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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Simplifying Alignment

    I am considering the following changes to alignment for my house rules:

    ALIGNMENT

    All creatures, including but not limited to PC’s, monsters, and deities, have an alignment of neutral, regardless of behavior or priorities.

    Any creature listed as having an alignment subtype instead has the spirit subtype. Any affect which affects an alignment subtype instead affects the spirit subtype.

    Any creature with DR of /chaos, /evil, /good or /law instead has /spirit. Any attack that affects one of those DR types instead affects /spirit.

    Any spell or other effect with an alignment descriptor instead has the descriptor ‘spirit’. If the spell or effect has limited by alignment, the effects instead apply to creatures with the spirit subtype.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    This change will throw out / change lots of spells and magical properties, as I'm sure you realise.

    Perhaps you should state how to handle the following:
    • Protection from <alignment>
    • Detect <alignment>
    • <Axiomatic / holy / unholy / etc> weapon

    Aside from needing some specific examples, it seems like a good idea to make games more gritty and less black and white. Sure, everyone may call undead "evil" and paladins "good", but mechanically there's no magic difference.
    When monstrous humanoids are neutral - just like the player races - and even angels and demons are only distinguished by their actions, your morality in game will tend to be a little more indistinct.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    I'm guessing that Protection from <alignment> becomes Protection from Spirit, and the like. Basically means you have spells that interact in particular with supernatural exemplars, but not against that butcher across the street that cheats his customers.

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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    So the whole world would just be neutral?

    If there is no good or evil, why do people do things? Say some orcs attack some farms, why would neutral PC's care?

    Without alignments, you lose a lot of flavor.

    How can the orcs even attack..if they can't be evil?


    Or are you just talking about game mechanics. You don't want paladins smiting evil, but it's ok if they smite spirits?

    How would all that work? A paladin once could only smite 1/4 of the creatures...but now as they are all the same he can smite them all.

    Now a spell like holy word(spirit word?) effects all creatures with the spirit type?

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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    So the whole world would just be neutral?

    If there is no good or evil, why do people do things? Say some orcs attack some farms, why would neutral PC's care?

    Without alignments, you lose a lot of flavor.

    How can the orcs even attack..if they can't be evil?
    Motivation is a little more complex than "be good" and "be evil". In this case, you posit some orcs attacking some farms, and the player character mounting a counter attack on the orcs, with orcs being evil and PC's being good. I'll be using these as examples.

    Bad weather caused the orcs to lose their herds of food animals, as they panicked due to lighting and were better able to move in horribly windy conditions. Several orcs went to get the animals, which had been eaten by the farmers, who viewed the sudden appearance of food in their fields as a gift from the local gods. The rest of the orcs were informed that the farmers ate the animals, with the party sent out concealing the fact that this was due to their inability to catch up to them before they got to the farmers fields. Hostilities came from both sides, starting with the orcish beliefs that eating a herd meant the tribe had earned the right to steal back equivalent food, quickly involving human beliefs regarding trespass and theft. An orc party stealing food to replace the herd were killed, and the rest of the warriors fell upon the town, as this was seen as the first real act of war.

    Enter the PCs. They are driven by individual beliefs which lead them to favor the farmers, as well as cultural bias that states that the farmers were not to blame for eating a herd the orcs had lost, and that taking food back via raid was unacceptable. Viewing the farmers in the right, and thinking the orcs may attack again, they field a counter attack.

