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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.

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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.
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Don't know where you are located or what decade you are referring to, but when I had Driver's Ed class in the early 80's, we practiced stick a little bit on the smilulator, but the actual Driver's Ed cars were automatic. I hate manual and have never once driven a car with one. Also, my hometown is very hilly around my old high school and in downtown, so even automatics roll backwards from a stop if you are not careful. My high school did not want any accidents, so no manual.
I am referring to right now, as one of my daughters is about to enter driver's ed. This will be the fifth kid we have taught to drive (foster family). All drive their dad's car, which is a manual, and get good at that before we let them drive an automatic. This way, they will always be able to drive any car, even if they are rusty.
 

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Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
No one's killed a human bandit, or cultist, or warrior or any other sort of human in your games for fifteen years? Really?
excuse me, you said "most games have the PCs plow through loads of unnamed human bandits" to which I said I haven't played a game like that in a long time, which now means that I've never killed a human ever? you done moved the goalposts out of the stadium and into the next town, damn.
You might be right, but I still remember people on these very boards saying that there was no way WotC would make a 5th Edition, because 4E's DDI was too profitable (having X subscribers paying Y dollars every month).
I mean idk if that stopped them from making 3.5? though I guess as others have pointed out this was a very unpopular move internally.
Man talk about stereotypes!

Most millennials (and GenZ) I know can drive stick. Most car ppl can drive stick, regardless of age.
this millenial can't even drive. there's an alternate universe where I own a neat sports car, but that never happened :/
Did you eat your fill of Cranky-O's this morning or something? It's a joke, and a pretty common one. Even true sometimes. One example, another example and one more.

All I can say is that most people (of whatever age) I know can't drive a stick, or at least not well. Sadly for the first time since I bought my first car we don't have a manual transmission vehicle. :(
okay if we're gonna bring this up in a thread about stereotypes, some people will take articles like that as proof that millenials are beyond redemption and the human race is doomed.

last I heard automatic transmission technology will get to the point where manual transmissions will become obsolete. that or we'll actually somehow make transition to electric cars which don't even need manual transmissions? I could be wrong on that, but it seems to be the case.
 

Hussar

Legend
I dunno @Panda-s1, I just got out of an Undermountain campaign where the DM most certainly wanted us to be murder-hobos.

And the group I was running through Ghosts of Saltmarsh just fell apart because half the group wanted nothing more than to be murder-hobos.

I have a sneaking suspicion that murder-hobo is rather high on the list of a significant number of gamer's radars.
 

Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
I dunno @Panda-s1, I just got out of an Undermountain campaign where the DM most certainly wanted us to be murder-hobos.

And the group I was running through Ghosts of Saltmarsh just fell apart because half the group wanted nothing more than to be murder-hobos.

I have a sneaking suspicion that murder-hobo is rather high on the list of a significant number of gamer's radars.
okay maybe I've gotten lucky and avoided being a murderhobo. I honestly can't remember a long term campaign I was in that didn't have objectives beyond being a murderhobo. maybe it's where I live?
 


I am amused. Only 40 years for anyone in charge of D&D to shake off being stunned into inactivity that alignment as presented in D&D rules for any version of D&D has ALWAYS sucked for one reason and another. NO EXCEPTIONS. I finally wrote out MY rules for alignment. TSR and WotC proved absolutely incapable of making it work to MY satisfaction for 4 decades so there was no other choice. Judging from the fact that alignment is probably still THE #1 argument-causing topic of discussion on any message board, I'm hardly the only one dissatisfied with the performance of supposedly professional game designers in this regard. I have zero confidence they'll get it right this time - but will reserve actual judgement until I see it.

I decided what I wanted from alignment for the games I ran as DM and wrote MY rules accordingly. They've worked fine for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and I have every reason to suspect they're not a whit less applicable to any other edition. Of course, I have personally had virtually no issues with alignment for decades now because even without more formal, written rules I knew that no version of alignment RAW has fit any game I ever ran or was a player in. Only time I have issues with alignment is when OTHER people have issues with alignment RAW.
 
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Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I am referring to right now, as one of my daughters is about to enter driver's ed. This will be the fifth kid we have taught to drive (foster family). All drive their dad's car, which is a manual, and get good at that before we let them drive an automatic. This way, they will always be able to drive any car, even if they are rusty.
I drive a manual. Had a wrx for a while and now another stick. I too want my kids to learn on it.
 




