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ideasmith
2017-02-20, 04:02 PM
Alignment Without Alignment

(With thanks to jqavins for help with the intro.)

This is not an alignment system. It is a system for dealing with stuff that would be ‘orphaned’ by dropping alignment. It is intended to work with any 3.5-compatible product (or as many as possible) and to be easy for the DM to apply.

There are two things alignment gets used for: determining which side a creature is on and indicating a creature’s morals/ethics. This system does neither of these things.

There are two different ideas in RAW, both represented by this thing called "alignment." One is a matter of loyalties, hostilities, morality, behavior, and culture. The other is a mechanic regarding creatures and people divided up into nine categories on a three by three grid. The goal here is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, loyalty, hostilities, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements. The thing about nine categories is a matter only of meaningless mechanics, a vestige of the previous system, required only to fill the holes left behind if the old system were dropped outright.

Any new rules that fill all the holes left behind by getting rid of alignment in 3.5 must, of necessity, have the same metaphorical "shape" as the alignment rules they replace. So the new rules look a lot like alignment, but have very little to do with which side one is on and nothing to do with morality. New words are introduced to replace Alignment, Neutral, Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic in order to separate the new rules from morality. Other than the new words and the separation from morality, the new rules are essentially the same as the old ones, with the one further exception that they now mean very nearly nothing.

This will hopefully result in fewer arguments than the 3.5 system.

Rule Changes

Terminology: The names of alignments, and of stuff named after alignments, are replaced as follows: ‘Alignment’ becomes ‘Modetenor’; ‘Law and‘Lawful’ become ‘Past’, ‘Neutral’ (with respect to Law/Chaos) becomes ‘Present’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Chaotic’ become ‘Future’; ‘Good’ becomes ‘Beginning’, ‘Neutral’ (with respect to Good/Evil) becomes ‘Middle’, and ‘Evil’ becomes ‘Ending’. Use the initial letter for the two-digit abbreviations, with the exception of ‘Present’ which is abbreviated ‘R’. (So ‘Past Beginning’ would be abbreviated ‘PB’, while ‘Present Middle’ would be abbreviated ‘RM’.

The words are different because what they refer to is different. Modetenor is not a measure of morals, ethics, or hostility, but rather of the character’s attunement (or lack of attunement) to certain energy forces. Attunement to these forces affects which character classes are available, various cleric abilities, spell and magic item affects and the effects of certain planar traits’

Modetenor Behavior: All creatures, including all player characters, are, regardless of actual behavior, considered to be behaving in perfect accord with every modetenor. Note, however, that particularly old fashioned &/or out-of-touch outsiders may be offended, or even outraged, when observing behavior they consider inappropriate.

Modetenor Change: Modetenor can be changed as follows (and not in any other manner):


By such powerful magic as atonement or the helm of opposite modetenor.
Upon gaining a level, a character may change modetenor one step. This takes place before class selection.
If a large amount of time has passed since the last time the character has changed modetenor by any means, the character may change modetenor one step, possibly with restrictions. To determine this, check the modetenor line of the appropriate monster stat block:


If the modetenor the character is changing to is the one in the stat block (or one of them, if the stat block indicates a range), at least one year must have passed.
Other wise, the amount of time depends on the broadness indicator, two years if Often, three years if Usually, four years if Always.
Humans can always change modetenor one step if at least one year has passed.


.




CHANGE LOG

03/16/17 Revised intro in hopes of greater clarity (Thank you, Bogwoppit, jqavins)
03/16/17 Replaced alignment change rules with something much simpler (Thank you, Bogwoppit, jqavins)
03/16/17 Changed alignment terms to allow for more intuitive abbreviations (Thank you, deepbluediver)
03/16/17 Added example (paladin), Thank you, Bogwoppit, deepbluediver, Superstition)
04/08/17 Added to list in intro (Thank you, Amechra, jgavins)
04/08/17 Replaced alignment names (Thank you, jqavins)
04/08/17 Revised example to fit new alignment names.
05/16/17 Revised intro (again) in hopes of greater clarity (Thank you Gildedragon, Deepbluediver, Mr. J, jqavins.)
05/16/17 Revised terminology, adding replacements for ‘alignment’ and ‘neutral’, and removing the table. (Thank you jqavins.)
05/16/17 Revised paladin example to fit both additional alignment names and clarification of what counts as an alignment name (Thank you, deepbluediver.)
05/16/17 Added example (protection from evil)
06/14/17 Added clarification of purpose to terminology (Thank you, HappyElf.)
06/14/17 Added more clarification to introduction (Thank you, Shark Uppercut.)

ideasmith
2017-02-20, 04:03 PM
Example One: The Paladin

This is a line by line description of how the paladin class is changed by this. Omitted lines are unchanged.



Alignment
Lawful good.

Becomes:
Modetenor
Past beginning.


Table: The Paladin


1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Aura of good, detect evil, smite evil 1/day — — — —

Becomes:
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Aura of beginning, detect ending, smite ending 1/day — — — —


5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Smite evil 2/day, special mount 0 — — —

Becomes:
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Smite ending 2/day, special mount 0 — — —


10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Smite evil 3/day 1 1 — —

Becomes:
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Smite ending 3/day 1 1 — —


15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Remove disease 4/week, smite evil 4/day 2 1 1 1

Becomes:
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Remove disease 4/week, smite ending 4/day 2 1 1 1


20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Smite evil 5/day 3 3 3 3

Becomes:
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Smite ending 5/day 3 3 3 3


Aura of Good (Ex)
The power of a paladin’s aura of good (see the detect good spell) is equal to her paladin level.

Becomes:
Aura of Beginning (Ex)
The power of a paladin’s aura of beginning (see the detect beginning spell) is equal to her paladin level.


Detect Evil (Sp)
At will, a paladin can use detect evil, as the spell.

Becomes:
Detect Ending (Sp)
At will, a paladin can use detect ending, as the spell.


Smite Evil (Su)
Once per day, a paladin may attempt to smite evil with one normal melee attack. She adds her Charisma bonus (if any) to her attack roll and deals 1 extra point of damage per paladin level. If the paladin accidentally smites a creature that is not evil, the smite has no effect, but the ability is still used up for that day.
At 5th level, and at every five levels thereafter, the paladin may smite evil one additional time per day, as indicated on Table: The Paladin, to a maximum of five times per day at 20th level.

Becomes:
Smite Ending (Su)
Once per day, a paladin may attempt to smite ending with one normal melee attack. She adds her Charisma bonus (if any) to her attack roll and deals 1 extra point of damage per paladin level. If the paladin accidentally smites a creature that is not ending, the smite has no effect, but the ability is still used up for that day.
At 5th level, and at every five levels thereafter, the paladin may smite ending one additional time per day, as indicated on Table: The Paladin, to a maximum of five times per day at 20th level.


Spells

While this section is not changed per se, many of the spells on the Paladin’s spell list are changed.


Special Mount (Sp)

This section is unchanged. While the word 'evil' does occur, it is not in reference to the alignment system.


Code of Conduct
A paladin must be of lawful good alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits an evil act.
Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.

Becomes:
Code of Conduct
A paladin must be of past beginning modetenor.
Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need, and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
Certain portions of the code of conduct have been removed due to now being meaningless. There is no such thing as an ending act, an ending end, or a future end.


Associates
While she may adventure with characters of any good or neutral alignment, a paladin will never knowingly associate with evil characters, nor will she continue an association with someone who consistently offends her moral code. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good.

Becomes:
Associates
While she may adventure with characters of any beginning or middle modetenor, a paladin will never knowingly associate with ending characters, nor will she continue an association with someone who consistently offends her moral code. A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are past beginning.


Ex-Paladins
A paladin who ceases to be lawful good, who willfully commits an evil act, or who grossly violates the code of conduct loses all paladin spells and abilities (including the service of the paladin’s mount, but not weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). She may not progress any farther in levels as a paladin. She regains her abilities and advancement potential if she atones for her violations (see the atonement spell description), as appropriate.
Like a member of any other class, a paladin may be a multiclass character, but multiclass paladins face a special restriction. A paladin who gains a level in any class other than paladin may never again raise her paladin level, though she retains all her paladin abilities.

Becomes:
Ex-Paladins
A paladin who ceases to be past beginning, or who grossly violates the code of conduct loses all paladin spells and abilities (including the service of the paladin’s mount, but not weapon, armor, and shield proficiencies). She may not progress any farther in levels as a paladin. She regains her abilities and advancement potential if she atones for her violations (see the atonement spell description), as appropriate.
Like a member of any other class, a paladin may be a multiclass character, but multiclass paladins face a special restriction. A paladin who gains a level in any class other than paladin may never again raise her paladin level, though she retains all her paladin abilities.
The section about committing an ending act has been omitted, on the grounds that there is no such thing.









Example Two: Protection from Evil

This is a line by line description of how the protection from evil spell is changed by this. Omitted lines are unchanged.




Protection from Evil

Becomes:
Protection from Ending


Abjuration [Good]

Becomes:
Abjuration [Beginning]


Level: Clr 1, Good 1, Pal 1, Sor/Wiz 1

Becomes:
Level: Clr 1, Beginning 1, Pal 1, Sor/Wiz 1


This spell wards a creature from attacks by evil creatures, from mental control, and from summoned creatures. It creates a magical barrier around the subject at a distance of 1 foot. The barrier moves with the subject and has three major effects.

Becomes:
This spell wards a creature from attacks by ending creatures, from mental control, and from summoned creatures. It creates a magical barrier around the subject at a distance of 1 foot. The barrier moves with the subject and has three major effects.


First, the subject gains a +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus on saves. Both these bonuses apply against attacks made or effects created by evil creatures.

Becomes:
First, the subject gains a +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus on saves. Both these bonuses apply against attacks made or effects created by ending creatures.


Second, the barrier blocks any attempt to possess the warded creature (by a magic jar attack, for example) or to exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment (charm) effects and enchantment (compulsion) effects that grant the caster ongoing control over the subject, such as dominate person). The protection does not prevent such effects from targeting the protected creature, but it suppresses the effect for the duration of the protection from evil effect. If the protection from evil effect ends before the effect granting mental control does, the would-be controller would then be able to mentally command the controlled creature. Likewise, the barrier keeps out a possessing life force but does not expel one if it is in place before the spell is cast. This second effect works regardless of alignment.

Becomes:
Second, the barrier blocks any attempt to possess the warded creature (by a magic jar attack, for example) or to exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment (charm) effects and enchantment (compulsion) effects that grant the caster ongoing control over the subject, such as dominate person). The protection does not prevent such effects from targeting the protected creature, but it suppresses the effect for the duration of the protection from ending effect. If the protection from ending effect ends before the effect granting mental control does, the would-be controller would then be able to mentally command the controlled creature. Likewise, the barrier keeps out a possessing life force but does not expel one if it is in place before the spell is cast. This second effect works regardless of modetenor.


Third, the spell prevents bodily contact by summoned creatures. This causes the natural weapon attacks of such creatures to fail and the creatures to recoil if such attacks require touching the warded creature. Good summoned creatures are immune to this effect. The protection against contact by summoned creatures ends if the warded creature makes an attack against or tries to force the barrier against the blocked creature. Spell resistance can allow a creature to overcome this protection and touch the warded creature.

Becomes:
Third, the spell prevents bodily contact by summoned creatures. This causes the natural weapon attacks of such creatures to fail and the creatures to recoil if such attacks require touching the warded creature. Beginning summoned creatures are immune to this effect. The protection against contact by summoned creatures ends if the warded creature makes an attack against or tries to force the barrier against the blocked creature. Spell resistance can allow a creature to overcome this protection and touch the warded creature.

Bogwoppit
2017-02-21, 05:29 PM
So your concept is that "Alignment" becomes a sort of cultural thing, a badge you take for yourself? But you can behave any way you want without this changing?

It seems to me that you're kind of making a series of political factions - you pay lip service to a shared set of ideals, but needn't necessarily practice them... unless you want to advanced within your "Alignment".

Is that what you have in mind, or have I just spotted some emergent property?

