Will the Gamemastery Guide cover removing Alignment?


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This is an extremely early question as the Gamemastery Guide isn't due to next year and the finalized core rules haven't even launched yet. I ask because I absolutely loathe Alignment. While I'm extremely excited for Pathfinder 2nd as a whole, the level of integration of Alignment (see Champions) concerns me. I hope the modular nature of PF2nd will make it easy enough to remove/ignore Alignment.

I don't mean for this thread to discuss the various aspects of Alignment, nor it's basis as metaphysical forces in the setting. I'm just wondering if the removal of Alignment from PF2nd has been discussed by the Paizo team.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.


From James himself! That answers that! Ahahahaha! Thank you for the response.

EDIT to respond to Jame's further explanation: Completely understandable with Alignment baked into the rules and setting. I've been watching the "World as We Know It" stream since posting this question and it's quite clearly baked into the nature of various regions/themes as explained by the the Undead answer.


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Would it really affect much if you took it out? Champions have their codes to fall back on, clerics have anathemas to still break their access to class powers if the DM feel like it, and.. eh?

I suppose there are holy/unholy weapons, but that basically boils down to don't like certain celestials/don't like certain fiends.


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I was wondering if there was going to be official suggestions on how to remove it. That won't be the case. I'll still be doing it for my own game. Most likely by divorcing the verbiage of Alignment from ethics and morality. Again, don't want to start a debate about Alignment nor it's usefulness. Those have been done to death and back again.

My group and I are extremely excited for PF2nd and that's what matters.


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James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

I thought the Gamemastery Guide was going to, among other things, provide alternatives to the core game play experience (for example, P2E's version of the Automatic Bonus Progression).

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Tectorman wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

I thought the Gamemastery Guide was going to, among other things, provide alternatives to the core game play experience (for example, P2E's version of the Automatic Bonus Progression).

We'll have more to say what's in the book at Gen Con I suspect, but as far as I understand it, it's aimed more at giving GMs the tools they need to run the game and create adventures and content, not rules options. Give us a few years and the new edition a few years to simmer down before we do something like Pathfinder Unchained again.


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Optional rules to remove mandatory items (The Big 3) fall under the same umbrella. Does it mean it will be these rules will come latter as well?


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James Jacobs wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

I thought the Gamemastery Guide was going to, among other things, provide alternatives to the core game play experience (for example, P2E's version of the Automatic Bonus Progression).
We'll have more to say what's in the book at Gen Con I suspect, but as far as I understand it, it's aimed more at giving GMs the tools they need to run the game and create adventures and content, not rules options. Give us a few years and the new edition a few years to simmer down before we do something like Pathfinder Unchained again.

The impression I got from talking with Mark was that there WOULD be rules options in it: If that's not the case, it moves me from 'on the fence' to not buying the game until "a few years and the new edition a few years to simmer down before we do something like Pathfinder Unchained again". I'd be willing to wait until 'winter' for some of those optional fixes for the issues I have but not some unknown date years away...


Voss wrote:

Would it really affect much if you took it out? Champions have their codes to fall back on, clerics have anathemas to still break their access to class powers if the DM feel like it, and.. eh?

I suppose there are holy/unholy weapons, but that basically boils down to don't like certain celestials/don't like certain fiends.

My understanding is that alignment is, if anything, more hard-coded into PF2 than PF1. For one thing, alignment is a damage type, and you have spells dealing aligned damage which means they only affect the opposite alignment.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

I thought the Gamemastery Guide was going to, among other things, provide alternatives to the core game play experience (for example, P2E's version of the Automatic Bonus Progression).
We'll have more to say what's in the book at Gen Con I suspect, but as far as I understand it, it's aimed more at giving GMs the tools they need to run the game and create adventures and content, not rules options. Give us a few years and the new edition a few years to simmer down before we do something like Pathfinder Unchained again.

I have to say this is severely disappointing and opposite to the impression many people will have gotten from previous dev responses about what the gmg will contain.


How would the "alignment integration" compare to 5th edition?

That is, if this question was posted for that game, the answer would be an unequivocal "yes, alignment is part of the game".

But that answer would not tell the whole story.

