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    Lightbulb The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    The Real Alignments Handbook
    From Theory to Practical Application
    Author's Note: While some information on this thread is unique to this corner of the internet, I am no longer updating it. I am however (at time of writing anyway) still updating the Real Alignments page of my Obsidian Portal campaign's site (https://hyperion-voyages.obsidianportal.com/wikis/real-alignments). If you have something new to say about it, please create a new thread about it (within the limits of the forum rules, which may forbid you from doing so outright) and link to that URL and link to this thread to help prevent people from re-hashing the same arguments.


    Foreword

    This is a REWRITE essentially of the alignment system using the concept of "Real Alignments", not really an "addendum", so treat it as such and try to give it a fresh slate. I welcome suggestions for the "core values" lists for the various aspects (particularly Stimulation and Hedonism, which have very short core value lists). Please, for everyone's sake, try to not let this thread become a mire of bickering. Ask questions. Assess and challenge your assumptions. You might surprise yourself with what you learn as a result.

    Real Alignments?

    In the interest of making alignment conflicts easier to resolve and in the interest of making more interesting NPCs and villains, I insist in my games that players when choosing an alignment follow a “real” alignment (potentially including the choice of a half-step). These “real” alignments give clearer motivations to follow when a character is making a decision guided by their alignment. (You don’t have to read the article linked above to play, but it might help you in some respects.)

    In short, the real alignments (Keyword: "paths") and what they value most (Keyword: "aspects" ) are:
    • Path of Integrity (Lawful Good): Conformity/Tradition and Benevolence
    • Path of Mercy (Neutral Good): Benevolence and Universalism
    • Path of Liberty (Chaotic Good): Universalism and Self-Direction
    • Path of Autonomy (Chaotic Neutral): Self-Direction and Stimulation
    • Path of Luxury (Chaotic Evil): Hedonism
    • Path of Supremacy (Neutral Evil): Achievement and Power
    • Path of Ascendency (Lawful Evil): Power and Security
    • Path of Harmony (Lawful Neutral): Security and Conformity/Tradition
    • Path of Equity (True Neutral): (any values)


    General Behavior

    It’s not “what you’re doing” so much as “why you’re doing it”.

    An act only “bends your alignment” “when the chips are down”. A “Lawful Good” character can value hedonism fine in-general in their daily activities without “bending their alignment”. However, “when the chips are down” (for example, such as when lives are on the line) he’d be bending his alignment if he willingly does something that’s not inherently part of his alignment (such as forgoing his core values for a night of passion).

    That said, alignment only dictates how a character generally acts normally by default (such as when the player isn’t running their character right then). As stated above, all alignments value all aspects in varying degrees in their daily lives. So far as limits “when the chips are down”, any character that is not a paladin and not on The Path of Equity can feel free to temporarily “bend” their alignment up to a whole step (two half-steps) in one direction or another in the alignment continuum described (that is, act primarily in the interests of a neighboring alignment’s aspects) without immediate mechanical alignment consequences (although there may still be long-term mechanical consequences, see below). The Path of Luxury and all half-step alignments on this continuum (that is, the alignments that are entirely associated with one particular aspect) are considered within a half-step of The Path of Equity, but someone that is not on The Path of Equity cannot willingly bend their alignment to The Path of Equity (or bend beyond The Path of Equity to any other aspect) without immediate mechanical consequences.

    The Path of Equity is not considered a “half-step” alignment. A character on The Path of Equity can bend their alignment as above, but only to The Path of Luxury or a half-step alignment (basically, to only one aspect at a time).

    Alignment Descriptor Effects

    Quote Originally Posted by 3.5 FAQ page 77
    "Most spellcasters aren’t prevented from casting spells with the Evil descriptor, nor do they suffer any penalty or ill effect for doing so. Only certain classes have restrictions or ramifications involved with using spells with an alignment descriptor, and those are clearly spelled out in the class descriptions."
    Spells with alignment descriptors only have those descriptors so that they interact with certain class features and other effects that specifically refer to those kinds of spells. Alignment-based spell descriptors otherwise have no alignment-affecting repercussions on the spellcaster. For example, a dread necromancer could use spells with the [evil] descriptor all day long without inherently risking becoming “evil” himself. Furthermore, completely disregard that “evil spells” are listed as an evil act in Fiendish Codex II (page 30) and the Eberron Campaign Setting (page 35), as those sources presume evil as a caricature (and thus are counterproductive to Real Alignments).

    Prerequisites

    For the purposes of meeting the prerequisites of gaining an ability (such as a feat) or being a valid target for an effect, a character with a half-step alignment takes up to a half-step away on the alignment continuum described in both directions. For example, if you are “NG(L)” (i.e. “Neutral Good but with Lawful tendencies”), you count as both Lawful Good and Neutral Good for the purposes of qualifying for being a “standard” paladin. This rule only applies for when you’re gaining or maintaining the ability, not when you’re actually using the ability (for actual use of abilities, see the "Half-Step Mechanical Effects" section below).

    Detection

    “Detect [alignment]” spells gain an additional effect the more you concentrate on an area. Creatures with half-step alignments on the edge of the detected alignment (so for evil, the “LN(E)” and “CN(E)” alignments) have a “flickering” aura (of the same strength as usual), but otherwise are still fully affected by the spell.

    Append the following to the “Detect Evil” spell (similar effects get in-kind):
    4th Round: You learn the dominant personality aspect(s) (by specific alignment) of every evil creature in the affected area.

    5th Round: You learn the next-dominant personality aspects of the closest evil creature in the affected area (pick one if more than one is closest, and reset to this step or earlier as appropriate if a different creature is chosen). “Next-dominant” means the personality aspects of the adjacent whole-step alignments, which likely are important to the target creature.

    6th Round and every round thereafter: You learn one new useful piece of generic information about the motivations of the closest evil creature in the affected area (pick one if more than one is closest, and reset to this step or earlier as appropriate if a different creature is chosen). “Generic” means the texts of the associated values they value most.

    Consequences

    If a player consistently “bends their alignment” in one particular direction, the consequence is moving a half-step on the alignment continuum described (appropriate to how they are acting). If this half-step results in an alignment which would normally cause permanent consequences by RAW so far as their abilities are concerned, then those consequences happen as normal.

