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SamTheCleric
2008-06-02, 06:56 AM
Here ya go (Im suprised this hasn't been posted yet... it probably has and my search-fu just sucks)

In todayís final preview article, we look at the nature of good vs. evil Ė and more importantly, what these terms mean for your character!


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Like everything else for 4th Edition of D&D, we thought long and hard about the alignment system we wanted to launch with the new edition. The struggle of good heroes against evil villains is one D&Dís core tenants. The D&D alignment system possesses a heritage and brand identity we did not want to lose. If we could overcome a couple of issues associated with the traditional alignment system without introducing new problems, we knew that we absolutely had to preserve the system so players could still talk about their lawful good paladin or the chaotic evil demon they vanquished.

As we saw it, several issues plagued D&D alignment, including:

A characterís alignment, chosen at character creation, can become a straight-jacket on that characterís actions. Consider the paladin weíve all seen in play, ďI had to attack the rogue, Iím lawful good,Ē or the rogue, ďIím chaotic good! That means sometimes I push you off the bridge; come on, donít get mad!Ē or some similar sentiment when presented with a role-playing choice. For this reason, many characters stuck with neutral: a nebulous self-serving alignment (as was then defined), a ďme firstĒ mentality that didnít necessarily promote party cohesion either.


In 3rd Edition, choosing an alignment usually had the unfortunate mechanical repercussion of making the aligned player vulnerable to an opposing aligned attack of a foe. Itís not really ideal that being good made you more vulnerable to demonic attacks, for instance. Another reason some players stuck with the neutral alignment of previous editions.


The alignment system was tied to game cosmology, in ways that sometimes translated to physical effects that didnít lead to fun gameplay.
So we came up with a new alignment system for 4th Edition, though one not completely unlike the previous version. It saves most of the old terms, if not their cosmological or gameplay significance. If any statement can sum up the new system, it is: ďAlignment means making an effort.Ē --Michele Carter.

Thus was born the concept of unaligned. More importantly, the concept that unaligned is benign. Being unaligned is not the neutral alignment of previous editions. Someone who is unaligned is assumed to be an ďeasy-goingĒ and sometimes even helpful person, especially when itís easy to be helpful. Just like in real life, where itís arguable that many people (cocooned in their routines and safe lives provided by a supporting civilization) are unaligned, your fantasy character can enjoy the same freedom from thinking too hard about morality but still be granted the benefit of doubt when they are judged.

Of course, many players will feel benign isnít good enough, and so declare themselves good or lawful good. These characters are willing to put themselves in harmís way to uphold a virtue or save an innocentís life, even if there is the very real possibility they could lose their own life in the process. Such willingness for self-sacrifice is not benign; it is good.
--Bruce Cordell


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If you choose an alignment, youíre indicating your characterís dedication to a set of moral principles: good, lawful good, evil, or chaotic evil. In a cosmic sense, itís the team you believe in and fight for most strongly.

Alignment
A characterís alignment (or lack thereof) describes his or her moral stance:

Good: Freedom and kindness.
Lawful Good: Civilization and order.
Evil: Tyranny and hatred.
Chaotic Evil: Entropy and destruction.
Unaligned: Having no alignment; not taking a stand.
For the purpose of determining whether an effect functions on a character, someone of lawful good alignment is considered good and someone of chaotic evil alignment is considered evil. For instance, a lawful good character can use a magic item that is usable only by good-aligned characters.

Alignments are tied to universal forces bigger than deities or any other allegiance you might have. If youíre a high-level cleric with a lawful good alignment, youíre on the same team as Bahamut, regardless of whether you worship that deity. Bahamut is not in any sense the captain of your team, just a particularly important player (who has a large number of supporters).

Most people in the world, and plenty of player characters, havenít signed up to play on any teamótheyíre unaligned. Picking and adhering to an alignment represents a distinct choice.

If you choose an alignment for your character, you should pick either good or lawful good. Unless your DM is running a campaign in which all the characters are evil or chaotic evil, playing an evil or chaotic evil character disrupts an adventuring party and, frankly, makes all the other players angry at you.

Hereís what the four alignments (and being unaligned) mean.

The Good Alignment
Protecting the weak from those who would dominate or kill them is just the right thing to do.

If youíre a good character, you believe it is right to aid and protect those in need. Youíre not required to sacrifice yourself to help others or to completely ignore your own needs, but you might be asked to place othersí needs above your own.... in some cases, even if that means putting yourself in harmís way. In many ways, thatís the essence of being a heroic adventurer:

The people of the town canít defend themselves from the marauding goblins, so you descend into the dungeonóat significant personal riskóto put an end to the goblin raids.

You can follow rules and respect authority, but youíre keenly aware that power tends to corrupt those who wield it, too often leading them to exploit their power for selfish or evil ends. When that happens, you feel no obligation to follow the law blindly.

Itís better for authority to rest in the members of a community rather than the hands of any individual or social class. When law becomes exploitation, it crosses into evil territory, and good characters feel compelled to fight it.

Good and evil represent fundamentally different viewpoints, cosmically opposed and unable to coexist in peace. Good and lawful good characters, though, get along fineóeven if a good character thinks a lawful good companion might be a little too focused on following the law, rather than simply doing the right thing.

The Lawful Good Alignment
An ordered society protects us from evil.

If youíre lawful good, you respect the authority of personal codes of conduct, laws, and leaders, and you believe that those codes are the best way of achieving your ideals. Just authority promotes the well-being of its subjects and prevents them from harming one another. Lawful good characters believe just as strongly as good ones do in the value of life, and they put even more emphasis on the need for the powerful to protect the weak and lift up the downtrodden. The exemplars of the lawful good alignment are shining champions of whatís right, honorable, and true, risking or even sacrificing their lives to stop the spread of evil in the world.

When leaders exploit their authority for personal gain, when laws grant privileged status to some citizens and reduce others to slavery or untouchable status, law has given in to evil and just authority becomes tyranny. You are not only capable of challenging such injustice, but morally bound to do so.

However, you would prefer to work within the system to right such problems rather than resorting to more rebellious and lawless methods.

The Evil Alignment
It is my right to claim what others possess.

Evil characters donít necessarily go out of their way to hurt people, but theyíre perfectly willing to take advantage of the weakness of others to acquire what they want.