PS: Just a thought, but it also seems to me that the only reason you feel the need to change the terminology of the alignment system is because of its baggage - it has a long history of sparking disputes and contention.
I don't think you need the new names - your rule about alignment behaviour, and changing alignment do enough.
Also, the new names are super awkward.
Just my thoughts, though. Your mileage may vary.

ideasmith
2017-02-22, 12:28 PM
So your concept is that "Alignment" becomes a sort of cultural thing, a badge you take for yourself? But you can behave any way you want without this changing?
Without what changing? Performing the ceremony mentioned in the OP might change your alignment, as might putting on a helm of opposite alignment. Putting a badge on or taking it off might change what badges you are wearing. Learning the ways of a new culture and abandoning those of the old might change your culture. I’m not sure why you brought badges and culture into this discussion.


It seems to me that you're kind of making a series of political factions –
How do you reconcile that interpretation with “It is still not useful for indicating which side a character is on”? My understanding is that belonging to a political faction involves belonging to a side.


you pay lip service
A character who refrains from playing lip service is “considered to be behaving in perfect accord with every alignment.” As is a character who does play lip service. No matter what that character is playing lip service to.


to a shared set of ideals,
If these alignments involve any shared set of ideals, something is badly wrong and needs to be fixed. Please elucidate.


but needn't necessarily practice them... unless you want to advanced within your "Alignment".
In every edition of D&D (except maybe 5th), you either belong to an alignment or you don’t. Are you referring to some weird house rule?


Is that what you have in mind,
Absolutely not.


or have I just spotted some emergent property?
If so, this emergent property needs to be eliminated with extreme prejudice. Your interpretation has alignment doing all sorts of things I don’t want it to do. The requirements for badges, political factions, lip service, shared sets of ideals, and ‘advancing in alignment’ (whatever that is) are at best silly, and at worst apt to cause the sort of arguments I’m trying to prevent here (with an in-between of ‘apt to warp the setting’.


PS: Just a thought, but it also seems to me that the only reason you feel the need to change the terminology of the alignment system is because of its baggage - it has a long history of sparking disputes and contention.
I don't think you need the new names - your rule about alignment behaviour, and changing alignment do enough.
I think you are underestimating the effects of names and baggage.


Also, the new names are super awkward.
I have considered changing one of the pairs to tweedledee and tweedledum, but decided they might seem too silly. Feel free to suggest names.


Just my thoughts, though. Your mileage may vary.
Your thoughts indicate that my wording isn’t as clear as I’d like. Any suggestions for making it clearer?

Bogwoppit
2017-02-23, 08:46 AM
Originally Posted by Bogwoppit
Is that what you have in mind
Absolutely not.
That would have done the job, rather than your step by step attack.

Reading through your response, I have to say I have no idea what you want to achieve.

You seem to be proposing a pointless change of names to clunky, non-memorable new names, while saying that there's no point or benefit to alignments in-game.

I can do anything I feel like, being inconsistent, flipping from violent oppression to passive libertarian, to Boy Scout morality - and still have the same alignment? Then there is NO POINT to having any alignment. It serves no purpose.

If you allow players to choose any alignment with zero consequences, including any behavioural expectations, then they will choose whichever alignment gives mechanical benefits - like access to certain spells, magic items, etc.

I really think you'd do better to scrap alignment rather than try to replace it with this confusing and rather pointless system.

dragonjek
2017-02-23, 10:19 AM
"Adversarial" means "involving or characterized by conflict or opposition". While good is often in opposition to evil, good is primarily expressed through healing, peacefulness, and helping others rather than through conflict.

Also, "Arbitrary" would honestly be a better fit for chaos than for law; it means "based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system". The word you were intending was "Arbitrative", I think.

Zale
2017-02-23, 12:55 PM
I actually like the names. They feel very technomagic.

Over all this makes alignment more about what strange cosmic force you happen to be resonating with rather than a factor of your behavior or philosophy, which is a take on alignment I quite like.

Deepbluediver
2017-02-23, 01:03 PM
I'll be honest- I have no idea how to read that giant chart up there at all and I really don't see something as complex as this being adopted for alignment.

Should DM's be less restrictive about certain alignments and do players need to act more like their alignment except instead of just paying it lip service? Yes, but finely dividing everything into dozens of different categories won't help with that.

ideasmith
2017-02-25, 11:27 AM
Thank you all for your responses.

They will help with the revision I’ve started. (I will certainly be revising the statement-of-purpose at the beginning, and adding a ‘not ideals’ notice. I am also thinking of making alignment a supernatural ability, replacing the term ‘alignment’ with ‘division’, and adding descriptions for the alignment table headings). (I am also deciding what examples I want. I am considering a sentence-by-sentence of how the paladin is changed, a sentence-by-sentence of how protection from evil is changed, and a step-by-step of changing one’s alignment. )


That would have done the job, rather than your step by step attack.

Reading through your response, I have to say I have no idea what you want to achieve.

You seem to be proposing a pointless change of names to clunky, non-memorable new names, while saying that there's no point or benefit to alignments in-game.

I can do anything I feel like, being inconsistent, flipping from violent oppression to passive libertarian, to Boy Scout morality - and still have the same alignment? Then there is NO POINT to having any alignment. It serves no purpose.

If you allow players to choose any alignment with zero consequences, including any behavioural expectations, then they will choose whichever alignment gives mechanical benefits - like access to certain spells, magic items, etc.
I really think you'd do better to scrap alignment rather than try to replace it with this confusing and rather pointless system.

If I was creating a new game I would certainly just leave out alignment, and everything connected with it.

What I am doing here is writing a variant rule for an existing game. This game has classes, spells, monsters, planes of existence, magic items and whatnot that interact with the alignment system. A variant that drops alignment needs to indicate how these references function. I have seen several sets of rules for dropping alignment. I didn’t like how they handled this issue. I am therefore making my own.


"Adversarial" means "involving or characterized by conflict or opposition". While good is often in opposition to evil, good is primarily expressed through healing, peacefulness, and helping others rather than through conflict.

Also, "Arbitrary" would honestly be a better fit for chaos than for law; it means "based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system". The word you were intending was "Arbitrative", I think.
No, the word I was intending was “Arbitrary” The fact that standard D&D alignments require certain behaviors doesn’t mean that these names should indicate any behavior whatsoever.


I actually like the names. They feel very technomagic.

Over all this makes alignment more about what strange cosmic force you happen to be resonating with rather than a factor of your behavior or philosophy, which is a take on alignment I quite like.
Thank you!


I'll be honest- I have no idea how to read that giant chart up there at all and I really don't see something as complex as this being adopted for alignment.

This would be the alignment change table? (You didn’t specify.) I can see how it might get confusing, what with 9 alignments the character might have, 9 alignments the character might change to, a whole bunch of possible entries under the alignment heading of monster statblocks, and each repeated in both the standard alignment system’s terminology and this alignment system’s terminology.

The obvious fix would be to add explanations for the headings, either in the rules for alignment change or as table footnotes.

Could you give more detail? I would rather not be fixing something nobody thinks is broken.


Should DM's be less restrictive about certain alignments and do players need to act more like their alignment except instead of just paying it lip service? Yes, but

Since you answered “Yes” to this question, I gather that you want an actual alignment system in your game. There’s no accounting for taste.


finely dividing everything into dozens of different categories won't help with that.

So you’re saying that something that I’m not doing here won’t help fix a system I’m dumping?

Deepbluediver
2017-02-25, 11:48 AM
Could you give more detail? I would rather not be fixing something nobody thinks is broken.
Let me answer your question with another question- what, specifically, don't you like about the current alignment system? I don't think you explained very well what you're trying to accomplish and what your new classifications really mean. If your goal is to get rid of arguments over alignment, I doubt this would accomplish that- you'll still have people arguing over if a particular course of action action is "good" or not, etc.

You say something that sounds like "alignment can be done better without mechanics" but then you go ahead and give us something that looks way more technically complex.

And I really don't get how "All creatures, including all player characters, are, regardless of actual behavior, considered to be behaving in perfect accord with every alignment." is supposed to work.


Since you answered “Yes” to this question, I gather that you want an actual alignment system in your game. There’s no accounting for taste.
I find it helpful to use as a guide, not a prison. Though I've also added "Unaligned" and revamped most of the "detect alignment" spells so we get less of the "He pinged big on my evil-radar! Lets kill him!".
True Neutral is for people who are actively pursuing balance, while Unaligned is for people who don't care and don't lean strongly in any particular direction.


So you’re saying that something that I’m not doing here won’t help fix a system I’m dumping?
No- I'm saying I don't get what you are trying to do. You've got a lot of very specific and yet un-intuitive terms, a massive chart I have no idea how to read (what's with all the symbols?), and no explanation for how your new alignment-but-not-alignment is actually supposed to fit into a game.

Bogwoppit
2017-02-26, 04:15 AM
I have an alternate rule that could do what you seem to want:

Alignment behaviour - as you wrote it.

That's all folks.

As there's no penalty or benefit to act outside what the RAW says alignment should be, then this is the only change you need.
All the rest seems to me to be non-memorable busy work for the sake of difference - the important part of your new rule is that alignment is nothing to do with roleplaying - it's only relevant to the magical system and class system of the game.

ideasmith
2017-03-05, 08:51 PM
Thank you again.

In addition to the changes I already listed, I am thinking of simplifying the alignment change rules in a way that allows dropping the alignment change table and replacing ‘adversarial’ and ‘antithetic’ with ‘capacious’ and ‘ominous’ to allow for more intuitive abbreviations [ ‘RO’ rather than ‘*(‘].


Let me answer your question with another question- what, specifically, don't you like about the current alignment system?

That it’s an alignment system.


I don't think you explained very well what you're trying to accomplish and what your new classifications really mean.

I’m trying to drop alignment without leaving unresolved rules questions.


If your goal is to get rid of arguments over alignment, I doubt this would accomplish that- you'll still have people arguing over if a particular course of action action is "good" or not, etc.

Since courses of action don’t have alignments in this system (while in standard D&D they effectively do, as your wording indicates), this would be arguing about the standard alignment system during a game that uses this system. That doesn’t seem likely enough to make this system ineffective at preventing arguments about alignment.


You say something that sounds like "alignment can be done better without mechanics" but then you go ahead and give us something that looks way more technically complex.

The new mechanics boil down to: ‘To change alignment one step, use up this amount of time and make thus-and-such a skill check’. This is arguably more complex than the standard ‘The DM makes a subjective decision as to whether the character’s behavior has crossed a vaguely-indicated line. This sets off an argument.’. Removing alignment from the rules for alignment change is well worth a little extra complexity.


And I really don't get how "All creatures, including all player characters, are, regardless of actual behavior, considered to be behaving in perfect accord with every alignment." is supposed to work.

It means that attitudes and behavior (including courses of action) don’t have any alignment. That any alignment is consistent with any attitude/behavior, and vice versa. That the alignment section of the core rules, and similar stuff elsewhere, is no longer applicable.


I find it helpful to use as a guide, not a prison. Though I've also added "Unaligned" and revamped most of the "detect alignment" spells so we get less of the "He pinged big on my evil-radar! Lets kill him!".
True Neutral is for people who are actively pursuing balance, while Unaligned is for people who don't care and don't lean strongly in any particular direction.

As a guide to what?


No- I'm saying I don't get what you are trying to do.

Oh. Then you weren’t saying that subdividing the alignments doesn’t help the alignment system. My apologies for misconstruing. (Just to be clear: I consider subdividing alignments to be worse than useless.)


You've got a lot of very specific and yet un-intuitive terms,

Feel free to suggest better terms. Keep in mind that a character of any alignment might have have any personality and might be on any side of any conflict. The terms should be consistent with that.


a massive chart I have no idea how to read

I’ve already gathered that “The duration of the ceremony is determined by the alignment change table below. The number is how many hours the ceremony takes.” is an inadequate explanation for the table. A repair is in progress.


(what's with all the symbols?),

You are probably referring to the two-digit codes for the alignments (the replacements for LG, NG, etc.). They are used in the column headings for the Alignment Change Table because the table is wider than I like as-is. The meanings are as noted in the Terminology Change Table.


and no explanation for how your new alignment-but-not-alignment is actually supposed to fit into a game.
It’s for dealing with stuff left ‘orphaned’ by dropping alignment.


I have an alternate rule that could do what you seem to want:

Alignment behaviour - as you wrote it.

That's all folks.

