Removing Alignment... My own theories, anyway.


Homebrew and House Rules


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Anyway, mention of it being present in the upcoming Gamemastery Guide got me thinking, how exactly should Alignment be removed?

The Angelic Sorcerer by Default has Divine Lance, so in order to do this we need to deal with Law, Chaos, Good AND evil damage. And that's about it, champion aside classes don't really have alignment restrictions, and even if you took out the demands of the tenants of good, each archetype we have makes it's own demands plenty clear.

So, how to reconcile away these damage types, becomes about the only issue. (And of course, subbing in other domains for the gods who do have those explicit domains.) (And I guess replacing detection of alignment with detection of outsiders?)

Now, I feel like Good and Evil damage can kind of be reconciled with another quirky mechanic, Positive and Negative energy. This doesn't do any changes to most, say, Healing and Harming spells, just rewords them a little, but it means the *aesthetic* of good and evil damage can sort of be maintained.

I'm of course talking about Radiant and Necrotic.

Heal would still heal, or deal radiant damage to undead, but Good damaging effects would instead deal Radiant damage to everyone (with Celestial creatures having resistance to it as one might expect, and fiends and vampires and such having weakness).

And necrotic works fairly well as the darker mirror to this, although in some cases maybe just using fire would work better?

However, to fully integrate such an approach you'd likely want to have a few straight up Radiant damaging spells on both the Arcane and Primal lists, not as many as the former-good spells, but enough.

And, of course... The hell would you do with Lawful and Chaotic damage?

A gimmicky approach like the one 5e took for wild-magic-ish spells just feels kinda weird, but all the same these two seem to defy any attempt to just automatically replace all instances of Lawful damage with X, so I'm very curious to see how Paizo handles that.


My best guess is that only Celestials, Fiends, and Monitors will retain an "Alignment" and thus an interaction with spells that do aligned damage. Perhaps a re-naming as you mentioned (Radiant/Yin/Light vs. Necrotic/Yang/Dark).

Everyone else will, by default, be considered effectively "neutral" as concerns game mechanics.

Altogether with the net effect of the narrowing of the effects of spells/effects that explicitly interact with Alignment as a mechanic.

Or at least, that is how I would do it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So far, in our first two PF2 games to date, we have been ignoring alignment. More important to my players is the concept of honor. They are more interested in whether a given NPC is going to be honorable or dishonorable than any abstract notion of "alignment".

This said, it's a typical heroic-style campaign, where the players are "the good guys" and they are more interested in saving people than hurting them. The bad guys are into necromancy, slavery and indiscriminate murder, so the line in the sand is drawn, so to speak, between good and evil.

For me, alignment isn't just a few letters written in a corner of the character sheet, it's an objective assessment based on a character's actions.


@Rainzax The problem with that is, it's an enormous nerf to those using the Divine List, for them most of their spells only work by alignment or based on whether or not a thing is alive or dead. That in and of itself is a huge issue that needs fixing.

@wheldrake Again, your current approach is all well and good as long as nobody touches a class where it's relevant, because then it forces it's way into a game it might not be warranted.

As for that final bit, the issue THERE is that, objective by who's standards? The very nature of objective morality forces the writer, first paizo's devs then the GM, to enforce their own morality as law in the universe... So the result of this can be pretty disconcerting and generally incredibly immersion breaking for me, hence why it's usually removed.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Objective by whose standards? Why, by the DM's standards, of course.

Sure, it's the DM's job to be inclusive and respectful of differences and so on. And to evaluate the consequences of PCs' actions.

On another note, I like what Paizo has done with clerics and their anathemas. It's a giant step away from the abstraction of alignment. Two good clerics can have a totally different slant on life and on people's actions, and still remain good clerics. They could even be mortal enemies, and still be objectively good.

I also like the angle we've seen on angels and devils in popular culture these days. We've seen diabolical, totally untrustworthy angels, and their opposites as well. So when I say "objective assessment", take that objectivity with a grain of salt.


Personally I think I'll just make aligned damage a normal type of damage, like B/P/S, and call it a day. No creatures that resist it (the only reason they would is alignment) but that balances with no creatures weak to it. Detect Alignment can just be cut from the game, any case where it would be needed on an outsider can be replaced with an investigation, drop some hints that the pet cat is a voidworm and an invisible angel has been screwing them over and let the PCs come across it that way.


