why alignment (for characters) needs to go


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Does alignment give you power, or do very powerful people just have very extreme alignments?

I love me some egg with some chicken.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

...in an era where we should step away from heated extremism and exclusive mentalities...


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:

... , because books have word count restrictions and Paizo has had to cut down on stuff to meet them in the past. ... (edit)

I can respect that. I was trying to find a way to change things without ruining anyone who does love alignment's fun. I think the *least* disruptive option would be the class mechanics rules being optional. To me it forces the issue to the start of a game rather than the middle (if it was going to be an issue) - puts the pressure on the player (well if you agreed to play in the game and it was stated 'full alignment rules' then it's really your problem not the GM's...) and at the same time leaves the vast majority of how alignment interacts with the game alone. To me it's worth a dozen or two words.

I’m a fan of alignment, but you’ve made a number of reasonable points. How do you model stories with profane/sacred sites?

I’m thinking of all the modules over the years: “if a good character drinks from the pool then...” or “it can only be wielded by an evil....” and so forth.

Do you just make those restrictions descriptive, rather than mechanically defined?

I can answer that.

Currently in the game there are two classes - Cleric and Oracle. One is has class mechanics tied to alignment. The other does not. What - currently - happens if that Oracle drinks from the pool? Now pretend the pool swaps your alignment. What - currently - happens if they *both* drink from the pool. One of them looses powers.

The new optional rules would treat the Cleric like the Oracle. The Cleric would then be free to role play the alignment change - even making the change subtle instead of 'Star Trek goatee' - and thus (at least - in my opinion) opening up a deeper and more interesting story than 'cleric drinks from well - looses powers - needs atonement' and sucks until they get it.

Or - the story moves on if the players aren't interested. I've found over the years my players are always more interested in exploring morality and consequences when they aren't made to be useless mechanically by the rules. My game isn't all experiences so I don't pretend that this would be a great thing for everyone - but taking JJ's initial comment (how I opened this thread - I'll admit it was a grab to get the discussion flowing) - I feel like those who are having fun with alignment shouldn't over-shadow those who have had it create tension, anger or other bad experiences at the table.

The fact that GM's warn against CN, CE, (all evil but especially CE) because it creates player agency to disrupt things and blame alignment, the fact that 'will my paladin fall' threads exist, the fact that people get very upset over the idea that in 'Janes game - she lets undead exist that aren't evil'. I see those as bad - and if making alignment optional gets the conversation in front of the table and stops even *some* of these things - then it's a good and healthy change for the game right?


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I feel like I'm the only one that has played an evil character in the same party as a paladin and it was a positive experience.

I also have a recurring PC that plays around with the concept of good and evil and alignment shifts.

Why on Earth would there be water that made you evil without immediately giving you powers from being full of profane energies that would cause such a thing or render the PC an NPC? That's a terrible example. In fact I was witness to a similar situation where the effecton the paladin was not "You are now evil. Enjoy" because that's not an alignment shift that's gold kryptonite. Instead the player was rewarded with powers for evil deeds encouraged by a voince in hiss head. Of course the Paladin fell and wasn't butthurt about it because we all knew good and well what this was leading to. A surprise forced alignment shift is not something that makes sense or is fair.

I'm going to say that the only time I've seen a freakout over alignment was the player that thought LG should not be in the party because it would be a straightjacket to being murderhobos and always goes for CN as an "I can do whatever I want and alignment can't stop me". I don't care what you do regardless of alignment but if you murder the friendly barmaid because the mead was terrible your character is a psychopath and cosmic entities lean to peg you as an agent of entropy and death.


Malwing wrote:

Why on Earth would there be water that made you evil without immediately giving you powers from being full of profane energies that would cause such a thing or render the PC an NPC? That's a terrible example.

The Helm of Opposite alignment has been in the game from AD&D 1st.

Hello Mr. Terrible example (made into a pool form) and thank you for pointing out how alignment has had terrible things tied to it from the start of the game.

This is why alignment tied to mechanics should be optional. Thank you for making my point in another subtle way.


Kaladin_Stormblessed wrote:

It actually does change things, because books have word count restrictions and Paizo has had to cut down on stuff to meet them in the past.

Not word count restrictions but page limitations. The number of pages in a printed book must normally be a multiple of four and printing a book becomes more expensive the more pages you add, especially if these are full color pages.

You can always scale down an illustration to get some space back for example.

But anyway, yes the space in any given book is limited and its better to make efficient use of it.


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Quote:
Currently in the game there are two classes - Cleric and Oracle. One is has class mechanics tied to alignment. The other does not. What - currently - happens if that Oracle drinks from the pool? Now pretend the pool swaps your alignment. What - currently - happens if they *both* drink from the pool. One of them looses powers.

Simple. Ban it. Ban any compulsory alignment changes. Curses doing it. Alignment is a function of your free will. Paladin dominated to kill innocent kid shall not fall. Fault is on mindbender hand and gods and cosmos see it.

Therefore cleric is bound still by devotion to god and can lose powers only if god wants him to loose them, while oracle is made by independent agent - at worse if deities that took part in creation are angry for her they can.

So even without alignment - cleric can still fall.
Because he is agent of power beyond him.