    In this example, a few obvious motivations are seen. The first is blame avoidance on the part of the orc herd retrieval party, who wish to pin their failure on someone else and pick the farmers. A desire to maintain one's culture follows, compounded by misunderstanding, with base revenge leading to the last orc attack. As for the PCs, it may have been revenge again, the matter of pride cast in us versus them terms, greed, altruism, or any number of other possibilities. Nowhere does alignment need to get involved, and the whole situation is a little more interesting than "the orcs attacked because they were evil."
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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    This change will throw out / change lots of spells and magical properties, as I'm sure you realise.
    Indeed it would.
    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Perhaps you should state how to handle the following:
    Perhaps I should. Will consider.
    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Protection from <alignment>
    The deflection bonus would apply only against attacks and effects of creatures with the spirit subtype, but against attacks and effects of all creatures with the spirit subtype.
    The protection against mental control would be unaffected, since it does not involve alignment.
    The protection against bodily contact would prevent bodily contact by creatures with the spirit subtype.
    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Detect <alignment>
    Detect alignment spells would detect spirits and spirit magic and spells. All clerics are detected using the cleric line of the detect evil table, due to the aura class feature.
    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    <Axiomatic / holy / unholy / etc> weapon
    Would be spirit weapons which inflict extra damage against spirit creatures.
    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    Aside from needing some specific examples, it seems like a good idea to make games more gritty and less black and white. Sure, everyone may call undead "evil" and paladins "good", but mechanically there's no magic difference.
    Well, most undead don’t smite spirits, and most paladins don’t drain levels. And paladins are a bad example anyway, since I said nothing about allowing neutral paladins.
    Quote Originally Posted by Altair_the_Vexed View Post
    When monstrous humanoids are neutral - just like the player races - and even angels and demons are only distinguished by their actions, your morality in game will tend to be a little more indistinct.
    That’s the idea, and thanks for your advice.
    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    I'm guessing that Protection from <alignment> becomes Protection from Spirit, and the like. Basically means you have spells that interact in particular with supernatural exemplars, but not against that butcher across the street that cheats his customers.
    Pretty much.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    So the whole world would just be neutral?
    The whole world would have the neutral alignment in game terms. There are other senses of the world neutral which would not be affected.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    If there is no good or evil, why do people do things?
    There would still be good and evil. Just no alignment system making attempting to measure good and evil.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    Say some orcs attack some farms, why would neutral PC's care?
    For the same reason they care about such things in the real world, which also lacks an alignment system.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    Without alignments, you lose a lot of flavor.
    Giving up an annoying flavor in order to avoid potential headaches is a trade I have no problem with. There is a reason why most d20 fiction adaptations dump alignment. And why most non-D&D RPG’s don’t have alignment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    How can the orcs even attack..if they can't be evil?
    Since orcs would be neutral “regardless of behavior or priorities” they could attack anyone they please for any reason they please without alignment changing to evil. Your group prohibits neutral characters from attacking one another? That’s one I’ve never heard of before.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    Or are you just talking about game mechanics. You don't want paladins smiting evil, but it's ok if they smite spirits?
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    How would all that work? A paladin once could only smite 1/4 of the creatures...but now as they are all the same he can smite them all.
    What paladins?
    Quote Originally Posted by Gamer Girl View Post
    Now a spell like holy word(spirit word?) effects all creatures with the spirit type?
    It would. And thank you for helping me sort out my thoughts on this.
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    This does raise one (technical) point: you should remove all alignment requirements for classes and PrCs, unless you want only supernatural entities to be able to be monks, assassins, or clerics (of a non-neutral deity, which all are since they now have the [spirit] subtype), ...

    Its probably reasonable to still have paladins as a sort of generic spiritual warrior type, just lose the code and make their fluff about protecting mortals from the hostile supernatural.

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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    I kind of like the unrealistic D&D alignment system. Part of the fun is that the fantasy world is so black and white, where 'good' and 'evil' really do exist. Why change that?

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    There are a couple reasons to remove alignment.

    1. There are lots of different kinds of campaigns out there. It works for some, not others. D&D has the advantage of a large player base and being something that most players will have at least some familiarity with, so if you want to run a gritty detective campaign all in shades of gray, the easier compromise is to remove alignment rather than to try to pitch a different system for it.

    2. Alignment is somewhat tied to the D&D basic cosmology (i.e. great wheel, demons and devils, etc), in which good and evil, law and chaos are the central cosmic forces. Removing or changing alignment means that you can have different sets of cosmic forces custom to a given setting (i.e. in oriental adventures/L5R honor is a cosmic force, as are the influences of the various jealous realms - its more important mechanically that something has shadowlands taint than that they are chaotic or evil, and that plays into one of the concepts of the setting where people who try to uphold their own purity above all else may still fall to corruption while fighting it).