As there's no penalty or benefit to act outside what the RAW says alignment should be, then this is the only change you need.
All the rest seems to me to be non-memorable busy work for the sake of difference - the important part of your new rule is that alignment is nothing to do with roleplaying - it's only relevant to the magical system and class system of the game.

I hope that you didn’t think things through before writing that. Since you did write it, here is a list of things I do not want:

I do not want low level characters stuck with their original alignment choices short of high-level magic. (I also don’t care for alignment change being equally difficult (or easy) regardless of kindred, given the alignment entries in monster statblocks, but am aware that the standard system also has this flaw.)

I absolutely do not want characters who are horribly evil (as the word is used outside of D&D) counting as good, where good is being construed in the moral sense. While a GM can prevent such, I will not present – or even support – a system which needs GM intervention to avoid causing this. Trying to convince me to would be a waste of your time. I also do not want the various other forms of dissonance ‘your’ version would cause. (Also, the terminology change makes it easier to remember how the rules were changed.)

The stuff this “busy work” does is important (to me, if perhaps not to you). I am not interested in leaving it undone.

Bogwoppit
2017-03-06, 05:46 PM
"My version"? What version is that? I'm not proposing anything, I'm just trying to understand what you are up to - especially because you seem so aggressive in your defence of it.

Yes, there are some alignment restrictions in DnD that can seem arbitrary and dumb. But there are simpler ways to deal with those than your new rules.

In most games I've played in, there's no problem with characters changing alignment over time, as their attitudes and experience change in response to their adventures. It's normal role playing.

Aside from that, I really don't understand what practical benefit you think your set of rules will provide. I mean, have you tried it out with players? How did they react?

Deepbluediver
2017-03-07, 03:41 PM
That it’s an alignment system.
That's not very helpful- I'm really struggling to understand exactly what issues you're trying to resolve.


I’m trying to drop alignment without leaving unresolved rules questions. It sounds like you want a system where, just for example, a Paladin can act like whatever he wants, either good or evil, but the class has a requirement of being "Arbitrary Mode Adversarial Tenor". Is that it? If not, what am I misunderstanding.


Since courses of action don’t have alignments in this system (while in standard D&D they effectively do, as your wording indicates), this would be arguing about the standard alignment system during a game that uses this system. That doesn’t seem likely enough to make this system ineffective at preventing arguments about alignment.
It sounds like you're trying to design a system where the GM doesn't pass any kind of moral judgement on the actions of the characters. And that, in turn, there's no cosmic/karmic retribution for any kind of action at all. Again, if I'm wrong, then you need to explain it differently.


The new mechanics boil down to: ‘To change alignment one step, use up this amount of time and make thus-and-such a skill check’. This is arguably more complex than the standard ‘The DM makes a subjective decision as to whether the character’s behavior has crossed a vaguely-indicated line. This sets off an argument.’. Removing alignment from the rules for alignment change is well worth a little extra complexity.
So are you trying to avoid arguments about the morality of specific actions in-game? Is that what your goal is? If so, this won't help much, and in some cases not at all- people like to roleplay and they aren't (I don't think anyway) just going sit around while other characters do actions their character would object to. The GM not passing judgement just seems like its taking the referee out of the game and letting players resolve everything. Some groups could handle that, I'm sure, but plenty of other would rapidly slide downhill into nothing but PvP.


It means that attitudes and behavior (including courses of action) don’t have any alignment. That any alignment is consistent with any attitude/behavior, and vice versa. That the alignment section of the core rules, and similar stuff elsewhere, is no longer applicable.
Yeah, the thing is, even without the link to mechanics people aren't going to want to play games with other people who build characters that run completely opposite to the types of character they want to play. A setting where there is no morality whatsoever isn't going to appeal to everyone. IMO it wouldn't appeal to a majority of people (it certainly doesn't appeal to me) but that's just my belief; I can't prove it.


As a guide to what?
Character behavior and interaction. It's like saying "these are the things that the societies in this setting agree to be favorable actions and non-favorable actions, and therefor how they are likely to view or respond to other actions".


Oh. Then you weren’t saying that subdividing the alignments doesn’t help the alignment system. My apologies for misconstruing. (Just to be clear: I consider subdividing alignments to be worse than useless.)
I'm not exactly sure what "subdividing alignment" means- is that the "Lawful Good leaning lawful" kind of thing that sometimes crops up? I generally prefer defining alignment more broadly and saying that there's some wiggle room even in something as self-righteous as Lawful-Good.


Feel free to suggest better terms. Keep in mind that a character of any alignment might have have any personality and might be on any side of any conflict. The terms should be consistent with that.
That's part of my point though. The Good/Evil definitions in standard D&D kind of line up with what people understand from their real life experiences. Your setting seems like it's trying to introduce totally alien terms that most players won't know what to do with.

Imagine if you join a setting and the GM says "ok, create your character but it can only be of the ipthisban, sesquilaat, or embruin alignments. I don't want to see any ishnaran or kesezkatch types of characters in this game."

That's that this feels like- that you are stripping out the alignment that everyone knows and even if they don't like it they know how to work with it, and replacing it with something that offers no guidance whatsoever.


I do not want low level characters stuck with their original alignment choices short of high-level magic.
But what does that MEAN in your system? Simply that they are frozen in place mechanically but can act however they want?


I absolutely do not want characters who are horribly evil (as the word is used outside of D&D) counting as good, where good is being construed in the moral sense. While a GM can prevent such, I will not present – or even support – a system which needs GM intervention to avoid causing this. Trying to convince me to would be a waste of your time. I also do not want the various other forms of dissonance ‘your’ version would cause. (Also, the terminology change makes it easier to remember how the rules were changed.)

The stuff this “busy work” does is important (to me, if perhaps not to you). I am not interested in leaving it undone.
Here's the thing- a GM is supposed to build the setting, guide the characters, and organize how things runs. You can have good GMs and bad GMs but declaring that the GM doesn't get to set limits or rules at all seems like a cure that's worse than the disease.

Was there some defining moment that made you think the existing system was so terrible it needed to be stripped out entirely? I don't get why you think it's a bad addition as opposed to merely poorly implemented in some cases.

Superstition
2017-03-07, 04:25 PM
Alignment is always tricky and I can't say if yours or dnd is the better half; but be aware that your system at least, is very complicated and will require you to spend a lot of time explaining exactly how it works to your players. More than the argument whether your system is more realistic or more accurate than the 9-alignment system in dnd, this complexity is a death knell for your game system if left as is.

Anyway, here is an idea of how I view alignment and you are free to discard or cannibalize it however you like:
Alignment is an ideal that expresses a specific worldview. People have a worldview; a belief of how you should do certain things, that some actions are good, and others actions are bad. Most people tend to adhere and act according to their worldview, but the world is complicated and sometimes forces people to act against their beliefs. When this happens, people suffer dissonance and receive penalties until they either change their worldview, or take lengths to correct their wrongdoing.

As an example, a LG paladin is in the middle of a quest to rescue a kidnapped prince. Along the way, he finds and fights some of kidnappers, who stayed behind and were burning boats and villages to slow him down. Unfortunately for the paladin, a couple of those men surrendered. The local village is destroyed and there is no constabul or jail for the paladin to hand the prisoners off to. By law, he is obligated to accept their surrender and hold them until their trial. However, doing so would jeopardize his quest and promise to save the kidnapped prince as carrying the prisoners with him will undoubtedly slow him down. Therefore, the paladin has a decision, and if he decides to kill the kidnappers without the authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner (which the players in my campaign decided to do), he has to resolve with himself that he has not followed the law and atone for it somehow. This might include turning himself in to the local authorities after his quest to save the prince is completed, or to change his alignment away from the law. How you decide to punish him and play the mechanics of morality and conscience in the game is up to you, but there is no doubt the Paladin should be in conflict and guilt over his decisions at this point.

jqavins
2017-03-07, 04:53 PM
OK, I think I understand (though it wasn't easy.) There are two different ideas in RAW, both represented by this thing called "alignment." One is a matter of morality, behavior, and culture. The other is a mechanic regarding creatures and people divided up into nine categories on a three by three grid. The goal here, if I've finally got it right, is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements. The thing about nine categories is a matter only of meaningless mechanics, a vestige of the previous, deeply flawed system, required only to fill the holes left behind if the old system is dropped outright.

There can and will and should still be in character arguments over morality - that's good roleplaying - but those arguments will not include players reaching for rule books and saying "Your character can't do that because, under 'Alignment' on his sheet, it says 'Neutral Good.'"

If I've got this right, I make the following suggestions:

Add the first paragraph above, or words like it, to the beginning of the speil, right at the top. The biggest problem, from where I sit, was that it was difficult or impossible to tell what the point of this change was except to, in some way, eliminate arguments.
Instead of the originally posted new terminology, map Good-Neutral-Evil to A-B-C and Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic to 1-2-3. If the terminology in the original post was meant to convey anything more, I still don't get that part.
The alignment change table seems to have taken up space in this thread in proportion to its bulk, which is far greater than its importance. Eliminate the table in favor of textual explanation, something like "A change of one step requires a ceremony lasting four hours. Each additional step doubles the time. A change against racial type also doubles the time, while a change toward racial type halves it," or whatever is the accurate description; I didn't study the chart to deduce the rules exactly because it's too damn big. Then follow the explanation with a couple of examples.

SirBellias
2017-03-08, 10:43 AM
I like it.

I'll still probably go the route of just ignoring alignment's existence and arbitrating rules for things that are supposed to work with it on the fly, but still.

I like it.

Bogwoppit
2017-03-08, 01:34 PM
OK, I think I understand (though it wasn't easy.) There are two different ideas in RAW, both represented by this thing called "alignment." One is a matter of morality, behavior, and culture. The other is a mechanic regarding creatures and people divided up into nine categories on a three by three grid. The goal here, if I've finally got it right, is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements. The thing about nine categories is a matter only of meaningless mechanics, a vestige of the previous, deeply flawed system, required only to fill the holes left behind if the old system is dropped outright.

See this is what I've been trying to say all along, but the OP keeps attacking me and putting crazy words in my mouth.
I wonder what they'll say to you...



There can and will and should still be in character arguments over morality - that's good roleplaying - but those arguments will not include players reaching for rule books and saying "Your character can't do that because, under 'Alignment' on his sheet, it says 'Neutral Good.'"


Does anyone really do that? If they did, were they ever invited to play again?

Deepbluediver
2017-03-08, 04:27 PM
OK, I think I understand (though it wasn't easy.) There are two different ideas in RAW, both represented by this thing called "alignment." One is a matter of morality, behavior, and culture. The other is a mechanic regarding creatures and people divided up into nine categories on a three by three grid. The goal here, if I've finally got it right, is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements.
That was the impression I got, though I'm still waiting back to hear confirmation.

But, was is really THAT much of a problem? If you don't want to play a class that relies on alignment to keep it's benefits, there are tons of choices. And pretty much everything else is directly in control of the GM's hands anyway. Yes, the system could be implemented badly if a group or player took it as gospel instead of guidance, but I don't think that necessitates stripping it out of everything in the game whatsoever.

IMO it would create as many conflicts as it resolved (or at least head-scrathing moments) and it's easier to just do things like use the alternate rules for Evil Paladins if you want that kind of thing in your campaign.

jqavins
2017-03-08, 04:46 PM
Does anyone really do that? If they did, were they ever invited to play again?
Sadly, yes. And not just players, but now and then DMs too. Almost only about paladins and clerics, but now and then you'll also see XP penalties either imposed or demanded when an action deviates from someone's rigid notion of how a character of a given alignment should behave.

I'm sympathetic regarding the problem that ideasmith is trying to solve, though I do think there are much better ways of handling it than what I think he's proposed. And I'd be happy to discuss it more if I knew that he is proposing what I think he's proposing.

Deepbluediver
2017-03-08, 07:54 PM
Does anyone really do that? If they did, were they ever invited to play again?
Most of the people I played with had the social graces to phrase it a little more gently, but yes. In my experience BY FAR the most common argument is some variation on "I'm doing evil but for a good cause so it's not really that evil".

