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D&D 5E The alignments defined

In an other thread: "Worlds of design: Is fighting evil passé?" a lot of talk turned around alignments and their interpretation. For about 35 years, I have used a variant of the Palladium Alignment system in the D&D game. It is the do(s) and don't(s) of the different alignments. It is heavily based on the Palladium game but it has work for my games for that much time. It is by no mean perfect but it is a set of loose guidelines as to what such and such alignment is expected to do.

Three things must be said.
1) Alignment is not a fixed set behavior. A character can be out of his usual habits once in a while. Sometimes, enough is enough and you can go way out of your normal pattern. Of course, depending on the out of character action this can lead to either a change in alignment or an atonement. In 5ed the atonement is no longer a thing but seeking "forgiveness" is still something happening in my games as a way for a character to redeem him(her)self.

2) In the translation (the document is normally in French) I changed a few things to reflect 5ed. So the "good" races have been changed to "Core" races. The intent is still the same.

3) Although I do mention it in the document, this version do not apply to "supernatural" creature. The outerplane creatures are "perfect" examples of what alignments are and are a bit fixed (at least in my mind and how I play them). A character is not expected to be perfect but should try.

So here is my take on the alignment. I hope you find this useful.
The Do(s) and don’ts of alignments.

Lawful Good.


Toward the core races (this means “good and non-evil” races) but not limited to dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half elves.
1) Always keep his word/oath.
2) Avoid lies.
3) Never kill or harm an unarmed foe.
4) Never harm an innocent.
5) Never torture for any reason.
6) Never kill for pleasure. Will try to bring the villain to justice alive at any cost.
7) Always help others.
8) Work well within a group.
9) Respect authority, law, self-discipline and honor.
10) Never betray a friend.
11) Never breaks the law unless conditions are desperate or the laws are evil. This means no theft, torture, unprovoked assault and if witness to such acts, will try to reason the perpetrator if the act is minor or bring him to justice (or denounce if afraid).

12) Will not harm a child for any reason.
13) Will never tolerate slavery.

Against non-core races (or “evil” races).
1) Will keep his word/oath.
2) Will let a foe that surrender leave in peace, especially if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life.
3) Might kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Might do a merciful killing. Sometimes, the most merciful thing is a quick death.
5) Might engage in ethnical/racial genocide if the events warrant such an act. The character will not do it out of pleasure but out of necessity and usually under strict orders by his liege during a time of war or invasion by a hostile tribe. Atonement and clerical counseling might be in order as the character might be forced to deal with psychological consequences.

Here I must stress that doing such an act will never be out of pleasure but to avoid said race/tribe to come back. If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to chase them off the country/territory. The character will allow the non-combatants to flee with food and tools unless the food is of humanoid origin. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

6) Will try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, the character will treat him as a member of the core race.

7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means.

Neutral Good.
Toward the core races (this means “good and non-evil” races) but not limited to dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half elves.
1) Keep his word to any other good aligned person.
2) Lie only to Evil and Neutral alignments.
3) Never kill or harmed an unarmed foe.
4) Never harm an innocent.
5) Never use torture. But may use muscle/magic/threats to extract information.
6) Never kill for pleasure. Will try to bring the villain to justice alive.
7) Always help other.
8) Will try to work within the law and works well with group that respect a “good” ethos.
9) Will bend and even break the law when deemed necessary. He will use strong harm techniques, theft, break and entry and so on. Especially if said laws are evil.
10) Do not care about honor, self-discipline or any restraining laws, bureaucracy, groups.
11) Works generally well withing a group (unless the above is applicable).
12) Will never betray a friend.
13) Will never harm a child.
14) Will never tolerate slavery.

Against non-core races (or “evil” races). A Neutral Good will.
1) Probably will keep his word/oath.
2) Will let a foe that surrender leave in peace, especially if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life.
3) Might kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Will definitely do a merciful killing instead of letting a foe get away. Sometimes, the most merciful thing is a quick death.
5) Might engage in ethnical/racial genocide if the events warrant such an act. The character will not do it out of pleasure but out of necessity and usually under strict orders by his liege during a time of war or invasion by a hostile tribe. Atonement and clerical counseling might be in order as the character might be forced to deal with psychological consequences.