Jacqual

Explorer
I should have also mentioned in a previous post that I wonder how all this will affect Adventurer's League play and their current alignment restrictions, as well as any other PC restrictions.
I don't think anything will change on AL for alignments with the restrictions on no CN, CE as they figured is players will go all murderhobo and kill all the other PC's
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I (strongly) prefer how Eberron handles divine magic. You can be a Good member of an Evil religion, or an Evil member of a Good religion. Religious people argue with each other about how interpret their shared religion. Factions of the same religion compete with each other. A religious institution might do an action that is highly controversial to the members of that religion.
I take it that in this setting the deities are rather hands-off and therefore don't chastise (or worse!) those who do things in disagreement of what said deity stands for.

Even in objectively true polytheistic settings, the gods themselves disagree with each other, change their minds, swap their "portfolios", and their devotees disagree with them too.
In the long run, yes. But in the few years of game time spanned by a typical campaign, mostly likely not; and thus for game purposes the "portfolios" and so forth can be considered as pretty much locked-in.

Of all the D&D settings, Eberron seems to be the only official setting that gets religion right.
From a 21st-century perspective, maybe. But from the perspective of, for example, classical Greeks and Romans to whom the deities were very much a part of life - at least according to the surviving myths etc. - it isn't right at all; nor is it right for any other culture whose mythos includes tales of those who actually met deities and-or whose deities directly interfered with day-to-day life.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I take it that in this setting the deities are rather hands-off and therefore don't chastise (or worse!) those who do things in disagreement of what said deity stands for.

As I understand it, the deities in Eberron don't interfere at all, and there's some question in-setting whether they actually exist. I've only skimmed that section the 5E Eberron book, though, and I'd take the word of any who's played n the setting at all over mine.
 

From a 21st-century perspective, maybe. But from the perspective of, for example, classical Greeks and Romans to whom the deities were very much a part of life - at least according to the surviving myths etc. - it isn't right at all; nor is it right for any other culture whose mythos includes tales of those who actually met deities and-or whose deities directly interfered with day-to-day life.

Ancient Greeks had philosophers with very different ideas about religion. Socrates argued that polytheism was useless because pleasing one god annoyed an other god, making it impossible to be pious. Many Greeks were atheists. Many Greeks were monotheists. Romans had all kinds of different religions and mystery cults going on simultaneously.

If there is anything true about religion, it is that it is diverse and pluralistic.
 


Panda-s1

Scruffy and Determined
I am amused. Only 40 years for anyone in charge of D&D to shake off being stunned into inactivity that alignment as presented in D&D rules for any version of D&D has ALWAYS sucked for one reason and another. NO EXCEPTIONS. I finally wrote out MY rules for alignment. TSR and WotC proved absolutely incapable of making it work to MY satisfaction for 4 decades so there was no other choice. Judging from the fact that alignment is probably still THE #1 argument-causing topic of discussion on any message board, I'm hardly the only one dissatisfied with the performance of supposedly professional game designers in this regard. I have zero confidence they'll get it right this time - but will reserve actual judgement until I see it.

I decided what I wanted from alignment for the games I ran as DM and wrote MY rules accordingly. They've worked fine for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and I have every reason to suspect they're a whit less applicable to any other edition. Of course, I have personally had virtually no issues with alignment for decades now because even without more formal, written rules I knew that no version of alignment RAW has fit any game I ever ran or was a player in. Only time I have issues with alignment is when OTHER people have issues with alignment RAW.
I mean the simplest solution is to get rid of it altogether. 5e sorta did that, but it's still there. I remember 4e and it's manual shifter style alignment chart (lol). people were pissed. they (very erroneously) claimed that 4e ruined alignment from how it's always been since D&D started. WotC probably saw that and thought to put the old alignment system back in and defang it (they probably also assumed players enjoy arguing endlessly about alignment on forums).
 

dmgorgon

Explorer
As a Lawful Evil DM, when the players stop playing to their alignment I start deducting XP. So yes, the DM dictates what happens as far as alignment goes. Nothing new here.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Man,there are a lot of posts of disagreement talking about automobile transmissions on an rpg forum. How does everyone feel about tipping? Bigfoot? Mayonnaise?

Well Bigfoot can probably heel-toe shift pretty well with those big stompers of his. But throw in mayonnaise? Well now things get a bit slippery. I mean he could wear slip resistant shoes, but are you gonna tell the big fella he should wear shoes?

Good luck with that!

P.S. I think alignment serves a purpose and I will continue to use it, just like some day I hope to get another manual. Don't want to futz with it? Get an automatic ... I mean ignore alignment. It doesn't mean all that much any more anyway other than just another general descriptor.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The idea that music, writing, or anything might also be 'political' in addition to anything else it might be is so common-place and non-controversial that I feel no need to illuminate you.
I recently saw a self-professed fan taking Tom Morello to task because he was being too political for a guitarist; it was ruining the fan’s enjoyment of his music.

...Tom Morello...

...who has a degree in political science from Harvard and became famous for being the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine, arguably the most visible & famous political bands of the past several decades.
 

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