View Full Version : The Player's Guide to Alignment

Jimmy Discordia
2007-08-05, 10:09 PM
After reading a few alignment discussions on here, I've decided to settle the topic once and for all by using my immense writing skills to craft a guide for faithfully playing all nine D&D alignments. Feel free to quote this to your DM when he tries to force an alignment shift on you for totally unfair reasons. Remember, as a player, all reasons are totally unfair unless you're trying for an alignment change, in which case any reason for not changing your alignment is totally unfair.

Note: This is a work of satire. Anyone who actually tries to do this deserves whatever he gets, unless the DM actually allows it, in which case it's the DM who deserves having such sneaky, underhanded players.

Another Note: This is the first draft, written all at once during a caffeine binge and posted in this form because I have no sense of restraint. Feel free to comment with your own examples, particularly of clever justifications I didn't think of. It's all in the interest of Science, really.

Beyond Good and Evil: A Player's Guide to Alignment

Alignment is one of the most hotly-debated topics in D&D. You can get pages and pages of discussion out of whether a Paladin should fall even for doing things that clearly violate the Paladin Code. Pick a fictional character, assign any alignment you like to them, and you can probably come up with an argument for why they are that alignment based on your own personal standards of what Law, Chaos, Good, Evil, and Neutrality really are. The Golden Rule of playing your alignment is that the acts don't matter, the justifications do.

What follows is a short guide for taking virtually any action you like while playing a character of any given alignment. You might have to get creative if you have a restrictive code of ethics like the Paladin, but we have faith in you. Following these tenets should help you come up with a reason for doing whatever you feel like without an alignment shift regardless of what your alignment actually is.

Lawful Good: The Zealot
You know what Law and Good are, because your deity, or your personal code, or your sovereign, or the voices in your head, have told you what they are. Anyone with a difference of opinion is simply wrong. Feel free to elaborate on this point with sharp things. Preferably a whole bunch of sharp things, wielded by your underlings. Hang a portrait of Tomas de Torquemada on your wall and go to town.

Universal Justifications: The people you're torturing/slaughtering/stealing from were Evil, and your doing nasty things to them serves the greater good. Also, it's in line with whatever code you follow, as long as you consider the targets Evil and the beneficiaries (primarily you) Good. Burn down an orc village? The children would have grown up to be Evil, and the noncombatants aided and abetted Evil. Torture? What would Torquemada do? Theft? Their loot is better off in your hands than in Evil hands.

Lawful Neutral: The Uptight
You have a permanent stick inserted someplace rather uncomfortable. Keep that stick in mind every time you have to make a moral decision. Anything that doesn't obey your standards to the letter is fair game.

Universal Justifications: See Lawful Good, but with more emphasis on the Lawful.

Lawful Evil: The Lawyer
You have an unusually Byzantine code of ethics, filled with all kinds of loopholes that only you, the unfailing student of absolute Law, can truly comprehend. If it benefits you directly, come up with a loophole. If there really aren't any loopholes, you can do one of two things: switch codes, or amend your code so it does include a loophole. Think "Thou shalt not kill, except:" then make a really long list of things after the colon. Do the same thing for every other standard you have.

Universal Justifications: You have the right to do whatever you want, and if you don't technically have the right to do it, twist around your interpretation of the Law until you do have the right to do it. You're special, and your benefit comes before anybody else's. Really, much the same as the other Lawful alignments, except you don't care whether your victims were Evil or not as long as they violated some obscure tenet of your code of ethics.

Neutral Good: The Basically Nice Guy
You don't care about the whole struggle between Law and Chaos, only about Good. And Good includes the greater good. You should act unfailingly nice to anyone you consider Good, but turn completely merciless against anyone who isn't Good. Your idea of Good is what's important here, not anybody else's.

Universal Justifications: It was for the greater good. Use the strictest utilitarian calculus of Good you possibly can when it benefits you, but change your definition of Good when a different one would benefit you more.

True Neutral: The Waffler
This comes in two flavors: the person who just doesn't care about Good/Evil/Law/Chaos and just wants to live their own life, and the person who's strictly committed to "balancing the extremes." Either provides ample reason for running amok, as long as you don't run too amok. Alternatively, you can just run amok in the other direction (metaphorically speaking) for a while and things will even out.

Universal Justifications (for the uncaring): You don't really care about any of that philosophical stuff. You're just going with the flow.
Universal Justifications (for the balance-freak): You were bringing things back into their natural equilibrium. If you commit some act of heinous Evil, follow it up with petting a kitten, or for worse acts, toss a few gold coins to some charity or other. Like Neutral Good, you can use a utilitarian calculus to figure the balance, or whichever calculus suits you more, as long as it comes out (close to) a zero balance on both arms of the scale.

Neutral Evil: The Selfish
Really, this one is all about what benefits you. Short run, long run, it doesn't matter. If doing something would conceivably work out in your favor, then go ahead and do it. Use whatever lies you need to get your friends and allies to go along with it.