    3. Alignment tends to be very subjective and can be contentious at some tables. It can lead to a lot of out of character argument that is disruptive to game. It can also lead to people playing their alignment rather than their character, i.e. if people read it as 'a (chaotic, neutral, whatever) character is/does X' rather than 'a character that is/does X is (often) chaotic'

    All that said, for some things it works very well.
    Last edited by NichG; 2011-01-15 at 05:06 AM.

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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by NichG View Post
    There are a couple reasons to remove alignment.
    3. Alignment tends to be very subjective and can be contentious at some tables. It can lead to a lot of out of character argument that is disruptive to game. It can also lead to people playing their alignment rather than their character, i.e. if people read it as 'a (chaotic, neutral, whatever) character is/does X' rather than 'a character that is/does X is (often) chaotic'

    All that said, for some things it works very well.
    In my experience, it's just "subjective" when someone decides that his actions shouldn't count as "evil", therefore he's not "wrong" (like when someone claims that attacking an orc on sight is not evil even if said orc didn't do anthing wrong(yet), or that attacking an 60 y.o. guy with a +5 fire axe because he "don't want to help giving information" when you are supposed to be HELPING him) and complains that he is being considered "evil", therefore the alignment system is flawed.

    A scenario without a defined morality base can work without alignment still, it's just not how most "medieval fantasy" works, with it's evil villains and good heroes. D&D just uses a mechanic to reflect it.

    To the OP: Many effects will be very useless, except for the sole purpose of hunting "spiritual" beings (instead of a "Holy weapon", I'll prefer to a fire, or sonic weapon). If you are ok with it, then go on.

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    yuk Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Motivation is a little more complex than "be good" and "be evil". In this case, you posit some orcs attacking some farms, and the player character mounting a counter attack on the orcs, with orcs being evil and PC's being good. I'll be using these as examples.

    Bad weather caused the orcs to lose their herds of food animals, as they panicked due to lighting and were better able to move in horribly windy conditions. Several orcs went to get the animals, which had been eaten by the farmers, who viewed the sudden appearance of food in their fields as a gift from the local gods. The rest of the orcs were informed that the farmers ate the animals, with the party sent out concealing the fact that this was due to their inability to catch up to them before they got to the farmers fields. Hostilities came from both sides, starting with the orcish beliefs that eating a herd meant the tribe had earned the right to steal back equivalent food, quickly involving human beliefs regarding trespass and theft. An orc party stealing food to replace the herd were killed, and the rest of the warriors fell upon the town, as this was seen as the first real act of war.

    Enter the PCs. They are driven by individual beliefs which lead them to favor the farmers, as well as cultural bias that states that the farmers were not to blame for eating a herd the orcs had lost, and that taking food back via raid was unacceptable. Viewing the farmers in the right, and thinking the orcs may attack again, they field a counter attack.

    In this example, a few obvious motivations are seen. The first is blame avoidance on the part of the orc herd retrieval party, who wish to pin their failure on someone else and pick the farmers. A desire to maintain one's culture follows, compounded by misunderstanding, with base revenge leading to the last orc attack. As for the PCs, it may have been revenge again, the matter of pride cast in us versus them terms, greed, altruism, or any number of other possibilities. Nowhere does alignment need to get involved, and the whole situation is a little more interesting than "the orcs attacked because they were evil."
    I agree, listen to this person, this will lead to better games. I mean honestly, I don't like the shallow "they/we are evil" motivation as it sounds more like an excuse than something actually substantial or motivational now. I mean what is the reason BEHIND being evil? if its just being evil just for the sake of being evil and making the world worse, then these evil people are idiots who shouldn't be intelligent enough to even make tools, much less pose a threat.

    what reasoning being becomes evil anyways? there is no logic behind it.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    Motivation is a little more complex than "be good" and "be evil". In this case, you posit some orcs attacking some farms, and the player character mounting a counter attack on the orcs, with orcs being evil and PC's being good. I'll be using these as examples.

