Alignment for PCs: Neutral gives the most mechanical protections?


Advice


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

It seems to me that there is an unsavory situation in the rules wherein, if possible and if allowed by one's class choices, a character is most optimal as a neutral character with no lawful, chaotic, good, or evil component. Various spells and monsters deal lawful, chaotic, good, or evil damage, but as per page 452, such damage types only harm those of the opposing alignment. A neutral character, then, is immune to lawful, chaotic, good, or evil damage, taking the threat away from various spells and monsters. Furthermore, a neutral PC can still wield a holy weapon regardless and whack away at those monsters vulnerable to good damage.

Is this really a game wherein neutrality and moderation in alignment give PCs the most protection against various effects?

Well, according to page 13, "Often, a trait indicates how other rules interact with an ability, creature, item, or another rules element that has that trait." Thus, items are not abilities and vice versa. Page 532 says, "For permanent items with activated abilities, the Activate entry is a paragraph in the description."According to page 632, "Good effects often manipulate energy from good-aligned Outer Planes and are antithetical to evil divine servants or divine servants of evil deities. A creature with this trait is good in alignment. An ability with this trait can be selected or used only by good creatures." So on the _holy_ rune, a neutral creature could definitely use its passive effect, though not its activated ability. Maybe there is still some incentive to be aligned (though it takes, for example, acquiring an 11th-level item...), but for the most part, a neutral PC's immunity to alignment damage is still too good a protection to pass up.


I had been trying to find that point on aligned damage.
I would prefer if it damages anyone except matching alignment and then does extra to those with vulnerability


There are a couple counterpoints to this:

Alignment blast spells like Divine Wrath and Divine Decree actually do effect you even if you aren't the targeted alignment, just to a lesser degree. The -general- rule is that alignment damage only effects the opposite alignment, but these spells -specifically- mention interacting with the spell in a different way than that, which results in them being partly effected by the spells anyway. So being Neutral means you aren't ever targeted by these spells fully, but you aren't ever fully immune to them either.

And if you don't have a deity or your deity is True Neutral, you can't use these spells yourself at all. (Not sure how many non TN deities allow TN followers)

And of course there are many roleplaying effects, and various items that will benefit you less or not at all as TN.

So in the end there are some drawbacks to TN, and the benefits are little enough that only the most barrel-scraping minmaxing would actually give a crap about the difference.

Liberty's Edge

It always has been safest to be Neutral, with various effects doing less to you.

That said, you don't get all the upsides either. At the moment Good people have all sorts of ways to do Good damage, while Neutral folks have Holy and nothing else.

Additionally, it's possible, perhaps even likely, that the downside of Holy is intended to apply to Neutral people (the similar downside for Celestial Armor applies to anyone non-Good).


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Divine decree does not actually deal aligned damage, so it bypasses the aligned damage mechanic.

Divine wrath does, and it gives no exemption. If a neutral creature critically fails a saving throw against divine wrath, they are sickened 1, and that is it. If they fail regularly, they take no damage at all.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

I do not care how Pathfinder 1e does it. I have no attachments whatsoever to that system, and I am trying to study 2e on its merits.

"Good people have all sorts of ways to do good damage"? What good-exclusive options does an alchemist, barbarian, fighter, monk, ranger, or rogue have for dealing good damage?

The downside of the holy rune applies to evil creatures, not non-good creatures.


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So, N/N is still the strongest alignment in the game of you aren't using any alignment-based shenanigans. Cool. Now you are a little safer from niche effects, and have fewer options available to you. I don't see a problem.

Liberty's Edge

Colette Brunel wrote:
"Good people have all sorts of ways to do good damage"? What good-exclusive options does an alchemist, barbarian, fighter, monk, ranger, or rogue have for dealing good damage?

You have listed the half of the Classes in the game who don't get spells. The other half get ways to deal Good damage via spells. Which is meaningful.

Colette Brunel wrote:
The downside of the holy rune applies to evil creatures, not non-good creatures.

Again, this is very possibly an error.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Maybe it is just me, but having alignment choices come with side effects of mechanically-relevant protections is on the jankier side. "Gosh, I am a 1st- to 9th-level martial, and we are going up against one or more barbazu whose polearm attacks each slap on 2d6 evil damage. Fortunately, I am not, in fact, good-aligned, and so I should be reasonably safe against bearded devils."

