Someinteresting points on Alignment by way of Shakespeare..

TristramEvans

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A rather nicely done video I just stumbled about in regards to the issue of Alignment, one of the things that I've always had the hardest time reconciling with in regards to D&D and associated games
 

Dumarest

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Let me check:
  1. I love Shakespeare.
  2. I love RPGs.
  3. I love ancient Rome.
  4. I love history.
  5. I love pretty girls.
Video approved! :thumbsup:

Edit: Her video on The Argonautica is even better:
 
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Baulderstone

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That is a good video, and I was entertained by the fact that she spent the whole video thinking through alignment, and then she had her big epiphany during the editing.

I find the best way to understand alignment is to look back past Gygax to Arneson. In the Blackmoor campaign, you had a wargame going on in addition to the dungeon crawling, and the biggest war was between the forces of Law and Chaos. Choosing to align yourself with one side or the other affected the troops you could recruit and the magic you had at your disposal. It was about what cosmic force you pledged yourself to.

Alignment got messy when later D&D tried to turn it in a description of personality and morality, as well as expecting the GM to act as a moral cop, deciding if you were playing your character right (something Gygax doubles down on in AD&D where the DM is expected to not just police alignment, but to also award them a letter grade every session based on how well they played their class. Not that he ever actually did this in his own game).

Looking back at the original concept, I decided to go with the concept that alignment is simply and cosmic force that you have pledged loyalty to in return for some kind of support. Depending on the campaign, your alignment might be Lawful or Chaotic if they are forces in the world, but it also could be Olympian if you serve that pantheon. The alignments of your setting are whatever supernatural forces in contains.

Detect Alignment becomes a lot easier to adjudicate when it simply reveals any supernatural/religious pacts that the target has entered into. Abstract questions, such as whether a character has committed acts that would render them Evil, don't enter into it.
 

Dumarest

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I disregard alignment entirely as it's unnecessary for any game I'd ever run. And if it were necessary, I'd leave it to the DM to determine a PC's alignment based on the PC's actions, not some words the player wrote on his character sheet.
 

Voros

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I thought Blythy from the Grognard podcast had an interesting take on alignment on the podcast dealing with the 1e DMG.

He is quite critical of a lot of the DMG (and pissed off some fanatics by daring to voice them) but actually thinks alignment was an interesting idea and had the kernel of the idea about your character being more than a generic fighter or magic-user (always hated that flavourless term btw) with no real personality.

He also notes the little discussed characteristic table for NPCs in the DMG, which I loved and we ended up using in our chargen when we were teens to give our PCs a more interesting personality to RP.
 

Voros

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That is a good video, and I was entertained by the fact that she spent the whole video thinking through alignment, and then she had her big epiphany during the editing.

I find the best way to understand alignment is to look back past Gygax to Arneson. In the Blackmoor campaign, you had a wargame going on in addition to the dungeon crawling, and the biggest war was between the forces of Law and Chaos. Choosing to align yourself with one side or the other affected the troops you could recruit and the magic you had at your disposal. It was about what cosmic force you pledged yourself to.

Alignment got messy when later D&D tried to turn it in a description of personality and morality, as well as expecting the GM to act as a moral cop, deciding if you were playing your character right (something Gygax doubles down on in AD&D where the DM is expected to not just police alignment, but to also award them a letter grade every session based on how well they played their class. Not that he ever actually did this in his own game).

Looking back at the original concept, I decided to go with the concept that alignment is simply and cosmic force that you have pledged loyalty to in return for some kind of support. Depending on the campaign, your alignment might be Lawful or Chaotic if they are forces in the world, but it also could be Olympian if you serve that pantheon. The alignments of your setting are whatever supernatural forces in contains.

