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RPG Superstar 2015

Factions vs Alignment - Which would you prefer and why?


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

The blog about assassinations and how the alignment could shift really got me thinking about this.

Alignment- In Table Top there are certain expectations that come along with your alignment and how that ties into your character. Generic Paladins- Lawful, Generic Monks- Lawful, Generic Barbarians- Not lawful. Hopefully, you see where I am going with that. Now, that being said if your alignment shifts away from being lawful and you are a monk, that stops you from advancing as a monk. It also gives tenants on how you should play your character and acting contrary to that can change your alignment.

Factions- Organizations within the local community that have vested political, social, moral, etc. interests in the area. City watch, merchant guild, druids of the grove, Pirates of the Inner Sea would all be examples of these.

Personally, I have always found alignments to be somewhat handcuffing. At the same time, just because I'm doing something for one faction for my own reasons doesn't necessarily mean my entire view on things will or has changed. I might fight to protect the town because my hideout is near by and I don't like competition. That is a selfsih act which could be mislabeled as "helped good guys beat the bad guys" and in turn potentially shift my alignment.

With faction, I would gain faction with the town and lose it with the opposing force.

Alignments still have a place. You still have ethics. A belief if you will of what is right or wrong. Certain classes should have stricter guidelines and that shouldn't prevent a monk from worship a deity with chaos in their portfolio or barbarian tribes from establishing tribal law. Alignments could also serve as a starting point for factions in a hybrid system.

So alignments, factions, or a combination of both?

Goblin Squad Member

Both, more emphasis on factions.

Goblin Squad Member

Blaeringr wrote:
Both, more emphasis on factions.

How do you envision both alignment and faction working in conjunction?

Why the emphasis on factions?

Goblin Squad Member

I also would like a bit of both, as long as factions are player controlled and/or nonrestrictive. By nonrestrictive I mean you must be able to leave a faction, and are not forced into a war that you don't care about the outcome of (IE WoW's factions of alliance + horde). Factions of which you can chose to side with, leave if you don't like what it is becoming etc... I am completely in favor of.

Alignment depending on the strengths and weaknesses of their design I like most of the concepts that they have. It sounds like they have most of it under control, as long as they plan for the potential abuses alignment can have. Fortunately it sounds like all of the staff at GW actually thinks through the abuses and looks at those type issues at the root of the problem, so we should be OK on those.

Goblin Squad Member

Both, I would like alignment to be absolute as a reflection of all your actions. Reputation to be a reflection of your actions in a given locale. This way we can have our friendly Baker have a "good" reputation while moonlighting as an Assassin, which I see as an inherently "evil" position in the absolute alignment sense.

@Blaeringr, the above was only an example, I assume you are an Assassin that intends to moonlight as a Baker.


I see alignment as your standing with NPCs (especially divine NPCs apparently), and faction as your standing with players.

I think the game will naturally emphasize faction, because I imagine there will be a deity for each alignment. But player organizations will be more choosey and therefore it will be more important to develop those relationships.

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.

@Forencith- That is actually more in line with Nature and Demeanor from V:tM3E. Vamps played to both their nature "your true inner self" and their demeanor "how they wanted to be percieved". This made for some very interesting style-clash combos.

The demeanor of the "helper" was someone who was fiercely loyal, always ready to assist, willing to do anything.

The nature of that very same character might be the "leader" one who is constantly seeking more power, has appealing leadership qualities, uses situations that are advantageous to further cement his command.

The outcome was a character who seemed always ready to help, but in actually was trying to manipulate those situations he is helping in to his own gain.

As far as factions go, I think they could be both NPC and PC (Charters). I see it as Alignment is equated to an ethical standpoint while Faction standing is equated to a political standpoint.

While alignment can serve as a starting point for factions, it can also modify them. The lawful city of light may hate the chaotic evil drow warrior, but the drow is saving their butts by fending off a swarm of undead.

Eventually, the drow would do enough that would give him favor within the city to not be KOSed but he may still not be welcomed in some places (no merchant access or use of facilities) while others would tolerate him for his deeds (merchant access and use of facilities with slight increase to price.)