Here, again, I must stress that doing such an act will never be out of pleasure but to avoid said race/tribe to come back. If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to chase them off the country/territory. The character will allow the non-combatants to flee with food and tools unless the food is of humanoid origin. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

This character is much more likely to ignore this order from his liege than the Lawful Good character.

6) Will try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, the character will treat him as a member of the core race.

7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means.

Chaotic Good
Toward the core races (this means “good and non-evil” races) but not limited to dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half elves.

These characters value life and freedom above all else. Where some Lawful and Neutral might or would follow distasteful orders from their liege, these characters will not. Elves could have eradicated orcs many times over but never did because they are what they are: Chaotic Good to the core. Live and let live is the motus operandi of this alignment.

1) Keep his word to any other good aligned person.
2) Lie and cheat if necessary or if it is highly profitable to do so. Especially to those of Evil and Neutral alignments.
3) Never kill an unarmed foe but will definitely take advantage of. 4) Never harm an innocent.
5) Might use torture if absolutely necessary. But this character much prefer to use muscle/magic/threats to extract information.
6) Never kill for pleasure. Will try to bring the villain to justice alive unless the risk of evasion is too high. Even then, will not resort to killing but might try to make it someone’s else problem.
7) Will help others, but would prefer a reward. He will help those in need but will feel that he should get a reward. If not, he’ll do it anyway but will probably whine about it.
8) Will try to work within the law but only because he does not want to be punished needlessly.
9) Will bend and even break the law when deemed necessary. He will use strong harm techniques, theft, break and entry without a second thought, especially if the laws are evil or constraining.
10) Never betray a friend.
11) Dislike authority but respect people and their leader if they earned it. This character will judge people from a personal point of view and not because of a position or title.
12) Will never harm a child.
13) Will never tolerate slavery of any kind.

Against non-core races (or “evil” races). A Neutral Good will.

1)Probably won’t keep his word/oath.
2) Will let a foe that surrender leave in peace, especially if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life.
3) Might kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Will not practice merciful killing instead of letting a foe get away. If it is evident that the foe will break his word or could come back with reinforcement, the character can do it. Sometimes, the most merciful thing is a quick death.
5) Will not, ever, engage in ethnical/racial genocide no matter the reason. This character values life and freedom too much.

Even if the events warrant such an act. The character will not do it. He does not feel any obligation toward authority, liege or master. Even under strict orders by his liege during a time of war or invasion by a hostile tribe he simply will not do it. In fact, a leader asking this from a chaotic good character/person is likely to lose every single ounce of respect this character has for him/her.

Whenever non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to chase them off the country/territory. The character will allow the non-combatants to flee with food and tools unless the food is of humanoid origin. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

This character is much more likely to ignore this order from his liege than the Lawful or Neutral Good characters.

6) Will try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, the character will treat him as a member of the core race.
7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means.

Lawful Neutral
Toward the core races (this means “good and non-evil” races) but not limited to dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half elves.

1) Always keep his word/oath.
2) Avoid lies.
3) Never kill or harm an unarmed foe. But may take advantage from such a target. If only to bring it to justice.
4) Never harm an innocent.
5) Can use torture for interrogation if ordered to by his liege but will not do for personal gain for any reason.
6) Never kill for pleasure. Will try to bring the villain to justice alive at any cost.
7) Will help others most of the time, especially if rewarding.
8) Work extremely well within a group.
9) Respect authority, law, self-discipline and honor.
10) Never betray a friend unless he breaks the law.
11) Never, ever, willingly breaks the law. This means no theft, torture, unprovoked assault and if witness to such acts, will try to bring the perpetrator to justice (or denounce him if afraid).
12) Will not harm a child for any reason.
13) Might agree with some form of slavery. (Enslave debtors, captured enemies, etc.) Especially if the law permits it.

Against non-core races (or “evil” races).

