View Full Version : Alignment system change (right forum?)

2006-08-20, 11:40 AM
Heya. I am quite new here so I am not sure which board is appropriate for this. Did I make the correct choice?

Anyways, I already have similar thread posted on wizards' forums but thought that I would ask opinions here too...

So, I have been thinking about some changes to alignment system lately. I have no problem with lawful-chaotic axis as most people agree on those. The good-evil axis however seems to be too wide on definition and still too strict to be good to use.

A few common examples are:
-Everyone thinks diffrently of what is good and what is not. Some people think that sacrifices (including lives of others) can be made for the sake of greater good while others believe that it is exactly what Lawful Evil is about.
-All evil and all good creatures are in a way on a same level with others. Like a kobold priest and orc priest who both think all the other races should be destroyed but still neither can use spells affecting opposite alignment, smiting, etc. on other cause they are both evil.
-Non-good creatures can not have classes that need great personal sacrifices or protect others (like paladins).

As everyone has diffrent morals and views of good, I think that it should be possible to view things subjectively. Everyone who believes he is doing the right thing (a huge majority of people) has a good alignment from his point of view. Everyone who has similar values is concidered good for him and everyone who has opposite is concidered evil.

So, as an example:
-A goblin who wants to defend his village, family, friends, etc. even though they might raid and kill humans can become a paladin. It is not about whether some of us thinks that he is good or not, but he thinks he is doing the right thing. If a traditionally "good" character tries to stop the goblins by killing some of them, the goblin can smite the character.

So it is changing good-evil to opposite moral codes really. To quote a person who understood my point on another thread:
"Well, in theory you are right, however, the OP is not talking about the Cleric of Gruumsh being good, he is saying that he has his own point of veiw, and because (Cleric of Gruumsh != Cleric of Heironeous ) both Clerics can consider the other "Evil" and they can both smite each other."

So for example, a paladin raised among a society with clerics of vecna or nerull might not see anything wrong in channeling negative energy, animating undead, assasinations etc. as they were all concidered daily stuff. Some people say assasinations are always evil, some say it is situational but from his point of view it is not.

This system has both good and poor sides.

Good sides:
No more arguing about can the paladin smite the other guy. If the other guy has completely diffrent principles, he can.
No more class restrictions by alignment. If goblin wants to defend his village, he can be a paladin. (If someone claims I have found inspiration from this http://goblinscomic.com/d/20051014.html... Well, he would be right.
More depth as the orc and goblin can smite each other even though traditionally both would be evil.

Poor sides:
Needs more defining on how far views must be to be "smitable", what subjects are smitable, etc.
There are propably a lot more that I haven't thought of yet.

So I would like to have some opinions of this here too. Do people find this useful or useless? More harm or good? Any downsides I haven't noticed?

2006-08-20, 12:11 PM
Evil clerics probably use non-spell means to kill other evilies.

Evil does not tend to think of Good people as evil, they think of them as naive obstructions to their goals of money and power.

Paladins, whether or not they stay LG, have a code. Even if he is fine with all that stuff personally, he faces the little quandry of being obliged to destroy them anyway.

2006-08-20, 12:52 PM
^ that's how fictional evil works. While I'm pretty sure a lot of people regarded the nazis as evil, the nazis themselves thought they were saving the human race. Even Hitler, who at first knew the things he said were simple lies, began to believe his own words at the later periods of the war.

And yes, in a way, being evil is 'underpowered' to being good because a good creature usually uses its abilities against evil creatures (thus things like Holy Aura benefit him more), while an evil creature must use its abilities against both good creatures and evil creatures. This issue doesn't come up much since most games involve a good-aligned party that has evil enemies, though.

HOWEVER, and notice the capitalization, the game is built in such a way that the concept of alignment is used for balance. Broadening this concept may have some offsetting results, though in truth I haven't given this matter much thought. This doesn't apply to things like class requirements, of course.

2006-08-20, 01:02 PM
Well... If we take a common problem with alignment, like someone doing a lot of evil stuff to achieve a good result. Some people believe that is good, some believe that is evil.
If DM and player of a cleric, paladin or similar disagree about this, things get complicated.

That kind of stuff is why I thought that it might be better to have everything thought of from character's point of view...

But so, you think that this change would not be a very good idea?

Abd al-Azrad
2006-08-20, 02:52 PM
It's been said before, but it bears repeating. The problem with D&D is also its strength: its simplicity. In the high-fantasy world of D&D, a hero needs to be easily recognizable as one, and the hero's acts must be quantifiably heroic. Thus, we introduce a very basic concept of what is heroic and what is terrible- a war between light and dark. From this philosophy we can derive every juxtaposition in D&D, which has been created to balance heroes against their obvious foes. Guardinals versus demons, slaad versus inevitables, might versus magic, arcane versus divine, a God for every side representing the ideal of "good" and "law" and "sacrifice" and "tyranny."

Because game mechanics are so intrinsically linked to the concept of duality, of one thing having an equal and opposite other thing, we notice that it is extremely difficult to remove the concept of alignment from the game. If we allow for subjective alignment, then we lose a lot of clarity on what effects affect which targets- as you noted, the paladin's Smite. Can it only work if the player is sufficiently angry? Can it only work with a DM fiat? In situations like this, to quote The Giant, "I (the DM) want tools to use in the game, not a blank check to do what I want. I can already do what I want."

Besides, you still do not remove the simplistic philosophy of X vs. Y, you just change it so that any X can be the exact opposite of any Y. I feel that this won't 'fix' the problem with alignments, it will just make the problem more open to interpretation. In short, it'll work for a houserule, but when we start allowing any interpretation of what X or Y is, we make the entire system impossibly cluttered by opposing viewpoints.

2006-08-20, 03:13 PM
I belive the ethical axis of alingment (law/chaos) allready represents peoples opinions and views, including on good and evil.

A Lawful Good person would probally fall under the "means justify the ends" camp. They would not likely be willing to commit an evil act (robbing someone, killing an innocent, participated in cult activity) even if it in the long run would serve "the greater good". A lawful person has a set of rules they abide by and don't break those rules.

A Chaotic Good person would probally fall under the "ends justify the means camp". If commiting an evil act serves the greater good, then so be it. To a chaotic person the rules are mutable. An action is "good" or "evil" based upon the intended outcome, not some predefined concept of right and wrong.

Also, a very important part about the alingment system is that with friends, family, and personal foes, all bets are off. Alingment only truely applies to stangers, people you don't know. The biggest evil bastard in the world can be very kind and loving to his families, and the great holy priest of Pelor can be very vengful and mericless to the demon who killed his family. Do their alingments change because of this, no. Your personal relationship with someone has little to do with your alingnment.

By combining the eithical and moral axis of alingment, not just picking one from each, you can represent most philosophies. D&D allready has an alingment system that works fairly well, you just need to go a bit more in depth in alingment then "I want to be chaotic good cause its cool". The alingment system works, and since it's so ingrained within the rules of the game, removing it would cause you lots of headaches, and you likely won't make the game a whole lot funner if you do change the alingment system.

The trick is if after a bunch of analysing you cant find where someones alingment is, veer twords neutral, thats what neutral alingments where made for, people who dont properly fit into another alingment.

2006-08-20, 03:55 PM
Bah, I guess you are right...

Well, thanks for help everyone. :)