A Suggestion for an Advanced Gamemaster's Guide- Dump Alignment


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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm assuming that at this point, the APG is pretty much set in it's final form so I'm putting this as a suggestion for the logical product next in line which would presumably be called the Advanced GameMaster's Guide.

One of the most controversial aspects of the game ever since the old staple bound days is the alignment system. For a long time it's been a formative straitjacket on the game, it was cribbed amusingly for the old supers rpg, Villains and Vigilantes, given a Moorcockian feel in Warhammer, and pretty much abandoned altogether for the later generation games that came afterward, particularly White Wolf and the cyperpunk genre games put out by other companies.

While role playing games have advance from the traditional dungeon crawl and have incorporated more complex styles of storytelling, this system hangs like an old canard. It's become more of a mechanic to be gamed then an actual framework for good roleplay.

I feel that one of the missions of an advanced guide is to give options for an advanced level of play. And one route to advanced roleplay is to start throwing away the crutches.

The biggest crutch to roleplay remains the old alignment system. I'd like Paizo to consider in a future publication a guide towards an optional set of rules changes that can ease in getting rid of the alignment crutch.

Or as Monte Cook put it in Arcana Evolved... Let's change this from a game of nine alignments to a game of nine million.... one for every person in the world.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Well, I know I've already done it in my games. I just treat anyone without an alignment subtype or aura as Neutral for the purpose of spells and other effects. So the only ones affected by Smite Evil are evil outsiders and clerics. I suppose there should be a mention of how Holy/Unholy and other alignment targeting things are less powerful this way, but I don't see it as a big deal.

Sovereign Court

Just put neutral on your character sheet and be done with it.

As I see it, all iterations of the D&D game have been about good vs evil, heroes triumphing over the denizens of darkness, etc. Remove alignment and you end up with something else. There are lots of other systems without alignment, as you have mentioned, I would suggest giving those a try if you want a more ambiguous game.


Actually, I agree. It makes sense to offer it as a variant rule. I believe that 3.5 did at one point. Where's the harm?


Never once had a problem with it in my ten or more years of gaming. Once you understand that actions dictate alignment and not the other way around, the idea that alignment impedes roleplaying is right out the window.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nebelwerfer41 wrote:

Just put neutral on your character sheet and be done with it.

As I see it, all iterations of the D&D game have been about good vs evil, heroes triumphing over the denizens of darkness, etc. Remove alignment and you end up with something else. There are lots of other systems without alignment, as you have mentioned, I would suggest giving those a try if you want a more ambiguous game.

There's more to the game than just that. Entire classes, spells, and mechanics are based on the alignment system. Questions like what to do about Paladins, Assasins, and Druids would need to be addressed for a full treatment. that would be the purpose of this section in an advanced guide.


What we did was edit the alignment system. In some cases it is useful in others it causes realism problems. For example a cleric having to be close to his god, good. While a monk having to be lawful, not so good. Alignment based spells are also cool.

We eliminated most alignment restrictions on classes, only leaving restrictions on clerics and paladins. We changed paladins to be more like clerics, one step within their god. Druids were left up to the current DM, their were differing opinions on druids. Other than that the player can pick his starting alignment and it is changed by his actions. For almost all characters, minus the few that have to stay close to their god (Well they don't have to but if they get to disconnected from them the deity stops granting them powers), the character takes actions and the alignment reflects that, it does not force the character to follow the alignment. It is another interesting part of the game that I see no reason to do away with, but some modifications I think are necessary. There is no reason why a monk can be disciplined in training and chaotic in the rest of his life. There is no reason why a barbarian can not act civil until he gets pissed off and goes all ragey in combat.


Respectfully disagree.

Rules like Vancian casting and alignment are an old tradition, but also they are as good as you make them.

What you call a "straightjacket" , I call "the only true role-playing rule in the game". Alignment offers guidance for players (and more importantly GMs) to step out of their skin and decide on actions they would not take in real life.

Many people have had negative experiences with alignment, it is true. That is more a fault of the GM in my belief. A good GM will be flexible on alignment where it is of no consequence, but judicious and fair when ruling on paladins and the like.

I certainly support a brief nod and some guidelines for playing sans-alignment, but if you are really looking for a truly "modern" rpg in this regard, I have to suggest that perhaps the tradition-steeped PRPG isn't the best fit for you. When I look to play a game where alignment would be better ignored, that's often my first cue to choose a a different system for the campaign. High adventure, good vs. evil, tomes of obscure spells... Those are the kinds of game that lend themselves to PRPG play.

Thanks for listening!

Liberty's Edge

I'm in favor of this as well.

Myself I've already switched our game group to an Allegiance system (from d20 Modern Allegiances) as opposed to alignments to better reperesent the struggle of ideals in the world as opposed to black and white good/evil or chaos/law.