1) Will keep his word/oath.
2) Will let a foe that surrender leave in peace, especially if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life.
3) Might kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Will do a merciful killing. Sometimes, the most merciful thing is a quick death.
5) Will engage in ethnical/racial genocide if the events warrant such an act. The character will not do it out of pleasure but out of necessity and usually under strict orders by his liege during a time of war or invasion by a hostile tribe. Atonement and clerical counseling might be in order as the character might be forced to deal with psychological consequences.

Here I must stress that doing such an act will never be out of pleasure but to avoid said race/tribe to come back. If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will country/territory. The character might allow the non-combatants to flee with food and tools unless the food is of humanoid origin. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

6) Will try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. If said individual is of lawful or from a non-evil non-chaotic alignment. The character will treat him as a member of the core race but with a bit of mistrust and suspicion. This individual will always be the first suspect in any problems he will be around.
7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means.

Here this character is leaning toward obeying laws, lieges and orders. This character is not about obeying all the time. In fact, if a superior gives an order contrary to the laws of the land, this character will go to a higher authority and report the guilty superior. View this character as the incorruptible agent. A good example is Judge Dread. The law is the law. Another is the samurai who will obey the Bushido code and if forced to do something against the bushido or the Daimo/Shogun, will turn ronin (but will still try to follow the Bushido) or commit seppuku.

The character will try to obey foreign land laws when he is in said lands but he will not do it at all cost. If a law goes against his beliefs or the beliefs of his country, it is entirely possible for him to ignore it completely. At the very least, if he is to stay in that country, he will try to make it change the offending law if it is within is power.

True Neutral
Toward the core races (this means “good and non-evil” races) but not limited to dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half elves.

1) Usually keep his word/oath.
2) May lie and cheat.
3) Rarely kill or harm an unarmed foe.
4) Never harm an innocent.
5) Might use torture.
6) Never kill for pleasure.
7) Usually help others.
8) Can work well within a group.
9) Respect authority and law but usually do so out of fear.
10) Never betray a friend.
11) May break the law if he feels he can get away with it. So he can steal and hide revenue from the tax collector.
12) Will not harm a child for any reason but might use physical punishment for bad behavior.
13) Might tolerate slavery if it is part of the laws of the land.

Against non-core races (or “evil” races).

1) Will not keep his word/oath.
2) Will let a foe that surrender leave in peace, especially if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life.
3) Will kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Will do a merciful killing. Sometimes, the most merciful thing is a quick death.
5) Might engage in ethnical/racial genocide if the events warrant such an act. The character will not do it out of pleasure but out of necessity and usually under strict orders by his liege during a time of war or invasion by a hostile tribe. Revenge might also be a reason for such a character to engage in such action. Atonement and clerical counseling might be in order as the character might be forced to deal with psychological consequences.

Here I must stress that doing such an act will never be out of pleasure but to avoid said race/tribe to come back. If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to chase them off the country/territory. The character will allow the non-combatants to flee with food and tools unless the food is of humanoid origin. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

6) Will probably not try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. Suspicion will be high even if said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment. This character will never treat him as a member of the core race and this individual will always be blamed for any wrong in the area.
7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means.

Chaotic Neutral
This character is about liberty, the fulfillment of personal pleasures and goals on short term basis (or long ones if the wisdom of the character is high enough).

Toward the core races (this means “good and non-evil” races) but not limited to dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, half elves.

1) May keep his word.
2) Will lie and cheat if he feels it necessary.
3) Unlikely to kill or harm an unarmed foe. But he will definitely take advantage on such a foe. A knock out or a good beat up might be in order, who knows?
4) Never kill an innocent but might harm or even kidnap for a ransom.
5) Never torture for pleasure but will do it to extract information.
6) Not likely kill for pleasure. But will do it for revenge or to avoid leaving witnesses.
7) Not likely to help others without ulterior motive (even if only to show-off).
8) Does not work well within a group. He does as he damn well please.
9) Do not respect authority, law, self-discipline or honor. These are foolish notions.
10) Might betray a friend if the gain is high enough (is one silver enough? How about a gold?).
11) Never follows the law unless conditions are desperate or he might get caught. This means theft, torture and unprovoked assault are all good unless it is dangerous to get caught. If witness to such acts, will try to blackmail the perpetrator if the act is minor or bring him to justice for a reward.
12) Will not harm a child but might take advantage of.
13) Will tolerate slavery. But not for himself.

