why alignment (for characters) needs to go


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Quote here

James Jacobs wrote:

I often see this type of sentiment on the internet, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

The ONLY person who gets to decide if something is insulting is the person being insulted by it. If someone says something that ends up offending someone else, the responsible and mature solution is not to justify their insulting/offensive actions by trying to describe how they don't see it's insulting. That just digs their hole deeper and makes them condiscending as well as insulting to the person who's offended.

The right solution is to either nod your head and stop using that sort of offensive behavior (preferably altogether, but certainly when speaking to the person you, perhaps inadvertently, offended).

This is why alignment needs to go. Any other part of the game that causes as much hurt at the table as alignment is gone over with a fine tooth comb or given BIG WARNINGS ABOUT CONSENT (such as in the horror rules book).

Morality is SUBJECTIVE and as such has no place being used as a game mechanic. The rules of pathfinder are crunchy - morality rules are squicky, moist, and libel to smell like last week's cheese.

When the creative director (and company honestly) understand why trying to explain away why something is insulting/offensive is in fact just digging in deeper - after so many years of anguish about alignment and codes and evil spells and how it ruin's peoples games why is this still a core mechanic?

New edition - time for alignment to go - at least for player characters who should have sole authority over a subjective category that two reasonable college professors who spent lives studying ethics and morality could argue all day over.


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Alignment doesn't really ruin a lot of games. Incompatible playstyles ruin more games than anything else. I'm not saying alignment doesn't need to be fixed, but it's not really something that comes up a lot, and when it does it's normally attached to the paladin class.

I also disagree with James's statement because he didn't use a disclaimer. Some people are always offended by just about anything they disagree with. With that being said many times it is better to avoid the the offending behavior since we're all effected by different things.


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I have never had an issue with alignment at the table - never. I didn't even realise it was a problem until I started playing PF and joined the forums here.


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wraithstrike wrote:

Alignment doesn't really ruin a lot of games. Incompatible playstyles ruin more games than anything else. I'm not saying alignment doesn't need to be fixed, but it's not really something that comes up a lot, and when it does it's normally attached to the paladin class.

I disagree - the change to spells with the [evil] descriptor caused an uproar. The change to not allow good undead caused an uproar - in fact almost anything that has to do with alignment causes commotion.

Just because you don't see it - doesn't mean it hasn't caused issues. Even the 'new DM advice' threads are rife with 'don't let anyone play evil - they use it as an excuse to be a jerk' - when the reality is that otherwise reasonable people *will* in fact use it as an excuse. Alignment as an acting tool to get an 'idea of your characters headspace' is great - it's the wrong mechanic for a rule in a game based on math.

Again - two reasonable experts in morality could spend all day arguing a single point and not agree - why this is left as a mechanic that can be used against the players is not reasonable anymore.


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Ckorik wrote:


New edition - time for alignment to go - at least for player characters who should have sole authority over a subjective category that two reasonable college professors who spent lives studying ethics and morality could argue all day over.

For better or worse PF rules are tied to setting. Some spells are evil objectively. PF2 is said to continue this route. This is a feature for me. /Not signed


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Ckorik wrote:


Morality is SUBJECTIVE and as such has no place being used as a game mechanic. The rules of pathfinder are crunchy - morality rules are squicky, moist, and libel to smell like last week's cheese.

Although I agree that morality is subjective in the real world (and mind you, a lot of people in the real world are going to say otherwise). Morality in Pathfinder and its parent D&D are NOT subjective. There's good and there's evil in Pathfinder, that doesn't mean there aren't grey areas in the game's morals, however good, evil, order, and chaos are all objective since you got entire metaphysical planes of existence and its inhabitants that are made of Good building blocks, or Chaotic and Good essence, or of purely Lawful stuff and so on. When you die in both Pathfinder and D&D you go to a plane corresponding to your alignment. How can morality be subjective in a multiverse that separates souls into these moral niches? You can us magic to sense the darkness in people's hearts or the wild chaos coursing through their souls. You have good and evil spells. In fantasy metaphysical properties are tangible and you can employ them in magic, and that's part of what makes magic magical and not simply a fictional utilitarian instrument that mirrors technology. In fantasy you can bestow people with these ethereal properties like hope, as if hope was something that existed in the world beyond mere description of human sentiment.

I agree completely with @wraithstrike when he says "Alignment doesn't really ruin a lot of games. Incompatible playstyles ruin more games than anything else.". Like him I'm not saying that there shouldn't be changes to alignment, there could. The devs themselves already said that they are doing changes to detect alignment abilities so they can be more nebulous and hard to pin, which I personally like very much. But exiting alignments completely? No, the whole Golarion setting and the D&D settings are founded on the assumptions that alignments exist since OD&D.

P.S. Oh, and just because Pathfinder's rules are "crunchy", that doesn't mean all mechanics have to follow that pattern.