Evil characters use rules and order to maximize personal gain. They donít care whether laws hurt other people. They support institutional structures that give them power, even if that power comes at the expense of othersí freedom. Slavery and rigid caste structures are not only acceptable but desirable to evil characters, as long as they are in a position to benefit from them.

The Chaotic Evil Alignment
I donít care what I have to do to get what I want.

Chaotic evil characters have a complete disregard for others. Each believes he or she is the only being that matters and kills, steals, and betrays others to gain power. Their word is meaningless and their actions destructive. Their worldviews can be so warped that they destroy anything and anyone that doesnít directly contribute to their interests.

By the standards of good and lawful good people, chaotic evil is as abhorrent as evil, perhaps even more so. Chaotic evil monsters such as demons and orcs are at least as much of a threat to civilization and general well-being as evil monsters are. An evil creature and a chaotic evil creature are both opposed to good, but they donít have much respect for each other either and rarely cooperate toward common goals.

Unaligned
Just let me go about my business.

If youíre unaligned, you donít actively seek to harm others or wish them ill. But you also donít go out of your way to put yourself at risk without some hope for reward. You support law and order when doing so benefits you. You value your own freedom, without worrying too much about protecting the freedom of others.

A few unaligned people, and most unaligned deities, arenít undecided about alignment. Rather, theyíve chosen not to choose, either because they see the benefits of both good and evil or because they see themselves as above the concerns of morality. The Raven Queen and her devotees fall into the latter camp, believing that moral choices are irrelevant to their mission since death comes to all creatures regardless of alignment.


And some art!

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/art_preview/20080602_114836_0.jpg

Zocelot
2008-06-02, 07:07 AM
Behavior wise, good seems to equal chaotic good, and evil is lawful evil. They say that unaligned is not neutral, but I'm sure many people will play their characters as neutral anyway. All in all, it's a cleaner system, but a tad confusing due to the changes form 3.5e.

MorkaisChosen
2008-06-02, 07:21 AM
There is something missing. Unaligned can be summed up as "meh." What isn't there is your Druidic Neutral- there's nothing to represent "Balance!"

Reel On, Love
2008-06-02, 07:25 AM
There is something missing. Unaligned can be summed up as "meh." What isn't there is your Druidic Neutral- there's nothing to represent "Balance!"

Yeah?

GOOD.

Tengu
2008-06-02, 07:31 AM
What isn't there is your Druidic Neutral- there's nothing to represent "Balance!"

Agreed with RoL - this is the most idiotic alignment ever. If you really have to include it, you can shuffle it under (deluded) Evil.

Hunter Noventa
2008-06-02, 07:38 AM
There is something missing. Unaligned can be summed up as "meh." What isn't there is your Druidic Neutral- there's nothing to represent "Balance!"

All Druids are all about balance. Good or Evil is just how they go about preserving it.

Duke of URL
2008-06-02, 07:42 AM
They can try to justify it all they want, it still comes across as "some people have no concept of how to properly roleplay alignment, so we'll cater to them and screw over the people who actually know how to roleplay".

It's one thing to have a DM or player group decide not to use alignment, it's entirely another issue to have the system impose an "alignment for dummies" system that makes alignment practically irrelevant.

Edea
2008-06-02, 07:55 AM
Maybe there are people who'd actually want to play that kind of Neutral, I dunno. However, I -do- know why, nowadays, I almost always pick True Neutral (or in this case 'Unaligned') as my alignment; I just don't really care to get into any debates on morals with other characters. Usually I like doing something good, but if I need to do something...questionable...at any time, due to the fact that it happens to be the most effective course of action, at least people won't pull the alignment card on me at the table (had that happen before, and I wasn't even playing a character that was mechanically affected by alignment! It was a complete debacle. I just got sick of it). Long ago I used to play CG and/or NG ('Good' now, I suppose), but not anymore.

Kurald Galain
2008-06-02, 07:56 AM
They can try to justify it all they want, it still comes across as "some people have no concept of how to properly roleplay alignment, so we'll cater to them and screw over the people who actually know how to roleplay".

The problem is that if you take any two people who believe they "have a concept of how to properly roleplay alignment", they will most likely vehemently disagree with one another.

As evidenced in every single "what alignment is X" or "how to play alignment Y" thread in this or similar forums.

Telonius
2008-06-02, 07:56 AM
I'm quite happy about this change. The previous way of doing it encouraged people to play alignments instead of playing characters. When there really aren't as many mechanical effects based off of moral choices, players will feel a bit more free to develop the character.

nagora
2008-06-02, 07:57 AM
There is something missing. Unaligned can be summed up as "meh." What isn't there is your Druidic Neutral- there's nothing to represent "Balance!"

True Neutral was never the alignment of druids, that was a misconception that crept in with 2ed. Druids are non-aligned.

I've written a small campaign outline on this subject (PDF) (http://www.tww.cx/downloads/druids.pdf) for 1ed.

Druids having an alignment makes as much sense as a dog having an alignment, as such they are just "neutral" with a small 'n'. True Neutral is the alignment of insane people and deities with a very particular view of the multiverse, IMO.

LCR
2008-06-02, 07:58 AM
So, if "unaligned" does not equal neutral, what does?
I rather liked characters, who strongly believed in justice and civilization, without being good (lawful neutral). It's sad they cut the whole lawful/chaotic axis while retaining the moral axis. If they were trying to simplify alignment, they should have gotten rid of the whole of it.
I would have no problem calling neutral unaligned, but they seem to be calling it "undecided" and "easy-going" (seriously ... what does not choosing between good and evil to do with being a nice guy?) and that's sort of weird, to be honest.

Roderick_BR
2008-06-02, 08:05 AM
The struggle of good heroes against evil villains is one D&Dís core tenants.
QTW!!! I always thought that alignment is what makes D&D... D&D, and not some generic fantasy game.
It was needing an overhaul though, and it sounds like it's good now. People can be "neutral" without bothering with alignment. Apparently, you can have a whole game without alignment, that is what many players wanted, and still have options to play with them.

The way they took it is interesting, meshing the 2 axis into 5 basic roles. As it was commented before, Good is the old NG and CG, and Evil is the old NE and LE, leaving the Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil as special cases. I like this variation. Less problems with the "chaotic/lawful" axis that is what people complain most.