Quote:
The Helm of Opposite alignment has been in the game from AD&D 1st.

Time to euthanise poor old fellow and forget his name afterward.


@ Helm of Opposite Alignment:Dafuq?! Why does it change your alignment permanently? It can be a fun item if it lasted as long as the helm is on. We did something similar but having a party member turn evil isn't fun if they're neutered so they got powers but they didn't have to atone for stuff they didn't actually do. That doesn't even make sense.


I hope this edition has a "Helm of similar alignment, but you have a different perspective on things now and want to start collecting Hummel figurines."


Ckorik wrote:


The Helm of Opposite alignment has been in the game from AD&D 1st.

Hello Mr. Terrible example (made into a pool form) and thank you for pointing out how alignment has had terrible things tied to it from the start of the game.

I've not played with a Helm of Opposite Alignment, but I can see how it might make part of an interesting campaign just by thinking about it.

For a more up-to-date example, consider the Apocalypse Locust in Bestiary 4 and Wrath of the Righteous, a monster whose particular focus is on branding opponents in ways that revoke Good or Law-based powers. That is a scale of metaphysical threat you can't have without hard-baked alignment.

I am still failing to see how "your agency is restricted because something messes with your alignment" is terrible but "your agency is restricted because the orc just killed you" or "your agency is restricted because the medusa turned you to stone" isn't, and I wish you'd expand on the distinction as you see it.


Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:


Simple. Ban it. Ban any compulsory alignment changes. Curses doing it. Alignment is a function of your free will.

Why would you assume free will has to work that way in all possible game settings?

Or to put it another way, if somebody's character concept starts as "someone who will react to situation X by doing Y", is it a problem for you if they then reliably react to situation X by doing Y ?


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:


Simple. Ban it. Ban any compulsory alignment changes. Curses doing it. Alignment is a function of your free will.

Why would you assume free will has to work that way in all possible game settings?

Or to put it another way, if somebody's character concept starts as "someone who will react to situation X by doing Y", is it a problem for you if they then reliably react to situation X by doing Y ?

My issue in this case is that the change is permanent except by an atonement spell. Just the atonement spell is kind of bunk because it admits that doing something out of your control can change your alignment. That part doesn't make sense to me.

The effect itself is okay in the sense that turning under magical compulsion is a common trope to play around with but this functionally renders that character an NPC given that it messes with the player's agency.


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I don't see why alignment shifts are the player agency remover that's a bridge too far. There's spells fairly early on that can instantly render you blind (aka virtual NPC status for martials), turn you into a sheep (with the mental prowess of one if you're real unfortunate), make you befriend the evil wizard (charm), obey his commands (dominate), or turn you into a drooling idiot incapable of speech (feeblemind). Agency isn't some sacrosanct thing that never gets messed with aside from those gosh-darn alignment shifters. They've been around forever and a good chunk of them are much harder to reverse than a Helm of Opposite Alignment and an Atonement.


Malwing wrote:


The effect itself is okay in the sense that turning under magical compulsion is a common trope to play around with but this functionally renders that character an NPC given that it messes with the player's agency.

Still not seeing how affecting a player's agency this way is qualitatively different to you from all the other effects in the game that do so, I'm afraid. And I'd like to.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


For a more up-to-date example, consider the Apocalypse Locust in Bestiary 4 and Wrath of the Righteous, a monster whose particular focus is on branding opponents in ways that revoke Good or Law-based powers. That is a scale of metaphysical threat you can't have without hard-baked alignment.

I have to be honest - I think that creature is bad game design. In full disclosure I appreciate *it* more than the current 'GM Decides' type of fall conditions - because it at least is a mechanic with solid wording that everyone can understand. It is similar to a save or die effect - so there isn't cause to argue nuance over it - you save you are fine - you fail - you fall. That's a mechanic that works.

I only think it's bad design because it singles out certain classes - but that's a different discussion.

Quote:


I am still failing to see how "your agency is restricted because something messes with your alignment" is terrible but "your agency is restricted because the orc just killed you" or "your agency is restricted because the medusa turned you to stone" isn't, and I wish you'd expand on the distinction as you see it.

I have a section of the rulebook that tells me how I lose and regain hit points, what happens when I lose them, how many I have to lose until I die, and under what circumstances that I may die instantly. You and I can read those rules - they are pretty black and white. I can expect you to follow the rules unless you make a change to them (as the GM). It's accepted table manners that if you make a change to these rules (say everyone has 10 hit points - ever) then they should be told to the party before they are enforced (Now that you are level 5 - did I mention you all have 10 hit points?).

If you make a change to the rules for hit points and announce it - I have the option of *not investing my real world time, creativity, and effort* into your game unless I agree to those terms. Should we all agree on the rule *change* we sit down and I don't really have a leg to stand on if my character dies.

If you don't make a change to the rules - we both agreed to use the *printed - hard coded* rules that we all can understand. Math is nice that way - and why game mechanics use math - mostly because few people can argue that 1+1 = 2 is incorrect, or that 10-9 = 1. We play - my hit points drop low enough - I died - but within the established rules for the game - we agreed this is a possible outcome.

