D&D 5E WotC's Jeremy Crawford Talks D&D Alignment Changes

Jeremy Crawford has spoken about changes to the way alignment will be referred to in future D&D books. It starts with a reminder that no rule in D&D dictates your alignment.


Data from D&D Beyond in June 2019

(Note that in the transcript below, the questions in quotes were his own words but presumably refer to questions he's seen asked previously).

Friendly reminder: no rule in D&D mandates your character's alignment, and no class is restricted to certain alignments. You determine your character's moral compass. I see discussions that refer to such rules, yet they don't exist in 5th edition D&D.

Your character's alignment in D&D doesn't prescribe their behavior. Alignment describes inclinations. It's a roleplaying tool, like flaws, bonds, and ideals. If any of those tools don't serve your group's bliss, don't use them. The game's system doesn't rely on those tools.

D&D has general rules and exceptions to those rules. For example, you choose whatever alignment you want for your character at creation (general rule). There are a few magic items and other transformative effects that might affect a character's alignment (exceptions).

Want a benevolent green dragon in your D&D campaign or a sweet werewolf candlemaker? Do it. The rule in the Monster Manual is that the DM determines a monster's alignment. The DM plays that monster. The DM decides who that monster is in play.

Regarding a D&D monster's alignment, here's the general rule from the Monster Manual: "The alignment specified in a monster's stat block is the default. Feel free to depart from it and change a monster's alignment to suit the needs of your campaign."

"What about the Oathbreaker? It says you have to be evil." The Oathbreaker is a paladin subclass (not a class) designed for NPCs. If your DM lets you use it, you're already being experimental, so if you want to play a kindhearted Oathbreaker, follow your bliss!

"Why are player characters punished for changing their alignment?" There is no general system in 5th-edition D&D for changing your alignment and there are no punishments or rewards in the core rules for changing it. You can just change it. Older editions had such rules.

Even though the rules of 5th-edition D&D state that players and DMs determine alignment, the suggested alignments in our books have undeniably caused confusion. That's why future books will ditch such suggestions for player characters and reframe such things for the DM.

"What about the werewolf's curse of lycanthropy? It makes you evil like the werewolf." The DM determines the alignment of the werewolf. For example, the werewolf you face might be a sweetheart. The alignment in a stat block is a suggestion to the DM, nothing more.

"What about demons, devils, and angels in D&D? Their alignments can't change." They can change. The default story makes the mythological assumptions we expect, but the Monster Manual tells the DM to change any monster's alignment without hesitation to serve the campaign.

"You've reminded us that alignment is a suggestion. Does that mean you're not changing anything about D&D peoples after all?" We are working to remove racist tropes from D&D. Alignment is only one part of that work, and alignment will be treated differently in the future.

"Why are you telling us to ignore the alignment rules in D&D?" I'm not. I'm sharing what the alignment rules have been in the Player's Handbook & Monster Manual since 2014. We know that those rules are insufficient and have changes coming in future products.

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My house rules are alignment are combined with allegiance (race, country, religion, guild, tribe, ideology) and even opposite can be together (for example a chaotic character with law allegiance would be a sheriff who breaks rules to defend the order, for example Eddie Murphy in Berberi Hills Cops or the characters from the teleserie "the shield", and evil with good aligment would be a zealot (for example a witch-hunter) or a wicked revolutionary), and spells and other powers can hurt enemies with same aligment but different allegiance, for example an orc shaman vs a drow cleric (and being neutral will not help your PCs to save spells with aligment keys).

You have to remember the aligment is very important in Ravenloft, even when you can't detect evil...(but I allow to detect hostile intentions, uselles when nPC are thinking about innocent actions like drinking alcohol or to buy a new dress).

And the groups need to share a common allegiance to defeat common menaces. Don't you remember "the walkind dead" and main antagonists? Totally selfish groups couldn't survive for a lot of time by fault of their continuous internal fights and civil wars. Do you remember when I talked about the fitna of Al-Andalus, the civil war in the Muslims Spain what ended the Omeya dinasty?

My own version of chaotic alligment is to be too attuned to nature or primal forces or only obey authority linked with your allegiance. Then a barbarian could be as honorable as a knight and a monk who lives in the forest as an hermit to be "chaotic". The famous monkey king Sun Wukong would be disciplined as a martial art champion, but "caothic" behavior. Do you remember old controversies about "chaotic good" behavior?

With the new rules for PC races and now this. Will we see soon an "Unearthed Arcana/PH 2" as a "5.5 Ed" to add these changes?
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I honestly wouldn't mind, if they ditched alignment in d&d all together. It never really made any sense to me
It made sense in the very early D&D modules where you had evil monsters and heroic players.

But as D&D has changed rules in versions, even D&D3e which was supposed to still hold unto alignment restrictions from the past, had the anti-Paladin class a.k.a. Blackguard. And Keith Baker's Eberron, went even further to ignore alignment restrictions.

Hence, for all intents and purposes, alignment was a dead man walking, and its vestigial recurrence in 5th Edition was because Wizards of the Coast stubbornly refused to bury the undead.

Basically, if you want race-based restrictions, races as classes (looking at the first D&D rules), alignment restrictions, you can always bring out the Old School D&D books available at DMs Guild, and play that. Modern D&D does not require those old rules anymore.


(He, Him)
I honestly wouldn't mind, if they ditched alignment in d&d all together. It never really made any sense to me
I like it because what I have observed over a great many campaigns is that it offers players an insight into their character to riff off. Not all players are natural actors, yet I find even players who struggle with narrower insights such as ideals and flaws, are able to play to an alignment. It's a starting point. It does not tell the whole story.

As DM, I find alignment a helpful guide to likely monster motivation. It's a starting point. Great for monsters with narrow roles and no/low payoff for individually statting up. Individuals and groups - especially those likely to have repeat appearances - I give the alignment that suits the experience I want to offer. For example, "Batiri" goblins in my current ToA campaign are not typically evil.

Alignment is a tool. A useful one, that has stood the test of time.


(He, Him)
The rate things are going they're going to have to publish 6e urgently, just to update the lore.
Likewise. When I read the intent on race, it crossed my mind that it does rather offer a neat opportunity - tied up with a bow - for a new edition!

Design teams are always in search of value to offer players :)

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