Against non-core races (or “evil” races).
1) Will not keep his word/oath.
2) Not likely to let a foe that surrender leave in peace, even if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life. A good beat up will be done first.
3) Might kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Will do a merciful killing. Not out of mercy but simply to avoid having an enemy in his back.
5) Might engage in ethnical/racial genocide if the events warrant such an act. The character will not do it out of pleasure but out of necessity and usually because he feels he has no choice in that matter.

Here I must stress that doing such an act will never be out of pleasure but to avoid said race/tribe to come back. If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to chase them off the country/territory. The character will allow the non-combatants to flee but with nothing but the cloths on their back. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

6) Will not try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. He will even bully the poor sod if he can. He will put the blame on the person or even frame him for crimes he has committed himself. The individual will be a scape goat for this character. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, is of no matter to the character.

7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means.

Evil alignments
Evil alignments usually do not care which race you come from. However, they do respect their own race and usually put them slightly above the others.

Lawful Evil
1) Always keep his word of honor (the character is honorable)
2) Lie and cheat to those unworthy of his respect. Especially the chaotic aligned.
3) May, or may not kill an unarmed foe.
4) Will not kill (may harm, kidnap) an innocent.
5) Almost never kills for pleasure. This character generally needs a good reason to kill someone.
6) Will not resort to inhumane treatment of prisoner.
7) Will torture for information, never for pleasure.
8) May or may not help someone in need.
9) Work with other to attain his goals.
10) Respect honor and self-discipline.
11) Unlikely to betray a friend.
12) Expect unfailing loyalty from his underling and associates.
13) Will not harm a child but may take advantage of.
14) Will accept slavery as a natural part of society. Not likely to mistreat slave if they behave.

Against other races.

1) Will keep his word/oath.
2) Will let a foe that surrender leave in peace, especially if said foe offered either a ransom or vital (or not so vital) information in exchange for his life.
3) Will kill or harm an unarmed foe if said foe has natural weapons.
4) Will do a merciful killing. Not out of mercy but simply to avoid having an enemy in his back.
5) Will engage in ethnical/racial genocide if given the order. The character will not do it out of pleasure but out of necessity and usually because he feels he has no choice in that matter. Revenge might also be a reason to engage in such a behavior.

Here I must stress that doing such an act will never be out of pleasure but to avoid said race/tribe to come back. If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to chase them off the country/territory. The character will allow the non-combatants to flee but with nothing but the cloths on their back. If the non-combatants try to fight back, the character will use lethal force without restrain.

6) Will not try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. He will even bully the poor sod if he can. He will put the blame on the person or even frame him for crimes he has committed himself. The individual will be a scape goat for this character. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, is of no matter to the character.
7) Will not harm a child for any reason save self-defense. Even then, the character will try to use non-lethal means but will not restrict himself to non-lethal means if needed.

A warning on Lawful Evil. Lawful Evil outsiders and non-humanoids or very distant species (such as mind flayers) are a special case where they do not respect anything but their own race. The killing for pleasure can become a real thing with them (but would not do this to their own race).

Neutral Evil
1) Not necessarily keep his word to anyone.
2) Lie and cheat.
3) Most definitely attack an unarmed foe (those are the best!)
4) Use and harm innocents.
5) Use torture for pleasure and info.
6) May kill for pleasure.
7) Will not help without tangible reward.
8) Only work with others if it helps him attain his personal goal.
9) Kill an unarmed foe as readily as he would a potential threat or competitor.
10) Only work within the law if he must.
11) Do not respect authority of any kind.
12) Will betray a friend if it serves his needs.
13) Not likely to harm a child but will do it if provoked (might even kill).
14) Slavery is quite normal. Mistreating a slave is possible but not likely if the slave behave and knows its place.

Against other races.
1) Will not keep his word/oath.
2) Will not let a foe that surrender leave in peace.
3) Will kill or harm an unarmed foe.
4)Will engage in ethnical/racial genocide if given the order. The character can do it out of pleasure. Revenge might also be a reason to engage in such a behavior.

