View Full Version : The 5 points of alignment

2010-02-18, 05:08 AM
Ok. I've sat through enough alignment threads and now I'm going to throw my hat in the ring(god help me).

Some starting points:
1.The current alignment system was intended to be intentionally vague. Problem is, it wasn't on one point. They defined what 'good' is as a destination. This is a cruel joke.
2.The alignment system is incredibly archaic in its structure. The "good guys" are Lawful, and only most are LG. This is why Asmodeus gets away with what he does with the Pact Primeval. Any serious attempt at a change in the alignment system will have to either gut or explain Asmodeus' position in the new system and how it affects his position.
3.The system fails to cover shades of grey and the all too common trope of good fighting good because they disagree on what kind of good is good. This is because in standard D&D, there is only one kind. I hope to rectify this by defining good and evil in such a way that allows for grey inherently in the system. At the same time, I hope to leave 'good' vague enough that it is easy to work. Evil will have a more semi-clear definition, but should also be far more vague than it used to be.

The terms:
Virtue -At the center of any alignment axis is a Virtue. This is the pure and undiluted 'best' that there is of that concept. A good example Virtue is Courage.
Vice - At either end of the alignment axis are two Vices. These represent the most reprehensible butcherings of the Virtue. The Vices that correspond to Courage are Foolhearty and Cowardice.
Ideal - In the middle, directly to either side of the Virtue exists the Ideals which truly define it. A Virtue typically can not be understood without first understanding and Balancing both Ideals that represent it. Courage's Ideals are Valor and Caution. Taking one without it being balanced will always create a draw towards the Vice that corresponds directly to the strength of that Ideal. When Caution is not balanced by Valor, it is naturally drawn in by the allure of Cowardice.
Axis - The concept that the above terms can be understood by drawing a single line on a piece of paper and plotting 5 points on it.
Balance - Said when something is believed to lie between the Ideals and as close to the Virtue as is possible. The most Courageous men alive have learned to be cautious in their actions, but to always stand valiantly when the situation calls.

Now, the Axes vary in their profoundness and their potency. Some exist only in the mind of their champions, while others are so dominating that the very leylines bend to their influence. The two most hotly debated axes are those called the axes of ethics and morality. They are so debated cause, unlike the Axis of Courage, no one has ever properly quantified their Virtues, yet they are among the most foundational of the Axes.

"He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither."
Ideals: Order and Freedom
Vices: Rigidity and Abandon

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Ideals: Individual and Society
Vices: Narcissism and Servility

And then there's the concept of good and evil. Two words that evoke more argument than any axis ever did. However, their definition is far simpler than one could've imagined. Good is to seek to uphold the ideals. Evil is to uphold a vice or pit ideals against each other. Going back to the axis of Courage, a good person upholds Valor and Caution, while an evil person might split a cautious people from their valiant defenders, or he might venerate Foolheartedness or Cowardice.

It is said that the gods draw their power from their followers, but this is inaccurate. The gods draw their power from their ideals and how well their followers exemplify this ideal. The gods of war draw power from Valor, and their servants are frequently Crusaders, Paladins, Blackguards and similar. To draw power from an Axis, a god *must* choose an ideal. The good gods make allies across the axis in order to maintain their balance and sanity, while the evil gods embrace the intoxication that comes from warping their ideals towards the vices. Because of this, gods without many allies are feared regardless of how evil they are.

I'm going to bed, but I don't want to lose my place, so here's what I plan on adding to this:

What the new Axii are.
How to translate some of the old system into this.
Adjusting to the new alignment.
The new definition of Good and Evil.

Please pardon the incompleteness, but if I didn't start the post, I'd have never had the opportunity to try finishing it.

2010-02-18, 05:33 AM
Its an interesting variant.

As to the good guys being mostly lawful, or not fighting over what is good- Champions of Valor seems to contradict this, at least for Faerun.

The difference is that at the celestial level, the difference between Lawful Good and Chaotic Good matters less- the archons and eladrins may not approve of each other's methods, but they don't actually fight.

At the mortal level, strife between different Good factions is commoner, but it seems like a general rule, that when Good fights Good, its Evil that wins.

2010-02-18, 06:16 AM
Its an interesting variant.

As to the good guys being mostly lawful, or not fighting over what is good- Champions of Valor seems to contradict this, at least for Faerun.

The difference is that at the celestial level, the difference between Lawful Good and Chaotic Good matters less- the archons and eladrins may not approve of each other's methods, but they don't actually fight.

At the mortal level, strife between different Good factions is commoner, but it seems like a general rule, that when Good fights Good, its Evil that wins.

For the most part. Just as evil can fight evil though, good can fight good. Think of Miko, for example, although that is a little skewed by the fact that she thought Roy was Evil.

I'm going to follow this. :smallamused:

2010-02-18, 06:50 AM
The difference is that at the celestial level, the difference between Lawful Good and Chaotic Good matters less- the archons and eladrins may not approve of each other's methods, but they don't actually fight.

