D&D 5E Should classes retain traditional alignment restrictions in 5E?

Which classes in 5E should retain alignment restrictions?

  • Assassin

    Votes: 51 31.9%
  • Bard

    Votes: 10 6.3%
  • Barbarian

    Votes: 27 16.9%
  • Druid

    Votes: 32 20.0%
  • Monk

    Votes: 35 21.9%
  • Ranger

    Votes: 15 9.4%
  • Paladin

    Votes: 67 41.9%
  • Warlock

    Votes: 19 11.9%
  • All classes should have alignment restrictions

    Votes: 6 3.8%
  • No classes should have alignment restrictions

    Votes: 88 55.0%
  • Other, please explain

    Votes: 9 5.6%

LurkAway

First Post
If restrictions are left out, people are free to play what they want to play, and nobody loses out. (Or do they? I'm interested to hear what you guys think.)
I think this is a good question, because it's getting to the heart of why we draw lines in the sand in a fantasy rpg. We know that there have always been sacred cows in D&D: even going into 5E, Monte and Mearls are talking about retaining D&Dish elements to be inclusive and avoid an angry backlash. And we know that introducing elements like gunpowder guns into D&D is very contentious because it changes the baseline assumptions. Changes to campaign settings, like FR's Spellplague, can also make fans upset.

Yet it's also true that nothing is objectively right or wrong or realistic in D&D. It's just an imaginary fantasy. In a fantasy, anything could go, but it doesn't work like that. Many of us hold onto cherished class mechanics; otherwise it's not D&D. Many of us insist on having our elves and dragons and iconic spells; otherwise it's not D&D.

So it's almost as if fantasy is so up in the air, so capricious, that it's difficult to be on the same page when roleplaying in a shared story unless a) nobody really cares about a cohesive story, or b) you hold tightly onto your imaginary conceptions for a sense of stability and belonging and common reference points.

So when you have a vision of what a Paladin (or anything else in D&D) is, it can be one of those big anchors or reference points that helps keep the story cohesive. And if someone screws around with your reference points, it can create cognitive dissonance ("a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously") ie., holding 2 competing versions of an archetypical iconic paladin in the same story.

This isn't a sole excuse or reasoning against allowing for flexiblity of class concepts, because there's obviously issues of game fun and practicality and social contract that needs to be addressed. This is more of my attempt at amateur psychology :)
 

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Remathilis

Legend
Why? If all the mechanics are there, and fit with the idea I have in mind, why wait?

Understand that I'm not arguing for a set of different paladin-like classes, with different abilities depending on the character's alignment.
I'm arguing for one paladin class, designed as if it were the traditional holy warrior, paragon of goodness, with abilities that inform that archetype. Then just leave off that one line "must be lawful good", and let the player decide if those abilities fit with the character concept they have in mind.

Perhaps 95% of the time it's going to be the archetype that we all know and love, but why is it a problem if 5% want to skew it for their own character? In other words, why is it a problem if I decide that all the paladin abilities designed for a lawful good character also happen to fit with my interpretation of a specific lawful neutral or chaotic good character?

There's a reason why I've bolded 'encourage' in your post above. It's something I agree with. The core can encourage archetypes, and provide support for them, but it shouldn't limit you to them.

Bob: I got a cool idea for a character.
DM: Sure go ahead.
Bob: You the know that paladin class? The one that's all about virtue and honor and smiting evil?
DM: Of course! You want to a paladin, that ok...
Bob: But it doesn't have an alignment restriction, so I'm totally gonna be an EVIL one! I'm going to force others to be virtuous, I'm going to defend my honor by killing those who insult me, and I'm not gonna smite evil, I'm going to DISEMBOWEL evil!
DM::confused:
Bob: Cool, huh! This is almost gonna be as cool as my pacifist fighter!

I guess I fail to see how smite evil, aura of courage, lay on hands, turn undead, remove disease, and use holy avenger can remotely be used to describe "evil's champion" as written. If being a CE paladin is such a big deal, I'm sure your DM would be willing to allow you to ignore the alignment restriction and flip-flop the good and evil powers. I mean, house rules have existed since the dawn of time, unless your playing RPGA.
 

