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D&D General The Problem with Evil or what if we don't use alignments?

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
How? What does alignment tell you about those monsters that those paragraphs don't?
For the umpteenth time, it gives me a little more indication of how they think, view the world and are likely to react. As it says in the MM "A monster’s alignment provides a clue to its disposition and how it behaves in a roleplaying or combat situation."

But that's also dodging a simple question. Take alignment out. The monster's fluff I quoted still makes them evil. How does it change anything other than taking away an additional piece of info that helps people know more about the monster at a glance?
 

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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It's kinda the chicken or the egg situation*. Does those descriptions exist because the creatures are defined by alignment as evil or are they classified as evil because their description implies it? But yeah, some of those descriptions need to change too, no question about it. In any case, once the alignment is gone, it gives more freedom to describing the creatures. When the creatures aren't married to one specific alignment you can write their descriptions differently.

(* Which actually is a stupid metaphor, the egg was first, there is no ambiguity about this.)
It's a game that largely revolves around combat. We're always going to have monsters to fight.

Why bother having hundreds of monsters if they're all just cosplaying humans that come over to play parcheesi on Friday nights?
 

There have been various widely used religious books over the millennia that have several examples of divinely sanctioned, or divinely carried out, mass child killing. The books and those who believe(d) them presumably wouldn't classify those incidents as murder though.
Right. Which actually ties to the earlier discussion about 'evil' priest of 'good' deities. In real mythologies and history deities which people thought as 'good' and their devout worshippers constantly do all sort of super morally questionable stuff. Bringing alignment into this just confuses things; forget about it! Deities and religions have beliefs and do stuff according to those. These things may be beneficial to some, harmful to others and whether that is good or evil is in the eye of the beholder.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Can someone please explain why removing alignment is going to change anything when we have descriptive text in the MM that has a description for an entry that has:
"savage raiders and pillagers ... [take] particular joy in slaughtering elves ... satisfy their bloodlust by plundering villages, devouring or driving off roaming herds, and slaying any humanoids that stand against them"
Or take a look at another random monster entry:
"... the scourge of sentient creatures across countless worlds. Psionic tyrants, slavers, and interdimensional voyagers, they are insidious masterminds that harvest entire races for their own twisted ends. Four tentacles snake from their octopus-like heads, flexing in hungry anticipation when sentient creatures come near."

A rose by any other name is still evil. I just know that the former monster is CE and the latter is LE in addition to all the fluff text. Alignment gives me a little more depth and understanding I wouldn't otherwise have.

Of course, again, these are just the defaults which should be made clearer. But if you aren't using the default, in most campaigns exactly how they're implementing will vary from one setting to the next.
It doesn't. Alignment is just the convenient scapegoat, not the cause of any of it.
 

The issue is that that trying to summarise things that way erases insane amount of nuance and complexity, and I don't think that is a good thing. Perhaps that mafioso who runs a well-oiled criminal network is also an impulsive and quirky? The alignment utterly fails at describing any sort of nuanced character with contradicting traits.
Like Sonny Corleone.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It's kinda the chicken or the egg situation*. Does those descriptions exist because the creatures are defined by alignment as evil or are they classified as evil because their description implies it? But yeah, some of those descriptions need to change too, no question about it. In any case, once the alignment is gone, it gives more freedom to describing the creatures. When the creatures aren't married to one specific alignment you can write their descriptions differently.

(* Which actually is a stupid metaphor, the egg was first, there is no ambiguity about this.)
It's not chicken and egg at all, really. Without alignment the author still has to sit down and envision what the race is like and then write it out. You'll still end up with that sort of language.
 

It's a game that largely revolves around combat. We're always going to have monsters to fight.
Sure. And and countless other RPGs, books, movies etc. somehow manage to have this without alignment.

Why bother having hundreds of monsters if they're all just cosplaying humans that come over to play parcheesi on Friday nights?
They don't need to be humans. Them not having silly cartoon alignments does not make them humans. When you get rid of alignment you can actually start to think about proper xenofiction, give the creatures drives, instincts behaviours and beliefs. Some of those might bring them into conflict with other creatures such as humans. That's fine.
 

For the umpteenth time, it gives me a little more indication of how they think, view the world and are likely to react. As it says in the MM "A monster’s alignment provides a clue to its disposition and how it behaves in a roleplaying or combat situation."
Again how? What does being lawful evil tell you that that description of a lawful evil monster did not? Because I can not think of a single thing.
But that's also dodging a simple question. Take alignment out. The monster's fluff I quoted still makes them evil. How does it change anything other than taking away an additional piece of info that helps people know more about the monster at a glance?
What taking the alignment out does is prevents pidgeonholing monsters. If all monsters must fit in the nine types then you're going to flanderize to those nine types.