    To change your alignment away from The Path of Equity, a character must whenever possible consistently act in favor of a specific aspect “when the chips are down”.

    For the purposes of effects such as a standard paladin becoming an ex-paladin:
    • “Willfully committing an evil act” means having an inherently-evil motive (that is, having a motive associated with an “evil” aspect) “when the chips are down”.
    • The paladin should consider their moral code as more literal than it would normally be interpreted. A “gross” violation of the paladin’s code of conduct is up to the GM’s discretion. For example, “white lies” and bluffing in combat probably aren’t a gross violation of a standard paladin’s code of conduct. See the “Codes of Conduct” section below for a summary of the various codes of conduct.
    • “Evil” characters do not exist as stereotypical “evil” caricatures, so associating with an “evil”-aligned character does not inherently cause a paladin to fall. That said, if the paladin knows that one of their associates has committed an evil act (as described above) or consistently violates the paladin’s moral code, that still qualifies for the purposes of removing association with that character. However, the paladin can still travel with the character to the extent that roleplaying allows (typically by treating their attitude towards the character as “unfriendly” or worse, which does not necessarily extend to that character’s allies). No circumstance described here would cause a paladin to fall, although such a paladin would be wise to periodically seek out an atonement spell for skirting the fine line.


    Codes of Conduct

    The following is a collection of the various paladin-like codes of conduct (for paladins and paladin variants). The red words in this subsection indicate what actually causes the character to "fall". Some would imply that violating any part of their code of conduct causes them to fall, but believing so is untenable in-practice. It's much more reasonable that violating the lesser aspects of their code of conduct causes mostly social repercussions if discovered (such as temporarily being forbidden access to certain... church resources until mundane restitution is made).

    Some Potentially-Enlightening Links:


    Orthodox Codes of Conduct
    Spoiler: Summaries of the Orthodox Paladins
    Show
    Paladins [of Honor] (SRD; Lawful Good a.k.a. “Path of Integrity”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit an evil act. She respects legitimate authority, acts with honor (not lying, not cheating, not using poison, and so forth), helps those in need (provided they do not use the help for evil or chaotic ends), and punishes those who harm or threaten innocents.

    Paladins of Freedom (SRD; Chaotic Good a.k.a. “Path of Liberty”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit an evil act. He respects individual liberty, helps those in need (provided they do not use the help for lawful or evil ends), and punishes those who threaten or curtail personal liberty.

    Paladins of Tyranny (SRD; Lawful Evil a.k.a. “Path of Ascendency”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a good act. He respects authority figures as long as they have the strength to rule over the weak, acts with discipline (not engaging in random slaughter, keeping firm control over those beneath his station, and so forth), helps only those who help him maintain or improve his status, and punishes those who challenge authority (unless, of course, such challengers prove more worthy to hold that authority).

    Paladins of Slaughter (SRD; Chaotic Evil a.k.a. “Path of Luxury”) loses all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a good act. She disrespects all authority figures who have not proven their physical superiority to her, refuses help to those in need, and sows destruction and death at all opportunities.
    Unorthodox Codes of Conduct
    Spoiler: Summaries of the Unorthodox Paladins
    Show
    Sentinels (Dragon Magazine #310 page 50; Neutral Good a.k.a. “Path of Mercy”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit an evil act. Sentinels are most at home in the wilderness of the Material Plane. He only journeys into cities when absolutely necessary, and he avoids travel to other planes except in the most dire need, since his vows require him to battle evil on his home plane. These vows call for him to protect the natural order of the Material Plane from becoming influenced or tainted by the forces of the evil Outer Planes. Additionally, the sentinel is honor-bound to provide assistance to any non-outsider who becomes lost or endangered while in the wilderness, as long as the victim in need honors the sanctity of the wilderness.

    Avengers (Dragon Magazine #310 page 49; Chaotic Good a.k.a. “Path of Liberty”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit an evil act or willingly ally with a lawful government or affiliated agency. While the avenger’s life is based around achieving vengeance and retribution for the oppressed and downtrodden, she must temper this vengeance appropriately. Killing should be the last resort of the avenger when a more appropriate and less destructive form of vengeance will do, and even then, slaying an oppressor should be reserved only for the most evil villains. Avengers must aid and assist anyone who asks for help (within reason) and must not join any organized association, order, or group. She may attend the services of her church but is encouraged to worship in private.

    Anarchs (Dragon Magazine #310 page 47; Chaotic Neutral a.k.a. “Path of Autonomy”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a blatantly lawful act (such as abiding by an oath, fulfilling a contract, or joining an organization such as a brotherhood or fellowship). Aside from this, an anarch’s code is little more than a lack of a code. As long as he continues to cause chaos and foment disrespect for law in others, his status as an anarch is secure. (NOTE: An adventuring party is hardly an organization on the level of a "brotherhood" or "fellowship", despite what Tolkien would have you believe. That said, as soon as the party would become some kind of official entity however, an anarch would leave the party.)

    Anti-Paladins (Dragon Magazine #312 page 20; Chaotic Evil a.k.a. “Path of Luxury”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a good act. He must work at all times to undermine the works of civilization and good peoples, and must never offer mercy or grant quarter unless he betrays his word in the next hour. He cannot join an organization, but he can perform services for others as long as the services are for pay and ultimately lead to chaos and devastation.

    Corrupters (Dragon Magazine #312 page 24; Neutral Evil a.k.a. “Path of Supremacy”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a good act or an act that exposes their faith to an opposing religion and results in their detriment. He must strive to corrupt and taint all faiths apart from his own, with a special focus on good faiths. He is allowed to make whatever vows or declarations are required in order to maintain this deception, as long as he spends at least an hour each day in private prayer to his deity. He must strive to remain hidden, although the methods by which he undermines other faiths are left to his own discretion.

    Despots (Dragon Magazine #312 page 23; Lawful Evil a.k.a. “Path of Ascendency”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a chaotic act (such as breaking a vow or contract or betraying an ally). She must at all times work to expand and grow her domain, either by virtue of the Leadership feat or by strong-arming those less fortunate and powerful than herself. She is allowed to abuse her sovereignty in any way she sees fit to further her own personal strength and glory, but she must protect and defend her subjects and allies from harm from other forces. Likewise, she must not overburden her subjects so that they cannot support her.

