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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.


(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

Comments

The Forgotten Realms uses 1e flavors and cosmic assumptions, though. They call them Gold Elves and Moon Elves, but they are the 1e High and Grey elves. The use the great tree instead of the great wheel, but aside from souls going to wait for Kelemvor, the planes are just the abyss and other 1e planes. I think you are projecting more FR into the PHB than is there. I love the Realms and have run it since 1e, and I don't see the same levels of Realms influence that you do.

I also don't see why it's at all hard to just use the 5e mechanics, tossing the fluff out whole cloth and just use whatever fluff you decide to world build for everything.
If you like the way it is. Then obviously, you are less able to understand why other people might want to change it, and find it difficult to change.

That is why sexism and racism persists. The people who dont experience the pain, think everything is fine.

For me, Forgotten Realms is painful.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I really like the way Pratchett put it in Hogfather:

----
"All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"

MY POINT EXACTLY.
----
Pratchett was/is genius. Hilarious genius.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If you like the way it is. Then obviously, you are less able to understand why other people might want to change it, and find it difficult to change.
I don't care why you want to change it. I change rules and fluff left, right and center in my game. I even change the Realms. I don't like 5e, because it is the Realms. I simply like 5e. When I want to change fluff, it takes me a small fraction of a second to drop the fluff and then come up with my own. The same amount of time that it would take me if there was no/minimal fluff and I had to come up with my own. The difference is that the stuff I like can just stay there, which isn't possible with no/minimal fluff. I don't have time to write fluff for everything.

For me, Forgotten Realms is painful.
Then drop it and world build.
 

I don't care why you want to change it. I change rules and fluff left, right and center in my game. I even change the Realms. I don't like 5e, because it is the Realms. I simply like 5e. When I want to change fluff, it takes me a small fraction of a second to drop the fluff and then come up with my own. The same amount of time that it would take me if there was no/minimal fluff and I had to come up with my own. The difference is that the stuff I like can just stay there, which isn't possible with no/minimal fluff. I don't have time to write fluff for everything.


Then drop it and world build.
Just tell minorities to stop suffering. Let them build their own world. Let them eat cake.
 


FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Then drop it and world build.
Yea. All it would take to get people to stop playing in forgotten realms is to make a better setting than forgotten realms for them to play in! You don't have to take away the dogs bone. Give him a better bone and he'll let go the first ;)

Personally I dislike forgotten realms. It's not a setting that particularly appeals to me. But the whole idea of fantasy is that we can play in whatever world we want and that those worlds can have vastly different rules and truths than the real world.
 

@Maxperson.

I am telling you.

I NEED FLAVORLESS CUSTOMIZABLE RULES.

THAT IS WHAT I NEED.

In order to make worldbuilding less painful.

I will say it ten thousand times.

Maybe you will hear me, if I say it ten thousand and one times.
 


Remathilis

Legend
The problem is. The 5e Forgotten Realms setting guide, officially named the Players Handbook, repeats the Forgotten Realms flavors, narratives, and cosmic assumptions, over and over and over again, everywhere, in spells, in planar descriptions, in class descriptions, in race origins, and so on. It is almost impossible to open to any page without Forgotten Realms flavor baked heavily into the sentences.
Ah yes, I recall all of those Forgotten Realms specific references. Like Melf's Acid Arrow, Tenser's Floating Disc, and Modenkainen's Faithful Hound. Or The Quiver or Ehlonna and Boccob's Blessed Book. The Faerunian artifacts like the Orb of Dragonkind and the Hand/Eye of Venca. The intro story referencing that classic Faerun Villain Strahd Von Zarovich, or the example fighter/rogue in the personality section Tika. Or all the reference to Faerunian gods in the cleric domains like Thor, Pelor, The Silver Flame, and Hades. Or the example subraces the Qualentsi and Silvanesti elves or the sidebar on the Faerun-monsters Draconians. I think you get the picture.

It's been a real shame WotC hasn't made any products that expand beyond Forgotten Realms. Imagine if they could have placed Ghosts of Saltmarsh in Greyhawk, or could do a Ravenloft module again? Or if they could put out books for settings like Eberron, or even branded settings like Critical Role's Wildemount or Magic: The Gathering's Theros and Ravnica? It's a real shame 5e is so marred to the Realms as to not allow any of that to exist.

Damn shame, damn shame.
 

Even tho we are talking about D&D rules, it is easy to understand how blithe status quo enables painful sexism and racism to persist.

The infrequency of images of gay male couples in D&D is painful to me. (Extremely.)

The ubiquity of the objectively true polytheistic religion in D&D is painful to me. (Extremely.)

When women, or transgenders, or East Asians, or Black Americans, say there are experiences of pain within the default setting of 5e, I believe them.

