The alignment thread to end all alignment threads.


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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TOZ wrote:
I'm Evil Good.

And I'm Evil Dead.


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Fishy!


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W E Ray wrote:

@ Quantum,

You got it all wrong, mate....

Ray wrote:
a character's Alignment is the purview of the Player -- NOT the DM

So,

A Player says what is LG for HIS PC. (That's what's put on the character sheet.)
A DM says what is CE for HIS NPC. (That's what's put on the stat block.)
Another Player says what is LG or CG for HER PC. (That's what's on the character sheet.)

A DM CAN NOT say someone else's PC is such-n-such.

This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with a monster talking to a PC in a game, or an Alignment spell being cast in a game.

And Good and Evil are Ethical Alignments.
And Lawful and Chaotic are Personality Alignments.

Ahh.

See, I put that little conversation in there for a bit of humor, but unfortunately it seems to have clouded my intent.

If it is a player's prerogative to say the his character who kicks puppies, steals candy from babies, and kill city guards is LG, the a DM could just as rightly call his Pit Fiend LN.

Neither really makes any sense, and both have serious repercussions on gameplay.

Good and Evil aren't just ethical arguments when some creatures are actually made of Evil and some spells are powered by Evil.

You can't point to a glass and argue whether or not there is water in it. Water is a thing, and it's either there, on not, there can be no argument. Similarly, in D&D, (and by extension, Pathfinder) Good and Evil are things. There can be no argument, at least not by anyone with understanding of the absolute nature of Good and Evil.


I'm always amused at the prospect of using philosophical debates about game alignments. :V

Using paladins as an example is kind of hard, as though the conduct is somewhat absolutist, some DM/Players may look at it different lights. (Myself, I don't nitpick alignments, unless they are grossly at odds).


TOZ wrote:
I'm Evil Good.

And here I thought you were just Bitter? ~thinks~ Oops! My bad. I am the one that is bitter. ~grins~

Grand Lodge

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@ Quantum,
Ahh, missed the humor -- in my office, only glancing at posts, not thinking too much on them.

Regarding your point -- I had hoped it went without saying that we define good & evil morality, lawful and chaotic personality, individually -- but certainly within universal reason. It's that "within reason" part that you're attacking.

I don't believe for a second that anyone ever HAS EVER or will ever argue in D&D that, for example, it's right to kick puppies.

(When I taught Classical Ethics at the university we always skipped over the stuff the whole class absolutely agreed on -- there was no reason for discourse. In the same way in D&D, we'll all agree that rape and murder, for example, are evil -- one wouldn't ever say his LG PC is a rapist and that's LG. It shouldn't be part of this discussion.)

It's the interesting gray areas of Alignment that are fun for roleplay -- AND COMPLETELY UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL: the puppy is a Hell Hound puppy; the candy righfully belongs to another child; the town guard is corrupt, etc.

In these cases, the DM provides the moral challenge; it's up to the Players to decide the right choice of action.

A year or so ago in an Alignment Thread I argued that when a DM has a predetermined "right way" to handle the moral challenge and tries to "force" the Players to resolve the issue his way -- it is another form of Railroading -- just as bad as typical Railroading. Bad DMing, bad DM.

When the goblin surrenders it is up to THE PLAYERS to decide if it's permissible to kill him. NOT the DM.

It is likewise the purview of the DM if it is possible that this particular Pit Fiend has forsaken the Nine Hells' evil and no longer has "LE" on his stat block, but "LN."

Again, I had hoped the obvious "good" and "evil" went without saying. No biggie, though.

Shadow Lodge

W E Ray wrote:


I don't believe for a second that anyone ever HAS EVER or will ever argue in D&D that, for example, it's right to kick puppies.

Oh, you tempting devil you.

Grand Lodge

;)


TOZ wrote:
I'm Evil Good.

I'm neutrally neutral.


I have been tainted. Normally I would be Chaotic Neutral like any other Chaos Beast, but the things I saw, the horrid desolation of what little order I chose to see despite this endless shifting and writhing, and the Finnish blood I had lying dormant...they have changed me.