All alignment-specific requirements replace alignment with an allegiance instead. Nothing else really changes. Characters that do not take an alignment (a simplified version using only 5 of the core alignments) as one of their allegiances are considered neutral. Allegiances serve as a means to prioritize a character's top three goals/loyalties and provide for some very interesting story oportunities for GM and players especially when any of the top 3 priorities come into conflict with one another during game play. Allegiances also change during game play through dramatic choices and actions.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Evil Lincoln wrote:

Respectfully disagree.

Rules like Vancian casting and alignment are an old tradition, but also they are as good as you make them.

What you call a "straightjacket" , I call "the only true role-playing rule in the game". Alignment offers guidance for players (and more importantly GMs) to step out of their skin and decide on actions they would not take in real life.

Many people have had negative experiences with alignment, it is true. That is more a fault of the GM in my belief. A good GM will be flexible on alignment where it is of no consequence, but judicious and fair when ruling on paladins and the like.

I certainly support a brief nod and some guidelines for playing sans-alignment, but if you are really looking for a truly "modern" rpg in this regard, I have to suggest that perhaps the tradition-steeped PRPG isn't the best fit for you. When I look to play a game where alignment would be better ignored, that's often my first cue to choose a a different system for the campaign. High adventure, good vs. evil, tomes of obscure spells... Those are the kinds of game that lend themselves to PRPG play.

Thanks for listening!

I'd probably say that you were right... save that Monte Cook actually manged to pull this off in Arcana Evolved. Part of what he did was the replacing of Paladins with Champions and essentially dispensing with the whole arcane/divine distinctions with magic. Essentially anyone who's a spell caster can heal or hurt. I'm not saying that this should be the means for Pathfinder, only to demonstrate that the end can be accomplished.

Grand Lodge

Liquidsabre wrote:

I'm in favor of this as well.

Myself I've already switched our game group to an Allegiance system (from d20 Modern Allegiances) as opposed to alignments to better reperesent the struggle of ideals in the world as opposed to black and white good/evil or chaos/law.

All alignment-specific requirements replace alignment with an allegiance instead. Nothing else really changes. Characters that do not take an alignment (a simplified version using only 5 of the core alignments) as one of their allegiances are considered neutral. Allegiances serve as a means to prioritize a character's top three goals/loyalties and provide for some very interesting story oportunities for GM and players especially when any of the top 3 priorities come into conflict with one another during game play. Allegiances also change during game play through dramatic choices and actions.

I'd like to see a write up of this treatment as an optional set of rules. I like to think that allegiance is like alignment+.

Given that the rules of a lot of spells and magical effects affect this, something of a guide would be nice.

But once again, I'd like this to be optional.


I see no point in alignments. And something that has no point is just a waste of space on my character sheet. I know the personality of my character, I worked on it and it´s far more complex than "chaotic good". I derivate the alignment from the personality I wrote before - anyone who reads it should be able to derivate the same alignment so it is redundant information.
I see every rule using alignments as a rule I would abide without knowing it, some examples:
Smite evil: This is a holy attack so it works on everything unholy.
Restrainment from using spells of opposed alignment: My cleric is good by character. Why the heck should he use a spell that is evil? He devoted his life to good - being good is what his life is about. He would not use such a spell because he has a conscience, not because rules "forbid it" (and exactly this is the reason behind this rules)
Good roleplaying doesn´t need rules like that. If you have a powergamer in your party, don´t forget, a DM is the highest instance in play. What the DM says, goes. And if the pg says: "But the rules don´t say anything against it!" You reply: "You´re right. Silly me. Use it. Oh, did I mention that large undead cyborg demon-dragon with radioactive fangs that flies toward your character?"

LazarX wrote:


There's more to the game than just that. Entire classes, spells, and mechanics are based on the alignment system. Questions like what to do about Paladins, Assasins, and Druids would need to be addressed for a full treatment. that would be the purpose of this section in an advanced guide.

Hm? You just do nothing, only putting away the alignment.

Paladins have to be good, yes. They have a codex. But why does this has to be reflected by an alignment?
Assassins are the same - an assassin has to kill someone for no other purpose than to become assassin. So they are evil. No necessarity for an alignment.
Druids have to be played as druids - there´s nothing more to that. If you play your druid in a way that would be "lawfull good" and everyone is happy with that, do it.


I have to admit, I've come to the conclusion that alignment is something of an anachronism in the game. If you ask 10 different people what "chaotic good" means, you can get 10 different answers. Looking through the old threads you see that people don't agree on what it means to be any given alignment.

I also had an epiphany not long ago. I was reading through the Core Rulebook, trying to learn what all the new changes were. I read through races, then classes, and so on. It struck me when I got to alignment. Unlike your race, your class, your skills, and your feats, your alignment doesn't have a numerical effect. Admittedly, neither does a lot of equipment. But your alignment can dictate what class(es) you take and what spells you can cast-your ability to function at all. Equipment, sometimes yes, sometimes no. I concluded that a system that tracks alignment and sets out distinct rules for that tracking could be useful. Otherwise, ditch it. It causes plenty of arguments that can be answered in a bevy of ways.