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I've actually done this for 1e. Working out a similar system for 2e right now, so tell me how you think.

I renamed all alignment damage to correspond to weapon runes, so they are now holy, unholy, axiomatic, and anarchic damage. They deal full damage to aligned creatures of the opposite alignment, no damage to aligned creatures of the same alignment, and half to everyone else.

An aligned creature is an outsider from an aligned plane, a divine caster who serves a deity from an aligned plane, or a creature descended from an aligned outsider (eg planar scions and divine sorcerers). Aligned mortals count as the same alignment as their deity or bloodline. All other creatures are considered unaligned.

Clerics and champions still have to follow edicts and anathema or lose powers as appropriate, obviously. There still won't be any serial killers getting divine magic from Shelyn, regardless of alignment system used or lack thereof.


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Frogliacci wrote:

I've actually done this for 1e. Working out a similar system for 2e right now, so tell me how you think.

I renamed all alignment damage to correspond to weapon runes, so they are now holy, unholy, axiomatic, and anarchic damage. They deal full damage to aligned creatures of the opposite alignment, no damage to aligned creatures of the same alignment, and half to everyone else.

An aligned creature is an outsider from an aligned plane, a divine caster who serves a deity from an aligned plane, or a creature descended from an aligned outsider (eg planar scions and divine sorcerers). Aligned mortals count as the same alignment as their deity or bloodline. All other creatures are considered unaligned.

Clerics and champions still have to follow edicts and anathema or lose powers as appropriate, obviously. There still won't be any serial killers getting divine magic from Shelyn, regardless of alignment system used or lack thereof.

I like it. quick and simple. Seems easy to implement.

Though I'd rename Unholy to Profane or Blasphemous instead. That way it isn't defined by being not-holy and is instead it's own thing. Like you haven't call Anarchic, Un-axiomatic.


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Natan Linggod 327 wrote:

I like it. quick and simple. Seems easy to implement.

Though I'd rename Unholy to Profane or Blasphemous instead. That way it isn't defined by being not-holy and is instead it's own thing. Like you haven't call Anarchic, Un-axiomatic.

In that case I'd rename the weapon too. Maybe keep the 1e bonus names of Sacred and Profane instead. Blasphemous wouldn't make sense since you can blaspheme against evil gods just like good ones, and often be punished way more harshly for it in societies devoted to evil gods.

I've also considered doing away with moral or ethical implications completely. Instead of good, evil, axiomatic and anarchic, try radiant, corruptive, crystalline and entropic.

Vigilant Seal

In my opinion there are only one good way of dealing with alignment. The original way.

It started out as a faction identifier, nothing more. Are you friend or foe in the great scheme of things?

Lawful - The heroes. People who put themselves at mortal risk or otherwise make substantial personal sacrifices in the struggle against the forces of epic evil and chaos.

Neutral - The sane and normal people who doesn't sacrifice themselves in a war against something they don't fully understand. Nor do they intentionally work towards destruction of society or the world, or towards tyrannical subjugation.

Chaotic - The villains. People who labor towards the destruction of the society or the world, or towards the tyrannical subjugation of others.

It's got nothing to do with personality beyond what the definitions imply. It's simply to identify friends from foe, and all player characters are Lawful by default. Even if they routinely break the law in the fight against evil. Even if they are compulsive thieves. Even if they venerate nature forces or gods who the current alignment system identify as Neutral. As long as they are the heroes in the fight against epic evil and chaos they are Lawful.

N are unantagonistic NPCs.

With the magic targeting in the current alignment-system, magic would work as follows:

Edit: Upon consideration that doesn't work at all. Have to think about it. Perhaps it just have to be contained and destroyed.

That is not to say that any of the current alignments correspond to the original system on any other count. In the original system you are what you do. As long as you fight the good fight for real you can be a sadistic psychopath who revels in breaking the law, and still be Lawful. And visa versa.

I've met kids who in all seriousness thinks people's personalities in the real world can be categorized with help of the current DnD/PF alignment-system. It's maddeningly moronic.

I've also met GMs who impose semi-mechanical rules for "roleplay" by whatever they interpret the rulebook's description of alignments being. No biggie, one can just leave the table and wish them all the best. But it just shows how detrimental all attempts at making rules for role-playing personalities have been and are. The original way is the only easy way out of all that stupidity while still retaining the rules for alignment-based magic, effects and abilities.