My guess, based on the comment "being good makes you vulnerable to evil spells" means that by choosing an alignment, you get access to different abilities, but you have the option to use the unaligned in any game without problems.

Balance? You could play an unaligned character, that tends to nose into other's business. You are nor good nor evil, you are just in the middle.

nagora
2008-06-02, 08:10 AM
So, if "unaligned" does not equal neutral, what does?
Neutrality is the alignment of self-preservation; True Neutral was a construct introduced to represent those who would preserve the balance of alignments - a political idea in essence.

A druid wishes to preserve the balance of nature (a broader version of the normal individual's neutrality) and the means to do this can be taken from any alignment: they may work in groups, or alone, for the aid of other sentients, or by force - whatever works in the circumstances. That's what I mean by "unaligned". They have no interest in artificial intellectual notions of balancing the alignment in the world at all.

LCR
2008-06-02, 08:14 AM
I wasn't talking about the druidic neutral or neutral as in "trying to preserve balance", but neutral as in neither good nor evil or not concerned with good or evil/not interested in morals.

Jarlax
2008-06-02, 08:32 AM
So, if "unaligned" does not equal neutral, what does?

nothing. neutrality has always bred action without justification, thats why NE PCs are more dangerous than CE or LE PCs, LE and CE are driven to evil by a cause or need. NE are evil for the sake of evil without justification for their actions.


I rather liked characters, who strongly believed in justice and civilization, without being good (lawful neutral). It's sad they cut the whole lawful/chaotic axis while retaining the moral axis.

the system is no so ridged that you cannot simply declare yourself "lawful" however the system is really just making the argument that since the system runs on the assumption that the PCs are the good guys if your lawful you should probably be good too. hence why it steps from good to lawful good


I would have no problem calling neutral unaligned, but they seem to be calling it "undecided" and "easy-going" (seriously ... what does not choosing between good and evil to do with being a nice guy?) and that's sort of weird, to be honest.

unaligned is really more about just being normal.

you follow the law when its is convenient. you pirate DVDs and music because there is no chance of being caught or because "everyone does it". but you rarely speed because the chance of being caught and the penalties for doing so are high.

you do good when it is easy, like you would donate money to a charity when collectors come, but wouldn't actively search for a donation line otherwise.

like the article says being unaligned is easy, choosing and standing for a cause is what is hard, because it means working toward an ideal in everything you do, every day.

Tengu
2008-06-02, 08:40 AM
nothing. neutrality has always bred action without justification, thats why NE PCs are more dangerous than CE or LE PCs, LE and CE are driven to evil by a cause or need. NE are evil for the sake of evil without justification for their actions.

No. Just no. CE characters are rarely evil for the sake of some chaotic cause, and usually are because they don't care about others at all and just do what they want. NE means that if you want something and to obtain your goal you have to hurt someone, their loss. You've got these two alignments switched.

Which also shows how 4e alignment system is superior - alignments are much clearer now, no more arguments and debates. No more characters whose alignment is the only part of their personality, either.

nagora
2008-06-02, 08:41 AM
nothing. neutrality has always bred action without justification, thats why NE PCs are more dangerous than CE or LE PCs, LE and CE are driven to evil by a cause or need. NE are evil for the sake of evil without justification for their actions.

You're making it too complicated. LE, NE, and CE all want to dominate others - that's the evil part. LE sees the best chance to do this by working with others of the same ilk; CE refuses to compromise with others and will only tolerate a group if s/he is in control of it; NE will work with others when it furthers their personal greed/sadism/whatever, and on their own when that gets them what they want quicker.

Causes can be followed by any alignment.

KillianHawkeye
2008-06-02, 08:46 AM
Am I the only one who doesn't see any difference between the terms Neutral, True Neutral, and Unaligned? They're all the same thing as I understand it. Each one allows you to be indifferent, or into self-preservation, or promote a balance of alignments. Each one allows you to have Good or Evil, Lawful or Chaotic tendencies. Obviously there's going to be SOME variation with an alignment that comprises 99.9% of the population.

And FYI, True Neutral does not imply the "balance" version of neutrality. (At least not in 3.5.) It is simply an easier way of saying Neutral/Neutral. Just like True Good is Neutral Good, True Lawful is Lawful Neutral, etc.

LCR
2008-06-02, 08:47 AM
I agree with your understanding of "unaligned" and that's pretty much what I don't like about it.
I just don't like how the new system is less nuanced than the old. You still have to decide which alignment you are, only that now, if you're not good nor evil, you're suddenly easy-going and normal.

nagora
2008-06-02, 08:50 AM
Am I the only one who doesn't see any difference between the terms Neutral, True Neutral, and Unaligned?
Yes :smallbiggrin:

They're all the same thing as I understand it. Each one allows you to be indifferent, or into self-preservation, or promote a balance of alignments.
Those are three different things.


And FYI, True Neutral does not imply the "balance" version of neutrality. (At least not in 3.5.) It is simply an easier way of saying Neutral/Neutral. Just like True Good is Neutral Good, True Lawful is Lawful Neutral, etc.
Actually, TN got lost in 3ed. It does not appear in the alignments section of the SRD, at least. Traces appear from time to time.

KillianHawkeye
2008-06-02, 08:50 AM
If you don't want to roleplay yourself as easy-going, I'd say that's pretty much your choice. But you're right that not choosing an alignment (i.e. "choosing" to be Neutral in older editions) does make you normal.

LCR
2008-06-02, 08:57 AM
Thinking of it, I would have preferred an even easier system. Good, Neutral, Evil.
Or no alignment system at all.
Or they could have just kept the old system.
But now, I feel like you're being gently forced (encouraged) to play the good guy (otherwise, you're evil or normal (boring)).

Atanuero
2008-06-02, 09:01 AM
So, what they basically decided to do is say 'Chaotic and Neutral Good', despite being very different in the eyes of anyone managing to make the Wisdom check to understand the descriptions of them (NG is 'Things should be better for everybody, whether that leads to enlightened despotism (LG) or complete anarchy' and CG is 'I believe in the tenets of good so if I see babies being killed I'll probably go out of the way to stop it, but for the most part I look out for myself'), are really pretty much the same thing.

