Implementing scripts and rules for how Alignment affects your world is an important aspect to consider. Well planned and judicious use of alignment can really pull players into the story, while too many shifts can result in players losing class abilities and not able to play the character they have built and planned.
Alignment then becomes another mechanism to provide richness and alternative paths for characters to take, just like skills, feats and class selection.
It gives the writer of modules the ability to present scenarios and situations ( as would any writer ) that titillate its audience and entertain them along the way.
Alignment is an actual force, people can be attracted or repelled based on their alignment.
Alignment is absolute and is known without any possible doubt to magic of all types. A spell or an item can unmistakeably know the alignment of a person, cut through any and all "intentions" that they have and know their heart in an instant.
One's alignment can be changed with a single event. The reading of certain books can "taint" a person with an alignment or cause their alignment to shift by using them. This means alignment is a tangeable entity which can be manipulated.
One's alignment is a result of both actions and intent, and your given alignment is based on both the alignment you started with, which is based on your society and experiences and who you are, and your past actions as well.
Descriptions of the alignments.Edit
Implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
- Obeying the law, even if you dont believe in it
- Having a code of conduct you stick to
- Keeping your word
- Apprehending criminals
- Following customs
- Lawful folks are willing to follow rules laid out that they see as applying to them. They will observe the rules as best as they can. They do not like changes without strong and good reasons ( and not a little bit of prodding to do so by a majority ). They do not like to act independently unless necessary.
- Lawful is not just obeying the laws, though. It is a recognition that the Lawful respect authority, observe that the group is more important overall than the individual. The respect of tradition and the dislike of change is another aspect of Lawfully Aligned people.
- Most importantly, Lawful does not always mean obeying the Law. And it doesn't mean only following the law.
- The belief that you succeed through teamwork and structure, that rules and regulations ultimately benefit everybody as they provide that structure so that everyone can excel.
- Lawful is not just about laws. If you follow all the laws you will tend to be lawful – but honor, family, and duty are all lawful as well.
- Disrespecting peoples private things/places
- Picking locks
Implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
- Going your own way or being a loner
- Choosing to not keep your word because you believe you have a better way
- Betraying your party/group
- Going against the grain
- Chaotic Alignments are not necessarily unorganized. It doesn't mean that they don't respect the laws of the lands. It doesn't mean that they are fickle and without principle.
- In fact, it can mean that they adhere to a principle of helping the individuals around them. To such a degree that one might mistake them for lawfully aligned.
- Except that they do not favor the group over the individual. They do not favor slavish devotion to the letter of the law over, say the spirit of it. In other words, they attempt to divine the intent of purpose of such things and apply it as they deem proper. On a case by case basis.
- It doesn't mean that they are going to just lie about whatever, because you can't count on them. It could be that they are honest to a fault, including letting you know how badly your breath stinks or exactly how out of fashion your clothing is. It could mean that they are nice and principled, but still manage to somehow engage in activities that most would deem illegal, improper and by some as immoral.
- They are free thinkers, independent and resourceful. They see the necessity of groups to preserve the individual, as opposed to the individual sacrificing itself for the group.
- The belief that it is the individual that matters, that regardless of rules or structure, one only excels on their own and that individual deeds are what advances everybody.
- Joining guilds or groups
- Sticking with the group
- Doing something someone elses way
Judging the Behavior of a PlayerEdit
The alignment of a player can be judged by either their intention or their actions, and usually some judgement is needed as the actions are the only thing measurable, while intentions must be inferred based on the player's actions. However actions without regard to intentions can result in the wrong interpretation. But allowing the player to judge his own actions can be problematic as it puts a lot of trust in the player.
One important note to judging intent and actions. An alignment shift requires intent AND an action. Action without intent is neutral, as is action that happens involuntarily such as from confusion. Intent without action is like wise something that never really happens. So thinking of murder does not make you evil, until you both think and carry out the act, and likewise not being in the right mind can result in actions, though evil, still do not count as something that can cause an alignment shift. ( Generally this involves actions done while not under the player's control such as under a confusion spell, unless some exception to this is agreed in game. )
In a gaming session, PnP or in a persistent world session the final arbiter of alignment changes is the DM when a DM is present. In modules and when no DM is present the developers and writers of the module are the arbiter of the rules. When the alignment is shifted by scripts and the like it is very important to ensure that grey areas open to interpretation are avoided as much as possible.
Importance of AlignmentEdit
How important is alignment to your module or campaign? Is it integral to the story, or a distraction that is left to the players?
- None – No Alignment Restrictions to classes and no attention is paid to alignment at all. Requires 2da adjustments to open up the alignments, or a tool or vendor that allows players to change their alignment.
- Minimal – Alignment is ignored in game. Paladins can be evil even though they have to choose lawful good, but alignments are used to prevent certain combinations of classes as a means of balance.
- Roleplaying Minimal – Let the player stay in charge of his alignment, and no automatic changes. It is assumed the player is going to play his chosen alignment, and this might need DM assistance or intervention for flagrant rule breakers in classes where it matters ( Paladins killing villagers for example ).