Just my two pounds.


A good way could be to simply use "opposition" as the decider of wheter or not the abilities that used to rely on allignement work or not. Is the enemy you are fighting ideologically opposed to you? Does his ethos contrast with yours significantly? This should give more flexibility to the entire system, withut having to sacrifice a big number of important spells. Otherwise there is also the 5e route, where allignment spell now only work on certain types of creatures.


I would just make good/evil damage damage everyone. This maybe makes the holy weapon rune a bit overpowered, but it's not too bad. It really helps divine sorcerers, who are quite lacking in cantrips, but doesn't make them over powered.

It's harder with spells like divine wrath though, limiting it to outsiders only might make it too weak, especially consider the divine list has other good tools against outsiders and divine wrath is supposed to be a more general purpose spell. I think letting it target anyone is probably best, it also makes it lose it's lack of friendly fire.

Looking at spells like divine wrath, it seems like not all the designers were aware only creatures of opposed alignments take alignment damage… Maybe that wasn't always the case


MindFl*yer98 wrote:
A good way could be to simply use "opposition" as the decider of wheter or not the abilities that used to rely on allignement work or not. Is the enemy you are fighting ideologically opposed to you? Does his ethos contrast with yours significantly? This should give more flexibility to the entire system, withut having to sacrifice a big number of important spells. Otherwise there is also the 5e route, where allignment spell now only work on certain types of creatures.

I quite like the loyalty/enmity mechanic in theory, and it should work fine for a game focused on organizations without real divine influence, but it becomes a bit difficult to apply when outisders exist. Demons and devils don't HAVE to be always evil in a game without rigid alignment, but it would still be thematically and mechanically strange when your blessed weapon is doing extra damage to a demon who hates you, but not to the exact same species of demon that doesn't hate you. If you want to consider outsiders just another race of creatures like mortals, that's also fine -- it just might not fit most people's perception of these creatures.

The 5e route is similar to what I suggested; rename damage names from alignment to something divorced from conventional morality and ethics, and make these magic types only apply to outsiders and divine casters. I added the 1e rule of alignment damage doing half to neutrals back, just so that divine damage spells aren't nerfed.


In PF1 Unchained rulebook, one of the thing they advised was to remove almost anything aligned, except the Good ones. The characters would have a list of three to five objects of loyalty,(a deity or the paladin's creed had to be included, of course) and "evil" would be something that opposes one of the loyalties. (I think an example is a paladin that is loyal to local lord. An invading army counts as evil because they are attacking an item of his loyalties)
(and yes, in this system, demons and devils would likely wield the holy weapons against the other, as one represents chaos and the other order, which means one goes against a loyalty of the other)


Elvenoob wrote:
@Rainzax The problem with that is, it's an enormous nerf to those using the Divine List, for them most of their spells only work by alignment or based on whether or not a thing is alive or dead. That in and of itself is a huge issue that needs fixing.

Oh, certainly.

On the spectrum of "Easiest" vs. "Hardest" change to make, this is perhaps the furthest left.

But, not entirely unfixable. If you went this route, you could consider a game mechanic whereby the Player and the DM work together to let foes, monsters, and villians qualify as "evil" for the purposes of casting those spells, where appropriate. Perhaps as a skill function of Religion?:

Cosmic Adjudication
(Single Action)
You judge one or more creatures through the lens of your faith. If you succeed at the check, you may cast a single spell later this round that targets or effects "evil" creatures, reducing the number of actions to cast that spell by one (you must still supply all components of the spell normally). If the DM determines their recent and/or current actions to be considered "evil" with respect to the general philosophy of your deity, then those creatures are treated as if they are "evil" for the duration of the spell you cast.

Critical Success: You may treat these creatures as "evil" for the duration of the encounter
Critical Failure: You misjudge their deeds, wrongly believing your next spell will target them as "evil"

...

There, fixed?

Vigilant Seal

Seems I can no longer edit my previous post so I'll add the obvious rules-solution here.

Going by the original meaning of Alignments above. You should look at who's intended to use a given alignment-effect/spell/ability instead of who's granting it.