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The gaming world doesn't operate on your philosophy/worldview. If you are unable to set aside your personal worldview to engage in a fictional universe that operates differently than how you think the real world does, then the problem isn't with the game, it's with you.


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NetoD20 wrote:
There's good and there's evil in Pathfinder, that doesn't mean there aren't grey areas in the game's morals, however good, evil, order, and chaos are all objective since you got entire metaphysical planes of existence and its inhabitants that are made of Good building blocks, or Chaotic and Good essence,...

That's why this thread is titled 'why alignment (for characters) needs to go' I agree that it has ties to the game - it can stay - just not for player characters. There are many rules that only apply to NPC's to create a dynamic world. They can stay. Just take the alignment off of players and let them decide what the 'line' is.


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Alignment doesn't ruin games. It's people thinking that they can play an evil alignment and still be friends that ruins games.

I'm ready to believe in theory that there are some gaming groups somewhere out there who are sufficiently mature to play a collaborative teamwork-oriented RPG with evil-aligned characters... but I've never seen it in 45 years of gaming.

That doesn't mean, however, that we need any more "morality rules" than we have in PF1.0 or than we had in DD3.x or other earlier versions. We'll get along just fine with leaving most alignment debates for philosophers, and leaving the various alignment-linked spells and abilities just the way they are.

We haven't heard anything to suggest that PF2.0 is waving goodbye to alignments. Such a developement would be mighty surprising indeed.

IMHO, Alignment is an essential element of D&D-style games. Both alignment axes, in fact: the good-evil axis which is drawn from our judeo-christian traditions, and the law-chaos axis which Gygax, Arnesson and Kunst borrowed from Mike Moorcock's early novels.

Golarion, just like Faerun, Greyhawk and so many other RPG worlds before it, is so profoundly rooted in the alignment system that it would be painful to rip it out.


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Ckorik wrote:

Quote here

James Jacobs wrote:

I often see this type of sentiment on the internet, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

The ONLY person who gets to decide if something is insulting is the person being insulted by it. If someone says something that ends up offending someone else, the responsible and mature solution is not to justify their insulting/offensive actions by trying to describe how they don't see it's insulting. That just digs their hole deeper and makes them condiscending as well as insulting to the person who's offended.

The right solution is to either nod your head and stop using that sort of offensive behavior (preferably altogether, but certainly when speaking to the person you, perhaps inadvertently, offended).

This is why alignment needs to go. Any other part of the game that causes as much hurt at the table as alignment is gone over with a fine tooth comb or given BIG WARNINGS ABOUT CONSENT (such as in the horror rules book).

Morality is SUBJECTIVE and as such has no place being used as a game mechanic. The rules of pathfinder are crunchy - morality rules are squicky, moist, and libel to smell like last week's cheese.

When the creative director (and company honestly) understand why trying to explain away why something is insulting/offensive is in fact just digging in deeper - after so many years of anguish about alignment and codes and evil spells and how it ruin's peoples games why is this still a core mechanic?

New edition - time for alignment to go - at least for player characters who should have sole authority over a subjective category that two reasonable college professors who spent lives studying ethics and morality could argue all day over.

Morality in Pathfinder is NOT subjective. There is elemental good and elemental evil. The universe defines these, not the individual. You are preaching something known as the subjective morality theory...

It is only a theory, not a law, and not a fact. It is just as valid as the objective morality theory which countermands the subjective morality theory.

So no. It is fine as a game mechanic.


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HWalsh wrote:


Morality in Pathfinder is NOT subjective. There is elemental good and elemental evil. The universe defines these, not the...

Morality in the real world is subjective - which is why it's fine for the game world but not for player characters.


Why does the existence of aligned planes make alignment objective? All that means is that good and evil exist in material ways - it does not mean that nuance or motive cease to exist. It does not mean that the same action can't be either good or evil depending on the circumstances.

Alignment, even where there are living incarnations of that alignment does not mean there is an absolute truth. The fact that in-universe incarnations of alignment, even of good, can and do disagree with each other - if alignment were absolute and an action were good or evil in and of itself that could not happen.


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"something" in the real world isn't like how it is rendered in the game world

Therefore it is "somewhat" invalid, and should not be constrained by "rules" unless those rules are imposed upon the Dungeon Master

um, what?


Depends on the character.

If your character is receiving special abilities via some supernaturally aligned force, they probably should count as that alignment for mechanical reasons.

If your character doesn't fit into the above category, alignment should just be flavor.


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Ckorik wrote:
HWalsh wrote:


Morality in Pathfinder is NOT subjective. There is elemental good and elemental evil. The universe defines these, not the...
Morality in the real world is subjective - which is why it's fine for the game world but not for player characters.

Except the player characters are part of the world, so the multiverse's objective morality must apply to them as well. And there's no impediment to playing characters with gray morals, because one can just choose to be Neutral Something, so even that isn't a problem.


