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View Full Version : D&D Alignment system VS Freudian psychology



Flickerdart
2008-05-10, 12:33 PM
Having nothing better to do, I once tried mapping the Id, Ego and Superego across the standard D&D alignment chart...after wrestling with it for a while, I came up with this distribution:

Super-ego Id
<------- --------->
/
/
/Ego
/
/
V


With the standard alignments chart stuck over it. (Ego should be a CG-LE diagonal, but I dunno how to make the spaces stay in place).

Anyone else ever try to apply psychological concepts over the D&D system? Maybe even invent a better way to do alignments? I can't be the only one this crazy around here.

EvilElitest
2008-05-10, 12:34 PM
Personally i think most psychology can fit into any alignment actually
from
EE

Wooter
2008-05-10, 12:44 PM
I actually prefer philosophical concepts to show a character's motivation and thought processes. Mainly so I can have an objectivist character without having to figure out what alignment they would be.

Flickerdart
2008-05-10, 12:50 PM
I actually prefer philosophical concepts to show a character's motivation and thought processes. Mainly so I can have an objectivist character without having to figure out what alignment they would be.
Oh, do tell. I have noticed quite a number of flaws in the standard system, and you have piqued my interest.

konfeta
2008-05-10, 01:00 PM
I am pretty sure that replacing the DnD alignment system with something like Freudian psychology will actually manage to make it even worse, more convoluted, and have 85% of "alignment classifications" related to presence or lack of the male reproductive organ. The other 15% will relate to characters mothers and fathers.

Flickerdart
2008-05-10, 01:11 PM
I am pretty sure that replacing the DnD alignment system with something like Freudian psychology will actually manage to make it even worse, more convoluted, and have 85% of "alignment classifications" related to presence or lack of the male reproductive organ. The other 15% will relate to characters mothers and fathers.
Freud isn't just about the Oedipus complex. :smallyuk:

Wooter
2008-05-10, 01:17 PM
Oh, do tell. I have noticed quite a number of flaws in the standard system, and you have piqued my interest.

I don't really know. It's just been something I've been brainstorming for a while. I haven't really worked anything out yet.

Jestir256
2008-05-10, 01:43 PM
Y'know... I'm beginning to think that maybe the D20 gaming community has been looking at alignment in kind of the wrong light for some time, and in my definition of community I include the guys at WOTC.

When looking for ways to explain the concept of alignment to a new player, I recently found myself looking over some old 1st ed sourcebooks; I thought maybe the closer I got to the guys who created the concept in the first place, the better I would understand alignment in general and thus improve my ability to explain it.

What I finally wound up explaining to my players was this: alignment does not measure the internal workings of a character's mind so much as it measures the extent to which the character's actions are sympathetic to the external cosmic forces of good, evil, law, and chaos. The character's alignment describes the interpretation of these forces as much as it describes the character themselves.

My point is that the psychology of a character exists independent of their alignment. Freudian psychology can exist in perfect harmony with an arbitrary cosmic system of ethics and morals imposed by a fantasy world.

Sorry about being so wordy.

warmachine
2008-05-10, 01:50 PM
God extended the catgirl killing rule to psychology discussions in fiction and killed one. Please think of the catgirls.

crimson77
2008-05-10, 02:12 PM
The dnd alignment system seems, in some cases, be a replacement for personality. If we are suggesting that alignment is similar to personality, I do not think that the Freudian personality structure is diverse enough to cover the alignment system. I would be interested in seeing what a campaign would look like if players used the big five personality traits to define their characters.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 02:17 PM
Not to mention, Brother sister twin incest is something that only should pop up in a very strange BoEF campaign.

Eldariel
2008-05-10, 02:32 PM
Not to mention, Brother sister twin incest is something that only should pop up in a very strange BoEF campaign.

Or games based in the world of A Song of Fire and Ice, or anything on that level of maturity.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 02:34 PM
Brother sister twin incest + maturity = usually does not compute. Name another example were that was handled maturely.

Yeah, few and far between, aren't they?

Eldariel
2008-05-10, 03:05 PM
Brother sister twin incest + maturity = usually does not compute. Name another example were that was handled maturely.

Yeah, few and far between, aren't they?