Not true. Do you know what happens when even good deities die? Their celestial servants are given 2 options. Convert to a new faith and follow another deity (typically the one who slain their original deity) - or be executed by the other celestial hosts. This is mostly the lawful good bits talking... but ya.

2010-02-18, 06:51 AM
Which source is this? I haven't seen any 3.0-3.5 sources that suggest this.

I was pointing out that its not a case of Law vs Chaos- archons don't actually wage war on eladrins, and vice versa. At least, going by BoED.

2010-02-18, 07:12 AM
Forgotten Realms. I forgot the exact book series, but it happened whenever Helm killed Tyr. After he went ape-wall and killed his own ally-god, he went into seclusion. His celestial host basically told tyr's angels "convert to helm, or be executed". It was during the events within a month of mystarra's death.

2010-02-18, 07:17 AM
ah yes- when Tyr killed Helm shortly before Mystra's death in the Spellplague novels- taking place just before and just after the spellplague. I've read some of them, but not the first in the trilogy.

Seems more like Lawful Good vs Lawful Neutral here.

BoED did say war in the Upper Planes happens, but its generally caused by corrupt celestials.

There isn't an ongoing war caused by philosophical conflict between LG and CG though. "The archons are much more able to stomach the chaos of the eladrins, than the evil of the devils"

2010-02-18, 08:42 AM
First: I disagree with all three points why standard alignment is bad.
Second: I don't understand how the described alternative system is supposed to work. But it seems needlessly complicated.

2010-02-18, 10:27 AM
This is what The SRD says about Alignment (in spoiler due to sheer size). I fail to see where Good is described as a destination nor do I see where it is vague. Perhaps you were looking at an earlier version.


A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, or chaotic evil.

Alignment is a tool for developing your character’s identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting your character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two characters of the same alignment can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent.

Good Vs. Evil

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.

Being good or evil can be a conscious choice. For most people, though, being good or evil is an attitude that one recognizes but does not choose. Being neutral on the good-evil axis usually represents a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a balanced view. While acknowledging that good and evil are objective states, not just opinions, these folk maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people, or at least for them.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral rather than good or evil. Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior.

Law Vs. Chaos

Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties.

Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.

"Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.

"Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.

Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but more often it is a personality trait that is recognized rather than being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful-chaotic axis is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots and drawbacks.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.

The Nine Alignments

Nine distinct alignments define all the possible combinations of the lawful-chaotic axis with the good-evil axis. Each alignment description below depicts a typical character of that alignment. Remember that individuals vary from this norm, and that a given character may act more or less in accord with his or her alignment from day to day. Use these descriptions as guidelines, not as scripts.

The first six alignments, lawful good through chaotic neutral, are the standard alignments for player characters. The three evil alignments are for monsters and villains.

Lawful Good, "Crusader"

A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

Neutral Good, "Benefactor"

A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them..

Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order.

Chaotic Good, "Rebel"

A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.

Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit.

Lawful Neutral, "Judge"

A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government.

Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.

Neutral, "Undecided"

A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil—after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way.

Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

Chaotic Neutral, "Free Spirit"

A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.

Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.

Lawful Evil, "Dominator"

A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises.

This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains.

Some lawful evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

Lawful evil is sometimes called "diabolical," because devils are the epitome of lawful evil.

Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.

Neutral Evil, "Malefactor"

A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has.

Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.

Neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.

Chaotic Evil, "Destroyer"

A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him.

Chaotic evil is sometimes called "demonic" because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil.

Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.


2010-02-18, 12:11 PM
As to the good guys being mostly lawful, or not fighting over what is good- Champions of Valor seems to contradict this, at least for Faerun.

I'm going more by the overall D&D standard, rather than the individual setting's explanations. D&D's original alignment axis was law v. chaos, not good v. evil. This is echoed in Fiendish Codex II, where in the lore of the pact primeval, originally, there was only the lawful gods and the chaoitic Demons. And there was a war. Asmodeus was among the most effective servants of the Lawful gods at defeating the Demons, but eventually his methods helped define the axis of good and evil.

2010-02-18, 06:15 PM
Please keep in mind: Like many other things, alignment is a bit different with every new writer. Even official books will constantly contradict each other.

2010-02-18, 06:21 PM
I think the alignment system is great. Any variance allowed is a good thing, and gives a DM a chance to define his world in his own special way.

It is simple, but affective.

2010-02-19, 09:15 AM
One point that is lost is that in 1e [when i started playing] these weren't really about what sort of person you were so much as what side you subconsciously take in the great celestial wars that hold reality in a state of being.

Were evil to win, live would not exist, were good to win in the absolute terms that D&D describes, life would not propagate, were law to win, the universe would stagnate and die, were chaos to win, the universe would come apart at the hinges.

In the original context, people on the prime were aware of this and could define actions based on these lines of thought if they were inclined to. Often people didn't think that the restraint of Good was actually beneficial to them and ignored it, though they tended to avoid the self-interest of Evil because that has a tendency to come back to bit you.

The moment you try to define cultural relitivism by these axis, it fails: that's not what the system was ever for. Your system might be alright for classifying people, but that has no real impact on the way that demons and angels function.