How-to: Figure out alignment


Advice

Shadow Lodge

So, I am a seasoned roleplayer, many games, many years. I've never once had any trouble figuring out or deciding on an alignment for my character. Indeed, often times I make alignment a fundamental part of the character... until now.

I'm totally stumped on what alignment to assign for my next character, and am treading water with N until something else speaks to me. So, my question is... what do you do personally when you can't decide on a character's alignment? Roll a die? Subject them to a quiz? Do you have a "if nothing else then ____" default alignment?

The Exchange

Good aligned persons Dont Kill under any Condition. They believe in Arrest - incapacitation - Trial - imprisonment - even when no one else does (:P to critics of that one). So If you are prepared to limit your adventures to foes you can capture (rather than murder in a desperate life or death battle), There are plenty of undead out there you can destroy, and Fiends you can drive back to the Abyss...

I can recommend any of the Good Alignments.


Dingo are you trying to still get volunteers in your no violence experiment?

@ the OP: Start with neutral. I would write a background story, and play his personality. Let the RP determine the alignment from there.


yellowdingo wrote:
Good aligned persons Dont Kill under any Condition. They believe in Arrest - incapacitation - Trial - imprisonment - even when no one else does

Where are you getting that from? Trials are conventions of laws, not good. Good aligned adventurers wind up killing a LOT of things


BigNorseWolf wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
Good aligned persons Dont Kill under any Condition. They believe in Arrest - incapacitation - Trial - imprisonment - even when no one else does
Where are you getting that from? Trials are conventions of laws, not good. Good aligned adventurers wind up killing a LOT of things

Sadly this gets back into that whole "good and evil are perceptions of a culture" thing. I prefer to stick with the standards of the book and popular fantasy culture. Yup, good guys kill. Especially evil guys.

To the OP, I would (and do) just run neutral until the campaign shapes the alignment.


The vast majority of intelligent civilized humanoids are by enlarge neutral. Greed, altruisum, respect for laws, and individual freedom all mixed.

I tend to think of true netural adventures as people who are just doing a job, because is either one of the few things thier good at, or they just happened to fall into it.

Take a new town guardsman, 1st level fighter. He's good at being strong and people like him enough so he doesn't break rocks for a living. His town is raided by goblins. Afterword it's his job to get people or possessions back. He happens to be joined by volunteers of different motives. 4 levels later things my be different for him.

The Exchange

BigNorseWolf wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
Good aligned persons Dont Kill under any Condition. They believe in Arrest - incapacitation - Trial - imprisonment - even when no one else does
Where are you getting that from? Trials are conventions of laws, not good. Good aligned adventurers wind up killing a LOT of things

Gary Gygax on Alignment

Good: Harmless, Friendly, Kind, Honest, Sincere, Helpful, Beneficial, Pure

Evil: Unfit, Mischevious, Unpleasant, Dishonest, Bad, Injurous, Wicked, Corrupt

Lawful: Strict Order<------------------------->Complete Anarchy:Chaotic

So A Paladin, described as Saintly (Lawful Good) is an absolute conformist to the preceps of Law and Good (Harmless, Friendly...) and imposes those same codes of behavior on those arround them.

As to where to start out as an alignment, Start with any Good Alignment (unless your PC has a background of abuse/violence where evil behavior (aka violence) is a survival trait).


You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?

Sovereign Court

Any idea about the campaign setting for your next game? I often start by thinking about the world the character is in and how the adventure starts.


I ran a monk once who only did non-lethal damage. S/he was a half-elf of indeterminate gender. But s/he was also Lawful Neutral. Go figure.


Screw alignment. Green Ronin used an allegiance system for the Black Company RPG. If you really need someone/something to be good or evil (in an absolute sense, not a relative one) you would make their first (of three) allegiances to Good or Evil.

Most human beings were defined not by good or evil, but by what they cared about. E.g. Family, Friends, Country, Mercenary Company, Money, etc. This, in my opinion, was a much more realistic portrayal of human nature than alignments. Of course, nothing is stopping you from making a Paladin with allegiance to Good and Law as concepts.

Also makes for great drama when a character's allegiances are at odds with one another.

The Exchange

BigNorseWolf wrote:
You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?

