Why Did They Get Rid of the Law & Chaos Alignment?

Kingreaper

Adventurer
Change that.. to
CN/CE = Drug Pusher... hey the enable people to kill themselves not there fault right? see how its an incredibly subtle line.

Selfishness if a fundamental instinct it only becomes wrong in extremity.
NG/LG/LN/N/LE/NE= cop
(hell, I'm sure there are chaotic cops too)


A job doesn't often tell you someones good-evil alignment. It may give an indication of their chaos-law alignment, but even then, not necessarily. There are plenty of CG drug dealers (not pushers; the "pusher" term is a term that makes it clear that specific one is on the evil side of things). Neutral ones too.

CN and CE are just as easy to tell about as CE and NE, or NE and LE, or LE and LN, or LN and LG.

The fact they removed some of the options but not others just doesn't make sense.
 

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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The fact they removed some of the options but not others just doesn't make sense.

The lack of symmetry bothers me a bit.

Dont use any of them in my play...so
I dont care much other things that give
better description of motives are more
important and I am willing to allocate
more energy and character sheet space
to.

In a thread we were discussing how to build a locksmith in 4e ... I pointed out that it was more important (than knowing his combat stats) to know that Joes daughter was a war waif he adopted and that he had a rivalry with his cousin across town and that he would feel insulted if anyone doubted his locks... but that he was quick to forgive that kind of insult.

Basically Allignment failed to encourage thinking about interesting motivations in characters
 

the Jester

Legend
I've been playing dnd for over 25 years, and I love every change in 4th edition, except for getting rid of the Lawful & Chaos alignments. It's no biggy, I simply still use them. But why the change?

In my campaign, there are now no Law & Chaos alignments because Chaos won the Great War of Ethics between them.That said...

I think that 4e has significantly redefined "Lawful Good" and "Chaotic Evil". Earlier editions' LG and CE are very different from 4e's (imho).

Before, LG meant that one honored authority and tradition, did what was best for the greatest number, etc.

Now LG is "anything for civilization!"

Before, CE meant that one had no respect for the rights of others, took what one wanted when one wanted, ignored the consequences that one's actions caused others, etc.

Now CE is "tear it all down!"

IMHO an old-school LG character could fall under LG, G or U in 4e. Conversely, I think a 4e LG character "back translated" could come out LG, LN, NG or even LE.

IMHO an old-school CE character could fall under CE, E or U in 4e. Conversely, I think a 4e CE character "back translated" could come out as CE, NE or CN, with a very slight chance of N, in older editions.
 

CovertOps

First Post
Alignment is like a crutch. When you don't know what your character would do in a certain circumstance you fall back to "What's my alignment?" The fact of the matter is that any given person is more complicated than that. We all have beliefs, agendas, priorities, friends, morals and many other things in our lives that come into conflict frequently and there is no simple formula (alignment) that will determine how we respond to any given set of circumstances. Suggesting that either the 4e model or previous versions models is somehow better completely misses the point. I think we can all agree that the best thing 4e did was remove the game mechanics involving alignment. When it comes right down to it I'd say about 80% of people fall into the 4e "Unaligned" category. Most people simply aren't far enough out to the edge of the spectrum to justify one of the other alignments.
 

Journeymanmage

First Post
Alignment is merely a moral structural tool for players (including dm) in a game of imagined fantasy.
...

Exactly. The alignment system is/was a tool for players to get into role-playing when role-playing games were "new". (basic dnd, 1st ed., TMNT, Robotech, etc.) It helped someone stay 'in character'.

To borrow from Ares:
I think I understand the confusion a bit better now. I believe this arises because of a a fundamental misunderstanding of what the chaotic alignment means for a character.

The issue people have of alignment, can be expanded from that statement.

Differences in opinion of what makes X or Y part of an alignment or what action M or N would cause you to be outside of that alignment ... or even what are the repercussions for doing A or B.