If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to slay everything in sight.

6) Will not try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. He will even bully the poor sod if he can. He will put the blame on the person or even frame him for crimes he has committed himself. The individual will be a scape goat for this character. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, is of no matter to the character.
7) Will harm a child especially in self-defense. The character will not hesitate lethal means.

Chaotic Evil
1) Rarely keep his word (if ever).
2) Lie and cheat.
3) Most definitely attack and kill an unarmed foe.
4) Use, hurt and kill innocents without a second thought for information or for pleasure.
5) Use torture for pleasure and info.
6) Will kill for pleasure.
7) Will not help without tangible reward. Even then, the character is likely to rob or kill the person asking for help.
8) Has a lot of trouble working with others even if it helps him attain his personal goal.
9) Despise honor, authority and self-discipline.
10) Will betray a friend. (You can always find more of these.)
11) Not likely to harm a child but will do it if provoked (might even kill).
12) Will only work with other under a strong leader and only if afraid of said leader. The character will try to overthrow the leader at the first good opportunity.
13) Slavery is quite normal. Highly likely to mistreat slaves as you can always find more.

Against other races.
1) Will not keep his word/oath.
2) Will not let a foe that surrender leave in peace.
3) Will kill or harm an unarmed foe.
4)Will engage in ethnical/racial genocide even if not given the order. The character wil do it out of pleasure. Revenge might also be a reason to engage in such a behavior.

If non-combatants are involved, the preferred method will be to slay everything in sight.

6) Will not try to give a fair chance to a lone individual to prove his worth/usefulness. He will even bully the poor sod if he can. He will put the blame on the person or even frame him for crimes he has committed himself. The individual will be a scape goat for this character. If said individual is of good (or at least from a non-evil) alignment, is of no matter to the character.
7) Will harm a child especially in self-defense. The character will not hesitate lethal means.

I hope it might be useful.
 

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My typical characters wouldn’t be any of those alignments. I usually label them as N as I don’t think of them as slaves to any cause. Words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ don’t work.
These are simple guidelines to help a new players understand the basics about alignment. Not an all encompassing absolute truth. But if you really think about it. I am sure that your character will fall into one of these almost perfectly.

Of course as a player gets more and more experienced, he will either stray from the norm or find new grounds to play said alignment that the DM will find adequate too. Again these guidelines are for the new players that have some trouble grasping some aspects of alignments.
 


My own home rules use allegiance with aligment, and spells and other powers can hurt enemies with same aligment but different allegiance (religion, race, country, clan, brotherhood, family..) for example an orc shaman vs a drow cleric.

In my games chaotic means to be very attuned to primal or nature forces, or breaking rules not linked your allegiance. For example Sun Wukong, the famous monkey king from Chinese folklore is disciplined as a monk, but too famous because he doesn't obey authority too much.

Caothic Good would be obeying the Natural Law, no hurt innocent people, and closer minarchism than anarchy. Their point of view is the good people do the right actions by own will, and the law was created by the sinners, not for who has a just heart.
 

Read carefully. The good will not engage in these unless dire circumstances calls for it. Good characters will not do it by themselves without the support of their liege. In addition, moral and psychological support will be needed. The good characters will try to let the non combatants go away as much as possible. Whatever the order given by the liege. Only evil characters will engage in such a behavior without any moral qualms. Think of it as modern soldiers. They will obey but they might get psychological problems. Think about Vietnam. Quite a few LG soldiers were part of napalming villages known to harbor vietcong sympatizers and they were in need of psychological aid. But they obeyed nonetheless.

2nd. Again shades of grey. If orcs are part of the good race in your campaign, then no good characters will ever do a genocide. Ever. Not even the neutral ones. The genocide we talk about here is the orc hordes we see in the Lord of the rings. These are desctructives and wholly evil creatures that will destroy/kill everything in sight (and even hidden if they can find it) without a second thought and even pleasure. A genocide against these will be seen as necessary, but distasteful. It becomes a matter of survival.

