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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.

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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.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Are all deities Good? That's why I talked about it.


You are missing the point, tremendously.

If we assume that "Good" and "Law" have objective truths. And then we assume that their are Dieties who are themselves aligned with "Good" and "Law". And then we assume that these dieties play an active role in the world (as shown in Faerun) then it follows naturally that they will lay down laws and practices which are objectively "Good" and "Lawful".

If then there is a new situation that comes up, something not covered by the laws set out (which are objectively good and objectively lawful, so they do have an objective answer to this new situation) then logically the inhabitants of the world would ask the Diety how it should be handled.


And, since we can logically assume that war, killing, and violence over a misunderstanding are not objectively "Good" or objectively "Lawful" then those dieties who are objectively "Good" and objectively "Lawful" will answer those questions to prevent such things from occurring.

Would an Evil deity? No, of course not. Evil is constantly shown to promote suffering, generally needless suffering. With Devils having entire Torture cities and an entire caste of torturers, Demons ripping and tearing and causing suffering, hags delighting in causing misery and suffering. Evil Dieties would in fact try and spread confusion, to increase misery and evil in the world. But that only applies to areas that worship evil deities.

In a place that worships objectively "Good" and objectively "Lawful" dieties these things wouldn't happen. The people have an answer, it is the correct answer, and any misunderstanding of the answer would be clarified by the Deity, because that promotes objective "Good" and objective "Law"

What happens with chaotic or evil or chaotic evil deities does not change this.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
When I read these arguments against alignment I can't help but think they want characters to do acts of evil or acts of good at anytime and without the need for any sort of justification. They are essentially arguing for everyone to be N or maybe even CN.
When I read bad faith, strawman arguments like this against people who have respectfully raised reasonable contrary opinions regarding alignment, I can't help but think that misrepresenting others' opinions and maligning their intentions is an evil act that serves a nefarious purpose that is antithetical to polite internet discourse. But maybe we should also be better people than accuse others who may dislike certain pervasive tropes of D&D as haters of all things D&D.
 

I agree, burn your books and dice. Just don't forget that dice scream sometimes.
how the actual piss did you get 'burn your books and dice' from "alignment is a clunky unrealistic mess and should be removed in order to make more immersive and realistic settings"

Like, can you actually walk me through your mental process there?

Ooh! Sacred cows! Being crushed! Sounds like you have a new herd in mind :D Your certitude is the thing crusades, inquisitions, and witch hunts are made of. Let's just say not everyone agrees with you. Obviously.
Not everyone agrees, sure, but the number of people who do agree shows that alignment is by no means an all-loved thing

In either case, it doesn't matter. People will choose to use alignment or not, no matter what is in this edition, or the next, of D&D.
Ultimately, yeah. But, alignment's clunkiness is what got us into this mess. And I'm going to argue its restricting stories that could be told

When I read these arguments against alignment I can't help but think they want characters to do acts of evil or acts of good at anytime and without the need for any sort of justification. They are essentially arguing for everyone to be N or maybe even CN.
So.... Like people do in real life?

Alignment isn't realistic, and people want to play as realistic characters. The DM has a job of making a believable world for them. Shoving everyone into 9 moral groups is not realistic
 


Hexmage-EN

Adventurer
Alignment isn't realistic, and people want to play as realistic characters. The DM has a job of making a believable world for them. Shoving everyone into 9 moral groups is not realistic

Ehhhh, realism has its place. There's a ton of fun, quirky lore about devils and slaadi that probably would have never come into being without the distinct concepts of Lawful Evil and Chaotic Neutral being a thing to inspire writers for decades.

For example, I've heard a recent D&D novel features a scenario where a succubus granddaughter of Glasya is afraid of an imp subordinate going over her head to file a formal complaint against her to the Princess of the Hells.

As for slaadi, you've got obscure lore like the slaad lord Renbuu who can change the colors of anything (as well as pull shenanigans like changing red dragons to white dragons in both color and physiology). A 3.5 era Dragon magazine article mentioned he's old war buddies with Ben Hadar, the Prince of Good Water Elementals, from the days of the War of Law and Chaos (where Ben Hadar was the only Prince of Elemental Good to fight on the side of Chaos, a decision prompted by his disgust that Lawful Evil entities were allowed to join and fight on team Law). Ben invites Renbuu to his coral palace from time to time to let Renbuu redecorate for him.