In general, trying to dictate how other people MUST play their characters is, IMO, bad roleplaying. The biggest flaw that players tend to overuse seems to be self-righteousness, i.e. "I'm the best and you all need to do what I want". If you can avoid that issue, then the worst of the problems usually go away and if you can't than ANY character can some across as a jerkass.

jqavins
2017-03-09, 12:04 AM
In general, trying to dictate how other people MUST play their characters is, IMO, bad roleplaying.
I would call it bad gaming etiquite. When a character tells another character how to act, that's role playing. It's bad role playing if there's no in character reason for him/her to be doing so. If there is a good in character reason for it, like faithfully role playing an insufferably self righteous character, then it's no less anoying.

ideasmith
2017-03-16, 09:46 PM
Have revised OP, and added an example in post#2. Thank everyone who posted on this thread (especially jqavins) for your help.


"My version"? What version is that? I'm not proposing anything, I'm just trying to understand what you are up to - especially because you seem so aggressive in your defence of it.

I took the words “I have an alternate rule that could do what you seem to want:” as proposing that I use the alternate rule that followed.


Yes, there are some alignment restrictions in DnD that can seem arbitrary and dumb. But there are simpler ways to deal with those than your new rules.

If I was trying to fix the ‘arbitrary/dumb’ restrictions here, I would have added a bit removing alignment prerequisites and alignment class requirements. (I might do that anyway, now that you’ve brought the idea up.) The real alignment problems are the vagueness in determining alignment, the apparently clear emotionally volatile terms, and the way the two can interact with each other if someone actually tries to use alignment.


In most games I've played in, there's no problem with characters changing alignment over time, as their attitudes and experience change in response to their adventures. It's normal role playing.

When I wrote that, you seemed to be proposing that I drop the new alignment change rules without replacing them. I was discussing the results of doing so.


Aside from that, I really don't understand what practical benefit you think your set of rules will provide. I mean, have you tried it out with players? How did they react?

I’ve both DMed for and played in games without alignment. In neither case was there any noticeable reaction. I haven’t tried this particular system for dropping alignment, but I expect it to help when characters use stuff like smite evil ominous mode/protection from evil ominous mode.


That's not very helpful- I'm really struggling to understand exactly what issues you're trying to resolve.

It’s for dealing with stuff left ‘orphaned’ by dropping alignment.


It sounds like you want a system where, just for example, a Paladin can act like whatever he wants, either good or evil, but the class has a requirement of being "Arbitrary Mode Adversarial Tenor". Is that it? If not, what am I misunderstanding.

Nope. Grossly violating a class’s code of conduct still has the listed penalties, although those restrictions that relate to alignment might be easier to follow, or even become meaningless. (That answers your first question. I don’t know the answer to the second.)


It sounds like you're trying to design a system where the GM doesn't pass any kind of moral judgement on the actions of the characters. And that, in turn, there's no cosmic/karmic retribution for any kind of action at all. Again, if I'm wrong, then you need to explain it differently.


So are you trying to avoid arguments about the morality of specific actions in-game? Is that what your goal is? If so, this won't help much, and in some cases not at all- people like to roleplay and they aren't (I don't think anyway) just going sit around while other characters do actions their character would object to. The GM not passing judgement just seems like its taking the referee out of the game and letting players resolve everything. Some groups could handle that, I'm sure, but plenty of other would rapidly slide downhill into nothing but PvP.


Yeah, the thing is, even without the link to mechanics people aren't going to want to play games with other people who build characters that run completely opposite to the types of character they want to play. A setting where there is no morality whatsoever isn't going to appeal to everyone. IMO it wouldn't appeal to a majority of people (it certainly doesn't appeal to me) but that's just my belief; I can't prove it.


Character behavior and interaction. It's like saying "these are the things that the societies in this setting agree to be favorable actions and non-favorable actions, and therefor how they are likely to view or respond to other actions".

No, I am not trying to remove morality from games. I’m not sure how to state more clearly than I have that I am removing alignment.


I'm not exactly sure what "subdividing alignment" means- is that the "Lawful Good leaning lawful" kind of thing that sometimes crops up? I generally prefer defining alignment more broadly and saying that there's some wiggle room even in something as self-righteous as Lawful-Good.

When you wrote “finely dividing everything into dozens of different categories”, I assumed you were talking about alignment. This thread is, after all basically about alignment.


That's part of my point though. The Good/Evil definitions in standard D&D kind of line up with what people understand from their real life experiences. Your setting seems like it's trying to introduce totally alien terms that most players won't know what to do with.

Imagine if you join a setting and the GM says "ok, create your character but it can only be of the ipthisban, sesquilaat, or embruin alignments. I don't want to see any ishnaran or kesezkatch types of characters in this game."

I’d rather teach players new alignment terms than try to unteach the old ones. They learned what ‘hit points’ and ‘armor class’ meant, didn’t they?


That's that this feels like- that you are stripping out the alignment that everyone knows and even if they don't like it they know how to work with it, and replacing it with something that offers no guidance whatsoever.

I don’t know what “guidance” you expect from alignment systems.


But what does that MEAN in your system? Simply that they are frozen in place mechanically but can act however they want?

Removing alignment restrictions does not enable characters to act however they want.


Here's the thing- a GM is supposed to build the setting, guide the characters, and organize how things runs. You can have good GMs and bad GMs but declaring that the GM doesn't get to set limits or rules at all seems like a cure that's worse than the disease.

Nor am I trying to remove GM authority. (I was tempted to ask where you got that idea from, but I have a feeling I don’t want to know.)


Was there some defining moment that made you think the existing system was so terrible it needed to be stripped out entirely? I don't get why you think it's a bad addition as opposed to merely poorly implemented in some cases.

Not a defining moment, no. After about a decade of playing/DMing D&D without seeing alignment do much of anything, I stopped bothering to include it in the games I was running.


Alignment is always tricky and I can't say if yours or dnd is the better half; but be aware that your system at least, is very complicated and will require you to spend a lot of time explaining exactly how it works to your players. More than the argument whether your system is more realistic or more accurate than the 9-alignment system in dnd, this complexity is a death knell for your game system if left as is.

Now revised. Do you still consider it too complicated?


Anyway, here is an idea of how I view alignment and you are free to discard or cannibalize it however you like:
Alignment is an ideal that expresses a specific worldview. People have a worldview; a belief of how you should do certain things, that some actions are good, and others actions are bad. Most people tend to adhere and act according to their worldview, but the world is complicated and sometimes forces people to act against their beliefs. When this happens, people suffer dissonance and receive penalties until they either change their worldview, or take lengths to correct their wrongdoing.

This view of alignment is a poor fit for the D&D system, in which good has only one meaning, regardless of viewpoint, evil characters can be penalized for not being evil enough, and Law/Chaos is distinct from Good/Evil. If I wanted a system for what you are describing, I would adapt either the Testament piety system, in which what is pious/impious depends on your culture (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/19191/Testament-Roleplaying-in-the-Biblical-Era?it=1&filters=0_0_44827_0_0&manufacturers_id=536), or the Pendragon trait system, in which different religions value different traits (http://www.rpgnow.com/browse.php?keywords=pendragon&x=0&y=0&author=&artist=&pfrom=&pto=).


As an example, a LG paladin is in the middle of a quest to rescue a kidnapped prince. Along the way, he finds and fights some of kidnappers, who stayed behind and were burning boats and villages to slow him down. Unfortunately for the paladin, a couple of those men surrendered. The local village is destroyed and there is no constabul or jail for the paladin to hand the prisoners off to. By law, he is obligated to accept their surrender and hold them until their trial. However, doing so would jeopardize his quest and promise to save the kidnapped prince as carrying the prisoners with him will undoubtedly slow him down. Therefore, the paladin has a decision, and if he decides to kill the kidnappers without the authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner (which the players in my campaign decided to do), he has to resolve with himself that he has not followed the law and atone for it somehow. This might include turning himself in to the local authorities after his quest to save the prince is completed, or to change his alignment away from the law. How you decide to punish him and play the mechanics of morality and conscience in the game is up to you, but there is no doubt the Paladin should be in conflict and guilt over his decisions at this point.

This example is not affected by dropping the alignment system. Paladins still have to “respect legitimate authority", "act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth)", "help those in need", and "punish those who harm or threaten innocents”. (And Gary Gygax would have ruled that it was fine to kill the prisoners, judging by his statements on related subjects.)


OK, I think I understand (though it wasn't easy.) There are two different ideas in RAW, both represented by this thing called "alignment." One is a matter of morality, behavior, and culture. The other is a mechanic regarding creatures and people divided up into nine categories on a three by three grid. The goal here, if I've finally got it right, is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements. The thing about nine categories is a matter only of meaningless mechanics, a vestige of the previous, deeply flawed system, required only to fill the holes left behind if the old system is dropped outright.

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. And judging by Bogwoppit and deepbluediver, it is very difficult to describe clearly. Congratulations. (I do have one quibble: D&D alignment is mainly about which side a character is on. The morality and behavior stuff is in support of that.)


There can and will and should still be in character arguments over morality - that's good roleplaying - but those arguments will not include players reaching for rule books and saying "Your character can't do that because, under 'Alignment' on his sheet, it says 'Neutral Good.'"

Again: Yes, exactly.


If I've got this right, I make the following suggestions:

Thank you!


Add the first paragraph above, or words like it, to the beginning of the speil, right at the top. The biggest problem, from where I sit, was that it was difficult or impossible to tell what the point of this change was except to, in some way, eliminate arguments.

Thank you. Done. (I am assuming that I have your permission to do this. If I don’t, please say so, so that I can start cobbling up a replacement.)


Instead of the originally posted new terminology, map Good-Neutral-Evil to A-B-C and Lawful-Neutral-Chaotic to 1-2-3. If the terminology in the original post was meant to convey anything more, I still don't get that part.

Since bonuses against one alignment are generally associated with the opposite alignment, I figure terms that vaguely suggest opposite pairs are a better fit than terms that suggest the beginning of a long sequence. I'm still considering A/B/C/1/2/3, but I'm leaning towards 'not' at the moment.


The alignment change table seems to have taken up space in this thread in proportion to its bulk, which is far greater than its importance. Eliminate the table in favor of textual explanation, something like "A change of one step requires a ceremony lasting four hours. Each additional step doubles the time. A change against racial type also doubles the time, while a change toward racial type halves it," or whatever is the accurate description; I didn't study the chart to deduce the rules exactly because it's too damn big. Then follow the explanation with a couple of examples.


Thank you. Done. I also simplified, by replacing the skill check and replacing towards/away from standard alignment with into/out of standard alignment.


I like it.

I'll still probably go the route of just ignoring alignment's existence and arbitrating rules for things that are supposed to work with it on the fly, but still.

I like it.

Thank you! (I hope you still like the revised version.)

Bogwoppit
2017-03-17, 08:22 AM
The edited OP now looks much better, and things are clearer.
I'm starting to see why you feel the changes need to be made and I can agree that there's some sense to it - sorry for being so belligerent in questioning it before! It's just my style - a position worth defending should be defensible, and by defending it, it becomes stronger.

Personally, I still don't really like the new "alignment" names much, and I still think that relaxing expected adherence to alignment perfection is a simpler and more effective method - i.e. most mere mortals try to behave by alignment, and regret their transgressions, but they aren't mechanically punished for misaligned behaviour - but if that's still too restrictive for you and your group, then some other solution is clearly required.

erikun
2017-03-17, 10:54 AM
Well.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but from what I understand:

alignment would now have nothing to do with roleplay
alignment has been renamed
there are some specific mechanics governing the change in alignment


I can't help but wonder about the changes this would make (perhaps not obvious) in the game system. The most obvious concern involves everything being capable of moving its new alignment around as desired. For example, a demon (typically Arbitrary Ominous) can, over the course of a few decades, swap around to any other sort of alignment they wish. This is a major change in regards to how the game functions, as most parties would reasonably believe that Holy Word (or I guess Capacious Word now) would affect any demon they came across. But under this system, Capacious Word or Protection from Ominousness or anything else is as likely to work as not. In fact, unless the demons are spitting out Ominous Word themselves as an ability, it is probably a good idea to swap around their alignment to avoid their otherwise common weaknesses.

This not only vastly weakens the above spells, but also Holy weapons Capacious weapons as well, since they are no longer useful against the large number of enemies they otherwise would be.

There are also some strange situations, such as Ominous clerics of good/nature deities raising undead armies, since there is no real problem with this unless the deity in question specifically has a problem with undead. Or, for that matter, a cleric of an undead deity freely using the Turn Undead ability.

