Alignment: Some Thoughts


Prerelease Discussion


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I like alignments and I'd like for them to be kept in PF2 and after reading through another thread about this topic I realized that there is some disagreement in what each Alignment means so maybe it does need to be better codified in PF2.

Here is how I codify Alignment in my table:

Law Chaos Axis:

Lawful: You believe in a structured society, you likely put time and effort into maintaining order. Even if you are not a law enforcer you adhere to the laws as best you can.

Chaos: You live outside of the Law, you are a criminal or an anarchist. Rules only get on your way, or in some cases they present you with opportunities to make a profit by breaking them.

Neutral: You are not particularly interested in following or breaking the law. You likely enjoy the benefits of a structured society but put little to no effort in enforcing its laws. You might enjoy some of the profits of doing business with those who break the law but you yourself have no interest in breaking it.

Good Evil Axis:

While I define the Law and evil Axis as your role in society the good and evil axis I often refer as the limits a character is willing to go to to achieve their Goal.

Good: You value life and individual rights. You are not willing to harm innocents.

Neutral: You are willing to harm innocents and even take their lives, but only in the most dire circumstances.

Evil: Sometime innocents have to give their lives for you to accomplish your goals. Some rights have to be abolished or violated for your goals to be met.

Examnples:
Any Lawful: A barkeep who refuses to serve a man who he knows is paying with ill gotten money.
Lawful Good: A soldier refusing orders to kill enemies that already surrendered.
Lawful Neutral: A Soldier attacking the countryside of an enemy nation to capture its crops.
Lawful Evil: A squad of soldiers invading a the villa of a philosopher who criticize the government.

Neutral Good: A man who is willing to buy stolen items as long as he knows no one was harmed in the process.
Neutral: A man selling swords to know criminals, appeasing his conscience with the idea that the criminal would just find another seller.
Neutral Evil: A businessman having a competitor killed.

Chaotic Good: A smuggler getting items across the border without paying the tariff.
Chaotic Neutral: A thief who is willing to hurt people to avoid getting caught but would rather not hurt anyone.
Chaotic Evil: An assassin that does not care who she kills as long as she gets paid.

Any Neutral or Evil: A witch sacrificing innocents in a ritual to avoid the awakening of a dark god

Caveats:

Lawful does not mean you follow the law no matter the circumstance, a lawful person who believes that the government is unfair or ineffective is likely to be willing to do something about it even if that means open rebellion.

Chaos does not mean you do whatever you want just because you can, chaos means you live outside the law.

Evil people can have good intentions, they just do terrible things to achieve them.

Evil has limits too: An evil character that is willing to kill innocents can also be unwilling to harm children

Evil and Good can work together: Two Knights one LE and the other LG can serve the same master and they can even be friends with one another but one of them is also willing to stomp a town out of existence to advance the goals of her liege. Though the other one may find that deed hard to forgive.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Another couple of Caveats:

Lawful does not mean you are a stick on the mud.It just mean that you respect and follow laws. You can be disorganized and dirty and even a liar and still be lawful as long as you are a loyal adherent to the laws.

Chaos can be organized: A group of thieves can have a pretty complex and strict rules but since they live outside the law they are still chaotic.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One More Caveat:

Nations can be chaotic: a Nation of raiders that has no interest in making trade deals when it can simply take the crops from its neighbors is a Chaotic nation even if it is well organized.


This is a great example of why I want alignment to be less present in PF2. It has a place in world building and in character creation, but codifying it so other mechanics fits has the issue of different people disagreeing with the codification. And if Paizo released one codified and specific alignment system, a lot of people would wind up disagreeing with it.

For example, if your alignment code was the standard, I would disagree with it. I see why you chose the standards you did, I respect them, but for me being Lawful has nothing to do with being within/outside the law. And because of that, anything I wanted to try that was tied to lawful alignments I would have trouble roleplaying as my lawful is not this, and thus I would feel restricted.


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Full Disclosure: I rather dislike the alignment system, and kind of wish we could do away with it, or at least divorce it from game mechanics.

While I don't think that your definitions quite reflect what alignment is currently written as, I actually do like them overall, especially your take on Evil. Evil far too often gets written as a cartoon-ish caricature, which I think is a big part of why so many people have difficulties with playing it.

One thing I would add for Law/Chaos though is this: Law is concerned with Society. Chaos is about the Individual.

LG is about creating/maintaining a just and fair society. LE is about creating/maintaining an orderly society, preferably with the LE character at or near the top.

CG cares more about the individuals that get left behind or harmed by the orderly society. CE only cares about himself, and maybe a few others he considers worthy, possibly family members or close associates.

So a LG character might overlook slavery in a society so long as it is practiced in a relatively humane way, or he might try to use legal means to put a stop to it by campaigning to change the laws regarding slavery. Only in cases of extreme/obvious mistreatment would he be likely to resort to illegal means to combat it. A CG character would be more likely to actively engage in freeing the slaves, regardless of whether doing so is illegal or not.

Personally one thing I would like to see dropped from the official definitions, is the idea that only Lawful characters can be truly disciplined people. (The justification for why monks and paladins have to be Lawful, and why barbarians can't be.) Law and Chaos have more to do with outlook on Society vs Individual than they do with self-discipline. Not giving a crap what the neighbors think of him doesn't preclude someone from doing exhaustive self-training.