So yes, an optional "no alignment" system is something I'd like to see;)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

We can't just dump alignment. Not only do we at Paizo actually like the alignment system... but it's built into the game in the form of spells, magic item abilities, character classes, monster subtypes, monster abilities. and more. Excising alignment completely from the game would be a HUGE undertaking and it's not something we're interested in doing. Especially since, like it or not, the alignment system is one of the most iconic and publicly recognizable elements of the game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I still maintain my 'everyone is Neutral' rule as the best way to remove alignment.


James Jacobs wrote:
We can't just dump alignment. Not only do we at Paizo actually like the alignment system... but it's built into the game in the form of spells, magic item abilities, character classes, monster subtypes, monster abilities. and more. Excising alignment completely from the game would be a HUGE undertaking and it's not something we're interested in doing. Especially since, like it or not, the alignment system is one of the most iconic and publicly recognizable elements of the game.

Yes but.....no one is saying "Paizo, please excise alignment from the game immediately....WHATEVER THE COST!...thank you".

What people are saying is "please think about guidelines for an optional treatment of a no alignment system".

Your comment gives me the impression that an "Advanced Gamemaster's Guide" would not contain optional rules but an expansion of core. Is that what we can expect from the GameMastery Guide in May?


An absolute alignment system is appealing to many, but I am more of a moral relativist myself. I would like to see some guidelines to remove alignment.

For example, I don't particularly enjoy the paladin archetype, which is probably the single biggest reason to keep the alignment system. most of the paladins I have seen are basically bullies. ironically, the alignment system in that case is used as a shield to defend brutal behavior (i.e. it is morally defensible to coup de gras because they are Evil(TM)). Good (as interpreted by the paladin) ends up being something to be "or else", both for other party members, NPCs and the paladin themselves. very restrictive. Sheesh, and people often counsel players not to make evil characters because they aren't team players... I know that it is possible to play an interesting paladin (and I have seen it), but for many especially inexperienced players, that kind of instant moral authority tends to be pretty obnoxious. I far prefer the idea of champions/zealots who believe in a variety of causes *that the PC articulates*. either that, or make alignment restricted classes NPC-only.

mechanically, alignment based spells and effects might just work like bless/bane. So it is about friend and foe (a relativistic mechanic), rather than good/evil/lawful/chaotic (an absolutist mechanic). similarly, holy or unholy artifacts would be keyed to different organizations or causes (other than evil, etc). It may be overpowered to have protection vs foes (instead of evil), but really, most foes tend to be evil, and how many optimizers take holy spells/enchantments for that very reason?
but, I will concede that there will be cases where this causes problems. All the more reason to get some official guidance!

in defense of the alignment system, I understand that moral ambiguity is difficult for many people. The idea of going on a killing spree against people basically like the PCs just part of the wrong organization or whatever is disturbing. OTOH, clearly, feeling virtuous is also fun for many, and makes a good introduction to the game for new players. So it is fine that this is the default, but getting some official opinions on how to avoid mechanical problems if one opts to avoid alignment would be welcome.


Guidelines on removing alignment would be appreciated from me as well.

In my experience, the only thing iconic about D&D's alignment system is how silly it is, and the many arguments and bullying that come from it. DMs bullying paladins, paladins bullying the rest of their party, hundred page arguments with flaming and bile and hatred over what this or that alignment means and how and when and whether a DM should step in to forcibly change a PC's alignment...

Yeah. The only things iconic about alignment are negative.

Shadow Lodge

Nebelwerfer41 wrote:
As I see it, all iterations of the D&D game have been about good vs evil, heroes triumphing over the denizens of darkness, etc. Remove alignment and you end up with something else.

Not at all. You just remove the label. Real people don't have alignments...would you say that no good or evil people have existed in history?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Remember how we used to have Basic D&D (and later Expert, Master, et al) as a completely separate animal from Advanced D&D, which was what all the cool kids were playing? Maybe we could have the same set up for Pathfinder. The system as it stands today would be Pathfinder Basic, while Pathfinder Advanced could incorporate such things as:

> Removal of the alignment system
> Replace the (imo) clunky Vancian magic system with one based on either spell points or something else entirely (think WFRP)
> Modifying the rules for high level (13+) play so that 40% of the game's core (1-20) level range doesn't sit fallow and (relatively) untouched by designers, players and DMs
> Rules for epic level play that didn't make one weep tears of blood
> More specific (re: graphic) critical hit tables a la Rolemaster

Lol I'm depressing myself as I write this because its making me realize that the game I really want to play maybe isn't DnD (Pathfinder) right now and I'm just going through the motions with d20 based systems. Yeesh I'm gonna have another cup o' joe and try to get oughtta this funk!

