn't equivalent to it somehow. (Even if only the god/DM who does play dice with the universe).
 

That is no longer true, though. In 5e it's just a roleplaying aid with no teeth. It literally can't impose anything on anyone.

What ability to punish? Alignment quite literally has no teeth. The DM disagrees with the alignment you've chosen, so what. There's nothing he can do. Even if he oversteps and says, "You aren't NG, you're CG." Well, okay. Continue acting the same way and keep the NG on your sheet.
He can have every NPC in the world react to you as if you were a demon. He can have you ostracized from all places he considers Good or Lawful. He can treat your character as a pariah, and claim that the world is right and your character is actually evil.

And the rules are the same in every edition- whatever the DM says, goes. If you have evidence of your 1e DMG actually changing your character sheet, I'd love to see it.
 

Celebrim

Legend
There is no "moral dilemma" when there is a clear and definitive answer about what is moral. If the "trolley problem" has been answered 100% in regard to good and evil, law and chaos, then there is no dilemma.

So it is true that for the most part there is a clear answer to the Trolley Problem for each of the nine alignments in D&D. And what a player should do is have some clear understanding of what he wants to explore with respect to a character that answers the Trolley Problem in a particular way, even if that character has a very different answer than their own. They should clarify with the DM if they have some question how a particular alignment addresses the Trolley Problem, and then play that alignment. And what will happen in game is that there will be external game RP as characters with different takes on the Trolley Problem face the Trolley Problem and there will hopefully in good harmonious functional RP around debating the Trolley Problem from the standpoint of the characters.

Really advanced RP happens when the player imagining the character with a ready answer to the Trolley Problem decides that based on RP the character himself decides that his own read answers were maybe incorrect, or that the player decides the character decides for whatever reason to against his own beliefs and leans into that and you RP out either remorse and guilt or else epiphany and character transformation.

Now the problem you run into is players take their own biases about the Trolley problem into the game rather than the character's biases. And rather than RPing in a functional and mature manner, they get all offended that someone's character addresses the Trolley Problem differently than how they think it should be in real life and then you have antagonistic non-harmonious RP. But that's gonna happen with immature dysfunctional players whether you have alignment or not.

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."
 

So it is true that for the most part there is a clear answer to the Trolley Problem for each of the nine alignments in D&D. And what a player should do is have some clear understanding of what he wants to explore with respect to a character that answers the Trolley Problem in a particular way, even if that character has a very different answer than their own. They should clarify with the DM if they have some question how a particular alignment addresses the Trolley Problem, and then play that alignment. And what will happen in game is that there will be external game RP as characters with different takes on the Trolley Problem face the Trolley Problem and there will hopefully in good harmonious functional RP around debating the Trolley Problem from the standpoint of the characters.

Really advanced RP happens when the player imagining the character with a ready answer to the Trolley Problem decides that based on RP the character himself decides that his own read answers were maybe incorrect, or that the player decides the character decides for whatever reason to against his own beliefs and leans into that and you RP out either remorse and guilt or else epiphany and character transformation.

Now the problem you run into is players take their own biases about the Trolley problem into the game rather than the character's biases. And rather than RPing in a functional and mature manner, they get all offended that someone's character addresses the Trolley Problem differently than how they think it should be in real life and then you have antagonistic non-harmonious RP. But that's gonna happen with immature dysfunctional players whether you have alignment or not.

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."
Acting against the character's defined nature isn't a moral dilemma. And deciding to do evil when you have already established the character is good, doesn't demonstrate any usefulness of an alignment system.
 

Quoth the Book of Exalted Deeds item for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition.

So... how does one determine who gets to open the book and who gets unfairnessed to death?
The god who wrote the book, who has their own biased definition of “good.”

Roleplayed by the dm, but if there’s a disagreement then the worst result is “no one can use this item.”
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
So it is true that for the most part there is a clear answer to the Trolley Problem for each of the nine alignments in D&D.
It is though?

Like I feel like, first there's only the two possible answers unless you want to defy the postulation in the first place, and many more then nine reasons for choosing one or the other even though it is usually only posed as 'do you save the many or the few?'.

In fact, the traditional trolley problem already presupposes that the subject is willing to take responsibility for taking a life or lives in the first place, which is kind of messed up to start. That's why so many people come up with a smartassed response to it.
 

Celebrim

Legend
You asked "Is the label so important to claim?"

Ok, that. Sorry. What you are referring to is more clear now. The alignments are important. Claiming the labels are less so. Like does my argument become clearer to you if we label Good, Weal, and Evil, as Woe? I personally think that only makes things less clear, but my point is that Good isn't obviously correct. I mean even in the real world it's not at all clear why in a universe with no Justice particles one ought to be Just, or why in a universe with no Charity particles one ought to be charitable. It's not clear why one ought to do anything. But even in a universe with Good and Evil particles (as it were) that you could detect, it's not at all clear that choosing what is Good would be right. Why ought you sacrifice your own interests for the good of others anyway? Why does it profit to care for the weak instead of cull them? Why should you value love over power in the first place? Those answers aren't addressed just because we have Good and Evil objectively defined.

I feel so much of the argument comes down to "my opinion about what is Good must be the prevailing one at the table and it's objectional to me if it doesn't". Well, I got to tell you, my opinion about what is good is almost never the prevailing one, in real life or the game, so that's not really an unusual experience for me. I have to deal with that all the time in situations much more important than merely a game. My advice is lean into it. If the DM's universe judges you a monster, well rail against the universe. Demand the universe be accountable to you. Cry out to the gods and judge them in return. And if the problem is the DM isn't God, but is the DM is the Devil and is not interested in running a fun table, well that problem can't be solved by anything or any rules or lack of them. Nothing can protect you from a bad GM.

You said "Yes, in D&D there is an objective answer to what is meant by "Good". I'm not sure how to take that in a way that isn't equivalent to it somehow. (Even if only the god/DM who does play dice with the universe).

I feel I keep explaining this over and over. In the Great Wheel cosmology the gods sitting in the Seven Heavens don't have a privileged place at the table. Theres is just one take of many and they aren't even omniscient or omnipotent. How do you know that they are more right and correct about how life should be lived than powers in the Abyss? How do you know one ought to be Good? If I tell you how Good sees the trolley problem, how do you know there answer is better than how Law or Chaos sees the trolley problem? For that matter, how do you know that a neutral evil fiend's answer that of course you should choose whatever results in the most harm is wrong?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
He can have every NPC in the world react to you as if you were a demon. He can have you ostracized from all places he considers Good or Lawful. He can treat your character as a pariah, and claim that the world is right and your character is actually evil.
Tell me, what part of any of that requires alignment? Get rid of alignment entirely and all of that can still happen.
And the rules are the same in every edition- whatever the DM says, goes.
I'm going to need you to prove to me through citations that the alignment rules are the same in every edition.
If you have evidence of your 1e DMG actually changing your character sheet, I'd love to see it.
I have no idea what that even means or is asking.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Except for the magic items that are just being casually ignored because they don't fit the assertion?
No. They are so rare as to be virtually meaningless. And they can't actually do anything to affect how a player roleplays alignment. Like at all. Not even a little bit. So my assertion that there is literally nothing the DM can do regarding your PC's alignment and that alignment has no teeth at all is factual and true. Your character remains yours to play as you wish, with the class that you wish, and the race that you wish. The DM can do nothing about it, regardless of any items out there.
 

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