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D&D Alignments

 Post subject: D&D Alignments
PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:50 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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What does everyone think of alignments and the whole alignment system in D&D (or AD&D)? I think that the system has some good and bad points. In general of course, alignment systems seem to fit in better with fantasy games rather than sci-fi or modern games.

For me, I kind of like the D&D alignment system. But I think that few players (and DMs) ever really understood the nuances of the system.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 17, 2005 11:53 pm 
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That sort of alignment system only works in a fantasy game where an individual's actions have a tangible effect on the ethereal cosmic balance. Where there are gods, they play an active part in reality, and they have a distinct and tangible leaning in a certain direction.

Outside of that, it really has no place, except as a characterisation guideline. E.g. your character is this, so he's likely to act in this way.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 7:11 am 
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I agree. I play WFRP and here are only Law-Good-Neutral-Evil-Chaos and for most characters it was just what you would do anyway (As most characters are neutral) but for clerics and such, oh and certain magic items.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:39 am 
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i tend to ignore the D&D alignments completely (mind you if i get round to playing it again its more likely to be using a D&D setting with either Arcana Unearthed or Iron Heroes, both of which dumped it anyway ~ as did WFRP2 i think), tho i have considered using either the Storyteller (vampire et all) Natures with something like action points or somesuch (not so powerful fate points, you recover them only by doing something that fulfills your nature)

i'm also rather fond of Pendragons traits system


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2005 6:52 pm 
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Anybody remember the Palladium alignment rules? They were a little more fleshed out and less "Stark" as choices.... I remember little, just that they were pretty different from D&D...

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:01 am 
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Yeah, I remember them. Never actually played Palladium, but I used to love one of their other games - namely Robotech.

Their alignment rules weren't strict confines, more a personality profile of the sort of person who would fit in to that "alignment". They were there as an aid to characterisation only.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 1:40 am 
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the d&d games i ran were an amalgamation of 3rd ed. and whatever rules i came up with (gm rules make a game sometimes like making up a skills and whatnot)

but as far as alignment goes, i agree, in the d&d sense, it only belongs in a setting where an artificial alignment actually affects things, like a god's williningness to offer help, etc. example: (in my own campaign world, mind you)

i ran a campaign that consisted of three full campaigns set in the same world but in different time periods. in the first one, you had to have an alignment, because magic and the gods existed and were a very real part of everyday life. at the end of this campaign they had to seal their material plane off from the rest of the multiverse to save it from beings from "outside" of spacetime (all ctthuloid and (&#$@!)) this was the best game i've ever run, and a favorite among the group.
the second one had no alignment and was mainly focussed on determining what occurred during the time between the first and third campaign. amazing roleplaying ruled this one, as i limited the final lvl cap to 3. you'd be suprised, it kinda turned out like an old style white wolf game, just still using d&d sheets.
the third one also had no alignment, but the barriers had been weakening between worlds,causing mutations among the populace and creating psionics. the players didn't know this of course. i had to move and never finished it, but i will as soon as i can. they keep bugging me about it ><.

anyway, rant and description aside, i believe alignment does nothing except limit roleplaying unless it has a very real day to day affect on the character's lives. otherwise, the old nature/demeanor thing seems to work best, if you have to have something like that. though i prefer nothing to be set in stone about a characters moral compass or personallity.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2005 9:16 am 
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Unctuous Toady
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I tend to agree with the basic sentiment that the D&D alignment system is imperfect and that often times it is more of a hinderance than a help.

I was still in grammar school when the original first edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules were in print. I didn't understand the whole Alignment and Cosmology system that Gygax had outlined. But as I got older and as our group started to learn the rules better then I began to appreciate the cosmology more.

I read the Elric books by Michael Moorcock and that clued me into the whole Law vs. Chaos thing. I think that a lot of D&D players don't even get that. When I was growing up everyone recognized a basic conflict between good and evil alignments. But for the most part lawful and chaotic alignments were seen as being able to get along much better. I think this is a misunderstanding of the basic nature of the universe and the outer planes that Gygax envisioned.

