log in or register to remove this ad

 

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.

align.png

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

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure, I guess moving from two dimensional and squicky to three dimensional and less squicky is a big change. But is one that people (who don't engage in killing baby orcs) are really going to complain (or even really notice) about when they can still fight evil orcs (just not justify killing their children)?

And the thing is, orcs and drow were not inherently, biologically evil in the first place. Orcs and drow (and other sapient "evil" species) have have non-evil examples throughout the editions. So, there really isn't even a change here, it's just a point to clearly express what's always been in the game.

it seems you are if the mind that a big difference is only there is the outcomes in play are largely different. I would say the justifications around those outcomes are just as important in comparing differences.

That said this is really more an alignment thread than drow and orcs so maybe we should focus a bit less on drow and orcs and either a bit more in either general terms or a bit more specifically on the alignment part?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Azzy

Newtype
I think it's a change that people who have been affected by racist stereotypes might notice. I'm a white guy in the US, so I have been fortunate enough to not be one of those people, so I'm just trying to look at it through their eyes, so I might be wrong- but I am pretty sure it is a step in the right direction. (Or rather, a step back in the right direction- I feel like 3e's "often/usually/always" alignment descriptors were already pretty close to what we're going to see.)
I fully agree. Also, I was surprised that 5e dropped the "often/usually/always" thing. That's one of the things that I liked about 3e.
 

Remathilis

Legend
It shouldnt though.

The alignment of Orcs, or Stormtroopers is not something that the players PCs can know simply by seeing one, any more than they can know the Orc/ Stormtroopers bond, flaw or ideal, or what Deity it worships, or anything else of that nature.

Good aligned PCs mow down Orcs (or Stormtroopers) because the Orcs/ Stormtroopers re trying to slaughter/ blast the PC's, while the Good PC's are engaged in doing something Good (rescue a princess, stop Sauron or Sauroman from taking over the world etc).

Good PC's dont just slaughter Orcs/ Stormtroopers simply because the latter exist. That's genocide; if the PCs were to be of that thinking, they wouldnt be Good aligned PCs.

But seriously though, when was the last time D&D asked you to slaughter orcs because they are orcs, and not "orcs are going to attack the town" or such nonsense. Even Keep on the Borderlands, weak as the story is, implies the Caves of Chaos are an existential threat the to the titular keep's survival. The difference between "slay the orcs because they're evil" and "slay the orcs because they serve Sauron" is almost a distinction without meaning as far as perpetuating the stereotypes. I mean, the fact that Tolkien's orcs were literal creations of Sauron hasn't shielded them for criticism.

Quite frankly, I feel some of these arguments are beginning to reach absurdism. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of D&D players see orcs as an unredeemable foe only to be genocided for the circumstance of thier birth. They are used as villains primarily, often as pawns of evil wizards, dark gods, or menacing warlords, but I can't think of a single instance where TSR/WotC has just advocated that they deserve to be slaughtered for just being orcs. (anyone want to prove me wrong, I'm all ears). What I see is the notion that orcs, in this role, perpetuate racial stereotypes and that's not something you can fix be removing the alignment from the stat-block and slapping a "not all orcs" paragraph in the MM. The notion of the orc needs to radically change if we are serious about this. To be fair, the notion of the dwarf, elf, and every other humanoid with a monoculture and alignment tendency (good or evil) needs to as well. I fail to see how anything less does more than slap a band-aid on the problem.

Because right now, D&D exists in the "this is the default, but the DM can change it" zone and it's not good enough. The next step is to remove the default and make it solely the DM's choice on how it's used. The notion of orc raiders, goblin thieves, elven foresters and dwarven miners will no longer be discussed as the default, but as one of many options (if options are presented at all).

Anyway, all this is will lead to the MM no longer needing monster alignments. Humanoids will start, but if they don't have alignments, we don't need the unaligned alignment for beasts and nonsentients anymore either. I can further see near-humanoid races (giants and monstrosities) falling into the same vein, and really, you just have some obvious examples left (aberrations, fey, fiends, celestials, and undead). You could cull alignment entirely from the MM and it wouldn't hurt the game much mechanically. And with PCs, you can use bonds/flaws/traits to simulate alignment better. Why keep it?

I just imagine that as alignment is removed from monsters, it will be removed from PCs eventually as well.
 

Azzy

Newtype
That said this is really more an alignment thread than drow and orcs so maybe we should focus a bit less on drow and orcs and either a bit more in either general terms or a bit more specifically on the alignment part?

Sure, however, I think the "orcs and drow" thing is more relevent than just "alignment in general". To my knowledge, WotC (especially given the quotes in the OP) isn't getting rid of alignment. Demons, celestials, aberrations, and (probably) fey will still retain their default alignment. It's just that humanoids (and possibly some other sapient creatures) won't be alignment-coded as a species, but instead as individuals.
 

Okay, but where does Chaos come in?

Every society has social expectations, collective obligations and duties, and organized infrastructure. That is literally the definition of society. So, can a chaotic society even exist?