    Bad weather caused the orcs to lose their herds of food animals, as they panicked due to lighting and were better able to move in horribly windy conditions. Several orcs went to get the animals, which had been eaten by the farmers, who viewed the sudden appearance of food in their fields as a gift from the local gods. The rest of the orcs were informed that the farmers ate the animals, with the party sent out concealing the fact that this was due to their inability to catch up to them before they got to the farmers fields. Hostilities came from both sides, starting with the orcish beliefs that eating a herd meant the tribe had earned the right to steal back equivalent food, quickly involving human beliefs regarding trespass and theft. An orc party stealing food to replace the herd were killed, and the rest of the warriors fell upon the town, as this was seen as the first real act of war.

    Enter the PCs. They are driven by individual beliefs which lead them to favor the farmers, as well as cultural bias that states that the farmers were not to blame for eating a herd the orcs had lost, and that taking food back via raid was unacceptable. Viewing the farmers in the right, and thinking the orcs may attack again, they field a counter attack.

    In this example, a few obvious motivations are seen. The first is blame avoidance on the part of the orc herd retrieval party, who wish to pin their failure on someone else and pick the farmers. A desire to maintain one's culture follows, compounded by misunderstanding, with base revenge leading to the last orc attack. As for the PCs, it may have been revenge again, the matter of pride cast in us versus them terms, greed, altruism, or any number of other possibilities. Nowhere does alignment need to get involved, and the whole situation is a little more interesting than "the orcs attacked because they were evil."
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Agreed- though the "complex motivation" can be applied even in a system that already uses alignment.

    Alignment might be the "end point" rather than the beginning- the DM weighs the factors, and decides if the acts should count as "a small move in the direction of X alignment" (that is, an X act- where X is the listed alignment) or not.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    I agree, listen to this person, this will lead to better games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Agreed- though the "complex motivation" can be applied even in a system that already uses alignment.

    Alignment might be the "end point" rather than the beginning- the DM weighs the factors, and decides if the acts should count as "a small move in the direction of X alignment" (that is, an X act- where X is the listed alignment) or not.
    I agree entirely with this. However, I would consider alignment redundant if complex motivations are already in play, and given the medium redundancy isn't particularly desirable. The GM now has to consider how actions are on the alignment spectrum as well as how the members of the world react to the act upon their limited knowledge of it.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    I agree entirely with this. However, I would consider alignment redundant if complex motivations are already in play, and given the medium redundancy isn't particularly desirable.
    I tend to the view that alignment is supposed to be an "add on" to an already functional system.

    So, normal motives are used for everything, and alignments attached after that.

    It might be a little redundant- but people do tend to call acts "evil" or "good" even if the motives behind them may be a little more complicated than that. In the D&D world, such is, in a sense, right- an act really is "good" or "evil".

    But it doesn't need to affect the complicated (and not so complicated) motives behind it.

    If the DM wants to run a world that has both realistic motives, and an alignment system, it's certainly possible. "Evil" deeds can be done out of various motives- desperation, retaliation, and so on- but a lot of deeds can be "greyer".

    Characters can "drift to evil" through routinely committing evil acts for what might seem like very good reasons.
    And evil characters can, instead of all being selfish or sadistic, be tragic heroes, antiheroes, antivillains, and so on.

    Eberron seems to go with this, stressing that "just because a character is evil-aligned doesn't mean they deserve to be attacked by the heroes"- and having evil people with somewhat sympathetic goals (like Kaius) or less sympathetic Good people (Queen Aurula).
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2011-01-18 at 06:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    The Color Wheel takes the other approach, by which I mean it made alignment more complex in the hopes of capturing realistic motivation in a mechanically relevant fashion.


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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    If you want to get rid of alignment, you'd be better off switch systems. Alignment is integrated in D&D and hard to get rid of.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Apparently, I should have first started a yet-another-is-D&D-without-alignment-worth-doing thread.

    Not that I want to read another such thread - I have already reached my conclusions on this subject, hence the Original Post of this thread.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    I like the idea of changing the tags, although I'm not sure 'spirit' makes much sense. That's kind of immaterial to the idea, of course.

    I personally just treat everyone as Neutral for mechanics, unless they have an aura or subtype.

