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Hi, all. I’m back again after a good summer break. I’m ready to restart blogging. I haven’t had lots of time to play, but I did get in a good horror adventure and started a D&D3.5 game that didn’t go anywhere.
Today is not Wednesday, but I’ll post anyway. Regular schedule will return next week with posts on each Wednesday.

Those of you familiar with Dungeons and Dragons- any edition- will know a thing or two about the alignment system.
Personally, I know the most about the nine-way alignments from 3.x, and not very much about the others. I do know that the alignments themselves changed little enough that I can make broad statements without fear. I will do so now.
Out of the nine alignments in D&D, only three really make sense to me: Chaotic Evil, Lawful Evil, and Lawful Good.
I can understand being evil in different ways, and being good. But I find it hard to separate being good from obeying the law. There are reasons, of course. But I can’t really see a character as good if he openly disobeys the law (barring corrupt laws, in which obeying them would be evil).
The whole idea of neutral alignments is valid, but hard to realize. If the whole idea is to keep your character doing things in line with his alignment, then neutrality would be impossible. A good character can do the good things, and an evil character can do the bad things, but rarely can you find any neutral things to do. The character would be stuck with nothing to do (and even then it can be good or evil to not intervene in something).
The character could stay neutral by doing some good things and some evil things- try to balance it all out. But that would mean that he was not being neutral, just balanced.

Chaotic Neutral has no real explanation. Lawful neutral falls into the same pit as simply neutral. You always obey the law, no matter who gets hurt or what consequences there are. But your actions will still be good or bad.
Neutral Evil is supposed to be pure evil, but how is that different from Chaotic Evil or Lawful Evil? Is it MORE Evil than the others? It’s the same way with Neutral Good.

I think it would be better to make it simpler. Have each character either be good or evil. It looks black and white, but there are vast areas of difference between one good character and another.
One may be an upright, righteous knight. Another could just be a comoner who believes that he should help people occasionally and not do bad things.
Evil has a huge variety in method, means, and reasons. It doesn’t have to be only one kind of evil. But it is all evil.
So a system of only two alignments would serve well enough for the mechanical purposes of spell effects, but it wouldn’t get in the way of clearly knowing whether someone is a bad guy or a good guy.

Goodnight, and keep rollin’

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4 Comments

  1. Alignment is one of those things that I always gloss over in a system that requires it. I almost always take Neutral so I can justify whatever my character does. Most GM’s are okay with the Neutral choice I make. I do my best to role-play so it makes up for not picking one of the other eight Alignment choices. What I think is interesting is that from the definition of Alignment in 1st edition D&D to 4th edition has to be changed. So it is probably better just to scrap Alignment altogether.

    • The problem I have with completely trashing the alignment system- in D&D at least- is the sheer number of abilities and spells that rely on it. I’m loathe to change the system that much when I can simply adapt to what I dislike.

        • cheeseshop
        • Posted August 7, 2011 at 2:08 pm
        • Permalink

        In some of the house rules that I have seen they have stripped the requirements for spells and abilities as well. I do agree sometimes it is easier to just adapt. I have only met a few GM’s that have removed Alignment from the system. I think that it works with established groups, but if the players are new just keep it in.

      • I’m of the opinion that it’s better to find a game that does what you want, rather than trying to change a game too much. I’d rather use a system that does not include alignments rather than try and change D&D.


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