Killing the undead really has no ethical bearing to the drow. He was there, he wanted to take them out... or was attacked. No shift in alignment.

Killing the undead that were attacking the city does have political bearing for the drow. People see a deviation from the drow "stereotype". He is acting in a way that benefits the city. Positive faction shift.

Now say the drow was lawful and killed a random merchant in the city. That would be both a shift in alignment and political standing.

All that being said, what about a PC to PC rating system? Being able to give a griefer a negative tick mark or a helpful PC a positive tick mark each time they interact with you. (Contract Transaction, Combat, Purchase, Group)


Obakararuir wrote:
I might fight to protect the town because my hideout is near by and I don't like competition. That is a selfsih act which could be mislabeled as "helped good guys beat the bad guys" and in turn potentially shift my alignment.

But everything I've seen so far from Goblinworks suggests that actions primarily change their Alignment-consequences thru grouping or contracts. If you aren't allied with townspeoples, or fulfilling their guard contracts, etc, but are just ganking "your competition", I don't think it will have any different alignment consequences for you (vs. competition that hasn't initiated crimes/aggressions against 'innocents').

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

I don' think that aligment is of any use in an MMORG execution. If you put in such a mechanic, there will be those that exploit it. More to the point, I don't think it adds anything to the game. For an MMORG, you're either doing a quest or you're not, there's not really much room to code in corner cases of such, it's a binary medium, not analog.

Goblin Squad Member

I'm coming around on Alignment. I was initially very opposed to any computer system judging my actions and changing my alignment - mostly because of a very negative reaction to the "Light Side" judgments in SWTOR.

However, I think Forencith has exactly the right attitude for Alignment in PFO. It's not "Good" because I believe it is the right and moral thing to do in this world, it's "Good" because the Good Deity I seek to please has said it's "Good".

Faction is another thing entirely, and I think there's plenty of room for both. To my mind, Faction is essentially my reputation with some group of people, whether they are PCs or NPCs is utterly irrelevant.

My only request with Faction is that it not be granted as if the granters are omniscient. I mean, don't raise my faction with the Elves when I kill an Orc alone in a cave. Make me have to bring trophies back to the Elves to prove that I've killed the Orcs.

And yes, I realize this might make it seem like I could kill Elves and not have my faction with the Elves go down as long as none of the Elves escaped to report my dastardly deeds. But I think there's a much better argument to be made that negative faction would be reported by some Elf that slipped away and told the other Elves I was murdering a bunch of them than there is to think that some Elf was watching me kill Orcs and reporting my heroism back to the other Elves.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:

And yes, I realize this might make it seem like I could kill Elves and not have my faction with the Elves go down as long as none of the Elves escaped to report my dastardly deeds. But I think there's a much better argument to be made that negative faction would be reported by some Elf that slipped away and told the other Elves I was murdering a bunch of them than there is to think that some Elf was watching me kill Orcs and reporting my heroism back to the other Elves.

On that subject I think it also would make sense for some enemies to have a chance of running away upon threat by an adventurer particularly when one of their allies is killed.

The 2 extremes I am tired of in MMO's is 2 styles of enemies.
1. Highly aggressive, IE you are fighting a pack of orcs, 1 orc see's you wipe out 20 orcs with a single aoe, charges in on you to meet the same fate.

2. Absolutely mentally challenged enemies, also known as non-agro mobs. IE a field of X enemies, in which while you are killing one. The other 3 nearby continue grazing or just prancing around as if they don't notice you, at which point then they start fighting to the death. Enemies actually running away and coming back with friends, The reason why fear in WoW is dangerous for the adventures to use... because somehow fear is the only thing that makes mobs act rational enough to defeat you and your party.

sounds logical to me, at which point if they reach far enough away it could be assumed that they do report you to the elves in your example.

Goblin Squad Member

Onishi wrote:
... it could be assumed that they do report you to the elves...

Well, I doubt the Orcs themselves would report my deeds to the Elves, but I suppose I can see how the Elven spies keeping tabs on the Orcs might pick it up.

Okay, I yield.

Onishi wrote:
... because somehow fear is the only thing that makes mobs act rational enough to defeat you and your party.