Alignment doesn't have these rules. It has the following:


  • and yet no two characters with the same alignment are exactly alike
  • You'll find that some of these words appear in more than one alignment.
  • When a character performs an action that is out of character for his listed alignment, the GM decides whether the action is enough to shift the character's alignment
  • Remember that if players wanted to play characters of other alignments, they would have asked to play them, and radical shifts ruin many character concepts.
  • For some characters, changing alignment is a character-altering concept akin to destroying a wizard's spellbook or amputating an archer's arm—the scars are long-lasting, hard to reverse, and end up punishing the player.

These are all quotes from the PRD - in the very rules it says 'GM decides' - and that 'changing alignment' (may be) ' akin to destroying a wizard's spellbook, or amputating an arm'

In all honesty, I feel like many people here aren't even reading the alignment section of the book - the rules themselves acknowledge everything I've pointed out.

To directly answer you question - because the rules rely on GM fiat and not math - what you consider an alignment changing action I might consider a core tenant. You changing my alignment is by the rules as arbitrary as saying a rock falls on your character and you die. Sure it's within the rules of the game - but the GM just waisted the players time and the player has a right to be upset.


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Malwing wrote:

My issue in this case is that the change is permanent except by an atonement spell. Just the atonement spell is kind of bunk because it admits that doing something out of your control can change your alignment. That part doesn't make sense to me.

See now here is another fact - they have clarified that a Paladin that is dominated and made to perform an evil act - does indeed fall (now most classes don't instantly change alignments - however if they (by GM fiat) were on the cusp they might also).

So yes - actions you are forced to do outside of your ability to control do - in fact - count against alignment. This is just another part of alignment that shows how reasonable people can disagree over how it should work - and why the system should be optional to start.

When that fact came out it surprised quite a few people on the forums - and my guess is that a majority of the groups out there play it wrong (this - by the way - is another good reason to make a system optional - when the rules as written are so mis-applied or used they might just be bad rules)


Well these are things I never really interact with other than one character where my backstory was that I was evil and didn't change alignment but was under magical compulsion to change alignments. So I guess I'm against interacting with alignment to that degree, but otherwise I don't care either way whether alignment is in or not. I just don't think that doing an evil act under compulsion should do that.


Someone probably brought this up but;

Players make it to the big bad evil demon. Now before or as the group gets their it casts Protect from.... Um?

Meanwhile the devoid from this pesky morality the team's spell faster puts up Protect from Evil.


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Ckorik wrote:
To directly answer you question - because the rules rely on GM fiat and not math - what you consider an alignment changing action I might consider a core tenant. You changing my alignment is by the rules as arbitrary as saying a rock falls on your character and you die. Sure it's within the rules of the game - but the GM just waisted the players time and the player has a right to be upset.

So have you got a problem with it other than either not trusting your GM or for some reason that is still unclear to me rejecting "talk it out with your GM in session 0" as sufficient answer?

Why are you assuming a GM will be this scale of clueless and insensitive ?


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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


...in an era where we should step away from heated extremism and exclusive mentalities...

...we more than ever need a mechanic incentivising getting into the heads of people who think differently from how we think ourselves, and roleplaying them consistently ?


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MerlinCross wrote:

Someone probably brought this up but;

Players make it to the big bad evil demon. Now before or as the group gets their it casts Protect from.... Um?

Meanwhile the devoid from this pesky morality the team's spell faster puts up Protect from Evil.

My suggestion doesn't remove alignment from the rest of the game. Nothing would change here.

*edit* as an aside. What would happen if your 4 party group (a fighter, a wizard, an oracle, and a rogue) who all have neutral alignments in the current game went up against the same demon now.

Alignment doesn't even matter to well over half the classes in this game already - the fact that some of them are still using the system is the problem - not the way the rest of the game works.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:

So have you got a problem with it other than either not trusting your GM or for some reason that is still unclear to me rejecting "talk it out with your GM in session 0" as sufficient answer?

Why are you assuming a GM will be this scale of clueless and insensitive ?

Why are you so against alignment to be optional? Are you afraid your table actually doesn't really like the system and will reject it?

This change would add the word Optional to about two dozen spots in the class section, and require no effort on your part other than a line in your campaign document under House Rules that says "Alignment: This campaign will use all optional alignment rules and restrictions".

I realize there are like a dozen alignment threads right now - so I'll re-state:

Alignment on a character sheet: Keep
Alignment used as an RP tool: Keep
All alignment options for NPCS: Keep

Class restrictions on abilities or mechanics: Optional - and opt-in only.

Opt-in vs. opt-out is a small change that would improve many tables of play - I ask again - if the change really wouldn't affect your game, or your table, or even require work on your part to change any adventure or product if you were using alignment, why do you care?


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Removing the alignment restriction on Barbarian and Monk I can buy (especially for Monk if Brawler isn't brought back). Cleric and Paladin, though? No.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
It feels like your position is the equivalent of saying Anthony Hopkins must be an irredeemably evil person because he decided to play Hannibal Lecter in some movies.

No, and I’m very confused how you’re getting that out of what I’m saying.

Your reaction to the hypothetical of a fictional universe presenting things (that you-the-player regard as morally unacceptable) as good, as an imposition on you-the-player rather than a restriction on your character. If they're not equivalent, I would like to understand how not.