That sort of thing puts too much baggage on alignment, in my opinion.

Half of the classes of the game is a non-negligible amount. And even then, the arcane and primal classes do not get that much in the way of alignment-tagged effects, if at all.


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Colette Brunel wrote:
That sort of thing puts too much baggage on alignment, in my opinion.

If you put it like that, then yes. Pathfinder puts a lot of baggage on alignment. It's built in the very core of the game. For you, that's "too much", apparently.

However, I like it that way, because it is thematic and I don't mind if every option is mechanically exactly equal. For me, it adds to the game that there could be other (character/background) reasons for choosing something (such as an alignment), besides what's the "best" option. For me, that's not "janky", but part of what I consider a roleplay game. But your mileage may vary...


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Colette Brunel wrote:

Maybe it is just me, but having alignment choices come with side effects of mechanically-relevant protections is on the jankier side. "Gosh, I am a 1st- to 9th-level martial, and we are going up against one or more barbazu whose polearm attacks each slap on 2d6 evil damage. Fortunately, I am not, in fact, good-aligned, and so I should be reasonably safe against bearded devils."

That sort of thing puts too much baggage on alignment, in my opinion.

Half of the classes of the game is a non-negligible amount. And even then, the arcane and primal classes do not get that much in the way of alignment-tagged effects, if at all.

Alignment with mechanical consequences (baggage) is the game functioning as normal. Paizo has been clear that alignment is a part of their game and setting just as much as HP and magic weapons.


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Colette Brunel wrote:

Maybe it is just me, but having alignment choices come with side effects of mechanically-relevant protections is on the jankier side. "Gosh, I am a 1st- to 9th-level martial, and we are going up against one or more barbazu whose polearm attacks each slap on 2d6 evil damage. Fortunately, I am not, in fact, good-aligned, and so I should be reasonably safe against bearded devils."

That sort of thing puts too much baggage on alignment, in my opinion.

For once, I am with Colette on this one. Obviously, PF2 didn't invent this concept, but I think it's a missed improvement opportunity. As it stands, if you are embarking on a demonslaying campaign, you are best off as CN characters, which makes no sense to me. I hope the GM guide or future books will have some options to address it.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Again, this is very possibly an error.

Not sure why do you think that, given that it worked the same way in PF1?


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

Here is some more fallout from alignment damage. A diabolic sorcerer's hellfire plume deals half evil damage, which means a diabolic sorcerer gets poor use out of selecting Greater Bloodline, except if they expect to constantly fight good-aligned enemies.

In fact, since it has the evil trait, only evil sorcerers can use hellfire plume, much like embrace the pit. This is getting rather weird, when demonic sorcerers have no such issue with good and evil.

Liberty's Edge

CyberMephit wrote:
Not sure why do you think that, given that it worked the same way in PF1?

It's asymmetric with Celestial Armor, which imposes a penalty on all non-Good users. As well as being inconsistent with every other source of Good damage.

Now, maybe the armor's in error instead, but I'd consider Holy and its companion properties being in error more likely.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
CyberMephit wrote:
Not sure why do you think that, given that it worked the same way in PF1?

It's asymmetric with Celestial Armor, which imposes a penalty on all non-Good users. As well as being inconsistent with every other source of Good damage.

Now, maybe the armor's in error instead, but I'd consider Holy and its companion properties being in error more likely.

My wife's cleric can't even cast the Divine spells because Pharasma is TN. It can work both ways. Plus if Aligned weapons worked on everyone but their alignment then that just turns TN into the worst alignment.

One thing I find interesting is Neutrals can now use aligned weapons. They just can't craft the runes.


And then of course there's the big thing. The roleplay consequences of being TN. Despite what some people may think, roleplaying consequences may as well be mechanical consequences. Someone who is TN may be viewed as hard to trust by various people, governments, or organizations as they don't seem to be especially beholden to given virtues or cause. This and similar things could be a big deal in a game.

Of course there are some benefits too, less scrupulous individuals might trust you more easily than someone of an alignment that actively opposes them. But I feel that in a typical game you would find more people that distrust you for not being beholden to certain virtues or causes than people that trust you for the same.


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Edge93 wrote:

And then of course there's the big thing. The roleplay consequences of being TN. Despite what some people may think, roleplaying consequences may as well be mechanical consequences. Someone who is TN may be viewed as hard to trust by various people, governments, or organizations as they don't seem to be especially beholden to given virtues or cause. This and similar things could be a big deal in a game.