Yeah, I'd really like to see mob behavior rational enough to make it worthwhile to sneak some Thieves/Barbarians in behind their lines to dispatch any that try to slip away and call in friends.

Goblin Squad Member

They are both complicated systems and both should be in game. They are similar, but different beings look at them in different ways. One group might want you to gain faction with them before you receive any benefits, while another will want you to stay a certain alignment.


Honestly, I see alot of problems with Alignment matching up to people's expectations, judging from what's been announced so far. Basically, because as far as game mechanics are concerned, only events SPECIFICALLY CODED TO ALTER YOUR ALIGNMENT will do so.

Ex: So far, the only Chaotic-tendency act that has been announced is breaking Contracts.
What if you never enter Contracts in the first place? That would be pretty in-character for a character totally phobic to any semblance of Law. Although that is also in-line with a Lawful character who just chooses to avoid Contracts, as mocking 'true spiritual Law' or whatever.

Also, killing people is usually Evil aligned, if not Chaotic aligned. Things like accepting Guard contracts or Bounties change those to allow Neutral or Good alignments for the actions. But if your character chooses not to accept those Contracts, then doing the same actions, for essentially the same moral motivation, would now be flagged as Evil. You have to make sure it counts if you want to count as Good.

I'm honestly curiuos how Alignments may be more broadly 'accounted for'.
Chaotic Good seems like a hard one to assess, just going on what has been announced.


The most important thing is that we keep away from the three factions [or far worse, two] that plague the setups and balances of so many MMOs.

One only need look at WAR to see just how bad that can get if classes, even "near-identical mirror ones" are different.

If anything, factions [as the NPC groups one might join] might be different by alignment, but that's a different story.

for enemies, the alignments actually make developping AI potentially a lot simpler. Seperately, I'd like to point out that running away [perhaps dropping one or two things], and giving up sometimes [surrender, of a random mob in an MMO? shocking] should be something that can and does happen.

Lawful: Higher emphasis on teamwork. Phalanxes of shield walls, volley-fire covering, team buffs... May have clear leaders, with various good or bad effects [perhaps often both] on team's aggressivity or coherency if they go down

Chaotic: when team oriented, focus more on individual buffs, using their individual abilities better at a cost of overall cohesion. Less fireball-volume friendly, but also more apt to have that thief break off and geek the mage.

Good: Quick to carry extra healing gear and debilitations*. If they take you down without fatal wounds, they may just drag you off as some sort of prisoner instead of killing you. If you let half of them live, they'll probably get the rest of their team back up to speed eventually.

Evil: Fast to dirty tricks, won't care nearly as much if their minions get friendly-fired, but that itself makes them quite dangerous. Not holding back, they might instead just run away, leaving a team to die, if threatened too much.

*Since SoD suck balls both ways [either you win, or you fire a few times and win, or you outright lose because everything's immune/megaresistant], conditions should instead follow perhaps the FFXIII model [I know, I know, but the combat was fun as hells] of instead being slow, additive debilitations. Better than blasting[but may still require it] when you're using the right ones on the right targets, about the same sometimes, and not as effective [but perhaps still necessary to get a few up on] if you're trying to stack poison on a zombie.

Goblin Squad Member

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Actually, if we ground the alignment system in the favour of the gods, there are 36 major and minor deities, each with their own likes and dislikes. Good, Evil, Unlawful, Lawful, Neutral are just major subdivisions of those deities personalities.

I would prefer having a rep for all of those deities and then "averaging" those reps (with the major deities having a greater influence in the function) to find your "true" alignment.

Fame on the otherhand should be a reputation with local governments (NPC and Player) and individuals. You should be able to move to a new locale and have neutral fame (but I do think really high fame should have spreading effects, you might have to move further to find neutrality if you are "well-known" for better or worse).

And, this could be used to note the general demeanour of a locale. A place doing very well economically and has been long without conflict, might have a base fame of +x...meaning people tend to trust each other initially. The opposite, a region not fairing well, or is a well known lawless region might start at -x to simulate peoples distrust of each other.

Additionally, alignment should only change via actions. Fame should fade over time.

Goblin Squad Member

I don't mind alignment as long as alignment is done well. In every case I have seen alignment in an MMO it is not done well, nor am I really sure it can be done well.