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I'm for keeping alignment ONLY because it works for some tables AND some people find the system useful in a mechanical way.

I personally don't utilize alignment, outside of stuff like clerics and outsiders of the aligned planes.

Regardless, here are 3 reasons why I think alignment needs to be divorced from the Core game mechanics:

1) Virtually nobody agrees on what alignment means.

For example, you appear to link Law and Chaos to literal legal laws while I define it as principled vs free-spirited.

If nobody agrees on what alignment means, then we are all on different pages and it can (and often does) lead to arguments at the table.

This can be especially bad when what YOU interpret your alignment being is not what the GM interprets your alignment being and you happen to be in one of those situations where that matters. To stop this, I assume most GMs for PFS are EXTREMELY lenient on what alignment means, to the point that I could probably play an evil character, claim he's neutral, and, so long as I didn't try to kill a party member or eat a baby, it would slide.

2) Alignment, despite being explicitly said to not be used as a straight jacket, is often used that way in the rules and by GMs.

Want to play a barbarian big on tradition (or in your case, that wants to be a town guard)? Sorry, he's got to be Chaotic(Non-Lawful?). He has to reject tradition (or oppose the law, in your case).

We have NUMEROUS threads about people who want to play a paladin and don't want to be forced into playing a strict, by the book type character, when the flavor of the class fits ANY good alignment just as well.

3) The mechanical uses of alignment are so infrequent, and usually blatantly obvious, that if they didn't exist, we would probably get along just fine.

Do I need to know that the BBEG who has murdered an entire town just to use their corpses to raise an army of the dead has "Evil" written on his stat block just so I can use Smite Evil, or does that sound self explanatory?

Does the GM need an Alignment filled out on his NPC black market fence who sells poisons to the underground assassin's guild to know if the Paladin's Detect Evil pings on him?

Finally, how often does it become pertinent to the party to know if someone is lawful or chaotic?

That all being said, let me reiterate, I am not saying alignment needs to be brought back behind the barn and shot. I am merely saying that it should probably be an optional rule that tables with a well unified definition of each of the alignments can use to add crunch to their game.


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My preference would be for alignment to die in fire. I'll hand you the guns so it can be taken "back behind the barn and shot"...

If it MUST stay around, remove it from any mechanical significance.


I have my players take a test, but I don't think my alignment system would be palatable to everyone, especially law/chaos, which is based on a monotheistic lawbringer deity. (I vary law/chaos depending upon the world, though I've stuck with my definition of good/evil for 20 years.)