Detect Alignment becomes a lot easier to adjudicate when it simply reveals any supernatural/religious pacts that the target has entered into. Abstract questions, such as whether a character has committed acts that would render them Evil, don't enter into it.
I think 5e has fixed the always annoying Detect Evil/Good spell by making it only detect purely evil and good supernatural creatures like Demons, etc. It is certainly less useful but makes a lot more in-world sense.
 

Dumarest

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...the little discussed characteristic table for NPCs in the DMG, which I loved and we ended up using in our chargen when we were teens to give our PCs a more interesting personality to RP.
We used to use that when we just had no real inspiration or didn't care enough to come up with any personality hooks. Roll some dice, "Okay, my guy is greedy and hostile. I can play that."
 
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tenbones

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I disregard alignment entirely as it's unnecessary for any game I'd ever run. And if it were necessary, I'd leave it to the DM to determine a PC's alignment based on the PC's actions, not some words the player wrote on his character sheet.
I'm not a girl. I'm not pretty. But if I were. I'd totally make out with you.
 

Voros

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Necroing this thread because there is a lot of talk online right now about WotC and alignment which is absurdly politicized for some strange and nerds-only-could-care reason so not kosher to discuss here but it and the current game of 2e I'm playing reminds me of some of what I don't like about the 9-alignment system from 1e on.

It is a bit of trip to be playing 2e with newbies, two players picked Neutral and Neutral Evil so they could expressly 'do whatever they feel like.' Which I remembered so well my older brother doing in 1e as part of his powergaming (his playstyle blows holes in the claim that builds and powergaming were somehow 'enabled' by 3e).

In the 1e system though there are far more issues. I think Lawful Good/Lawful Evil, Chaotic Good/Chaotic Evil all map onto easily understandable types from RL and media. Noble knights, ruthless nobles, Robin Hood, Sauron.

But Neutral (worst of all when tied to the Druid) and Neutral Good have some issues in terms of clarity and with Neutral just no good RL model.

More seriously flawed are Lawful Neutral and especially Neutral Evil which are usually just played as 'I do what I feel like in the moment' types with no coherent behaviour or even character at their core. An odd combo of meta-gaming combined with just poor role-playing.

I think I like Beyond the Wall's approach the best which is to stick with the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic axis of B/X with Neutral being what most people are in RL: a mixture of good and bad depending on the situation.
 

Voros

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Back in the day, we all just wrote down "Neutral Good" on the character sheet and ignored it after that
I feel like that is the practical effect in our current 2e game as well. I don't think most of us even remember our alignment without checking the sheet.

5e has come in for some criticism (shocking I know) for 'de-emphazising' alignment but I've long felt that it is only the Cleric who really feels tied to it in a meaningful way in play (I'm currently playing a Cleric) because of the way alignment ties you to your God and your divine powers.
 

The Butcher

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Alignment, as other posters have accurately pointed out, started as a "team jersey" tag for a wargame.

I find that it works best as a "team jersey" in D&D as well, at least with regards to Law vs. Chaos. Jeff Rients has a more colorful spiel for the idea here.

The injection of a Good/Evil axis does muddy the waters a bit, in that it more or less forces some reflection on behavior, but I generally recommend not overthinking it outside of gross violations.
 

Simlasa

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5e has come in for some criticism (shocking I know) for 'de-emphazising' alignment but I've long felt that it is only the Cleric who really feels tied to it in a meaningful way in play (I'm currently playing a Cleric) because of the way alignment ties you to your God and your divine powers.
When playing a Cleric, I'd rather my animosity be directed at certain activitities and the followers of particular rival deities, rather than adhering to the roster of some simplistic cosmic league membership. That makes it much more interesting IMO.
 

CRKrueger

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The Angry GM has a longass article Here.
Scroll down to the section A Case for Alignment. I pretty much agree with the main points.
1. Alignment is a Cosmological Force
2. Alignment on a character sheet is a character’s intent, what they try to be. Their real alignment only the GM knows and is based on the character’s actions.
 

Black Leaf

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Alignment, as other posters have accurately pointed out, started as a "team jersey" tag for a wargame.