BUT ALL CHANGE HAS BEEN FOR THE BETTER!!

Say what you want, I'm not supposed to make sense. *Slithers away*


OmegaZ wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
I actually saw a homebrew Paladin once called "the Kantian Paladin". It was pretty awesome, and actually made sense.

Actually, the deontological/utilitarian dynamic fits the lawful/chaotic dynamic very well.

Deontologists (Lawful) believe that the way you do something matters. An action is Right because of the way you carry it out, the results of the action do not matter. This is what leads to the absolute honesty of paladins and devils; they want to achieve their goals, but they aren't going to do things like lie to get it done. To act without any kind of code or rules to be held accountable to is a terrible idea. That would be Wrong in the deontologist's eyes.

Utilitarians (Chaotic) don't care how you get something done, as long as you get it done. An action is Right because of its results, not what your methods are. Something like stealing from the rich to help the poor (Robin Hood) is a utilitarian idea, as is doing morally reprehensible things to achieve your goals. Limiting yourself to a code is foolish (codes don't always get the job done) and leads to dogmatism and stagnation. That's Wrong in the utilitarian's eyes.

Of course the "corner alignments" (LG, CG, LE, CE) bring in moral philosophy to this as well. When it comes to good and evil, I like to think of it like this: imagine a 2D circle with a nice bell-curve to it. This represents a Neutral person's care for others. The highest point is in middle (themselves), their close friends and relatives are directly surrounding them, then their acquaintences are a bit farther and lower, and so on until you get to people they've never heard of at the edge of the circle, farthest down.

A good person would have a curve with a lot of space at the top because they care about others a great deal, including people they're not close with. Their curve has a lot of room at the top to where almost everyone is on the same level of care as the good person himself. An evil person would have a curve that's much...

Utilitarianism requires perfect knowledge to make absolute judgements. Absent such knowledge compromises with rule based ethical frameworks are necessary. What utilitarianism is really good for is choosing rules. I therefore would call utilitarianism a measure of good and evil systems. Individuals can be located on the alignment charts by how they relate to those systems.

Law/chaos is, to me, political. It is, in fact, X on the Pournelle Axis. Pournelle just put chaos on the left and law on the right. Except Chaos isn't the opposite of Law. Liberty is the opposite of Law. The opposite of Chaos is Order. I choose to use law/liberty instead of order/chaos because order/chaos measures thermodynamics, not alignment.

And this is why alignment threads are so flammable. Alignment is extremely political. A Tory and a Labourite or a Republican and Democrat or Christian Democrat and Green will have sometimes dramatically different readings of what constitutes good and evil and where neutrality lies on the law/chaos axis.


W E Ray wrote:


And Good and Evil are Ethical Alignments.
And Lawful and Chaotic are Personality Alignments.

That is the way I have always looked at it as well. Most people tend to be Neutral.


The introduction of firearms to Pathfinder should have ended these arguments a long time ago.


Someone said Good and Evil, with capitalized G and E, respectively? BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM!!!

Yeah, the answer to alignment is: good, evil, I'm the one with the gun.

That about right?

edit: I really need to check people's links before replying...


Mahorfeus wrote:
The introduction of firearms to Pathfinder should have ended these arguments a long time ago.

Bad isn't a traditional alignment.

It might be a nontraditional alignment though. Possibly Batman's. To hit every alignment like that he's certainly bad at playing whatever alignment is written on his character sheet.


@ W E Ray

While some reasoning may be universal and absolute in a philosophy classroom, not so much in a more fantastical setting.

For example, in a fantasy setting I could envision a group or race that does not consider murder to be amoral. If an individual is weak enough to allow him or her self to be murdered, then the race is better off without that weakness in the gene pool.

If I were to create such a race, I would certainly call them Evil because I impose my own morality on the fantasy world. And I doubt that anyone would argue that choice because in our culture we do share a degree of universal morality.

It would seem that you agree, at least to a point, that in a game like D&D, it is necessary to impose some degree of absolute Good and Evil. I would also argue the same about some degree of law and chaos.