Of course there are some benefits too, less scrupulous individuals might trust you more easily than someone of an alignment that actively opposes them. But I feel that in a typical game you would find more people that distrust you for not being beholden to certain virtues or causes than people that trust you for the same.

This requires them to know you are TN. Which is not a common ability. Also, there are powerful and trusted organizations in Golarion that are neutral. The Church of Pharasma is trusted widely for example. Not that it couldn't come up ever, but I don't think being untrusted because you aren't the correct alignment is a consequence to generally expect. Instead your actions and behavior will determine how much you are trusted, which can have expected RP consequences.


Paradozen wrote:
Edge93 wrote:

And then of course there's the big thing. The roleplay consequences of being TN. Despite what some people may think, roleplaying consequences may as well be mechanical consequences. Someone who is TN may be viewed as hard to trust by various people, governments, or organizations as they don't seem to be especially beholden to given virtues or cause. This and similar things could be a big deal in a game.

Of course there are some benefits too, less scrupulous individuals might trust you more easily than someone of an alignment that actively opposes them. But I feel that in a typical game you would find more people that distrust you for not being beholden to certain virtues or causes than people that trust you for the same.

This requires them to know you are TN. Which is not a common ability. Also, there are powerful and trusted organizations in Golarion that are neutral. The Church of Pharasma is trusted widely for example. Not that it couldn't come up ever, but I don't think being untrusted because you aren't the correct alignment is a consequence to generally expect. Instead your actions and behavior will determine how much you are trusted, which can have expected RP consequences.

Agreed, but I'm thinking that acting in a way that is in line with TN -would- make the things I mentioned apparent. Barring, as you say, certain organizations and such.

I say this, but admittedly I don't have the strongest image of what a TN character even looks like. I've never even tried to play a no-go character myself, so little experience. I feel like the only good examples of TN characters I've seen are Artemis Fowl from the first few books in the series of the same name and maybe Garek from Star Trek DS9. Though neither of them are particularly trustworthy individuals.


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I find that "what I want to RP" usually keeps people away from TN. It is a very-specific choice, and probably the most difficult alignment to do justice to.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

PF1 eventually got around to creating spells and effects that specifically punished neutral characters.

I am hoping that PF2 does so sooner.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I find that "what I want to RP" usually keeps people away from TN. It is a very-specific choice, and probably the most difficult alignment to do justice to.

Really?

I find true neutral is probably the easiest alignment to be. Everything else requires a commitment to some sort of ideology. True neutral basically is just "I'm just gonna do whatever" lacking a commitment to do good, or evil, or law, or chaos.


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Edge93 wrote:

And then of course there's the big thing. The roleplay consequences of being TN. Despite what some people may think, roleplaying consequences may as well be mechanical consequences. Someone who is TN may be viewed as hard to trust by various people, governments, or organizations as they don't seem to be especially beholden to given virtues or cause. This and similar things could be a big deal in a game.

Of course there are some benefits too, less scrupulous individuals might trust you more easily than someone of an alignment that actively opposes them. But I feel that in a typical game you would find more people that distrust you for not being beholden to certain virtues or causes than people that trust you for the same.

True Neutral is just a normal ass person. "Village Dude Who Tends The Farm And Don't Care Much Fer All These Politics" is True Neutral.

I'd say that adventurers trend towards more extreme alignments since the profession naturally throws you head-first into conflicts that you'll need to have an opinion on but there's nothing inherently untrustworthy about a TN character.


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Honestly, I think it would be better if the alignment tags only really applied to Outsiders from the aligned planes.


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Arachnofiend wrote:
Edge93 wrote:

And then of course there's the big thing. The roleplay consequences of being TN. Despite what some people may think, roleplaying consequences may as well be mechanical consequences. Someone who is TN may be viewed as hard to trust by various people, governments, or organizations as they don't seem to be especially beholden to given virtues or cause. This and similar things could be a big deal in a game.

Of course there are some benefits too, less scrupulous individuals might trust you more easily than someone of an alignment that actively opposes them. But I feel that in a typical game you would find more people that distrust you for not being beholden to certain virtues or causes than people that trust you for the same.

True Neutral is just a normal ass person. "Village Dude Who Tends The Farm And Don't Care Much Fer All These Politics" is True Neutral.