Question 1: If an innocent creature of any species, gender, religion, etc. (assume the one you hate the most) is at risk of death, saving it will not put any other sapient creature at risk of death, and you believe it will do more good in the world than you, would you ALWAYS risk death to save the sapient creature’s life? If the answer is yes, you are Good (skip to Question 5). If the answer is no, continue to Question 2.
What does it mean to be Good? If you can save an innocent creature’s life without risking the life of any other innocent creature, you must. If you must sacrifice one life to save another, even if you must actively take an innocent life to save another, you are free to do as your moral compass guides you. The number of lives sacrificed or saved is irrelevant; you get to decide which of them is more important and you can always refuse to kill an innocent creature, even at great cost to many others. In extreme cases, observers could easily get the impression you are not innocent, such as when your choice of sacrifice is overt (e.g., you are the one killing the innocent creature) or when the sacrifice seems objectively misguided (e.g., sacrificing millions to save one), but as long as your choice is guided by your moral compass, your Good alignment is intact. You cannot weigh your own life more heavily than any other innocent life in these calculations, though you could conceivably determine that if your life is lost, as opposed to the innocent creature that is going to lose its life, others would suffer a similar fate because the innocent creature does not have the power to protect others as effectively as you do. Thus, powerful Good creatures can choose not to sacrifice their lives due to the fact they expect to be able to save more lives later. (If this decision is made out of cowardice or self-interest, you are not actually Good; you are just pretending to be.) You also cannot choose to save the lives of non-innocent creatures over innocent ones (though you could conceivably save a group that includes both innocent and non-innocent creatures over one or more innocent creatures), and you can weigh your own life more heavily when deciding whether to save creatures if there is not a single innocent creature among them.
It is important to keep in mind that just because a creature is Good does not mean the creature is what you (and perhaps even most people) consider to be “moral.” For example, it is possible to be Good and enjoy torturing and killing the guilty (i.e., not innocent); a Good person might also lie, cheat, steal, and destroy property. Such folks might be considered pretty awful by moral folks, but in this game, awful people can be of any alignment. When reference is made to the Good alignment, it is done using a capital letter, while when reference is made to good behavior (e.g., deciding not to torture and kill a foe who has surrendered), it is done without caps.
Question 2: If an innocent sapient creature of any species, gender, religion, etc. (assume the one you hate the most) is at risk of death, and saving it will not put any other sapient creature (including yourself) at risk of death, would you ALWAYS save the sapient creature’s life? If the answer is yes, you have Good tendencies (skip to Question 5). If the answer is no, continue to Question 3.
Question 3: Is there at least one circumstance where you would kill an innocent sapient creature even if killing it was not beneficial to you (other than perhaps achieving satisfaction) and would not save the lives of any other innocent creature by doing so? If the answer is yes, you are Evil (skip to Question 5). If the answer is no, continue to Question 4.
What does it mean to be Evil? You may choose to kill anyone, but in at least some cases you feel an irresistible draw to commit murder. You must occasionally kill innocent creatures of at least one group even at risk to yourself and at no benefit to yourself. (If the decision to kill is only made when it is not risky or when it benefits you, you are not actually Evil; you just think you are.)
Question 4: Is there at least one circumstance where you would kill an innocent sapient creature if killing it was “worth the risk” because of the benefits you derive from killing the creature? If the answer is yes, you have Evil tendencies. If the answer is no, you are morally Neutral. Continue to Question 5.
Question 5: If an innocent sapient creature of any species, gender, religion, etc. (assume the one you hate the most) is at risk of loss due to theft or vandalism, and saving the creature’s property will not put any other sapient creature at risk of death or loss, would you ALWAYS accept some risk of loss (but not necessarily death) to save the sapient creature’s property? If the answer is yes, you are Lawful (the test is over). If the answer is no, continue to Question 6.
What does it mean to be Lawful? All property rights stem ultimately from God (or a some other higher power or philosophy), and then to the various property owners in accordance with the law. Although you are a protector of those rights, and will take risks and sacrifice your own property to protect them, your moral (Good/Evil) outlook will determine the importance of life within the realm of property rights and who is worthy of protection. See the individual alignment discussions below for more detail.
You are free to take property from creatures who commit the crimes of theft or vandalism (or murder or battery) in recompense for the damage they cause and up to everything they own (at your discretion) as punishment. You must use the confiscated property to make the victim of the crime whole, to the extent it is possible, but can keep any excess confiscated property to further the interests of the law, which may include keeping it for yourself because you can more readily further the interests of the law if you are properly equipped. (If the decision to keep excess confiscated property is made out of selfishness, you are not actually Lawful; you are just pretending to be.)
Question 6: If an innocent sapient creature of any species, gender, religion, etc. (assume the one you hate the most) is at risk of loss due to theft or vandalism, and saving the property will not put any other sapient creature (including yourself) at risk of death or loss (other than perhaps lost time for reporting the crime), would you ALWAYS attempt to save the sapient creature’s property? If the answer is yes, you have Lawful tendencies (the test is over). If the answer is no, continue to Question 7.
Question 7: Is there at least one circumstance where you would commit vandalism that harms an innocent sapient creature’s property or theft from an innocent sapient creature when you don’t even want the stuff you are stealing? If the answer is yes, you are Chaotic (the test is over). If the answer is no, continue to Question 8.
What does it mean to be Chaotic? You may choose to steal from (or vandalize the property of) anyone. You must occasionally steal or vandalize property of at least one group, even at risk to yourself and at no benefit to yourself. An openly disrespectful attitude generally accompanies the desire to steal and vandalize from a group. Typical groups include the rich, certain races or species, and certain religions. At least one of the groups must have property rights that stem from the Dominion (or some other higher power or philosophy), but that will generally include just about any reasonably ubiquitous group you choose. (If the decision to destroy or steal property is only made when it is not risky or when it benefits you, you are not actually Chaotic; you just think you are.)
Question 8: Is there at least one circumstance where you would steal from an innocent sapient creature if stealing is “worth the risk” because of the benefits you could derive from the theft? If the answer is yes, you have Chaotic tendencies. If the answer is no, you are ethically Neutral.
Lawful Good
You are Good. (See “What does it mean to be Good?” above.)
You are Lawful. (See “What does it mean to be Lawful?” above.) You consider all innocent creatures to be under the protection of, e.g., the Dominion, with a right to life that comes from, e.g., God.
You must respect property rights, including the corporeal forms (i.e., bodies and lives), of all innocent creatures; and fight to preserve the property rights of others even at risk to yourself and your property. Protecting the physical body of any innocent creature from permanent physical harm falls within your purview (if an injury will heal, you do not necessarily have to prevent the injury from occurring and may even decide to inflict such an injury). In all cases, life is the most valuable property because if it is taken, the creature has lost everything it has and everything it ever will have. You may consider damage to a thief or vandal’s body to be appropriate punishment, but permanent injury to the thief is unacceptable. You would also consider execution of a murderer to be unacceptable unless you were unable to think of a better alternative to prevent the murderer from committing another murder. The life of a non-innocent is always worth less than the life of an innocent when a choice of sacrifice must be made. Lawful Good individuals punish criminals in public whenever possible.
Neutral Good
You are Good. (See “What does it mean to be Good?” above.)
If you have Lawful tendencies, represented as (L)G, you must protect the property rights of innocent creatures as long as it does not put you or your property at risk.
If you have no tendencies, represented as NG, you must respect the property rights of innocent creatures, but need not protect the property rights of any creature (innocent or otherwise), even if it would take no meaningful effort on your part.
If you have Chaotic tendencies, represented as (C)G, you have no respect for property rights, but are under no compulsion to steal if you don’t feel like it. Because you are Good, you will not steal from innocent creatures if you know they will die without what you have taken; innocent lives are more important than stuff, even your own stuff.
Chaotic Good
You are Good. (See “What does it mean to be Good?” above.)
You are Chaotic. (See “What does it mean to be Chaotic?” above.) Because you are Good, you will not steal from or destroy the property of innocent creatures if you know they will die without what you have taken or destroyed, even if the innocent creatures are in the group(s) you are compelled to vandalize or from which you are compelled to steal. The damage you cause is always in an effort to make the world a better place. You may be a Robin Hood type or someone who wishes to destroy monuments dedicated to racial supremacy or a religion that does not help the poor.
