Using Alignment In Role-Playing Games

Using Alignment Role-playing Games - Board, Card, RPG Reviews - Posted: 20th May, 2016 - 7:39pm

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Post Date: 2nd Nov, 2015 - 10:56pm / Post ID: #


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Using Alignment In Role-Playing Games

Somewhat related to the thread What if Your Alignment Could be Classified. I am interested in how people use alignment in their games, or if they use them at all. Is the concept of alignment limited to games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder or are there other systems that utilize similar concepts?

One of the reasons I ask is because I recently ran across this quandary in one of my online games where a character who was "Neutral good" Essentially murdered two halflings in order to use them in a blood ritual in order to save the other members of the party who were suffering from a magical disease. Was this action in line with his alignment? As the GM should I have told the player no, he could not take this action because this was not consistent with a "Good" Alignment?

In the end, before he took the action I explained that if he did his alignment would shift to True Neutral. Normally I don't place much stock in alignment at all but when working with a system that does utilize alignment in some of its mechanics (Such as spells to detect certain alignments), it does have an impact I feel.

Alignment can be a tricky beast in my opinion. It can be used to limit players and their character or it can be used more as a guiding principle; sometimes it is not really used at all. Part of the problem (If you want to call it that) with games like Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder that do utilize alignment is that there are certain elements of the mechanics of the system that are somewhat dependent on alignment. Certain spells, for example detect alignments or can be used to protect the caster or an ally from certain alignments (Protection from good/evil).

As a GM I don't want a player to limit themselves or the development/actions of their character simply based on their alignment, which can happen when the concept of alignment is over simplified. The lawful good character being completely incapable of doing something wrong, for example, and the GM telling the player "No, you can't do that because your character is lawful good." However, I also see it misused so to speak, by the players as well; for example a player listing the character as lawful good but then joining a party full of what are essentially murder hobos that want to kill everything and everyone that they come across and take their loot.

Assuming that a lawful character will always follow the letter of the law in whatever culture they find themselves in, or a chaotic character being completely incapable of adhering to any rules, or the Chaotic Neutral character that is so random they just start attacking the other party members for reason other than "I'm just playing my alignment" Is an oversimplification of alignments in my opinion. Many times this leads players to simply mark their characters as True Neutral so that they can pretty much do whatever they want without feeling restricted by the character's alignment, but at what point do they stop being neutral and cross over into one of the other alignments?

I guess my point is that a lawful good character is not all the time lawful, nor is he/she all the time good; and both of those concepts can often vary in their interpretation depending on what culture is examining them. What is good and lawful to one culture may be evil and unlawful to another, so what standard do we use? Should we bother with alignments at all, or simply get rid of the concept of alignment along with whatever mechanic in a system that deals with this concept?



Post Date: 3rd Nov, 2015 - 12:40am / Post ID: #

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Using Alignment In Role-Playing Games
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Games Role-Playing Alignment Using

Polar alignments are mostly exclusive for Dungeons & Dragons and its descendants, although many other games have mechanics that limit a character's activities to a code or beliefs. In Dungeons & Dragons evil and good are tangible things; you can talk to an angel or a demon with the right campaign. Most other games do not have this ideological strata.

I usually ignore alignments, honestly. If the player plays in-character, I can wing most of the other mechanics. I never enjoyed putting the players of paladins in moral tight spots more than once or twice in a whole campaign. Now, that does not mean that there are no consequences for behavior that go against a person's character. If a paladin clearly acts against the dictates of her faith, loss of benefits as the character's patron recoils from the aberration. There are also laws and realistic reactions from the world around them that may be brought in for certain behaviors.

One thing about alignment, and you may consider this as a bit of a gaming convention, is that alignment never excuses behavior in or out of character that damages the gaming experiences for others. You used the example of a chaotic character who "Logically" Decides to murder his companions when given a chance. When confronted with that situation, I have always taken the position to give the player a chance to get their character to work better with the group, or the player is asked to leave the group. Selfish play like that ruins the game for everyone.

Alignment is a little like having a script to follow in a play, as opposed to coming up with your role and lines on the fly. It's fine, but I'd rather reward a player for good role-play than use their alignment as an excuse to punish them.

Post Date: 3rd Nov, 2015 - 12:53am / Post ID: #


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Using Alignment In Role-Playing Games Reviews RPG & Card Board

Generally, I think most players do not follow alignment. When it comes to saving their character alignment goes out the window. Could be that is how it is for most of us in real life situations too. If there were a game where your character had to protect family / children then I think alignment would not even matter. Still I like seeing the chosen alignment of characters, it tells me more about the player than the character ;).



Post Date: 5th Nov, 2015 - 10:38pm / Post ID: #


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Games Role-Playing Alignment Using

I play in some Role-playing Games here that don't have any alignment. I think its best that way because you're able to play the style you want without having to consider "Am I playing my character's alignment?"