It's kinda silly, but I like how the concept of Lawful Evil led to someone writing a scenario where an imp can intimidate a granddaughter of Asmodeus, devil god of the Nine Hells of Baator, with a threat of a formal complaint and how the concept of a war between Law and Chaos led to a frog man with rainbow powers becoming buddies with one of the rulers of the Plane of Water.

The alignment system can provide inspiration for seemingly unrelated creatures who share an alignment to form unlikely relationships.
 
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R_Chance

Adventurer
You are missing the point, tremendously.

Not really :)

If we assume that "Good" and "Law" have objective truths. And then we assume that their are Dieties who are themselves aligned with "Good" and "Law". And then we assume that these dieties play an active role in the world (as shown in Faerun) then it follows naturally that they will lay down laws and practices which are objectively "Good" and "Lawful".

I don't run Faerun or the Forgotten Realms that well. I know it's the default setting for D&D 5E. I have the original grey boxed set from back in the day, I've read a lot of articles about it in the old Dragon magazine and various bits in 5E books. I've cribbed a number of ideas from it. My gods are a bit more remote, not all that good, and not omnipotent.

If then there is a new situation that comes up, something not covered by the laws set out (which are objectively good and objectively lawful, so they do have an objective answer to this new situation) then logically the inhabitants of the world would ask the Diety how it should be handled.


And, since we can logically assume that war, killing, and violence over a misunderstanding are not objectively "Good" or objectively "Lawful" then those dieties who are objectively "Good" and objectively "Lawful" will answer those questions to prevent such things from occurring.

A Lawful Good god might be everything you say. I'll give you that one :D

What about disputes between two lawful good deities? Do they have identical principles. I'm guessing you would say yes there, I find room for some differences myself. More importantly, what about disputes between the worshippers of a deity who is not Lawful Good? Or deities of the same alignment who are not LG? Or a host of other scenarios. My Lawful Church is a "big tent" organization with multiple deities (3) who are LN, scores of saints who are LG. LN, and LE and hundreds of thousands of adherents. I like a fairly monolithic Church on the outside with messy internal problems under the surface. People see alignment restricting stories or simplifying them, I think it can create some and complicate them.

Would an Evil deity? No, of course not. Evil is constantly shown to promote suffering, generally needless suffering. With Devils having entire Torture cities and an entire caste of torturers, Demons ripping and tearing and causing suffering, hags delighting in causing misery and suffering. Evil Dieties would in fact try and spread confusion, to increase misery and evil in the world. But that only applies to areas that worship evil deities.

In a place that worships objectively "Good" and objectively "Lawful" dieties these things wouldn't happen. The people have an answer, it is the correct answer, and any misunderstanding of the answer would be clarified by the Deity, because that promotes objective "Good" and objective "Law"

What happens with chaotic or evil or chaotic evil deities does not change this.

That I agree with. I'm not sure why you think I'm only positing LG. That's not all. I see conflicts developing internally between worshippers of LN deities or LE ones. Between large hierarchical organizations. We have different assumptions about deities I'd say. I like the potential of political conflict inside a religion, for conflict between ostensibly good or lawful nations who worship the same gods and so on. I find that type of setting detail to be "realistic" or at least to provide verisimilitude and an interesting back drop for a game.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
I have been wrong many many times.

Sadly, a few of those I knew I was wrong and I did it anyway.

We all have. See? Alignment is not a straightjacket! Have you completely dumped your ethics and morals? I gather the "wrong" things were a bit more scattered than that. Hopefully :D

I'm talking about a population thinking their entire culture / way of life is "wrong". And doing it anyway.
 

R_Chance

Adventurer
Not everyone agrees, sure, but the number of people who do agree shows that alignment is by no means an all-loved thing

I agree. I just don't think we know the numbers on that.

Ultimately, yeah. But, alignment's clunkiness is what got us into this mess. And I'm going to argue its restricting stories that could be told

The clunkiness sits at the feet of the developers. I can't help that. And I agree it restricts stories. And creates stories :) Everything included in the game system does that.

edit I said the "feat" of the developers originally. So, game development is a Feat? :D
 
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dmgorgon

Explorer
Nah, we just want to make realistic and possibly complicated character who act according to their personality and don't want things to be dumbed-down to ridiculous binary labels. (Most of my characters are pretty decent, at least deep down.)

Alignment is not a straitjacket at all so I have to completely disagree. Alignment is just a simple guide for the players to keep a character/npc's ideals and belief structure in mind. It's basically a helpful abstraction that works very well IMO. It helps players and DMs role play against their personal instincts and their own personal moral code. It's a great solution in lieu of writing 20 page psychoanalysis on their characters behaviors.

the 2e dmg was very clear on this.