That’s obvious. If you have two Monk PCs, both of which are lawful but only one of which is lawful not because the player intended his Monk character to be lawful but because that’s what it takes to avoid losing the ability to gain further levels, then neither Monk PC is restricted, but one of the players is. Neither Monk PC knows any of the ins or outs of how he came to be any more than he’s aware of how his life is governed by die rolls and neither one would feel restricted. One of the Monk players, on the other hand, very much did get restricted.

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Quote:


I’m talking about the game setting that the player is making a character in, due to how it just out and out declares morality to provably work this specific way, is telling the player to go screw himself.

I am not seeing the logic linking your premise to your conclusion there.

The logic of the game setting limiting characters in any way is a matter of flavour.

How is "X is regarded as Good in this setting. You can play characters who agree or characters who disagree, and the setting will respond appropriately" any more of a restriction on the player than "We are playing a game set in a medieval European monastery so you can't be a samurai" ?

Both of those are premises for a fictional setting. I am all in favour of people choosing to play in or otherwise enjoy whatever settings they like - but also in favour of settings being consistent and coherent, and I find settings more emotionally satisfying, and triumph in them more meaningful, if they are not set up to arbitrarily provide unrealistic levels of the universe assuring me-the-player that my opinions are ultimately how things work.

I’ll get to the bolded in my response to your response to Ckorik below.

It isn’t about assuring you-the-player that your opinions are ultimately how things work. It’s about avoiding telling you they aren’t. That’s it. It leaves you, the person to your left, the GM, and everyone able to come to your own conclusions rather than engaging in an exercise of mental contortion to justify the conclusion that you’re expected to arrive at, regardless of how unpalatable it might be. Anthony Hopkins doesn’t have to have the right worldview regarding Hannibal Lector. He just shouldn’t be told he isn’t allowed to have his own worldview.

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Quote:


Using Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector as an example, this would be the equivalent of the movie telling Mr. Hopkins not only must he portray Hannibal Lector as a character who buys into his own twisted worldview, but that he, Anthony Hopkins himself, must also buy into that worldview.

That's absolutely not what I am saying, and I do not see how you get it from where I am.

What I am saying is that a movie or TV series that presented a story in which Hannibal Lecter wins, at whatever levels that matter to him to win - that presents no universal morality punishing him for what he does - is not a story with whose underlying morality an actor needs to be in agreement in order to be interested in playing Hannibal Lecter.
Roleplaying characters fundamentally different from me, in universes fundamentally different from ours or from ones I would find congenial, is not something that requires me to approve, morally, of the characters or the metaphysics of the worlds.
There are plenty of aspects of Golarion I'd rather not live with in day-to-day life. There are also plenty of aspects of reality I'd rather not live with in day-to-day life. Fictional worlds that don't have bits I'd rather not live with are a) not plausible to me and break my suspension of disbelief and b) not fun to roleplay in because they feel like playing on a ridiculously easy mode without some sorts of significant challenge. Fictional worlds that do have bits I strongly morally disagree with as a person are interesting to me because they present new challenges as a role-player.

There’s a difference between Hannibal Lecter doing evil and the story failing or refraining from manifesting any correcting action to make up for his misdeeds, and the universe outright telling him “Well done, my good and faithful son”. One leaves it open that retributive action may come later or at least that he’s still evil even if he isn’t punished for it. The other says in no uncertain terms “This is what’s right”.

Now, about those fictional worlds with all their elements that you don’t entirely agree with. Must those elements manifest in a manner that tells you-the-player “this is what’s right, now agree already”, or are those disagreeable elements still disagreeable even if they’re only presented in a manner that says “right, wrong, or some philosophically complicated mix of the two, it exists and it is what it is”?

To put it another way, does Starfinder have none of these disagreeable elements? Does it not challenge you at all?

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
To directly answer you question - because the rules rely on GM fiat and not math - what you consider an alignment changing action I might consider a core tenant. You changing my alignment is by the rules as arbitrary as saying a rock falls on your character and you die. Sure it's within the rules of the game - but the GM just waisted the players time and the player has a right to be upset.

So have you got a problem with it other than either not trusting your GM or for some reason that is still unclear to me rejecting "talk it out with your GM in session 0" as sufficient answer?

Why are you assuming a GM will be this scale of clueless and insensitive ?

There’s a difference between a session 0 where both sides come from a position of equality where they both have to champion their view and a session 0 where one side must start at a disadvantage because they have to fight an uphill battle to play their character how they see fit. Not because it’s a poor character concept or even because the GM or any of the other players disagree, but because of how much clout RAW has. Clout it probably shouldn’t have, but clout that it has nonetheless.

How many arguments have there been since P1E started about playing non-human Paladin? Or a lawful Bard? Individual groups might still have a GM that reimposes those old restrictions but any given player can go to any given P1E group and reasonably expect “I have a lawful Bard concept and this will not be an issue”. Even if this is rejected once, he still has a reasonable expectation that he won’t have to walk away from group after group after group after group.

So while yes, a game set in a medieval Europe monastery may not have room for Samurai, what are the odds that a player wanting to play a Samurai is going to have to search and search and search, group after group after group, arguing for a Samurai character from a position of disadvantage each and every time for a solid freaking decade until he finally gets to sit down and play his cool character just like everyone else at that table?