Lawful Neutral
You are Lawful. (See “What does it mean to be Lawful?” above.) You consider all innocent creatures who are not thieves or vandals to be under the protection of the Dominion (or other higher power or philosophy). You think of such creatures as your flock.
You must respect property rights, including the corporeal forms (i.e., bodies and lives), of your flock; and fight to preserve the property rights of your flock even at risk to yourself and your property. Protecting the physical bodies of your flock from permanent physical harm falls within your purview (though if an injury will heal, you do not necessarily have to prevent the injury from occurring and may even decide to inflict such an injury). You tend to punish criminals in front of witnesses in order to make a point.
If you have Good tendencies, represented as Lawful (Good), you will not inflict permanent injury on and must try to protect the lives of thieves and vandals if you can do so without putting your life at risk.
If you have no tendencies, you will exact the minimum amount of punishment on thieves and vandals sufficient to discourage them or others from continuing to commit theft or vandalism, which can include permanent injury if the “value” of the potential theft or vandalism that is prevented by the punishment is greater than the “cost” of the damage to the criminal. That said, death is too drastic a punishment for property crimes.
If you have Evil tendencies, represented as Lawful (Evil), you can treat thieves and vandals however you like, including execution. Although, like other Lawful individuals, you feel punishments are best carried out in front of witnesses, if execution might be seen as too harsh, reflecting poorly on you, you may decide to be more lenient in public and execute the criminal quietly in private.
Neutral
Due to the lack of compulsions, Neutral creatures can generally act like Good creatures. For example, a N(CE) creature could behave like a LG person when in his home town, but murder and rob when he travels abroad; or perhaps he is a racist who only murders aelves but is helpful and kind to humans. Moreover, if the aelf-hater went his whole life without ever actually meeting an aelf, he could act like a LG person his whole life, but he would still be N(CE) because of his murderous hatred of even innocent aelves.
If you have Lawful Good tendencies, represented as N(LG), you must protect the lives and property of all innocent creatures if you can do so at no great risk to, in the case of innocent lives, your life or, in the case of property, your property. Typical honest cop; although it is not your nature to take great risks, you do what is required of you and that sometimes means trading taking a risk out of self-respect and the respect of the folks you protect, but you are still practical and call for back-up when things start to look a little dangerous, as opposed to charging in to save the day.
If you have Good tendencies, represented as N(G), you must protect the lives of all innocent creatures if you can do so at no great risk to your life, but feel no particular compunction to protect property rights (though you can if you wish). You know what is important in life, and it isn’t the stuff everybody is carrying around or storing in their vaults; it’s the lives of the people you meet.
If you have Chaotic Good tendencies, represented as N(CG), you must protect the lives of all innocent creatures if you can do so at no great risk to your life, but have no respect for property rights and will steal if it is beneficial to you, though you generally do not perpetrate vandalism. You think of yourself as a good guy, and you’ll help folks out when they are in trouble; of course society owes you for being such a great guy...
If you have Lawful tendencies, represented as (L)N, you must protect the property of all innocent creatures (including their bodies) who are neither thieves nor vandals if you can do so at no great risk to your property. Typical law-abiding townie.
If you have no tendencies, represented as NN, you will not murder or steal from innocent folks nor will you perpetrate vandalism. However, you are free to decide whether you will protect others from murder or theft. The world is too big a place for you to right every wrong, so you just try to get by without making a nuisance of yourself.
If you have Chaotic tendencies, represented as (C)N, you steal when it benefits you, but do not kill innocent creatures. Although selfish, you are not a murderer.
If you have Lawful Evil tendencies, represented as N(LE), you must protect the property of all innocent creatures if you can do so at no great risk to your property, and can kill to do so. You may also protect the property of non-innocent creatures, depending upon your code. This is an alignment for bad-guys who think they are good-guys. You will actually observe laws and protect fellow law-abiding citizens if it doesn’t put you out too much, but your punishments for law-breakers and outsiders (the punishment of whom can set a good example for others) is brutal and generally self-serving.
If you have Evil tendencies, represented as N(E), you generally respect the property rights of innocent creatures, but if anyone tries to take your stuff, you have no compunctions about killing them (not to take their stuff, but rather to preserve your own). You may also respect the property rights of non-innocent creatures, depending upon your code. This is the alignment of an evil merchant who worked for what he has, so he has no intention of sharing with the poor, even if they are starving in the streets; he would also be perfectly willing to place deadly traps to kill potential burglars.
If you have Chaotic Evil tendencies, represented as N(CE), you will kill and steal if you can get away with it and it benefits you. This is the most selfish alignment and is insidious because it is hard to detect.
Chaotic Neutral
You are Chaotic. (See “What does it mean to be Chaotic?” above.)
If you have Good tendencies, represented as C(G), you will protect the lives of innocent creatures as long as your life is not put at great risk (though you are free to choose whether to protect anyone you want even at great risk to yourself), but you feel compelled to vandalize or steal from certain groups as long as the theft or vandalism will not result in the death of an innocent. You are a social activist who is standing up to economic oppression and trying to force social change without bloodshed (or at least without murder); you might be a steal-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor type of hero.
If you have no tendencies, you target groups you hate with vandalism and theft, but not murder. However, if you help start a riot that results in victims being beaten to death, you don’t necessarily see it as your responsibility to do anything about it. You are more likely to be part of a racial supremacy movement than a movement protesting unequal treatment. In either case, you likely see yourself as the good guy.
If you have Evil tendencies, represented as C(E), you are a terrorist. You use vandalism and theft to make a statement, but will only use murder to make a statement if you can get away with it (or profit from it). You probably see yourself as a champion of your cause, but you may just like to watch things burn.
Lawful Evil
You are Evil. (See “What does it mean to be Evil?” above.)
You are Lawful. (See “What does it mean to be Lawful?” above.)
You believe that all property should act in accordance with its station. For inanimate objects, this is relatively simple because they just sit there. However, if a sentient or sapient creature does not act in accordance with its station, you feel a murderous impulse to make the world right again. Because you believe all lives are property, you will compensate your victim’s owner with money commensurate with your victim’s worth. You will do so even if it puts you at risk, such as when you have to kill the king’s favorite fool for making a joke at your expense. While you need not act in a suicidal manner (unless the draw is truly irresistible in a particular instance), you will take risks in an attempt to kill anyone who slights you, such as by dueling if that is the appropriate way to kill the offender, or, if the one who slights you is beneath your station, by making a sport of it (such as giving them to the count of 10, then hunting them down, even though you know that introduces some risk to yourself). Lawful Evil murders tend to be done in public because Lawful Evil murders are perfectly justified, from a twisted perspective.
Neutral Evil
You are Evil. (See “What does it mean to be Evil?” above.)
If you have Lawful tendencies, represented as (L)E, you will protect the property rights of others as long as it is at no great risk to your own property. You need a reason to kill somebody, and the reason will depend upon your twisted moral code, but once you have decided they have it coming, you will take whatever risks are necessary to do the deed. You may also kill someone to punish someone who cares about the victim. You tend to want to make the victim’s transgressions clear, either to the victim prior to killing them (perhaps in a monologue) or to those who find the body (perhaps in a letter), but you need not take personal credit for it. You may see yourself as the aggrieved party or even a responsible citizen who has to kill people who have it coming.
If you have no tendencies, represented as NE, you do not steal from the living, only the dead. You need no particular reason to commit murder and you do not commit murder to benefit yourself.
If you have Chaotic tendencies, represented as (C)E, you kill people to take their stuff, but you see no particular reason to choose your targets carefully. You will probably try to hide the fact you killed somebody, if you can, and sell what you got off of them as discretely as possible. It is this care after the fact that can sometimes enable you to survive in a civil society, though you’ll probably get taken out eventually.
Chaotic Evil
In a way you are selfless due to the fact that the death and destruction you cause often doesn’t benefit you at all. CE creatures almost always try to draw out a murder with torture if they have the time. In most societies, CE creatures have short lifespans because they are easily caught and generally their crimes are so horrific that they can be executed without much dispute (and perhaps without a trial).