The whole system is about polarities. You have good vs. evil and law vs. chaos. The outer planes are populated by beings constructed of the basic "stuff" of their own alignment and plane. Demons are the embodiment of Chaos and Evil. Devils are the embodiment of Evil and Law. Slaads embody chaos and Moderans embody law. The good alignments have similar extra-planar minions that hold the same rank and station as demons, devils, slaads, etc.

And in this whole crazy mess you have the mortals of the prime material plane caught in the middle. The extra-planar entities can't effectively do battle against one another in the outter planes. So they have to fight through their mortal proxies on the prime material. Of course the mortals don't necessarily realize this as such. In fact the whole conflict could be portrayed as so monumental that you begin to wonder if anyone has that much say in the whole thing. Is a god instructing his clerics and worshippers to undertake a specific action (a crusade or whatever) because the god feels that is best or is the god compelled to behave that way based on larger alignment related instincts that define who they are?

Once I began to see the D&D alignment system in light of the larger cosmology I become once again more interested in it. It suddenly seemed to be such a rich background and framework to run campaigns and create adventures. I think this is one of the least appreciated aspects of the old AD&D rules and it's alignment system.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:11 pm 
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 11:34 am 
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I agree that 'polarised' alignments work in a world where the gods take a more active role, and such things as basic alignment can be detected through various means, a person's aura being 'tinted' by the deity influincing him, wether or not he follows or even believes in the deity. ("You may not believe in the Grim Reaper, good hangman, but he certainly beieves in YOU.")

In games where the people are generally more flexible in what they can do, when 'ethics' joins with legality and morality in detwrmining what a person considers permissible and verboten, polarized alignments don't really fit any more.

In closing, I remember a bit from the Knights of the Dinner Table comic book regarding the 'abuse' of a polarized alignment system Paraphrased because I can't remember it all):
Quote:
Paladin: "I sneak up behind the small band of orcs, and slam the cursed Helm of Opposite Alignment on the one in the rear."
GM: (rolls) "Okay, you manage to get the help on him without alerting the others. You now have a Lawful Good Orc standing in front of you wearing the cursed help."
Paladin: "I ask the Orc politely for my helm back and ask his help in 'enlightening' his companions to a more peaceful way of life."
(soon)
GM: "Oooh-kay, now you've got a small band of Lawful Good Orcs with you, what now?"
Paladin: "I ask them to lead me to their village."
(later)
GM: "I can't believe what I'm seeing, this is like Invasion of the Pod People. You and your growing band of Orcs manage to quetly ambush everyone in the village one by one and put the helmet on them. You have forcibly inposed your desires on an entire village against their will, that is so many alignment infractions I'm rulling that you've shifted all the way to Chaotic Evil."
Paladin: "Okay, I put on the Helmet of Reverse Alignment."


---
Chaotic Evil means never saying you're sorry.
Lawful Evil means saying you're sorry, but never meaning it.

Chaotic Neutral: "I only care abut three things, Me, Myself, and I." (kind of makes it hard for the CN deities to get active followers unless they keep 'paying' them for their worship.)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:55 pm 
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Haha... classic story :)

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:09 pm 
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Lance Corporal
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great as a guidline but it is just that a guideline

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:34 am 
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Sergeant
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Since I have two active D&D campaigns going on, DMing one player in the other, I have to agree with Truckler on this.

Alignments can come in handy at times in D&D. I use them to keep people in check. I have started using a point type system that starts at 0 then moves plus or minus depending on the good/evil, lawful/chaotic based on things that they do in the game. If they slide 10 points one way I change there alignment in my notes.

It is really funny when a good character is told by another player or NPC checking alignments that they are now evil or lawful are now chaotic. I also roll to see if there deity has noticed the shift. It is a higher percentage based on character class. Clerics and Paladins being the highest.

It has made for some interesting problems for some of the players. :twisted:

Like the paladins horse that left him do to his alignment shifting in the wrong dirrection. Or the cleric who was tossed out of his temple due to his shift.

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