    Enforcers (Dragon Magazine #310 page 53; Lawful Neutral a.k.a. “Path of Harmony”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a chaotic act (such as breaking a vow or contract or betraying an ally). Unlike other holy warriors, enforcers are bound to the will of two beings. Their primary liege remains their divine patron, but they must also serve the will of their worldly liege. The enforcer’s patron deity and his liege’s patron deity must be the same. If an enforcer believes his liege is not acting in the best interests of his deity, he is permitted to act against his liege as long as he can expose his liege’s heresy within 24 hours. An enforcer is not allowed to accept a position of leadership that would place him in a position where he would not have a liege above him in the rank of command, except in the case of an emergency (and even then, for no more than 24 hours). The enforcer must uphold and enforce the laws of the church and land at all times, even when the laws would prevent him from fully accomplishing a desired personal goal.

    Incarnates (Dragon Magazine #310 page 52; True Neutral a.k.a. “Path of Equity”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit an act that endangers the natural balance of the world. The incarnate is most at home in the wilderness, but she does not take any special vows to avoid city life. She avoids travel to other planes (with the exception of the Elemental Planes to which she has an affinity) except in the most dire need. The incarnate prefers to arrive at peaceful solutions but is fully capable of using force against unwanted intrusions into this realm from beyond.

    Lost Alignment Mechanical Effects

    Generally, no longer having a requisite alignment results in temporarily losing access to activated abilities, spells, powers, etc. that require that alignment until the alignment is restored. Special consequences for changing alignment happen as normal. The use of the base attack bonus, saves, proficiencies, skills, and “not an action” abilities of a class (or prestige class) that had a particular alignment as a prerequisite are never affected. If a class has specific consequences upon changing alignment, they occur as normal.

    Half-Step Mechanical Effects

    What being in a half-step alignment means in fluff is that your tendencies “lean” towards the indicated extreme. Mechanically, this means that there is a percentage chance that abilities that depend on a particular alignment will fail. This roll is made before you attempt the ability, but does not waste the action (or other costs) if the roll fails. All failure means is that you cannot use that ability right then and cannot attempt to use that ability again until the beginning of your next turn (thus, although socially-embarrassing, out of combat you can repeatedly try until successful). For example, a “NG(L)” character has a base 50% chance that a “Lawful Good Only” ability will function normally for that attempt (or otherwise fail). The use of the base attack bonus, saves, proficiencies, skills, and "not an action" abilities of a class (or prestige class) that had a particular alignment as a prerequisite are never affected by this failure-chance.

    For example, if something requires a “Lawful Good” alignment, the base chance of success is defined by the list below:
    • “Lawful Good” alignment = 100% (auto-success)
    • NG(L) or LN(G) = 50%
    • Any other alignment = 0% (auto-failure)


    You can augment this percentage (and the GM can penalize this percentage) up to 10% (at the GM’s discretion, as it’s “up to” 10%) for every circumstance you bring up in the prerequisite alignment’s favor. The GM is obligated to tell you how much of a bonus you get on the d% for each circumstance you bring up. However, the GM is not obligated to tell you what his own penalty circumstances are or how much those penalties will be for the d% until after you’ve permanently finished making your case for all the bonuses you want (essentially you’ve “locked them in” regardless of what the GM then says are your penalties). Of course, the player or other players could choose to bring up circumstances which instead provide (at the GM’s discretion) a penalty (or the GM could bring up circumstances that give you a bonus), but this is unlikely to happen.

    If an ability requires only one component of an alignment, the failure-chance effect described above instead happens 50% of the time if you’re a half-step away from a qualifying standard alignment and fails automatically if you’re a wholly non-qualifying standard alignment. This d% can gain bonuses or penalties as described above.

    For example, if something requires a “Good” alignment, the base chance of success is defined by the list below:
    • Any “Good” alignment = 100% (auto-success)
    • LN(G) or CN(G) = 50%
    • Any other alignment = 0% (auto-failure)


    Once the d% DC is determined by the GM, the player rolls their d% for success (the desired roll is the DC % or lower).

    Conclusions

    I've personally had a lot of success with this real alignments implementation in-practice. In short, the end results were:
    • Paladins and the individual deities now follow their fluff in a realistic way such that they act as a true paragon of their alignment while still accomplishing their real goals. This simultaneously results in the near-elimination of "lawful stupid chaotic stupid" gods as implied in "The Pact Primeval" (Fiendish Codex II page 4).
    • While the gods are paragons of "right" and "wrong" et al, people now are treated mechanically as though they don't have to be "perfect" to still be "heroic". The gods decide what's ultimately right and wrong, but they understand and are lenient when for all your character knows he was "doing the right thing" from the character's limited perspective.
    • It becomes very easy to make viable "evil"-aligned characters that can work within a "good" group. For example, when Belkar in the comic started "playing the game" by focusing more on evil motives instead of necessarily-"evil" actions, he gained more depth and became more and more tolerable in the eyes of the rest of the party (at least, that was my take on that character arc, you're free to feel otherwise).
    • It conversely becomes very easy to make "good"-aligned villains because they no longer have to be hamstrung by their acts and instead you as storyteller are less stressed because you can focus more on their motives.
    • "Detect" spells and other effects that affect alignment finally mechanically become what they probably should be regarded as: thought policing. The paladin that consistently "detects evil first round and smites evil the second" now has all the repercussions you'd expect if that kind of thing were to happen in reality.
    • Creature alignment entries such as "Always evil", "Usually evil", etc. instantly become a very real practical guide as to what kinds of motives a creature would likely follow when roleplayed (assuming the players don't just kill it as soon as they see it). This allows you an instant jump-off point for building a creature's background if you have to do so very quickly. For example "Always evil" now isn't 3 specific alignments, but 5~7 path options.
    • Committing a traditional "evil act" far more often now results in in-universe social consequences first-and-foremost, such as being arrested. Personally, I feel this is as it should be.
    • Chaotic Neutral is no longer a "I can do whatever the hell I like just because I wanna, so f*** you GM!" alignment. That kind of mindset in the real world would be borderline-insane, and so it should be relegated to something realistically closer to that perspective... True Neutral (...because True Neutral values nothing more-so than anything else, just their continued survival. Funny how animals usually have that alignment, hm?). Interestingly, the Path of Luxury is the only path that someone on the Path of Equity can directly bend towards (because the Path of Luxury is wholly within the Hedonism aspect).
    • Prestige Classes now contain a lot more importance in the player's mind than they do with traditional alignments. For example, now the reason the Assassin prestige class requires an evil alignment is because you have to have a particular kind of mindset. It's a "prestige" class and thus it should be "prestigious" to be in it. So many players treat prestige classes as essentially just-another-class when it probably should mean more than that (you're welcome to disagree, of course).