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I could not read through all of that totoro


Steelfiredragon wrote:
I could not read through all of that totoro

No doubt. My players don't really read it; they just take the test, then read the alignment they end up with. The formatting makes it more difficult here, though.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Chaos in my opinion is not necessarily a criminal but a disruptor of order or someone who attempts to accomplish her goals by going outside of societal norms, an example of this are the Drows in Golarion, they have a perfectly organized society but everyone is trying to find loopholes or ways to trick the system to get an advantage against their enemies and preferably getting rid of them altogether


I love alignment, but I dont find these descriptions particularly helpful. Maybe, it is time to leave alignment as a GM tool.


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I have a different view on Law/Chaos, learned from This PHD essay. It's the only one that seems to be internally consistent from how we see it portrayed. It doesn't have much to do with codes of conduct, but what's actually in these codes.

If you don't want to read, here's a summary:
LAW: Discipline, self control, exerting power internally and by willingly accepting limitations to achieve something greater.
Example: Monks, Paladins, Assassins.

CHAOS: Exerting power through unleashing yourself and externalizing your resources, being shackled down by restrictions and just wanting to unleash your force and personality.
Example: Barbarians, Thugs, Wild Sorcerers.

The laws of a city are not intrinsically "Lawful", though the social contract of adhering to their restrictions in order to improve society is a lawful act.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
thflame wrote:

2) Alignment, despite being explicitly said to not be used as a straight jacket, is often used that way in the rules and by GMs.

Want to play a barbarian big on tradition (or in your case, that wants to be a town guard)? Sorry, he's got to be Chaotic(Non-Lawful?). He has to reject tradition (or oppose the law, in your case).

We have NUMEROUS threads about people who want to play a paladin and don't want to be forced into playing a strict, by the book type character, when the flavor of the class fits ANY good alignment just as well.