(i.e. alignment in 5E is in actual play very very downplayed compared to 3rd edition. You can't detect someone's alignment (only if they're an angel or demon etc) and your alignment only plays a small part when it comes to taking more or less damage, getting shut out by protective spells etc.)

So would you say the answer is more "alignment plays at least as big a role as in d20 (3E/PF), and there are no official plans to change this"...?

Thanks


Malk_Content wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

I thought the Gamemastery Guide was going to, among other things, provide alternatives to the core game play experience (for example, P2E's version of the Automatic Bonus Progression).
We'll have more to say what's in the book at Gen Con I suspect, but as far as I understand it, it's aimed more at giving GMs the tools they need to run the game and create adventures and content, not rules options. Give us a few years and the new edition a few years to simmer down before we do something like Pathfinder Unchained again.
I have to say this is severely disappointing and opposite to the impression many people will have gotten from previous dev responses about what the gmg will contain.

I think you can safely rely on those previous statements by people actually working on the book in question.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Tectorman wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

I thought the Gamemastery Guide was going to, among other things, provide alternatives to the core game play experience (for example, P2E's version of the Automatic Bonus Progression).
We'll have more to say what's in the book at Gen Con I suspect, but as far as I understand it, it's aimed more at giving GMs the tools they need to run the game and create adventures and content, not rules options. Give us a few years and the new edition a few years to simmer down before we do something like Pathfinder Unchained again.
I have to say this is severely disappointing and opposite to the impression many people will have gotten from previous dev responses about what the gmg will contain.
I think you can safely rely on those previous statements by people actually working on the book in question.

Of which JJ is one (the book isn’t being written solely by 4 people), he worked on the previous one, and as the Creative Director he oversees to various extents a lot of what is being written.

Speaking of previous Dev responses btw

Paizo Employee Designer

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You can trust the product description: there will be alternate rules in the GMG, as I previously stated, and alignment variants are on the table for that section. As I've said before, it's just one chapter of a much bigger book and one set of tools for your toolbox, but it's an important chapter to show how you can use the modular rules to really change your gameplay experience.


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Feels like if you think about why specifically you prefer to get rid of alignment, it should be clear what to do. But people are going to have different reasons, so "official rules" for this aren't appropriate.


Regarding alignment I tend to use it as "the view of an over god" rather than actually being accurate.

Arbitrary subjective view rather than absolute.

Doesn't solve all conceptual issues but makes it easier to swallow than there actually being an absolute scale of who and what a character is.


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I also seriously dislike the alignment system. But I have not really had a problem with dealing with it.

Basically I just excise alignment from the role playing. Technically each character has an alignment - hopefully one that vaguely resembles how that character normally behaves. But good characters can do horrible things for various reasons; evil characters can still have friends and family that they care for, and even allies that they respect and honor; lawful characters can be spontaneous; and chaotic characters still make plans and remember to bring their tools with them to the job.

So alignment still exists for things like spells and damage that reference them. But I don't generally hold the players to what their alignment says.

And for things like Champion, I would definitely be using the anathema and code of conduct much more than alignment.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

But... Hit Dice aren't really a thing anymore in Second Edition, or are they?


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breithauptclan wrote:

I also seriously dislike the alignment system. But I have not really had a problem with dealing with it.

Basically I just excise alignment from the role playing. Technically each character has an alignment - hopefully one that vaguely resembles how that character normally behaves. But good characters can do horrible things for various reasons; evil characters can still have friends and family that they care for, and even allies that they respect and honor; lawful characters can be spontaneous; and chaotic characters still make plans and remember to bring their tools with them to the job.

So alignment still exists for things like spells and damage that reference them. But I don't generally hold the players to what their alignment says.

That sounds like just using alignment normally tbh.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Zaister wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

Nope. Alignment is a part of the game, like Hit Dice and dwarves and daggers.

You can remove it from your game, but we aren't going to do it in a book about supporting the core game play experience.

But... Hit Dice aren't really a thing anymore in Second Edition, or are they?

Hmm, will need to look at the monster building rules, which are in the GMG to my understanding.

(also they still exist in a fashion for PCs, the classes get the maxed HD for their HP, Barbarians get 12 every level, and so there's the option of rolling HP)

Liberty's Edge

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swoosh wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

I also seriously dislike the alignment system. But I have not really had a problem with dealing with it.