Probably not, "society" and "cvilization" are often portrayed as Lawful, with the wilds being where chaos is... except spirits and fey of the wild also have rules, social expectations, organized infrastructure and the like. It is different from ours, but it is still there.

This might be a personal problem, but I've never been able to find a way to get chaotic enough that it would move out of neutral. Law and Order are so foundational to how the world works that like Yin and Yang, there is always a piece of it in Chaos. But where these dividing lines should be between the three colours of the continuum, I just don't know.
Chaos can be calm and orderly − and organized. What matters is that the organization is strictly voluntarily. Chaos is about personal freedom.

A Chaotic Evil organization only cares about ones own freedom.

A Lawful Evil organization only cares about their own group, while the group preys on other groups.

Neutral Evil is about self-preservation by any means necessary, whether by group bullying or by personal impunity, thereby empowering evil as much as possible.
 

@Remathilis


Maybe a Monster Manual entry can have two sections. First for the Monster and then a section for the Factions relating to the Monster. So for example, "Lolth" would be one of several Factions mentioned in the Drow entry. The Lolth faction ideology is Evil. But other factions can be Good. Drow in the Underdark tend to be dominated by Drow expansionist Lolth ideology. But Drow in the Feywild might have a Good faction that dominates. Options like these help prevent racist tropes, because the humanoid has a diversity of possibilities, and personal choice matters.
 
Last edited:


Plageman

Explorer
Unless the way the creatures society and habits are changed to include more variety, just changing the alignment will amount to nothing except to create some 'odd duck' situation much like what happened with Drizzt so many years ago.
 

What kind of chaosmancer are you to not know these things?

The kind who tried to write an Avatar the Last Airbender style of story before that show existed, by adding light and darkness to the four elements... and being inspired by the term "geomancer" and "pyromancer"

:p


Chaos can be calm and orderly − and organized. What matters is that the organization is strictly voluntarily. Chaos is about personal freedom.

So, Lawful Good is forcing people to be good, no matter their choices or desires in the matter?
 

But seriously though, when was the last time D&D asked you to slaughter orcs because they are orcs, and not "orcs are going to attack the town" or such nonsense.

DnD rarely (if ever) asks you to slaughter Orcs 'just because they're Orcs'.

Even Keep on the Borderlands, weak as the story is, implies the Caves of Chaos are an existential threat the to the titular keep's survival.

Yes, if there are evil Orcs nearby, those Orcs have likely been raiding villages, attacking merchants and people on the road, taking slaves, and doing evil things.

While that adventure is silent on this point, the fact the Orcs are viewed as an existential threat, probably boils down the fact that the nearby Orcs have been up to no good (doing evil things like murder, enslavement, robbery and banditry).

Generally most adventures come with hooks like 'The Orcs inhabiting the nearby Ruins of Evil have been threatening the village, capturing prisoners/ slaves, killing wantonly' etc. Failing that, Orcs (being evil and violent) tend to attack PCs when they see them, necessitating self defence from those PC's.

Quite frankly, I feel some of these arguments are beginning to reach absurdism. I seriously doubt that the vast majority of D&D players see orcs as an unredeemable foe only to be genocided for the circumstance of thier birth.

I was literally arguing against a few people in a thread a few weeks ago, and they were all arguing just this (that Orcs are nonredeemable and fit only for genocide).

In fact, one poster attempted to make the argument that it was perfectly within the bounds of the LG alignment to engage in such genocide, and when my hypothetical Paladin refused to engage in such genocide, he had the hypothetical King publicly berate me, and strip me of my command and Paladinhood.

Which would have been OK if the King was LE. But my impression was the King was LG.
 



Doug McCrae

Legend
I can't think of a single instance where TSR/WotC has just advocated that they deserve to be slaughtered for just being orcs.
Gary Gygax expressed such a view in 2005 across several posts on pages 3 and 4 of the linked thread.

Col_Pladoh said:
Paladins are not stupid, and in general there is no rule of Lawful Good against killing enemies. The old addage about nits making lice applies. Also, as I have often noted, a paladin can freely dispatch prisoners of Evil alignment that have surrrendered and renounced that alignment in favor of Lawful Good. They are then sent on to their reward before thay can backslide...

Chivington might have been quoted as saying "nits make lice," but he is certainly not the first one to make such an observation as it is an observable fact...

If the foes of these humanoids are so foolish as to accept surrender and allow their prisoners to eventually go free and perform further depredations, your "Good" forces are really "Stupid."

Neutral and Evil PCs in my campaign would indeed accept surrender of humanoids, enlist them to fight on their behlaf, and thus they would die for the profit of their human or demi-human masters...

The non-combatants in a humanoid group might be judged as worthy of death by a LG opponent force and executed or taken as prisoners to be converted to the correct way of thinking and behaving. A NG opponent would likely admonish them to change their ways before freeing them. A CG force might enslave them so as to correct their ways or else do as the NG party did. CN and LN opponents would likely slaughter the lot. Evil opponents would enlist, enslave, or execute them according to the nature of the Evil victors and that of the survivors. Enlistment would be for those of like alignment, slaughter for those opposite the victors' predisposition to order or disorder. Enslavement is an option for any sort of Evil desiring workers.