Though in my version a Barbarian can be a perfectly disciplined individual who follows tradition he simply does not enforce the rule of Law. Also a chaotic or neutral law enforcer is possible, a guard who uses excessive force and makes "preemptive" arrests can be CG, while a guard that take Bribes would probably be CN, or CE.

About the Paladin problem, he can be a whole range of Characters while remaining Lawful Good he does not even needs to be a disciplined fella, he just have to respect and adhere to Law, both moral and legal Law, and when these are in a conflict he should probably side with moral law


Biztak wrote:
Chaos in my opinion is not necessarily a criminal but a disruptor of order or someone who attempts to accomplish her goals by going outside of societal norms, an example of this are the Drows in Golarion, they have a perfectly organized society but everyone is trying to find loopholes or ways to trick the system to get an advantage against their enemies and preferably getting rid of them altogether

Devils so something like that: they make you sign a perfectly regular contract, but fool you with clauses or simply put you in a situation where you are doomed. They are Lawful, though.

EDIT: let me add, this is just what Lawful Evil is about: being bound to laws, but ones made to favor you and/or to let you oppress others.


I'd say for me Lawful vs. Chaos is in heart:

I'm part of the bigger whole, gear in machine, i'm connected with rest whether I want it versus I'm individual, I make myself, I'm my own creator.

Obviously there is more axiomatic, more chaotic turns, but that's beyond mortals.

Lawful Fighter can be honorable because there are rules of war, that need to be respected, because of war's nature, or dishonorable - because of utlitarian necessity.

Chaotic Fighter can be honorable because he care about self-image, and don't want to feel like a sissy, or can be dishonorable because he care about self-survival most.

Now with Chaotic God of Socialism in Starfinder, I have bit problem with this, but hey...


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
ChibiNyan wrote:
The laws of a city are not intrinsically "Lawful", though the social contract of adhering to their restrictions in order to improve society is a lawful act.

That is why I said that societies can be chaotic, the examples I gave mostly work in a traditional society but in larger scales like nations and Gods think about it this way.

Lawful: Brings Order and Structure to the World/Multiverse.
Chaos: Undoes Order and structure in the World/Multiverse.

Example: A tribal leader that follows tradition and serve as the arbiter of Laws to her tribe may sound lawful, but if her society raids neighboring tribes for food and supplies, that makes her a chaotic leader of a chaotic tribe. Like I said chaos can be organized.


Quote:
Devils so something like that: they make you sign a perfectly regular contract, but fool you with clauses or simply put you in a situation where you are doomed. They are Lawful, though.

I'd say devils are LE, because they believe and respect they are part of Hell. Open treason and rebellion will not be tolerated.

Drows on the other hand, are quite anarchic in Golarion, what holds them together is survivalism, against other dangers of Underdark, and sometimes devotion to cause of some lord.
But no drow is satisfied with being part of a whole, not to mention their immorality.

Then if I'd say they are more Evil than Chaotic.


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I personally love alignment; I think it's a useful tool for character building and summarizing, and it's also for me an integral part of the game. I do think people should be able to easily remove it from their games, and that mechanics should rarely depend on alignment (I'd like to see the Detect X spells gone entirely).

I think it's silly to try and codify alignment. That's taking the idea too far. For one, no two people will completely agree on what makes alignment. There will always be some niche case (Batman anyone?) that people disagree on. To try to codify alignment depends too much on my personal values system, personal experience, and outlook on life. And besides, there a many different shades and kinds within a single alignment. Two people with identical alignments can still be radically different.

I think for the most part PF1E gets this right. There are some spells I'd like to see gone, but that's easy for me to houserule. I like the LG Paladin, but I'm open to compromise on that front (just not "Paladins are for everyone!"). Other class restrictions based off alignment to me should be guidelines, not hard and fast rules (i.e. change druids to generally neutral)


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In my games alignment has two parts to it. One is a general outlook on life. Lawful people generally believe in discipline, honor, and an orderly society. Chaotic sorts believe in freedom, flexibility and independence. Neutral people don't feel any particular drive towards or against either side. It is very broad and internal arguments are common even in world.

The second part is actual metaphysical force. It is an actual underpinning of reality and as such enhances the overall fantasy of the game to me. Even more than magic, gods and dragons, the idea that there are these fundamental forces that can act on your soul like a magnet acts on iron filings makes D&D based fantasy more exotic.

It is also why I favor alignment restrictions for divine casters. It isn't that their gods shut them down for misbehaving (although they do have the ability to do so) is is because the actual power they are getting can't be channeled if their soul is too far out of ... Well, alignment.

Monks and barbarians I'm not so supportive of alignment restrictions since I don't think their power comes from the Great Beyond. I get that minks are highly disciplined which implied a Lawful Outlook and barbarians are deeply free spirited which implies a Chaotic outlook, but I'd be more okay if the alignment restrictions were dropped for those classes.


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Stone Dog wrote:
I get that minks are highly disciplined which implied a Lawful Outlook

I was unaware that this semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal was so highly disciplined! I hold them in an entirely different light now! ;)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I am for strictly codified alignments so that there is less room for misunderstanding between players and GM.

I think alignments are supposed to indicate the kind of acts a given creature is more likely to choose.