1. Are the alignments Absolutes or Situational.
Absolute: Stealing is never right.
Situational: Stealing isn't right, but if the need is great it's not wrong. (Your family is starving to death).

2. Add in the different opinions of what the repercussions of those actions should be .... What is a "fair"?

3. Add in that people forget that > 1 < action should not necessarily define a person/character.

4. Add in genre. Four-color comics (Superman is always the (LG) Hero), Dark/Gritty (Batman is The "Good-guy" in a very bad/broken world), ... Marvel Universe: Kind of "realistic" + supers (Legality of secret identities, mutant registration, privacy issues).

Do all the people playing a specific campaign agree with all of points? Do all the players know about all the points?

The web-comic "Order of the Stick", Roy is considered (in that universe) to be LG. The powers that be say, >Hey not all your actions are what we want to see, but you try to the best of your 'limited' abilities" and most importantly you try<

From comments/opinions on various forums, some of the acts Roy takes could push the character into almost any category Good, Chaotic Good ... (some strict ones would say) "not good" (hey he bailed on a team-mate and blah blah blah).

Or take the "Paladin" in the background/sub-plot in the Goblins web-comic >If you are evil or associate with evil or even know what evil is ... I will kill you in a harsh and brutal manner ...< It's that type of "Paladin" that creates one of the reasons people don't like alignment systems. He follows an Absolute view and a very broken Absolute (imo).

Or we have the "looking for group" comic, where Krunch and Cale bring up "good and evil" ... Krunch sees the world in shades of grey. (oops killed more of the local legal authority ... who were not your friends).
Cale to Benny (about Krunch) "Is he Evil too?" Krunch "That's a loaded question Pinky. We all do as we must to make our way in this world and unfortuantely, sometimes we have to do things others may qualify as 'Evil'".

Summary:
Alignment Systems can help you keep your character ... "In character" it's a guild. If you use an alignment system, you need to know what type of world you / the gm / the other players are playing in. What's the genre, are the world's / deities' / cosmological views: Absolutes / Situational / Combination. What are the repercussions for opposing those views.

(Side Opinion):
Superman: LG
Batman: NG (he works for the betterment of society (removes the Bad People), tries to work with the Law, but doesn't follow the rules (or many of the Laws)
King Arthur: (King of the Britons, king of the who?) ... Lawful with Good tenancies. He's trying to make a fair and just world. The Law is the Law ... oops, wife was having an affair (of the heart or physically) with one of his Knights ...
 
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DracoSuave

First Post
Exactly. The alignment system is/was a tool for players to get into role-playing when role-playing games were "new". (basic dnd, 1st ed., TMNT, Robotech, etc.) It helped someone stay 'in character'.

Eventually, tho, roleplaying design has strayed away from such simple notions as 'Is he good? Is he evil?' While old D&D was heavily based on pulp and fantasy fiction where 'is he good?' is answered by 'Is he the protagonist?' writing for fantasy, as well as the ideas behind roleplaying game characters' motivations have become considerably more sophisticated. With more sophisticated games, alignment can actually serve to prevent a more complex character from staying in character.

And D&D settings themselves have become more sophisticated. For something like Dragonlance, yes, a rigid alignment system makes sense because on that world, Good, Evil, and Neutrality are all important cosmic forces, and any one of those getting out of balance lead directly to world-destroying consequences.

However, the worlds being released now are far less black and white. Eberron and Dark Sun are actually made better by removing alignment a the tool for motivation. Eberron's answer to alignment on monsters? Ignore it. Very few things have rigid alignment. Why should it? It's a morally grey world. Evil doesn't mean 'Not your ally.' Good doesn't mean 'the side you fight for.' It's all relative, and the gods don't even get involved in it.

And don't even get me started on Dark Sun. Half-Giants weren't always played because of their hps and strength... I remember many a psionicist embracing the freer alignment system these fellows had.
 