Ckorik wrote:

Why are you so against alignment to be optional? Are you afraid your table actually doesn't really like the system and will reject it?

I am not against alignment being optional, as stated above.

As a separate issue from that, I am asking whether you have a problem with alignment not being optional that isn't an issue of trust between players and GM.

Quote:


Opt-in vs. opt-out is a small change that would improve many tables of play - I ask again - if the change really wouldn't affect your game, or your table, or even require work on your part to change any adventure or product if you were using alignment, why do you care?

And, as I have also said before, I care because lots of people only want to play with core mechanics, because making alignment opt-in therefore makes finding compatible players more difficult in ways which can easily have nothing to do with how they feel about alignment and just be about not playing with non-core rules, and because it is easier to cut something out of your game than add it in.


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Tectorman wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


Your reaction to the hypothetical of a fictional universe presenting things (that you-the-player regard as morally unacceptable) as good, as an imposition on you-the-player rather than a restriction on your character. If they're not equivalent, I would like to understand how not.

That’s obvious. If you have two Monk PCs, both of which are lawful but only one of which is lawful not because the player intended his Monk character to be lawful but because that’s what it takes to avoid losing the ability to gain further levels, then neither Monk PC is restricted, but one of the players is.

I am inclined to think that is splitting a remarkably fine hair. Playing Pathfinder is a choice not to play GURPS, which does mix-and-match anything-you-like very well if that is what you happen to feel like (and which I will almost certainly run significantly more of than PF this year). It's a choice for a rule system that fits a specific genre, and against rules and setting with very different cosmologies and tones, like Warhammer 40K or Nobilis or Paranoia. It's a choice to be restricted by the rules of Pathfinder as distinct from the rules of Civilisation III or Pandemic or kittensgame or Sandcastle Builder or chess (well, except for the shogi bit in chapter 5 of Jade Regent if you look at it from the right angle) or Red 7 or Pathologic or strip spelling bees or many another congenial way of spending an evening.

Accepting that many restrictions but then regarding an alignment restriction specifically as unacceptably reducing player agency feels to me like swallowing camels and straining at gnats.

Quote:


It isn’t about assuring you-the-player that your opinions are ultimately how things work. It’s about avoiding telling you they aren’t.

But nothing about alignment is telling a player whether their opinions are ultimately how things work or not. It's just about declaring how they work in one specific fictional universe.

Quote:

It leaves you, the person to your left, the GM, and everyone able to come to your own conclusions rather than engaging in an exercise of mental contortion to justify the conclusion that you’re expected to arrive at, regardless of how unpalatable it might be.

This still feels like I am not making my point clearly.

Why are you going from "this is how Good and Evil work in this universe" to "therefore you as a player are expected to justify them, agree with them, or think that they are fair" ? Or indeed "therefore your character is necessarily expected to agree with them or think that they are fair" ? The examples I gave of character concepts that work with an alignment system a few posts ago intentionally covered a wide range of in-universe attitudes to the alignment system.

Quote:
There’s a difference between Hannibal Lecter doing evil and the story failing or refraining from manifesting any correcting action to make up for his misdeeds, and the universe outright telling him “Well done, my good and faithful son”. One leaves it open that retributive action may come later or at least that he’s still evil even if he isn’t punished for it. The other says in no uncertain terms “This is what’s right”.

That would be a place where it is trivially easy to find major difference of interpretation among real people IME, and I am not seeing "difference in ethics comes up without warning in setting with no existing guidelines" as necessarily easier to handle happening a a table than "difference of ethics comes in setting with established ethical assumptions that one can decide whether one is comfortable with or not in advance."

Quote:
There’s a difference between a session 0 where both sides come from a position of equality where they both have to champion their view and a session 0 where one side must start at a disadvantage because they have to fight an uphill battle to play their character how they see fit. Not because it’s a poor character concept or even because the GM or any of the other players disagree, but because of how much clout RAW has.

I don't see "your character has to fit the setting" as an intolerable imposition. I see it as an essential part of selecting the game and kind of game you want to play.

A character concept isn't a poor character concept because it doesn't fit a world, and ruling that a character concept is inappropriate is not the same thing as judging it poor.

Quote:


So while yes, a game set in a medieval Europe monastery may not have room for Samurai, what are the odds that a player wanting to play a Samurai is going to have to search and search and search, group after group after group, arguing for a Samurai character from a position of disadvantage each and every time for a solid freaking decade until he finally gets to sit down and play his cool character just like everyone else at that table?

Nothing stops people who want to play samurai playing a Pathfinder game set in Tian Xia, or indeed playing Legend of the Five Rings.

Somebody who is really attached to playing a samurai specifically in a game set in a medieval European monastery seems to me to be actively choosing a position of disadvantage.


the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
Somebody who is really attached to playing a samurai specifically in a game set in a medieval European monastery seems to me to be actively choosing a position of disadvantage.

Or they really like Soul Calibur! Mitsurugi IS a pretty cool dude.


Ckorik wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:

Someone probably brought this up but;

Players make it to the big bad evil demon. Now before or as the group gets their it casts Protect from.... Um?