3rd
Do not apply modern morality to a medieval setting. Role play it with the mind set that is probably there and you will start to see things as they might have seen it. The crusades were about liberating Jerusalem but atrocities were committed. Entire villages were totally decimated. This was a small case genocide. Just like in my examples above.
 

My own home rules use allegiance with aligment, and spells and other powers can hurt enemies with same aligment but different allegiance (religion, race, country, clan, brotherhood, family..) for example an orc shaman vs a drow cleric.

In my games chaotic means to be very attuned to primal or nature forces, or breaking rules not linked your allegiance. For example Sun Wukong, the famous monkey king from Chinese folklore is disciplined as a monk, but too famous because he doesn't obey authority too much.

Caothic Good would be obeying the Natural Law, no hurt innocent people, and closer minarchism than anarchy. Their point of view is the good people do the right actions by own will, and the law was created by the sinners, not for who has a just heart.
It is a nice House rule.
Mine is meant to stay as close as possible to the original alignment of AD&D. It is far from perfect, but it is meant to help new players to understands how the alignment system works out.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
This is quite extensive but still feels to me like something is missing, or at least there's too much focus on "don'ts" and not enough on "do's".

Outlining each alignment separately makes it very clear for a player who has more or less already chosen for her PC, but the downside is that it's very long to read all of it for someone who hasn't. I would have liked this stuff when I was a beginner, but I can imagine others not really wanting to read all of this. The alternative option is to separately present good-evil and law-chaos, and let people figure out the intersection.

Putting together these 2 concerns of mine, I would especially focus on what Good characters DO. That's because IMHO most players really downplay good PCs. They just assume that being the protagonist of the story equals being good, but besides not doing anything particularly evil they also never do anything particularly good, i.e. they just play whatever is convenient or "clever". I would want more focus on good being roleplayed using real-life models of people who were truly considered examples of virtue, like evil is often roleplayed using models of villains from reality or fiction (the problem being, protagonists in fiction aren't usually particularly good).

Small example here: when buying or selling stuff, players will always look at maximizing their gain or minimize their loss. That's neither good nor evil, but players assume it's good because it's not evil. How about a character who considers the needs of the other person when buying or selling, discounting a sale or offering more than necessary because they actually care for others more than themselves?

This kind of idea never really passes through the minds of players because, sorry to say this, they think giving up something to benefit others is stupid, but that's what most of moral systems define as being good.
 

This is quite extensive but still feels to me like something is missing, or at least there's too much focus on "don'ts" and not enough on "do's".

You are perfectly right. I would not offer this list to an experienced player/DM. For a novice it is quite appreciated. On the other hand, I feel that most people know what a good person do but are not sure what it won't do.

Outlining each alignment separately makes it very clear for a player who has more or less already chosen for her PC, but the downside is that it's very long to read all of it for someone who hasn't. I would have liked this stuff when I was a beginner, but I can imagine others not really wanting to read all of this. The alternative option is to separately present good-evil and law-chaos, and let people figure out the intersection.

That is why I usually ask new players what kind of character they want to play morally. This way, I can give some advice and give only the alignment that really interest the player.

Putting together these 2 concerns of mine, I would especially focus on what Good characters DO. That's because IMHO most players really downplay good PCs. would want more focus on good being roleplayed using real-life models of people who were truly considered examples of virtue, like evil is often roleplayed using models of villains from reality or fiction (the problem being, protagonists in fiction aren't usually particularly good).

Did you read the Sword of Truth from Terry Goodkind? Richard Rhal is exactly the fictional character you describe. But I do not think people wants to play saints. And with all these shades of gray we have in our society, people prefer morally ambiguous character. Good, but ready to do what is necessary.

Small example here: when buying or selling stuff, players will always look at maximizing their gain or minimize their loss. That's neither good nor evil, but players assume it's good because it's not evil. How about a character who considers the needs of the other person when buying or selling, discounting a sale or offering more than necessary because they actually care for others more than themselves?

This kind of idea never really passes through the minds of players because, sorry to say this, they think giving up something to benefit others is stupid, but that's what most of moral systems define as being good.
Fully agree there. It takes rare players to do such a thing. Unless of course a DM encourage such acts with a mechanical fiat to reward such play.
 