I find that it works best as a "team jersey" in D&D as well, at least with regards to Law vs. Chaos. Jeff Rients has a more colorful spiel for the idea here.

The injection of a Good/Evil axis does muddy the waters a bit, in that it more or less forces some reflection on behavior, but I generally recommend not overthinking it outside of gross violations.
I agree with that. But very few D&D campaigns are about battles between cosmic forces. And tbh, if I want to do that I'll bite the bullet and run Stormbringer instead where I have an actual supporting cosmology.
 

TJS

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These days I'm pretty convinced that any purpose for alignment is circular.

ie. people try to find a use for alignment because it's there, not because it responds to some pressing need in their games.

And it keeps bored people at work busy by arguing about what alignment Batman has I guess.
 

The Butcher

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I agree with that. But very few D&D campaigns are about battles between cosmic forces. And tbh, if I want to do that I'll bite the bullet and run Stormbringer instead where I have an actual supporting cosmology.
I disagree, but in any case the assumption of a background cosmic conflict, with only discrete impact in everyday life is sufficient for the system to work out.
 

Voros

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When playing a Cleric, I'd rather my animosity be directed at certain activitities and the followers of particular rival deities, rather than adhering to the roster of some simplistic cosmic league membership. That makes it much more interesting IMO.
I can see that but it does feel a bit counter intuititive to how polytheism worked in the pagan world (and still works in polytheistic faiths like Hinduism). But default D&D doesn't do the relationship between God(s), Clerics and the laity very well as it is a vague mix of polytheism and monotheism.

Although I do think 2e Legends & Lore, Monster Mythology and The Complete Priest's Handbook address most of that, too bad 5e didn't draw on 2e in that area.

I'd love to see a 5e Legends & Lore with all the classic setting pantheons and more but I get the feeling WotC doesn't want to go there for obvious reasons.
 

Stevethulhu

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I agree with that. But very few D&D campaigns are about battles between cosmic forces. And tbh, if I want to do that I'll bite the bullet and run Stormbringer instead where I have an actual supporting cosmology.
Which is one of the places D&D nicked the concept of Alignment from, ironically enough.

Me, I did away with the idea years ago. The only real issue was the "Protection from X" range of spells. Which became "Protection from things trying to hurt me" in practise. And Evil bein the usual shorthand name given to them.
 
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TJS

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I think even on the cosmic level I would prefer to centre struggles around more concrete entities. Seems more mythological.

So I might have two groups of cosmic beings - two pantheons or the like. And perhaps one is more lawful in nature and one group is more chaotic in what they believe (and in their inherent nature - the two things being the same as they are mythological beings) - but they are not LAW or CHAOS.
 

Edgewise

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So I might have two groups of cosmic beings - two pantheons or the like. And perhaps one is more lawful in nature and one group is more chaotic in what they believe (and in their inherent nature - the two things being the same as they are mythological beings) - but they are not LAW or CHAOS.
I think the way a lot of fantasy approaches it would have it that most of those gods are essentially Lawful, while Chaotic beings are essentially demons, or perhaps a primordial order of deities (or both...).

There are a lot of ways you can cut it. In a truly non-Manichean polytheistic universe, you could have a simple division between mortal/otherworldly, or different flavors of the otherworldly. The corresponding detection spells need to be tailored to the cosmology of the world.
 

Séadna

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I can see that but it does feel a bit counter intuititive to how polytheism worked in the pagan world (and still works in polytheistic faiths like Hinduism). But default D&D doesn't do the relationship between God(s), Clerics and the laity very well as it is a vague mix of polytheism and monotheism.
Default D&D to some degree comes off as a world with widespread henotheism.
 

Edgewise

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Default D&D to some degree comes off as a world with widespread henotheism.
For me, the real problem with D&D religions is that, on one hand, their practices and beliefs were entirely demystified by the existence of unambiguous gods with pragmatic relationships, and on the other hand, even those practical matters are not accounted for by any rethinking of the role of religion in society.