That's the only example in literature I can think of, period. Maturely or otherwise. And the book is definitely a proof that such concepts can be handled maturely; it's just a matter of the people involved. Giggle and stupid jokes aren't the only possible reaction to such a story, given sufficiently serious players and setting.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 03:08 PM
I can name quite a few (The one that first came to my head was some versions of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch), but that's about the only one that pulled of that schtick well.

Eldariel
2008-05-10, 03:31 PM
Now I suddenly want to play a game DMd by Martin. He'd also be a true "no punches pulled"-DM, I'll bet. And most fights would be fought without a single slash, with the rest being too big for a single player to directly affect. Good times.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 03:37 PM
Until the guy realizes anybody at Gitp is too genre savvy, and will quickly erect him or herself as a sort of messiah for the people by crafting at will items of Create Food and Drink.

Or a Batman Wizard owns an encounter twelve levels CR higher. Really, it requires a VERY specific mindset to think true high magic.

Chronos
2008-05-10, 05:18 PM
The dnd alignment system seems, in some cases, be a replacement for personality.Eh, alignment is a categorization scheme for personality, but what a lot of people overlook is that it's not an exhaustive classification scheme. That is to say, if two people have exactly the same personality, they'll have the same alignment, and everyone has some alignment, but it's possible for two people to have the same alignment and yet have very different personalities. To use an example that's probably familiar to folks here, Redcloak and Kubota are both Lawful Evil, but their personalities are similar only in the most superficial of ways. You can't just pick an alignment and say that you're done with your character's personality... In fact, you should almost always decide on the personality first, and then figure out what alignment matches it.

Dirk Redwood
2008-05-10, 05:20 PM
I don't really know. It's just been something I've been brainstorming for a while. I haven't really worked anything out yet.

wow I also was thinking about playing as an Objectvist charcther. Small world

Lord_Kimboat
2008-05-10, 05:47 PM
Alignment IMHO is just one of the things D&D got wrong from the beginning and (hopefully) will be getting rid of in the future.

The problem is that it is a mechanic without any hard, fast rules to it. Stats are another example of a mechanic but have a mathematical value so can be easily interpreted. With a 10 str, you can lift so many pounds, swing a sword just so hard, etc. It measures the physical power of your character. It doesn't mean that your character doesn't have rippling muscles or looks like a bean pole, the muscles can be obvious or not.

Alignment gives a value that is essentially meaningless as there are no hard and fast rules governing what it does. Can a lawful character tell lies? Can an evil character honestly love someone and perform acts of self sacrifice? No, all alignment tells you by way of the rules is that a lawful character is hurt worse by 'chaos hammer' and that an evil character is affected by protection from evil.

In my games, that is all they do. PCs choose their alignment but it has nothing to do with their actions, beliefs, goals or psyche.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 05:53 PM
Alignment is a tendency, except for outsiders. That's the official word. You can lie if you're lawful, harm someone needlessly if you're good, etc. There's your rule.

Roderick_BR
2008-05-10, 07:58 PM
Freud isn't just about the Oedipus complex. :smallyuk:
"A freudian slip is when you mean one thing, and say your mother."


Alignment IMHO is just one of the things D&D got wrong from the beginning and (hopefully) will be getting rid of in the future.
That's only if you don't know how to handle alignment. You can imagine it like the Force in StarWars games. If you act in a good way, treat people well, help the need, and is actually a nice guy, your alignment is good. If you are good, it means that effects made specially to "harm and corrupt pure hearted people" will affect you more. Likewise, holy weapons "punish the tainted". It is mainly a mechanical rule. YOU decide what your character is. Alignment rules just show the result.
I get tired of people claiming that alignment rules is wrong because they can't play characters that kill citizens, lie left and right, and steal from the poor without being labelled as "evil". It's like Doctor Doom from Marvel or Lex Luthor from DC. They'll claim to be doing the "right thing", and that they are not being evil... but if you read any stories with them, you'd label them as evil anyway.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 08:00 PM
http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j317/mccloud24/CHOCOLATE_CHIP_COOKIE.jpg


You win a cookie.

Fiery Diamond
2008-05-10, 08:16 PM
Um... I don't think you're supposed to post pictures that big. It makes it hard to read the thread.


In relation to the topic - why would you want to have Freudian Psych have anything to do with the game? I mean, it doesn't even work in the real world. (Just ask any professional psychologist, college psych major, or anyone else related in the field who's worth his/her salt.)

