In the first post, we have the introduction of the "unaligned" - which is different than neutral.
While I am not a fan of the "cosmic battle" presented as Law = monotheistic creator vs. Chaos = demons (devil?), the post contains several interesting thoughts:
- Most creatures are unaligned and have not committed themselves to the Cosmic Battle between Law and Chaos
- Clerics must be Lawful or Chaotic or they would not have spells
(the Neutral alignment is a bit "weak" as presented in the post, so let's skip it for now)
- Interesting notes about the Know Alignment spell
- Most important: benefits for other classes (not just clerics) for choosing an Alignment (see below an example for Magic-users)
Unaligned – a new alignment choice
“The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave it’s populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasure.” Then a little later. “…turn from Law and good and serve masters of Chaos.”
It’s the capital-C for Chaos and the L for Law that impresses me. They mean something – they have a capital. [...]
The Cosmic Battle
This is how I am imagining it.
Law – the monotheistic creator.
Chaos – the horde and legion – fallen spirits / demons. [...]
The benefits of being Aligned.
Clerics get spell casting.
I felt the need to give other aligned characters something, apart from an Alignment language. To keep game balance unaligned characters can do what they wish – they will simply reap what they sow. Aligned characters – more is expected of them to aid their cause. The DM must demand this if they are to keep their benefits.
Spell casting from Level 2
Law - 'protected' the magic-user gains +1 to AC and +1 to saving throws vs spells.
Chaos - 'possessed' cast spells as if one level higher (for range, duration, damage etc) [...]
Note that perhaps this system could be adapted to the Good/Evil alignments which are not exactly like Lawful/Chaotic, as presented in my article Some thoughts on Alignments.
The second article, instead, presents a little rule to determine the alignment of a human NPC. Note how this - as we saw already for alignments - contributes to shape the world of your adventures. As the author explicitly says, his view is of the Law vs. Chaos as men vs. monsters.
What should the alignment distribution for men in the OD&D game look like? I tend to have a bias towards Anderson's original presentation of the Law vs. Chaos alignment system in Three Hearts and Three Lions;
"In any case, humans were the chief agents on earth of Law, though most of them were so only unconsciously and some, witches and warlocks and evildoers, had sold out to Chaos. A few nonhuman beings also stood for Law. Ranged against them was almost the whole Middle World, which seemed to include realms like Faeries, Trollheim, and the Giants..." [...]
So what happens when I need to roll a random NPC, such as a merchant, guard, or potential hireling? Previously I've been using a uniform distribution, i.e., 1-2: Lawful, 3-4: Neutral, 5-6: Chaotic. However, in my recent campaign games something has felt off about that: for example, too many Chaotic-types for them to really get away without notice. Compare to the DMG chart (p. 100) which likewise gives a near-uniform distribution: on d10, 1 pip for each of the 9 AD&D alignments, and 1 extra pip for "neutral".
So what I've recently switched to is a quasi-normal distribution, in which the majority of men are Neutral, and only the exceptional outlier has some ethical commitment, thus: 1: Lawful, 2-5: Neutral, 6: Chaotic. [...]
The third article of this post, we go back to more traditional alignments, but instead of having things that the characters must do by their alignment, there are some proposed commandments of how to be good or lawful.
Limits of AD&D Alignment 3: Solutions
by ROGER G-S
Well, you could just not have alignment for player characters. Sure, you can have an affiliation that boils down to a cultural background and reminder - raised in the Church; follows Odin; reveres Chaos. And you can have morality. Your characters' actions have consequences in the eyes of others, after all. [...]
But okay, in some settings you really need the behavior of holy people to be exemplary in some way in order for them to deserve their magic powers. As I suggested before, a more specific set of principles seems in order. Most importantly, these principles need to be ranked in some order, to give a guideline for resolving the kind of conflicts I outlined last time. [...]
COMMANDMENTS OF GOOD - most to least important
Life: Don't kill or torture a helpless sentient being.