Likewise for Lawful Neutral ('Laws are a good thing, whatever form they may take') and True Neutral ('I don't really care/there needs to be balance') and Chaotic Neutral ('I'm incredibly self serving and I adventure for material gains without feeling very empathic towards anything really'), which are incredibly different but are now restricted to 'Unaligned'? Not even 'Lawful Unaligned'? Wow, that's a terrible change. Especially with the absence of Lawful Neutral. If somebody supports laws, you now need to instantly decide whether they're good or evil, which makes many leaders' alignments really ambiguous.

LCR
2008-06-02, 09:04 AM
So, what they basically decided to do is say 'Chaotic and Neutral Good', despite being very different in the eyes of anyone managing to make the Wisdom check to understand the descriptions of them (NG is 'Things should be better for everybody, whether that leads to enlightened despotism (LG) or complete anarchy' and CG is 'I believe in the tenets of good so if I see babies being killed I'll probably go out of the way to stop it, but for the most part I look out for myself'), are really pretty much the same thing.

Likewise for Lawful Neutral ('Laws are a good thing, whatever form they may take') and True Neutral ('I don't really care/there needs to be balance') and Chaotic Neutral ('I'm incredibly self serving and I adventure for material gains without feeling very empathic towards anything really'), which are incredibly different but are now restricted to 'Unaligned'? Not even 'Lawful Unaligned'? Wow, that's a terrible change. Especially with the absence of Lawful Neutral. If somebody supports laws, you now need to instantly decide whether they're good or evil, which makes many leaders' alignments really ambiguous.

Pretty much what I was trying to say, only much better phrased. Thank you.

KillianHawkeye
2008-06-02, 09:06 AM
If youíre unaligned, you donít actively seek to harm others or wish them ill. But you also donít go out of your way to put yourself at risk without some hope for reward. You support law and order when doing so benefits you. You value your own freedom, without worrying too much about protecting the freedom of others.

A few unaligned people, and most unaligned deities, arenít undecided about alignment. Rather, theyíve chosen not to choose, either because they see the benefits of both good and evil or because they see themselves as above the concerns of morality.


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

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

They seem about the same to me. The 4e version is more clearly written, and has the added concept of being "beyond morality", but that's not that big of a change.


Actually, TN got lost in 3ed. It does not appear in the alignments section of the SRD, at least. Traces appear from time to time.

Hmm, you are right, those lines were taken out of the 3.5 PHBs. It was in the 3e version, however, on all neutral alignments. For example:


The common phrase for neutral is "true neutral."

EDIT:

So, what they basically decided to do is say 'Chaotic and Neutral Good', despite being very different in the eyes of anyone managing to make the Wisdom check to understand the descriptions of them (NG is 'Things should be better for everybody, whether that leads to enlightened despotism (LG) or complete anarchy' and CG is 'I believe in the tenets of good so if I see babies being killed I'll probably go out of the way to stop it, but for the most part I look out for myself'), are really pretty much the same thing.

Likewise for Lawful Neutral ('Laws are a good thing, whatever form they may take') and True Neutral ('I don't really care/there needs to be balance') and Chaotic Neutral ('I'm incredibly self serving and I adventure for material gains without feeling very empathic towards anything really'), which are incredibly different but are now restricted to 'Unaligned'? Not even 'Lawful Unaligned'? Wow, that's a terrible change. Especially with the absence of Lawful Neutral. If somebody supports laws, you now need to instantly decide whether they're good or evil, which makes many leaders' alignments really ambiguous.

That's ridiculous. They are simply broadening the definitions. (The dumb part is using the same old names to represent the new definitions.) Anyway, you can certainly be support laws and be Unaligned. Wouldn't you say that most people support most laws IRL? And as previously noted, 99.9% of people are Neutral/Unaligned.

Also, I disagree with your view that CG is "for the most part I look out for myself, unless babies are in trouble". Selfishness is a more of a neutral attitude (see my sig) and is not implied by Chaos alone. Chaos/Evil maybe, but not Chaos/Good.

Prophaniti
2008-06-02, 09:22 AM
I changed the fundamental rules of my campaigns long ago to make alignment less mechanically significant. My players usually still pick an alignment, to help describe where they stand morally. The main change I made is that mortal beings native to the material plane are unaffected by any alignment-based magic. Detect Evil and similar spells are limited to magical auras and outsiders. A good character entering an evil shrine will certainly feel disconcerted and disturbed, but they won't be mechanically limited by it. I did modify paladins a bit to make them less gimped by the change, but that was mostly just giving them the unrestricted version of Smite found on the Shadowbane Inquisitor.

Personally, I like the change. The 3e alignment system tried to codify too many different moral viewpoints and thus became restricting, with many an argument about whether an action was 'in keeping' with their alignment. I recall a very lengthy discussion about whether my Lawful Neutral Knight would enjoy a bar fight (just the rowdy fist-fight kind) or not. That's when I knew that alignment needed an overhaul.

Dacia Brabant
2008-06-02, 09:23 AM
So, what they basically decided to do is say 'Chaotic and Neutral Good', despite being very different in the eyes of anyone managing to make the Wisdom check to understand the descriptions of them (NG is 'Things should be better for everybody, whether that leads to enlightened despotism (LG) or complete anarchy' and CG is 'I believe in the tenets of good so if I see babies being killed I'll probably go out of the way to stop it, but for the most part I look out for myself'), are really pretty much the same thing.

Likewise for Lawful Neutral ('Laws are a good thing, whatever form they may take') and True Neutral ('I don't really care/there needs to be balance') and Chaotic Neutral ('I'm incredibly self serving and I adventure for material gains without feeling very empathic towards anything really'), which are incredibly different but are now restricted to 'Unaligned'? Not even 'Lawful Unaligned'? Wow, that's a terrible change. Especially with the absence of Lawful Neutral. If somebody supports laws, you now need to instantly decide whether they're good or evil, which makes many leaders' alignments really ambiguous.

I was just about to write something about ethics and morals being unfairly merged in the new system, but this really says everything I wanted to say, so quoting for emphasis.

What are we players of the Judge archetype to do now? Do we have to be a Tyrant (Evil) or a Saint (Lawful Good) now instead? I can't see generic Unaligned fitting the role since they don't believe in an ethical mandate for society, and maybe not even for themselves.