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Ckorik wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:

Alignment doesn't really ruin a lot of games. Incompatible playstyles ruin more games than anything else. I'm not saying alignment doesn't need to be fixed, but it's not really something that comes up a lot, and when it does it's normally attached to the paladin class.

I disagree - the change to spells with the [evil] descriptor caused an uproar. The change to not allow good undead caused an uproar - in fact almost anything that has to do with alignment causes commotion.

Just because you don't see it - doesn't mean it hasn't caused issues. Even the 'new DM advice' threads are rife with 'don't let anyone play evil - they use it as an excuse to be a jerk' - when the reality is that otherwise reasonable people *will* in fact use it as an excuse. Alignment as an acting tool to get an 'idea of your characters headspace' is great - it's the wrong mechanic for a rule in a game based on math.

Again - two reasonable experts in morality could spend all day arguing a single point and not agree - why this is left as a mechanic that can be used against the players is not reasonable anymore.

Reread what I said.

I also NEVER said it didn't cause issues at all. I said "Alignment doesn't really ruin a lot of games".

I said its not a major issue. The most common complain with alignment involves paladins. Outside of that, their pretty rare.

There was no change to spells with an evil descriptor. There was a clarification, and as for undead being evil they've always been evil barring exceptions. It was that way back in 3.X. If there was an uproar then I dont know what it was for.

Also complaining on the forums is not the same as problems at the table.

As an example I didnt care for that take 10 FAQ and many others didnt like it, but it didnt disrupt table play on a large scale.


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thflame wrote:

Depends on the character.

If your character is receiving special abilities via some supernaturally aligned force, they probably should count as that alignment for mechanical reasons.

If your character doesn't fit into the above category, alignment should just be flavor.

I think that's fine but the opposite - if your character is getting some power due to an aligned force then the player should have control over if that force is still supplying them with power.

Literature is rife with examples of beings still given power by a cosmic entity they are fighting against. There is no reason other than 'tradition' - which is a horrible argument to include something decisive - to tie classes to alignments in the game. This list isn't just Paladins. It's Monks, Clerics, Barbarians, Assassins...

Player characters should be divorced from the alignment rules mechanically in every case - to do otherwise is saying they have no power over what they consider right and wrong.

Tradition says:


  • The druid is a sub-class of clerics. They are the only absolute neutrals
  • A cavalier character must initially be of good alignment
  • Rangers are always good, but they can be lawful. neutral. or chaotic
  • A bard can be lawful, neutral, or chaotic, good or evil, but must always be partially neutral
  • Halflings will only advance up to 8th level
  • Fighters may advance as high as 36th level.

I could go on - the truth is all of the above was removed in order to make a better game. In every case the removal of alignment from a class that was restricted made it a better class.


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Wheldrake wrote:

Alignment doesn't ruin games. It's people thinking that they can play an evil alignment and still be friends that ruins games.

I'm ready to believe in theory that there are some gaming groups somewhere out there who are sufficiently mature to play a collaborative teamwork-oriented RPG with evil-aligned characters... but I've never seen it in 45 years of gaming.

.

I've done it, but I was also gaming with more mature people. When I wasn't with people who weren't so mature they always sabotaged the party.


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I say alignment is an issue. I have seen fr to many "I m jerk because its my alignment Yo!" from people who never act that way in nay other system. They can play hard Troll gang banger in Shadowrun and be less an jerk then in D&D because "I'm NE man, its what NE people do"

Something about the AL system just brings it out of people.


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wraithstrike wrote:
Wheldrake wrote:

Alignment doesn't ruin games. It's people thinking that they can play an evil alignment and still be friends that ruins games.

I'm ready to believe in theory that there are some gaming groups somewhere out there who are sufficiently mature to play a collaborative teamwork-oriented RPG with evil-aligned characters... but I've never seen it in 45 years of gaming.

.

I've done it, but I was also gaming with more mature people. When I wasn't with people who weren't so mature they always sabotaged the party.

For that matter our all evil party in Hell's Vengeance is fine - seeing someone loose the ability to take further levels (monk) because of a helm of opposite alignment isn't.

Seeing a CN cleric loose their powers because they cast a protection from evil spell too many times and went CG (must be within 1 step of your deity)... not cool.

'Oh well just houserule these things away' - yep - that's fine - they shouldn't be mechanics in the first place. That's what this thread is about.

Grand Lodge

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I just think that Alignment is so easy to delete or add to a game, just change what you want to change. It's not like the Ability Score (MAD vs SAD) problem or the Class-balance issues or other aspects that can be extraordinarily difficult to homebrew in or out of your game. If you're group doesn't like Alignment, get rid of it.

I'm luckily in the majority that loves Alignment in the game. And the groups I DM and play PCs in use Alignment. The game without Alignment is bland for me; it's cartoonish. But I certainly acknowledge that you're right -- many problems have come into groups' games because of Alignment issues. So of course, cut out Alignment from your game. But not from the published game.

. . . .