Read carefully. The good will not engage in these unless dire circumstances calls for it. Good characters will not do it by themselves without the support of their liege.

The Nuremberg defence hey?

In my games, only evil people engage in genocide and torture. Plenty of those people think they're good people, or doing it for a good reason, or a greater good.

Like in real life.

Do not apply modern morality to a medieval setting.

Has genocide murder and torture become 'more evil' since the middle ages or something?

I'm sorry mate, but I wont play in a game that defines genocide, murder, rape or torture as being within the realms of morally good, no matter what setting or genre you're aiming for.

If lawful good Paladins are tossing screaming Orc children into a flaming pyre, you can count me out.

None of those things are morally good. None of those things ever have been morally good. None of those things ever will be morally good. None of those things even resemble morally good. They are the exact opposite of morally good.
 

In any game where [morally good] = [engage in genocide/ torture] you can count me out.
Genocide here should be read as eradicating the beach head of an invading horde of enemies down to the last member.

As for torture, you might refer to the Chaotic Good. This would be a last resort to get the information needed (Where is the bomb? Where did you imprisoned the young girl? Quick before she dies or you will die too. That kind of stuff.)
 

You are perfectly right. I would not offer this list to an experienced player/DM. For a novice it is quite appreciated. On the other hand, I feel that most people know what a good person do but are not sure what it won't do.



That is why I usually ask new players what kind of character they want to play morally. This way, I can give some advice and give only the alignment that really interest the player.

I do the exact same thing, but [good] = compassion, mercy, altruism, kindness and self sacrifice. [Evil] = harming, killing and oppressing others.

The only time a good person takes a life is in self defence or the defence of others, using proportionate force, and when no other option reasonably presents itself.

Evil people take lives out of convenience, for a greater purpose than themselves, profit or indifference to the suffering of others.

How we all understand 'evil' and 'good' when we use those terms.

Genocide is evil. Rape is evil. Murder is evil. Slavery is evil. Torture is evil.

It's not hard.
 

Genocide here should be read as eradicating the beach head of an invading horde of enemies down to the last member.

No, that's fighting a war of defence against an invading force. Warfare is not Genocide.

That said, if you take a 'take no prisoners' approach to warfare, and keep killing once there is no longer any need (the Orcs in the beach head surrender), then you're evil.

If you accept that surrender, and treat those prisoners with kindness, mercy and compassion, you're good.

As for torture, you might refer to the Chaotic Good. This would be a last resort to get the information needed (Where is the bomb? Where did you imprisoned the young girl? Quick before she dies or you will die too. That kind of stuff.)

No, that's not Chaotic good.

Chaotic good people (Anakin Skywalker, Ashoka Tano, Robin Hood etc) dont engage in torture. Torture is evil. Your perspective on family, honor and tradition (your Law-Chaos spectrum) dont enter into whether you're evil or not. The Chaotic element of your alignment doesnt give you a green light to engage in evil, or override the good element of your alignment.

Anakin may have force choked a few prisoners on his way to becoming (CE) Darth Vader but you tended to hear the imperial march playing in the background when he did so signifying his descent into evil.
 

I do the exact same thing, but [good] = compassion, mercy, altruism, kindness and self sacrifice. [Evil] = harming, killing and oppressing others.

The only time a good person takes a life is in self defence or the defence of others, using proportionate force, and when no other option reasonably presents itself.

Evil people take lives out of convenience, for a greater purpose than themselves, profit or indifference to the suffering of others.

How we all understand 'evil' and 'good' when we use those terms.

Genocide is evil. Rape is evil. Murder is evil. Slavery is evil. Torture is evil.

It's not hard.
By today's standard you are absolutely right. By medieval standard you are a fool.

We live, I hope, in an enlightened society where all these horrible thing are reprehensible. But in medieval times, it was not so. How many innocent women were killed for witch craft? How many people were enslaved because of the color of their skin or simply could not pay a debt? How many were tortured for their seditious ideas? How many atrocities were committed in various wars? And yet, many of these acts were done in the name of good.