It seems like each time alignment is added into a game, it turns into a situation where half the people are labeled as evil are actually good, and half the people labeled as good, are actually evil.

Take Darkfall for example. Great Legionnaires enforced the strictest anti-griefing laws on our own members of any clan that I am aware of. I would write them out here but it's a lot more post than most of you would care to read.

We had SEVERAL evil aligned members in our clan. A few were because they had questionable pasts that they gave up in order to join us, but several were because because for various reasons, they ended up having to kill "good" players who were simply anything but good. Fallen Lords, Maru Kage, The Gentleman, Dominion, people who looted enemies they didn't kill, horse thieves, blue blockers and the like.

Through abuse of the war system, or griefing style actions that didn't get you marked for greifing A LOT of very evil aligned players use good alignment for protection.

Quite simply put, if there is going to be an alignment system in this game I want to see a VERY DETAILED plan of how they are going to prevent abuse of it long before they start coding it. And if they can't make it darn near abuse proof I want it thrown out.

Otherwise I agree. Faction is the best way to do things. Scrap the alignment system entirely and go for the ability to do favors to gain or lose favor with factions and make PVP entirely irrelevant to it. At least that way people know not to rely on the "blue" or "red" status above someone's head to know whether they are a good person or not. The color above someone's head should be determined entirely by your company or kingdom's relation to them.

Goblin Squad Member

Andius, you bring up a good point...how about a massive way to "redeem" yourself in any alignment direction. This would entail a massive mission/offering/ and or mission chain (they did say there would be some missions) per deity, that once completed would change your alignment to equal that of a the respective deity. The nature of the mission(s) and/or offerings should be in line with the goals of your target deity.

But, I would say this should only be available once in x amount of time...the logic behind this is that the gods would not trust you once you tried to do it twice.

Goblin Squad Member

Forencith wrote:

Andius, you bring up a good point...how about a massive way to "redeem" yourself in any alignment direction. This would entail a massive mission/offering/ and or mission chain (they did say there would be some missions) per deity, that once completed would change your alignment to equal that of a the respective deity. The nature of the mission(s) and/or offerings should be in line with the goals of your target deity.

But, I would say this should only be available once in x amount of time...the logic behind this is that the gods would not trust you once you tried to do it twice.

I just can't see it working without a nearly abuse proof alignment system which I honestly doubt the ability of anyone to make. I have a lot of faith in GW, but I don't think they, or anyone else can pull it off.

Once the greifers find out how to abuse it they will simply find a loophole, then you have to put up with ridiculous behavior A, or run through a "good" player.

After you take your alignment hit you do your lengthy redemption, and the same alignment abuse or some other alignment abuse happens. Same situation.

Let me detail out just a few of the abuses I have seen in-game:

-Body-blocking people into buildings or surrounding them where they stand.

-Stealing horses or shooting someone's horse out from under them.

-Healing for or otherwise helping an evil aligned player, or just standing near them so AoE effects will cause you to get flagged as a criminal.

-Carrying the loot for bandits and murderers.

-Looting NPCs another player killed.

-Jumping in-front of NPCs in order to make AoE effects get the person fighting them flagged as a criminal.

-Abuse of the war system which SHOULD NOT EXIST!!! Don't do it GW, I know Darkfall, EVE, Mortal, and all the other big sandboxes do it but wars SHOULD NOT ALLOW YOU TO KILL LAWFUL PLAYERS IN LAWFUL AREAS WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES. EVER!!! It is almost PURELY used as a tool of griefers, all the people fighting out in the lawless areas DON'T USE IT! Its a TERRIBLE feature!!! Don't put it in to game, and if you do, for god's sake don't have measures that make it hard/impossible for older companies to war dec these griefer companies preying on any new company. But don't do that actually, don't make a war system AT ALL!!!

-And many, many, more.

I just don't see game-mechanics blocking every possible scenario and even if they can it will involve GW spending an EXTENSIVE amount of time coding ways to ensure no lawful griefing slips by.

Despite the roleplay benefits of tying alignment to the actions of players I think the downsides of the potential abuse outweigh them.