Here's some of what I've seen in the past ten years at various tables, good and bad:

My friend's LN PC wanted:
to let the medusa go after it 'promised' to not kill innocent people again, after it answered his question. Other PCs screamed "Noooo!", but it was too late, the medusa agreed and was set free.

This doesn't have to ruin the game. It sure as hell doesn't have to ruin our real life friendship! We told the PC not to do that again and came back to the forest a few sessions later to see if the medusa kept her word (yeah right) or if we kill her for still being evil.

My LG Paladin wanted:
to try to rehabilitate some orcs that surrendered to us. I asked the DM and the other Players if I could try to lead-by-example the few orcs and try to gradually change their Alignment. I think one orc crossed the line to try to betray us and we killed it -- that was fun!; I'm sure a few slipped out and ran away -- but 1d4 or 1d6 or something gradually changed their Alignment.

A Cleric of Pharasma decided:
she hated undead and was going to act like a total ass-hat every time the PCs were going to talk to an intelligent undead or necromancer. The PC pissed off everyone in the group until I told him -- out of game -- he's gotta figure out how to work in a team even beyond his PC's personality or beliefs. Pharasma has, I mentioned, talked to undead from time to time.

My LE PC in a Good group:
still worked with the others, no back-stabbing. I decide my PC would be racist to Dwarves and believe slavery was okay. And be selfish -- even though I shared treasure since I was a squishy and I wanted the gooody-goody fighters up front to have the best swords and armor they could buy!

At some point we encountered some Shoanti and I decided, johnny-on-the-spot, that I would be racist to Shoanti as well (They're 'earthy' like Dwarves and we hadn't encountered Dwarves in the game.). The group wanted to negotiate a truce between Shoanti and some Korvosans and I wasn't going to fight the group so I sucked it up -- AFTER having one of the best in-game, laugh-out-loud, funnest arguments ever with the LG Paladin (who is the same guy that had played the Pharasmin in another game). Our PCs shouted at each other, my reasons for being racist to Shoanti and the Paladin's reasons for believing in human rights and equality. I remember at the climax of the raucous exchange he said, "What if it was your child, your son?!" and I shouted back, "I'm an elf; I CAN'T have a Shoanti son!" It was hysterical; the whole table was laughing.

But later I got concerned. About an hour later, during a break in play, I asked if I went too far or if I said anything to offend anyone. I wanted to make sure I didn't cross a line and that everyone knew I wasn't sincere. They laughed. They loved the exchange as much as I had.

I joined a group:
when I moved to a new city and played a LG cleric of Mishakal in a group that already had a CE Drow Assassin. I immediately decided that my LG Cleric of Mishakal (think super-healing Lathander or Sarenrae if you don't know Dragonlance) got a vision from Mishakal that said 'don't proselytize to the Drow -- just be good yourself -- one day maybe a decade from now when all the adventuring is over, the Drow will see the light and change his ways. Plant the seed by being good, not correcting or preaching to the Drow Assassin. You're both out to kill evil monsters so it's okay.' I decided that's what my god told me so that I could work with an evil Drow Asaassin. And I did.

. . . .

My point is, for many of us -- most of us, I strongly believe -- Alignment is incredibly fun and an absolutely integral part to gaming. I know it's just as easy for us to include it into our games as it is for you to cut it out of yours -- but it's a special part of the game and it's history, one of the great parts of the game and its history. Of course it's not for everyone. And for you guys, it's very easy to cut out.

Silver Crusade

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Ckorik wrote:
I disagree - the change to spells with the [evil] descriptor caused an uproar. The change to not allow good undead caused an uproar.

”Change”

Those may have been changes for your games, but they were simply affirmations to how my groups had always played. And affirmations is how they were presented, not “okay from now on this works like this...”, so it was not a change from Paizo’s POV either.


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W E Ray wrote:

I just think that Alignment is so easy to delete or add to a game, just change what you want to change. It's not like the Ability Score (MAD vs SAD) problem or the Class-balance issues or other aspects that can be extraordinarily difficult to homebrew in or out of your game.

I think all of those examples are great reasons why alignment as an option is fine. While you weren't super specific in your examples all of these didn't have mechanical issues with alignment - nothing in the cleric section says you can't party with evil adventurers - and I ask you - in the group where you played a LE PC... would you have been able to do that in a party with a Paladin? Not without a houserule. That's the issue.

You could even keep the alignment on a character sheet - have all the same interactions you had examples of - and remove it mechanically from the Players as 'something for the GM to adjust'.

As a role playing tool - it's fine. As a mechanical tool that is used as an external lever against the party - it's not.


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seriously, to me, the OP's original argument is

"When the DM makes things happen to our characters that we don't want to have happen because of a rule we don't think we should have to follow it's not fair.

Grand Lodge

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Yes CkoriK,

I readily admit that it's EASY for either side of the argument to add or delete Alignment.

And I absolutely admit that Alignment issues have caused problems in other people's games.