Again, do not apply our modern vision of morality. It is simply too advanced and enlightened.
 

By today's standard you are absolutely right. By medieval standard you are a fool.

Is what an evil and the occasional neutral person would say.

If you want to play in a game where genocide, rape and murder are accepted and commonplace, then a lot of people are evil, if not pretty much everyone.

Like if you were running a campaign in Menzoberanzan for example.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I do not think people wants to play saints. And with all these shades of gray we have in our society, people prefer morally ambiguous character. Good, but ready to do what is necessary.

Well first of all I would certainly not want my players to see alignment as a cage. So if they choose Good, I certainly wouldn't tell them "you can't do that" or "you must do this instead" the first time they do something less than virtuous. I think alignment is supposed to provide an AID for playing your PC but in general first comes the PC and then the alignment as a result of her behaviour.

So a "saint" as someone who never strays from perfection is obviously not something I would ever expect or even necessarily like, but I would say that at least the Good characters should WISH they were able to always do the right thing, and feel at least a bit guilty when they don't.

There is nothing wrong wanting to roleplay a morally ambiguous character, just don't call it Good in my games.

Also "what's necessary" is kind of the crux of the alignment matter. It sounds a bit too much like "the ends justify the means" which is the major dealbreaker in at least some of the most widespread moral/religious systems (which we are not supposed to talk about in this forum). I think the choice of "means" is something that can be used pretty much to highlight the difference between G and E on the alignment spectrum.
 

But I do not think people wants to play saints. And with all these shades of gray we have in our society, people prefer morally ambiguous character. Good, but ready to do what is necessary.

And they can play those characters. Just with the evil alignment they deserve.

'MY PC fights for the greater good; he's a oving family man, but on the orders of his king, he will engage in torture, murder and worse for the greater good.

He's evil.
 

No, that's fighting a war of defence against an invading force. Warfare is not Genocide.

That said, if you take a 'take no prisoners' approach to warfare, and keep killing once there is no longer any need (the Orcs in the beach head surrender), then you're evil.

Some people have comited genocide against whole villages. Warfare can be genocide. So says the UN if you insist on putting modern morality in a medieval setting.

If you accept that surrender, and treat those prisoners with kindness, mercy and compassion, you're good.
Fully agree. Read the alignment, the good characters will do it.


No, that's not Chaotic good.

Chaotic good people (Anakin Skywalker, Ashoka Tano, Robin Hood etc) dont engage in torture. Torture is evil. Your perspective on family, honor and tradition (your Law-Chaos spectrum) dont enter into whether you're evil or not. The Chaotic element of your alignment doesnt give you a green light to engage in evil, or override the good element of your alignment.

Anakin may have force choked a few prisoners on his way to becoming (CE) Darth Vader but you tended to hear the imperial march playing in the background when he did so signifying his descent into evil.
Yep it is. Again, read. A last resort. If my daughter were the one about to die and I wanted info on where she is from the kidnapper I would do it in a pinch. Sometimes a person will act out of character for dire reasons. Living with the consequences is an other matter entirely.
 

And they can play those characters. Just with the evil alignment they deserve.

'MY PC fights for the greater good; he's a oving family man, but on the orders of his king, he will engage in torture, murder and worse for the greater good.

He's evil.
Sure. Lawful Neutral. Or Lawful Evil. Not Lawful Good.
 

Some people have comited genocide against whole villages. Warfare can be genocide. So says the UN if you insist on putting modern morality in a medieval setting.


Well yeah; if people ride into a village and slaughter everyone in there, they're evil.

That's why Drow and Orcs are evil. They torture, murder, rape and engage in genocide.

Yep it is.

No, it isnt.

If I was reading a story where Ashoka Tahno or Robin hood or Jessica Jones or Han Solo or some other unconventional jaded rascal [with a heart of gold] started cutting off a prisoners fingers for information, id think 'naughty word; THAT was out of character'. It would be a huge disconnect to say the least.

Torture is not a morally good thing to do. A good person doesnt torture, and finds another way to get the information.

If you're playing a CG PC and you resort to torture, you're just being too lazy to find the information elsewhere and a naughty word roleplayer.
 

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