Basically I just excise alignment from the role playing. Technically each character has an alignment - hopefully one that vaguely resembles how that character normally behaves. But good characters can do horrible things for various reasons; evil characters can still have friends and family that they care for, and even allies that they respect and honor; lawful characters can be spontaneous; and chaotic characters still make plans and remember to bring their tools with them to the job.

So alignment still exists for things like spells and damage that reference them. But I don't generally hold the players to what their alignment says.

That sounds like just using alignment normally tbh.

Yeah, this is literally just how you're supposed to use Alignment. Well, that and change someone's Alignment if they do too many things against their current one.


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This disappoints me. I personally think alignment should have been dumped years ago in both Pathfinder and D&D; I don't like there being an objective measure of morality and people all too often use it to decide how to act in certain situations rather than as a summary of their character's moral compass. Hopefully some clever homebrewer will find a way soon enough.


I'd like to see an Alignment system that works through Traits that can be gained or lost. Not everyone is Evil, Good, Chaotic, or Lawful. Someone who's commited their life to either could gain the Trait and be affected by spells or other effects that reference the Trait, but most people probably really shouldn't. It's the way I'm using Alignment, anyway.


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Alignment is in the foundations of the metaphysics of the setting. One can't just excise it without having to change all of that. Like the outer planes are made up of combinations of two kinds of energy, each of which comes in three flavors. We can think of them as "positive, neutral, negative" but the game states them as "law, neutral, chaos" and "good, neutral, evil". Within the diagesis, the whole point of "life in the cosmos" is to sort the energy (i.e. souls) which just comes spilling out of the positive energy plane into those nine configurations.

Getting rid of that is an enormous retrofit of the setting, and not something they are interested in.

Now the disconnect one can exploit, if they want, is that there's no reason "Good" the energy needs to line up with "good" the moral philosophy label for "that which is desirable." Angels can be jerks, devils can be genuinely helpful.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:


Getting rid of that is an enormous retrofit of the setting, and not something they are interested in.

I'm not sure that's necessarily true. It'd be pretty easy for someone to handwave Good and Evil as, I dunno, Blue and Orange. Divine Lance does Blue damage or Orange damage based on your affiliation and certain attacks do bonus against Orange enemies or Blue enemies.

Then Law and Chaos could be, I dunno, Purple and Yellow.

Then Hell is just the plane of Orange and Purple.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Hell is mayo.


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Funnily enough, Magic the Gathering's colors are kind of like alignment...

Personally I would change it to celestial, fiendish, intermediate (for the outer sphere planes that are neither upper mor lower). Law would be Axiomic, chaos would be Protean, neutral would be neutral again. Thus if a creature's statistics reference moral alignment they have a connection to one of the lower or upper planes, and if it references lawfulness alignment that's specifying which of those planes it is.

And honestly, most player characters won't need even that. Really just Champions off the top of my head, and I guess Clerics might want something close to where their deity is.


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But if we rename the metaphysical energies to whatever you want that's all well and good, wé're still left with anathema as a bigger restriction on "character behavior" than alignment. Like you can leave the alignment field of the character sheet blank, but a cleric of Pharasma should under no condition be allowed to create a legion of undead.

Which is what I'm talking about when I say one should consider why precisely they are inclined to remove alignment from the game. Because the solution depends on the answer to that question.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
swoosh wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:


Getting rid of that is an enormous retrofit of the setting, and not something they are interested in.

I'm not sure that's necessarily true. It'd be pretty easy for someone to handwave Good and Evil as, I dunno, Blue and Orange. Divine Lance does Blue damage or Orange damage based on your affiliation and certain attacks do bonus against Orange enemies or Blue enemies.

Then Law and Chaos could be, I dunno, Purple and Yellow.

Then Hell is just the plane of Orange and Purple.

Attempting to break them down into more base and realistic terms..

Order:
Fairness / Selflessness

Chaos:
Freedom / Selfishness

Good:
Flowing / Open

Evil:
Stagnation / Closed

--
In reality everyone has levels of this stuff.. To have a soul that's completely open(good) requires a lot of work.. To have one that's completely closed(evil) probably requires some terrible circumstances that's hard for me to even imagine..