The Exchange

Dr. Johnny Fever wrote:

Remember how we used to have Basic D&D (and later Expert, Master, et al) as a completely separate animal from Advanced D&D, which was what all the cool kids were playing? Maybe we could have the same set up for Pathfinder. The system as it stands today would be Pathfinder Basic, while Pathfinder Advanced could incorporate such things as:

> Removal of the alignment system
> Replace the (imo) clunky Vancian magic system with one based on either spell points or something else entirely (think WFRP)
> Modifying the rules for high level (13+) play so that 40% of the game's core (1-20) level range doesn't sit fallow and (relatively) untouched by designers, players and DMs
> Rules for epic level play that didn't make one weep tears of blood
> More specific (re: graphic) critical hit tables a la Rolemaster

You should check out Microlite d20. It does the first two you mention and is also (somewhat) compatible with d20 books and supplements.

Shadow Lodge

d20pfsrd.com wrote:
Dr. Johnny Fever wrote:
Remember how we used to have Basic D&D (and later Expert, Master, et al) as a completely separate animal from Advanced D&D, which was what all the cool kids were playing? Maybe we could have the same set up for Pathfinder.

I'd really just rather have a book of optional rules, and advice on how best to implement them, much like Trailblazer supposedly does (I picked it up, but haven't gone through it all that well yet).


Dr. Johnny Fever wrote:

Remember how we used to have Basic D&D (and later Expert, Master, et al) as a completely separate animal from Advanced D&D, which was what all the cool kids were playing? Maybe we could have the same set up for Pathfinder. The system as it stands today would be Pathfinder Basic, while Pathfinder Advanced could incorporate such things as:

> Removal of the alignment system
> Replace the (imo) clunky Vancian magic system with one based on either spell points or something else entirely (think WFRP)
> Modifying the rules for high level (13+) play so that 40% of the game's core (1-20) level range doesn't sit fallow and (relatively) untouched by designers, players and DMs
> Rules for epic level play that didn't make one weep tears of blood
> More specific (re: graphic) critical hit tables a la Rolemaster

Lol I'm depressing myself as I write this because its making me realize that the game I really want to play maybe isn't DnD (Pathfinder) right now and I'm just going through the motions with d20 based systems. Yeesh I'm gonna have another cup o' joe and try to get oughtta this funk!

NO! Don't give in to despair Dr. The advantages of the slick mechanics of d20 can work with the modifications you want.....but you probably have to beg, borrow, and steal them.....or do them yourself.

Check out the e20 project at http://e20system.gmsarligames.com/index.html#Process (apologies, I seem to be an e-tard who cannot link)

It won't do everything you want, but we have a chance to influence the outcome. There is broad support in the project for differing levels of Heroicism (i.e. grit), perhaps what you (and I) are looking for will be possible in e20 System Evolved.

Cheers


While I agree, at times some charachters are hard to pidgeon hole, my gaming group and I have never had a problem with determining alignments. As was said before, actions determine your alignment, not the other way around, and depending on how your charachter acts *wait for it* your alignment can be changed! I find the alignments a useful and quite simple game mechanic, and I also find that they don't restrict the motives or actions or personalities of any of my NPCs, which as a DM of a weekly gaming group for years, is a lot of NPCs.

Also, whether you use the 9 alignement system or not, from all the comments I have seen, something in your gaming group, or system, or world, is determining right/wrong and good/evil, no matter how ambiguous that may be at times. The 9 alignment system provides guidelines for how that looks in the worlds that use it, and so in PRPG you know how this world typically interprets it, which is a good thing for the charachters to know. Basically, don't get bogged down by it, use it to enhance your play by remembering it is background info, not somehting your charachter is bound to, and can change if your charachter changes.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

Evil Lincoln wrote:

Respectfully disagree.

Rules like Vancian casting and alignment are an old tradition, but also they are as good as you make them.

What you call a "straightjacket" , I call "the only true role-playing rule in the game". Alignment offers guidance for players (and more importantly GMs) to step out of their skin and decide on actions they would not take in real life.

E.L. has made a very good fundamental point here. I've had some players that are not strong role-players. Without alignment designations, they would be lost; becoming little more than lame alter-egos of themselves with no real motivations or characteristics besides "kill the monsters and take their stuff".

Dark Archive

I'd love to see it happen; but sadly as the creative guy said it's not really possible. Too many spells and class abilities hinge on alignment. Best you can do is let players have flexibility in their actions as long as they are "generally" towards the alignment. The evils are kinda handy for telling you the monster's approach to strategies, but it should not lock down PCs.

PCs, naturally, are better off putting "Neutral" on their sheets anyway. VERY few restrictions, save intelligent weapons, compared to good. And most characters make morally ambiguous decisions, even if they spend most of their life a good guy.

But some people honestly feel better if they have the word "good" on their character sheet, so why take that away? It embodies the fight of "good vs evil".