-Fiery Diamond

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 08:17 PM
Yep, the conductist approach is better.

Hmm...it IS too big. Anybody knows how to nerf the size?

Chronos
2008-05-10, 08:17 PM
Psst, Azerian, any chance you could spoiler that?

Azerian Kelimon
2008-05-10, 08:33 PM
Sure. It's done now.

Flickerdart
2008-05-10, 10:15 PM
Um... I don't think you're supposed to post pictures that big. It makes it hard to read the thread.


In relation to the topic - why would you want to have Freudian Psych have anything to do with the game? I mean, it doesn't even work in the real world. (Just ask any professional psychologist, college psych major, or anyone else related in the field who's worth his/her salt.)

-Fiery Diamond
High school Intro to Psychology doesn't quite measure up to those, sorry.

And to answer your question: because it's there.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-05-11, 11:28 AM
I am pretty sure that replacing the DnD alignment system with something like Freudian psychology will actually manage to make it even worse, more convoluted, and have 85% of "alignment classifications" related to presence or lack of the male reproductive organ. The other 15% will relate to characters mothers and fathers.

Especially considering that Freudian psychoanalysis is an outdated, debunked "theory" (not in the scientific sense, but in the Sherlock Holmes sense) that was never based on any sort of empirical evidence of scientific method, yeah.

Id, Ego, and Superego are all metaphysical concepts that cannot be quantified or observed in any way - their very existence is beyond proof. That might work out, except for the fact that in D&D, Good, Evil, Chaos, and Law are all quantifiable and observable.

Yahzi
2008-05-11, 11:36 AM
Here's my take on alignments, basing them roughly off of Kohlberg's stages of moral development (note that alignments in my world are also political statements as well as personal moral views):

Black (NE)
The absence of any moral sense. The Black lack all empathy or feeling for others, and only limited identification with their own future selves. They may be cruel, or merely capricious: the only constant to their behavior is that they do whatever amuses them at the moment. Their actions are almost always destructive, and even sometimes self-destructive.
They treat all other beings as merely props. To the Black, life is a soliloquy, a play about them and them alone, and everyone and everything else is there to revolve around them. They know other people have their own lives, they just donít care. Only they matter. Only their pain is real; only their desires are important.
Like a sociopath, they can anticipate and even manipulate other people, but they will almost always misunderstand otherís motivations. They canít even empathize even with other Blacks, because they cannot imagine any other center of the universe than themselves.
Blacks who commit accidental acts of kindness will devote considerable resources to undoing their good, even risking their lives to track down and hurt the recipient three times worse than they helped them. Convince a Black to give a beggar a coin out of pity, and chances are heíll go back the next day and torture the beggar to death.
To get a Black to do what you want... make it flattering. Blacksí self-identity is never adequate, and they are always looking to augment their esteem at the expense of others.

Red (CE)
Might makes right. The Red are only constrained by fear of punishment. They take what they want, when they want it, unless immediate and dire consequences are inescapably attached.
They can relate to other peopleís suffering, but will dismiss it as the whining of a loser. The strong thrive, and the weak serve or die. To the Red, this is the natural order of things.
Their impulse control is often severely impaired, since waiting for a better opportunity might seem too much like weakness. While this occasionally works against them, they are not willfully self-destructive like the Black.
If a Red is forced to restrain his urges, he will tend to become violent and commit acts of vandalism. Reds that find themselves being helpful to weak people may respond by being doubly-cruel to others.
To get a Red to do what you want... beat his head against a wall until he agrees. He will only respect you for your strength.

Yellow (LE)
Self-interest motivates the Yellow. They are not cruel by nature, merely indifferent. They will not inflict suffering unless it is necessary to obtain their goals in the cheapest, quickest, easiest way. The Yellow readily demand subservience from others, but they are just as quick to grovel if it is necessary. They can be trusted to keep their word, as long as doing so is the most profitable path.
When faced with other peopleís pain, if they canít ignore it, they will become angry at the person for making their life more difficult.
Yellows understand the benefits of law and order, and prefer it to chaos. They will happily work within a system, although they will always exploit the letter of the law.
If a Yellow acts chaotically, they will tend to become nervous and paranoid. If they act charitably, they will likely become mean-spirited and exacting in asserting their rights and privileges in other areas.
To get a Yellow to do what you want... pay him. But make sure itís more than the other side is offering.