There are multiple ways of being evil. There are even multiple ways of being lawful evil.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Sure. And and countless other RPGs, books, movies etc. somehow manage to have this without alignment.
Books and movies are irrelevant, being scripted stories. RPGs are not very relevant, because even if they CAN get by without it, that's not proof that alignment isn't better. I find alignment to be far better than the other systems that I've run. As a DM I find it to be invaluable. As a player not so much.
 

I go by the 4e approach. Devils want power and want to be the ones on top. Demons want to watch the world burn, either to enjoy the fire or because they are creatures of flame and want to make the world theirs and uninhabitable for its current occupants. The succubus was moved in 4e from demon to devil because they are about control and corruption. A stereotypical demon would be a Maw Beast - a walking hungry thing.
The classic demon queen is Lloth, who is of course, more about vengeance, power and control rather than burning down the world.
 




Have you never heard about a bad or obnoxious commander getting killed "accidentally" by a lost bullet from his own company/unit? It did happen, does happen and will continue to happen. This why the military investigate any officer's death when it is possible. Because such things happen in real life combat. Is it so hard to believe that demons, the epitome of chaos and evil can do it?

And as was so often said:" Evil feeds upon itself."
That seems to be an eminently devilish way of advancing through the Nine Hells: i.e. I won’t stab you in the back for no reason, but will absolutely do so to get ahead.

So this isn’t a LE v. CE thing.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
For sapient beings, like Drow, I am glad the alignment is gone.

But I still feel an institution can have an alignment. For example, the Drow of the Uda culture generally apply the principles of Lolth. (I view Lolth to be Neutral Evil, since there is too much collectivism to be strictly Chaotic.) But everyone who adheres to or consents to Lolth tends to behave in Evil ways during an encounter.

So, the Monster Manual could still mention Uda culture as Evil, despite the Drow lacking an inherent alignment.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
For sapient beings, like Drow, I am glad the alignment is gone.

But I still feel an institution can have an alignment. For example, the Drow of the Uda culture generally apply the principles of Lolth. (I view Lolth to be Neutral Evil, since there is too collectivism to be strictly Chaotic.) But everyone who adheres to or consents to Lolth tends to behave in Evil ways during an encounter.

So, the Monster Manual could still mention Uda culture as Evil, despite the Drow lacking an inherent alignment.
Which is how 3e did Drow alignment. Drow were usually NE, another change from prior editions to differentiate 3e I suppose. The important part there, though, is the "usually." "Usually" just means more than 50%, so you could have almost half the Drow race be of other alignments, including good.
 

I wouldn't be able to speak for people in camp 1 - but camp 2 is "Alignment causes far greater problems than it provides benefits". This is not rebutted by saying that it works perfectly at some tables any more than than "nine out of ten of this line of cars don't explode in the first year" is an argument against a product recall.
I would go even further. I get that people that have no use for alignment have alignment horror stories, but even people who seem to like alignment can’t seem to agree on how it applies. (The last thread had a big disagrement between proponents as to whether Original Trilogy Darth Vader was LE or CE).

To me, it undercuts the argument that horror stories are the consequence of playing alignment wrong, when even those who play it “right” disagree.
 

The problem is humaniods.
Alignment works for elementals, outsiders, beasts, and plants. They have weird minds, run on base or programmed instincts, and might not even have free will.

But for free willed, thinking, humaniods, having full races being all or even mostly one alignment make little sense unless the DM is a skilled worldbuilder.

And most DMs are not skilled worldbuilders.
I would even exclude it for most beasts and plants. They don’t have an alignment, they just ARE.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Which is how 3e did Drow alignment. Drow were usually NE, another change from prior editions to differentiate 3e I suppose. The important part there, though, is the "usually." "Usually" just means more than 50%, so you could have almost half the Drow race be of other alignments, including good.
That "usually" is a step in the correct direction, but I still like having the implication of Evil tendency gone from the Drow.

On the other hand, when statting up a unique individual or a unique institution, alignment is appropriate. The alignment is an average for the behavior so far and-or the goals.



I remember NE being discussed for Lolth and her Drow culture, but I dont remember anything official. Officially, Lolth is a "demon" and therefore must be CE whether she actually is or not. (It is one of the difficulties that I have with the Wheel generally.)
 

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