Post Date: 8th Nov, 2015 - 7:47pm / Post ID: #


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Games Role-Playing Alignment Using

I try to play the alignment of my character when I can mostly when its quiet time (No combat). Its a good opportunity to give trouble or show strong attitudes so other characters can know [your] character is not just a push over. ;)



Post Date: 13th Nov, 2015 - 11:21pm / Post ID: #


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Using Alignment In Role-Playing Games

Attached Image QUOTE (Hunter @ 2-Nov 15, 5:53 PM)
If there were a game where your character had to protect family / children then I think alignment would not even matter.


Actually I think this example could be used to sort of focus the discussion on alignment in a way. Different alignments would perhaps place different values on protecting their family and just how far they would go to do so. In my opinion alignment may be an overall outlook but it shouldn't be used to limit a players options/reactions. Rather it provides a backdrop perhaps for some internal conflict whenever obstacles or threats are presented.

While the good and evil elements of the alignment spectrum seem to speak to what the person values, whether their value is centered more on self or on others and whether they value the lives of others or not; the lawful/chaotic element of the alignment spectrum deals more with the means and/or methods they use to achieve their desired end and what they may be willing to do to achieve the thing that they value.

Most characters would want to protect their families but I think their alignment may sway them one way or the other in terms of how they will protect their family, and how far they are willing to go. Alignment might also provide some insight into what value they may place on their family and why. A lawful evil character may want to protect his/her family because the evil element of the alignment tells him that the family is an extension of himself or that they perhaps "Belong" To him and so a threat to his family is threat to himself. Meanwhile the lawful bent of his alignment suggests a character who either places some value in some form of creed or tradition (Perhaps the idea that family is everything), but it could also suggest the methods that this character will use to protect his family are going to utilize the law or cultural norms of whatever culture he finds himself in. He will perhaps manipulate the system so that it works for him and his family, and against the person or entity that threatens it. He is perhaps more than willing to kill but is more likely to do so using the system, perhaps framing his opponent for murder and having them executed as opposed to killing them directly.

Someone of a chaotic bent would perhaps be more likely to react in a more direct and violent way against a perceived threat against their family; perhaps directly killing the person threatening them. They would be less inclined to act within the law or some form of creed of conduct in order to protect their family. They might kill, steal, assault, or otherwise bring ruin upon that which threatens their family. While this doesn't mean that a chaotic character is stupid or incapable of planning ahead or that they will act upon any inclination regardless of consequences, they are much more likely to do something that violates societal norms if they believe that they could get away with it or if they believe that the consequences for doing so are minimal. They may not murder the person that is threatening their family out in the street, but if they get that person into a position where they can kill them without being caught, they are more likely to do so.

I think those with a chaotic bent are more likely to have a "Might makes right" Philosophy and use force or coercion as a means to achieve their goals, but they are not limited to these methods. While the lawful evil character may use/manipulate the system and the culture to protect his family, the chaotic evil character is more likely to take more direct means and use force to protect their family.

Interestingly enough the chaotic good character may react in a manner fairly similar to the chaotic evil character in that they may be more likely to use force than the lawful good character or even the lawful evil character to protect their family, the value that they place on their family and on life in general is different. The evil character does not value the lives of others, in general, and if he does it is only in relation to himself, either as extension of himself in some way or as a possession. The good character does place value in life and if he can protect his family without causing pain, suffering and death in others he will do so.

The lawful good character will likely operate within the law to protect his family and if he can stop the threat without killing the person that is causing the threat he will not kill them, nor will he be likely to kill someone who may have been threat to his family at one time, but is no longer a viable threat unless that person has been sentenced to death by some form of legal authority. He will want to find a legitimate way to protect his family legally while the chaotic good character may not concern himself with whether the means by which he removes the threat is legal or socially acceptable.

Of course discussing alignment is not unlike discussing a sociological theory in that it is often uniquely applied to each situation without much in the way of hard and fast rules. I have also seen chaotic/lawful discussed in terms of freedom vs. Restraint and the concepts of good/evil in terms of love of others vs. Love of self at the expense of others. It's a pretty deep rabbit hole really.



Post Date: 25th Nov, 2015 - 3:48pm / Post ID: #


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Using Alignment Role-Playing Games

Attached Image QUOTE
I play in some Role-playing Games here that don't have any alignment.

I think that's the best way to have it. People might see a bit of you in your character this way.

Attached Image QUOTE
I have also seen chaotic/lawful discussed in terms of freedom vs. Restraint and the concepts of good/evil in terms of love of others vs. Love of self

That is precisely the reason there should be no alignment rule to follow or if there is some kind of characterization it should be invented by the player in his character's description.



Post Date: 20th May, 2016 - 7:39pm / Post ID: #


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Using Alignment Role-Playing Games

Most role-players tend to have a hard time taking their own morals and ethics out of the game and role-playing the character for whatever alignment he is, for instance, chaotic evil. I generally will choose an alignment I know I can handle rather than trying to be too fa away from my own comfort zone.



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