There is, of course, some gray area, but let's not kid ourselves by pretending anyone other than Paladins or Clerics care where the border of those grey areas lie.

So the question really is, should the player or DM decide what a character's deity thinks is appropriate behavior for their followers? I don't think anyone would argue that the thoughts and motives of NPCs (including deities) are decided by anyone but the DM.

This doesn't mean the DM gets to tell the players what to do with a surrendering goblin. Players can, as always, do whatever they want. And how a character acts in a single situation is not definitive of his alignment, rather alignment is representative of a characters actions in general, in many different situations.


Mahorfeus wrote:
The introduction of firearms to Pathfinder should have ended these arguments a long time ago.

Somehow, I knew what that linked to without even clicking it! :D


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Lawful cares more about How something is done.
Chaotic cares more about The results of your actions.

Hmmm... awesome idea. It actually makes more sense than the law/chaos interpretation I was using.

In my book Good is akin to Selflessness, and Evil is akin to selfishness.
Good people want to help others, Evil people want to help themselves.
Neutral people try to avoid hurting others but only help others when it's convenient or 'of value' in their lives.
Evil People don't avoid hurting others, they might even embrace it.
Good people avoid hurting others unless greater harm would come from inaction.


Aranna wrote:

In my book Good is akin to Selflessness, and Evil is akin to selfishness.

Good people want to help others, Evil people want to help themselves.
Neutral people try to avoid hurting others but only help others when it's convenient or 'of value' in their lives.
Evil People don't avoid hurting others, they might even embrace it.
Good people avoid hurting others unless greater harm would come from inaction.

Then your book is a lot like the CRB.


Using this new insight to get back to the OP's character, which inspired great argument...

She was NOT lawful. She was results driven and paid only the briefest lip service to the proper way to handle the criminals. I would place her Law/Chaos axis at Neutral with Chaotic tendencies.

She WAS Good. She was driven by the need to right the wrongs being done to others. However she DID start a bar fight when it would have been the good thing to do to 'talk down' the drunkards or simply 'walk away'. I would peg her Good/Evil alignment at Good with neutral tendencies.

So her character was NG drifting toward CN. It could be argued that she was CG however drifting toward N. But since she has an alignment restriction I err on the side of the alignment she is supposed to have.


Quantum Steve wrote:

If I were to create such a race, I would certainly call them Evil because I impose my own morality on the fantasy world. And I doubt that anyone would argue that choice because in our culture we do share a degree of universal morality.

It would seem that you agree, at least to a point, that in a game like D&D, it is necessary to impose some degree of absolute Good and Evil. I would also argue the same about some degree of law and chaos.

It's not necessary to just "impose some degree of absolute Good and Evil." No, if you you intend to use the Alignment system in D&D, then all Good, Evil, Chaos, and Law must be absolute. It is objective in the game world. There's no argument, because the universe is built upon these absolutes.

That race you created would not be Evil because you imposed your moral code on the game, they'd be Evil because their outlook is objectively Evil based on the game world's cosmology.

Quantum Steve wrote:
There is, of course, some gray area, but let's not kid ourselves by pretending anyone other than Paladins or Clerics care where the border of those grey areas lie.

No, there's no gray. The Lawful, Good, Chaos, Evil axes are coordinate planes. Actions are objectively placed at coordinates. The only gray involved is from us, as players, trying to figure out what the objective truth is.

Quantum Steve wrote:
So the question really is, should the player or DM decide what a character's deity thinks is appropriate behavior for their followers?

It's not a question of what the deity thinks, either, actually. Deities conform to the objective Alignments just as everyone else does. It's up to whoever creates the world, which is traditionally the GM, but can be a cooperative exercise with the players, or a pre-determined set of standards created by a writer somewhere. But, whatever is chosen becomes fact.

Again, though, all this assumes Alignment is actually used, and I don't recommend that it be used--I find it kind of silly and have found that, for me, it eliminates more interesting stories and ideas than it creates.


meatrace wrote:
TOZ wrote:
I'm Evil Good.
I'm neutrally neutral.