(My examples being brief are because I don't want to bore you with, or spend hours writing tons and tons of text -- and aren't mechanic-related because I'm a Fluff guy by nature who doesn't remember Crunch stories or rules-interpretations from games past.)

I don't want to just hand-wave it and say, 'Oh, Alignment problems come from immature people who don't know, can't act blah-blah-blah.' -- ESPECIALLY after what Seeker of ShadowLight just said about his experiences.

But part of me does wonder. I haven't had an Alignment issue since I was a teenager gaming with other teenagers. I can't imagine actually arguing with someone over if Chaotic Good PCs don't like slavery but Lawful Good PCs might if slavery is legal -- or something like that.

I just have a hard time believing that the Player who says, Oh yeah -- I'm going to keep this gem we got from the monster and not share because I'm Evil, HaHaHa! is a result of Alignment and not personal immaturity.


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As far as I am concerned, the purpose of alignment is to get players to think of their character's inner life in terms of how they justify or rationalize their behavior. So I don't think it should go, I think people should do it better. Like the notion that morality is subjective but people still find themselves in agreement about the morality of a great number of things anyway is interesting, isn't it?

If you decide to remove it the "no alignment" rules in Unchained will still work, and honestly it is easier to remove it on your own than to put it back in on your own (for one thing it has a pretty big role in the metaphysics of the default setting that they're not just going to throw away.)


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W E Ray wrote:


I just have a hard time believing that the Player who says, Oh yeah -- I'm going to keep this gem we got from the monster and not share because I'm Evil, HaHaHa! is a result of Alignment and not personal immaturity.

Sure - lets say (for the sake of argument) that every time this type of interaction happens it's the fault of 'personal immaturity' - let me ask you then - does alignment help the game, and people like this, overcome such a problem, or does it encourage, and enhance such an issue?


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I have played D&D with people of ages 7 to 45

Alignment has been, in my opinion, more helpful in guiding players in understanding how the "game world" is supposed to work, than it would have been without alignment

I have played with players who acted immaturely (abusing or flat out ignoring alignment guidelines). I have tried to encourage those players to rethink their role-playing behavior.

When the game "improved" I thanked those players.

When the game did not "improve" I asked those players to consider playing in other people's groups.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Like the notion that morality is subjective but people still find themselves in agreement about the morality of a great number of things anyway is interesting, isn't it?

It is - from a large perspective - to note though that simple difference of opinion over morals has sparked some of the bloodiest and deadly wars throughout human history - we are amazing at all having 'almost the same' ideas and then getting hyper aggressive over nuance. (This to a large extent is an apt description of the rules forum - for example).

Quote:


If you decide to remove it the "no alignment" rules in Unchained will still work, and honestly it is easier to remove it on your own than to put it back in on your own (for one thing it has a pretty big role in the metaphysics of the default setting that they're not just going to throw away.)

I both agree and disagree - I think it's fine to have an alignment in the game (remember this thread is about players - not the game) - I just think it should be divorced from class mechanics.

In every such case that the restrictions were removed - we have had both no issues, and a better game for it. Pathfinder isn't 'less' because Druids can be any alignment. Pathfinder isn't 'less' because Rangers can be non-good.


Ckorik wrote:


In every such case that the restrictions were removed - we have had both no issues, and a better game for it. Pathfinder isn't 'less' because Druids can be any alignment. Pathfinder isn't 'less' because Rangers can be non-good.

Personally I far prefer those restrictions.


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I mean, I sorta feel like I really appreciate alignment restrictions and feel like the solution is less "allow for chaotic monks and lawful barbarians" and more to give GMs much better guidelines for how to handle instances in which characters are, in your opinion, "acting contrary to their alignment."

Personally I have always gone with something like "Given your character's alignment, that action might seem dubious, so how does your character internally justify doing that." If the player gives any sort of answer that shows they have thought about it, you say "ok" and you let it go.

So the penalty for "violating your alignment" is that you have to tell the GM why your character thought doing whatever was okay. If morality is indeed subjective, let's make that work for us!


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, I sorta feel like I really appreciate alignment restrictions

I can appreciate that - outside of tradition or 'non-game fiction' - can you explain how those restrictions (not alignment in and of itself) made the game better.

Mind here we aren't talking about the Paladin 'oath' (that's got enough attention) I'm talking about pure alignment based restrictions. I am curious (honestly) how you think they improve the game.

For the sake of argument - I'd even go so far as to say 'ignore the Paladin and pretend that alone didn't change' - now can you convince me how alignment restrictions help the game better?

*edit* - sentence structure is beyond me


Ckorik wrote:
I can appreciate that - outside of tradition or 'non-game fiction' - can you explain how those restrictions (not alignment in and of itself) made the game better.

Sure- Basically the idea is to get a player to think of their character as a person and to make decisions about what outcomes are to be pursued and which are to be avoided based on the character's perspective rather than the player's. A player will naturally gravitate towards the loot, away from the danger, and towards the plot but if the character has an internal conflict that can complicate these sorts of things and allow for some good roleplaying.

