Wednesday, March 3, 2021

On CharacterAlignment

I 'called in' to Role Play Rescue - a podcast I hugely recommend, with a response to the bonus episode on good & evil.  Here's what I said:

 I dumped alignments in my game a long time ago, but only because I never saw how they could contribute to a game.  I think the main problem I had with the alignment system, besides simply being superfluous, was that they tended to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive.  So if I had a lawful good cleric and that cleric did something a lawful good person wouldn't do, suddenly there was a problem.  'You can't do that', was possible.  'Your character wouldn't do that' was more likely, but... hey, can't characters have arcs? Can't they change? Can't they act irrationally?  The concept is too fluid to make into a jello mold, at least for me.  If that weren't enough, the idea of alignment languages seemed ... well... Come again? I never really got it, and I can easily say I have never missed dropping it from my rules set.  It's not to say there is no good and evil in my games - there is - I just don't see any good reason to put it on my character sheet.


  1. I tend to use alignment as a guide. You can get a quick description of what a character might be like with alignment. Think about it: If I told you I was basically chaotic good, you'd have an idea of how I view the world, but not necessarily what I do all the time, in every situation. Alignment doesn't need to be restrictive. Of course, if a PC starts acting in a way contrary to their alignment, I might take the opportunity to explore why the character is changing. What about this decision makes the character behave differently than normal, and woll doing so have lasting effects or consequences? (This is generally why I dislike Chaotic Neutral as an alignment: it's often interpreted as basically anything goes and you don't need a reason.)
    As far as alignment languages goes...yeah. That's dumb. Although it explains why I've been talking to you in chaotic good and you haven't been understanding me...

  2. See? There ya go. I only speak Chaotic Neutral. :I

  3. I keep alignment, but only the basic Lawful, Neutral and Chaos. I use them as a spiritual alignment guide along the same lines as the Dark and Light side of the Force. Because I still view D&D as a semi mystical environment and beyond the campaign and settings, there is a bigger spiritual battle between the forces of light and dark. The basic alignment is good enough for a quick 'who is on your side' allocation.

  4. Actually I think your idea of using just the three is better than the system given. There's a philosophical question nestled in here: Are people born good or bad, or do they become so?