View Full Version : Alignment and change.

2017-10-09, 01:14 AM
So operating under the pretense that a player can change their alignment through deeds either good or evil and presuming that taking efforts to change who you are is a deed that can cause alignment change I bring about this potentially paradoxical scenario.

What would happen if a character wished to make themselves a different person (for example an evil person trying to become good) and did this by putting on a helm of alignment change?

Koo Rehtorb
2017-10-09, 01:23 AM
Presumably their alignment would change? What's the question here?

2017-10-09, 01:28 AM
I know it would change but which way?

2017-10-09, 01:48 AM
I know it would change but which way?
With a helm of opposite alignment, as I understand it:
LG <--> CE
NG <--> NE
CG <--> LE
LN <--> CN
TN --> Either CE, LE, CG or LG.
There's no way to become True Neutral with that item.

2017-10-09, 01:48 AM
The catch is supposed to be that evil and good are ways of viewing the world, therefore if you are evil and want to become good by putting on a helm of alignment change, you are already good, right? Therefore, in this case, you would actually turn evil, and the helm of alignment change would have no discernible effect to an observer?

The way I see it, D&D's good and evil are actually the cosmic forces, Good and Evil. If you were an evil person who suddenly resolved to become good, at the moment you made this resolution, you still have a metaphorical "stink" of evil on you. You might stink of evil slightly less than you did in the previous moment, but it's still there. In order to become cosmically Good, you need to then go out and do deeds that are Good, which will gradually replace your stink of evil with a metaphorical fragrance of goodness... or put on a helm of alignment change. So if I was DM, yes, the helm of alignment change would cause an evil person who put it on to become good.

But really, it could be anything the DM decides, as far as I'm concerned.

2017-10-09, 12:21 PM
Changing alignment is never so easy as identifying yourself as the alignment you prefer. Dedicating yourself to tasks that will eventually lead to a change in alignment is more or less the system for atonement (usually evil -> good, but evil deities have their own atonement systems).

Think of it like the Force in Star Wars. Once you start down one path, it can make changing course next to impossible. This is more visible in the temptation of the dark side, but the recent Kylo Ren arc demonstrates that the light side has its own pull.

A history and habit to a particular alignment will make behavior in keeping with that alignment feel more natural and take less effort to choose. Endeavoring to change that predisposition does not just switch over the moment the character wishes for it to.

Certainly, choosing to make the change is an important first step, but you have to actually follow through.

2017-10-09, 12:35 PM
What edition?

In 5e, the player just changes the Alignment on their PC's character sheet, and then starts playing the character using the new typical behavior as a guideline instead of the old one.

In (various) older editions, player Alignment change was often in the domain of the DM, either explicitly or implicitly. Because it wasn't something that informed your actions moving forward*. It was instead a value that measured the morality of your actions already taken. As such, it needed the DM to be that judge of actions.

Edit: Okay, wasn't exclusively something that informed your actions move forward. Often it was theoretically that, but actually changing it to a new alignment to then use moving forward was typically based on the DM's judgement of when to change it. Not the player's judgement.

2017-10-09, 04:41 PM
What would happen if a character wished to make themselves a different person (for example an evil person trying to become good) and did this by putting on a helm of alignment change?

I know it would change but which way?
In the way that the helm describes its function. Generally that's going to be as polar-opposite to the current alignment as possible. Lawful becomes chaotic, good becomes evil, vice versa, and neutral becomes one of the extremes.

Whether anyone really realizes it or not there are only two practical reasons to introduce a helm of opposite alignment into the game. First is basically to be strictly a screwjob; a "gotcha!" to an unsuspecting player. In particular, to characters whose classes require them to be a particular alignment this is either particularly funny or pointlessly brutal depending on your general style in playing the game overall. The second is to spontaneously provide a significant roleplaying challenge to a player. Hopefully, the player is up to that challenge at the time the change is inflicted upon them. If the DM is particularly keen on being a stickler about the effects then the player either crumples up their character sheet and rolls up a new PC that A) fits into the party where the old one no longer does, and B) the player is willing to play given that the old one has been forcibly made unpalatable, or else the player takes up the roleplaying task of ensuring that their PC now faithfully behaves as befits their new alignment and possibly kisses their old class goodbye as just being the amusing, whimsical fortunes of random D&D gameplay that a good player must simply take in stride with no worse than a melancholy smile in memory of the PC they USED to have.

If a player WANTS their character to change alignments they do not need a helm of alignment change. They simply have their character behave according to the new alignment they wish their character to have. There may still be consequences but they will be no worse and no different whatsoever than having an alignment change suddenly and magically forced upon the character by the helm. The only difference there is, is that the change is voluntary and generally DESIRED by the player, who has the luxury then of actually choosing ANY alignment to change to and not just the polar opposite of what their character has now.

Preferably, a voluntary change of alignment comes about as a NATURAL consequence of events in the game and not just a change out-of-the-blue for no reason or motivation whatever. That is, an evil PC should want to become a good PC for reasons that arose during the game, and not simply because the player is bored and wants to throw a monkey wrench into the works just to see what happens. The alignment change then does not generally happen instantly, but over the course of time in the game as the character ceases their previous evil behaviors and works to act according to new/changing morals, eithics, philosophy and religion. Most important of all is that the change to the character is NOT desired by the player simply to disrupt the game - and that is perhaps the only reason that a DM should object to alignment changes that the PLAYER initiates for their PC.

When it's the DM INFLICTING an involuntary change on the PC because the DM ALLOWED a helm of alignment change to enter into their ongoing game, then the player is ultimately NOT responsible for ensuring that their PC remains as the new alignment. The backlash and upset that THE DM creates from any player whose PC gets caught against their will in changing alignments that way, is all the DM's own doing and they will get what they deserve. Unless, as suggested, it's a really, REALLY old-school game with completely disposable PC's that players have no significant investment in and paranoia and "Gotcha!" are the very style of play that IS desired in the game.

2017-10-10, 09:44 AM
... Sooo was I the only one thinking of this plotline when this subject came up? http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0486.html

Anyway I think I understand the question. The character in the process of going from... oh let's say CE --> LG. They are trying to atone for the sins of their past and are doing good deeds although they still haven't made enough of a difference to actually change alignments. Since this is a curse which completely switches the characters intentions would they turn into a character going LG --> CE? Would they turn into a LG character who starts kicking puppies because they want to turn evil?

Well... that entirely depends on two things. First how you figure the helm actually works. It is a very powerful piece of mind-affecting magic and the particulars of the magic can make all the difference here. I assume it's a brainwashing device of the sort that convinces you that everything you morally held true is false. The second is how alignments actually work in your world. Are they subjective? Are they inherent? I've always done them as a law of nature which reacts to the characters actions rather than intentions. Which means yes there are quite a few villainous Good characters out there because all they have to do is good which outweighs the sins that they have committed.

Such a helm would actually be quite the powerful item in such a world as it would allow someone who doesn't worship a specific god to go to the opposite of their intended afterlife.

2017-10-10, 11:41 AM
See now I want to see a version of the helm of alignment change that causes others to percieve you as something you're not to force the alignment change. A paladin is now seen as a marauder or a dread necromancer is seen as a pioneer and hero.