M.L. Martin

Adventurer
I want to be able to limit the paladin to Good, Lawful, or Lawful/Good alignment as an option--there are certain genres and game types where the 'shining knight' archetype fits better than the martial/divine champion of 'pick a god, any god'. I don't need it as the baseline, but I'd like it to have some support. Plus, I come from the school of thought that says Good and Evil are not mirror images of another, and you don't get a champion of evil by simply palette-swapping the champion of good. (Evil doesn't even have champions in the same sense Good does, for starter. :) )

I don't really care about other alignment restrictions, although I hope the warlock and assassin will either a) include not-so-dark options or b) be fairly easily excluded. :)
 

Trolls

First Post
[MENTION=6685059]LurkAway[/MENTION]

That's a good point, and I think it's very likely to be either the core reason, or one of a set of reasons, behind most people's arguments for race, class and alignment restrictions.

A game like D&D does have a baseline assumption. Its something Monte seems to like bringing up: a shared history and language that almost all D&D gamers can enjoy. And in a lot of ways those shared assumptions deserve to be encouraged. These are the things that should form the basis of flavour text in the game, but they should never be presented as the only way to play, even in the core rules. D&D is a game that's fundamentally about allowing your own imagination (or the shared imagination of the game group) to be the driving force. So restrictions should always be left to the gaming group, not the game designers.


I want to try out an example of alignment restrictions that falls outside character classes, and see if those in favour of class alignment restrictions still would agree with them.

You open your Monster Manual to the 'Orcs' page. You start reading about a corrupted race that worships a dark god and makes constant war against the civilised races of the world. You learn that they're savages, and that informs some of their stats. Glancing over their stat block, you see they have abilities like rages, and dirty fighting techniques. Great, a clear picture has been presented, full of history and with some good ideas to kick off a new-DM.

But maybe you prefer a more modern portrayal of orcs found in sources like Eberron or Warcraft, which portray them as noble, misunderstood savages rather than inherently evil demon-like beings. Unfortunately, the stat block clearly says "Orcs must be chaotic evil", so you have to throw out your ideas and stick to the LotR-style orcs or use a different race, even though you like the savage abilities in the orc stat block.

Is that really the way you'd like the game to be presented? Isn't it better to have in that write up "orcs are often chaotic evil" instead? Or even not mention alignment at all and let the DM decide?

---

Once again, from my perspective:
Suggestions & hints = Great
Restrictions & limits = Bad
 

Holy Bovine

First Post
About the only 3 classes I can even moderately support alignment restrictions for would be

Assassin - non-good. I just can't figure out a way for someone to be good (even CG) and kill people for money - even really bad people. Maybe a demon/undead assassin? Just seems like there are better ways to build this concept to me.

Barbarian - non-lawful. This one I have used since the 1E barbarian class in Unearthed Arcana. Barbarians aren't lawful - no way no how. I have heard a dozen arguements to the contrary but I guess I'm stuck on this one. I'll never allow lawful barbarians in any game I run.

Paladins - any lawful. The concept of a (un)holy warrior for one's god is an excellent one. I really like keeping the lawful bent of a paladin in place as it fits with paladins having a 'code' to hew to. I've never really bought that they have to shining beacons of goodness myself (although i often play them that way) and love the idea of a LE paladin. Chaos just seems to fly in the face of the paladin concept and could, again, be built easier with other classes. Neutral paladins are lame in the extreme.

That's about it for me. Non-good rangers, non-neutral druids, lawful bards (THAT one was always weird to me - a class that makes its living in the civilized places of the world can never be lawful - surrounded by laws) etc are all A-Ok with me!
 

LurkAway

First Post
Is that really the way you'd like the game to be presented? Isn't it better to have in that write up "orcs are often chaotic evil" instead? Or even not mention alignment at all and let the DM decide?
I think those questions should be campaign-specific. So in one world, you have chaotic evil orcs. In another world, you have noble savage orcs. At least if that would result in different mechanics (if the mechanics are the same either way, I guess it doesn't matter much).

But now you have a practical issue. Do you put the orc entry in the monster manual with no alignment and no flavor, and leave the fluff to the campaign settings? Well, that would read dry and text-book. So do you put the chaotic evil orc in the core monster manual as the default, and the noble orc in the campaign supplement? Or is there no core monster manual and have campaign-specific monster manuals? It all comes down to the presentation really.

With paladin concepts, maybe they belong in a default campaign setting, where you have one kind of paladin or another kind of paladin depending on the flavor of that world -- but that doesn't seem to be the way they're doing it.
 
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Trolls

First Post
Bob: I got a cool idea for a character.
DM: Sure go ahead.
Bob: You the know that paladin class? The one that's all about virtue and honor and smiting evil?
DM: Of course! You want to a paladin, that ok...
Bob: But it doesn't have an alignment restriction, so I'm totally gonna be an EVIL one! I'm going to force others to be virtuous, I'm going to defend my honor by killing those who insult me, and I'm not gonna smite evil, I'm going to DISEMBOWEL evil!
DM::confused:
Bob: Cool, huh! This is almost gonna be as cool as my pacifist fighter!