Grand Lodge

Well in my opinion, if the move was from alignment to allegence most of the rules could still be kept, but in a modified state.

That is not to say that I don't like alignment, because I do, but a few more options would be nice.

All in all though, I'd rather keep alignment rather than do away with it entirely.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Can'tFindthePath wrote:
Your comment gives me the impression that an "Advanced Gamemaster's Guide" would not contain optional rules but an expansion of core. Is that what we can expect from the GameMastery Guide in May?

A book that presents drasticaly different optional rules, similiar to what WotC did with the 3rd edition version of Unearthed Arcana, would be an interesting book. It's NOT something we're currently working on or have planned. Both the Advanced Player's Guide and the Gamemastery Guide are focused on providing support for the game itself.

Variant rules like a no-alignment system will need to wait for later.

And again... the alignment system is a part of the game that we at Paizo actually really really like. I know it's a popular topic to fuel internet arguments, but it really IS a handy way to summarize any person, place, or thing in the game with two letters.


James Jacobs wrote:

A book that presents drasticaly different optional rules, similiar to what WotC did with the 3rd edition version of Unearthed Arcana, would be an interesting book. It's NOT something we're currently working on or have planned. Both the Advanced Player's Guide and the Gamemastery Guide are focused on providing support for the game itself.

Variant rules like a no-alignment system will need to wait for later.

And again... the alignment system is a part of the game that we at Paizo actually really really like. I know it's a popular topic to fuel internet arguments, but it really IS a handy way to summarize any person, place, or thing in the game with two letters.

+1

The alignment rules aren't bad, in my opinion. Often it's the interpretation of them that becomes an issue. Or being too literal so that the characters are rigid.


James Jacobs wrote:
Can'tFindthePath wrote:
Your comment gives me the impression that an "Advanced Gamemaster's Guide" would not contain optional rules but an expansion of core. Is that what we can expect from the GameMastery Guide in May?

A book that presents drasticaly different optional rules, similiar to what WotC did with the 3rd edition version of Unearthed Arcana, would be an interesting book. It's NOT something we're currently working on or have planned. Both the Advanced Player's Guide and the Gamemastery Guide are focused on providing support for the game itself.

Variant rules like a no-alignment system will need to wait for later.

And again... the alignment system is a part of the game that we at Paizo actually really really like. I know it's a popular topic to fuel internet arguments, but it really IS a handy way to summarize any person, place, or thing in the game with two letters.

Oh, I generally agree. I was just being a communication facilitator.

My group tried it without alignment, and then when PFRPG came out, we immediately got excited again by alignment focused effects and abilities. SO, we switched back.

However, I still want to modify the alignment rules into "tiers". So as to quantify the difference between the mean-spirited skimming merchant, and the seething, acid-drooling Pit Fiend. Or more importantly, the aforementioned merchant and a serial killer.

I envision three tiers, for example:

-Ordinary Evil = the mean-spirited merchant
-Extraordinary Evil = the murderer
-Supernatural Evil = the Pit Fiend

on the other hand....

-Ordinary Good = Just a good 'ol boys, never meanin no harm...(sry)
-Extraordinary Good = a paladin, or the Aura of a cleric of Pelor
-Supernatural Good = a Deva or other manifestation of Good

Cheers


James Jacobs wrote:
A book that presents drasticaly different optional rules, similiar to what WotC did with the 3rd edition version of Unearthed Arcana, would be an interesting book.

funny how UA (the 3E one) seems to really divide people. I loved it, but it seems like I hear lots of complaints of how it broke the game, opened the flood-gates, etc. but I would be happy to see something like this to fire up the imagination!


Sure, add an alternate for no alignment.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Then also add an alignment tracking system similar to S&S's alignment system, this allows a DM to push your alignment in the new direction by steps. Add neutral at 0

N0-N0 would be true neutral

Modify it so it's a 4 pt system
1 - barely aligned
2 - fully aligned
3 - powerfully aligned
4 - pure

So a demon would be Chaotic 3+, Evil 4
A Daemon N0-E4
Paladin L2+G2+

Modifications to the alignment could come in decimals. (round)

Spells work better or worse on the pure/powerfully and barely categories.

Default Alignment would be 2.


Watcher wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

A book that presents drasticaly different optional rules, similiar to what WotC did with the 3rd edition version of Unearthed Arcana, would be an interesting book. It's NOT something we're currently working on or have planned. Both the Advanced Player's Guide and the Gamemastery Guide are focused on providing support for the game itself.

Variant rules like a no-alignment system will need to wait for later.

And again... the alignment system is a part of the game that we at Paizo actually really really like. I know it's a popular topic to fuel internet arguments, but it really IS a handy way to summarize any person, place, or thing in the game with two letters.

+1

The alignment rules aren't bad, in my opinion. Often it's the interpretation of them that becomes an issue. Or being too literal so that the characters are rigid.