Universal Justifications: As with several above, it was for the greater good. Only in this case, the greatest good of all is that which benefits you and no one else. Remember the words of Belkar's shoulder-devil: you have a duty to serve the Greater You. Okay, Belkar is CE, but this line works well in this context.

Chaotic Good: The Vigilante
Stuff the law. You're all about freedom, and Good, but mostly freedom. And freedom mostly for yourself and your friends, unless the freedom you're providing your enemies is freedom from the burden of breathing.

Universal Justifications: See the other Good alignments, except in this case you're even freer to decide what makes up the greater good. This one is especially nice because it gives you the most leeway to betray people who should be trusting you, if you can come up with some reason that betraying them would turn out more Good than not betraying them. Be creative.

Chaotic Neutral: The Total Nutjob
You don't just have the right to act completely at random. You have the imperative to do so. If your random acts turn out to always benefit yourself more than anybody else, well, that's just the luck of the draw.

Universal Justifications: You don't care about Good and Evil at all. You're just being yourself, marching to the beat of your own drummer, going off the beaten path, insert cliche here. If you start acting too consistently, do something completely off-the-wall to reassert yourself as the Chaotic Neutral guy. Start tossing flowers at your enemies instead of shooting arrows (but only do this in fights you're basically guaranteed to win anyway). Get up in the morning and declare today "fireball-everything day." The sky's the limit.

Chaotic Evil: The Sociopath
Like Chaotic Neutral, except your random acts are generally always going to be random acts of violence. Kill people for looking at you funny, or for being in your way. Burn down cities because you don't like the color scheme. As long as it hurts someone who isn't you, it's worth doing.

Universal Justification: You're Chaotic Evil. 'Nuff said.

2007-08-06, 02:24 AM
I was going to argue, and then I noticed that it's a work of satire. Very good!


In fact, I might give this to any starting players and say, "This is absolutely NOT how alignment works, enjoy!".

2007-08-06, 02:51 AM
Holy crap...are you one of my players? It's like I'm hearing them talk as I read this.


2007-08-06, 03:52 AM
Not much really original, but this was funny.

I laughed in a few parts, nicely done.

Jimmy Discordia
2007-08-06, 04:05 AM
Well, alignment arguments have been done to death. I just wanted to collect all the cliches I could think of into one convenient place.

I think the next draft is going to include such "lesser-known" alignments as Lawful Stupid and Chaotic Awesome. Any more good ideas for "lost" alignments? :smallwink:

2007-08-06, 10:01 AM
Add a "Player" alignment, i.e behavior that could be described as Chaotic Evil if player put any roleplaying in it, instead of just doing what will give him bigger amount of something- gold, XP, whatever.

2007-08-06, 10:46 AM
Very Amusing...

Actually, come to think of it, Lawful Evil isn't too bad, so long as the DM plays NPC's like that. If the PLAYERS are playing like that, then it is a problem.

Hrm.. For Lost Alignments
-Stupid Good- Help everyone, including selling your teammates goods to help others. Also, ignore all other players protest to go on stupid sidequests to help dumb peasants with no money to reward you.
-Chaotic Shortbus- WHEEEEEEEEEEE!! LEts go whack monsters an' run around an' chase our butts...LAWL BUTTS!!
-Lawful Anal- See the Lawful Neutral and Evil above.
-Bloody Evil-Exterminate... Annihilate... Destroy... Exterminate... Annihilate... Destroy...
-Neutral Everything- Changes alignments with the breezes... Every action changes his alignment totally. That, or they try to be a Paladin/Barbarian/Monk/Bard/Druid.

2007-08-06, 11:28 AM
lost alignments (http://forums.gleemax.com/leaving.php?destination=http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php%3FGenname%3Dralign)

2007-08-06, 12:06 PM
Burn down cities because you don't like the color scheme.

This made me smile. I must play this character some day; the vigilante aesthete. :smallcool:

As for the rest. Surely the OP knows that all D&D characters (of whatever ostensible alignment) have the same actual alignment as their players: Neutral Greedy. :smallwink:

lost alignments (http://forums.gleemax.com/leaving.php?destination=http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php%3FGenname%3Dralign)

You live up to your name Ideasmith. I likey linky. :smallbiggrin:

Alignment: Distractable Good. "Haha! I shall smite thee in Pelor's name vile ... wait! wut?"

2007-08-06, 12:56 PM
You know, it's sad how accurate this is to how some people I know actually play.

Although, I actually think the definition for Neutral Evil is a good one taken seriously, if simplistic.

Duke Malagigi
2007-08-06, 04:26 PM
-Chaotic Shortbus- WHEEEEEEEEEEE!! LEts go whack monsters an' run around an' chase our butts...LAWL BUTTS!!

That fits my party's (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2825784&postcount=1) cleric perfectly.