Nightcanon
2017-03-17, 11:49 AM
With regard to the first thing, just drop alignment. Characters are no longer required to pick a square on the 3 by 3 grid, and can oppose dragons, hobgoblins and necromancers on the basis of their actions and how those actions interact with and conflict with the interests of the characters, and players are perhaps required to describe personalities, motivations and world views of their characters, rather than a two-word descriptor of alignment. If characters subsequently develop to be more or less cruel, or self-sacrificing, or devoted to a particular cause, then let them, and don't bother with AD&D style penalties for changing alignment.
All you really need is some way of dealing with the more rigid mechanical aspects regarding who and what is susceptible to extra damage from aligned weapons, smiting and spells- the things that you describe as being 'orphaned' by dropping alignment. It's easy enough to limit 'aligned' damage to beings from or closely allied with specific planes, and not include rank-and-file members of mook races. Good and Evil still exist but they are names of concepts, not of teams, just as they are in real life.
It's not clear to me that replacing the words good, evil, law and chaos with capacious, ominous, arbitrary and random needs to be part of this. Other than random, which emphasises one possible aspect of chaotic alignment, I don't see the conn3ction with the concepts that you are looking to replace, and tbh it just looks like you have been rummaging through a thesaurus.

jqavins
2017-03-18, 05:36 PM
(I do have one quibble: D&D alignment is mainly about which side a character is on. The morality and behavior stuff is in support of that.)Now here, I'm afraid I disagree. I think it is basically about behavior, and the "which side?" business developed by misguidedly laying too many mechanical entanglements onto it.


I am assuming that I have your permission to do this. If I don’t, please say so, so that I can start cobbling up a replacement.I suggested it; of course you have my permission to do it.


Since bonuses against one alignment are generally associated with the opposite alignment, I figure terms that vaguely suggest opposite pairs are a better fit than terms that suggest the beginning of a long sequence. I'm still considering A/B/C/1/2/3, but I'm leaning towards 'not' at the moment.How about Up-Middle-Down and Left-Center-Right? Because the words you've got still seem to suggest meaning that, as far as I understand, you may not want. Also, ominous and capacious are not opposites.

Amechra
2017-03-18, 09:00 PM
I find that problems with alignment tend to disappear if you approach it from the opposite direction - rather than going "hey, this system doesn't model reality in the slightest", ask yourself "what would a reality modelled by this look like?"

It turns from "this is a problem" to "this is an interesting exercise."

(Of course, this is a rather... idiosyncratic way of playing the game).

=---=

As for what you're doing - I'm not a fan. The problem is that you have two kinds of mechanical "reasons" for alignment:

1) It marks what team you're on so that effects can avoid friendly fire (Detect Foo, Smite Foo, Protection from Foo, etc).
2) It marks a promise that you'll behave a certain way (Paladins, Exalted/Vile feats, Clerics, etc).

What you're doing unhooks #2 while making #1 nonsensical. Why do people in the Arbitrary Mode hate people in the Random Mode enough that they'd create spells that harm them or protect against them? I mean, we know they do because why else would Protection from Random Mode be marked as an [Arbitrary Mode] spell?

Your system also radically alters setting assumptions - but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you already knew that.

ideasmith
2017-03-30, 12:41 PM
Thanks to all of you for your input. I am planning further changes, and you are helping me decide what needs changing.


The edited OP now looks much better, and things are clearer.

I'm starting to see why you feel the changes need to be made and I can agree that there's some sense to it - sorry for being so belligerent in questioning it before! It's just my style - a position worth defending should be defensible, and by defending it, it becomes stronger.

Thank you.


Personally, I still don't really like the new "alignment" names much, and I still think that relaxing expected adherence to alignment perfection is a simpler and more effective method - i.e. most mere mortals try to behave by alignment, and regret their transgressions, but they aren't mechanically punished for misaligned behaviour - but if that's still too restrictive for you and your group, then some other solution is clearly required.

Requiring regret for alignment transgressions seems more likely to result in arguments than making ‘alignment transgressions’ irrelevant.

I’m far from the only person who’s thinking of dropping alignment. And if something is being done, best it be done well.


Well.

Forgive me if I am wrong, but from what I understand:
alignment would now have nothing to do with roleplay

Alignment would have about as much to do with roleplay as your typical combat rule. Which may well be what you meant.


alignment has been renamed

Law, chaos, evil and good as game concepts have been dumped and new concepts have been added that have new names.


there are some specific mechanics governing the change in alignment

There certainly are. Since I am dumping the old ones, new ones are needed.


I can't help but wonder about the changes this would make (perhaps not obvious) in the game system. The most obvious concern involves everything being capable of moving its new alignment around as desired. For example, a demon (typically Arbitrary Ominous) can, over the course of a few decades, swap around to any other sort of alignment they wish. This is a major change in regards to how the game functions, as most parties would reasonably believe that Holy Word (or I guess Capacious Word now) would affect any demon they came across. But under this system, Capacious Word or Protection from Ominousness or anything else is as likely to work as not. In fact, unless the demons are spitting out Ominous Word themselves as an ability, it is probably a good idea to swap around their alignment to avoid their otherwise common weaknesses.

This not only vastly weakens the above spells, but also Holy weapons Capacious weapons as well, since they are no longer useful against the large number of enemies they otherwise would be.

I’m not seeing what your reasoning here could be. Even if four years was somehow less of an obstacle than the “an interval of at least a week of game time” which the DMG says it should take, the “Always” qualifier still means that non-ominous-tenor demons are “unique or rare exceptions”, and the ominous tenor subtype means that they are affected by holy word as if they were ominous tenor, regardless of actual alignment.


There are also some strange situations, such as Ominous clerics of good/nature deities raising undead armies, since there is no real problem with this unless the deity in question specifically has a problem with undead. Or, for that matter, a cleric of an undead deity freely using the Turn Undead ability.

Since clerics retain their alignment requirements and codes of conduct, I don’t expect these to happen unless a DM intentionally makes it possible.


With regard to the first thing, just drop alignment. Characters are no longer required to pick a square on the 3 by 3 grid, and can oppose dragons, hobgoblins and necromancers on the basis of their actions and how those actions interact with and conflict with the interests of the characters, and players are perhaps required to describe personalities, motivations and world views of their characters, rather than a two-word descriptor of alignment. If characters subsequently develop to be more or less cruel, or self-sacrificing, or devoted to a particular cause, then let them, and don't bother with AD&D style penalties for changing alignment.
All you really need is some way of dealing with the more rigid mechanical aspects regarding who and what is susceptible to extra damage from aligned weapons, smiting and spells- the things that you describe as being 'orphaned' by dropping alignment. It's easy enough to limit 'aligned' damage to beings from or closely allied with specific planes, and not include rank-and-file members of mook races. Good and Evil still exist but they are names of concepts, not of teams, just as they are in real life.

The problem with a 3 by 3 grid that is used to represent morality and such is that it’s used to represent morality and such, not that it’s a 3 by 3 grid. Using pigeonholes to represent morality causes the same problems whether or not they are on a grid. Using a grid only causes them if it is linked to morality &/or such. And since the orphaned rules all hook into a 3 by 3 grid, having another grid for them to hook into allows them to be handled with a few general principles that apply well to stuff from books I don’t have, rather than a lot of special cases that wouldn’t cover books I don’t have at all.

The rest of these two paragraphs (almost all of it) seems to be telling me to do stuff my system already does.


It's not clear to me that replacing the words good, evil, law and chaos with capacious, ominous, arbitrary and random needs to be part of this. Other than random, which emphasises one possible aspect of chaotic alignment, I don't see the conn3ction with the concepts that you are looking to replace, and tbh it just looks like you have been rummaging through a thesaurus.

The whole point of removing alignment from the alignment system is to keep players/DMs from associating ‘alignments’ with morality and such. Using terms for them that practically scream ‘this is about morality’ would have been exceedingly counterproductive.


Now here, I'm afraid I disagree. I think it is basically about behavior, and the "which side?" business developed by misguidedly laying too many mechanical entanglements onto it.

I am basing this on how much support the books give to using alignment for the given purpose:

The support for ‘which side’ is a bunch of spells, magic items, and such which are associated with one alignment and are extra harmful to, or only harmful to, the opposite alignment.

The support for ‘behavior’ is a set of vague descriptions, and some vague guidelines for how alignment changes.

Looks like ‘which side’ to me.


I suggested it; of course you have my permission to do it.

Thank you.


How about Up-Middle-Down and Left-Center-Right?

That looks possible. Left-Center-Right does have a strong political resonance (at least in the United States), and Up-Middle-Down does have a much weaker religious resonance. I’ll have to think about this one.


Because the words you've got still seem to suggest meaning that, as far as I understand, you may not want.

Since I’m trying for ‘doesn’t really mean anything’, this could be bad. What do they mean?


Also, ominous and capacious are not opposites.

No, they don’t. But what I am going for is “vaguely suggest opposite pairs”.


I find that problems with alignment tend to disappear if you approach it from the opposite direction - rather than going "hey, this system doesn't model reality in the slightest", ask yourself "what would a reality modelled by this look like?"

It turns from "this is a problem" to "this is an interesting exercise."

(Of course, this is a rather... idiosyncratic way of playing the game).

=---=

I don’t expect role-playing games to model reality. I do care about how alignment interferes with modeling fiction.


As for what you're doing - I'm not a fan. The problem is that you have two kinds of mechanical "reasons" for alignment:

1) It marks what team you're on so that effects can avoid friendly fire (Detect Foo, Smite Foo, Protection from Foo, etc).
2) It marks a promise that you'll behave a certain way (Paladins, Exalted/Vile feats, Clerics, etc).

What you're doing unhooks #2 while making #1 nonsensical. Why do people in the Arbitrary Mode hate people in the Random Mode enough that they'd create spells that harm them or protect against them? I mean, we know they do because why else would Protection from Random Mode be marked as an [Arbitrary Mode] spell?

I fail to see why you are counting descriptors as proof of hatred. Nothing in the rules prevents Random Mode sorcerers (for example) from researching and casting spells with the arbitrary mode descriptor. And a sorcerer who expects to fight Random Mode opponents a lot might well do that, regardless of the sorcerer’s alignment.


Your system also radically alters setting assumptions - but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you already knew that.

That depends on the setting. I’ve noticed that when the D&D/d20 system is adapted to a work of fiction, alignment is generally dropped.

jqavins
2017-03-30, 03:08 PM
Now here, I'm afraid I disagree. I think it is basically about behavior, and the "which side?" business developed by misguidedly laying too many mechanical entanglements onto it.
I am basing this on how much support the books give to using alignment for the given purpose:

The support for ‘which side’ is a bunch of spells, magic items, and such which are associated with one alignment and are extra harmful to, or only harmful to, the opposite alignment.

The support for ‘behavior’ is a set of vague descriptions, and some vague guidelines for how alignment changes.

Looks like ‘which side’ to me.
Fair enough. I'm basing it on why alignment was introduced to the game historically and how it evolved into the current state. You're concentrating on the current state. It's not really important.


Because the words you've got still seem to suggest meaning that, as far as I understand, you may not want.
Since I’m trying for ‘doesn’t really mean anything’, this could be bad. What do they mean?
What I meant to say is that random, ominous, capacious, and arbitrary are all words with established meanings, which would leave one to wonder why they were chosen and what they mean in this context. People may think, for example, that if they have the ominous tenor that they are supposed to act ominous, and they'll go around saying gloomy things in a spooky voice. Or they'll waste time trying to puzzle out what you meant by the words when you really didn't mean anything.


Also, ominous and capacious are not opposites.
No, they don’t. But what I am going for is “vaguely suggest opposite pairs”.
I don't think you've achieved that.

Ominous, which comes from omen, means that an event is likely to be indicative of future events. By connotation, those future events are more likely to be bad things than good.
Capacious, which is related to capacity, means having large interior volume. It is typically applied to things like luggage.

These are about as opposite as "generous" and "green."


Arbitrary means chosen with little or no rhyme or reason. By connotation it often, but not always, indicates something that, once chosen, is unlikely to be changed.
Random means chosen with absolutely no rhyme or reason. By connotation it often, but not always, indicates something that is changed or re-chosen frequently.

While these have some weak opposite connotations, I think they are closer to synonymous than opposites.