I experience enough pain and discomfort myself. When others report similar pain from their perspective. I believe them.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Just tell minorities to stop suffering. Let them build their own world. Let them eat cake.
If they are suffering because WOTC has a fantasy setting they dislike then wouldn't it be better to ask for a new setting they would like? Why even be associated with a setting with such a history of racism, etc?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Even tho we are talking about D&D rules, it is easy to understand how blithe status quo enables painful sexism and racism to persist.

The infrequency of images of gay male couples in D&D is painful to me. (Extremely.)

The ubiquity of the objectively true polytheistic religion in D&D is painful to me. (Extremely.)

When women, or transgenders, or East Asians, or Black Americans, say there are experiences of pain within the default setting of 5e, I believe them.

I experience enough pain and discomfort myself. When others report similar pain from their perspective. I believe them.
What if you are causing someone extreme pain and discomfort right now?
 

PsyzhranV2

Adventurer
Ugh. No thanks. D&D is D&D, not Generic Fantasy Simulator d20, and a DYI D&D with an SRD like feel is a nonstarter for me.

The 5e SRD exists already, free of WotC and the DMs Guild. I'd love to see someone attempt what you're suggesting and see if it sells. Pathfinder did it once, so it's not impossible. But my money is that it won't, and not just for the lack D&D in the title.
If something doesn't work for your campaign ignore it or change it. I don't really care for FR myself, so I just ignore most of it. Gnolls have a completely different origin story. I don't use the same planes of existence and explain how planar travel works differently in my world than in the core rules are just a couple of things I change.

Most DMs need to make the game their own with minor tweaks and adjustments here and there, I think that's a feature not a flaw.

Blanket statements like "Forgotten Realms is more racist" doesn't help much either.
So is it generic or is it not? (It's not, the question was rhetorical)

D&D occupies this weird limbo in RPG design. Most other games on the market nowadays either have a single, well-defined setting that neatly integrates into the game rules, or are completely free of setting flavour and try to make the rules as neutral ss possible

Games that fit the former mold have a higher integration of story and game, and thus higher immersion. Games in the latter category are versatile, their rules being able to model a wide range of settings and genres, only bringing in setting and worldbuilding assumptions through supplemental material outside the core rules.

D&D is trying to have its cake and eat it too, to its detriment. The rules would be a lot tighter all around if it could either pick one of its rich, detailed worlds and commit to it, or dispense of setting flavour entirely and go generic. But right now it's awkwardly in the middle, half-committing to a specific (group of) settings while still selling the false promise of versatility.

And before people yammer on about "just homebrew it", you can certainly do so, but if you're doing so, then why not switch to a more versatile RPG system that doesn't require you to cut out large portions of the book to make work?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
D&D is trying to have its cake and eat it too, to its detriment. The rules would be a lot tighter all around if it could either pick one of its rich, detailed worlds and commit to it, or dispense of setting flavour entirely and go generic. But right now it's awkwardly in the middle, half-committing to a specific (group of) settings while still selling the false promise of versatility.

And before people yammer on about "just homebrew it", you can certainly do so, but if you're doing so, then why not switch to a more versatile RPG system that doesn't require you to cut out large portions of the book to make work?
Just a thought - maybe that is part of D&D's secret to success. Be just specific enough to give people a starting point and be just generic enough to let them change whatever they don't like.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Even tho we are talking about D&D rules, it is easy to understand how blithe status quo enables painful sexism and racism to persist.

The infrequency of images of gay male couples in D&D is painful to me. (Extremely.)

The ubiquity of the objectively true polytheistic religion in D&D is painful to me. (Extremely.)

When women, or transgenders, or East Asians, or Black Americans, say there are experiences of pain within the default setting of 5e, I believe them.

I experience enough pain and discomfort myself. When others report similar pain from their perspective. I believe them.
Oh hey @Yaarel , long time no see.
 


Remathilis

Legend
D&D occupies this weird limbo in RPG design. Most other games on the market nowadays either have a single, well-defined setting that neatly integrates into the game rules, or are completely free of setting flavour and try to make the rules as neutral ss possible
D&D has a defined meta-setting (5e calls it the multiverse) but individual settings color it to fit the genre of the setting. D&D suck as emulating anything not D&D; and WotC has wisely allowed D&D to be D&D rather than contort it to fit the genre. As a good example, both M:TG inspired settings are about playing D&D in those settings, not using D&D's mechanics to create an MTG RPG.

It's kinda like a Coke Freestyle machine; you can mix and remix your flavors for endless combinations (Orange-Vanilla Coke, Cherry Diet Sprite, etc.) but there is no combination in that machine that is going to get you Mountain Dew Baja Blast.
 



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