Rules Implications for Removing Alignment


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I’ve reviewed the CRB to see the extent of alignment embedded in the rules. The good news is that alignment doesn’t affect too many places in the rules. A number of sections have spoilers for length; these spoilers include many specific rules implications. Everyone’s game without alignment will be different; I’ve included a few suggestions and questions for you to ponder if you are going this route.

Methodology:
I searched the CRB for any mention of “alignment”, “lawful”, “chaotic”, “evil”, and “good”. I excluded anything where those words aren’t in the context of alignment. For example, “evil” shows up in “devil” and there are multiple mentions of trade goods.

There are many references that are general and don’t need any rules updates. These references include the general rules on alignment (pages 28-29), character sheets, ancestry preferences, Lost Omens setting, and the Glossary.

First up are the classes; the Champion and Cleric classes both embed alignment prerequisites into them. For the Champion, I assume that the PC will pick one of the causes (Paladin, Redeemer, or Liberator) in the same sense that a Barbarian picks a totem; the choice gives the Champion’s Reaction and affects other feats and class abilities. Many Champion abilities will need updates. Cleric works fairly easily, though some class feats are affected.

Champion:
The biggest challenge is “The Tenets of Good.” You’ll have to decide whether to keep or toss those; if you eliminate them, you should note that multiple class feats have “Tenets of Good” as a prerequisite: Dragonslayer Oath, Fiendsbane Oath, Shining Oath, Aura of Courage, Divine Health, Litany Against Wrath, Shield Warden, Sense Evil, Litany Against Sloth, Shield of Reckoning, Champion's Sacrifice, Litany of Righteousness, Auspicious Mount, Instrument of Zeal, Celestial Form, and Celestial Mount.

Multiple feats add “good” damage. You may need to change the damage type for it to be effective. Reference Divine Smite (9th level class ability), Smite Evil (Feat 6), Aura of Faith (Feat 12), and Blade of Justice (Feat 12).

Vengeful Oath (Feat 2) adds hunting down evil creatures to the Champion’s code. This feat also allows you to treat creatures that have attacked a “good” ally as if they are undead for purposes of lay on hands.

Sense Evil (Feat 8) allows the Champion to detect evil beings; this feat is not applicable in a game with no alignment.

Radiant Blade Spirit (Feat 10) augments the divine ally (blade) with flaming and aligned properties consistent with the cause’s alignment. You may want to change the damage type for this feat.

Blade of Justice (Feat 12) increases damage against evil creatures and changes all damage to good damage.

Aura of Righteousness (Feat 14) grants evil resistance 5; this feat is not applicable in a game with no alignment.

Celestial Form (Feat 18) and Celestial Mount (Feat 20) add the celestial trait; does that mean anything in your game?


Cleric:
Multiple feats reference good alignment (Holy Castigation – Feat 1; Heroic Recovery – Feat 10; and Eternal Blessing – Feat 16) or evil alignment (Command Undead – Feat 4; Necrotic Infusion – Feat 4; Improved Command Undead – Feat 10; and Eternal Bane – Feat 16). I recommend changing those prerequisites to healing font (good alignment) or harmful font (evil alignment).

Divine Weapon (Feat 6), Align Armament (Feat 8), and Castigating Weapon (Feat 10) deal alignment damage; you may need to change the damage type for these feats to be effective.


Only a small number of spells have alignment references.
Spells:
Some references simply apply the evil trait; these include Abyssal Plague, Bind Soul, Chilling Darkness, and Ghoulish Cravings. A smaller number of spells apply the good trait: Holy Cascade and Searing Light.

Detect Alignment and Undetectable Alignment have no meaning in a setting without alignment.

Chilling Darkness does additional damage to celestials; Holy Cascade and Searing do additional damage to fiends. Should bonus damage apply to something else?

Circle of Protection and Protection apply bonuses against specified alignments; these spells could be modified to protect against other types of threats.

Multiple spells create alignment damage or protect aligned creatures (Divine Aura, Divine Decree, Divine Lance, Divine Vessel, Divine Wrath, and Righteous Might).

Summon Celestial and Summon Fiends bring in creatures with the celestial or fiend traits; do these spells have meaning in a game without alignment?


Focus Spells:
Litany Against Sloth, Litany Against Wrath, and Litany of Righteousness all target 1 evil creature. Litany of Righteousness also inflicts weakness to good damage. Do these spells work in a game without alignment?

Ki Strike (Monk) allows bonus damage of force, lawful, negative, or positive. Lawful doesn't work in a setting with no alignment.

Angelic Halo has the good trait, but otherwise works.