If the character is Lawful by the original system he should be able to use the spell/effect/ability if it's intended to be used by the epic forces of opposition to evil and destructive ones (Chaotic characters by the original system). All such spells/abilities/effects should refer to the Lawful alignment for accessibility and Chaotic alignment for valid target.

Visa versa for Chaotic characters.

Neutral characters can then neither use them nor be affected by them.

In the case of more granular effects, such as the 3 Champion causes, you could simply choose the most appropriate one for your character.

Problem solved.


You could have damage-dealing spells treat the target as neutral the first time it hits, but mark the target as having an alignment that takes extra damage by the spell (the mark fades in a minute). You might power up the alignment damage a little bit, since you won't get it the first time you use it.


I feel like if people want to fully remove alignment (rather than just convert damage types to "neutral" sounding names with some minor mechanics adjustments), you should actually just not replace them with anything.

If it's alignment damage added to a weapon attack, just make it deal the same type of damage as the weapon, or alternatively extra damage of a type that makes sense for the deity.

If it's alignment based damage reduction, change it to materials-based damage reduction. Any outsider that's neutral good or lawful aligned can be harmed by silver, and any outsider that's neutral evil or chaotic aligned can be harmed by cold iron.

If it's a spell that deals alignment damage, change it to an energy type that makes sense for the deity. If it comes from a sorcerer bloodline instead, just change it to a different spell.


I like the Honor idea, for what it's worth.

But didn't like how it was implemented in Ultimate Campaign - too fiddly.

Curious actually if anyone has some cool Honor homebrew...


Frogliacci wrote:

I feel like if people want to fully remove alignment (rather than just convert damage types to "neutral" sounding names with some minor mechanics adjustments), you should actually just not replace them with anything.

If it's alignment damage added to a weapon attack, just make it deal the same type of damage as the weapon, or alternatively extra damage of a type that makes sense for the deity.

If it's alignment based damage reduction, change it to materials-based damage reduction. Any outsider that's neutral good or lawful aligned can be harmed by silver, and any outsider that's neutral evil or chaotic aligned can be harmed by cold iron.

If it's a spell that deals alignment damage, change it to an energy type that makes sense for the deity. If it comes from a sorcerer bloodline instead, just change it to a different spell.

Cold Iron and Silver probably is the way to go. Removes all of the subjectivity, but keeps two poles.


Hmm, actively using an ability to declare something evil just sounds like demonizing. "[Character thinks: Oh I dont like that guy] This people are evil, burn them!..."
Keeping alignment would have less problems then this.

Making alignment an affiliation/setting tag like being a member of a group or coming from some area, should work fine for the most part. While potentially being more flexible on actions; Deities do have personality and methods to show favor/disfavor, so a follower (even if they aren't a champion) should have some limit on what they can do before the deity gets angry.


Quoted from Archives of Nethys:

Quote:

Good and Evil

Your character has a good alignment if they consider the happiness of others above their own and work selflessly to assist others, even those who aren’t friends and family. They are also good if they value protecting others from harm, even if doing so puts the character in danger. Your character has an evil alignment if they’re willing to victimize others for their own selfish gain, and even more so if they enjoy inflicting harm. If your character falls somewhere in the middle, they’re likely neutral on this axis.

Law and Chaos

Your character has a lawful alignment if they value consistency, stability, and predictability over flexibility. Lawful characters have a set system in life, whether it’s meticulously planning day-to-day activities, carefully following a set of official or unofficial laws, or strictly adhering to a code of honor. On the other hand, if your character values flexibility, creativity, and spontaneity over consistency, they have a chaotic alignment—though this doesn’t mean they make decisions by choosing randomly. Chaotic characters believe that lawful characters are too inflexible to judge each situation by its own merits or take advantage of opportunities, while lawful characters believe that chaotic characters are irresponsible and flighty.

Many characters are in the middle, obeying the law or following a code of conduct in many situations, but bending the rules when the situation requires it. If your character is in the middle, they are neutral on this axis.

Changing Alignment

Alignment can change during play as a character’s beliefs change, or as you realize that your character’s actions reflect a different alignment than the one on your character sheet. In most cases, you can just change their alignment and continue playing. However, if you play a cleric or champion and your character’s alignment changes to one not allowed for their deity (or cause, for champions), your character loses some of their class abilities until they atone (as described in the class).

Now explain me how having characters with diverging beliefs, opinions and personalities is a problem.

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