I'm good-bad but i'm not evil

Grand Lodge

Regarding the use of Alignment in D&Dis "objective," "quantifiable," and "is the building blocks of the universal" -- it's a pretty common use -- but not everyone plays with the Planescape model. Although I don't mind saying that Planescape created a whole new way to look at Alignments and the Outer Planes and has added HUGE value to my own game.

Still, not everyone uses the Planescape, Alignment-is-absolute model. And it's not the default model for D&D.

Shadow Lodge

I have never seen a game with alignments being actual concrete forces. They've always been abstracts, with outsiders the closest thing to such an idea.


W E Ray wrote:

Regarding the use of Alignment in D&Dis "objective," "quantifiable," and "is the building blocks of the universal" -- it's a pretty common use -- but not everyone plays with the Planescape model. Although I don't mind saying that Planescape created a whole new way to look at Alignments and the Outer Planes and has added HUGE value to my own game.

Still, not everyone uses the Planescape, Alignment-is-absolute model. And it's not the default model for D&D.

But even then you can describe good in various ways and against various scales. Which is more good: allowing free will and the right to choose stupid things or saving someone against their will from being hurt?

In some views, free will is paramount and sacrosanct, and in others not to prevent pain is tantamount to causing pain.

Different gods of the pantheon consider alignments differently. All the 'good' gods don't universally agree on what is good, but a single god should be considered immutable within their approach to the actions of mortals. If they could learn, grow, and change they wouldn't be gods.

This is a world in which abstract concepts have manifestations that may affect the material world. You actually, really and truly, can go to a church and ASK A GOD A QUESTION. There is an end-all-be-all arbiter of morality. In fact, there are over a dozen of them. You just need to care about the one you follow.

If you don't follow any gods, then what does your alignment matter? You'll be judged by whatever arbitrary divinity happens to catch your soul. If you're lucky, it is a reasonable one.

My advice: If you aren't a divine caster, follow the god or goddess of judgement-in-the-afterlife. Can't go wrong kissing up to that one.


TOZ wrote:
W E Ray wrote:


I don't believe for a second that anyone ever HAS EVER or will ever argue in D&D that, for example, it's right to kick puppies.
Oh, you tempting devil you.

Actually they have. Mr. Fishy was in the kick the airbreathing little bastard for mileage camp.

Silver Crusade

TVtropes has a good set of what alignment is.
You should check it out.


Mystic_Snowfang wrote:

TVtropes has a good set of what alignment is.

You should check it out.

I love how they explain how Lawful Good doesn't mean never, ever bending or breaking the law.

Silver Crusade

I'm tempted to play a true neutral stoner druid character, who spends the whole campaign stoned out of their mind. Needless to say, they'd have very low charasima because of well...
They kinda stink


Mystic_Snowfang wrote:

I'm tempted to play a true neutral stoner druid character, who spends the whole campaign stoned out of their mind. Needless to say, they'd have very low charasima because of well...

They kinda stink

So did Gandhi. Just sayin.

Grand Lodge

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Aranna wrote:


Lawful cares more about How something is done.
Chaotic cares more about The results of your actions.

. . . .

I've thought about this quite a bit over the last couple days -- mostly because I really like it even though I'm sure mine is better, figured ours may not be mutually exclusive, maybe both work.

But I've run into a problem -- maybe you can address it.

CE: Does it care about "the results" of its actions? (likely only in some deep, subconscious, or instinctive philosophical manner)

LE: In addition to the "How," doesn't Asmodeus, for example but any stereotype Devil, spend a great deal of time considering "the Results"?

. . . .

I propose your statement could be...
Lawful cares more about "how" and "to what end" -- often long-term thinking
Chaotic doesn't care about "how" or "to what end" -- often short-term thinking

The only problem here is that, like someone said in the "Big" Alignment Thread of mine from a couple years ago, I'm basically saying Chaotic equals stupid -- and I admitted a few years ago that indeed I see Chaotic as absolutely stupid, can't be anything but stupid.

Hmmm.