Specifically about requirements that a character of a given type must be good it often means that a player will not choose the most expedient means to an end simply because they understand that they must do better than that. So I get a lot of situations in which the party plans an elaborate heist in lieu of just barging in and killing everybody. After all, there are external costs to "barging in and kiling everybody" so why shouldn't there be internal costs as well? If you're going to murder all the docents on the way to stealing the painting the treasure map is on the back of, shouldn't you at least feel bad about that if it wasn't necessary at all?


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dragonhunterq wrote:
Why does the existence of aligned planes make alignment objective?

You can argue all you like about the morality of doing X, but the people who do X end up in heaven or hell.

In the real world you can have competing moral theories, in Pathfinder if two people disagree about what is good one of them is definitely wrong. They *have* to be, because that's how the rules work.

Suppose two philosophers argue about what makes an act good. They develop rich, complex, internally consistent theories to support their view of the good. They have whole cultural contexts full of people who buy into those theories and organize societies around them. In real life, that's as far as you get.

In Pathfinder those societies come into conflict and someone tries to Smite Evil. If a Utilitarian Paladin smites a Deontological Paladin one of them needs to take extra damage. The GM has to decide who's right, they can't "both make good points", they can't both be "right within their own contexts", one of them is getting +3 damage and the other one is getting a negative level for touching a magical knickknack or discovering he can't rage anymore because he has started believing in jury trials.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:


Specifically about requirements that a character of a given type must be good it often means that a player will not choose the most expedient means to an end simply because they understand that they must do better than that. So I get a lot of situations in which the party plans an elaborate heist in lieu of just barging in and killing everybody. After all, there are external costs to "barging in and kiling everybody" so why shouldn't there be internal costs as well? If you're going to murder all the docents on the way to stealing the painting the treasure map is on the back of, shouldn't you at least feel bad about that if it wasn't necessary at all?

Ok sure ... however using your example:

Party A is a Ranger, a Rogue, an Oracle, and a Fighter. They kill everything on the way to stealing the painting. This party is legal and has no penalty for this act regardless of alignment (RAW). They can also sneak in and steal it, or find a way to get it through the law, or any number of options - none of which are a problem.

Party B is a LN Monk, a CN cleric of Desna, a Barbarian, and a CG inquisitor of Sarenrae. If this party busts down the door - it's chaotic - the monk is against this. If they try to steal the item, ditto. Using the law... that's against the cleric, and inquisitor, and barbarian. If these characters are on the cusp of (whatever *whim* the GM wants because it's not codified) changing alignments every one of them could loose powers. Because they adventure together. For no other reason than mechanics are forcing the players to step on each other toes.

So sure - 'shouldn't you at least feel bad' is valid - but that's a story issue not a mechanics issue. Why does Party A get away with any option and Party B is forced to evaluate the consequences of every single action so they don't actually create a situation that puts themselves *or another player* into peril of loosing class abilities.

I don't see how alignment forces Party A to consider their actions at all - which means there must be some 'other' way to encourage good play to groups like this. That does seem to be how all the other games that exist (without alignment) get along as well.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Ckorik wrote:
Party B is a LN Monk, a CN cleric of Desna, a Barbarian, and a CG inquisitor of Sarenrae. If this party busts down the door - it's chaotic - the monk is against this. If they try to steal the item, ditto. Using the law... that's against the cleric, and inquisitor, and barbarian. If these characters are on the cusp of (whatever *whim* the GM wants because it's not codified) changing alignments every one of them could loose powers. Because they adventure together. For no other reason than mechanics are forcing the players to step on each other toes.

... wat.


Ring_of_Gyges wrote:
dragonhunterq wrote:
Why does the existence of aligned planes make alignment objective?
You can argue all you like about the morality of doing X, but the people who do X end up in heaven or hell.

Yah, but that doesn't mean player characters have to agree with that. Abide by it, yes, but it feels to me like much of this argument comes from conflating "this fictitious multiverse has objective standards of Good and Evil" with "those standards have to be fair or sympathetic", which is not an assumption I see as necessary.


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Is "morality is subjective" an objective fact?


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Ckorik wrote:


Party B is a LN Monk, a CN cleric of Desna, a Barbarian, and a CG inquisitor of Sarenrae. If this party busts down the door - it's chaotic - the monk is against this. If they try to steal the item, ditto. Using the law... that's against the cleric, and inquisitor, and barbarian. If these characters are on the cusp of (whatever *whim* the GM wants because it's not codified) changing alignments every one of them could loose powers.