    Alignment Summaries

    (NOTE: This final section of the handbook is optional reading. I do not expect you to read this section in its entirety before posting a reply.)

    This section is to be used primarily as a brainstorming aid. That said, these summaries could and probably should be used as a guideline for determining whether you’re acting within the acceptable limits afforded to bend your alignment as described above.

    Path of Integrity (Lawful Good)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Integrity
    Show
    Most values... Conformity/Tradition and Benevolence

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Integrity. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Conformity/Tradition Benevolence
    MEANING Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. Also respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the "in-group").
    CORE VALUES
    • being obedient
    • having self-discipline
    • being polite
    • honoring parents and elders
    • respecting tradition
    • being devout
    • accepting one's own portion in life
    • being humble
    • taking life in moderation
    • being helpful
    • being responsible
    • being forgiving
    • being honest
    • being loyal
    • having mature love for others and true friendships

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Integrity after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    ASPECT Security Universalism
    MEANING Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self. Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.
    CORE VALUES
    • ensuring national security
    • reciprocation of favors
    • ensuring family security
    • having a sense of belonging
    • preserving the social order
    • being healthy and clean
    • advancing equality
    • being one with nature
    • having wisdom
    • filling the world with beauty
    • advancing social justice
    • being broad-minded
    • protecting the environment
    • seeing the world at peace

    Path of Mercy (Neutral Good)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Mercy
    Show
    Most values... Benevolence and Universalism

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Mercy. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Benevolence Universalism
    MEANING Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the "in-group"). Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.
    CORE VALUES
    • being helpful
    • being responsible
    • being forgiving
    • being honest
    • being loyal
    • having mature love for others and true friendships
    • advancing equality
    • being one with nature
    • having wisdom
    • filling the world with beauty
    • advancing social justice
    • being broad-minded
    • protecting the environment
    • seeing the world at peace

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Mercy after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    ASPECT Conformity/Tradition Self-Direction
    MEANING Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. Also respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self. Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring.
    CORE VALUES
    • being obedient
    • having self-discipline
    • being polite
    • honoring parents and elders
    • respecting tradition
    • being devout
    • accepting one's own portion in life
    • being humble
    • taking life in moderation
    • freedom
    • creativity
    • independence
    • choosing one's own goals
    • being curious
    • having self-respect

    Path of Liberty (Chaotic Good)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Liberty
    Show
    Most values... Universalism and Self-Direction

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Liberty. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Universalism Self-Direction
    MEANING Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring.
    CORE VALUES
    • advancing equality
    • being one with nature
    • having wisdom
    • filling the world with beauty
    • advancing social justice
    • being broad-minded
    • protecting the environment
    • seeing the world at peace
    • freedom
    • creativity
    • independence
    • choosing one's own goals
    • being curious
    • having self-respect

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Liberty after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    ASPECT Benevolence Stimulation
    MEANING Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the "in-group"). Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
    CORE VALUES
    • being helpful
    • being responsible
    • being forgiving
    • being honest
    • being loyal
    • having mature love for others and true friendships
    • having an exciting and varied life
    • being daring

    Path of Autonomy (Chaotic Neutral)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Autonomy
    Show
    Most values... Self-Direction and Stimulation

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Autonomy. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Self-Direction Stimulation
    MEANING Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.
    CORE VALUES
    • freedom
    • creativity
    • independence
    • choosing one's own goals
    • being curious
    • having self-respect
    • having an exciting and varied life
    • being daring

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Autonomy after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    ASPECT Universalism Hedonism
    MEANING Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
    CORE VALUES
    • advancing equality
    • being one with nature
    • having wisdom
    • filling the world with beauty
    • advancing social justice
    • being broad-minded
    • protecting the environment
    • seeing the world at peace
    • experiencing pleasure
    • enjoying life

    Path of Luxury (Chaotic Evil)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Luxury
    Show
    Most values... Hedonism

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the Path of Luxury. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from the list. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits the description of hedonism.

    ASPECT Hedonism
    MEANING Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
    CORE VALUES
    • experiencing pleasure
    • enjoying life

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Luxury after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother. The middle two aspects (Stimulation and Achievement) are slightly more common to the Path of Luxury than the other two aspects (Self-Direction and Power).

    ASPECT Self-Direction Stimulation Achievement Power
    MEANING Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life. Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.
    CORE VALUES
    • freedom
    • creativity
    • independence
    • choosing one's own goals
    • being curious
    • having self-respect
    • having an exciting and varied life
    • being daring
    • being ambitious
    • being influential
    • being capable
    • being successful
    • having intelligence
    • having self-respect
    • having social power
    • having wealth
    • having authority
    • preserving one's own public image
    • having social recognition


    Path of Supremacy (Neutral Evil)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Supremacy
    Show
    Most values... Achievement and Power

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Supremacy. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Achievement Power
    MEANING Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.
    CORE VALUES
    • being ambitious
    • being influential
    • being capable
    • being successful
    • having intelligence
    • having self-respect
    • having social power
    • having wealth
    • having authority
    • preserving one's own public image
    • having social recognition

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Supremacy after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    ASPECT Hedonism Security
    MEANING Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.
    CORE VALUES
    • experiencing pleasure
    • enjoying life
    • ensuring national security
    • reciprocation of favors
    • ensuring family security
    • having a sense of belonging
    • preserving the social order
    • being healthy and clean

    Path of Ascendency (Lawful Evil)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Ascendency
    Show
    Most values... Power and Security

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Ascendency. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Power Security
    MEANING Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.
    CORE VALUES
    • having social power
    • having wealth
    • having authority
    • preserving one's own public image
    • having social recognition
    • ensuring national security
    • reciprocation of favors
    • ensuring family security
    • having a sense of belonging
    • preserving the social order
    • being healthy and clean

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Ascendency after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    ASPECT Achievement Conformity/Tradition
    MEANING Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. Also respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self.
    CORE VALUES
    • being ambitious
    • being influential
    • being capable
    • being successful
    • having intelligence
    • having self-respect
    • being obedient
    • having self-discipline
    • being polite
    • honoring parents and elders
    • respecting tradition
    • being devout
    • accepting one's own portion in life
    • being humble
    • taking life in moderation

    Path of Harmony (Lawful Neutral)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Harmony
    Show
    Most values... Security and Conformity/Tradition

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, examine the table below of the motivations most commonly associated with the aspects of the Path of Harmony. Then, pick at least one item (Keyword: "value") from each of the two categories below. These chosen items are the motivations that are equally the most important to you and they likely interact with eachother. If desired, feel free to pick a motivation that’s unlisted but fits a particular category’s description.