I would instead like to see a system where companies just set their alignment with other companies. If they set them to hostile they show red, unfriendly orange, neutral white (default standing), friendly blue, and allied dark green. (Same company = light green.)

If you really want people to be able to tell who is good or bad make it so companies can choose to make their standings public, and attach 100 or less character notes to each company/person they have on it.

So if you know you trust the judgement of a certain clan you can go in and see who they have set to hostile and why. I would FAR rather trust that than some ridiculous mechanic with no discretion.

I'm not opposed to a PVE and quest centered alignment system but. I have just seen too much abuse of the other kind to trust it.

Goblin Squad Member

I think a combination is possible. But I'd offer this thought for consideration.

Faction or Alignments that are driven through grindable actions/activities lose their impact and meaning.

Regardless of which (or both) are chosen if they're just another stat to grind in one direction or another to suit your needs then they're really just a time sink and not really a game mechanic.

I'd prefer a game mechanic, where one's actions have impactful results and that recovering from those impacts would be very very difficult.

Example. I murder someone. It's going to literally take years (if ever) for me to recover from that action. Now granted in games like these where all players are essentially murderous sociopaths (go kill 40 Xs and come back to me for 1silver---sure thing!) murder is likely to be "less" impactful..but you get my point.

There needs to be REAL weight behind alignment OR faction. Not the EQ model grind whichever faction you want type of system.

Goblin Squad Member

As far as factions go, there could be a setting to which you apply to certain actions dictating how much faction is gained by those actions. I see alignment a lot harder to sway than faction.


Now I just took a look at this game and only taken a quick glance to gain the gist of what the people of Paizo seem to be planning. So please forgive me for anything that I may say here below that may seem dumb or ignorant.

Personally, I would never have preferred to put in "Alignments" due to I find them to be somewhat labeling in terms of what can and cannot be done. This, I thought especially in an MMO, would give a bit of a "one trick pony" feel. For instance people will have no variety in personality when they're condemned to a singular idea and have no other depth. Lawful Neutral stereotype does this Chaotic Evil stereotype does that; usually it seemed all too classic and less modern. However after careful examination of this game and the world I'd say I'd love to see both.

The writers of the books and lore use extremely careful word use and intelligent ideas. After reading over the blogs, seeing all the ideas they go deeper in depth into I'd say they would be able to pull it off. Such creative thoughts that are not only restrictive but manipulable that; even if they fail, only work to add more intensity to the game.

Goblinworks Founder

I'd say Alignments, factions are in the game already are they not be it the Thief Guild to the Merchants Guild. You're alignment would probably mean what kind of job you undertake in that guild or your particular actions like he's the generous merchant while that guy will steal every copper piece he can from you.

@Andius - some of those are easily fixed with things like stamina to get past body blockers (ultima online). That's just looking at it as I was able to push my way past them, or I didn't have the energy/spells to get out of that situation.

Npc looting give priority for so many seconds to the killer, unless their grouped.

Healing of an evil aligned - is that you knowingly knew the person was evil (since if we're going with the pathfinder game, you can't tell what alignment a player is till you see his/her actions) or just a friendly person who heals anyone. This go back to Ultima Online where you turned grey or at least had a message saying "this is a criminal act."

The standing in the aoe or jumping in front of a mob to accept the attack instead is tricky I'd say unless it's all or nothing, but with alignment concerns you knew what you were doing in attacking the monster so your alignment shouldn't be held accountable for that person that jumped in the way or stood on the spot on their own accord. I say getting flagged from this would only be concerned if it was a direct attack, no flagging would go on with aoe's or if another person jumped in front (but then i could just attack a mob that's on the other side of a player though too, though a message could say before the initial attack, you do not have a clear shot unless he was my group mate then it goes through them with cover penalty.)

If I was role playing this situation, my character would feel grief for this person being hurt even though they did it on purpose.

A lot of these come down to the views of those involved or watching and how the game views the situation as well.

Goblinworks Founder

This is a very good discussion. I would love to read some GW thoughts on this. I dont have much to add that hasn't already been said.

Goblin Squad Member

I'm sure they will go for something in the middle of what everyone wants as long as it's feasible for the game as far as function goes.

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