This is why I suggested top-middle-bottom and left-middle-right. Apart from the connotations you named I think they have no puzzling meanings and yet are clearly opposites. There could be other similarly innocuous pairs of opposites if you don't like those. Complimentary color pairs? North, south, east, west?

Also, I do recognize that you've said you want terms that are “vaguely suggest opposite pairs," and not actually opposites. My issue with that is that you can't be "vaguely suggestive" of anything without being vague, and vagueness should be avoided.

Zireael
2017-04-06, 06:30 AM
I know what a mode is, but what does "tenor" mean?

Gildedragon
2017-04-06, 01:51 PM
@[email protected]
So... This is not very good.
Couple things:
The alignments are very verbose and unwieldy, so from the in-game use they are quite clunky.
Divorcing the alignment from any behavior with
All creatures, including all player characters, are, regardless of actual behavior, considered to be behaving in perfect accord with every alignment. renders alignment moot. You're just describing what classes you can and can't belong to... Which tbh feels off, it let's one have really cruel and self serving paladins.

it ends up being easier to just drop it entirely, and for classes that need them because of class features (Smite Evil, Detect Evil, Magic Circle Against X) either replace the ability.
Smite: works against anyone, deals double damage against outsiders
Detect: there's an acf somewhere that detects transgressions/guilt, another that detects magic, and one could also have it be a detect intent or thoughts
Magic circle: it just gives it's bonus against outsiders and undead... Or change them to magic circle against [type] (humanoid, magical beast...)
And just ignore alignment restrictions for belonging to a group, and alignment descriptors; and let clerics pick what sort of energy they channel.


If you want too keep alignment restrictions: less loaded terms might be more what one wants:
Disciplined v Lackadaisical / Free-spirited (Law v Chaos)
Altruistic v Ambitious (Good v Evil)
Neutrality can be expressed as being a mix of both pairs of things.

And keep the Good-Evil Chaos-Law ones for extraplanar beings, divorced from most player choice.
Paladins must be Disciplined and worship a Non-Evil deity.
Monks must be Disciplined
Bards must be Free-spirited
Clerics can't cast spells opposed to their deity's alignment
To spontaneously cast cure spells, clerics must be altruistic...

jqavins
2017-04-06, 02:43 PM
The alignments are very verbose and unwieldy, so from the in-game use they are quite clunky.
Divorcing the alignment from any behavior with renders alignment moot. You're just describing what classes you can and can't belong to... Which tbh feels off, it let's one have really cruel and self serving paladins.
You seem to have missed the point. He's not trying to separate behavior completely from class restrictions; he's specifically stated that a paladin is still required to obey the same code of conduct, for example, but he's separating the behavior and the moral and ethical standards from the rigid 3x3 grid of competitive factions. For the record, I agree that just dropping the grid and patching the holes case by case would be a better way to go, but what he's trying to do is change the grid so that it is divorced from behavior but there are no holes left behind. Look again at the opening paragraphs of the OP:

This is not an alignment system. It is a system for dealing with stuff that would be ‘orphaned’ by dropping alignment

There are two different ideas in RAW, both represented by this thing called "alignment." One is a matter of loyalties, morality, behavior, and culture. The other is a mechanic regarding creatures and people divided up into nine categories on a three by three grid. The goal here is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, loyalty, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements. The thing about nine categories is a matter only of meaningless mechanics, a vestige of the previous system, required only to fill the holes left behind if the old system were dropped outright.

I agree that the new names are too verbose, or should I say that they have a marked surfeit of obfuscatory verbal content.:smallwink: Keep this in mind, however: the new terms are not intended to be alternates for good-evil-lawful-chaotic. If they were, then better alternates would be easy to find, such as altruistic-selfish-static-capricious. But then, if they were then there also would be no point in changing them at all. The intention with the new terms is to suggest opposites while NOT carrying any moral, ethical, or behavioral meaning.

I'm not saying any of this is a good idea. I understand the problem that this is meant to solve and I sympathize. Like you, I think there are better ways to solve that problem. Still, give the guy a chance, and take a second look before condemning the work for the wrong reasons.

Gildedragon
2017-04-06, 03:19 PM
You seem to have missed the point. He's not trying to separate behavior completely from class restrictions; he's specifically stated that a paladin is still required to obey the same code of conduct, for example, but he's separating the behavior and the moral and ethical standards from the rigid 3x3 grid of competitive factions. For the record, I agree that just dropping the grid and patching the holes case by case would be a better way to go, but what he's trying to do is change the grid so that it is divorced from behavior but there are no holes left behind. Look again at the opening paragraphs of the OP:
I -get- what the OP is trying to do, but they are explicitly divorcing alignment from behavior (see the quoted section of my post).
This leaves the paladin belonging to a meaningless alignment wordsoup they can't ever flaunt. And with a code of conduct that is just as bad and more despotic than the previous one:

Code of Conduct
A paladin must be of arbitrary mode capacious tenor.
Additionally, a paladin’s code requires that she respect legitimate authority, act with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), help those in need, and punish those who harm or threaten innocents.
It means that a paladin must colaborate with the demon-lord's forces; that they can bootstomp anyone as long as they're guilty of some crime or sin.

Also arbitrary doesn't mean what they think it means...


The goal here is to separate these two things. Under the new rules, loyalty, morality, behavior, and culture are matters of role playing with no mechanical entanglements. The thing about nine categories is a matter only of meaningless mechanics,

In the end: one can eliminate alignment from PCS, if one wants to remove it from the PCs actions.
Or if one wants to keep alignment as a sort of faction indicator; there's a great way
Use the Planar names

Celestial-Neutal-Avernal
Mechanic-Neutral-Liminal (or Limbic)

Or whatever names different Sigil factions used

BUT if one is of the mind that alignment is meaningless: then don't keep it. It is pointless book keeping: what does it mean to be XY for a cleric? It just means your deity is either X or Y... Or follows eberron rules... At which point why keep track of it? for the rogue, what does it even mean? And so on and so forth. All it does is to say that one can't gestalt bard and paladin or barbarian and monk... Or good-deity cleric and antipaladin; but the deity isn't good anymore, and all your actions would be concordant with your alignment (ie the deity's) so it doesn't matter... but if one's actions are to matter with one's standing with the god, then it puts a lot of extra power and responsibility on the DM: now old-fashioned deities cut spell access to their clerics constantly, or the DM has to write or approve a code of conduct for every single faith.

Deepbluediver
2017-04-06, 04:10 PM
You seem to have missed the point. He's not trying to separate behavior completely from class restrictions; he's specifically stated that a paladin is still required to obey the same code of conduct, for example, but he's separating the behavior and the moral and ethical standards from the rigid 3x3 grid of competitive factions. For the record, I agree that just dropping the grid and patching the holes case by case would be a better way to go, but what he's trying to do is change the grid so that it is divorced from behavior but there are no holes left behind.
To be honest, I still don't really get it either. It sounds like the OP still wants a paladin to be honest and honorable and charitable and friendly and all that, except we can't call it "good" any more. And switching alignments doesn't mean you have to change your behavior at all, so why do they even exist?

If you don't like the way the current alignment system functions I think it's far easier to just ease up a little bit on how rigid you require players to be, rather than trying to get everyone to adopt what appears to be a highly un-intuitive system (and I'm not just talking about the names).

jqavins
2017-04-06, 04:53 PM
To be honest, I still don't really get it either. It sounds like the OP still wants a paladin to be honest and honorable and charitable and friendly and all that, except we can't call it "good" any more. And switching alignments doesn't mean you have to change your behavior at all, so why do they even exist?
OK, after this one more time I'll stop trying to help Ideasmith explain, since I really don't agree with him either. The point is that yes, you do still require the paladin to be honest and all the rest, and yes, you can still call it good, because the top row of the alignment grid isn't called "good." Alignments, under Ideasmith's proposal, are just gangs or sports teams, and the alignment labels are just the team jerseys or gang colors. Palidin's and clerics are among the few who are required to be on a certain team. Paladin's are among the even fewer who are required to act in certain ways, and the ways they are required to act have nothing to do with the team. Some ball players are nice guys and some are jerks, and that has nothing to do with which team their on. Nobody's behavior has anything to do with what team their on.

Palidins have been the focus of several posts here because they are (I think) the only example of people who are both required to act a certain way and required to be on a certain team. But you could change the team for all paladins from arbitrary-capacious to random-neutral and it would make no difference (as long as you changed them all) and they'd still be required to be honorable, honest, etc.

The whole thing might be easier to understand if the word "alignment" were eliminated along with the old alignment names, because that word carries as much baggage among us RP gamers as their names do. "So why have teams at all?" I hear you cry. To plug the holes left behind when alignment is dropped in whole outright.

That's enough. Just because I get it doesn't mean I like it, and I'm done presenting the defense.

ideasmith
2017-04-08, 08:23 AM
Have revised both the OP, and the example in post#2. Thanks to everyone who posted on this thread for your help.


Fair enough. I'm basing it on why alignment was introduced to the game historically and how it evolved into the current state. You're concentrating on the current state. It's not really important.

D&D has alignment because it was based on Chainmail, and Chainmail had alignment. Chainmail being a miniatures wargame with fantasy supplement published in 1971. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainmail_(game)[/) (I can give more details if you like.)



What I meant to say is that random, ominous, capacious, and arbitrary are all words with established meanings, which would leave one to wonder why they were chosen and what they mean in this context. People may think, for example, that if they have the ominous tenor that they are supposed to act ominous, and they'll go around saying gloomy things in a spooky voice. Or they'll waste time trying to puzzle out what you meant by the words when you really didn't mean anything.

I don't think you've achieved that.

Ominous, which comes from omen, means that an event is likely to be indicative of future events. By connotation, those future events are more likely to be bad things than good.
Capacious, which is related to capacity, means having large interior volume. It is typically applied to things like luggage.

These are about as opposite as "generous" and "green."


Arbitrary means chosen with little or no rhyme or reason. By connotation it often, but not always, indicates something that, once chosen, is unlikely to be changed.
Random means chosen with absolutely no rhyme or reason. By connotation it often, but not always, indicates something that is changed or re-chosen frequently.

While these have some weak opposite connotations, I think they are closer to synonymous than opposites.



This is why I suggested top-middle-bottom and left-middle-right. Apart from the connotations you named I think they have no puzzling meanings and yet are clearly opposites. There could be other similarly innocuous pairs of opposites if you don't like those. Complimentary color pairs? North, south, east, west?

Also, I do recognize that you've said you want terms that are “vaguely suggest opposite pairs," and not actually opposites. My issue with that is that you can't be "vaguely suggestive" of anything without being vague, and vagueness should be avoided.

I’m now using Past-Present Future and Beginning-Middle-End. How does that look?


I know what a mode is, but what does "tenor" mean?

According to an online dictionary:

3: a continuance in a course, movement, or activity
4: habitual condition : CHARACTER
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tenor
I included ‘mode’ and ‘tenor’ in order to leach meaning from the terminology. I have (at least temporarily) dropped them due to many complaints.


The alignments are very verbose and unwieldy, so from the in-game use they are quite clunky.

Have changed the terminology, which seems to be what you are complaining about here.


Divorcing the alignment from any behavior with renders alignment moot.

Well, I certainly hope it does. A system for dropping alignment that didn’t render alignment moot would be self-evidently a failure.


You're just describing what classes you can and can't belong to... Which tbh feels off,

It does lots of other stuff. What feels off is probably that it doesn’t function as an alignment system. I have put a lot of effort into preventing it from functioning as an alignment system.


it let's one have really cruel and self serving paladins.

If the DM chooses to interpret the paladin code in a way that allows cruel and self serving paladins, that’s on the DM.


it ends up being easier to just drop it entirely, and for classes that need them because of class features (Smite Evil, Detect Evil, Magic Circle Against X) either replace the ability.
Smite: works against anyone, deals double damage against outsiders
Detect: there's an acf somewhere that detects transgressions/guilt, another that detects magic, and one could also have it be a detect intent or thoughts
Magic circle: it just gives it's bonus against outsiders and undead... Or change them to magic circle against [type] (humanoid, magical beast...)
And just ignore alignment restrictions for belonging to a group, and alignment descriptors; and let clerics pick what sort of energy they channel.