    ASPECT Security Conformity/Tradition
    MEANING Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms. Also respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self.
    CORE VALUES
    • ensuring national security
    • reciprocation of favors
    • ensuring family security
    • having a sense of belonging
    • preserving the social order
    • being healthy and clean
    • being obedient
    • having self-discipline
    • being polite
    • honoring parents and elders
    • respecting tradition
    • being devout
    • accepting one's own portion in life
    • being humble
    • taking life in moderation

    This next table represents the aspects and associated values next most common to the Path of Harmony after the motivations listed above. This table can be used as additional inspiration for how your character's motivations may interact with eachother.

    {table="head;width=75%"]ASPECT | Power | Benevolence
    MEANING | Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources. | Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the "in-group").
    CORE VALUES |
    • having social power
    • having wealth
    • having authority
    • preserving one's own public image
    • having social recognition

    |
    • being helpful
    • being responsible
    • being forgiving
    • being honest
    • being loyal
    • having mature love for others and true friendships

    [/table]

    ASPECT Power Benevolence
    MEANING Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact (the "in-group").
    CORE VALUES
    • having social power
    • having wealth
    • having authority
    • preserving one's own public image
    • having social recognition
    • being helpful
    • being responsible
    • being forgiving
    • being honest
    • being loyal
    • having mature love for others and true friendships

    Path of Equity (True Neutral)
    Spoiler: Description of the Path of Equity
    Show
    Most values... (any values)

    If you’re unsure what motivates your character most, review the motivations mentioned above for the other paths. Feel free to select a smattering of motivations from any and every list as what’s most important to you. Generally, try to pick some motivations from a set or two of diametrically-opposed aspects (such as universalism and power). Realize however that you can normally only bend your alignment so far as to a single half-step alignment (or to the Path of Luxury) without suffering any immediate consequences. To you, every aspect is roughly-speaking equal in importance. If your chosen motivations tend to cluster in a particular aspect or two, perhaps you should consider the alignment path(s) associated with those aspects instead of the Path of Equity.
    Last edited by Maginomicon; 2015-02-01 at 07:08 AM. Reason: Updated the tables to the new code format
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    First of all, this might better belong in the homebrew section.

    Second, I object to the labeling of CE (and only CE) as "Hedonism." There are many different versions of hedonism. For example, I follow a modified version of epicureanism, which teaches that the ultimate goal of any organism is the elimination of pain and the increase of pleasure, and the only way to achieve this is through cultivating virtues such as compassion, reason, moderation, etc. This could be argued to be a LN, LG, CG, or CN philosophy, but certainly not a CE one.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Second, I object to the labeling of CE (and only CE) as "Hedonism." There are many different versions of hedonism. For example, I follow a modified version of epicureanism, which teaches that the ultimate goal of any organism is the elimination of pain and the increase of pleasure, and the only way to achieve this is through cultivating virtues such as compassion, reason, moderation, etc. This could be argued to be a LN, LG, CG, or CN philosophy, but certainly not a CE one.
    Quote Originally Posted by me, earlier
    A “Lawful Good” character can value hedonism fine in-general in their daily activities without “bending their alignment”. However, “when the chips are down” (for example, such as when lives are on the line) he’d be bending his alignment if he willingly does something that’s not inherently part of his alignment (such as forgoing his core values for a night of passion).
    From what you've said and that alone, it sounds like your alignment most prioritizes hedonism, but uses regular and reasonable amounts of compassion, reason, moderation, etc. to achieve your ultimate goal of "increasing pleasure".

    ...so... really that sounds right up your alley.
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    Thumbs up Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Wow. While most threads like this seem to attract trolls this one seems to at least try to be fair to the alignments and even adds a shade or so of depth to them. This thread will become required reading for my new players.

    As a side note, I would LOVE to see the Antipaladin played that way and see how long one would survive if they actually live up to the NO good acts, ever part of things. Turnabout is fair play after all.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Where is the DONATE button?

    Because seriously, keep talking and take my money.

    jests aside, I applaud this development of the alignment spectrum
    Last edited by Xervous; 2013-05-13 at 01:49 PM.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    an interesting system. It certainly looks useful as a way to build characters by picking a few motivators.
    I wish I could make an alignment system, but posting requirements here would forbid it as it involves too much real world reference for clarity.
    A neat custom class for 3.5 system
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94616

    A good set of benchmarks for PF/3.5
    https://rpgwillikers.wordpress.com/2...y-the-numbers/

    An alternate craft point system I made for 3.5
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...t-Point-system

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Looks interesting and well thought out. I personally don't like any mechanical references to alignment, but as more of a role-playing aid, I think this could be quite an interesting idea (though I would scrap the lables of "Neutral Good", "Lawful Evil" ect and instead ask the PCs to select Two values to be their primary ethos, most likely neighboring values, but not mandatory; I could see the average commoner, for example, take self-direction and security)

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    I think this should be the official "Alignments Fix" thread.

    That is, a thread that actually deals with Alignment instead of criticising, caricaturising and banning/ignoring Alignment in DnD/Pathfinder.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Wow, that's quite a read. I've only glossed over it and I should take my time to reread it carefully once, but it does seem pretty interesting.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Hmm, this rather reminds me of Magic: The Gathering's Color Wheel system, where the 5 colors are not judged based on whether they're good or evil, but on what they value most.

    Did the Color Wheel inspire you, by any chance?

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    It *is* a bit problematic in that you give personality traits to certain alignments where, before, players could have their own interpretation of alignments.