Also, it seems like most interpretations of D&D assume that not all priests are spell-casting clerics. If that's so, it's never really made clear where clerics come from. It would be cool if they were selected from birth like some ceremony to find the next dalai lama. Also, you rarely get much sense of how these spell-slinging priests are integrated into broader religious organizations.
 

FaerieGodfather

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I find the best way to understand alignment is to look back past Gygax to Arneson. In the Blackmoor campaign, you had a wargame going on in addition to the dungeon crawling, and the biggest war was between the forces of Law and Chaos. Choosing to align yourself with one side or the other affected the troops you could recruit and the magic you had at your disposal. It was about what cosmic force you pledged yourself to.
Pretty much this... with an addendum, that in the source material Arneson was drawing from Law was not Good and Chaos was not Evil, despite the fact that every two-bit submoronic fucking hack pays lip service to this truth while explicitly and deliberately writing every aspect of their mechanics and setting from the perspective that "Lawful Good is Best Good" and Chaotic Good is so much of a Lesser Good that Lawful Evil is frequently considered morally superior.

In Moorcock's work and in all of the works of his better imitators, alignment doesn't run on the 4e scale of Lawful Good - Good - Unaligned - Evil - Chaotic Evil.

It's more like, in AD&D terms, Lawful Evil - Neutral (Goodish) - Chaotic Evil.

Alignment got messy when later D&D tried to turn it in a description of personality and morality, as well as expecting the GM to act as a moral cop, deciding if you were playing your character right (something Gygax doubles down on in AD&D where the DM is expected to not just police alignment, but to also award them a letter grade every session based on how well they played their class. Not that he ever actually did this in his own game).
I don't know how much Gygax contributed to the Original D&D with Arneson, and I refuse to dishonor his memory with baseless speculation, but I am not impressed in any capacity with any of the work he produced without Arneson. He actively made D&D worse for cynical-- at best-- reasons and his ex parte commentary about the game he created has convinced me that I would not want to play it with him, or invite him into my home.

May his soul rest easy in the arms of his ancestors-- but I think the living should take his advice with a grain of salt.

Detect Alignment becomes a lot easier to adjudicate when it simply reveals any supernatural/religious pacts that the target has entered into. Abstract questions, such as whether a character has committed acts that would render them Evil, don't enter into it.
THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS.

I disregard alignment entirely as it's unnecessary for any game I'd ever run. And if it were necessary, I'd leave it to the DM to determine a PC's alignment based on the PC's actions, not some words the player wrote on his character sheet.
Also this, but with a side of: doing it that way is fine when the majority of classes aren't conditional upon the DM's fiat judgement of the character's alignment.

In AD&D and 3.X D&D, the majority of classes in the Player's Handbook and a similar proportion of classes in the various supplements either lost their class features or lost the ability to progress in the class if the player's interpretation of the vague and arbitrary ethos of their class didn't match the DM's, and the old school rules were not great in encouraging DM's to be thoughtful or accommodating in this regard.

Necroing this thread because there is a lot of talk online right now about WotC and alignment which is absurdly politicized for some strange and nerds-only-could-care reason so not kosher to discuss here but it and the current game of 2e I'm playing reminds me of some of what I don't like about the 9-alignment system from 1e on.
The furthest I will comment on that topic here is... there's a very strange assumption here that the people writing the critical articles and lobbying for changes are not nerds themselves, that they're misguided political activists looking to be outraged by books they've never read for a game they've never played with people they've never met. It's a strange and self-serving assumption that runs contrary to the other popular dismissal of this activism: that Wizards of the Coast is pandering to these noisy social justice weirdos for commercial reasons.

If WotC is shamelessly pandering to them... then WotC at least believes that they are paying customers. And for all the money WotC makes with their shameless pandering, they spend a whole hell of a lot of it on making sure they know exactly who their customers are and what their customers want.