I'd say that adventurers trend towards more extreme alignments since the profession naturally throws you head-first into conflicts that you'll need to have an opinion on but there's nothing inherently untrustworthy about a TN character.

Agreed.

I would say true neutral is the default, at least for humans. While they general like people who are good, they often lack the commitment to consciously do good things enough to be "good". In the same way most people have a repugnance towards real evil. But petty theft, like stealing a neighbors musical instrument because they play it all night is small. And counteracted by the fact that you sold it and donated the money to the a shelter that you volunteered a few days at and never went back to.

True neutral doesn't mean you never do good, or evil, or lawful, or chaotic things. It means you don't do any one of those things in a big enough way, or often enough, that it changes you away from neutral.

Honestly, all my characters start as neutral unless there is a compelling reason for them to start at some other alignment component. And then as I play the character and get a feel for them I will modify their alignment to how I play them, with GM approval.


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Claxon wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I find that "what I want to RP" usually keeps people away from TN. It is a very-specific choice, and probably the most difficult alignment to do justice to.

Really?

I find true neutral is probably the easiest alignment to be. Everything else requires a commitment to some sort of ideology. True neutral basically is just "I'm just gonna do whatever" lacking a commitment to do good, or evil, or law, or chaos.

Yep. For me, if I'm TN I can just do what I think my character would do without having to give a second thought to the alignment mechanic. You start having other alignments and you start running into things that make sense for the character to do that don't match with your alignment since no multifaceted character is monolithic enough in their thinking to be meaningfully captured in a 9 point alignment grid.

PS:
Neutrality
Neutrality
Neutrality
Neutrality


In firsst edition, Chatoic good was usually the best alignment if you had some alignment based class features.

The various weapon enhancements usually had holy and ghost touch on the good alignment. Chaotic often got a few good options, but it really shined whenever you could grab DR (because you would only have to worry about devils usually).

But alignment based damage seems more common with this edition (clerics are tossing alignment around fro lvl 1 with cantrips). Usually, you only saw negative effects from alignment on the rare mid level demon/devil with their own version of that one AoE spell.

I never had problem with having alignments for roleplaying. I liked to make up explanations about why my monk could cheat at card games ("hey, everyone else is doing it. So it is basically an unspoken rule, and this is more of a game of skill than chance"). The mental gymnastics allowed me to more thoroughly investigate the thought process I wanted for the character.

Sidenote- if good and neutral characters don't take good aligned damage... could the local cleric throw divine lances at everyone to check if people are evil? The Chelaxians are going to have some strongly worded letters about that...


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graystone wrote:
Claxon wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I find that "what I want to RP" usually keeps people away from TN. It is a very-specific choice, and probably the most difficult alignment to do justice to.

Really?

I find true neutral is probably the easiest alignment to be. Everything else requires a commitment to some sort of ideology. True neutral basically is just "I'm just gonna do whatever" lacking a commitment to do good, or evil, or law, or chaos.

Yep. For me, if I'm TN I can just do what I think my character would do without having to give a second thought to the alignment mechanic. You start having other alignments and you start running into things that make sense for the character to do that don't match with your alignment since no multifaceted character is monolithic enough in their thinking to be meaningfully captured in a 9 point alignment grid.

PS:
Neutrality
Neutrality
Neutrality
Neutrality

Completely agreed. I find that TN is the easiest way to duck out from under alignment and otherwise get to playing the game itself, by simple virtue of being broad enough that practically every other alignment can fit into it and still be passed off as "within the standard expected variation of TN".

I've only played a few characters that I would characterize as
TN/
what I think the book means by TN/
what I think the GM means by TN/
what I think the GM thinks the book means by TN,
but I label them all as TN. Why? Because if I play what I would call NG (according to someone's definition) and LABEL it NG, then that is me inviting a whole buttload of unwanted and unwarranted scrutiny. But if I play that NG character as a NG character but LABEL it TN, then nothing changes as far as the gameplay goes, but the scrutiny pretty much disappears. Because it's all within the standard expected deviation.

So certain Divine spell list Sorcerers can't use some of their focus spells because of alignment? Sounds like as good an argument as any that alignment, if it has to exist at all, shouldn't have any game mechanics attached to it (no, not even one).

And TN characters are safest from alignment-based effects (and can even use them against other characters)? Engaging with the alignment system as minimally as possible is rewarded? That's called justice.

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