+2. Alignment is useful as a guideline. Remember, Alignment isn't a straightjacket.

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Alignment is a vital a part of the multiverse in my games, I have no interest in seeing pages in my books talking about how to not use it.


If no suggestions for optional rules to drop it, then at least some longer discussion of it would be helpful. People say that alignment isn't a straight jacket, but it is for classes that are required to be lawful, or chaotic, or whatever.

At one point the current rules say you should generally let the player play their alignment as they want, that you should talk to them before imposing a change, and that individual acts shouldn't change alignments on their own, but in another line you imply that even 'momentary lapses in personality' can cause an alignment shift, and that a 5th level spell could be required to fix it.

The alignments are nebulous enough that they mean something different to every person, and yet several classes rely on them or are required to abide by one or the other. Bitter arguments are inevitable, and have become the most memorable and defining feature of this particular iconic part of the game.


Can'tFindthePath wrote:
What people are saying is "please think about guidelines for an optional treatment of a no alignment system".

And what James is saying that you're ignoring is, "First, we don't want to. Second, we can't do that to any degree of satisfaction without devoting way too much text to the subject".

Alignment is too deeply ingrained in the game to be able to excise it with just a paragraph or two of text without causing a whole cascading avalanche of problems.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
We can't just dump alignment. Not only do we at Paizo actually like the alignment system... but it's built into the game in the form of spells, magic item abilities, character classes, monster subtypes, monster abilities. and more. Excising alignment completely from the game would be a HUGE undertaking and it's not something we're interested in doing. Especially since, like it or not, the alignment system is one of the most iconic and publicly recognizable elements of the game.

I wasn't asking for Paizo to dump alignment for core game play, I was just suggesting that an Advanced Guide include OPTIONS for advanced play, i.e. reworking the game without the alignment option would be one.

Another would be incorporating a set of mass combat rules.


Zurai wrote:
Can'tFindthePath wrote:
What people are saying is "please think about guidelines for an optional treatment of a no alignment system".

And what James is saying that you're ignoring is, "First, we don't want to. Second, we can't do that to any degree of satisfaction without devoting way too much text to the subject".

Alignment is too deeply ingrained in the game to be able to excise it with just a paragraph or two of text without causing a whole cascading avalanche of problems.

Thank you Zurai, for helping me figure out what I was thinking....if not for you, I couldn't put my shoes on....

As LazarX points out above, we were talking about OPTIONS in an OPTIONS book. Mr. Jacob's response didn't seem to address that, and made it sound as though this were an outcry for fundamental change to the Core rules. This has since been clarified and the discussion moved on...

Sovereign Court

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Can'tFindthePath wrote:
As LazarX points out above, we were talking about OPTIONS in an OPTIONS book. Mr. Jacob's response didn't seem to address that, and made it sound as though this were an outcry for fundamental change to the Core rules. This has since been clarified and the discussion moved on...

I don't beleive the APG is intended to be an "options" book, it is more of an "additions" book. At least that is how I understand it and that is what I am expecting when I purchase it.


Andrew Phillips wrote:
Can'tFindthePath wrote:
As LazarX points out above, we were talking about OPTIONS in an OPTIONS book. Mr. Jacob's response didn't seem to address that, and made it sound as though this were an outcry for fundamental change to the Core rules. This has since been clarified and the discussion moved on...
I don't beleive the APG is intended to be an "options" book, it is more of an "additions" book. At least that is how I understand it and that is what I am expecting when I purchase it.

Yes, that is what I meant when I said "since been clarified". And even more to the point, the GameMastery Guide which will be out in May is definitely NOT a book of "options".

But of course, by definition, the Core Rulebook is the only "non-optional" bit. Whatever they add in new books, they will never be the Core......until Pathfinder 2nd Edition!

Everyone take a deep breath, that is a LONG ways off.


Malisteen wrote:


The alignments are nebulous enough that they mean something different to every person, and yet several classes rely on them or are required to abide by one or the other. Bitter arguments are inevitable, and have become the most memorable and defining feature of this particular iconic part of the game.

I think the grey areas of alignment are a feature, not a bug. I have found that the most people can agree about most alignments most of the time. The only time I have seen arguments get bitter is when someone is looking for an argument rather than a discussion.


Excuse me for the act of threadomancy, but Alignment threads are a pet peeve of mine. Anyone here familiar with psychology?

Even if you're not, I'm sure you've heard of the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, because of the simple and easy understood nature of it.

A professionally administered, and truthfully answered, Myers-Briggs test will come up quite accurate. If it makes ten statements about an individual, nine of them will be correct, if not all ten.

While it has a rather diverse sixteen categories, as opposed to nine, the point here is that virtually all people, even the exceedingly rare types, can be described with analytical tools.

Now the test can't describe your entire personality. It can't spell out your life history. But it can say "You tend to be controlled more by your emotions than by your rationality" and be correct. It can describe inidividuals and their placement on an axis of introversion/extraversion, intuitiveness/sensory dependance, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving.