It's not being politicized. It's political.

But Neutral (worst of all when tied to the Druid) and Neutral Good have some issues in terms of clarity and with Neutral just no good RL model.
Before my AD&D game (sans alignments) crashed and burned, one of my players who was more accustomed to modern D&D spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to make sense of the AD&D (Second Edition Revised) section on alignment. We agreed that we just could not fathom any real person or any reasonable fictional character actually adhering to any of those moral philosophies personality disorders to the degree that the AD&D rules seem to expect.
 
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E-Rocker

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I have no time for alignments. A minor factor in why I chose Savage Worlds as my go-to game is that it does not have an alignment system.

The one time I played D&D in the late 80s (which was also the only time I played D&D until well into adulthood), I wanted to be Chaotic Evil. I didn't know or particularly care what that actually meant, as far as game rules. I just knew that I was eleven years old and the phrase "Chaotic Evil" sounded metal as fuck.
 

Simlasa

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Also, it seems like most interpretations of D&D assume that not all priests are spell-casting clerics. If that's so, it's never really made clear where clerics come from. It would be cool if they were selected from birth like some ceremony to find the next dalai lama. Also, you rarely get much sense of how these spell-slinging priests are integrated into broader religious organizations.
More reasons why Runequest (now Mythras) appealed to me over D&D. So few D&D games I've been in have had Clerics where I can recall what god/gods they followed. They're as samey as Warriors, but they shouldn't be (not that the Warriors should be samey either).

Worship.jpg67479471_2358296030950315_945465801001926656_n.jpg5ede2935c7042fce0dcd97a1dffa1621.jpg
 
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Voros

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I think the way a lot of fantasy approaches it would have it that most of those gods are essentially Lawful, while Chaotic beings are essentially demons, or perhaps a primordial order of deities (or both...).

There are a lot of ways you can cut it. In a truly non-Manichean polytheistic universe, you could have a simple division between mortal/otherworldly, or different flavors of the otherworldly. The corresponding detection spells need to be tailored to the cosmology of the world.
It has been a while but I believe the Known World and BECMI's cosmology is based on Positive and Negative energy dimensions with a good/evil axis. I think it has advantages to AD&D's convoluted Planes system although I do like a lot of what was done with the Planes system in Planescape even if it is very baroque.
 

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It has been a while but I believe the Known World and BECMI's cosmology is based on Positive and Negative energy dimensions with a good/evil axis. I think it has advantages to AD&D's convoluted Planes system although I do like a lot of what was done with the Planes system in Planescape even if it is very baroque
You know, I never had any idea what the cosmology was for BECMI. Somehow it never seemed to be an issue. Pretty much anything beats AD&D in my book, though as you say, I've heard good things about Planescape. Never got into it, though. It came out during the long era when I had decided D&D was impossibly lame.
 

saskganesh

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I liked this video because it had Shakespeare. Alignment discussions are usually uninteresting as it's not a very good mechanic, but it's a great background tool.
 

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Looking back at the original concept, I decided to go with the concept that alignment is simply and cosmic force that you have pledged loyalty to in return for some kind of support. Depending on the campaign, your alignment might be Lawful or Chaotic if they are forces in the world, but it also could be Olympian if you serve that pantheon. The alignments of your setting are whatever supernatural forces in contains.
I know this post was forever ago, but this reminds me a lot of D20 Modern's allegiances system, though the Allegiances system was much broader.

You could have up to 3 allegiances, and could represent loyalty to a person, to an organization, to a belief system, to a nation, or to an ethical or moral philosophy. You ranked them in order of importance.

You could even believe something without it being an "Allegiance" if it wasn't overly important. Someone could be lawful, but not say have an ALLEGIANCE to Lawful.

These allegiances could change or mutate based on your actions etc.

It made much more sense than the alignment system, even when used kind of like an alignment system.
 
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