    Edit: nevermind, I just read the entire post now, including the "voluntary" section. Choosing one of the ideals in each column was a smart idea.

    That said, a few of your lists are a bit short. I'm looking at Stimulation, mainly, since that's sort of the corner where my characters tend to land.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2013-05-13 at 05:23 PM.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Maginomicon View Post
    Anarchs (D310 p47; Chaotic Neutral a.k.a. “Path of Autonomy”) lose all class abilities if they ever willingly commit a blatantly lawful act (such as abiding by an oath, fulfilling a contract, or joining an organization such as a brotherhood or fellowship). Aside from this, an anarch’s code is little more than a lack of a code. As long as he continues to cause chaos and foment disrespect for law in others, his status as an anarch is secure.
    The examples you give for breaking the Anarchs code are, to be blunt, ridiculous and stupid.

    you have a very well thought out system, but your idea of chaotic neutral is really quite lawful in a weird negative way. I'm not sure how I'd fix it but let me give some examples.

    An Anarch who promised to do something they would normally do is screwed and has to break his code and then atone. He can't adventure with anyone or else he loses his abilities, fellowships and all that. Finally he can't even finagle his way to abusing contracts like chaotic neutral people love to do, even if they don't like them they love to abuse them.

    In the end any strict interpretation of this code makes lawful stupid interpretations of the paladin code look much less restrictive. Then again I am one of those people who can't understand why people hate CN so much when they haven't even seen a character who is actually CN.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by rollforeigninit View Post
    As a side note, I would LOVE to see the Antipaladin played that way and see how long one would survive if they actually live up to the NO good acts, ever part of things. Turnabout is fair play after all.
    Keep in mind, the Anti-Paladin is a real class located in Dragon Magazine #312 page 20.

    Quote Originally Posted by 13_CBS View Post
    Did the Color Wheel inspire you, by any chance?
    Nope. There's a link at the very beginning of the handbook that is for the original theoretical article that inspired this implementation.

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoPhoenix0 View Post
    The examples you give for breaking the Anarchs code are, to be blunt, ridiculous and stupid.
    What I put is essentially-verbatim what the code of conduct for the Anarch class says. I didn't make it up. That's the actual RAW for a very real class described in Dragon Magazine #310 page 47.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    It's still stupid. And you have an opportunity to change it.

    Just in my opinion: keeping your word isn't a lawful act. Keeping it when it hurts you to do so is.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    as a side note i would like to point out that it seems to me to be very lawful to always break your word. this Anarch sounds like a Lawful Neutral person with a code to always lie and oppose other laws. they only chaotic part is spreading chaos. perhaps chaotic neutral is just a really bad alignment for a paladin like code since a code would kinda defeat the purpose or not be restricting.

    the problem is opposing law is a lawful trait. ignoring the law and freeing people from it is a chaotic trait.

    the only legitimate code i can think of would be the propagation of disorder and not allying with people and organizations that promote order. this doesn't seem very good for a code though.

    edit: i guess it goes back to that article. this system is written from the point of view of a lawful good person.
    Last edited by NeoPhoenix0; 2013-05-13 at 09:25 PM.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    Just in my opinion: keeping your word isn't a lawful act. Keeping it when it hurts you to do so is.
    I'd amend that to "Keeping it when it prevents you from benefitting". Obviously a tiny difference, but semantics are key when screaming nose to nose discussing alignment.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Pime Taradox View Post
    I think this should be the official "Alignments Fix" thread.

    That is, a thread that actually deals with Alignment instead of criticising, caricaturising and banning/ignoring Alignment in DnD/Pathfinder.
    I'm going to second this. Most alignment fixes I've seen are either "no more alignments, if you like alignments you are terrible at roleplaying!!,"
    or
    "Break the existing alignments down further."

    You've really expanded and improved alignments.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    This is probably one of the best takes on alignment I've seen, which is saying something*.

    It manages to partially** satisfy my desire for more descriptiveness and avoid some problems that occur when players want characters of various unusual alignments. It even manages a half-decent take on my own personality, which is no small feat.

    Honestly, though, I think it could use a bit more explanation of how to merge seemingly contradictory motives in and determine which is really dominant; even though the outline is there, repetition and further examples can't hurt anything.

    *I've seen maybe half a dozen or more alignment systems, and I hate nearly all of them with a passion. Funky/Square, MtG colors, 4e, 3.x, 2e, 1e, anarchic/axiomatic/exalted/vile, and so on are all only tolerable at best. And that's not counting the dozens of alternate axes gathered a while back.
    **Not sure my pigeonholing instincts can be fully satisfied by any practical system, but eh.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Maginomicon View Post
    From what you've said and that alone, it sounds like your alignment most prioritizes hedonism, but uses regular and reasonable amounts of compassion, reason, moderation, etc. to achieve your ultimate goal of "increasing pleasure".

    ...so... really that sounds right up your alley.
    Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what that meant. It seemed like that meant that you can have a paladin who enjoys boozing and wenching, but not one whose entire motivation for being a paladin is being happy. On the other hand, I'm imagining a character who is a paladin because if he did anything else he'd be absolutely miserable. That person could equally be called a hedonist as the guy who is absolutely miserable when he's not torturing orphans and therefore spends as much time as possible doing so.

    (NB: I'm not saying I'm a paladin, or am anywhere near capablee of that kind of devotion.)
    Last edited by Jeff the Green; 2013-05-14 at 12:26 AM.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Perhaps I'm misunderstanding what that meant. It seemed like that meant that you can have a paladin who enjoys boozing and wenching, but not one whose entire motivation for being a paladin is being happy. On the other hand, I'm imagining a character who is a paladin because if he did anything else he'd be absolutely miserable. That person could equally be called a hedonist as the guy who is absolutely miserable when he's not torturing orphans and therefore spends as much time as possible doing so.

    (NB: I'm not saying I'm a paladin, or am anywhere near capablee of that kind of devotion.)
    Hmm. I think the problem here is that hedonism in the defined Path of Luxury sense is not merely the purſuit of happineſs, but more precisely, someone who likes certain kinds of pleasurable sensations (which aren't especially orphan-torturing necessarily). Everyone can (presumably) be happy/satisfied/content doing whatever their alignment motivations are, but that doesn't necessarily spring from individual moments of ecstasy so much as the entirety of what they do.