So a potential homebrew would be for most players to be neutral, with a point system that determines modifiers on spells that affect good or evil creatures.. Maybe based off chakras or some other such thing.. and for a player to be completely good or evil alignment requiring daily rituals..

Though it'd probably be easier just to imagine that divine energies magically course through every living thing and the type of energy attracted to a creature's soul depends on what kind of decisions they make in life.. To make it clear it's not a system meant to emulate reality..

(Hope this post makes sense and isn't redundant..)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Personally, I've always treated alignment more as choosing a side-Your character has aligned themselves with the forces that support each alignment and choose to live their life as close to the philosophical outlooks associated with that alignment. Life events can then change a person's outlook and potentially change who they choose to side with.

To each their own.

Liberty's Edge

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Dwapook wrote:

Order:

Fairness / Selflessness

Chaos:
Freedom / Selfishness

This is deeply wrong. Selfishness and selflessness are about Good and Evil not Law and Chaos. Someone can easily be Chaotic Good and utterly selfless, or Lawful Evil and utterly selfish.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I don't mean selflessness as in compassion.. I meant it in a sense that you put the implementations of rules and structures meant to serve a specific purpose above your own whims and desires.. I think someone can be selflessly "evil"..

I dunno.. Maybe I was missing something? Good and Evil are subjective perceptions and trying to gamify them to be tangible things seems tricky..

Liberty's Edge

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Dwapook wrote:
I don't mean selflessness as in compassion.. I meant it in a sense that you put the implementations of rules and structures meant to serve a specific purpose above your own whims and desires..

That's also a statement I disagree with. Chaotic people can easily put principle above their whims, their principles just tend to be more individualistic and less collectivist. Principles that value the individual highly such as freedom and self determination rather than ones that sacrifice the individual for the good of society.

Dwapook wrote:
I think someone can be selflessly "evil"..

It's possible to be 'selflessly Evil' but it's sure not easy. You have to be selflessly devoted to some truly vile cause.

Dwapook wrote:
I dunno.. Maybe I was missing something? Good and Evil are subjective perceptions and trying to gamify them to be tangible things seems tricky..

This is indisputably true.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

"Individualist" and "Collectivists" are definitely better terms that fit along the lines of what I was thinking.. I guess I was viewing individualist ideals as bleeding self-centered energy into everything they do, while a collectivist would pull that energy away and ignore it if it conflicts with a structure meant to service an ideal..So only the latter really rings true to me when it comes to truly putting something above yourself..

Though yeah, you have me thinking I might be looking at these terms the wrong way, which wouldn't be the first time...


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I think there are chaotic individualists as well as chaotic collectivists. Likewise lawful individualists and lawful collectivists. None of those things seems contradictory, this is just another perpendicular dimension.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Dwapook wrote:

Order:

Fairness / Selflessness

Chaos:
Freedom / Selfishness

This is deeply wrong. Selfishness and selflessness are about Good and Evil not Law and Chaos. Someone can easily be Chaotic Good and utterly selfless, or Lawful Evil and utterly selfish.

This right here is what's wrong with alignment. People can't agree on what the different aspects mean.

Sure it can be useful as a shorthand, but in the end it causes more arguments than it helps to avoid. We only have 35+ years of experience to show this.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

You could use the definition the book uses.


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I always figured the best way to handle "alignment infractions" as a GM is just to ask the player to justify why their character thought their most recent action was justifiable.

After all, if someone is thinking "would a good person do this?" then alignment is doing its job.


I tend to find that alignment arguments only get heated if they aren't happening mid game.

Either in the message boards, or discussing which evil alignments can exist at the table without ruining the fun, those are heated arguments.

'Your good cleric just burned down a brothel because some random rogue like character gave him a quest, I'm pretty sure you might need an atonement spell/quest' tends to spark less heated arguments.


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AnCap Dawg wrote:
This right here is what's wrong with alignment. People can't agree on what the different aspects mean.

I'm not really sure niche forum debates are really indicative of much. I mean, the 3.5-PF1 continuum has been a mainstay in the RPG scene for over a decade, yet spend more than a few minutes on a CharOp or rules forum and you'd be convinced the game is an unintelligible mess where people can't even agree on the definitions of specific words.


