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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.
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.

Ah, yes, drag out the corpse of that strawman. The only people who "don't agree on alignment" seem to be those that don't like it. There have been hundreds of posts and while there are minor differences, most people are in the same ballpark. Which, considering how it's just a general descriptor of moral compass is close enough.

Then again, it does not matter. As a DM if my definition is a little different from someone else's who cares? As long as I'm consistent, it helps me. It's not a straightjacket, I don't know or care what my player's PCs alignments are and that has not been part of D&D for a long time.
 

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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yesterday, I purchased the Hell’s Rebels player guide for Pathfinder. It is a player guide for creating player characters for the Hell’s Rebels Adventure Path, which involves rebelling against the oppressive tyranny of the Chelish Empire. I have a lot of respect for Paizo staff and the idea for the AP is an excellent one, but the way the book treats alignment reinforces the stereotypes that in my opinion, make alignment more of a liabilty than a benefit as a rule. And these are professional writers, who clearly love tabletop games and the setting.

Now, Pathfinder is not 5e, but the interpretation of alignment in the book isn’t that different from the opinions I’ve seen in this thread and in similar threads.

For instance, it was suggested that playing a lawful character might be a challenge for the AP because the goal of the AP was rebelling against an evil tyranny of LE devil worshippers. As an example of the tyranny, the devils had outlawed many religions. Oddly, they did not outlaw the worship of Iomedae, Lawful Good goddess of valor, justice and honour. (Seems like the sort of goddess who who be opposed to devil-worshippers).

Overall, the effect is to reinforce a rather skewed cartoonish take of Good, Evil, Lawful and Chaotic.
I don't know about Pathfinder 2e, but Pathfinder 1e had alignment mechanics. The mechanics are where alignment goes wrong, and those haven't really been in D&D since 3e.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I just find it interesting that people who dislike alignment come with specific examples of alignment horror stories, misinterpretations, etc., and the response is always a vague “yeah, well, that could hypothetically happen under TBIF” or “you know, that was a bad player/DM, not slignment’s fault”.

Your point? Getting rid of alignment is not going to suddenly change immature, asinine players.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
I try not to get TOO involved into arguments about whether specific individusls or traits are a particular alignment, but to me, this is a good example of how alignment leads people to oversimplify.

Someone who is very lawful under certain measures and very chaotic under others does not “average out” to neutral. They just have several axes that are relevant to understand them, and forcing them into a single box leads to less interesting characters (PCs snd NPCs).
I consider alignment "averaging out", thus which way a creature is likely to lean, to be a useful indicator for encounter behavior.

The difference between Good-versus-Evil and Law-versus-Chaos, is nonsymmetric.

I basically view the Good-Evil axis as something like, Evil requiring effort to do Good. The efforts are both collective and individual.

But the Law-Chaos gravitates towards Neutral. Extreme examples of either Law or Chaos are rare and less human.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I think that alignment as a DM tool and as a PC tool raises different issues. For instance, several people have an issue with describing a sentient race with a CE alignment (such as orcs), and I recognize that this is not an issue for PCs.
Which is why the 3e alignment for monsters should be brought back. No humanoid race in 3e was every always anything.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Even so, overwhelmingly Vader and the Empire are lawful and orderly in both their goals and actions. Their personal relationship doesn't alter that. Both lay careful plans and follow them. Both show loyalty to those who serve well. Both work within the rules for the most part to accomplish their goals.
Your argument about their alignment has merit.

This demonstrates how alignment itself is meaningful.

I am less certain how "loyal" Vader is, but whether he is or not is an example of him being Lawful or not.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I don't know about Pathfinder 2e, but Pathfinder 1e had alignment mechanics. The mechanics are where alignment goes wrong, and those haven't really been in D&D since 3e.
I feel alignment can only be useful if it is descriptive. It becomes problematic the moment it tries to be prescriptive. Mechanics seems to make alignment prescriptive, thus fails.

Alignment is like a dictionary. A dictionary is only useful if it describes how people are actually speaking the language. The moment a dictionary starts to prescribe how people are supposed to speak the language, it begins to lose touch with the actual language.

So if the player of a Paladin does things that seem moreorless Lawful Good, then great. But the moment the mechanics start forcing the player to be Lawful Good, via punishments and rewards, the behavior starts to become cookie-cutter and problematic.

In short, "mechanics are where alignment goes wrong".
 