    That is, CE here is someone who likes bursts of intense pleasure, and prioritizes around that at the cost (if necessary) of whatever else. However, every alignment feels better when doing whatever it is it's motivated toward; that's the meaning of motivation, eh?
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Hmm. I think the problem here is that hedonism in the defined Path of Luxury sense is not merely the purſuit of happineſs, but more precisely, someone who likes certain kinds of pleasurable sensations (which aren't especially orphan-torturing necessarily). Everyone can (presumably) be happy/satisfied/content doing whatever their alignment motivations are, but that doesn't necessarily spring from individual moments of ecstasy so much as the entirety of what they do.

    That is, CE here is someone who likes bursts of intense pleasure, and prioritizes around that at the cost (if necessary) of whatever else. However, every alignment feels better when doing whatever it is it's motivated toward; that's the meaning of motivation, eh?
    Not quite. Hedonism is the deliberate and usually explicit pursuit of happiness as a moral good. The CE person who pursues those spikes of pleasure probably doesn't advocate everyone else doing the same thing because that would lead them to killing the CE guy so they can be happy.

    My objection was mostly with the label. CE isn't necessarily hedonistic and hedonists aren't necessarily CE.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Not quite. Hedonism is the deliberate and usually explicit pursuit of happiness as a moral good.
    Yeah, OK. It's not always so highfaluting, but eh.

    The CE person who pursues those spikes of pleasure probably doesn't advocate everyone else doing the same thing because that would lead them to killing the CE guy so they can be happy.
    Wait, what? Why would they assume others would be killing them for pleasure? I'm missing one or three steps here.

    My objection was mostly with the label. CE isn't necessarily hedonistic and hedonists aren't necessarily CE.
    Hmm. Well, not everyone who would previously have been classified CE would be now, which is one of the trickier aspects (but it is mentioned in the OP). Also, for what it's worth, I've vaguely heard that the main reason most serial killers do what they do is because each victim gives them a surge of elation; they happen to be CE in both the destruct-o sense and in the sense of following the Path of Luxury (because that is in fact one of the things that gives the most short-term pleasure for them). Not all hedonists are destruct-o, and not all destruct-o are hedonists, no, but I think this system would re-assign other destruct-o types to other alignments based on whatever other motives they have.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Wait, what? Why would they assume others would be killing them for pleasure? I'm missing one or three steps here.
    It's hard to enjoy burning down the world if people are doing it before you can.

    More seriously, if you're serious about your own happiness, the first thing to do is neutralize the people who make that happiness impossible. With psychotic murder hobos, that typically means killing them.

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Hmm. Well, not everyone who would previously have been classified CE would be now, which is one of the trickier aspects (but it is mentioned in the OP). Also, for what it's worth, I've vaguely heard that the main reason most serial killers do what they do is because each victim gives them a surge of elation; they happen to be CE in both the destruct-o sense and in the sense of following the Path of Luxury (because that is in fact one of the things that gives the most short-term pleasure for them). Not all hedonists are destruct-o, and not all destruct-o are hedonists, no, but I think this system would re-assign other destruct-o types to other alignments based on whatever other motives they have.
    Well, yes, but the problem is that according to some metaethical theories (the one I subscribe to, and obviously IMO the one I think is best justified; YMMV) "experiencing pleasure" and "enjoying life" are the core values of every being capable of self-reflection. Even the self-immolating martyr does so because, they believe, those final instants of torture plus whatever afterlife, if any, are more pleasurable to any years they might have left in a natural life and impending afterlife. The only difference between the different alignments are a) what they believe will bring pleasure or pain and b) how long they think they'll exist to enjoy said pleasure or endure said pain. If you can describe Durkin and Xykon as belonging to the same path, the system has a deep flaw.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    It's hard to enjoy burning down the world if people are doing it before you can.

    More seriously, if you're serious about your own happiness, the first thing to do is neutralize the people who make that happiness impossible. With psychotic murder hobos, that typically means killing them.
    There's still something I'm not getting. If you have some dude who likes to sleep around, do you immediately go and off him? Or would that dude be likely to expect people to do that?

    Because as far as I can tell that's a textbook example of hedonism/Path of Luxury/CE in this context.

    Well, yes, but the problem is that according to some metaethical theories (the one I subscribe to, and obviously IMO the one I think is best justified; YMMV) "experiencing pleasure" and "enjoying life" are the core values of every being capable of self-reflection. Even the self-immolating martyr does so because, they believe, those final instants of torture plus whatever afterlife, if any, are more pleasurable to any years they might have left in a natural life and impending afterlife. The only difference between the different alignments are a) what they believe will bring pleasure or pain and b) how long they think they'll exist to enjoy said pleasure or endure said pain.
    Basically, yes. I wholly agree, and that's why I was careful to note that hedonists are defined not by liking pleasure (which is tautological), but by valuing intense bursts of it as the overall best course (the "sensuality" in the OP is probably also a good indicator). Further discussion along this line may be hampered by my own prudishness.

    If you can describe Durkin and Xykon as belonging to the same path, the system has a deep flaw.
    Indeed, but I don't think you can; Xykon figures that power is the way to go, with various smidges of other things; he's not so much into indulging his senses and body, which is good because he's a lich — NE or LE. Durkon, on the other hand, is obviously more about Conformity/Tradition and Benevolence, so a tidy LG; he (presumably) gains steady satisfaction from doing his job and helping people and so on.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    There's still something I'm not getting. If you have some dude who likes to sleep around, do you immediately go and off him? Or would that dude be likely to expect people to do that?
    Ah, okay, there's the problem. I was referring to someone who's a hedonist in the new system and CE in the old. Like a serial killer.

    I suppose my problem is the (IMO) misuse of the term hedonist, plus the fact that it assigns morally pejorative terms like CE to pure aesthetes seems a bit off. I don't go as far as some that you should have to have evil motives to be on the southern third of the alignment chart/wheel, but I do think it should have some bearing on what we call evil in the real world. Most people don't call people who spend their lives in pursuit of even superficial pleasure evil. Shortsighted, selfish, even stupid, sure. But not evil.