Which means he was incapable of Playing a Lawful Good Character as defined by his own rules...Ironic Realy.


yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?
Which means he was incapable of Playing a Lawful Good Character as defined by his own rules...Ironic Realy.

Or more likely that you don't understand the rules. Good does not mean pacifist. Good means that you constantly strive to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing to do is find evil and smash it in the face. What are you going to do with an evil demon .. put him in jail? Or a country flattening great red wrym.. ASK it to please stop devouring virgins?

Good is not lawfull, because sometimes you need to smash evil in the face even when its yelling "You can't come in here without a warrant!" If you are taking out an evil merchant who has every judge in town bribed or an evil king who's actions are by definition legal because he IS the Law then a trial isn't going to do anyone any good. They're just going to be found innocent and go back to slaughtering people.. meaning that their lives were less important to you than your own principles.

The Exchange

BigNorseWolf wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?
Which means he was incapable of Playing a Lawful Good Character as defined by his own rules...Ironic Realy.

Or more likely that you don't understand the rules. Good does not mean pacifist. Good means that you constantly strive to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing to do is find evil and smash it in the face. What are you going to do with an evil demon .. put him in jail? Or a country flattening great red wrym.. ASK it to please stop devouring virgins?

Good is not lawfull, because sometimes you need to smash evil in the face even when its yelling "You can't come in here without a warrant!" If you are taking out an evil merchant who has every judge in town bribed or an evil king who's actions are by definition legal because he IS the Law then a trial isn't going to do anyone any good. They're just going to be found innocent and go back to slaughtering people.. meaning that their lives were less important to you than your own principles.

No Good is not Lawful - it is respectful of the absolute right of everyone to life. Laws exist to limit that right - yet give its violation meaning.

On the contrary - there is a difference between [not taking a life under any condidtion] and [pacifist]. Pascifist doesnt subdue you with a fist when you resist arrest and kick you in the groin until you pass out.

As to the issue of a Warrant, I could just as well say any act of govenrment, law, constitution that does not have the direct and regular consent of every citizen is a seditious act so even a warrant requires the approval of the guy you are likely to use it against. Certainly that might seem unworkable but an assault on any individual is an assault on the state and thus treason - so treason applies to anyone who kills - even a King.


yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?
Which means he was incapable of Playing a Lawful Good Character as defined by his own rules...Ironic Realy.

Or more likely that you don't understand the rules. Good does not mean pacifist. Good means that you constantly strive to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing to do is find evil and smash it in the face. What are you going to do with an evil demon .. put him in jail? Or a country flattening great red wrym.. ASK it to please stop devouring virgins?

Good is not lawfull, because sometimes you need to smash evil in the face even when its yelling "You can't come in here without a warrant!" If you are taking out an evil merchant who has every judge in town bribed or an evil king who's actions are by definition legal because he IS the Law then a trial isn't going to do anyone any good. They're just going to be found innocent and go back to slaughtering people.. meaning that their lives were less important to you than your own principles.

No Good is not Lawful - it is respectful of the absolute right of everyone to life. Laws exist to limit that right - yet give its violation meaning.

On the contrary - there is a difference between [not taking a life under any condidtion] and [pacifist]. Pascifist doesnt subdue you with a fist when you resist arrest and kick you in the groin until you pass out.

As to the issue of a Warrant, I could just as well say any act of govenrment, law, constitution that does not have the direct and regular consent of every citizen is a seditious act so even a warrant requires the approval of the guy you are likely to use it against. Certainly that might seem unworkable but an assault on any individual is an assault on the state and thus treason - so treason applies to anyone who kills - even a King.

I think it is about time you accept that your version of D&D good does do fall in line with anyone else's, not even the person that made the game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Dingo- BNW never said that good = lawful. They're two entirely different things. And by your own definition of good, a paladin would IMMEDIATELY stop qualifying as LG the first time they used smite evil against something since it causes harm. Heck, by your definition of good, Jesus wasn't even good since he caused harm (disrupting trade that was going on in the temple is technically harm). And warrants don't require the approval of the guy it's being used against, that's why it's a warrant. If the guy was approving of whatever the warrant was allowing, the warrant wouldn't be needed. The whole purpose of a warrant is to get access to something because the person it's being used against isn't allowing said access.