Benevolence: Don't harm, disrespect, or steal from a peaceful sentient being.
Crusade: Don't back away from a fight against Evil that you can win.
Justice: Don't let crimes against Life and Benevolence go unpunished.
Generosity: Don't hoard wealth; spend what you need for your own security, then give to others.
COMMANDMENTS OF LAW - most to least important
Honor: Don't break your given word.
Chivalry: Don't use trickery when you fight.
Restraint: Don't indulge pleasures wantonly. Food is for surviving; drink is for tasting; sex is for commitment; wealth is not for wasting.
Legalism: Don't break the law or let lawbreakers go unpunished.
Obedience: Don't disobey or disrespect your superiors in society.
With these ten commandments in hand, we can see that it's ridiculous to require Evil and Chaotic characters to do everything exactly the opposite [...]
It might be interesting to have particularly Evil or Chaotic characters or beings pick one commandment they feel compelled to violate; the sadist revels in Anti-Life, the Anti-Crusader picks a special fight with the forces of Good, the Unrestrained Chaotic is a compulsive libertine. But that's about as far as it reasonably goes. [...]
The last article has a simple, yet quite effective suggestion: start as neutral, then see later on what would you like for your character. In fact, especially if Law and Chaos in your world are in a state of cosmic battle, level 1 characters are counting very little (even nothing) and players might not know enough of the game world (or of their own characters) to make an informed decision at the start of the game. This is quite easy to implement, and leaves room for some interesting character's development later on.
Alignment Ain't for 1st Level
by Adam Muszkiewicz
I had this thought last night while talking to the gorgeous wife: there is no reason for PCs to choose an alignment at first level, so why not save the decision to align oneself with the forces of Law or Chaos until the point where such a decision (a) makes sense for the character and (b) will contribute one way or the other toward the "eternal struggle" between the two forces?
Allow me to elucidate.
First, I'd like to re-introduce my concept of alignment as "that with which a character aligns himself." This is both a literal interpretation of the word "alignment" and a reference to how the concepts of Law and Chaos [...]
If society crumbles, the thing is wrong. If society flourishes, it is right. Thus, the focus of Law is the society (whatever society) and placing the collective above the individual. Thus, the Lawful are expected to give and sacrifice of themselves in favor of the greater good while being vigilant against the deeds and actions that could cause society to crumble.
Similarly, Chaos's guiding principle is that of Nietzsche's nihilism and Rand's "enlightened self-interest:" that I, the individual, am supreme and not bound by any morality except that I should do as I will. [...]
And then the realization hit me: if he hadn't needed to make an alignment decision at first level, but could have made it later on in his career he would have made a decision that fit the way the character has developed. Sure, Chaotic may sound great at level one when "no one's gonna tell me what to do, I'm out for teh phat lewts, son!" But at level 9 when you're carving out a kingdom for yourself, do you really want that kingdom to be all full of orcs and goblins and ogres and such? Maybe you do, that's cool. That's what Chaos is for.
My point, though, is that maybe we should hold off making that decision until it's an educated one.
Design notes (putting together both posts about alignments):
- How alignments shape the world of your campaign
- Alignment is a character’s orientation on a cosmic scale, as in LotFP
- Alignment connected to the usage of magic (for Magic-Users), perhaps for Clerics, and for demi-humans if they're a thing in your game
- Alternative alignments (such as family, or a community, or love, etc.)
- Destined Death (and Funeral Rites, to be discussed separately)
- Prevalence of Neutral alignment by default, Lawful or Chaotic are rare
- Prevalence of Neutral alignment by default, Lawful or Chaotic are the results of an active pursuit by the players
- To-Do lists for the various alignments (or Do-Not lists, which sounds better)
- Alignments tied to hexes or locations
- Possible unaligned default, with alignment required for Clerics (and as a benefit for other classes)
- Select alignments later on in the game