The "choosing not to choose" line about philsophically Undecided is intriguing though and may fit the role, but I would have to see more about it if it allows for ethical choices.


you can certainly be support laws and be Unaligned. Wouldn't you say that most people support most laws IRL? And as previously noted, 99.9% of people are Neutral/Unaligned.
Yes that's true, however for that large swath of neutral/unaligned people who follow the laws, they do it because it's in their interest to do so, not because they regard Law as the sine qua non of existence. Surely there's a difference between the regular folk who follow most laws most of the time and the few who make Law and believe in it implicitly. I guess what I'm getting at is, is that difference something that's just going to have to be roleplayed as a different sort of Unaligned?

nagora
2008-06-02, 09:24 AM
(NG is 'Things should be better for everybody, whether that leads to enlightened despotism (LG) or complete anarchy' and CG is 'I believe in the tenets of good so if I see babies being killed I'll probably go out of the way to stop it, but for the most part I look out for myself')

Likewise for Lawful Neutral ('Laws are a good thing, whatever form they may take') and True Neutral ('I don't really care/there needs to be balance') and Chaotic Neutral ('I'm incredibly self serving and I adventure for material gains without feeling very empathic towards anything really'), which are incredibly different but are now restricted to 'Unaligned'? Not even 'Lawful Unaligned'? Wow, that's a terrible change. Especially with the absence of Lawful Neutral. If somebody supports laws, you now need to instantly decide whether they're good or evil, which makes many leaders' alignments really ambiguous.

It always amazes me how people get alignments so out of whack like that. From 1ed right through to d20 SRD they're pretty well laid out (1ed was best, of course :smallwink:).

Lawful characters work with others. They may work together to overthrow the law of the land. Paladins may do likewise if the king is a tyrant. Lawful is not about the law generally (although it can be for some individuals), it is about the code of the group and people who like to work in groups are lawful, simple as that.

Chaotic is not about selfishness as such, it's just about not compromising with others (so not great in groups); a chaotic person can be kind and generous, even willing to sacrifice him/herself for the sake of others.

Neutral (as regards Good/Evil) is "selfish" in that it's about looking after yourself.

Good is about helping others, and evil is about dominating others. Again, not really advanced theology there, is it?

The lawful/chaotic axis that so many people get screwed up about is a strange one given that we see it portrayed all the time. From "Starsky and Hutch" to "Life on Mars", the "Maverick cop who cuts corners to get the bad guys teamed up with the By-The-Book cop who knows that a firm conviction comes from doing things right" has been a staple of television shows for decades. Why do people still find it so hard to grasp the difference between LG and CG, I wonder?

KillianHawkeye
2008-06-02, 09:27 AM
I recall a very lengthy discussion about whether my Lawful Neutral Knight would enjoy a bar fight (just the rowdy fist-fight kind) or not. That's when I knew that alignment needed an overhaul.

I vaguely remember reading that discussion. I seriously hope it ended by everybody realizing that what a character enjoys is not determined by alignment. Since that is the only sensible answer.


It always amazes me how people get alignments so out of whack like that. From 1ed right through to d20 SRD they're pretty well laid out (1ed was best, of course :smallwink:).

Lawful characters work with others. They may work together to overthrow the law of the land. Paladins may do likewise if the king is a tyrant. Lawful is not about the law generally (although it can be for some individuals), it is about the code of the group and people who like to work in groups are lawful, simple as that.

Chaotic is not about selfishness as such, it's just about not compromising with others (so not great in groups); a chaotic person can be kind and generous, even willing to sacrifice him/herself for the sake of others.

Neutral (as regards Good/Evil) is "selfish" in that it's about looking after yourself.

Good is about helping others, and evil is about dominating others. Again, not really advanced theology there, is it?

The lawful/chaotic axis that so many people get screwed up about is a strange one given that we see it portrayed all the time. From "Starsky and Hutch" to "Life on Mars", the "Maverick cop who cuts corners to get the bad guys teamed up with the By-The-Book cop who knows that a firm conviction comes from doing things right" has been a staple of television shows for decades. Why do people still find it so hard to grasp the difference between LG and CG, I wonder?

QFT. It's not as though they made 4 Lethal Weapon movies. Oh wait, they did. :smallwink:

nagora
2008-06-02, 09:44 AM
Here's a cut out and keep guide to "Alignment Classic":

Lawful: prefers to work with others towards common goals, even if personal goals have to be compromised.

Chaotic: sets own goals, refuses to compromise.

L/C Neutral: will work for others so long as own goals are being served; works alone unless others can be found to help with own goals.

Good: wants to help others. Extreme will sacrifice self for others.

Evil: wants to dominate others; takes their things if possible. Extreme will kill for pleasure of taking everything from victim and their loved ones.

G/E Neutral: Tries to look out for self. Won't give others help if it is inconvienient, won't take others' stuff from them unless its "them or me".

There are nine combinations of the above; True Neutral in the sense of balancing the multiverse or some such is a tenth and, IMO, stupid alignment.

To me, this is a really simple system for making rough judgments about how an NPC will act, or react to a PC's actions. Insofar that deities are NPCs, it also give a guide to how religious characters are required to act by their gods. It also does a fairly good job of covering almost all sane people in one way or another.

Azerian Kelimon
2008-06-02, 09:58 AM
*Looks at title*

Pfft. Final preview, my foot. Anyone willing to place bets on the next preview, now that the books have been delayed a week?

SamTheCleric
2008-06-02, 10:03 AM
*Looks at title*

Pfft. Final preview, my foot. Anyone willing to place bets on the next preview, now that the books have been delayed a week?

My local store knows nothing of said delay and says that his distributor still lists as the books being shipped this week. Where do you get this information at?

Azerian Kelimon
2008-06-02, 10:13 AM
Wizards announced that, due to the impressive number of preorders or something like that, they were pushing the release back a week to print more books. There was a thread around here that discussed that.

SamTheCleric
2008-06-02, 10:15 AM
Wizards announced that, due to the impressive number of preorders or something like that, they were pushing the release back a week to print more books. There was a thread around here that discussed that.

From my understanding of the announcement, they just said that 4e is going "back to the printers", meaning they are making a second run of the books, not delaying it for more books at release. Now I must look it up! :smallbiggrin:

Tsotha-lanti
2008-06-02, 10:20 AM
When I started playing, we had three alignments - Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic - and we were damn grateful for Neutral! And we had to roll our dice uphill both ways!