Celestial Brand causes the target (1 evil creature) to take additional damage from good creatures. You could change the target to any creature and allow extra damage from allies.

Embrace the Pit and Hellfire Plume both have the evil trait. Additionally there are additional changes with respect to evil and good damage.


Rituals:
Atonement should be changed to the tenets of the deity (instead of being based on alignment).

Call Spirit has a critical failure condition of evil spirits appearing and attacking. This still probably works (though the effect is not elaborated on so this requires GM judgement).

Consecrate does alignment damage.

Create Undead has the evil trait.

Planar Binding discusses alignments with respect to various outsiders. Depending on your setting, this spell might not even make sense.

Resurrect has a critical failure condition of an evil spirit possessing the body. This still probably works (though the effect is not elaborated on so this requires GM judgement).


Only a small number of items have alignment references. Do Holy Water and Unholy Water exist in your game? Both do aligned damage. Holy Water only damages fiends, undead and creatures weak to good damage; however, you may want to keep Holy Water for its ability to harm undead.

Aligned weapon properties (anarchic, axiomatic, holy, and unholy) shouldn’t work in a game without alignments.

Items:
Celestial Armor and Demon Armor both have alignment references. These items probably shouldn’t exist in a game without alignment; alternatively, they can be modified.

Aligned Oil does work in a game with no alignments.

Holy Prayer Beads include Divine Wrath as one of its spells. One option is to replace that spell with another spell; Holy Cascade could work well since it adds additional damage to undead (and fiends).

Rod of Wonder has the Chaotic trait; otherwise, it works.

Wondrous Figure (obsidian steed) becomes a nightmare and has some alignment effects. This item might not be applicable to your setting.

Holy Avenger has the Lawful and Good traits and some other alignment effects. This item might not be applicable to your setting.

Robe of the Archmagi has 3 alignment types (good, neutral, and evil). Eliminating the alignment restrictions seems easy and obvious.


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This thread is a highly useful resource for those needing a catalogue of alignment mechanics, so I wanted to build off of it rather than start my own.

To add to this thread, I wanted to survey some options for replacing alignment damage with alternatives, and weigh the pros and cons of each choice. Obviously, the option of removing all forms of alignment damage is very loosely outlined in the Gamemaster Guide, so I won't be touching on that option here.

Divine Damage or "Mono-type"
First option that springs to mind is to replace all aligned damage and weaknesses with a singular 'divine' damage. Since I'm not a fan of true neutral deities being left out on Divine Lance etc., you could easily allow access without conflict. In this version I imagine all creatures, or at least all creatures with a soul (i.e. all living and most undead) are susceptible to the raw power of the divine.

Pros: Easily the simplest option, all-encompassing, unambiguously removes morality from the equation.
Cons: Angels and demons are now weak to other angels or demons, not just the 'other team'.

Divine Damage++ or "Same Great Taste!"
Building off the above, you could also have the singular 'divine' damage, but this time the source of that damage matters. Easiest way to do this is to have divine damage treat all targets as equal, but celestials, monitors, and fiends are instead specifically weak to divine damage from an opposed source (so celestials and good deities for fiends and vice versa) while being uniquely immune to divine damage from their own kind.

Pros; Claw back the nuance of 4 distinct damage types without actually needing to come up with 4 unaligned damage types or explaining why good damage still hurts creatures who behave nicely--it's merely weaponized divine energy.
Cons: Many characters may not have an obvious 'source' for their divine damage. Angellic and Demonic Sorcerers can easily fall back on their bloodline, but Undead Sorcerers and Divine Witches may not know or even have an explicit source; in the latter case the 'neutral' divine damage probably shines through again, and I feel like it could be an interesting character moment when your GM reveals that your witch's Divine Lance doesn't harm devils or triggers an inevitable's weakness.

Radiant and Shadow or "Dual-type"
Since both 'lawful' and 'chaotic' are relatively uncommon damage types and weaknesses, you could get away with simply folding the four types into just two opposed types. Personally I dislike the terms 'radiant' and 'shadow' since these fit my descriptions of positive and negative damage and I'm loathe to overlap metaphysical energies so readily, but I don't have a go-to answer to replace them yet. Again, whatever terms you choose, these damage types are equal-opportunity against any target with a soul.

Pros: Retain the feel good/evil binary where paladins and holy powers kill demons and antipaladins and unholy powers kill angels, but without needing to track sources
Cons: No matter which way you slice the pie, you're going to end up with some weirdness. For example if chaos and evil combine into a singular 'primordial' damage, then azata would deal both 'cosmic' (good-law) and 'primordial' damage but still be weak to the latter. Also, you once again lose out on Neutral damage.