But why cannot you just say the bolded part? What did you need the alignment for? And if you already didn't know this character, you wouldn't conclude it from Neutral Evil. Or you might, but you might as well conclude something completely different. So I really don't understand what the alignment is actually telling us here, what additional value are we getting from it.
Because reading is hard.

I'm a busy man and despite that fact that I have time to volunteer to run a D&D game, I don't have time to read one or two sentences.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Yeah, but I'd argue that Orcus is the face of demonic evil in D&D.
I'd say Demogorgon. He's a big insane two headed monkey that litterally fights itself and no one out of tentacle reach listens to because he's chaotic.

Orcus is more active but he uses too many undead forces to really be the face of demons. Orcus is also less chaotic than Crazy Double Mandrill Demon.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think alignment is a more useful DM tool than PC tool. Maybe that's where the biggest divide is?
In some cases the alignment I put on my PC's sheet is helpful, it makes me think outside of my own natural inclinations. But it's just one part of the picture and not even usually the defining one.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'd say Demogorgon. He's a big insane two headed monkey that litterally fights itself and no one out of tentacle reach listens to because he's chaotic.

Orcus is more active but he uses too many undead forces to really be the face of demons. Orcus is also less chaotic than Crazy Double Mandrill Demon.
When I say the face of demons, I'm talking about the most well known to the players, not the most quintessential demonlike demon. Between the wand and all the fight Orcus adventures, I think he's #1. Demogorgon is probably number 2 there, even those he's more "demonlike." But then demons have infinite variation, so...
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
He says a lot of what has been argued here in the thread on this site. I'm not sure about baby orcs specifically, but he says here that a paladin can forcibly convert a captured evil creature and then kill it before it can backslide, as an example of a LG act.

Then I would say it's a good thing that he's no longer the driving force behind D&D. He had some ideas that I disagree with.
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
What Gygax described there was something actual medieval crusaders would absolutely do. I just would never describe such people as 'good.'
Yep. I agree. His alignment views seem to be his interpretation of medieval values, rather than his own. Still, I play the game by modern values and so has everyone I've ever played the game with, so I reject his alignment advice. At least the book didn't give that same advice, which allows modern interpretation to be RAW.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
If so, it kind of sounds like he thought "I was only following orders" was a legitimate excuse.
If one is in a lawful hierarchy, then following orders is somewhere between a thing and the thing, isn't it?

As I allude to later in that post, I think that some of the groups he would have like to label lawful good (maybe so that the analogs of some "points of light" in history didn't need to be labeled evil, or maybe they were antecedents of his own country or religion) had done thing like that.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Yesterday, I purchased the Hell’s Rebels player guide for Pathfinder. It is a player guide for creating player characters for the Hell’s Rebels Adventure Path, which involves rebelling against the oppressive tyranny of the Chelish Empire. I have a lot of respect for Paizo staff and the idea for the AP is an excellent one, but the way the book treats alignment reinforces the stereotypes that in my opinion, make alignment more of a liabilty than a benefit as a rule. And these are professional writers, who clearly love tabletop games and the setting.

Now, Pathfinder is not 5e, but the interpretation of alignment in the book isn’t that different from the opinions I’ve seen in this thread and in similar threads.

For instance, it was suggested that playing a lawful character might be a challenge for the AP because the goal of the AP was rebelling against an evil tyranny of LE devil worshippers. As an example of the tyranny, the devils had outlawed many religions. Oddly, they did not outlaw the worship of Iomedae, Lawful Good goddess of valor, justice and honour. (Seems like the sort of goddess who who be opposed to devil-worshippers).

Overall, the effect is to reinforce a rather skewed cartoonish take of Good, Evil, Lawful and Chaotic.

Then that's an issue you should discuss with whoever wrote that. If you took out alignment would anything really change? Other than stating that some people that prefer peace and order may have a problem with some aspects?

I have no idea what they're thinking about the worship they still allow. However, tearing down existing institutions can sometimes lead to greater suffering than living under an evil regime if there is no transition plan. But this is just one example and not even a D&D module.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Then that's an issue you should discuss with whoever wrote that. If you took out alignment would anything really change? Other than stating that some people that prefer peace and order may have a problem with some aspects?

I have no idea what they're thinking about the worship they still allow. However, tearing down existing institutions can sometimes lead to greater suffering than living under an evil regime if there is no transition plan. But this is just one example and not even a D&D module.

In the 1e to 3.5/PF set up of alignment, aren't LG and CE equally far from LE, with the CE more likely to cause unpredictable trouble?
 

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