I guess I fail to see how smite evil, aura of courage, lay on hands, turn undead, remove disease, and use holy avenger can remotely be used to describe "evil's champion" as written. If being a CE paladin is such a big deal, I'm sure your DM would be willing to allow you to ignore the alignment restriction and flip-flop the good and evil powers. I mean, house rules have existed since the dawn of time, unless your playing RPGA.

That's not really fair. You're misrepresenting the best case by focusing on the worst case. People will always come up with stupid characters, but closing off GOOD ideas because of that is ridiculous.

Bob: I got a cool idea for a character.
DM: Sure go ahead.
Bob: You the know that paladin class? The one that's all about virtue and honor and smiting evil?
DM: Of course! You want to a paladin, that ok...
Bob: But it doesn't have an alignment restriction, so I'd like to play with some flaws to make my character more interesting to play. I imagine him as honestly believing what he's doing is for the greater good, but being prone to zealotry in a sometimes destructive way. He's a paladin of the Silver Flame, but being subtly misled by the shadows bound in the Flame.
DM: An evil paladin of the Silver Flame? Are you sure that works?
Bob: I think so. He's not going to be 'eating babies' evil, obviously. Perhaps he's racist against shifters after the crusade, and is prepared to torture prisoners to get information to further the cause of goodness in his eyes.
DM: I see. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with an evil character, sorry Bob.
Bob: Oh I know, but I've been talking to Dave and his character is going to lead mine through a sort of redemption arc. And hey, perhaps he sees something of your villain in himself and sees the error in his ways.
DM: That sounds like it could work!

What's wrong with that? It doesn't matter if it's not something you'd want in your game. What you seem to be proposing is that it shouldn't be allowed in any game. Or rather, printing an extra rule that forbids it without intervention.

EDIT: I'd really love to keep talking about this, but it's far too late this side of the pond! I'll be back tomorrow!
 
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Nivenus

First Post
Given that 5e is supposed to easily modifiable and pliable, I think it would be simplest to leave alignment restrictions out of the core rules but perhaps make it clear that the "default" form of a class tends towards a particular mindset.

For example, the default paladin could be described as a virtuous champion of justice who opposes evil and disorder wherever they see it. The rules could make it clear that this doesn't refer to all paladins (or templars/cavaliers/whatever) but that it is the most common type of paladin.

Similarly, your average druid might be described as unconcerned with good or evil and your average assassin might be described as an immortal career killer (pun intended).

However, since alignment is a very touchy subject in D&D, I think it's best that alignment restrictions remain options, not de facto requirements (I say de facto because, of course, everything is an option per rule zero).

I myself am a big fan of alignment and its mechanical effects (though I'm more ambivalent about alignment restrictions) but at this point I think it would best be described briefly in the main rules and then supported more heavily with a supplement like The Book of Exalted Deeds and The Book of Vile Darkness, that way, those who don't want it can easily excise it, those who do want it have the option to use it, and those who are new to D&D are aware of the option.

EDIT:

I guess I fail to see how smite evil, aura of courage, lay on hands, turn undead, remove disease, and use holy avenger can remotely be used to describe "evil's champion" as written.

Easy. Smite evil is actually smite infidel. All the other abilities have no explicitly good vs. evil value, let alone law vs. chaos.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I like some restrictions but not all.

Assassin - must be Evil; I'm cool with this.

Barbarian - should not even be a class.

Bard - should be able to be any.

Druid - should be able to be any; just like Clerics and for much the same reasons.

Monk - must be Lawful; I'm cool with this.

Paladin/Cavalier/Knight - any Lawful or any Good, this allows for "black knights" and somewhat-chaotic freelance types.

Ranger - should be able to be any.

Thief/Rogue - should be able to be anything except Lawful Good.

Warlock - like Cleric, must be the same as its power source.

==========================================
A few none have yet mentioned:

Illusionist - I could quickly buy into these being forced to non-Lawful, if only for purely flavour reasons.

Necromancer - must be Evil.

Lanefan
 

howandwhy99

Adventurer
Holy long thread, Batman!

(Maybe we should discuss what alignment he is?)

Assassin: Non-lawful
Barbarian: Non-lawful
Bard: Neutral only (or Any)
Druid: Neutral only
Monk: Lawful only
Ranger: Non-chaotic (or Lawful only)
Paladin: Lawful only
 

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