Monday, June 6, 2011

Question: Alignment in RPGs?

Hail one and all! So, as usual, I don't have the time to write at length about anything (and trust me, I have a lot of ideas and it's killing me). But I feel like my blog's getting more traffic these days, so I thought I'd just put up a question to pose to the readers on days when I can't write much. I've tried to ask a lot of questions on the blog over the last year, but didn't have much hope of getting answers until now. I've even thought about either reposting old questions or seeing if people would be willing to comment on old question posts. Everyone is welcome to check out my old posts with the "questions" tag.

Anyway, today's question is: what do you think about alignment in RPGs? Personally, it's one of those rules that I've sort of had players address on their character sheets (like encumbrance) but never really bothered to enforce or use very often during the course of play. And I don't see any practical application in the game, except when it comes to spells that repel/detect certain alignments.

So is alignment just supposed to be a mechanical device, or is it supposed to also serve as some sort of roleplaying guide/aspect? I guess the best answer would be that alignment, like any other rule in a game, is a suggestion only, and gamers are free to pick and choose what they want to use.

So what role, if any, does alignment play in your games?


  1. Have you seen the ACE setup in Cascade Failure? I feel like it solved a lot of the problems I had with traditional alignment in D&D. I hope to port it back to medieval fantasy in a future game because I really like the design of it.

  2. It really depends on the particular 'world' I'm DMing at the time. Currently, the universe is something like this - Neutrality is the natural state of the world. Law and Chaos come from 'higher' planes. Law is in the hands of one entity, or god, who would prefer the whole world step into line. Chaos is represented by countless godly entities, all fighting at cross purposes, but generally opposed to Law.

    Neither LAW or CHAOS care the slightest about good or evil. Those are ideas that humans struggle with, not the gods. The PCS have alignments that they try to stick with. I point out when a PC acts against their stated alignment. But I don't police it.

    However, I do not have druids or paladins in the campaign. If I did, I'd have to be more rigorous, but I'm not sure to what extent.

    - Ark

  3. I'm having a hard time trying to deal with it in my homebrewed world, I've considered breaking alignment into two ideas, I guess for a better term. One would be considered "Alignment" that would be on the Law vs. Chaos axis and the other would be called "Morality" that exists on a Good vs. Evil axis.

    Now Alignment would be something fixed and difficult to change for a character something I feel I would penalize a player for changing. Where as Morality would be more free form and subjective, based more on the characters culture, class and personal ideals.

    Morality would be more in the players realm of control where as Alignment would follow under the DM's rulings. I'm not concrete about this as Ive not had a chance to play test it, but my players seem excited about it. So I'll just have to wait and see.