Wizards announced that, due to the impressive number of preorders or something like that, they were pushing the release back a week to print more books. There was a thread around here that discussed that.

Probably not the greatest choice, considering PDFs meant for the printers or somesuch have already been leaked and the books are all over the 'net.

That's actually kinda hilarious. This has to be the first case of people illegally downloading and distributing a non-electronic book (three, in fact) weeks before its release, yeah?

Person_Man
2008-06-02, 10:32 AM
Argh.

I dislike that they're encouraging simplistic thinking. The 3rd ed alignment rules were simplistic enough, but boiling them down even further doesn't really help anyone.

In my games, you can choose or not choose any axis to define your character. In 4th ed terms, you can choose to be unaligned on either or both axises. So for example, you can just be Lawful, because your dedication to the law is what defines your character, and you might shift between Good and Evil beliefs as the situation changes. Or you might have Evil motivations, and most of the time you follow Lawful tenants because its convenient, but you're not above cutting corners if it benefits you. Neutral is the (much requested) dedication to balance on a particular axis. There is almost always a player who wants to be a Jedi, zen master, balance of nature, Babalon 5 final season-ish sort of PC. Before the first game session, everyone takes a minute or two to talk about their character and their beliefs. And if their alignment it changes over time, that's fine, as long as its derived from changes to their character.

I'm not too concerned with this. Pretty much every DM I know house rules alignment somehow. But it would have been nice if they had encouraged more complex character development and roleplaying.

Trog
2008-06-02, 10:43 AM
The old alignment system was fine.

The new one is also fine.

All the 3.5 alignments seem to fit just fine into the new ones. There is no restrictions and alignments that you cannot play.

I see no need to have a hole for every possible kind of pigeon.

Citizen Joe
2008-06-02, 11:14 AM
Alignment basically states that you have allied yourself with some philosophy. In the case of good and evil, those philosophies are on opposite ends of a spectrum. There is no point in the middle that is the actively neutral. Neutral simply means that you are somewhere between good and evil and more likely, don't take that into consideration when deciding your options. There is no Neutral, there is just not aligned.

nagora
2008-06-02, 11:26 AM
Alignment basically states that you have allied yourself with some philosophy.
Or that you just act that way.

We used to use capital letters to distinguish the sort of alignment you are talking about from the "that's just how I am". So "CE" was basically a demon-worshipper, whereas "ce" was a thug. They're both going to the same place when they die but they're probably going for radically different reasons.

Scintillatus
2008-06-02, 11:29 AM
I'm going to totally remove it. I loathe Alignment, but I'm prejudiced against objective morality systems.

LCR
2008-06-02, 11:30 AM
Alignment basically states that you have allied yourself with some philosophy. In the case of good and evil, those philosophies are on opposite ends of a spectrum. There is no point in the middle that is the actively neutral. Neutral simply means that you are somewhere between good and evil and more likely, don't take that into consideration when deciding your options. There is no Neutral, there is just not aligned.

Of course you can be actively neutral. See druids. See people who see themselves above morality.

Renegade Paladin
2008-06-02, 11:34 AM
A characterís alignment, chosen at character creation, can become a straight-jacket on that characterís actions. Consider the paladin weíve all seen in play, ďI had to attack the rogue, Iím lawful good,Ē or the rogue, ďIím chaotic good! That means sometimes I push you off the bridge; come on, donít get mad!Ē or some similar sentiment when presented with a role-playing choice.
If the player is stupid, sure.
They can try to justify it all they want, it still comes across as "some people have no concept of how to properly roleplay alignment, so we'll cater to them and screw over the people who actually know how to roleplay".

It's one thing to have a DM or player group decide not to use alignment, it's entirely another issue to have the system impose an "alignment for dummies" system that makes alignment practically irrelevant.
This.

nagora
2008-06-02, 11:38 AM
I'm going to totally remove it. I loathe Alignment, but I'm prejudiced against objective morality systems.

At least that's a decent reason, if you're prepared to run with it.

Cyclone231
2008-06-02, 11:51 AM
So, the current alignments are basically Cop, Activist, General (stuff that doesn't exactly fit into normal rules), Sociopath and Psychotic.

So where does "thinks he's doing right, but is actually wrong" fit in? He's the guy who does evil, not because it is easy, or because he wants to, but because he thinks it's right. What alignment is he? Unaligned?

Kyeudo
2008-06-02, 11:54 AM
4th Edition finaly went and did something that I am going to houserule right out of my games. The 3.5 alignment system worked for my groups. This new system is swill. My players are more likely to straightjacket themselves to an alignment with this system than with any of the nine alignments.

Agrippa
2008-06-02, 11:58 AM
So, the current alignments are basically Cop, Activist, General (stuff that doesn't exactly fit into normal rules), Sociopath and Psychotic.

That's what it looks like.


So where does "thinks he's doing right, but is actually wrong" fit in? He's the guy who does evil, not because it is easy, or because he wants to, but because he thinks it's right. What alignment is he? Unaligned?

Evil and self-righteous about it.

SamTheCleric
2008-06-02, 12:03 PM
Why put a label on your alignment anyway? I think there's MAYBE two or three powers that have any use for the alignment system.

The paladin must match their god's alignment... no big deal.

But play the character you want without the labels. *shrug*

That's how we've been doing it in 3e for a few years.

Moak
2008-06-02, 12:14 PM
Thinking of it, I would have preferred an even easier system. Good, Neutral, Evil.
Or no alignment system at all.


Let's go back to OD&D! :smallwink:
I like this system...the only "problem" is that is different a lot with the way to view things in 3.x...a lot. It's "lighter"...but not too simply.

You "unaligned" unless you have some motivation NOT to be it. No more "I'm a xE caster 'couse I need Vile spells now lemme think a justification"...

Project_Mayhem
2008-06-02, 12:15 PM
Now that there's no mechanical difference between Law and Chaos, why does it matter? If you want the pros/cons of being LG, G, E, or CE, and it fits your character then go for that. If not, call yourself whatever the hell you want - it's mechanically all unaligned.