I think animals and vermins should not be restricted to Neutral only.


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Alignment is fine as is. I would prefer it to stay in the game and it be up to the individual gm and players how much to play with it. Keep it's rules in the system and just let those who don't want it don't don't.


Biztak wrote:
Chaos in my opinion is not necessarily a criminal but a disruptor of order or someone who attempts to accomplish her goals by going outside of societal norms, an example of this are the Drows in Golarion, they have a perfectly organized society but everyone is trying to find loopholes or ways to trick the system to get an advantage against their enemies and preferably getting rid of them altogether

Finding loopholes and trying to trick the system is pretty much the definition of LE though. But Drow society is tricky. Here's the thing: Their society is LE, but almost all members are CE. Their laws are specific, set in stone, and harshly enforced. They obey the laws, and enforce them when it's advantageous. But if they think they can get away with it, they'll break the law in a heartbeat for personal advantage, or just to kick somebody they dislike down a peg. Or kill them horribly. Usually that second option really.

Though I'll note I'm basing that of off Forgotten Realms Drow, I don't think I ever actually read up on Golarion Drow.


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A Ninja Errant wrote:
Biztak wrote:
Chaos in my opinion is not necessarily a criminal but a disruptor of order or someone who attempts to accomplish her goals by going outside of societal norms, an example of this are the Drows in Golarion, they have a perfectly organized society but everyone is trying to find loopholes or ways to trick the system to get an advantage against their enemies and preferably getting rid of them altogether

Finding loopholes and trying to trick the system is pretty much the definition of LE though. But Drow society is tricky. Here's the thing: Their society is LE, but almost all members are CE. Their laws are specific, set in stone, and harshly enforced. They obey the laws, and enforce them when it's advantageous. But if they think they can get away with it, they'll break the law in a heartbeat for personal advantage, or just to kick somebody they dislike down a peg. Or kill them horribly. Usually that second option really.

Though I'll note I'm basing that of off Forgotten Realms Drow, I don't think I ever actually read up on Golarion Drow.

That's a great way of looking at it. And it shows how slippery alignment can be. It's intended to be a tool for flavor purposes; but when we use it for mechanical benefits, storylines, or to put characters in an alignment box, it loses its value.


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The Raven Black wrote:
I am for strictly codified alignments so that there is less room for misunderstanding between players and GM.

I shudder to think how MANY pages you'd need to remove misunderstanding from alignment. That might require its own 600 page book... :P


Quote:

It is also why I favor alignment restrictions for divine casters. It isn't that their gods shut them down for misbehaving (although they do have the ability to do so) is is because the actual power they are getting can't be channeled if their soul is too far out of ... Well, alignment.

Monks and barbarians I'm not so supportive of alignment restrictions since I don't think their power comes from the Great Beyond. I get that minks are highly disciplined which implied a Lawful Outlook and barbarians are deeply free spirited which implies a Chaotic outlook, but I'd be more okay if the alignment restrictions were dropped for those classes.

Just do it yourself! ;)

Quote:

I was unaware that this semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal was so highly disciplined! I hold them in an entirely different light now! ;)

And now I just need awakened mink monk NPC in my next campaign level...

Liberty's Edge

I like the nine alignments in D&D as that's a D&Dism. But I don't like it in other games, and would be just as happy to see it go away in Pathfinder 2.

I'd prefer a D20 Modern "tag" style alignment where you pick 1-3 philosophies or codes to follow. So you can follow Order and Goodness, still being Lawful Good. You can follow Chaos or you can differentiate them into Anarchist or Selfishness.
Which also gives the game room to add additional alignment tags, like Family or Honour.


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graystone wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:
I get that minks are highly disciplined which implied a Lawful Outlook
I was unaware that this semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal was so highly disciplined! I hold them in an entirely different light now! ;)

Autocorreeeeect! For hates sake I spit my last breath at thee!


Wicked Woodpecker of the West wrote:
And now I just need awakened mink monk NPC in my next campaign level...

LOL I got me thinking of my old TMNT game. ;)

PS: Though he would be Principled there most likely.


Stone Dog wrote:
graystone wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:
I get that minks are highly disciplined which implied a Lawful Outlook
I was unaware that this semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal was so highly disciplined! I hold them in an entirely different light now! ;)
Autocorreeeeect! For hates sake I spit my last breath at thee!

LOL I know 'correcting' has been kicking my butt lately so when I saw yours I had to comment. That and martial arts minks made me smile. ;)


TBH I'm now thinking about using quite different elements for my D&D/PF:

1. karma-based alignment

It's not about personality, it's not about belief. It's which cosmic force cause you really support. And it work half-based on your intentions, half on results. So if your actions will make Evil grow, your good intentions won't make it really all OK, since Good was dimnished by your actions (mind it - mind control does not matter - as karma for it goes totally to controler, but your own frakaps - they are on your own).

You can be best of Paladins, but if you were tricked to open gates of city to Army of Darkness, Good will smack you for it.
(Sarenrae is constantly between NG and TN, because she's too forgiving, and Comic Good smack her for every evil-doer that continue to work because her agents were too forgiving).