Green (CG)
Honor and the esteem of his fellows is what drives the Green. This normally leads to good, since caring about what other people think and feel is the basis of Good. However, if a Green is part of a tight-knit group, they may depersonalize people outside of that group. This can lead Greens to commit crimes against others.
Greens respect order and fairness, but not law. They will bend the rules for their friends, although not to the point where they lose the respect of their peers.
If a Green commits an untypical act (anything from a crime to obeying the law at the expense of a friend), he or she may cover it up, and attempt to make up for it by committing extra-good deeds and acts of charity.
Human beings tend to advance to Green, and then stop thinking about moral development, since further progression is both difficult and usually unnecessary.
To get a Green to do what you want... offer him glory and fame. Or just friendship.

Blue (LG)
Scrupulously fair in all cases, the Blue recognize the value of the social contract. As long as you are willing to be fair, they are honor-bound to be fair to you. Morally upright and upstanding, they are not opposed to mercy, but they are also not necessarily inclined to it. If you understood the rules, and you still broke them, then the Blue will have little qualms about administering the appropriate punishment. Itís for your own good, after all.
If a Blue commits a crime, he or she will probably confess to the authorities, and accept their judgment and sentencing without complaint.
To get a Blue to do what you want... argue the fairness of your case. But be prepared to accept the consequences, whichever way they might go.

White (NG)
This alignment is the ultimate good, asserting universal rights for all sentient beings. They extend the benefits of the social contract to everyone, even those who cannot or will not live up to their end of the bargain. They grant mercy whenever possible; they are only interested in punishment as a way to prevent future crimes, never as revenge. They are patient, understanding, and kind. However, they are not weak, stupid, or gullible. If killing you is the only way to protect others, then they will kill you. Theyíll agonize over the deed, feel bad afterwards, and try to atone for it... but youíll still be dead.
Whites are not necessarily vegetarians. Their sense of universal rights only extends to moral agents, and besides, eating and being eaten is a physical fact of existence. However, they will not tolerate unnecessary suffering of any kind. They will respond to animal cruelty with almost as much vigor as they respond to the torture of sentient beings. They understand that a creature that can torture an animal is only one step away from torturing a person. The Blue will excuse harsh treatment of animals in limited cases, believing that their adherence to laws will prevent them from slipping into mistreating persons, but the White are not so naÔve. (The Green will either ignore animal cruelty or passionately oppose it, depending on whether their group identifies and sympathizes with the animal in question. We need not discuss the other alignments view of animal cruelty, since they certainly never worry about it.)
Whites who act out of accordance with their alignment will generally do anything in their power to set the situation aright, regardless of the cost to themselves.
To get a White to do what you want... ask for help. However, expect him to help you in the way that is best for everyone, regardless of what you actually wanted.

Changing Alignments
Of course, alignment is no guarantee of behavior. Alignment tells you how people justify their acts to themselves, and how they usually choose to act. But put a million gold in a sack and leave it lying around, and even Greens will turn into thieves.
However, if a good person commits a crime, they will either try to fix it or eventually succeed in justifying it to themselves... which means their alignment will probably change. Evil people who commit good deeds are in danger of realizing they enjoyed it, and wanting to commit more.
People will be more motivated to change their alignment if their lives are not working. Reds who continually lose will look for a safer, more orderly way to live (or give up and become self-destructive); Greens that are unpopular may stop caring about what others think (or realize that consistency and fairness are more important than social esteem), and so on. People who are reasonably successful, however, have little incentive to change. This explains why moral advancement is so difficult and rare after Green, since most people can lead acceptable lives in societies run by Greens or Yellows.
Combinations of alignments are possible, which show up as streaks of color in magical auras. Usually it is a color above or below, showing that the target is moving up or down the scale.
Steps of more than one stage are not unheard of, especially from rival stages. Yellow can suddenly understand the value of being fair, and become Blue. Red can suddenly see the value of being appreciated for something other than pure strength, and turn to Green. Or, Blue can become demoralized and lose all hope of the law being fair, instead turning it to his own advantage and turning himself to Yellow.
Sometimes alignment shifts in a few weeks as a result of a dramatic incident. Killing an innocent to preserve your life is the instinctive act of a moment; justifying it afterward (or seeking forgiveness for it) can result in rapid change. But usually it is a long and gradual process of thinking, experiencing, and growing (or shrinking).