I like your post (thus my time spent thinking about it),
But I like my definition of Alignment
Good / Evil = ethical Alignment
Law / Chaos = personality Alignment

Shadow Lodge

Law = Cares about how it is done.
Chaos = Cares about what is accomplished.
Good = Cares about others.
Evil = Cares about self.

Lawful Good = It must be done right for the good of all.
Lawful Evil = It must be done right for the good of me.
Chaotic Good = The good of all must improve.
Chaotic Evil = The good of me must improve.

(Remember, these are guidelines, not rules.)


TOZ wrote:

Law = Cares about how it is done.

Chaos = Cares about what is accomplished.
Good = Cares about others.
Evil = Cares about self.

That part sounds really good to me, though I'd phrase it a bit longer:

Law = How it is done is as important as the result.
Chaos = Whatever works best should be done.
Good = Cares about other above self.
Evil = Cares about self without regard to others.

However, I think one shouldn't try to define Lawful Good or Lawful Evil. I think it's better to regard them completely separate. You are Lawful and Good.


W E Ray wrote:


Still, not everyone uses the Planescape, Alignment-is-absolute model. And it's not the default model for D&D.

It actually is. In lots of different threads when asked about alignment (Particularly is Summoning an Evil Outsider an evil act) spells with the evil descriptor are concretely evil acts, always and forever. Doesn't matter if you used blood crow strike to stop a murder or summoned Barbazu to save an orphanage, those two actions are concretely evil. (Again, this is distinct from actually stopping the murder and saving the orphanage, both of which are separate actions weighed individually from the other actions)

And I fundamentally disagree with alignment being the purview of the players. Alignment is a setting concern, and as such always the jurisdiction of the GM. It is as always the responsibility of the GM to communicate to their players how alignment works in the world, the only time players have a say in the way actions are weighed comes from talking with the GM to get input, and convince in one direction or the other.

Though I've now been interested in an idea: Why not create a guide to Alignment options? A sort of rulebook detailing all sorts of ways in which alignment can be deployed in a world, ranging from it's complete absence (and a set of rules that help convert spells and effects that deal with alignment into an alingmentless world) To a very concrete every action is X, Neutral, or Y.

Grand Lodge

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@ Jeranimus,

I certainly feel the Campaign Setting is the purview of the DM -- all NPCs and monsters and the cosmology.

But a PC's Alignment is the purview of the Player.

So if Player "A" feels that such-n-such is what LG is and that's what he feels his PC is, then that's what LG is for him and he must play the game with that definition.

Even if, oddly enough, Player "B" is playing his CG PC the same way and feels that that's what CG is.

And there will be times in pretty much every campaign where the Player needs to ask the DM about a monster's Alignment in a given situation and go from there.

SO the LE Medusa is LE according to the DM and the LG Town Guard is LG according to the DM but, even in paradoxical situations, the LG PC is LG according to the Player.

Cuz you can't EVER tell me what is right and wrong and I can't EVER tell you what is right and wrong.

Shadow Lodge

I can tell you what is right and wrong in my campaign world, and how your PCs thoughts and actions determine his alignment under that. You can say that those ideas of right and wrong are not how the real world works, but if I say they work in my campaign world, and your character inhabits my campaign world, then I can tell you what alignment he is.

Not saying it's right, but if you can't change the DMs mind, that's how it is.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TOZ wrote:

Law = Cares about how it is done.

Chaos = Cares about what is accomplished.
Good = Cares about others.
Evil = Cares about self.

Lawful Good = It must be done right for the good of all.
Lawful Evil = It must be done right for the good of me.
Chaotic Good = The good of all must improve.
Chaotic Evil = The good of me must improve.

(Remember, these are guidelines, not rules.)

Using this arrangement, how would you distinguish between neutral and neutral evil?

I think everyone cares about themselves - evil involves active desire to harm others, in my view.

I dont think alignment is real, so I'm not talking about 'in real life' I mean within the context of a gameworld where good/evil/law/chaos are actual, real, objective 'things'.

Shadow Lodge

Steve Geddes wrote:


Using this arrangement, how would you distinguish between neutral and neutral evil?

NE will harm more people to improve himself than N.