I’ve seen the treat-each-bit-separately approach to dropping alignment done much better. As in, covering far more of the core rules and covering it much more thoroughly that you did. Thing is, it only covered the core rules. If a DM wanted to use stuff from anywhere else she was on her own. After thinking out why, I realized that the treat-each-bit-separately approach will unavoidably make work for the DM in this manner. Which is why this variant doesn’t use that approach and is not going to.


If you want too keep alignment restrictions: less loaded terms might be more what one wants:
Disciplined v Lackadaisical / Free-spirited (Law v Chaos)
Altruistic v Ambitious (Good v Evil)
Neutrality can be expressed as being a mix of both pairs of things.

And keep the Good-Evil Chaos-Law ones for extraplanar beings, divorced from most player choice.
Paladins must be Disciplined and worship a Non-Evil deity.
Monks must be Disciplined
Bards must be Free-spirited
Clerics can't cast spells opposed to their deity's alignment
To spontaneously cast cure spells, clerics must be altruistic...
Getting across that the behavior restrictions are gone is difficult enough without names that say the opposite.

jqavins
2017-04-08, 12:18 PM
I’m now using Past-Present Future and Beginning-Middle-End. How does that look?Better.


After thinking out why, I realized that the treat-each-bit-separately approach will unavoidably make work for the DM in this manner.
Is that really so bad? Being the DM takes work, which is not news to anyone. Sometimes it's better to rely on rulings than on rules.


Have revised both the OP, and the example in post#2.
Post #2 seems to be gone, replaced by a copy of the post above.

Zale
2017-04-09, 01:43 PM
When I was contemplating a morally gray alignment replacement, I went with:





Out



Anti-Spin
Not
Spin



In





In which Spin is categorization, precedent and homogeneity, Anti-Spin is innovation, antipathy and heterogeneity.

Out is about external comprehension and motivation to the determent of the self, while In is about internal comprehension and motivation to the determent of the other.

Not is simply a force of apathy, contentedness and slow existence.

I personally liked the first names for their retro-scifi tone, but can understand them being hard to remember.

Mr.J
2017-04-10, 01:31 PM
I don't think I understand enough about this, I was hoping someone could elaborate.

jqavins
2017-04-10, 02:18 PM
I don't think I understand enough about this, I was hoping someone could elaborate.
(Oy vey, not again. I said I was done with this.)

Forget the thread title. "Alignment without alignment?" What does that mean? Why not "Milk without milk" or ""Light without light?" Let's pretend this thread is called "Doing Away with Alignment, But Adding a Substitute."

Alignment, as currently defined and currently incorporated into the overall game mechanics, sucks. So let's get rid of it, and just handle morals as role playing matters. Let me repeat that last part: it's not about taking morality out of the game, but morality becomes a role playing matter only.

Well, that makes for its own problems. Since alignment is woven into quite a bunch of game mechanical stuff, getting rid of it leaves holes. Some people as DMs are content to stitch the holes closed with case-by-case rulings. Ideasmith would like to have rules which close the holes all at once, which one would have to admit is not a bad idea, whether or not one agrees that it is the best idea.

Any new rules that fill all the holes left behind by getting rid of alignment must, of necessity, have the same metaphorical "shape" as the alignment rules they replace. So the new rules look a lot like alignment, but have nothing to do with morality. New words are introduced to replace Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic in order to separate the new rules from morality. Other than the new words and the separation from morality, the new rules are essentially the same as the old ones, with the one further exception that they now mean very nearly nothing; within their own context and those areas of the game where alignment was important, they mean just what alignment meant (except for morality) and in all other respects they mean nothing at all. Though a statement like "they mean nothing at all" may sound like criticism, or even derision, it is not; that is Ideasmith's goal and intent.

There are six words that are central to alignment. Four of them - Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic - have been replaced by Beginning, Ending, Past, and Future respectively. Note the lack of moral implication. I suggest that the other two - Neutral and Alignment - should be changed as well. Perhaps Middle and Team respectively. Or perhaps Neutral could be replaced by Present on the Past-Future axis and by Middle on the Beginning-Ending axis. Then there would be nothing left of alignment. Maybe that would make it easier to grasp.

Deepbluediver
2017-04-10, 04:54 PM
(Oy vey, not again. I said I was done with this.)

Forget the thread title. "Alignment without alignment?" What does that mean? Why not "Milk without milk" or ""Light without light?" Let's pretend this thread is called "Doing Away with Alignment, But Adding a Substitute."

Alignment, as currently defined and currently incorporated into the overall game mechanics, sucks. So let's get rid of it, and just handle morals as role playing matters. Let me repeat that last part: it's not about taking morality out of the game, but morality becomes a role playing matter only.
...
There are six words that are central to alignment. Four of them - Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic - have been replaced by Beginning, Ending, Past, and Future respectively. Note the lack of moral implication. I suggest that the other two - Neutral and Alignment - should be changed as well. Perhaps Middle and Team respectively. Or perhaps Neutral could be replaced by Present on the Past-Future axis and by Middle on the Beginning-Ending axis. Then there would be nothing left of alignment. Maybe that would make it easier to grasp.
I think I finally get it- thank you.

However, I don't really like it, and not just because it feels so un-intuitive.
I feel like alignment isn't JUST a game-mechanic though, because it's tied so closely to character (and therefor player) actions. If you don't like how GMs or players apply the alignment system, then I feel like there are better directions to approach a solution from than to scrap the whole thing altogether. But it's kind of hard to tell what the OP might like, because when I tried questioning him further about what he didn't like, I got useless answers like "it's an alignment system".

Given how few classes are actually reliant on the alignment system, this feels like a solution that is worse than the problem.

ideasmith
2017-04-26, 08:48 AM
Thank you all for your responses.

They will help with the new revision I’ve started. (I will certainly replacing the term ‘alignment’ with some other term (possibly ‘modetenor’ unless someone comes up with a better idea). I am also thinking of adding the terms ‘mode’ and ‘tenor’ back to the ends of the alignment names. I am also working on a sentence-by-sentence of how protection from evil is changed.)


It means that a paladin must colaborate with the demon-lord's forces; that they can bootstomp anyone as long as they're guilty of some crime or sin.

I’m not seeing what interpretation of the paladin’s code leads to that.


for the rogue, what does it even mean?

It affects what a good number of spells, magic items, class features, planar alignment traits, monster special abilities, and so on do to the rogue. Also what feats, prestige classes, and multiclassing are available to the rogue.


All it does is to say that one can't gestalt bard and paladin or barbarian and monk...

As the answer to the question above indicates, it does a lot more than that. What I think you are trying to say here is that it only does what the second sentence of the OP says it is intended to do, not what the first sentence says it doesn’t do.


but the deity isn't good anymore,

The lack of rules for morality does not prevent good characters (including good deities). Similarly, the lack of rules for hair color does not prevent redheaded characters, and the lack or rules for handedness does not prevent left-handed characters.


now old-fashioned deities cut spell access to their clerics constantly,

I’m not seeing what about this variant would cause that.


the DM has to write or approve a code of conduct for every single faith.

Using the cleric class as written already requires that. And since good sets of codes of conduct are already available, I’m not seeing this as a problem.


except we can't call it "good" any more.

This variant does not place any restriction on calling paladins good.
The lack of rules for morality does not prohibit good characters. Similarly, the lack of rules for hair color does not prohibit redheaded characters, and the lack or rules for handedness does not prohibit left-handed characters.


And switching alignments doesn't mean you have to change your behavior at all, so why do they even exist?

For the reason stated in the second sentence of the OP.


If you don't like the way the current alignment system functions I think it's far easier to just ease up a little bit on how rigid you require players to be,

Wouldn’t this require finding out which restrictions to ease up on? And then telling the players how much you are easing up? And wouldn’t both these things likely start alignment arguments? I’ve seen how people reacted when Gary Gygax said it’s OK for good-aligned characters to kill helpless prisoners.

This ‘solution’ is in any case, irrelevant to my own DMing. I started playing D&D long before alignment started being about morals and such. I never started this new-fangled practice of having moral requirements for having an alignment. Suggesting that I ease up on something I’m not doing in the first place is rather pointless.


rather than trying to get everyone to adopt what appears to be a highly un-intuitive system (and I'm not just talking about the names).

So what else are you talking about?


Alignments, under Ideasmith's proposal, are just gangs or sports teams, and the alignment labels are just the team jerseys or gang colors.

Not even that. There is no restriction on characters with opposing ‘alignments’ working together, nor on characters with the same alignment opposing one another. The retained mechanics do create a tendency for characters who oppose one another to be of opposing alignments. But this is a tendency, not an expectation.


The whole thing might be easier to understand if the word "alignment" were eliminated along with the old alignment names, because that word carries as much baggage among us RP gamers as their names do. "So why have teams at all?" I hear you cry. To plug the holes left behind when alignment is dropped in whole outright.

Replacing the word ‘alignment’ is a good idea.


Better.

So far, so good.


Is that really so bad? Being the DM takes work, which is not news to anyone. Sometimes it's better to rely on rulings than on rules.

Because DMing takes a lot of work, I try to keep my variants from increasing that already heavy workload. How bad the extra work this might prevent is, is something only the DM can decide. Just when rulings are preferable to rules varies from group to group.

The whole point of posting homebrew is to give other DMs more options. This is another option.


Post #2 seems to be gone, replaced by a copy of the post above.

Thank you for catching that. Fixed.


When I was contemplating a morally gray alignment replacement, I went with:





Out



Anti-Spin
Not
Spin



In





In which Spin is categorization, precedent and homogeneity, Anti-Spin is innovation, antipathy and heterogeneity.

Out is about external comprehension and motivation to the determent of the self, while In is about internal comprehension and motivation to the determent of the other.

Not is simply a force of apathy, contentedness and slow existence.

I personally liked the first names for their retro-scifi tone, but can understand them being hard to remember.

Thank you.


I don't think I understand enough about this, I was hoping someone could elaborate.

Jqavin’s summary in post #41 describes my system accurately. If it is still not clear, I suggest either asking questions or making guesses that are clearly labeled as such.


(Oy vey, not again. I said I was done with this.)

Forget the thread title. "Alignment without alignment?" What does that mean? Why not "Milk without milk" or ""Light without light?" Let's pretend this thread is called "Doing Away with Alignment, But Adding a Substitute."

Alignment, as currently defined and currently incorporated into the overall game mechanics, sucks. So let's get rid of it, and just handle morals as role playing matters. Let me repeat that last part: it's not about taking morality out of the game, but morality becomes a role playing matter only.

Well, that makes for its own problems. Since alignment is woven into quite a bunch of game mechanical stuff, getting rid of it leaves holes. Some people as DMs are content to stitch the holes closed with case-by-case rulings. Ideasmith would like to have rules which close the holes all at once, which one would have to admit is not a bad idea, whether or not one agrees that it is the best idea.

Any new rules that fill all the holes left behind by getting rid of alignment must, of necessity, have the same metaphorical "shape" as the alignment rules they replace. So the new rules look a lot like alignment, but have nothing to do with morality. New words are introduced to replace Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic in order to separate the new rules from morality. Other than the new words and the separation from morality, the new rules are essentially the same as the old ones, with the one further exception that they now mean very nearly nothing; within their own context and those areas of the game where alignment was important, they mean just what alignment meant (except for morality) and in all other respects they mean nothing at all. Though a statement like "they mean nothing at all" may sound like criticism, or even derision, it is not; that is Ideasmith's goal and intent.

May I adapt this into my variant?


There are six words that are central to alignment. Four of them - Good, Evil, Lawful, and Chaotic - have been replaced by Beginning, Ending, Past, and Future respectively. Note the lack of moral implication. I suggest that the other two - Neutral and Alignment - should be changed as well. Perhaps Middle and Team respectively. Or perhaps Neutral could be replaced by Present on the Past-Future axis and by Middle on the Beginning-Ending axis. Then there would be nothing left of alignment. Maybe that would make it easier to grasp.

As I told you in post #37, I have already replaced ‘Neutral’. While replacing the term ‘alignment’ is a good idea,‘team’ strongly implies behavior restrictions. I’ll go with ‘modetenor’ unless someone comes up with a better idea.


I feel like alignment isn't JUST a game-mechanic though, because it's tied so closely to character (and therefor player) actions. If you don't like how GMs or players apply the alignment system, then I feel like there are better directions to approach a solution from than to scrap the whole thing altogether.