It creates a matrix more complex but really of no different nature than the alignment axis.

Alignment says, according to your patterns of behavior, you are located *here* on the dartboard of good/evil and orderly/impulsive behaviors. Like the aforementioned test, it gauges you on a matrix of the characteristics it was designed to measure.

Alignment says, overall, according to the definitions of good and evil, lawful and chaotic we have provided, your character tends to be lawful and does not have a decided history of good or evil behavior strong enough to commit to either end of the spectrum.

It doesn't measure how good of a mother you make, and never said it would, so the arguing fact that it can't describe your entire essence(or alternatively, does) and blaming it for doing so is building up a straw man just so you can have an easy opponent to knock down.

I have never seen a good reason why people should have so much trouble with this simple descriptive tool. It is incredibly handy for players (to remind them of who they would like to try and be) and GMs (where it provides a quick n' easy general disposition for creatures).

Sure, you could make a game of nine million alignments. It doesn't change the fact that you are still going to also all fit into sixteen, or nine, or any number provided by an analytical tool.


Ryan Machan wrote:
Alignment threads are a pet peeve of mine.

you are not alone! thanks for the interesting post.

It is interesting to compare the alignment system to personality measures. I think that you would find that the measures that you admire were born of many, many discussions and debates like those here on the boards (well, maybe a tad more polite and not anonymous) in scientific journals, labs and conferences. More importantly, those measures were tested extensively for reliability, validity, etc. and are administered by trained professionals.

so how do players get their alignments? they decide. maybe they give it thought, maybe they don't. maybe they have a character concept that says: LG, no doubt! or, maybe they say : I want to be a paladin, so I guess it is LG for me.

The big problem is when there is a disconnect between what goes on the sheet and how the player plays. maybe the solution is to get players to answer a bunch of standardized questions and be told what their alignment it. there are some quizzes that are supposed to do just that, but what we are seeing is that people disagree wildly on what those letters stand for...


Clockwork pickle wrote:
there are some quizzes that are supposed to do just that, but what we are seeing is that people disagree wildly on what those letters stand for...

I could not agree with you more on this statement. I think Alignment's real problem is that it isn't given the "Psych 101" section that I personally feel that it deserves in the book that says:

"Hello game master and players. When we talk about Lawful persons, we aren't talking about the laws of men. We're talking about structure and orderly behaviors. Does your character have an obsessive compulsive disorder? That's a lawful trait. That's why we said monks should be lawful, because they have such strict self discipline to master their own bodies and minds. On the other hand, maybe that same character is also emotionally driven, and trusts their instincts over a set of accepted rules and behaviors as much as possible. That's a chaotic trait, and we thought it was necessary that Barbarians not stray too far from this and become lawfully aligned. Take a look at your personality traits according to the table below, and compile your scores to see whether your character has a strong enough tendency in any one direction to possess that alignment."

People are still going to disagree, but I think we would have fewer disagreements if the game designers devoted a section to alignment to discuss what their intention was and to get people on the same page. People will still say "I don't like that" but so many more will go "Ah, I see where you guys are coming from."

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

LazarX, I happen to disagree with you. I for one find the alignment system an integral part of the game. I find the alignment system to be an excellent tool for describing the tendencies of an NPC, or monster. As for it being a crutch or “strait jacket”, i think there is enough variety in the nine alignment posibilities to describe almost any character.
One of the other assumptions is that good evil law and chaos are objective forces that can be detected and are part of the fabric of living things, powerful places, and the fabric of the world itself.
So I suppose you can dispose of the alignment system if you want to, I find it to be a benefit to the game rather then detraction.


Ryan Machan wrote:
Clockwork pickle wrote:
there are some quizzes that are supposed to do just that, but what we are seeing is that people disagree wildly on what those letters stand for...

I could not agree with you more on this statement. I think Alignment's real problem is that it isn't given the "Psych 101" section that I personally feel that it deserves in the book that says:

"Hello game master and players. When we talk about Lawful persons, we aren't talking about the laws of men. We're talking about structure and orderly behaviors. Does your character have an obsessive compulsive disorder? That's a lawful trait. That's why we said monks should be lawful, because they have such strict self discipline to master their own bodies and minds. On the other hand, maybe that same character is also emotionally driven, and trusts their instincts over a set of accepted rules and behaviors as much as possible. That's a chaotic trait, and we thought it was necessary that Barbarians not stray too far from this and become lawfully aligned. Take a look at your personality traits according to the table below, and compile your scores to see whether your character has a strong enough tendency in any one direction to possess that alignment."

People are still going to disagree, but I think we would have fewer disagreements if the game designers devoted a section to alignment to discuss what their intention was and to get people on the same page. People will still say "I don't like that" but so many more will go "Ah, I see where you guys are coming from."