2. oWoD alignment - where cosmic forces eternally in balance are Creation/Protection/Destruction or Dynamism/Statism/Entropy. Where neither part is exactly Good or Evil although Statism is quite close to Lawful with opposite line in triangle between Creation and Destruction corner being embodiment of CHAOS.

3. Warcraft alignment with 6 cosmic forces - Radiance, Order, Life, Death, Void and Chaos.

and maybe also five point combination from MtG but need to be more studied

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
I am for strictly codified alignments so that there is less room for misunderstanding between players and GM.
I shudder to think how MANY pages you'd need to remove misunderstanding from alignment. That might require its own 600 page book... :P

I believe the GM saying we will play by the unambiguous definitions of alignment stated in the CRB or with my houseruled version that differs here and there should be enough.

Disputes about alignment arise during the game because the potential misunderstandings are not cleared before the game starts. Same with criteria for falling


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I like the alignment system, but I'd appreciate it if they called a little more attention to the fact that there can be multiple interpretations of an alignment, and all of them can be correct. XD Some people may have a harsh by-the-books idea of Lawful Good, others may have a generous and fair judge as the ideal. Emphasizing the flexibility might help to reduce the number of debates about it.


The Raven Black wrote:
unambiguous definitions of alignment stated in the CRB

AH... You and I have incredible and vast differences in how we see unambiguous. For me, you could use pathfinder CRB alignments as a textbook example of 'ambiguous'.

The Raven Black wrote:
Disputes about alignment arise during the game because the potential misunderstandings are not cleared before the game starts. Same with criteria for falling

Not from my perspective: It boils down to two people having two different views on alignment and neither one is clearly wrong. It's not hard to come to a set of circumstances where there are multiple reasonable ways to look at an action as no two people have the same understanding of alignment.


Poll: What is your Alignment?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've played with a lot of alignment variants over the years, and I've pretty much concluded that all problems with the alignment system stem from one of these two root causes:

1) Moral Absolute
By defining alignments called "good" and "evil", the alignment system explicitly endorses a specific philosophical outlook. The good alignment is laudable, the evil alignment is despicable. The problem is, people disagree over what is right and wrong, often vehemently. Even among people with very similar moral outlooks, there can be huge amounts of disagreement in terms of when and how certain actions may be justifiable.

The counter-argument is that alignment is an absolute cosmic force in-universe, so anyone who disagrees is simply wrong. However, this is inherently tautological. The good alignment is defined as being good, therefor it must be good. However, there is nothing stopping someone in-universe from disagreeing with that and acting accordingly. There are plenty of non-good deities to follow, so it's not like anyone who disagrees with the alignment system has any shortage of belief system alternatives and can just flatly reject the idea that the good alignment is good.

Most of us come from a similar cultural background, meaning that our views on alignment will be mostly on the same page and we disagree on the details. However, if you look at historical cultures it's all over the map. Go and read some first-hand accounts from the Conquistadors. After throwing up a little, you'll understand that even horrific villains can honestly believe that they're the good guys.

2) Cosmic Force vs Moral Compass
Alignment is pulling double-duty under the hood, being both a cosmic force and a measure of a character's moral inclination. This works well for more allegorical stories where these tend to be in alignment (no pun intended), but the moment these things aren't so neatly compartmentalized it falls apart. What happens when these are in opposition, where you have a creature that is behaving in an evil fashion while wielding good-aligned powers? What about a creature behaving in a good fashion while wielding evil-aligned powers? Only (Anti)paladins and Clerics have actual mechanical restrictions in this respect, everyone else is free to cross that line.

The now-infamous Horror Adventures loophole demonstrates the problem succinctly. Even the most unrepentant of villains can shift their alignment to good with sufficient casting of a good-aligned spell, and a hero who casts protection from good to protect themselves from such a foe may well shift their alignment towards evil. By trying to be both things at once, alignment has lost all meaning.

Going the other way around, and having a character's actions always take precedence when determining their alignment, avoids that mess. So why don't people do that? It's because people like the allegorical tale, and like that certain themes are associated with heroes or villains respectively. These thematic decisions have been baked into the alignment system, which in turn causes problems when players or GM's deviate from those themes. By forcing that certain kinds of magic are inherently good or evil, the entire system is put into an existential crisis when a character doesn't use those powers for such purposes.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
graystone wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
unambiguous definitions of alignment stated in the CRB
AH... You and I have incredible and vast differences in how we see unambiguous. For me, you could use pathfinder CRB alignments as a textbook example of 'ambiguous'.

I agree 100% that alignment in the PF1 CRB is ambiguous

That is why I wish for clarity in the PF2 CRB ;-)

Sorry for not being clear enough on that


The Raven Black wrote:
graystone wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
unambiguous definitions of alignment stated in the CRB
AH... You and I have incredible and vast differences in how we see unambiguous. For me, you could use pathfinder CRB alignments as a textbook example of 'ambiguous'.

I agree 100% that alignment in the PF1 CRB is ambiguous

That is why I wish for clarity in the PF2 CRB ;-)

Sorry for not being clear enough on that

Ah, ok. No worries. ;)

While I'd rather alignment dropped to an optional rules, if it's in there I agree with you that it can use an overhaul. My only concern is that I wonder if they can afford to put enough pages into a comprehensive 'reboot' of it that makes significant improvements in clarity.

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