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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%

Raith5

Adventurer
Personally I dont like alignment because it is way too simplistic for my tastes and can inhibit more gritty play styles that I value.

It is also leads to what I see as misunderstanding of key archetypes. The assassin is a key example. Many have stated that they are evil, but the historical orgin of the assassin is more shaped by religion and politics than money.

I just dont see why alignment should be used to delimit and control the types of archtypes in the game. If folk want alignment to be a part of your character and roleplaying then fine.

FWIW I think the optional 3rd ed (?) system of allegiances is way better at drawing up interesting narratives for PC motivation.
 

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pemerton

Legend
I really dislike 4e's Paladins. For me, the defining characteristic of that class is the behaviour restrictions, and removing those kills the class stone dead. And it's not enough to say "well, you can play your character that way if you want..."; without the restriction it just doesn't work.
But, in practice, the "restriction" only "works" because it is a licence for the GM to interfere with the player's decision-making for his/her PC.

Which, is, in turn, a recipe for balance-of-power issues and conflict at the table (witness the endless aligment threads, which culminate - or, if you prefer, reach their nadir - with debates about paladins).

If players want to play a PC who is bound by a code, they can do so without themselves needing to be bound by the GM.

Or are envisaging the "restrictions" as a buffer between the player and the other players, who otherwise won't put up with the paladin player's roleplaying? That strikes me as a sad and sorry table, but is it a real issue for some paladin players?

Most alignment restrictions seem doubly pointless to me. In games where the notion of Paladin as "good-hearted defender of the weak, etc." is taken with grave seriousness, an alignment restriction is unnecessary. In games where it isn't, the alignment restriction is either ignored (explicitly or implicitly) or abused to the point where it may as well have been ignored.
This fits with my experience.

Can someone kindly explain the reason(s) for why playing a non-lawful Paladin?
The paladin in my 4e game is unaligned, because he is a paladin of the Raven Queen (an unaligned deity). The player's conception of his PC's role is of meting out death to those whose time it is, and protecting from death those whose time it isn't. He also sleeps standing up, on the principle that the time has not yet come for him to lie on his back.

In AD&D this PC could probably be LN, but in Basic or 4e (both of whose alignment systems I prefer, if the game is not going to dispense with alignment altogether) he is clearly N/unaligned.
 

Hassassin

First Post
If players want to play a PC who is bound by a code, they can do so without themselves needing to be bound by the GM.

If players want to play a character who isn't bound to anyone else, they shouldn't play a divine character. The gods of D&D are fickle and the possibility of losing your powers comes with the territory. Even if you do nothing wrong, someone may just kill your patron.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
If players want to play a character who isn't bound to anyone else, they shouldn't play a divine character. The gods of D&D are fickle and the possibility of losing your powers comes with the territory. Even if you do nothing wrong, someone may just kill your patron.

Deities are merely the most common way to access divine power. Campaigns vary.
 

LurkAway

First Post
The paladin in my 4e game is unaligned, because he is a paladin of the Raven Queen (an unaligned deity). The player's conception of his PC's role is of meting out death to those whose time it is, and protecting from death those whose time it isn't. He also sleeps standing up, on the principle that the time has not yet come for him to lie on his back.

In AD&D this PC could probably be LN, but in Basic or 4e (both of whose alignment systems I prefer, if the game is not going to dispense with alignment altogether) he is clearly N/unaligned.
It's interesting how the same character concept could be labelled as Unaligned or Lawful Neutral depending on the edition.

It reminds me of the Great Wheel cosmology. I never liked it, but it had some internal logic with the 9 alignments. When 4E simplified alignments, the Great Wheel lost the metagame glue that helped hold it together IMO.

If a D&D campaign setting operates with Lawful Good/Neutral/Evil as objective cosmological principles, I think it provides a framework for alignment reinforcement of the Lawful Paladin concept.

I think it would be fair to say that alignment restrictions on classes might only apply if Alignment is being used. Thus in modular 5E, Alignment is optional and if you remove it, you also remove class alignment restrictions. But if you play with Alignment, the assumption is to use alignment restrictions unless you get an exemption from the DM based on your character concept.

Is that something that people would go for? Or would you want to play a non-Lawful paladin in a game that intentionally uses the 9 point alignment system? That is, do you dislike the idea of Lawful (or good) paladins or do you really just dislike the overall mechanical alignment system?
 

Nivenus

First Post
I like some restrictions but not all.

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

I'd prefer that they are required to be nongood, personally. I'm cool with morally gray assassins alongside morally dark ones. In fact, I'd say that's a stronger archetype.

Barbarian - should not even be a class.

I kind of agree with you on this one, but many people feel differently (including the designers).

Bard - should be able to be any.

Logical. After all, the original bards were also usually keepers of tradition and ancient laws, which fits into the traditionally prohibited lawful alignments.

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

I kind of like the "must be some kind of neutral" alignment restriction, but I'll admit it can come off as metagame-y. I think that if you're going to have druids as a separate class from clerics than druids shouldn't be required to worship deities - therefore no alignment by deity restrictions.

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

It seems logical on the surface, but the Sith = CE monks is to me a persuasive argument. Besides, when it comes down to it, monks are really just based on kung fu action heroes, which, as often as not, fit into the lone wandered apart from society that was once used to justify bards as a solely non-lawful class. So I'd say let them be any alignment if you're going to have any restrictions at all.

