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Getting Alignments Straight

Author: 
Gilgamel

I have a uniquely skewed vision of alignments which I hope some will find useful for creating characters (esp villains) of greater complexity and

depth.

 

MORALITY (G/N/E)

First, moral alignment determines how you treat STRANGERS ONLY, not loved ones. An evil character may feel a deep devotion toward and be willing to give his own life for his own daughter, but he may be quite willing to murder some similar girl without a second thought. If you ignore everything else in this article, I would urge you to take this factor into consideration as it provides for more interesting and believable villains and characters in general.

Good (Heroic): A Good person feels morally obligated to help strangers even at cost to himself.



Evil (Unjust): An Evil person feels justified in hurting strangers in order to benefit himself (or his loved ones or pet cause). The strong has every right to take from the weak; that's why they were given strength.



Neutral (Just): A Neutral person feels obligated not to hurt strangers in order to benefit himself, but doesn't feel obligated to help strangers if it costs him anything. He believes in personal responsibility, that everyone should be willing and able to stand up for themselves without expecting charity from strangers.

 

ETHOS (L/N/C)

First, Morality (G/N/E) is actually a Law itself, the highest Law there is, and is therefore separated from Ethics in order to illustrate its transcendant nature. The Moral Law trumps a character's Ethos, so that a Good person must always seek to do what he thinks is Good even if it means transgressing his Ethos (L/N/C) in some way.

Lawful (Honorable): A Lawful person will uphold his Moral Law first (the law of Goodness if Good or Just behavior if Neutral-- Evil is actually not a Law but the lack of such), his sworn oaths second (paladin's code, monastic vows, etc.), his governmental and societal laws and traditions third, and the laws of other governments and societies last. The transgression of a higher-priority Law will always cost a great alignment hit than the transgression of a lower law.



Chaotic (Rebellious): A Chaotic person doesn't just feel free to break laws, rather he DESPISES authority and feels COMPELLED to rebel against all authorities and to openly flout laws even to his own detriment, even when no benefit can come from doing so. He takes an alignment hit whenever he alters his behavior in order to conform to some law, the more restrictive the law the greater the hit.



Neutral (Pragmatic): A Neutral person feels neither respect nor disrespect for authorities and their laws. He will submit to them if it benefits himself and he will break them if it benefits himself. He suffers an alignment hit whenever he or a companion transgresses a law to the neutral person's detriment or keeps a law which prevents the neutral person from gaining some benefit.



 

DESCRIPTIONS

LGs (Champions) help strangers whenever opportunity arises or take a moral alignment hit. They also uphold their sworn oaths (monastic, clerical, or paladinic vows), their local government and societies, and all governments and societies in general.



LNs (Lawmen) treat strangers justly but disdain charitable endeavours. They uphold their sworn oaths, their local government and societies, and

other governments and societies.



LEs (Ideologues) believe their the Law they are sworn to uphold and the society which propagates that law is so important as to justify harming strangers in order to ensure its triumph. Unless it conflicts with their Ideology they will also uphold their local government and societies, and other governments and societies. A LE person will often be willing not only to kill but to die for his ideology, perhaps even to sacrifice his loved ones.



CGs (Freedom Fighters) help strangers whenever opportunity arises but despise all authority (even non-evil ones) and will rebel against such even when it brings no personal benefit to do so.



CNs (Freebirds) treat strangers in a just fashion but despise and rebel against all authority, even at personal detriment.



CEs (Thugs) feel justified in harming strangers in order to benefit themselves and especially despise all authority, rebelling against such whenever possible. Laws are for the weak, and only the weak submit to them.



NGs (DoGooders) help strangers whenever possible and are quite willing to submit to or break all laws depending on whether it brings them some personal benefit.



Ns (Just Persons) treat strangers in a just fashion and care neither one way nor the other for authorities and laws, which they will keep or break for personal benefit.



NEs (Pragmatists) feel justified in harming strangers and breaking laws in order to benefit themselves.

 

EXTREMES (B/K/D)

Certain character classes may take alignments to an extreme point, where they are essentially no longer definable in normal alignment terms. These classes may be described as possessing the extreme alignments Beatific (Paladins), Karmic (Druids), and Diabolic (Antipaladins). Beatific persons are SO good and lawful they are spiritually incapable of failing to act in a heroic or lawful fashion, even if a situation arises where their cause would be better served if they showed restraint. Diabolic persons are SO evil and chaotic they are compelled to rebel against authorities and harm innocents, the more innocent and virtuous the stronger the compulsion, even if they or their cause would be better served to back off or wait till a better chance arose. Karma is an eastern philosophy whose adherents believe that all suffering is caused by some evil committed by the suffering person either in his current or previous life, and that his current suffering is designed to repay for that evil.



To help a suffering person therefore interferes with his karmic "repayment" and prevents his purification-- thus it is ultimately evil to lend aid to a suffering person. This is where the Dnd concept of moral "Neutrality" as "balance" comes from, it refers to the karmic balance between the evil you commit and the suffering you receive. A Karmic person (a Druid) is so committed to this concept of karma or Neutrality that he will neither hurt an innocent (that would be Good) nor help a suffering stranger (that would be Evil), regardless of the longterm implications, even if he knows he himself may eventually suffer because of his failure to act. If one of the three extreme alignments transgresses these rules (ie a Beatific Paladin lies in order to protect a little girl hidden in a closet) he must roll a Wis check or else suffer an immediate morale penalty to all his rolls till Atonement is performed.



 

MORALE PENALTIES FOR MISALIGNED CHARACTERS

I never liked the idea that a character must automatically change alignments when he moved below or above his chosen alignment's range. Instead I submit that a character who drops below or rises above his chosen alignment's range should be inflicted with a morale penalty on every roll (perhaps -1 for every two or three points off his range). The only way to eliminate this penalty would be either to Change Alignment or to Atone. Changing Alignment would require a great act befitting the new alignment while atonement would require a great act befitting the old alignment, either way requiring a Wis roll in addition to the act.

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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