    Quote Originally Posted by shawnhcorey View Post
    If you want to get rid of alignment, you'd be better off switch systems. Alignment is integrated in D&D and hard to get rid of.
    People keep saying this, and my experience has shown me otherwise.
    Last edited by TOZ; 2011-08-18 at 10:59 PM.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    The biggest problem are the holy word series of spells and the like. Will you just drop them? Because they do lose a lot of power from changing alignment.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    The biggest problem are the holy word series of spells and the like. Will you just drop them? Because they do lose a lot of power from changing alignment.
    My revised no-alignment holy word spell defines alignment as follows:

    Good = declared for your deity, or for a deity allied to yours.

    Neutral = no declared deity, or declared for a deity that is neither allied nor hostile to your deity.

    Evil = declared for a deity who is opposed to your deity, or an ally of such a deity.

    Nemesis = A declared for a specific enemy deity inimical to your deity's ideals. A deity will rarely have more than one of these, and clerics who follow entire pantheons may not even have one at all.

    Holy word by default affects all beings of neutral, evil, or nemesis allegiances. Cleric can make a caster level check (DC 25?) to narrow this down to a smaller range of potential targets.
    Last edited by Ashtagon; 2011-08-19 at 03:50 AM.

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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    I've always wanted to find a good way to do away with mechanical alignment for the most part. I have never approved of almost arbitrarily counting some acts as evil and some as good regardless for motivation. In my games alignment is merely the ideals that you try to hold yourself to, a loose code of conduct for most and more strict for those like Paladins, though I recently did away with Paladins entirely in favor of PHB2 Knights. Even class alignment restrictions I did away with if there is a good RP reason for why the PC would take that class outside of the "normal" alignment group, that is to say, why are his ideals so different from most people that take up that path?
    The real problem I've always had is mechanics like spells, effects, items, etc. So much is based around alignment, even spells like Detect Evil can be important. I usually choose to have them affect only beings of innate alignment, such as a demon, and elements from such origin, though this does greatly reduce the value of some assets, I feel it is balanced by the quality thought that goes into the games.
    For that I salute the OP for his unique take on mechanically dealing with the same thing, though I honestly feel that changing good and evil to basically one big pile is more than a little just erasing alignment. Why not just do away with the alignment effects and fill any gaping holes with more traditional fare, like a demon has a powerful flaming weapon instead of an unholy one? Just curious what mechanically benefits this system over total removal?
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    I'd say this is one of those homebrews which is absolutely necessary for some campaign settings and should be avoided like the plague for all others, as it fundamentally affects the moral and ethical cosmology of the setting.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Strormer View Post
    I've always wanted to find a good way to do away with mechanical alignment for the most part. I have never approved of almost arbitrarily counting some acts as evil and some as good regardless for motivation. In my games alignment is merely the ideals that you try to hold yourself to, a loose code of conduct for most and more strict for those like Paladins, though I recently did away with Paladins entirely in favor of PHB2 Knights. Even class alignment restrictions I did away with if there is a good RP reason for why the PC would take that class outside of the "normal" alignment group, that is to say, why are his ideals so different from most people that take up that path?
    The real problem I've always had is mechanics like spells, effects, items, etc. So much is based around alignment, even spells like Detect Evil can be important. I usually choose to have them affect only beings of innate alignment, such as a demon, and elements from such origin, though this does greatly reduce the value of some assets, I feel it is balanced by the quality thought that goes into the games.
    For that I salute the OP for his unique take on mechanically dealing with the same thing,
    Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Strormer View Post
    though I honestly feel that changing good and evil to basically one big pile is more than a little just erasing alignment. Why not just do away with the alignment effects and fill any gaping holes with more traditional fare, like a demon has a powerful flaming weapon instead of an unholy one? Just curious what mechanically benefits this system over total removal?
    I tried that approach. The resulting document was several pages long, and only covered the core books portion of the SRD. And what counts as a ‘gaping hole’ is pretty subjective.
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    Default Re: Simplifying Alignment

    Maybe splitting [Spirit] into [Ethical] and [Moral].

    [Ethical] replaces anything that looks for Chaotic or Lawful.

    [Moral] replaces anything that looks for Good or Evil.

    Basically, this represents anything with a VERY STRONG OPINION towards anything on the [Moral] or [Ethical] axes.

    So DR x/Good or x/Evil would become DR x/Moral

    And Smite Law/Chaos would become Smite Ethical.

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