Meanwhile the devoid from this pesky morality the team's spell faster puts up Protect from Evil.

My suggestion doesn't remove alignment from the rest of the game. Nothing would change here.

*edit* as an aside. What would happen if your 4 party group (a fighter, a wizard, an oracle, and a rogue) who all have neutral alignments in the current game went up against the same demon now.

Alignment doesn't even matter to well over half the classes in this game already - the fact that some of them are still using the system is the problem - not the way the rest of the game works.

But you seem cool with disallowing any and all Alignment based spells from targeting the party is what you're saying?

If it goes away from the players, certain effects are removed. Chaos Hammer, Smite Good, Protect evil; I'm sure there's a decent number of spell's or effects out there that just wouldn't work. Which is a mechanic.

As for an all Neutral team, unlikely but possible. However the we get into arguements about just how Neutral they are and should be.


Well it seems that paladins can fall


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NetoD20 wrote:
Although I agree that morality is subjective in the real world (and mind you, a lot of people in the real world are going to say otherwise). Morality in Pathfinder and its parent D&D are NOT subjective.

The rulebooks say that in-game morality is objective, but they do a remarkably piss-poor job of defining it-- to the degree that what little detail they offer is arbitrary and contradictory.

Which means that, in practical terms, the objective morality of the in-game universe is the subjective-- and typically shockingly uninformed-- moral opinions of the guy behind the DM screen, who has been encouraged by these poorly written rules to brook no discussion on the topic.

Because "morality is objective", so the players' opinions about it matter as much as their opinions about gravity.


MerlinCross wrote:


But you seem cool with disallowing any and all Alignment based spells from targeting the party is what you're saying?

No - I haven't said that.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


As a separate issue from that, I am asking whether you have a problem with alignment not being optional that isn't an issue of trust between players and GM.

Yes. I've stated so several times. The alignment rules even point out why they suck in the core rulebook as it stands now.

At this point it feels like you are moving from genuine questions to trolling. I am not going to repeat myself several more times if you can't understand what I mean by what I've previously written then just agree that we are unable to communicate and move on.

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And, as I have also said before, I care because lots of people only want to play with core mechanics, because making alignment opt-in therefore makes finding compatible players more difficult in ways which can easily have nothing to do with how they feel about alignment and just be about not playing with non-core rules, and because it is easier to cut something out of your game than add it in.

Considering that alignment is built into the game as is - and given that a change like this would only affect class mechanics while leaving alignment on a character and in the game. There is only one way this could be true.

If a majority of games prefer to remove alignment - then it becomes an issue for someone who likes alignment as a mechanic. I'll be honest, if that's the case then alignment *should* be removed (just to save on word count for a system that most people don't like). If most people like the system using the rule is not an issue.

The only way there is an issue is if most people hate alignment - really if that's the case this change is an even bigger *need* than I am pointing out.


Ckorik wrote:


Yes. I've stated so several times. The alignment rules even point out why they suck in the core rulebook as it stands now.

I read the bits you quoted from the core rulebook where alignment is not clearly defined, and I am a) arguing for a DM and players talking through those things as a way of resolving those specific ambiguities in advance, and b) considering doing that a reasonable expectation of the same sorts of pre-play discussion that one has to determine the sort of tonal things one should do for a game anyway; that being clear on what you all expect from how alignment works in a particular game is exactly the same scale of thing as checking where people's preferences are on other content issues, such as avoiding spiders in a game where a player is arachnophobic.

It is sounding to me like you are rejecting a trivially easy solution to everything you have identified as a problem for you. that is very easily included as a basic expression of trust between DM and players in session 0. I am still genuinely not seeing that you have an issue with alignment beyond what's fixable by that.

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And, as I have also said before, I care because lots of people only want to play with core mechanics, because making alignment opt-in therefore makes finding compatible players more difficult in ways which can easily have nothing to do with how they feel about alignment and just be about not playing with non-core rules, and because it is easier to cut something out of your game than add it in.

Considering that alignment is built into the game as is - and given that a change like this would only affect class mechanics while leaving alignment on a character and in the game. There is only one way this could be true.

If a majority of games prefer to remove alignment - then it becomes an issue for someone who likes alignment as a mechanic. I'll be honest, if that's the case then alignment *should* be removed (just to save on word count for a system that most people don't like). If most people like the system using the rule is not an issue.

I agree here.

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The only way there is an issue is if most people hate alignment - really if that's the case this change is an even bigger *need* than I am pointing out.

This feels a little circular. It feels like I was saying "if we did it your way here would be the practical problems for me" and you're answering with "those aren't problems the way things are", which is true but how is it relevant ?


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FaerieGodfather wrote:


Which means that, in practical terms, the objective morality of the in-game universe is the subjective-- and typically shockingly uninformed-- moral opinions of the guy behind the DM screen,

An idiotic, incompetent or malevolent DM is not a problem with the alignment system.

Nor is a priori assuming that your DM will be idiotic, incompetent or malevolent.

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who has been encouraged by these poorly written rules to brook no discussion on the topic.

Encouraged ? Only if they have for some reason prioritised those over what the CRB specifies is the most important rule, on page 9.

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Because "morality is objective", so the players' opinions about it matter as much as their opinions about gravity.