That sounds great, and indeed my group has no difficulty using alignment. The disconnect for me is that there are external enforcements of alignment. True, the game has long ago been free of the "carefully track PC behavior, and inform the player that his character's alignment has changed" scheme. It is now much more of a self assessed value and a good tool for roleplaying, especially for the DM portraying NPCs. However, because the game retains alignment prerequisites for various classes, there remains an enforcement that runs counter to the "helpful" nature of alignment.

And, even the best roleplayers can fall into the trap of metagame thoughts and laziness because there is a discernible measure (detect evil) of what is in a creature's soul. My biggest complaint about alignment is that it is black and white, with no degrees between, and it can be "seen" by others who then use it as an excuse to commit murder. "But your honor, he detected as evil!"

Lantern Lodge

Monte cook did do a different aligment setup. He used a sliding 1 - 10 scale. I thought it was in Book of experimental might. although it might have been divine might. I can't remember so I'll have to go through my collection once again and hunt that chart down.

If you had a 3 rating on the evil side of the scale then you would only take half damage from a holy weapon but if you were say.. a 6 then you would take full damage and if you were a 10 then you would take double damage. I thought that was a great idea, something to consider adding to your game.


Can'tFindthePath wrote:

The disconnect for me is that there are external enforcements of alignment. True, the game has long ago been free of the "carefully track PC behavior, and inform the player that his character's alignment has changed" scheme. It is now much more of a self assessed value and a good tool for roleplaying, especially for the DM portraying NPCs. However, because the game retains alignment prerequisites for various classes, there remains an enforcement that runs counter to the "helpful" nature of alignment.

And, even the best roleplayers can fall into the trap of metagame thoughts and laziness because there is a discernible measure (detect evil) of what is in a creature's soul. My biggest complaint about alignment is that it is black and white, with no degrees between, and it can be "seen" by others who then use it as an excuse to commit murder. "But your honor, he detected as evil!"

I tend to agree that there is no sense throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Alignment is useful as a rough guide to roleplaying. the big problem is that alignment affects game mechanics. for most classes, it is pretty easy to just drop alignment as a requirement, but it gets a bit complicated with monks, even worse for clerics, and basically gets rid of paladins altogether.

and yeah, detect evil is annoying.
so many abuses of alignment, so much metagaming.
GM: you enter a cavern -Paladin: I detect evil
GM: you enter a room -Paladin: I detect evil
GM: you enter a market -Paladin: I detect evil
etc. etc. etc.

really encourages rollplay and pretty much forces the GM to metagame and get the evil NPCs access to nondetection, misdirection, ring of mind shielding, etc.

I remember seeing a suggestion that detect evil should be replaced with a bonus to sense motive checks. I like this idea quite well.

Sovereign Court

Ryan Machan wrote:
Clockwork pickle wrote:
there are some quizzes that are supposed to do just that, but what we are seeing is that people disagree wildly on what those letters stand for...

I could not agree with you more on this statement. I think Alignment's real problem is that it isn't given the "Psych 101" section that I personally feel that it deserves in the book that says:

"Hello game master and players. When we talk about Lawful persons, we aren't talking about the laws of men. We're talking about structure and orderly behaviors. Does your character have an obsessive compulsive disorder? That's a lawful trait. That's why we said monks should be lawful, because they have such strict self discipline to master their own bodies and minds. On the other hand, maybe that same character is also emotionally driven, and trusts their instincts over a set of accepted rules and behaviors as much as possible. That's a chaotic trait, and we thought it was necessary that Barbarians not stray too far from this and become lawfully aligned. Take a look at your personality traits according to the table below, and compile your scores to see whether your character has a strong enough tendency in any one direction to possess that alignment."

People are still going to disagree, but I think we would have fewer disagreements if the game designers devoted a section to alignment to discuss what their intention was and to get people on the same page. People will still say "I don't like that" but so many more will go "Ah, I see where you guys are coming from."

HUZZAH !!!!!

Ryan thnks for another well written post .

HEY FOLKS! The alignments are GUIDLINES and can Change depending on how the Charater acts/reacts in the game .
EX. 1st level PC may start as LG, but if he continually attacks the townspeople "because he can", he becomes LE or maybe CE.
Same PC starts as CN, but is always defending the helpless and trying to change the laws to protect the "little man" should become LN or even LG.

So to do away with alingment just because you find it "constricting" is not as helpful as you might think.
I have in several games told the players thst they were playing the wrong alingment and if the PC continued to act this way the alingment would change.

Alignment is a GREAT tool for beginners as they have an idea to base thier char. actions on, if you want to be like Conan play GC Barb.,
If you want to emulate King Arthur play LG Pal. etc.

Most alignments can be Condensed into a paragraph or two. which I think is the point of an alingment to give you a starting point to play the PC from , NOT to limit his actions to those that a person of ___ alingment would do.

submitted for your approval-or not

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