Eventually, tho, roleplaying design has strayed away from such simple notions as 'Is he good? Is he evil?' While old D&D was heavily based on pulp and fantasy fiction where 'is he good?' is answered by 'Is he the protagonist?' writing for fantasy, as well as the ideas behind roleplaying game characters' motivations have become considerably more sophisticated. With more sophisticated games, alignment can actually serve to prevent a more complex character from staying in character.

And D&D settings themselves have become more sophisticated. For something like Dragonlance, yes, a rigid alignment system makes sense because on that world, Good, Evil, and Neutrality are all important cosmic forces, and any one of those getting out of balance lead directly to world-destroying consequences.

However, the worlds being released now are far less black and white. Eberron and Dark Sun are actually made better by removing alignment a the tool for motivation. Eberron's answer to alignment on monsters? Ignore it. Very few things have rigid alignment. Why should it? It's a morally grey world. Evil doesn't mean 'Not your ally.' Good doesn't mean 'the side you fight for.' It's all relative, and the gods don't even get involved in it.

And don't even get me started on Dark Sun. Half-Giants weren't always played because of their hps and strength... I remember many a psionicist embracing the freer alignment system these fellows had.

Yeah, I pretty much see it the same way. I think alignment in the VERY beginning was simply a way for the designers of the game to put everything on the 'bad' side or the 'good' side. Orcs = bad, Gold Dragon = good, PCs = your choice but you have to live with it. It was also an RP crutch and in OD&D one of the few ways to really distinguish your character in anything like a mechanical sense from the others. Alignment based RP was better than none basically.

And yeah, we're mostly past that point now. No alignment system is going to really hold up much under any sort of scrutiny anyway. The 4e approach works. It isn't mechanically important and can be ignored or tweaked if you want, but the default gives you some idea of where things stand without trying to be overly precise about something that in reality is terribly complex and hard to quantify.
 

Doctor Proctor

First Post
To be quite honest, just about every D&D character I've ever played has been Unaligned/Neutral (in the neutral/neutral, or "true neutral" sense), or some variation thereof. The reason for this is quite simple: I wanted the freedom to make the choices that I deemed necessary.

The older alignment system was overly restrictive, especially when the DM could do things like say "No, you can't kill the bandit because you don't want to take prisoners because that would go against your LG alignment". Sometimes I just wanna kill the bandit and deal with the consequences and not have some "alignment" system tell me whether I could or not.
 

Jhaelen

First Post
I'm surprised at how many people hated the old 9-point alignment system. Is it really that difficult to tell a CN character from a CE one? As far as I know, CN=selfish hippie and CE=sociopath. Big difference.
I don't think that's the reason for the alignment 'hate'. It's that alignments do an extremely bad job at modeling a person's morality. You're way better off to simply jot down a sentence or two, describing a character's stance towards things like crime, murder, slavery, etc.

That way you're actually encouraged to think about your character's personality, rather than picking a two-letter acronym because it's a requirement for a prestige class you'd like to take levels in.

The only advantage 4e alignments have over the old ones:
There's 'unaligned' rather than 'neutral' and there's fewer different alignments (but not few enough).

Imho, every single real person is unaligned. Other alignments are only useful to describe paragon immortal beings that are incapable of making moral decisions because their behaviour is 'hard-wired', e.g. demons, devils, etc.

It's telling that even angels don't have any particular alignment in 4e.
 

Aust Diamondew

First Post
I've always had mixed feelings about the alignment system in D&D. I largely ignore in it 4e, when I DM instead of requiring characters to be good/neutral/unaligned I require them to be heroic and be interested in working with a party.
Even in 3e if I were DMing I'd tell players that their actions dictate their alignment, not the other way around. I hated someone saying that their character acted in particular way because he or she was chaotic neutral or lawful good.

In 3e and 2e the law/chaos and good/evil felt like two separate alignment systems stuck together. The two did not seem consistent with one another and law/chaos felt ill-defined (and +90% of the time it seemed to take a back seat to good/evil).
 

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