In the games I’ve been in, neither GM’s nor players have used alignment for anything, and I was fine with that. Then I started reading internet reports of people actually applying alignment, and became delighted with that.


But it's kind of hard to tell what the OP might like, because when I tried questioning him further about what he didn't like, I got useless answers like "it's an alignment system".

You’ve been giving useless answers too. For example, the “it’s an alignment system” was my answer to “Let me answer your question with another question- what, specifically, don't you like about the current alignment system?”, which in turn was the only answer I got when I asked “This would be the alignment change table? (You didn’t specify.)”. To this day, I don’t know whether the table I ended up removing was the one you were complaining about. (If it isn’t, well, you could have answered the question.)


Given how few classes are actually reliant on the alignment system, this feels like a solution that is worse than the problem.

That would be zero of them. I don’t see how the absence of such classes makes tracking whether a rogue’s behavior crosses some arbitrary line any less pointless or any less of a headache.

jqavins
2017-04-26, 10:11 AM
Not even that. There is no restriction on characters with opposing ‘alignments’ working together, nor on characters with the same alignment opposing one another. The retained mechanics do create a tendency for characters who oppose one another to be of opposing alignments. But this is a tendency, not an expectation.
OK, but it was you who described this as being what side a character is on. Or was that your description of old alignment? Or both? I've lost track. Anyway, I never meant to say that modetenor alone dictates who can or who must work together, though I can see how my words might have looked that way. With old alignment it's the same; I've played with a group in the direct employ of a lawful good deity, not all of us the same alignment, and on two occasions working with a devil because our interests temporarily aligned (no pun intended.)


Because DMing takes a lot of work, I try to keep my variants from increasing that already heavy workload. How bad the extra work this might prevent is, is something only the DM can decide. Just when rulings are preferable to rules varies from group to group.

The whole point of posting homebrew is to give other DMs more options. This is another option.
Fair enough. As a DM and a player, and for all the groups I've played with, I don't know anyone who'd rather use this option than rulings, but that's not to say that they shouldn't have this option to consider. Remember, even though I don't personally like the variant you're proposing, I'm still trying to help you communicate it, which I wouldn't do if I thought it totally useless or an altogether bad idea.


May I adapt this into my variant?
Of course.

ideasmith
2017-05-16, 10:04 AM
Thanks to everyone for their input towards the current revision. I have added more clarification to the intro, and replaced more alignment terms, removing the table in the process. I have also added another example (protection from evil)


OK, but it was you who described this as being what side a character is on. Or was that your description of old alignment? Or both? I've lost track.

That was my description of old alignment. And I need to make it clearer that modetenor is not about teams. [EDIT: Revision made.]


Anyway, I never meant to say that modetenor alone dictates who can or who must work together, though I can see how my words might have looked that way. With old alignment it's the same; I've played with a group in the direct employ of a lawful good deity, not all of us the same alignment, and on two occasions working with a devil because our interests temporarily aligned (no pun intended.)

Our experiences differ. I remember my first DM suggesting that we play neutral characters, so that there wouldn’t be required hostility between us and a lot of creatures. That DM then basically ignored alignment, like everybody else in the games I’ve been in. Notably, this was early OD&D, which had neither descriptions of the alignments nor rules for alignment change. From your references to “lawful good” and “a devil”, you were playing a later version which had both.


Fair enough. As a DM and a player, and for all the groups I've played with, I don't know anyone who'd rather use this option than rulings, but that's not to say that they shouldn't have this option to consider. Remember, even though I don't personally like the variant you're proposing, I'm still trying to help you communicate it, which I wouldn't do if I thought it totally useless or an altogether bad idea.

Fair enough, and thank you. And I apologize for putting that last sentence in a reply to you. There was surely a more appropriate location for it.


Of course.

Thank you.

jqavins
2017-05-17, 02:52 PM
Our experiences differ. I remember my first DM suggesting that we play neutral characters, so that there wouldn’t be required hostility between us and a lot of creatures. That DM then basically ignored alignment, like everybody else in the games I’ve been in. Notably, this was early OD&D, which had neither descriptions of the alignments nor rules for alignment change. From your references to “lawful good” and “a devil”, you were playing a later version which had both.
Yes, it was AD&D.

My wife's first experience with D&D (original set, I think; I wasn't there) was with a DM who took her through creating a character then started her on a solo adventure. It went, in her words, like this: "You see a giant spider. What do you do? What do you do? What do you do? Too late, it bit you. You're dead. Wasn't that fun? You wanna do it again?" I think you and she share the unfortunate experience of having a bad DM the first time out.

ideasmith
2017-05-20, 09:25 AM
Yes, it was AD&D.

My wife's first experience with D&D (original set, I think; I wasn't there) was with a DM who took her through creating a character then started her on a solo adventure. It went, in her words, like this: "You see a giant spider. What do you do? What do you do? What do you do? Too late, it bit you. You're dead. Wasn't that fun? You wanna do it again?" I think you and she share the unfortunate experience of having a bad DM the first time out.

Actually, I had the good fortune to have a pretty good DM the first time out. He made sensible decisions, kept the groups interest, and remained the groups main DM at least until I moved away. He got me involved in D&D, and I remain so to this day.

HappyElf
2017-05-22, 07:47 PM
My problem

So, when I'm making a character, how do I choose what my Modetenors are? How do I know if my character is Past Ending or Future Beginning?

Because at the moment, they're completely (and apparently deliberately) meaningless, and thus effectively random because I'm just putting the adjectives I think are coolest on my character sheet. And if that's the case then it's probably easier just to roll a dice to see if any given alignment-based effect works on me.

I understand that you want to remove the connection to behaviour, but I think they need a connection to something. Elemental forces, maybe, or divine bloodlines, or fate in the afterlife, or the star a character was born under, or some other kind of alignment-neutral descriptor. Because as is, they're just putting meaningless words that have no in-universe backing on my character sheet. Which might prove a point about the alignment system but doesn't really work when actually trying to make my character under this system.

GnomeWorks
2017-05-23, 12:00 AM
it's probably easier just to roll a dice to see if any given alignment-based effect works on me.

That is not easier, because rolling dice slows down play.

They aren't teams. They have no in-game meaning. The only purpose of this system is to remove alignment, then fill in the purely mechanical gaps left behind by that action with basically nonsense words so that things like unholy blight and alignment-based DR don't throw null pointer exceptions.

Shark Uppercut
2017-05-23, 03:16 AM
So you stripped out all the baggage of each alignment, but still have 9 slots for every creature in the world to fit into.
Dear god. Why.
Just get rid of all traces of alignment. We didn't need the alignments because they were attached to the all-important 3x3 grid. It was just a convenient shortcut. It's a relic of the past, remember how each of the 9 alignments used to have a specific language? That's what this reminds me of.
Get rid of the 3x3. It isn't needed.


No alignment restrictions for Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Monk.
Paladins and Antipaladins can have a gentlemen's agreement with the DM about what their code of conduct is. All the Cavaliers and Wujen have no problem having codes of conduct, now you can too.
No Align / Bless Weapon, no Detect X, no Undetectable Alignment.
Protection from X protects from all creatures.
Dispel X affects all outsiders or spells you cast it on.
X Hammer is just Smite, and hits everyone. You pick the status condition when you prepare it.
X Aura works on everything. You pick the status condition when you prepare it.
X Word lets you exclude any targets you want. You pick the status conditions when you prepare it.
Forbiddance should go off of my religion / my country / my guild, etc.
Holy weapons are Bane for evil outsiders.
Alignment DR can become /magic for weak things and adamantine/cold iron/silver/obsidian for stronger things. If it already has material DR, add something different like piercing/slashing/bludgeoning.

HappyElf
2017-05-23, 07:10 AM
That is not easier, because rolling dice slows down play.

I mean, you could just roll a dice once for each axis, at the start of play, and it would be effectively identical to this system without learning a mass of deliberately meaningless terminology.

And besides, it's D&D, where would we be without endless dice rolling?

ideasmith
2017-06-01, 12:15 PM
My problem

So, when I'm making a character, how do I choose what my Modetenors are? How do I know if my character is Past Ending or Future Beginning?

Because at the moment, they're completely (and apparently deliberately) meaningless, and thus effectively random because I'm just putting the adjectives I think are coolest on my character sheet.

Consider the mechanical effects. First the class requirements: if your character is a paladin then s/he is Past Beginning. A Barbarian won’t be Past, and so on. Then the spell effects; then the magic items; then the planar effects; then whatever other modetenor-related rules are in use.

If you still can’t decide, then coolest adjectives is as good a tiebreaker as any.


And if that's the case then it's probably easier just to roll a dice to see if any given alignment-based effect works on me.

Automatically changing alignment every adventure would take a lot more bookkeeping than maybe changing alignment on gaining a level or when a year has passed. Your “roll a dice” suggestion would be harder, rather than easier.


I understand that you want to remove the connection to behaviour, but I think they need a connection to something. Elemental forces, maybe, or divine bloodlines, or fate in the afterlife, or the star a character was born under, or some other kind of alignment-neutral descriptor. Because as is, they're just putting meaningless words that have no in-universe backing on my character sheet. Which might prove a point about the alignment system but doesn't really work when actually trying to make my character under this system.

I’m not sure what you are objecting to here. However, adding some fluff does seem like a good idea, if only to make it clearer that the old fluff no longer applies. Possibly something like (placed in the terminology section):

‘The words are different because what they refer to is different. Modetenor is not a measure of morals, ethics, or hostility, but rather of the character’s attunement (or lack of attunement) to certain energy forces. Attunement to these forces affects which character classes are available, various cleric abilities, spell and magic item affects and the effects of certain planar traits’


So you stripped out all the baggage of each alignment, but still have 9 slots for every creature in the world to fit into.
Dear god. Why.

Because I don’t want to limit a DM using this to the portions of the rules I happened to adapt and I don’t want using this to be more trouble for the DM than doing the work him/her self.


So Just get rid of all traces of alignment. We didn't need the alignments because they were attached to the all-important 3x3 grid. It was just a convenient shortcut. It's a relic of the past, remember how each of the 9 alignments used to have a specific language? That's what this reminds me of.
Get rid of the 3x3. It isn't needed.

If I was writing my own game, there would be no 3x3 in sight.

I’m not. I’m writing a variant rule for an already existing game. The stuff written for use with this game include tens of thousands of products (at least) and a comparable amount of homebrew. This means that lots and lots and lots of stuff that ties in to that 3x3 grid.

If I want my system for dropping alignment to be much more useful than drop-in-the bucket coverage followed by an injunction to expand from there, I need to include a 3x3 grid for them to tie in to.



No alignment restrictions for Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Monk.
Paladins and Antipaladins can have a gentlemen's agreement with the DM about what their code of conduct is. All the Cavaliers and Wujen have no problem having codes of conduct, now you can too.
No Align / Bless Weapon, no Detect X, no Undetectable Alignment.
Protection from X protects from all creatures.
Dispel X affects all outsiders or spells you cast it on.
X Hammer is just Smite, and hits everyone. You pick the status condition when you prepare it.
X Aura works on everything. You pick the status condition when you prepare it.
X Word lets you exclude any targets you want. You pick the status conditions when you prepare it.
Forbiddance should go off of my religion / my country / my guild, etc.
Holy weapons are Bane for evil outsiders.
Alignment DR can become /magic for weak things and adamantine/cold iron/silver/obsidian for stronger things. If it already has material DR, add something different like piercing/slashing/bludgeoning.


The main difference between this and the aforementioned “drop-in-the bucket coverage followed by an injunction to expand from there” is the lack of an injunction to expand from there. This makes it technically worse, though anyone trying to use in would see the need to “expand from there” pretty quickly.


I mean, you could just roll a dice once for each axis, at the start of play, and it would be effectively identical to this system

I see three important differences:


Your suggestion keeps the old terms. Those terms practically scream ‘this is about morality’.
Your suggestion requires making an extra die roll and recording the result for every character, every adventure.
Your suggestion doesn’t cover alignment requirements, only alignment based effect. If it did cover alignment requirements, paladins would have an 8 in 9 chance of losing their class features every time you made that die roll.



without learning a mass of deliberately meaningless terminology.

It’s only seven words.

ideasmith
2017-06-14, 09:23 PM
Have revised system again, based on comments received above (thank you). See original post for details.