During play, pay attention to the actions of the player characters. Occasionally compare these against the characters' alignments. Note instances in which the character acted against the principles of his alignment. Watch for tendencies to drift toward another, specific alignment.
If a character's class requires that he adhere to a specific alignment, caution him when a proposed action seems contrary to that alignment. Allow the player to reconsider.
Never tell a player that his character cannot do something because of his alignment. Player characters are controlled by the players. The DM intervenes only in rare cases (when the character is controlled by a spell or magical item, for example).
Finally as in all points of disagreement with your players, listen to their arguments when your understanding of an alignment differs from theirs. Even though you go to great effort in preparing your game, the campaign world is not yours alone--it also belongs to your players.
...
Sooner or later, a player character will change alignment. A character might change alignment for many reasons, most of them have nothing to do with the player "failing" to play his character's role or the DM "failing" to create the right environment.

Player characters are imaginary people. But, like real people, they grow and change as their personalities develop. Sometimes circumstances conspire against the player character. Sometimes the player has a change of attitude. Sometimes the personality created for the player character just seems to pull in an unexpected direction. These are natural changes. There might be more cause for concern if no player character ever changes alignment in a campaign.

There is no rule or yardstick to determine when a character changes alignment. Alignment can change deliberately, unconsciously, or involuntarily. This is one of those things that makes the game fun. Players are free to act, and the DM decides if (and when) a change goes into effect. This calls for some real adjudication. There are several factors to consider.

and the 2e phb makes this even more clear. Alignment is just a guide.

After all other steps toward creating a character have been completed, the player must choose an alignment for the character. In some cases (especially the paladin), the choice of alignment may be limited.

The character's alignment is a guide to his basic moral and ethical attitudes toward others, society, good, evil, and the forces of the universe in general. Use the chosen alignment as a guide to provide a clearer idea of how the character will handle moral dilemmas. Always consider alignment as a tool, not a straitjacket that restricts the character. Although alignment defines general attitudes, it certainly doesn't prevent a character from changing his beliefs, acting irrationally, or behaving out of character.

Alignment is divided into two sets of attitudes: order and chaos, and good and evil. By combining the different variations within the two sets, nine distinct alignments are created. These nine alignments serve well to define the attitudes of most of the people in the world.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean but I am genuinely puzzled by the thought that evil isn't "wrong" in D&D. The core rules define Good as "morality" which has a dictionary definition of "virtue," suggesting there's pretty much a complete correspondence between Good and "right" in D&D.

If you were in a location where preying on the weak was normal and acceptable, then people could certainly spin stories to themselves about how their self-interested behavior is actually justified or even appropriate. But that would not make the behavior virtuous, even if everyone else was doing it.
Have you ever had an adventuring party, with Good aligned characters in it, go into a tomb or crypt and slay the monsters within and grab the treasure strewn around?

Grave robbing is considered fairly universally Evil but yet it's one of the most common tropes of the standard D&D adventure.

Who defines Evil in a world of magic that operates on fundamentally different rules than our own?
 

dmgorgon

Explorer
how the actual piss did you get 'burn your books and dice' from "alignment is a clunky unrealistic mess and should be removed in order to make more immersive and realistic settings"
I wasn't replying to that comment. It was the other one about how it should just be tossed out.

So.... Like people do in real life?

Alignment isn't realistic, and people want to play as realistic characters. The DM has a job of making a believable world for them. Shoving everyone into 9 moral groups is not realistic

That's not how alignment works.
 

dmgorgon

Explorer
When I read bad faith, strawman arguments like this against people who have respectfully raised reasonable contrary opinions regarding alignment, I can't help but think that misrepresenting others' opinions and maligning their intentions is an evil act that serves a nefarious purpose that is antithetical to polite internet discourse. But maybe we should also be better people than accuse others who may dislike certain pervasive tropes of D&D as haters of all things D&D.

This quote below (to the same reply you are responding to) makes it very clear that they want just that. True Neutral really is what most people do in real life.

So.... Like people do in real life?

Alignment isn't realistic, and people want to play as realistic characters. The DM has a job of making a believable world for them. Shoving everyone into 9 moral groups is not realistic

I mean, I can't think of any real life LG paladins or even CG Robin hoods for that mater. Of course, we are talking about a fantasy world in which we like to imagine characters of principle.
 

Not really :)

Yes, you are.

Me: This is a problematic situation with Lawful Good Deities

You: What about all these non-lawful non-Good Deities?