Not having a conversation about how your game is going to work beforehand is also not a problem with the alignment system.

I still await an argument against the alignment system in this thread that can't be fixed by a good faith conversation about potential issues beforehand.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
necromental wrote:
Well it seems that paladins can fall

With no details and a player that was DELIBERATELY aiming for it according to that post, the underlying issues are nowhere near resolved.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Removed a few posts and some replies to them. The topic can be discussed without personal attacks, please refrain from using them.


Ckorik wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:


But you seem cool with disallowing any and all Alignment based spells from targeting the party is what you're saying?

No - I haven't said that.

Then removing the alignment from the PC(effectively making the Netrual), what happens if Chaos hammer lands?


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MerlinCross wrote:
Ckorik wrote:
MerlinCross wrote:


But you seem cool with disallowing any and all Alignment based spells from targeting the party is what you're saying?

No - I haven't said that.

Then removing the alignment from the PC(effectively making the Netrual), what happens if Chaos hammer lands?

I'm unsure what you are arguing - as 'removing the alignment from the PC' isn't anything I've said, well I suppose if you've only read the thread title, but you don't even have to leave the last few remarks to know this isn't what I've advocated so your question feels very myopic.

I've gone out of my way a dozen times over explaining that the alignment line on the sheet would still be present. If your suggesting that without alignment restrictions or penalties everyone would be neutral - my question back to you is: Is this what happens in your games for all classes that don't have alignment restrictions? I do know people who play like that. I have seen people put CN on characters specifically to avoid being called out as 'acting against alignment'.

Mostly I see people pick alignments that fit a concept of what they see for a character - except for classes that have restrictions, when I see people twist themselves into knots to get the deity and personality they want to match when alignment doesn't.

In other words - I think at the end of the day people who would rather not have an alignment at all will still pick neutral (as they do now) but might be open to trying one of the other character classes. Is that a bad thing?


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


An idiotic, incompetent or malevolent DM is not a problem with the alignment system.

Nor is a priori assuming that your DM will be idiotic, incompetent or malevolent.

Name calling?

Point out where these things have been said first before I would deign to answer such a assumptive claim.


Ckorik wrote:
the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


An idiotic, incompetent or malevolent DM is not a problem with the alignment system.

Nor is a priori assuming that your DM will be idiotic, incompetent or malevolent.

Name calling?

Point out where these things have been said first before I would deign to answer such a assumptive claim.

I would not a priori expect you to think something is aimed at you when I am clearly marking where I quote another poster, either.

I am satisfied that FaerieGodfather's post referring to DMs as having "typically shockingly uninformed-- moral opinions" does not indicate the default shape of trust I expect between players of good faith, and it does make me wonder why anyone would play with someone they think so little of.

I would still be interested if you can come up with an example of how a difference of opinion on alignment can be game-ruining at the level you described if it occurs between people of good faith who have talked it out first, as is specified in the CRB to do so in cases of ambiguity of expectation under the heading "The Most Important Rule", but I am beginning to doubt such an example actually exists.


Ckorik wrote:

I'm unsure what you are arguing - as 'removing the alignment from the PC' isn't anything I've said, well I suppose if you've only read the thread title, but you don't even have to leave the last few remarks to know this isn't what I've advocated so your question feels very myopic.

I've gone out of my way a dozen times over explaining that the alignment line on the sheet would still be present. If your suggesting that without alignment restrictions or penalties everyone would be neutral - my question back to you is: Is this what happens in your games for all classes that don't have alignment restrictions? I do know people who play like that. I have seen people put CN on characters specifically to avoid being called out as 'acting against alignment'.

Mostly I see people pick alignments that fit a concept of what they see for a character - except for classes that have restrictions, when I see people twist themselves into knots to get the deity and personality they want to match when alignment doesn't.

In other words - I think at the end of the day people who would rather not have an alignment at all will still pick neutral (as they do now) but might be open to trying one of the other character classes. Is that a bad thing?

Because if the Alignment on the sheet doesn't matter when it comes to role play, why should it matter at all? But this is arguing the mechanics side so let me flip the problem around.

No in my games, most of the time, people tend to make characters based around the Alignment system and their personality(of the character). Sure we sometimes get characters that might be on the edges of the borders but we are still CG, CN, NG, etc. Yes even with the alignment locked classes do we have a tendency of getting a decent character. Because no GM i've played with took one look at an action and instantly decreed "You are no longer CG, you are CN now".

Also I'm unsure of if this helps my argument but all those people that would still pick Neutral to avoid playing an Alignment..., are still playing an Alignment. I can trust them to save the world or the country(As that's where they live and have their stuff there) but what can I expect from them? I've seen and heard of all kinds of Neutral characters. From great to bad. Heck, I had one player in a bad game kill a mugger to save someone, take the gold the mugger had, use the money to treat a homeless man to dinner, to pry him for info about a house he was going to rob. "True Neutral".