Kay Wright Lewis, A Curse Upon the Nation (2017), on the 17th century origins of the term "nits make lice":

John Nalson, an English clergyman and historian, was told by a captain in the English army that “no manner of Compassion or Discrimination was shewed either to Age or Sex, but that the little Children were promiscuously sufferers with the Gulley [large knife], and that if any who had some grains of Compassion reprehended the Soldiers for this unchristian inhumanity, they would scoffingly reply, Why? Nits will be Lice, and so would dispatch them.” It is at this point that “the saying ‘Nits will make lice,’ which was constantly employed to justify the murder of Irish children,” became part of English vernacular.​

Gary Gygax is referring to its use by US Army Colonel John Chivington with regards to the Sand Creek massacre in 1864.
 
Last edited:

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure, however, I think the "orcs and drow" thing is more relevent than just "alignment in general". To my knowledge, WotC (especially given the quotes in the OP) isn't getting rid of alignment. Demons, celestials, aberrations, and (probably) fey will still retain their default alignment.

Interestingly - alignment doesn't seem to be immutable even for those creatures, even though the group as a whole is still being referred to as a particular alignment.

It's just that humanoids (and possibly some other sapient creatures) won't be alignment-coded as a species, but instead as individuals.

Even for such humanoids I don't think alignment has ever really been immutable for an individual from such species. I mean Drizzt is a thing afterall.

That said, it's a big change to remove alignment proclivities based on species in D&D. Instead of the story being they were created to be evil, the story becomes that they chose to be evil and that each and every individual in their society chooses to be evil. I think the only reason those kinds of stories seem okay, if not outright better to many right now is that they haven't had 20+ years to reflect on them.

I mean foundationally, the change even goes to the very notion of good and evil gods. Why would an evil god ever create a species that's going to be good.? Why would a good god create a species that's not inclined toward goodness? Can you see how the whole cosmology does seem to be weakened by this one change?
 
Last edited:

Keep on the Borderlands is silent on a lot. I'm still not sure why Gygax thought we should know the contents of every peasant's strongbox, but not their names.

But it's hard, as a DM, to read the module and not read it as the keep is there specifically to stop massings of enemies like those in the Caves of Chaos from going past the keep and into the less-protected interior of the kingdom. And the evil clerics there are apparently gathering the orcs, goblins, etc., together for something, and it's likely not a Tupperware party.
 

Bagpuss

Adventurer
The alignment of Orcs, or Stormtroopers is not something that the players PCs can know simply by seeing one, any more than they can know the Orc/ Stormtroopers bond, flaw or ideal, or what Deity it worships, or anything else of that nature.

Kind of disagree on the Stormtrooper front, I mean they are loyal to a fascist regime. Orcs I guess it depends on the setting.

"Indoctrinated to support the ideology of the New Order, stormtroopers were fanatically loyal to the Empire, making it impossible for them to betray the Imperial cause."

It's a bit like in WWII you couldn't assume all German army were Nazi's, but you could be pretty sure anyone in the SS was a Nazi.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Anyway, all this is will lead to the MM no longer needing monster alignments. Humanoids will start, but if they don't have alignments, we don't need the unaligned alignment for beasts and nonsentients anymore either. I can further see near-humanoid races (giants and monstrosities) falling into the same vein, and really, you just have some obvious examples left (aberrations, fey, fiends, celestials, and undead). You could cull alignment entirely from the MM and it wouldn't hurt the game much mechanically. And with PCs, you can use bonds/flaws/traits to simulate alignment better. Why keep it?

I just imagine that as alignment is removed from monsters, it will be removed from PCs eventually as well.

I think having a MM entry for alignment helps the DM to run monsters. It's not something I see as super useful for most players to run their characters but for the DM it's a tool that helps him to have monster reactions fit and make some sense.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
"Indoctrinated to support the ideology of the New Order, stormtroopers were fanatically loyal to the Empire, making it impossible for them to betray the Imperial cause."

Wasn't there a main character stormtrooper of the New Order that did betray the Empire?
 

So, Lawful Good is forcing people to be good, no matter their choices or desires in the matter?
Something like that.

In its extreme, pure Law makes it impossible to be Good.

But yeah, Lawful Good does lean in that direction. The Good often gets compromised because of being Lawful.

That is why Lawful Good is less good than Neutral Good.



Borrowing from old school D&D term "True Neutral".

For me, the Axes are:

• Good − Neutral − Evil
• Chaotic − True − Lawful

So, "True" is like the Dao engaging both Lawful and Chaotic.

Thus:
• True Good
• True Neutral
• True Evil

True Good is the purest form of Good, transcending the failures that happen if Lawful or Chaotic.
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement1

Halloween Horror For 5E

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top