Me: Okay, but this is a problem with Lawful Good Deities.

You: What about all these non-lawful non-Good Deities?


My gods are a bit more remote, not all that good, and not omnipotent.

Then you aren't using an alignment system with objective good and evil it sounds like, or all your deities are neutral or evil. Or they are so far removed that they aren't telling people what the divine law and objective good or evil are.

All of which are fine, but are not what I'm talking about. Those situations change the base assumption of what is going on. Though, I would note, if Commune or Conjure Celestial are spells people can cast, they can still ask objectively "lawful" and objectively "good" entities questions, even if the gods themselves are remote.

Which is what leads to all this. I messed with your formatting so I could respond all at once instead of with a dozen quotes.



A Lawful Good god might be everything you say. I'll give you that one :D

1) What about disputes between two lawful good deities? Do they have identical principles. I'm guessing you would say yes there, I find room for some differences myself.

2) More importantly, what about disputes between the worshippers of a deity who is not Lawful Good?

3) Or deities of the same alignment who are not LG?

4) Or a host of other scenarios. My Lawful Church is a "big tent" organization with multiple deities (3) who are LN, scores of saints who are LG. LN, and LE and hundreds of thousands of adherents. I like a fairly monolithic Church on the outside with messy internal problems under the surface. People see alignment restricting stories or simplifying them, I think it can create some and complicate them.

1) If they are "Objectively Lawful" and "Objectively Good" then they must agree. That is the problem with objectivity in these discussions. It is true, no matter your interpretation or perspective. Now there are a few ways to handle this. You could say that there is "Objective Good", but that the Gods are no better at understanding what is objectively good then anyone else.... which in my opinion makes "objective good" pointless and stupid. It isn't objective, it is subjective if even the highest arbiters of it can't agree on what it means.

Another solution, which is slightly better if you want to keep Objective "Good" and "Law" is that they all agree on those things, but the things that fall into Neutral territory are where the debates happen. Every "Lawful Good" deity agrees that murder for profit is evil, and not good, but they disagree on Tax law (should you collect yearly or bi-annually), or when you should rotate crops. But in this scenario, they objectively know these things aren't good or lawful. They know that this is just opinion, because they know what the objective Truth is. Which, again, would prevent any of these civil wars or other conflicts, because everyone knows they are just expressing an opinion, because they were told the objective truth.

2) Different types of problems, but the problem with the setting where objective "Law" and "Good" are presented are really highlighted the most in the scenario with an LG deity.

But, you would still have Chaotic and Neutral Good deities expressing what is objectively "Good". And where the problem lies is that those Deites can't say that the the things that are objectively "Good", but also "Lawful", aren't "Good". Objectively, they are "Good". It is undeniable and objective truth. So, a CG Deity would only protest the sections of "Lawful" that were neutral or Evil, unless as a "Good" Deity they ended up standing against "Good" which they can't, because then they would not be objectively "Good". And, what conflicts can you have about the proper running of a Chaotic Good church, or a Neutral good church? They can ask if they are acting objectively too "lawful" and get the correct, objectively true answer.

And this is the ultimate problem. All you need is a deity of objective "Law" and "Good" and one of objective "Law" and "Evil". They will agree on what is objectively "Lawful", defining all "Law" leaving only "Chaos" undefined which just leads to varying levels of chaos. And, since they have defined Objective "Good" and Objective "Evil" then you have all of morality answered. And what conflict can you possibly have when all the Truth is known?

3) Same thing with the LG, they can't disagree about Objective Truth. That is what makes it Objective.

4) Sounds to me like you care about "Law" and not good and evil. Of course an organization that has both good and evil individuals in it will be in conflict. The problem is though, if those LN deities have laid out what "Law" means, you can't debate that. It is true.

But, this sounds like a scenario that is not enhanced at all from having objective alignment. I wouldn't have even bothere dto set up any alignments for this, just given edicts from the gods and had followers who took those edicts in a variety of directions.


That I agree with. I'm not sure why you think I'm only positing LG. That's not all. I see conflicts developing internally between worshippers of LN deities or LE ones. Between large hierarchical organizations. We have different assumptions about deities I'd say. I like the potential of political conflict inside a religion, for conflict between ostensibly good or lawful nations who worship the same gods and so on. I find that type of setting detail to be "realistic" or at least to provide verisimilitude and an interesting back drop for a game.


I'm talking about LG. I've made no claims to what you are saying.