TOZ wrote:

I can tell you what is right and wrong in my campaign world, and how your PCs thoughts and actions determine his alignment under that. You can say that those ideas of right and wrong are not how the real world works, but if I say they work in my campaign world, and your character inhabits my campaign world, then I can tell you what alignment he is.

Not saying it's right, but if you can't change the DMs mind, that's how it is.

I am gonna agree with ToZ here. If you say you are LG and I the GM feel you are in no way acting LG, then you are not LG you are just delusional.


Seriously, that escapist article that's been referenced, that's the best breakdown of how to seriously portray alignment I've *ever* read. If you have never taken a college ethics course, you should, if for no other reason than to give you the educational background to make sense out of that article. It's *that* good.

Here it is again in case you missed it the first couple times.

And for the record, Jeremy Bentham is the most awesome philosopher who ever lived.


W E Ray wrote:
Aranna wrote:


Lawful cares more about How something is done.
Chaotic cares more about The results of your actions.

CE: Does it care about "the results" of its actions? (likely only in some deep, subconscious, or instinctive philosophical manner)

LE: In addition to the "How," doesn't Asmodeus, for example but any stereotype Devil, spend a great deal of time considering "the Results"?

. . . .

I propose your statement could be...
Lawful cares more about "how" and "to what end" -- often long-term thinking
Chaotic doesn't care about "how" or "to what end" -- often short-term thinking

I'm basically saying Chaotic equals stupid

Yes I am happy to help.

CE does indeed care about the results just remember good results for an evil person MUST include benefits for himself.

LE I am not saying they don't consider the results else why bother doing anything. I am saying 'how' is more important than the 'result'. A powerful being like a devil could just kill you and steal your soul like a demon might. BUT they want you to sign it away yourself in a contract. Why? Obviously because the 'how' matters more than getting that soul. They still want the soul, but it matters how it's done. I can see why they might dispise demons for always cheating.

Long or short term thinking could be attributed to either... not sure it matters against alignment.

Chaotic isn't stupid... no alignment should be considered stupid.


W E Ray wrote:

I certainly feel the Campaign Setting is the purview of the DM -- all NPCs and monsters and the cosmology.

But a PC's Alignment is the purview of the Player.

Cuz you can't EVER tell me what is right and wrong and I can't EVER tell you what is right and wrong.

No by the rules of Pathfinder, alignment is the purview of the GM. They actually write that into the rules. And I know why. It is important that in a game where alignment matters that everyone be on the same page as it far as interpreting alignment. You might not agree with your GM on what an alignment means but for his game his interpretation is the correct one.


Aranna wrote:
W E Ray wrote:


Cuz you can't EVER tell me what is right and wrong and I can't EVER tell you what is right and wrong.

No by the rules of Pathfinder, alignment is the purview of the GM. They actually write that into the rules. And I know why. It is important that in a game where alignment matters that everyone be on the same page as it far as interpreting alignment. You might not agree with your GM on what an alignment means but for his game his interpretation is the correct one.

Aranna is completely correct about needing a standard to facilitate gameplay effects (smite evil, detect alignment, ect). That's one of the reasons alignment threads are such sticky issues.

Ray, I'm not sure if you were being tongue in cheek or not, because what you're talking about is called Moral Relativism and it's actually provably false in it's premises. (In fact, the premises Moral Relativism is based on invalidate *all* moral beliefs and measurements)

Not only do we need there to be an objective standard for the mechanics of gameplay, but we have to believe/assume that an objective moral standard exists in real life as well. Even if we admit that we don't actually know what the standard is, we have to assume there *is* one. Without that assumption the entire discussion falls apart.

Socrates actually proved that there must be an ethical standard apart from what people believe. (in the same argument he proved the complete irrelevance of gods as moral agents)


Steve Geddes wrote:

Using this arrangement, how would you distinguish between neutral and neutral evil?

I think everyone cares about themselves - evil involves active desire to harm others, in my view.