Decisions by GM whim is only a problem if you don't trust your GM. Any number of these alignment-related "problems" seem to boil down to "talk things out in session 0 so you are clear you are on the same page and don't play with jerks."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Ckorik wrote:


Party B is a LN Monk, a CN cleric of Desna, a Barbarian, and a CG inquisitor of Sarenrae. If this party busts down the door - it's chaotic - the monk is against this. If they try to steal the item, ditto. Using the law... that's against the cleric, and inquisitor, and barbarian. If these characters are on the cusp of (whatever *whim* the GM wants because it's not codified) changing alignments every one of them could loose powers.
Decisions by GM whim is only a problem if you don't trust your GM. Any number of these alignment-related "problems" seem to boil down to "talk things out in session 0 so you are clear you are on the same page and don't play with jerks."

That would be fine if alignment was an optional system - not so much when it's RAW.


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I disagree - first your example isn't "specific" enough to declare that any alignment RAW will come into play (since when is kicking open a door specifically a "chaotic" ACT? Seems like something that needs to be discussed with the GM for clarification).

And why, in this adventure, is the party "stealing" a picture in the first place? Obviously, if the scenario has moved to this encounter/situation - some reasonable explanation for "why" the party is doing it at all(maybe the painting is itself in the hands of a thief, or rapscallion who should not have it at all and the "Lawful" aligned party members are righting some historic wrong?) should exist.

The Nerve-eater has it dead to rights, the situation would call for a conversation between all the players about what is going on, and why, and if any alignment related issues are brought up they could be resolved without affecting the flow of the game, heck they may even add to the plot.

No one should get upset about alignment rules. I mean, if you are getting upset over any of the rules, you might be doing it wrong to begin with. Right?


Advanced details of moral philosophy are complex, yes. "Is it evil to torture, steal, and murder innocents when convenient" shouldn't be complex, and personally I don't feel like playing with people who consider these up for debate. And that's the vast majority of when it seems to come up.

EDIT: If people want to play without the alignment system, that's fine. Not saying playing without it is badwrongfun. I just don't agree on morality being way too complicated to represent in a game.


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OP's not wrong, per JJ's own quote. If someone has issues with alignment. The 'right solution' is to stop using alignment. Trying to tell them that they're wrong or argue to the contrary is not 'responsible and mature' as 'the only person who gets to decide if something is insulting is the person being insulted by it.'

And well, the OP alone qualifies as at least one person insulted by Pathfinder's alignment system.

That's as much an argument for JJ's position being absurd and draconian than one in favor of the OP, but JJ's the creative lead for this game.


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swoosh wrote:

OP's not wrong, per JJ's own quote. If someone has issues with alignment. The 'right solution' is to stop using alignment. Trying to tell them that they're wrong or argue to the contrary is not 'responsible and mature' as 'the only person who gets to decide if something is insulting is the person being insulted by it.'

And well, the OP alone qualifies as at least one person insulted by Pathfinder's alignment system.

That's as much an argument for JJ's position being absurd and draconian than one in favor of the OP, but JJ's the creative lead for this game.

People can also feel insulted for the opposite reason of why another person feels insulted so the OP is still wrong. At best both perceived insults cancel every time someone feels insulted.

Person1: I feel insulted that we have to have this alignment system

Person2: I feel insulted that you think my style of play which includes the alignment system isn't valid.

Every playstyle or preference that can come up in the game can use this argument to get rid of something.

Possible complaints:
Casters cause problems---->You trying to reign in my magic causes problems
Paladins being tied to LG cause problems---->You trying to remove the LG aspect and code causes problems
Being too weak to contribute is a problem---->Insisting that someone's character is too weak can be a problem.

The list of "insults" is never ending, which means the list of things to remove from the game is also never ending.

Basically my point is this there are a lot of things that people don't like that others do. "Someone doesn't like it" by itself is not a logical reason for "remove it from the game", not if you still want to have a game.


Terquem wrote:
And why, in this adventure, is the party "stealing" a picture in the first place? Obviously, if the scenario has moved to this encounter/situation - some reasonable explanation for "why" the party is doing it at all(maybe the painting is itself in the hands of a thief, or rapscallion who should not have it at all and the "Lawful" aligned party members are righting some historic wrong?) should exist.

I feel like the purpose of a "you need to get the thing in the museum" as an obstacle for the party to overcome is that there are a tremendous number of approaches, and "deciding which approach is best" can be an opportunity for some quality character interaction.

Since if people have ethical qualms about "murder everybody" or "just steal it" this encourages players to express their ethical qualms, and to suggest alternative solutions. In other words, it gets people thinking.

If there's a Paladin in the party so "robbing the museum is out" one can still pull such schemes as:
- Just telling the curator you need access to the painting and seeing what would be required as a quid pro quo.
- Convincing the curator that the painting is in need of reframing or restoration, and getting access to the painting through the workshop where that is done (or convincing the curator that one of the PCs is qualified to do this- a medium channeling the trickster is super helpful here.)
- Convincing a wealthy noble that this painting would be a perfect piece to display in their collection, and seeing if they can at least display it for a time in exchange for a donation to the museum.
- Reappropriating the painting from someone who stole it first and examining it before they return it to its rightful owners
- Creating an excellent forgery and swapping the two for a couple of days (this one might take some intraparty negotiation).

