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Author Topic: D&D Alignment discussion  (Read 14159 times)

MorleyDev

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Re: D&D Alignment discussion
« Reply #240 on: May 19, 2019, 06:18:55 pm »

I'm not sure I'm even using the right word with thoughts/feelings/beliefs. It seems more fundamental than belief or creed. Like, the core of a character when all creeds and dichotomy is stripped away. Like, if you took away all actual laws then a 'lawful' character in thought would still have to be something you can call 'lawful'. And no matter how much you bound them to lawfulness, a 'chaotic' character will still be 'chaotic' in mind.

A lawful characters will probably follow a creed, but they aren't necessarily lawful because they follow it. Instead, it could be said that they follow it because they are lawful. That seems an important distinction to me. They can still be tempted to stray though. What's a character without some internal conflict, after all?

It's one of the problems I think video games have that try and apply an alignment system of any kind. By being driven by player agency and having to make decisions based on player inputs, your actions dictate your 'alignment' when it should really be alignment...drives? justifies? influences? suggests? actions. Again, I'm not finding the words for what I'm trying to convey and that annoys me.

Mass Effect 1 probably had the best attempt to get around that limitation, with Renegade and Paragon being more about the measuring the approaches your character was favouring, but even that had problems and they kinda gave up on it and their not being a 'morally superior' alignment depressingly quickly (and by ME3 let's face it: Paragon was just Light Side, and Renegade was just Dark Side. ME2/3 even had the whole dark-side-face-messed-up thing for Revans sake!).

Either way, I would agree that the more options you add to a description the better a description it'd be, albeit more complex one to use as well. Ultimately the exact architecture of the alignment system is best left defined by the setting crafted after all.

In traditional Dungeons and Dragons it uses the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic and Good/Neutral/Evil to categorise the gods, and so the alignments match to represent which type of god a personality would be most appealing to. But really, by itself any system of categorisation is never going to tell you more useful information than the vaguest of outlines of personality. You need more of a description to fill in the detail, at the end of the day.

To go for a different setting: whilst World of Darkness doesn't really have 'governing gods' as such in the same sense, to take Vampire as an example the default morality system of the Path of Humanity is crafted more based around a scale of Control vs Carnality. 'A beast I am lest a beast I become' and all that. But there is likewise going to be nuance between the characters even amongst the same Humanity level. And that raises the same type of idea of what I have at the start of my post: Are they more bestial because of their low humanity, or is their humanity low because they are more bestial?

I'd argue the former vs latter there is my idea of the difference between SAN and Alignment. Which means I do think Humanity as it's done in Vampire is a SAN system, not Alignment. Arguably which Path you follow is more the alignment system there.

(For the record, the idea of King and Rebel isn't really mine. I kinda stole it as a basic from the Elder Scrolls lore community, but their version of it is more complex and I like my simplified form of it as a general albeit very abstract basis for a monomyth :P Also in this monomyth the king needn't be the agent of stasis. They can be an agent of change from within their position of power, which the rebel enters to prevent their change. If the king is victorious, their change becomes the new stasis.)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 07:30:51 pm by MorleyDev »
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Cruxador

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Re: D&D Alignment discussion
« Reply #241 on: May 19, 2019, 10:55:05 pm »

I'm not sure I'm even using the right word with thoughts/feelings/beliefs. It seems more fundamental than belief or creed. Like, the core of a character when all creeds and dichotomy is stripped away. Like, if you took away all actual laws then a 'lawful' character in thought would still have to be something you can call 'lawful'. And no matter how much you bound them to lawfulness, a 'chaotic' character will still be 'chaotic' in mind.
I think if you go too deep, the character can't really be distinct from the player in that way. To the extent that what you're describing doesn't include the more surface-level stuff I was talking about, I think what you're referring to may run close to that problem.

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A lawful characters will probably follow a creed, but they aren't necessarily lawful because they follow it. Instead, it could be said that they follow it because they are lawful. That seems an important distinction to me. They can still be tempted to stray though. What's a character without some internal conflict, after all?
Perhaps I was being unclear in terminology, I didn't mean anything particularly lawful by creed, only that each character has their own set of beliefs and their own worldview, but if those are to be relevant to the game they should be enumerated to some degree. I listed religions as an example of something that would count for this, but besides cults and faiths it could be political or military doctrine as well, and would most usually correspond to some in-setting group; few characters are entirely unique in their world in this regard.

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It's one of the problems I think video games have that try and apply an alignment system of any kind. By being driven by player agency and having to make decisions based on player inputs, your actions dictate your 'alignment' when it should really be alignment...drives? justifies? influences? suggests? actions. Again, I'm not finding the words for what I'm trying to convey and that annoys me.
Your meaning is clear, though. You prefer that alignment to be a determiner, rather than a descriptor, of action. I agree, but aside from my endorsement, whatever value that has, I have nothing else to contribute to this line of thought in particular.

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Either way, I would agree that the more options you add to a description the better a description it'd be, albeit more complex one to use as well. Ultimately the exact architecture of the alignment system is best left defined by the setting crafted after all.
But as increased complexity is a detriment, systems should be evaluated based on the benefit they provide and only the ones with the greatest benefit relative to complexity should be used. Admittedly, the one I came up with in my previous post could use some work on the complexity front, but it was far more powerful already than the nine alignments as a character thing.

Quote
In traditional Dungeons and Dragons it uses the Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic and Good/Neutral/Evil to categorise the gods, and so the alignments match to represent which type of god a personality would be most appealing to. But really, by itself any system of categorisation is never going to tell you more useful information than the vaguest of outlines of personality. You need more of a description to fill in the detail, at the end of the day.

To go for a different setting: whilst World of Darkness doesn't really have 'governing gods' as such in the same sense, to take Vampire as an example the default morality system of the Path of Humanity is crafted more based around a scale of Control vs Carnality. 'A beast I am lest a beast I become' and all that. But there is likewise going to be nuance between the characters even amongst the same Humanity level. And that raises the same type of idea of what I have at the start of my post: Are they more bestial because of their low humanity, or is their humanity low because they are more bestial?
Dungeons: the Dragoning used the WoD system for gods, in fact; each god has their own track that corresponds to their own ideals, and there are groups of aligned deities who value chaos, order, and are neutral in that war, but those groups are more to do with divine politics and only matter strongly if your character is a soldier from those wars or something like that. I think that's a pretty good way to do it which is consistent with what you're describing here, although I don't find the degeneration system there to be particularly satisfying.
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