And what Wraithstrike said.

The Exchange

wraithstrike wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?
Which means he was incapable of Playing a Lawful Good Character as defined by his own rules...Ironic Realy.

Or more likely that you don't understand the rules. Good does not mean pacifist. Good means that you constantly strive to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing to do is find evil and smash it in the face. What are you going to do with an evil demon .. put him in jail? Or a country flattening great red wrym.. ASK it to please stop devouring virgins?

Good is not lawfull, because sometimes you need to smash evil in the face even when its yelling "You can't come in here without a warrant!" If you are taking out an evil merchant who has every judge in town bribed or an evil king who's actions are by definition legal because he IS the Law then a trial isn't going to do anyone any good. They're just going to be found innocent and go back to slaughtering people.. meaning that their lives were less important to you than your own principles.

No Good is not Lawful - it is respectful of the absolute right of everyone to life. Laws exist to limit that right - yet give its violation meaning.

On the contrary - there is a difference between [not taking a life under any condidtion] and [pacifist]. Pascifist doesnt subdue you with a fist when you resist arrest and kick you in the groin until you pass out.

As to the issue of a Warrant, I could just as well say any act of govenrment, law, constitution that does not have the direct and regular consent of every citizen is a seditious act so even a warrant requires the approval of the guy you are likely to use it against. Certainly that might seem unworkable but an assault on any individual is an assault on the state and thus treason - so treason applies to anyone who kills - even a King.

I think it is about time you accept that your...

On the contrary...Mine is what it meant to be absolutely Good. You get expelled from Eden for not being that Good. Is your version of Good absolutely Good? No. Even your Laws Give Good Limit where it has none.

This is also why True Neutral Doesnt Exist as anything other than a moment of alignment change between a Polar Opposite.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

In your games, Dingo, how do good creatures (mostly thinking things like Devas, Solars, etc) deal with evil creatures (balors, pit fiends, etc)? With rainbows, bunnies and hugs? They can't attack/cause harm, so there goes fighting them. It's easily arguable that dimensional anchor and the like would be harming them (harms their plans at least). Seems like there can be no good in your D&D games since ANYTHING can be seen as causing harm.


Ok, so by your definition 99.999% of adventurers aren't good because they use lethal force, and the alignment specifically listed as the most common alignment for human beings is completely impossible.

Either the rules are messed up or your interpretation of them through the lens of rather peculiar take on religion is. You've already shown that you were wrong according to gygax. You can try to be right according to... whatever, this is a forum for a game about mostly more or less good adventurers killing things with magic spells and weapons. The games definition is what applies, and when your understanding of the games definition leads you to believe that the people who wrote the game don't understand their own words. I think its far more likely that the comprehension problem is yours. Paladins have always had "smite evil" not "convince evil to eat tea and crumpets instead"


Wooo, applying yellowdingos definitions I never played a good character ^^
So, Iomedae, Sarenrae and especially the former mercenary Cayden don't kill? Good rangers don't hunt animals? Paladins don't use smite evil since this ability could easily kill?


yellowdingo wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
yellowdingo wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
You do realize what kind of body count paladins under gygax racked up right?
Which means he was incapable of Playing a Lawful Good Character as defined by his own rules...Ironic Realy.

Or more likely that you don't understand the rules. Good does not mean pacifist. Good means that you constantly strive to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing to do is find evil and smash it in the face. What are you going to do with an evil demon .. put him in jail? Or a country flattening great red wrym.. ASK it to please stop devouring virgins?

Good is not lawfull, because sometimes you need to smash evil in the face even when its yelling "You can't come in here without a warrant!" If you are taking out an evil merchant who has every judge in town bribed or an evil king who's actions are by definition legal because he IS the Law then a trial isn't going to do anyone any good. They're just going to be found innocent and go back to slaughtering people.. meaning that their lives were less important to you than your own principles.

No Good is not Lawful - it is respectful of the absolute right of everyone to life. Laws exist to limit that right - yet give its violation meaning.

On the contrary - there is a difference between [not taking a life under any condidtion] and [pacifist]. Pascifist doesnt subdue you with a fist when you resist arrest and kick you in the groin until you pass out.