And, I agree with you. I love and much prefer conflict between worshippers of the same gods, or between countries that share many of the same beliefs. I love all of that and find it much more satisifying than static "objectively good" forces that can't be argued against.

That is why I don't want alignment, and I specifically don't want objective alignment. Once there is a perfectly knowable answer, a set of rules that are explicitly "Good and all things that count as Good" then the chance for conflict is gone. It only exists through ignorance. And, the deities would act to inform people and remove that ignorance. All of the interesting things are gone.





Alignment is not a straitjacket at all so I have to completely disagree. Alignment is just a simple guide for the players to keep a character/npc's ideals and belief structure in mind. It's basically a helpful abstraction that works very well IMO. It helps players and DMs role play against their personal instincts and their own personal moral code. It's a great solution in lieu of writing 20 page psychoanalysis on their characters behaviors.

the 2e dmg was very clear on this.



and the 2e phb makes this even more clear. Alignment is just a guide.

So, what do you do when the guide leads you to the wrong place? Or is more confusing and harder to use than other options that get you to the same place?

It doesn't help me figure out how my character would handle a moral conflict. It doesn't tell me what monsters are going to do. It provides a road map that leads me in circles.

And while 2e might have been great, we are talking about 5e. That's... what 30 years later? I know I never read the 2e books on what alignment is supposed to be. A new player opening the 5e PHB isn't going to see a notation "refer to the 2e PHB for rules on alignment", so they are going to go off of what 5e says.
 

Alignment is not a straitjacket at all so I have to completely disagree. Alignment is just a simple guide for the players to keep a character/npc's ideals and belief structure in mind. It's basically a helpful abstraction that works very well IMO. It helps players and DMs role play against their personal instincts and their own personal moral code. It's a great solution in lieu of writing 20 page psychoanalysis on their characters behaviors.
This may be our "What setting we came in ons" talking, but as someone who came in via the 3E route.... No. Alignment was a straightjacket. All assassins gotta be evil, so, y'know, Agent 47 couldn't work in that universe. All paladins gotta be Lawful Good and hoo boy the history of bad DM decisions to screw over the paladin. And then there's Dragonlance which I actually hate its interpretation of the alignment shift and could argue for weeks about, what with a big unabashed downright evil character in that setting being called "Good" by word of authors

It has an idea of value deep in there somewhere, sure. But every single time its been mechanically enforced its been a mess, and especially when attempting to ascribe it to a group of people
 

Hussar

Legend
Which is why I stress to new players that alignment is just one of many aspects of their character, no more or less important than backstory, traits, bonds or flaws.

Seems to me that alignment is only an issue when used as a straightjacket and taken to the extremes. It's a general descriptor, that's all.

But a general descriptor that can be equally applied to opposites isn't terribly useful.

Look, if I make a character that is:

Loyal,
Methodical,
Careful,
Never rash or impulsive,
Honest,

Can I call that character Chaotic Neutral? Because I've had more than a few players over the years do exactly that. A character that never acts on a whim, is dedicated to the group, honest, never rash, is LAWFUL as far as I'm concerned. But, not only have I had players tell me I'm wrong, but, people in this thread have told me I'm wrong. So, if all those things apply to a chaotic character, what the heck is a lawful one?

I agree, alignment should be descriptive. Totally agree. But, if the description of that character is completely opposite to the alignment written on the sheet, SOMEONE is not understanding alignment very well. Now, snide ad hominems aside, please, while I understand you've apparently never had players like this, believe me when I tell you that such players do exist. And they make alignment completely nonsensical.
 

Aldarc

Legend
This quote below (to the same reply you are responding to) makes it very clear that they want just that. True Neutral really is what most people do in real life.

I mean, I can't think of any real life LG paladins or even CG Robin hoods for that mater. Of course, we are talking about a fantasy world in which we like to imagine characters of principle.
Thing is, if one removes alignment, which has already been significantly neutered in 5e, then paladins still are obligated to follow their class oaths. Plus, most of D&D, particularly in the de facto default setting of Forgotten Realms, caters towards heroic play. So I do not think that characters of principle would disappear if alignment did. Much as my point much earlier, heroic play is the norm in a number of non-D&D fantasy games that lack alignment, and those games get along swimmingly.
 

Hexmage-EN

Adventurer
Look, if I make a character that is:

Loyal,
Methodical,
Careful,
Never rash or impulsive,
Honest,
Can I call that character Chaotic Neutral?

The Chaotic Neutral Battle Master Fighter character I'm running now is like that, though he leans closer to Neutral than Chaotic.