What are we players of the Judge archetype to do now? Do we have to be a Tyrant (Evil) or a Saint (Lawful Good) now instead?

Do you really need a badge saying Lawful Neutral to play that character? I came to DnD from non-alignment systems, so I never understand this idea some people have that you're pigeonholed by your alignment choice at the start.

Basically, play whatever character you want. If it falls under one of the named alignments, call yourself that. If not, don't. I fail to see a problem.

Xsjado
2008-06-02, 12:19 PM
So where does "thinks he's doing right, but is actually wrong" fit in? He's the guy who does evil, not because it is easy, or because he wants to, but because he thinks it's right. What alignment is he? Unaligned?

There is no such thing in the DnD world. Morality is objective and a fundamental force of the universe. You'd have to house rule in a different system to achieve what you want.

Telonius
2008-06-02, 12:24 PM
So, the current alignments are basically Cop, Activist, General (stuff that doesn't exactly fit into normal rules), Sociopath and Psychotic.

So where does "thinks he's doing right, but is actually wrong" fit in? He's the guy who does evil, not because it is easy, or because he wants to, but because he thinks it's right. What alignment is he? Unaligned?

If they're keeping to the Action-Based morality that they have in the past, then evil. (i.e. Just because someone thinks it's right to slaughter a helpless prisoner, doesn't make it right - and just because somebody thinks giving to the poor will be evil, doesn't make it so.)

A Soporific
2008-06-02, 12:30 PM
I've always felt that Alignment should be something that's earned. Besides, I never know the alignment of my DnD character until I've played with him for a while.

I kind of like the spirit of this change, but I liked the variety of teams they had before. I mean, before there was a whole LEAGUE of teams to get drafted by as my characters grew into their personas, but now there's only a handful.

Meh...
Either way I won't know until I actually try it.

Indon
2008-06-02, 12:36 PM
So they killed the ethical axis for pretty much any actual game mechanic purpose.

Well, then. I just won't play any 4'th edition campaigns based on:

The Chronicles of Amber
Any Eternal Champion universes
The Saga of Recluce

Or any universe with a metaphysical struggle between the forces of law and chaos.


All the 3.5 alignments seem to fit just fine into the new ones. There is no restrictions and alignments that you cannot play.

Well, actually _having_ a law-chaos axis allowed for there to be actual mechanical impact for the law-chaos axis, which is really 90% of the reason to even have an alignment system in the first place: Why, after all, bother to describe your character as "good" on a sheet when you already know that?

As such, alignment should facilitate mechanics. And 4'th edition's alignment system, while perfectly fine, does not facilitate ethical conflict. So I won't play 4'th edition when I want ethical conflict, because it's not a good system for it.

Citizen Joe
2008-06-02, 01:36 PM
Druids are supposed to be about protecting nature. They were never about being actively neutral. The closest their philosophy comes to 'active neutral' is the concept that nature is in balance and people tend to throw that balance out of whack. Any druid that loses track of the notion that he is a defender of nature and instead focuses on the philosophical balance rather than physical balance will quickly find himself dead. If you are 'active neutral' that means you, by definition, always side with the underdog. Underdogs lose a lot... if they didn't, then they wouldn't be called underdogs. If you keep siding with the losing side, you will quickly find yourself dead.

I think a better definition of 'active neutral' would be that if any action has philosophical ramifications, you will 'actively' remove yourself from the conflict. Or perhaps 'actively' remove the others from your battleground.

fendrin
2008-06-02, 01:47 PM
So they killed the ethical axis for pretty much any actual game mechanic purpose.

Well, then. I just won't play any 4'th edition campaigns based on:

The Chronicles of Amber
Any Eternal Champion universes
The Saga of Recluce

Or any universe with a metaphysical struggle between the forces of law and chaos.



Well, actually _having_ a law-chaos axis allowed for there to be actual mechanical impact for the law-chaos axis, which is really 90% of the reason to even have an alignment system in the first place: Why, after all, bother to describe your character as "good" on a sheet when you already know that?

As such, alignment should facilitate mechanics. And 4'th edition's alignment system, while perfectly fine, does not facilitate ethical conflict. So I won't play 4'th edition when I want ethical conflict, because it's not a good system for it.

Why must there be a mechanical difference?

My favorite Law vs. Chaos storyline is Babylon 5 (well, the last season or so).
Did the universe treat people on one side any different from the other? No. The two sides had their ideologies and acted on them, and a bunch of people were caught in the middle, acting as pawns for one side or the other, or fighting back against it. I don't really recall any 'mechanical' difference in The Chronicles of Amber, either (though it has been several years since I read it).

Sure, there are differences between the sides in both stories, but (in both cases) they had more to do with genetics than 'alignment'. It's not like a Shadow that decided that the Vorlons had the right way of doing things suddenly became a Vorlon and had full access to Vorlon technology... no, it would still be a Shadow, but with a different 'alignment' from the other Shadows. I think the d20 Babylon 5 books dropped alignment altogether.

In short[too late], the alignment system (or a lack thereof) should have no bearing whatsoever on what sorts of stories can be told.

EDIT:

So my actual opinion on 4e's alignment system? I dislike what is all-to-easy to infer from it:
Lawful Good is more 'gooder' than Good and Chaotic Evil is 'eviler' than Evil.
Order is inherently good, Disorder is inherently evil.
AD&D is good, ADD is evil.
Wait, scratch that last one.

I will still play 4e, I just hope that the mechanical influence of the alignment system is small-to-nonexistent. In fact, I hope they only included alignment descriptions out of fear that eliminating it altogether would anger the fanbase. It is going to be the first thing to go in my 4e games. Whether I put something in it's place or not remains to be seen...

NephandiMan
2008-06-02, 02:22 PM
My most basic problem with objective morality systems is that they encourage people to think of good and evil as things that one simply is, even though that is only true in the case of demons, angels, and other similar creatures. For all other creatures, good and evil are convenient labels for the sum total of countless moral choices. Some of those choice are very difficult - in fact, the difficult ones tend to make for the most interesting role-playing - and for such choices, the labels "good" and "evil" tend to be woefully inadequate, even if we add "lawful" and "chaotic" to provide a shade more nuance.