And another problem. If we make Alignment not matter for RPing/classes but matter when it comes to mechanics(Though it sounds like having your cake and eating it), THOSE players are going to have a bloody field day. You know the type, the guys that write down CN but are actually CE. The ones that think alignment doesn't matter, not out of fear but out of uncaring. The ones that murderhobo across a game, get puzzled when no one is their friend, and still go murderhobo. Granted Alignment doesn't solve this but it give a possible baseline of judging. Ditching it will just encourage them as there is now no down side and if a DM punishes them then that's badwrongfun on his part. Heck I know one bloody min/maxer that would more than likely write down CE but still play the paragon of justice in this new system. Why? Because in his mind, there's going to be more enemies that cast vs Law/Good than Chaos/Evil. And he's CE, I mean look at his sheet.

As for if it's a bad thing, no. But if they're so fearful of not playing alignment right, mother of god, none of these possible players are going to pick paladin due to the falling issues. Or Clerics that aslo could very well eat a smite, or Druids if Nature dislikes them for basically any reason.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
I am satisfied that FaerieGodfather's post referring to DMs as having "typically shockingly uninformed-- moral opinions" does not indicate the default shape of trust I expect between players of good faith, and it does make me wonder why anyone would play with someone they think so little of.

No, my harsh statements do not reflect the reality of mature adults having a good-faith discussion of alignment issues before the game starts. You are correct in this.

I was playing D&D for years, and hating its alignment system for years, and playing without alignment for years, before I-- or any of the people I played with-- were mature enough adults to have that kind of good faith communication both before the game and during the game.

And I have enough, frequently bitter, roleplaying experience to know that there's no objective criteria you can use to determine whether or not another player is that kind of mature adult-- especially not their calendar age or years of roleplaying experience, which are often signs that a person has merely had more time to entrench their assumptions of moral infallibility.

If the game is going to assume that players are mature and reasonable enough to translate their subjective moral opinions into objective morality at the table... why are we even requiring that morality be an objective feeature of the setting at all?

What does it add to the system or its settings that it justifies interjecting another potential point of failure to the fragile social dynamics of the typical game?


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FaerieGodfather wrote:


If the game is going to assume that players are mature and reasonable enough to translate their subjective moral opinions into objective morality at the table... why are we even requiring that morality be an objective feeature of the setting at all?

It supports role-playing options that are not there otherwise; I gave examples a few posts back.

As a secondary benefit, it is enough part of the tradition of Pathfinder and D&D before it to be part of the identity of the game, which while it does turn some people off, is appealing to others; and I see it as a benefit for a game to attract people who are likely to like it.

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What does it add to the system or its settings that it justifies interjecting another potential point of failure to the fragile social dynamics of the typical game?

I'm sorry you have had bitter experiences; not been without a few myself at various points in the three decades since I started playing, including having to require people to leave groups they were not willing to fit with. It doesn't seem beneficial to the chances of getting a good game out of a set of people, though, to my mind, to begin from a position of defending it against less generous assumptions about their character, rather than giving them options that allow them to shine, or (depending on how well one knows them and can judge this) encourage them to shine by building from what one knows of their strengths.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
It supports role-playing options that are not there otherwise; I gave examples a few posts back.

Being unable to locate that post at the moment, would anything in your examples be impossible in a system where alignment was either campaign- or (preferably) character-optional?

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
As a secondary benefit, it is enough part of the tradition of Pathfinder and D&D before it to be part of the identity of the game...

Worth noting that the D&D game abandoned this tradition at the same time that the Pathfinder game branched off-- I would not consider it any more part of Pathfinder's identity than it was a part of D&D's.

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
... which while it does turn some people off, is appealing to others; and I see it as a benefit for a game to attract people who are likely to like it.

Makes it a numbers game, then, between the people who agree with me and the people who love alignment as much as we hate it.

the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:
It doesn't seem beneficial to the chances of getting a good game out of a set of people, though, to my mind, to begin from a position of defending it against less generous assumptions about their character...

It's not a matter of starting the game with poor assumptions about their character; it's a matter of the rules exacerbating specific character flaws that almost every person possesses to some degree.

Every problem I have with the alignment rules stems from the fact that they are slapped together thoughtlessly, and largely superfluous to the premises of most campaigns I've seen.

If the Pathfinder game is going to continue having morality mechanics, I am arguing that they either need to be considerably more thoughtful in their intent and function or entirely optional.

Given that people use the Pathfinder rules for both Tolkien and Howard, I would further argue that the correct answer is either "both deliberate and optional", or flexible enough to accommodate moralities and cosmologies more variable than Moorcock's.


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the nerve-eater of Zur-en-Aarh wrote:


It supports role-playing options that are not there otherwise; I gave examples a few posts back.

Characters that exist in fiction but are impossible with the game today:


  • The noble good barbarian that has a strict code of conduct (Rambo).
  • The cleric that is 100% opposite of the rest of their order (How do you solve a problem like Maria? (Sound of Music))
  • The chaotic evil druid (poison ivy)
  • The Paladin that is best friends and adventures with an evil wizard - and remains best friends with him (Dresden Files)
  • The CE Hunter that is out for trophies only (Kraven the Hunter)

I didn't even have to think hard to come up a handful of examples of characters that someone might want to play in game that can't right now due to alignment mechanics.

They could exist *with* alignment - but not with the restrictive mechanics we have in the rules today.

The restrictions do not support role-playing options they restrict them unless you play according to someone else's definition of the class.

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