He is honest and loyal...to people he thinks it's in his best interest to have trusting him (chiefly the party). He also plays nice with authority figures...if it's convenient. He distrusts authority figures and tries to get as much from them as he can in terms of information and resources while giving as little back as possible.

He's careful because he doesn't want to die pointlessly...but if there's an opportunity for him to fight a hydra or some other infamous creature he's eager to take it so he can brag about it later.

He is admittedly rash and impulsive due to overconfidence in his abilities and a desire to take action instead of sitting around nit picking every possible option. He's also changed professions from dock worker to sailor to finally adventurer because he found the first two professions unsatisfying.

Also, he once tried to kidnap and intimidate a corrupt foreign merchant but bungled the attempt, which forced him to flee his homeland and change his name.


I'm also working on a concept for a Chaotic Neutral self-taught Arcane Trickster Rogue/School of Conjuration wizard character who leans more Chaotic.

He is very distrustful of authority and often openly contemptuous towards them (especially mages from established institutions; as part of his backstory he provoked an esteemed wizard of Candlekeep to the edge of a magical duel in the middle of a convocation of mages).

He stubbornly believes that the Chaotic Evil gnomish god Urdlen was a victim of bullying and peer pressure from the rest of the gnomish pantheon because his (Chaotic Evil) grandfather told him so as a child (other family members have tried to tell him that grandpa is bad news, but he doesn't listen and imagines Urdlen as a more benevolent and misunderstood figure).

He's come to believe a theory of his own design (that he originally came up with as a bad faith argument out of petty spite to try and undermine a smug rival mage) that there are actually countless non-Chaotic Evil demons in the Abyss and that all established demonological lore is part of some vast anti-demon conspiracy orchestrated by a secret pact between devils and the celestial eladrin millenia ago (as part of his research he tries to cast Summon Greater Demon at least once a day to try and get in contact with one of these hypothetical non-CE demons, always prepared to interview said demon with questions like "What layer of the Abyss are you from?" and "Do you have any hobbies?").

He delights in trickery with his magic, partially to test his skills and partially to take authority figures he thinks are stuck-up down a peg.

Though he won't outright lie to allies, he'll often selectively omit details if he thinks doing so would be more convenient.

He's impulsive and always brainstorming ideas to try out on the off-chance they'll work (if they blow up in his face he'll just have to figure things out from there).

Granted, this characterization is based on the fact this character has a Wisdom score of 8 in addition to his Chaotic Neutral alignment. If his Wisdom was higher his Chaotic nature would be more restrained, I think.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
But a general descriptor that can be equally applied to opposites isn't terribly useful.

Look, if I make a character that is:

Loyal,
Methodical,
Careful,
Never rash or impulsive,
Honest,

Can I call that character Chaotic Neutral? Because I've had more than a few players over the years do exactly that. A character that never acts on a whim, is dedicated to the group, honest, never rash, is LAWFUL as far as I'm concerned. But, not only have I had players tell me I'm wrong, but, people in this thread have told me I'm wrong. So, if all those things apply to a chaotic character, what the heck is a lawful one?

I agree, alignment should be descriptive. Totally agree. But, if the description of that character is completely opposite to the alignment written on the sheet, SOMEONE is not understanding alignment very well. Now, snide ad hominems aside, please, while I understand you've apparently never had players like this, believe me when I tell you that such players do exist. And they make alignment completely nonsensical.

Okay, I'll take a stab

Loyal: to whom? Loyalty to friends? Well, that's how people keep friends.
Methodical: They've decided that's the best way to achieve their goals, doesn't affect what those goals are
Careful: same as methodical. CN doesn't mean insane or reckless
Never rash or impulsive: so they like to think things through. CN is their outlook on life, this is behavior. CN does not mean mentally unstable.
Honest: do they have a reason to lie? Are they smart enough to realize they won't get away with it?

To me CN just means you don't see a static order or predefined guiding principles to the universe. You think concepts of order, law, justice, good and evil are concepts made up by narrow minded people. Alignment affects how you view the world and what your goals are not how you achieve those goals.
 

Hexmage-EN

Adventurer
To me CN just means you don't see a static order or predefined guiding principles to the universe. You think concepts of order, law, justice, good and evil are concepts made up by narrow minded people. Alignment affects how you view the world and what your goals are not how you achieve those goals.

Agreed. For example, my CN Battle Master character isn't really knowledgeable about the planes, but if he found out the greater goals of extraplanar entities like devils and modrons he'd probably be more horrified by them than he would be by demons.
 

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