For my part, I welcome the changes - they make it harder for players to "justify" stupid decisions because "I'm Chaotic Neutral; of course I won't consider the consequences of my actions!" As for more thoughtful players, they long ago realized the woeful inadequacies of the alignment system, and thus either modified it, or jettisoned it altogether. I fail to see why they would be indignant when they can just as easily do the same thing with the new alignment system. In any case, no alignment system, no matter how nuanced, will ever make up for deficient role-playing, nor will any set of labels perfectly describe a rich, textured, interesting character. This is not WotC's fault - it is simply a fact of RPGs.

Illiterate Scribe
2008-06-02, 02:26 PM
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/art_preview/20080602_114836_0.jpg

So, guise, waddya think - evil, or not evil?

Sebastian
2008-06-02, 02:45 PM
Why put a label on your alignment anyway? I think there's MAYBE two or three powers that have any use for the alignment system.


True, they should have get rid of it altogether, maybe use the keywords Good and Evil on appropriate monsters/powers/classes, if this is the best they could do.

To keep the 3e system would have been fine

to go back to a simpler OD&D system good-neutral-evil would have been fine, too.

This (like other things in 4e, is too take the worst of the two worlds. IMHO

Edea
2008-06-02, 02:48 PM
Why must everything evil carry a skull motif? :smalltongue:

Zocelot
2008-06-02, 04:31 PM
Alignments seem to be completely different from the rest of 4e. Instead of giving the players everything they need to make a character, they just set out basic guidelines and let the group decide what they want to do.

Indon
2008-06-02, 04:40 PM
Why must there be a mechanical difference?

Because without a mechanical difference, there's no point to having an alignment mechanic.

Alignment should exist as a mechanic to facilitate roleplay, if it exists at all. I have no problem with not having alignment - but I would rather work with a system that facilitates what I'm trying to do than do nothing.


Why must everything evil carry a skull motif? :smalltongue:

Pirates.

KillianHawkeye
2008-06-02, 06:55 PM
Everybody needs to realize that the 3e alignment system DID have problems, which the 4e alignment system was designed to fix.

Now we no longer have Paladins with a staff shoved up their skirt. Now we no longer have players who always play Chaotic Stupid. Maybe now we will no longer have endless alginment debates, since the alignments are both more clear and less meaningful.

nagora
2008-06-03, 04:46 AM
Because without a mechanical difference, there's no point to having an alignment mechanic.
Alignments are all about role-play; any mechanical difference is incidental, surely?

Alignments exist simply to allow the DM to make judgements about how their NPCs will generally act and how PCs are viewed by NPCs (including deities). In short, they're a small note about the character's character.

The new system, from reading the preview, was clearly written by some idiot who didn't understand alignment (nor probably roleplaying). Just use the old system.

Indon
2008-06-03, 12:32 PM
Alignments are all about role-play; any mechanical difference is incidental, surely?

Ah, here our opinions differ - I feel it's the other way around. I think that actions and emotions can be used to convey the same roleplaying impact that Alignment does (and often better), but that there's no particular replacement for the mechanical impact of alignment.

nagora
2008-06-03, 12:38 PM
Ah, here our opinions differ - I feel it's the other way around. I think that actions and emotions can be used to convey the same roleplaying impact that Alignment does (and often better), but that there's no particular replacement for the mechanical impact of alignment.

I see alignment as just being another characteristic: I'm an x-level NG fighter. It's just a statement of what sort of person you're trying to play. It matters more, obviously, if you're a cleric or just religious, but it's not, to me, any more negative than saying you're playing a character who's really keen on collecting tapestries. So, I'd expect the NG fighter's player to use actions and emotions to portray that alignment, just as I would expect the player relate their class to their actions too.

fendrin
2008-06-04, 10:26 AM
Because without a mechanical difference, there's no point to having an alignment mechanic.

Alignment should exist as a mechanic to facilitate roleplay, if it exists at all. I have no problem with not having alignment - but I would rather work with a system that facilitates what I'm trying to do than do nothing.



Pirates.

To me, alignment is more a set of guidelines than rules.

or, in a less movie-inspired phrasing, I prefer my players to think about their characters personalities as the driving force for their moral and ethical decision making, not some label they chose because of some mechanic.

To my mind, a paladin or cleric should be more concerned about living up to the ideals of their deity than concerned about maintaining a certain alignment. Most of my players are ok about doing that, but for others, alignment is a roleplaying crutch. If they are offered a job by their King to assassinate the leader of a rival nation, they will opt to not do it because that would be Evil, even if their character, freed from the player's thought processes of maintaining alignment, would take the job.

Personally, I think that any sort of simplistic (and even 9 pigeon-holes is relatively simplistic) ethical/morality grouping system is inherently flawed. If I were designing a video game, I could see having a 'score' for each alignment axis, and have various decisions shift the 'scores' as appropriate. Alignment-based effects would be proportionate to their score. I'm not designing a video game, though, and trying to implement something like that as a DM would be far too much paperwork for me.

As a DM in 3e and 3.5e, I have kept a mental 'tally' for characters, and had their alignment shift if I felt it was appropriate. I had to do that, because there were too many things going on in the game that were alignment-dependent to drop alignment altogether.

I mean, when I put the the characters in the position of having to choose between saving their hometown from a rampaging beast or stopping an assassination attempt on their king, I want them to think about the implications their actions have on the world and not thinking about what effect their actions will have on their alignment.

Talya
2008-06-04, 10:46 AM
To me, alignment is more a set of guidelines than rules.

*BANG!*

That code is sacred, laid down by Morgan and Bartholomew...errr...Gygax and Arneson...

Gah. Nevermind.


If I were designing a video game, I could see having a 'score' for each alignment axis, and have various decisions shift the 'scores' as appropriate. Alignment-based effects would be proportionate to their score.

Like...Neverwinter Nights?


As a DM in 3e and 3.5e, I have kept a mental 'tally' for characters, and had their alignment shift if I felt it was appropriate. I had to do that, because there were too many things going on in the game that were alignment-dependent to drop alignment altogether.

I think most DMs who used the alignment system probably did, but I never polled them.

Swooper
2008-06-04, 04:42 PM
One of the few things I like about 4E. I just think they didn't take it far enough - they should have ditched alignments altogether.

Flabbicus
2008-06-04, 05:10 PM
More importantly, is that guy in the picture supposed to be Tim?