As to the issue of a Warrant, I could just as well say any act of govenrment, law, constitution that does not have the direct and regular consent of every citizen is a seditious act so even a warrant requires the approval of the guy you are likely to use it against. Certainly that might seem unworkable but an assault on any individual is an assault on the state and thus treason - so treason applies to anyone who kills - even a King.

I think it is about time
...

That version of good is not how the game is intended to run. There is not an official written adventure in any version of the game that supports it. Every class is given killing methods. Obviously he never intended for the game to be played that way.

What he wrote, or at least what you are quoting and the way he intended the game to be played are at direct odds. You can choose to hang onto words or go by the actions.

What I hear you saying-->I GG intend for players to be good, but I shall come up with various ways to kill the NPC's.

Even if he did intend that to be the method, which I think you are trolling at this point, at best you can say the 1st edition version had that rule. I wish I had a copy of the first edition book. I don't think I can trust you to look through it and find the counter evidence for me.


LG characters operating in civilization tend to avoid lethal force as lethal force is often against the laws of the land (although Adventurers might be de facto deputized as law keepers). Lethal force in self defense is acceptable as can be lethal force in protection of private property.

Wantonly killing pickpockets in the town square is not going to be acceptable with the laws of the land and isn't a particularly good action.

A LG character can contravene laws when a law is evil or unjust but this typically gets into interpretations of a code of conduct. Some LG characters will enforce even unjust laws because not enforcing them is perceived as evil. Other LG characters will be willing to break the law (or at least work against it) in order to achieve the greater good. Doing that too much threatens to shift your alignment towards NG or even CG though.

For the most part adventurers tend to operate in lawless areas like dungeons and wilderness. In these situations they might be armed with a charter from a legal authority but might be operating independently. They can still use lethal force to defend themselves and others as well as protect private property.

Considering they are often the last line of defense vs the predations of monsters the lethal force to protect others and the the property of others means that a LG character is perfectly within his rights to seek out a den of CE orc raiders and kill them in order to protect the village he's sworn to protect.

Ransacking tombs... err exploring dungeons is a bit more dubious but in most cases dungeons tend to be bases of operations for hostile foes. It's okay to kill hostile enemies when you encounter them although in some cases it's preferable to negotiate with them. Looting corpses can even be somewhat excused on the basis of the loot being used to protect others or being given to a church for charitable purposes.

Indeed 1e Paladins were generally assumed to be generally poor as they had tight restrictions on the number of items and general wealth they were allowed to possess.

I do think that looting the tomb of a fallen champion of good is not a good or a lawful act and continued actions along that lines can result in a fall from grace. In order to bypass this I typically create manifestations of the previous wielder of a holy weapon (or a visit from a LG outsider) to render the transfer of said weapon lawfully.

That isn't to say that there shouldn't be LG individuals that are devoutly pacifist but that in general such individuals don't work well with adventuring groups. Invariably they are used as interesting NPCs.


To answer the OP, my default go-to alignment is Lawful Neutral. I dunno why, the mindset just appeals to me.

I always go for LN first (baring class restrictions), though while deciding on a back story it often change.


Varthanna wrote:

So, I am a seasoned roleplayer, many games, many years. I've never once had any trouble figuring out or deciding on an alignment for my character. Indeed, often times I make alignment a fundamental part of the character... until now.

I'm totally stumped on what alignment to assign for my next character, and am treading water with N until something else speaks to me. So, my question is... what do you do personally when you can't decide on a character's alignment? Roll a die? Subject them to a quiz? Do you have a "if nothing else then ____" default alignment?

To ignore the entire sidetrack this thread has become and answer the original question, I think your description falls perfectly into the True Neutral (uncaring) sub-alignment (as opposed to True Neutral (dedicated)):

Quote:
A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos (and thus neutral is sometimes called “true neutral”). Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality.

So by not having any alignment make sense, the character does default to Neutral, and that's perfectly appropriate.

Liberty's Edge

I sometimes use Alignment Tests that you can easily find on the web with some search-fu.

However, for my most recent character, I could not really decide on her alignment before the game, except that she was not evil. I played her for one sesson before settling on Neutral Good, based on the actions and interests I found for her during play.

After all, except for Clerics and Paladins, alignment does not necessarily comes into play mechanically before a few encounters.

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