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

This falls into the unfortunate trap, however, of defining law and good as more or less the same thing. Why should a paladin be allowed to be lawful or good? If we're going to water down the paladin's traditional alignment restraint but not turn them into "martial paragons of a particular deity" archetype, then it makes more sense to require them to be lawful or to require them to be good, but not make it an either/or arrangement.

Otherwise, you're basically just saying that law = good and therefore all paladins are just a subset of lawful good.

Ranger - should be able to be any.

I'm cool with this.

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

Rogues are difficult because they've never had a clear archetypes. Thieves, I can see being chaotic or nonlawful by default. But spies? Or diplomats? Or acrobats? All of these are archetypes that have been picked up by rogues at one point or another and all come with their own implied alignment range. So, unless they're going to narrow down the definition of the rogue, I'd say leave them as available to any alignment.

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

I have a bit of a problem with this because, really, warlocks don't worship the being they form a pact with - they're just making a deal in exchange for power. It means no more or no less to a warlock than any other person under contract to any other kind of authority - they don't necessarily believe in the being's cause or idolize them. Hell, the warlock may even dislike their pact giver.

Plus, it makes pacts mutually exclusive, which I don't really like. Powerful warlocks should be able to make pacts with several different kind of beings, like Ammon Jerro in Neverwinter Nights 2: demons, devils, fey, aberrations, whatever. But by this rule a demonic pact and a diabolic one would be mutually exclusive. Again, the warlock doesn't is devoted to their pact giver, they're merely under contract.

However, clerics actually only have to be within one step of their deity's alignment. So that might be more palatable and I do understand the desire to prevent CG characters from making a deal with the devil as one example.

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

Seems unnecessary really. Many real illusionists could qualify as lawful, IMO.

Necromancer - must be Evil.

Depends on the setting's view of necromancy. Sure, you're defiling a body, but if you're doing no harm to the immortal soul than why would it be evil? In Planescape, for example, the dustmen are canonically neutral in alignment but they routinely use undead creatures like zombies. It's viewed by many as disturbing but not particularly evil, generally speaking.

Holy long thread, Batman!

(Maybe we should discuss what alignment he is?)

Depends on the writer.

batman-alignment.jpg
 

Nivenus

First Post
It reminds me of the Great Wheel cosmology. I never liked it, but it had some internal logic with the 9 alignments. When 4E simplified alignments, the Great Wheel lost the metagame glue that helped hold it together IMO.

I prefer a blend of the Great Wheel cosmology and the 4e one, personally. I like the idea of each of the Outer Planes representing a particular power and his/her retinue, rather than simply a single alignment. However, I also like the idea that beings of similar alignments dwell on that plane and that you can divide the planes into celestial planes, diabolic planes, planes of law, planes of chaos, and planes of conflict.

I also feel the Great Wheel and alignment are less metagame-y than people generally say it is: after all, the idea of good vs. evil and law vs. chaos have equally strong roots in traditional mythology, so blending them isn't terribly artificial.

I think it would be fair to say that alignment restrictions on classes might only apply if Alignment is being used. Thus in modular 5E, Alignment is optional and if you remove it, you also remove class alignment restrictions. But if you play with Alignment, the assumption is to use alignment restrictions unless you get an exemption from the DM based on your character concept.

Is that something that people would go for? Or would you want to play a non-Lawful paladin in a game that intentionally uses the 9 point alignment system? That is, do you dislike the idea of Lawful (or good) paladins or do you really just dislike the overall mechanical alignment system?

I'm actually not particularly fond of the LG restriction on paladins even in a game with alignment for the simple reason that it's too restrictive. I don't think any one class should be restricted to a single alignment. Bendable, pliable alignment restrictions like those for clerics or druids I like a great deal more than the "you must be this alignment and none other" restriction of paladins.

I just think the LG paladin archetype isn't big enough for a class all of its own. I don't know how unusual that makes me.
 

Rampant

First Post
What alignment would a Cleric who slaughtered his own lawful good deity in the middle of the great temple for the entire city to see because said deity told the paladin to execute his half-fiend niece for scratching the King's son be?

What if You created a class, lets call it the champion for now, and the champion's big schtick is that he has a cause: purge corruption, protect the helpless, spread the light of reason, destroy {insert big scary institution or organization}, something like that. This class gains all sorts of abilities like limited healing, broad weapon and armor selection, the option to call/train a special companion, all that good stuff.

Then at level x, whether by PrC, PP, Theme, or what have you, he can become one of several different things.

A virtuous paladin, a vengeance driven punisher, a mysterious grey cloak, or even a terrifying black knight.

Put simply Paladin is a title to be earned, not something a base class should represent. Furthermore in my own little world a Paladin is someone who is willing to tell the rules to go take a hike when the time comes to do the right thing. The way I figure it, if alignment is a part of the game Paladins should be good, everything else is secondary.

To put it more generally, a base class should represent a sufficient range of archetypes that any alignment would be acceptable. Alignment, if it is included, should only restrict things that should be restricted.
 
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nightwyrm

First Post
I will agree with alignment restrictions when everybody agrees to a concrete definition for all 9 alignments.

Take lawful for instance. Does it mean having a personal code? Following the laws of the land? Or how about tribal traditions? Or is that not lawful enough coz it's not written down?

If barbarians are restricted to non-lawful, does that mean they're all outcasts from their tribes coz they all refused to follow their tribal traditions?
 


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