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Indeed, but I don't think you can; Xykon figures that power is the way to go, with various smidges of other things; he's not so much into indulging his senses and body, which is good because he's a lich — NE or LE. Durkon, on the other hand, is obviously more about Conformity/Tradition and Benevolence, so a tidy LG; he (presumably) gains steady satisfaction from doing his job and helping people and so on.
    Except both want pleasure and to enjoy life. It's just that one thinks domination will make him happy while one thinks serving his god/clan/world will make him happy. So they equally have the core values of the path of luxury.
    Last edited by Jeff the Green; 2013-05-14 at 04:04 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Well, of course I'm paranoid about everything. Hell, with Jeff as DM, I'd be paranoid even if we were playing a game set in The Magic Kiddie Funland of Perfectly Flat Planes and Sugar Plums.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff the Green View Post
    Ah, okay, there's the problem. I was referring to someone who's a hedonist in the new system and CE in the old. Like a serial killer.

    I suppose my problem is the (IMO) misuse of the term hedonist, plus the fact that it assigns morally pejorative terms like CE to pure aesthetes seems a bit off. I don't go as far as some that you should have to have evil motives to be on the southern third of the alignment chart/wheel, but I do think it should have some bearing on what we call evil in the real world. Most people don't call people who spend their lives in pursuit of even superficial pleasure evil. Shortsighted, selfish, even stupid, sure. But not evil.
    Well, at some point selfishness at the expense of others does tend to get a bit evil, no? (You could also make some sort of point about general cultural tendencies and values, but I'm not sure that's really appropriate here.)

    Except both want pleasure and to enjoy life. It's just that one thinks domination will make him happy while one thinks serving his god/clan/world will make him happy. So they equally have the core values of the path of luxury.
    Sort of. That's ignoring the part immediately above that, though:
    Meaning: Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.
    Neither Durkon nor Xykon are in it for "sensuous gratification".

    I will agree that could use some more clarification.
    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Bear View Post
    That's RAW for you; 100% Rules-Legal, 110% silly.
    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    "Common sense" and "RAW" are not exactly on speaking terms
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    I think this is very good approach to alignments, but I think the only problem is that it's a bit heavy. Casual players who don't read that much or simply read the things they like reading, will be put off by this.

    I'll keep the RAW alignments, but I commend you on the great effort. I especially like the format.

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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Well, at some point selfishness at the expense of others does tend to get a bit evil, no? (You could also make some sort of point about general cultural tendencies and values, but I'm not sure that's really appropriate here.)
    At the expense of others, sure. But you can argue that spending your energy attaining sensuous pleasure that doesn't harm others is selfish in that you're not using your abilities to benefit others. Most people wouldn't call it evil, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by tuggyne View Post
    Sort of. That's ignoring the part immediately above that, though:

    Neither Durkon nor Xykon are in it for "sensuous gratification".

    I will agree that could use some more clarification.
    I'm not sure I'd say there's any meaningful distinction between pleasure and sensuous gratification. Even if there is, it's a purely aesthetic, not moral or ethical, difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Well, of course I'm paranoid about everything. Hell, with Jeff as DM, I'd be paranoid even if we were playing a game set in The Magic Kiddie Funland of Perfectly Flat Planes and Sugar Plums.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    Something I should point out:

    This was a rewrite of the alignments system based on an article on Real Alignment theory. The motives involved in each aspect are present in every creature at one time or another, and that's fine.

    Those that are "CE" in the traditional alignment system would often not be "CE" with Real Alignments. That isn't even the right terminology here. "CE" is largely-coincidentally associated with the "Path of Luxury" for the sake of convenience. The Path of Luxury is tangentially-related to the very broad concepts of "evil" and "chaos" because unfortunately that path is the closest Real Alignment analogue to those two types of caricatures.

    The Path of Luxury could be for anyone that most values hedonism overall as their ultimate priority "at the end of the day" (so to speak). Anyone from the street thug to guard captain to the king's advisor could conceivably be following the Path of Luxury. This is because the Path of Luxury represents that you value the hedonism aspect most (not necessarily to exclusion of other aspects, just that you value it "most") compared to the other aspects.

    A Paladin of Honor (and thus a follower of the Path of Integrity or an adjacent half-step alignment) can enjoy pleasures of the body fine with a clear conscience, but when lives are on the line he'd be bending his alignment unless he acts as would be expected of the Path of Integrity (and associated aspects) because that's what he values most. His Paladin of Honor code of conduct then further provides more specific behavior demands.

    In the same way, a Ranger can follow the Path of Luxury but still welcome a sense of belonging (as seen in the Security aspect), have mature love for others and true friendships (as seen in the Benevolence aspect), and enjoy having wealth (as seen in the Power aspect). When the chips are down however, he'd value Hedonism more than any of those if he can't see a gain of pleasure on the horizon as a result of non-hedonistic motives right now. To put it another way, in the comic if The Snarl unmakes everything, Belkar won't be able to have any more pleasures of the body, and he won't stand for that (not to say that Belkar specifically wants any of the things mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph).

    Just because someone's following the Path of Luxury does not mean they're a caricature of chaos and evil. That's just coincidental baggage from the traditional alignments system. Real Alignments just determine what you value most when the chips are down. Your classes and prestige classes however have specific fluff that demands a more specific kind of behavior and have a prerequisite range of general mindsets. The Real Alignments system just provides descriptions of what those general mindsets entail.

    -----------

    Consequently, I find it intriguing that demons with Real Alignments most value Hedonism and devils with Real Alignments most value Power and Security. That intrinsically means that a party can appeal to those motives on a base level instead of having to make knowledge checks to remember the exact fluff. That is, on encountering a demon, someone could cast detect evil for 6+ rounds and thus know how to best appeal to him in negotiations. (Mechanics enhancing roleplaying potential yay!)

    Now consider what happens when you combine the Real Alignment version of Detect Evil (or any alignment really) with the Detect Thoughts spell. At the 6th round onward, Detect Evil would start to give you broad but useful topics that are important to the target creature. Then, when you ask about those topics, naturally the creature's surface thoughts will likely become about that topic and BAM, the Detect Thoughts spell picks up those thoughts. Welcome to viable mind-reading interrogation techniques.
    Last edited by Maginomicon; 2013-05-14 at 06:11 AM.
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    Default Re: The Real Alignments Handbook - From Theory to Practical Application

    {Scrubbed}
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