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Wow! I didn't expect this many responses!

Thank you Rysky for the previous thread link! Thank you, both James and Mark, for responding. I'm super excited for the release of the core game and for the upcoming GMG! Gladdened to hear there will be a chapter on how to change stuff like Alignment. Can't wait to read the whole book!

Despite the modular nature of PF2, I'm always somewhat hesitant to remove or adjust mechanics that touch on such a wide breadth of the game. Too afraid to break everything. That's why it's nice to see official suggestions on how to adjust it from people who have a much deeper understanding of the system than myself.

As for the rest of the thread- My short answer is: I save myself from having any of these alignment arguments by removing it entirely in the vast majority of my games. I most often use a home-brew setting. If alignment is too integrated into a system be easily removed, I try to adjust all the words away from moral and ethical concepts.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Np, glad to be of assistance ^w^


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Personally, I haven't experienced too many alignment arguments (and when I have it was typically with problem players anyway). My biggest gripe with the system is that it removes a lot of the mystery from a game and doesn't really allows for as much nuance. Things like the Cult of Dawnflower are very interesting, but interact poorly with the current alignment system, which I think is part of the reason it hasn't really been expanded upon much.

I also don't think alignment adds anything meaningful to the game - when removing it in my own games, I can't think of any instances where I wished alignment was present. I still use it for games that take place in Golarion since it's tied pretty strongly to the setting, but it would be really great to see options for playing without it, so I'm happy to hear that there will at least be some mention of alignment in the GMG.


If it ends up not being in the gmg I'd just use the rules from unchained.


AnCap Dawg wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Dwapook wrote:

Order:

Fairness / Selflessness

Chaos:
Freedom / Selfishness

This is deeply wrong. Selfishness and selflessness are about Good and Evil not Law and Chaos. Someone can easily be Chaotic Good and utterly selfless, or Lawful Evil and utterly selfish.

This right here is what's wrong with alignment. People can't agree on what the different aspects mean.

Sure it can be useful as a shorthand, but in the end it causes more arguments than it helps to avoid. We only have 35+ years of experience to show this.

Agreed!


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
swoosh wrote:
breithauptclan wrote:

I also seriously dislike the alignment system. But I have not really had a problem with dealing with it.

Basically I just excise alignment from the role playing. Technically each character has an alignment - hopefully one that vaguely resembles how that character normally behaves. But good characters can do horrible things for various reasons; evil characters can still have friends and family that they care for, and even allies that they respect and honor; lawful characters can be spontaneous; and chaotic characters still make plans and remember to bring their tools with them to the job.

So alignment still exists for things like spells and damage that reference them. But I don't generally hold the players to what their alignment says.

That sounds like just using alignment normally tbh.
Yeah, this is literally just how you're supposed to use Alignment. Well, that and change someone's Alignment if they do too many things against their current one.

And that right there is the part about alignment that I really don't like. When one player at the table (GM included) starts trying to control another person's character or feels like they can/should at least influence the choices that the other players make because 'it fits your character's alignment better'.

On the other hand, what benefit does alignment provide? Aligned damage types? Spells protecting against specific alignments? Guiding character behavior?

Code of conduct and Anathema are better replacements for alignment as far as guiding character behavior. We could get the various damage types without needing to attach alignment to individuals.

So just the protection spells? The entire can-o-worms and argument fuel so that we can keep the Protection from Evil spell?


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Quote:
When one player at the table (GM included) starts trying to control another person's character or feels like they can/should at least influence the choices that the other players make because 'it fits your character's alignment better'.

I don't think anyone's advocating that.


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Rysky wrote:
You could use the definition the book uses.

Exactly.


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breithauptclan wrote:
And that right there is the part about alignment that I really don't like. When one player at the table (GM included) starts trying to control another person's character or feels like they can/should at least influence the choices that the other players make because 'it fits your character's alignment better'.

No one gets to tell you what your character would do (unless there are Compulsion spells involved or such, which is an entirely different matter), but if you decide that your character stabs orphans for giggles, they do get to tell you that your character isn't Good.

There are a lot of problems with alignment (as demonstrated by the many variations of occasionally contradictory moral philosophies around), but "people tell me how to play my character" is a problem with people, not with alignment.

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