Neutral people try to avoid harming others without good reason. They do harm others but they need justification beyond what an evil person would require. In fact evil people don't avoid harming others unless doing so would cause more harm to himself than he wants to deal with. Evil people often enjoy harming others, especially if they can get away with it.

Liberty's Edge

The "deluge of alignment threads" is made possible mostly because of 2 factors :

1) People think they know the RAW but they actually only remember what they understood from the RAW and tend to interprete instead of quote.

This is a very very commun occurrence in most rules posts but it can spread to other topics too (such as advice posts). It is very easy to detect this as the posters state something as being the RAW but do not give specific quotes and sources that would allow other posters to check the RAW.

Note that this is in almost all cases not done consciously to mislead people, but because it is how the human mind works : we are so sure of what we "know" that we totally believe in it and do not even think of double-checking unless we have developed, usually for professional needs, the habit of citing quotes and sources.

Note also that this is not specific to alignment threads, even if it appears to be even more common there. In fact, I do not remember ever seeing an alignment post citing the CRB's text on alignments.

2) People do not agree on what the words used in the RAW actually mean.

That is also a very human thing which is the source of most problems and conflicts which occur in everyday life on every scale, from individuals to nations. Miscommunication, misunderstanding.

For example, the CRB text on Evil vs Good makes a lot of how a character treats "innocent life". However, it does not define with zero ambiguity what "innocent life" is. And maybe it is in fact impossible to completely define it as for any definition, someone might find a case that doesn't fit.

For example, many people believe that innocent = good, or even of the Good alignment. Other people might believe that innocent = who has not committed evil acts. The difference, however small, will be enough to spark endless debates, as the two definitions are in fact irreconciliable.

Still, these 2 factors do not explain why there IS an actual deluge of Alignment threads.

This stems from the third and greatest cause :

3) Alignment has important game impacts, both RP and mechanics, the Paladin being the most obvious example.

If Alignment had zero impact on the game, especially where game mechanics are concerned, the threads would be very few and short ones as only exegetes of the rules would be interested in them.

Such is very far from the case in RAW, where Alignment can impact your character's powers, hit points, condition, thus affecting both the playability of your character and his ability to survive.

Hence the unending (and never to be ended) deluge mentioned by the OP.


W E Ray wrote:

And Good and Evil are Ethical Alignments.

And Lawful and Chaotic are Personality Alignments.

Totally agree with this.

I think this is why the whole issue is so problematic.

The Good/Neutral/Evil axis is a much clearer cut than the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic axis. Even though, as stated, Good vs Evil can be very much a question of perspective.
It's just that Lawful vs Chaotic is even more relative.

And mixing both makes for a real headache.


The point several people tried to raise already is that alignment has mechanical game effect. Smite, detect, alignment restrictions etc.

How I've run it in my campaigns: simple. I see it all from the perspective of the Gods and other players in the greater planar war. Alignment is the flag of your uniform, colour of your playing piece, which side you're supposed to be on.
It doesnt limit or even describe your behaviour, but it DOES say something about who is expecting you to behave accordingly - and who will judge your afterlife . (That last point acts as nice motivation for my villains: if you are being judged by demons you act differently from if you are judged by axiomatic constructs).

In my worlds, you are unaligned until consciously choosing a side, such as ritual initiation to a religion. A paladin, cleric or druid has effectively sold his soul to the angels/devils/whatevers in exchange for his divine powers. The janitor of the evil cult may suck at acting evil, but will still detect as such if he went through the rites and formally pledged his soul.

Enforcing the paladin code is then a matter of the same angels directly or indirectly issuing warnings (from dreams to lightning bolts) if you are not acting in their interest.

note that the gods may well be inconsistent (like the greek pantheon), so that the DM doesnt need to memorise Kant or other philosophers.

Changing alignment becomes a non-trivial act (reminiscent of AD&D) that requires the new 'liege' to formally accept you (but chaos is not picky and lawful evil accepts you if you accept the terms), while getting you severely blacklisted with the former one.

SUM: alignment is a mechanical effect and should be defined as something objective. Alignment as 'property tag' is consistent for all game effects without needing to agree on all ethnical definitions or dillemmas.

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