Celestial, Monitor, and Fiend or "Threefold"
If you don't like mixing corner cases in your celestials vs. fiends, look no further. While the names could use more than a little workshopping, if you add the Neutral damage back in, you can crop all monitor species together and bundle them with the morally neutral deities. Unfortunately if you run into any lawful or chaotic monitors, you're going to need an answer for the conflict between law & chaos again. At least holy vs. unholy still works.

Pros: The celestial-monitor-fiend triad already exists as a concept, so it's pretty intuitive
Cons: Whoops, we made law vs. chaos a monotype conflict again. This can be fine if you're okay with changing their weaknesses, since that's really the only part that really matters.

Unrelated, does it strike anybody as weird that high-level aeon regeneration can only be overcome if you have a divinely chaotic party member? Inevitable indeed!

I think you know where this is going... or "Oh no..."
As we get up into replacing the four alignment types with four completely new metaphysical damage types we leave behind the realm of simple fixes and enter a predictable cycle of pros and cons that can be boiled down to whether we still have an option for neutral damage and how many new metaphysical terms we're going to need to justify different Outsider weaknesses (which fortunately aren't even as weird as when a non-outsider manifests alignment damage types or weaknesses (looking at you, dullahan). At this point, we don't need to weigh pros and cons, we just need reasonable and logical name suggestions for non-aligned damage types.

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If I had more time, I would consider browsing the Archives to update the reference list above to include later publications, such as the Tenets of Evil under Champion, and the new spells from Secrets of Magic.


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As advertised, I've finally stopped back to catalogue some of the mechanics which reference alignment from core books outside of the CRB. Methodology was just poking around the Archives of Nethys in the likely cases, and then just surfing the Good/Evil/Law/Chaos trait tags. As before, Champion has by far the most references to alignment, with cleric adding on a few more good or evil feats.

Champion:
First and most obviously, everything that the Champions of Good need fixed, there's probably some near-equivalent for the Champions of Evil. Personally I think there'd be no point to a Champion without a Code, regardless whether they have an objective alignment or not, but your mileage may vary. Naturally many feats require either Tenets of Good or Evil, but since there's no mechanical interaction beyond what school of champion can take them, I'll only list feats which actually interact with alignment and let you decide on the repercussions if you want to remove the Tenets entirely.

Several class features tied to evil Causes grant the ability to deal a choice of evil or negative damage. Changing the theme of evil damage works, but also the only creatures harmed by evil but not harmed by negative are good undead, and maybe some constructs so the absence isn't extreme.

Esoteric Oath (Feat 2) - References 'evil' aberrations and gives mechanics bonuses against such beings.

Sun Blade (Feat 4) - Gives a devotion spell which deals bonus good damage to evil creatures.

Corrupted Shield (Feat 6) - Deals either evil or negative damage on shield block.

Smite Good (Feat 6) - Equal and opposite of Smite Evil. Deals bonus evil damage with no mention of target's alignment.

Sense Good (Feat 8) - Sense very powerful good creatures. Note only celestials, champions, and clerics have powerful good auras before level 16.

Litany of Self-Interest (Feat 10) - Gives a devotion spell which has the evil trait, but doesn't otherwise interact with alignment.

Amplifying Touch (Feat 12) - Grants healed allies a small bonus of good damage.

Litany of Depravity (Feat 14) - Grants a devotion spell which targets good creatures with weakness to evil damage.

Aura of Unbreakable Virtue (Feat 20) - Evil creatures in aura take penalties; aura would need to find a new target without alignment

Sacred Defender (Feat 20) - References 'enemies of your tenets' which is to say creatures opposed to your tenets' alignment.

Cleric:

As above, a few feats require good or evil alignment. Radiant Infusion can easily follow the above guidelines of leaving the requirement as healing font. Vile Desecration deals evil damage to celestials with harm spells and could be deleted if there is no evil damage.

Spells:
There are a few more spells that add traits. Some merely have an alignment trait with no other interaction with alignment in any material way.

Devil, Demon, Daemon, and Angel Forms grant alignment damage and weakness associated with the appropriate otherworldly creature.

Moonlight Ray deals bonus good damage to fiends and undead a la Searing Ray

Imp Sting deals evil damage.

On the other hand, it would be a task for another day to go through the entire bestiary looking for monsters that deal alignment damage or have a weakness to the same, but as a general rule, creatures with the fiend, monitor, or celestial trait very often deal one or more types of alignment damage on their attacks. Additionally, a number of formerly-called Outsider families (angels, devils, demons, etc.) have weakness to an alignment damage. A very few undead also seem to have weakness to alignment, seemingly at random in some cases.

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