- Enforced Lightly – Alignment is considered important, and occasional alignment shifts are possible. Shifts are only made upon major and clear violations of alignment, where there is no question as the act is a violation. ( Joining forces with the evil menace probably means you are no longer good for example )
- Enforced Heavily – Alignment is adjusted upon most actions but only slightly. Major acts result in major shifts.
Methods of shiftingEdit
- DM Adjusted – the DMs adjust alignment manually.
- Player Adjusted – the player uses a tool, or in modules the debug console.
- Vendor Adjusted – this can be implemented via a store, or via tokens, or via atonement type activities.
- Action Adjusted – Players' alignments are adjusted based on their actions, merely attacking NPCs in a certain faction, or not hostile can shift your alignment. This is problematic as such could be an accident, or it could not be intentional. Those under effects of confusion and the like should not be subject to alignment shifts.
- Conversation Adjusted – Certain answers in conversation trigger an alignment shift. This is an attempt to get intent. As many things in alignment are controversial, restraint should be exercised as well as the player should not be railroaded towards a particular alignment by a lack of options. Either the answers should allow a neutral way out, or shift only on one axis at a time. Some hold that any possible shifts should be denoted in the text ( in parenthesis for example saying "evil" ), while others prefer that they have to make a judgement and that every dialog could have implications. In the second case small shifts along with a reason why at first will warn the player that his current path is taking him away from his chosen alignment.
Types of shiftsEdit
These give more options to the writers/scripters and allow closer following of D&D rules.
( Lawful, Chaotic, Good, Evil ) Alignment is shifted determined points towards given alignment.
( Chaotic and Evil at same time, for each of the 9 alignments ) Alignment is shifted determined points towards both alignments.
( Lawful, Chaotic, Good, Evil only when you are )
- Only-Good-Evil-Shift will shift you towards evil only if you are good.
- Only-Evil-Good-Shift will shift you towards good if you are evil.
- Only-Lawful-Chaotic-Shift will shift you towards lawful only if you are chaotic.
- Only Chaotic-Lawful-Shift will shift you towards chaotic if you are lawful.
These all will move you towards neutral, and are for actions that are not in the spirit of your alignment. ( Lying for example is a Non-Lawful-Shift as it is in violation of the lawful ethos. )
( Lawful, Chaotic, Good, Evil only when you are not )
- Non-Evil-Evil-Shift will shift you towards evil only if you are not evil.
- Non-Good-Good-Shift will shift you towards good if you are not good.
- Non-Lawful-Lawful -Shift will shift you towards lawful only if you are not lawful.
- Non-Chaotic-Chaotic-Shift will shift you towards chaotic if you are not chaotic.
These all will move you towards the alignment and tend to go past neutral but only when you are not the given alignment.
This is a two axis shift towards true neutral. Used when you act in a way to support balance. This is a rare shift but tends to come into play with druid specific dialogs. As this could also be a good act, it would most likely have an alternate option to allow this. ( “Save the tree ( to preserve the balance )” would result in a neutral shift, while “Save the tree ( because i want to preserve life or help )” would result in a good shift. The parenthesis clarify the intention and could be unvoiced and just written. ) Probably reserved for those who support druidic ideals.
Faith Breaking shiftEdit
Major transgression against your deity, that removes you ability to level, and perhaps the ability to have spells granted by your deity. Of course this is something that would require custom scripting to implement. The fact that this event occurs would most likely require some sort of atonement.
Restores your prior alignment, most likely would need some way to store the fact you had an alignment change. This is a good service to be put into temples and the like to allow players who made a mistake to make amends, or to correct a change they don’t agree with.
Examples actions that and appropriate shiftsEdit
Alternatives to AlignmentEdit
(EphymeralSlime http://nwn2forums.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=603774&forum=109&sp=105 ) Multiple scales based on how the public sees you. A person can just move to get away from a reputation they do not like.
- Bully/Stalward: Does the person have a reptuation for pushing others around, intimidating them or using their force to get what they want? Doing so will give them a reputation as a bully.
- Coward/Hero: Does the person shy away from risking themselves or do they have the courage to face the difficult things?
- Trustworthy/Shifty: Does the person follow through on their word or do they often not come through when they say they will?
- Liar/Truthsayer: Does the person tell you the truth or are they known to lie about things?
- Thief/Law Abider: Has this person been caught stealing before and do they have a reputation for your things turning up in their pocket?
- Murderer/Savior: Has this person been known to kill indiscriminately and you must fear for your life around them?
Links and referencesEdit
Writers not know the D&D Alignment System http://nwn2forums.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=603774&forum=109
Alignments, Modules and Actions, Oh My! http://nwn2forums.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=613996&forum=109
Inconsistent Alignment http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20060505a
Alignment: Rules for Lawful and Chaotic Characters http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20050325a
When The Moral Compass Goes Haywire: The Trouble With D&D Alignments http://www.gamegrene.com/node/320?from=270&comments_per_page=90
Order of the stick #282 http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0282.html