And for forth. One of the most rewarding things in these games I find is giving the players problems with a bunch of different solutions and have them discuss among themselves and in character which courses of action are best and to brainstorm new ones.

Liberty's Edge

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Rysky wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
Party B is a LN Monk, a CN cleric of Desna, a Barbarian, and a CG inquisitor of Sarenrae. If this party busts down the door - it's chaotic - the monk is against this. If they try to steal the item, ditto. Using the law... that's against the cleric, and inquisitor, and barbarian. If these characters are on the cusp of (whatever *whim* the GM wants because it's not codified) changing alignments every one of them could loose powers. Because they adventure together. For no other reason than mechanics are forcing the players to step on each other toes.
... wat.

One might've thought the killing everyone in the museum part might be the more jarring issue for the good aligned players. Or the neutral ones, or the LE and NE ones...

Mind, I'm not sure I follow any of that example.


5E D&D really should have just dropped it an replaced it with the color pie. From a marketing prospective this makes sense: They gave away alignment and all the merch it entails in the OGL, but the color pie is theirs and theirs alone.

PF2 doesn't really have that option of course.


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Ckorik wrote:

Quote here

James Jacobs wrote:

I often see this type of sentiment on the internet, and it frustrates the hell out of me.

The ONLY person who gets to decide if something is insulting is the person being insulted by it. If someone says something that ends up offending someone else, the responsible and mature solution is not to justify their insulting/offensive actions by trying to describe how they don't see it's insulting. That just digs their hole deeper and makes them condiscending as well as insulting to the person who's offended.

The right solution is to either nod your head and stop using that sort of offensive behavior (preferably altogether, but certainly when speaking to the person you, perhaps inadvertently, offended).

This is why alignment needs to go. Any other part of the game that causes as much hurt at the table as alignment is gone over with a fine tooth comb or given BIG WARNINGS ABOUT CONSENT (such as in the horror rules book).

Morality is SUBJECTIVE and as such has no place being used as a game mechanic. The rules of pathfinder are crunchy - morality rules are squicky, moist, and libel to smell like last week's cheese.

When the creative director (and company honestly) understand why trying to explain away why something is insulting/offensive is in fact just digging in deeper - after so many years of anguish about alignment and codes and evil spells and how it ruin's peoples games why is this still a core mechanic?

New edition - time for alignment to go - at least for player characters who should have sole authority over a subjective category that two reasonable college professors who spent lives studying ethics and morality could argue all day over.

Exactly this! Thank you, someone gets it!

I read that section of Horror Adventures that you’re talking about, and I could not believe that that was coming from the same game designers that kept alignment restrictions in the game. Or the section in Ultimate Campaign that talks about how a forced alignment change shouldn’t become a permanent situation (and would be a punishment if it was) because, after all, had the player wanted his character concept to include that new alignment, he’d have made his character that way from the getgo. Okay, I do not buy that a straight-up ki-using Monk has any special connection to the lawful alignment, yet I would have to play as “not the alignment I wanted my character to have in the first place” for that character’s entire career in order to avoid having to multiclass into something that equally has nothing to do with the character concept. According to Ultimate Campaign, that is a punishment and a Bad Thing That Should Be Avoided.


Ckorik wrote:


Tradition says:

  • The druid is a sub-class of clerics. They are the only absolute neutrals
  • A cavalier character must initially be of good alignment
  • Rangers are always good, but they can be lawful. neutral. or chaotic
  • A bard can be lawful, neutral, or chaotic, good or evil, but must always be partially neutral
  • Halflings will only advance up to 8th level
  • Fighters may advance as high as 36th level.

I could go on - the truth is all of the above was removed in order to make a better game. In every case the removal of alignment from a class that was restricted made it a better class.

1) The druid still must be neutral in at least one aspect. I still think they should be true neutral, and that change heavily lessened an important aspect of the class.

2) The cavalier from Unearthed Arcana was a very weird class, for many reasons. He still made through pathfinder, a great thing.
3) Bards changed in every edition they appeared. In 1e, they were a kind of druid (hence the alignment restriction). However, with 2e, he has become a jack-of-all-trades. There is no need for this new bard to have that alignment restriction.
3) Ranger? Fluff-wise, Rangers were waaaaaaay better when they actually served a purpose and had a plausible explanation for their class powers. Now we have got a wilderness man with unexplained spells. This ranger drew a lot from video-game rangers. However it should be noticed that the old-school Ranger is Very different from video-game/PF/D&D3.0+ ranger. I think the first one is much better.
4) The last two are purely mechanical stuff. That sort of stuff is expected to change, be it tradition or not.

Also, this post uses the false premise that all traditions are equal. No, they are Not, for Good Reason.


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It's really kind of jarring to me how people can read that section of Horror Adventures about consent and jump right to the conclusion that "the most upsetting thing that can happen to me in a game is being told 'no' or that the thing I did was not acceptable." Like that is what upsets you?

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