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Thread: Alignment Alternatives
09-16-2003, 04:47 PM #1
I am posting Geeman's reply here to a topic that started somewhere else (Monks in Cerilia on the BRCS forum, I believe). Somehow his reply ended up in the Birthright Enhancement forum under a totally unrelated thread. So, to keep a good discussion going, here's what he wrote:
OK, let me try this again. I managed, somehow, to hit that odd combination
of keys that not only undid several of my points on this subject, but
actually sent the post.... Sneezing and keyboarding don`t mix.
At 04:43 PM 9/9/2003 +0200, Osprey wrote:
> I agree with most of what was said. Myers-Briggs alignments? Now
> that`s funny!
I think the D&D alignment is a goofy game mechanical expression of a not
very clearly defined concept, liberally borrowed from a few fantasy authors
(and badly misunderstood from those sources at that) and then used as the
basis of a lot of silly extrapolation into the game. In my experience it
really does wind up being a sort of short-hand for role-playing. While
there are many permutations of personality types possible under the banner
of "lawful good" characters, I`m sure we`ve all seen the stereotypical
version of that alignment played out with requisite smarm. Similarly, the
number of "chaotic evil" characters that wind up being played out as
utterly psychotic, remorseless murderers with a death wish that makes a
Kamikaze pilot look like Jain monk. That`s not 100% the fault of the
alignment system, since people have a tendency to go "lowest common
denominator" when it comes to both good/evil and characterization. It is,
however, an amazingly simplistic description of morality and IMO lends
itself to shallow interpretation.
I haven`t implemented this yet, but I really like the idea of a point based
"allegiance" system rather than the alignments of D&D. Basically one has a
point value (based on character level) that one assigns to various
DM-outlined concepts, organizations, gods, etc. A 10th level character
might have (if one were playing the Meyer`s/Briggs D20 game) Extrovert 2,
Feeling 3, Judging 5 as his allegiance values. I like this better than
alignments for BR in particular since we have all those nice
1. It provides an answer to the question "how evil?" that is occasionally
asked in gaming as it is no where else in the omniverse. That is, with a
point value assigned doing something as ubiquitous as detecting for evil
can be more intelligently done.
2. It allows for more areas of morality than law/chaos and good/evil.
3. It provides a system of loyalty to things like nations, religious
organizations, etc. Many people view "good" or "evil" as what is good or
bad for the organization they support which is, in effect, a
morality. It`s often a twisted and childish morality, but it`s a morality
nonetheless, and an allegiance system would reflect that kind of person.
4. It can be used as the basis of prereqs for prestige classes. A
blackguard might have to have `evil 5` in his allegiances, a "patriarch"
prestige class might have to have points in allegiance to that organization
amongst his allegiances, etc.
5. Using this sort of thing as a shorthand for role-playing is pretty much
inevitable, so a more articulated system at least gives players a broader
range of themes to express.
09-16-2003, 05:26 PM #2
I'm also importing Lord Rahvin's post on D20 Modern Allegiances as a way to consolidate this discussion into a single thread. Hope you don't mind, milord. I forgot you had started that thread until after I'd already posted this topic.
The following material is from d20Modern. I have mentioned before that I
believe a lot of d20modern concepts and rules are more appropriate for
Birthright then D&D concepts and rules. The recent talks of alignment
prompted me to post this section on Allegiances. This material is Open Game
Content, and is licensed for public use under the terms of the Open Game
The allegiances system is optional.
A character may have up to three allegiances, listed in order from most
important to least important. These allegiances are indications of what the
character values in life, and may encompass people, organizations, or
ideals. A character may have no allegiances (being either a free spirit or a
lone wolf) or may change allegiances as he or she goes through life. Also,
just because the character fits into a certain category of people doesn’t
mean the character has to have that category as an allegiance.
If the character acts in a way that is detrimental to his or her allegiance,
the GM may choose to strip the character of that allegiance (and all its
benefits) and assign an allegiance more suitable to those actions.
A hero’s allegiance can take the form of loyalty to a person, to an
organization, to a belief system, to a nation, or to an ethical or moral
philosophy. In general, a character can discard an allegiance at any time,
but may only gain a new allegiance after attaining a new level.
Having an allegiance implies having sufficient intelligence and wisdom to
make a moral or ethical choice. As a result, a character must have
Intelligence and Wisdom scores of 3 or higher in order to select
Allegiances include, but are not limited to, the following examples.
Person or Group: This includes a leader or superior, a family, a group of
linked individuals (such as a band of adventurers or a cell of secret
agents), or a discrete unit within a larger organization (such as members of
the character’s squad or platoon, or individuals whose safety the character
is responsible for).
Organization: This may be a company or corporation, a gathering of
like-minded individuals, a fraternal brotherhood, a secret society, a branch
of the armed forces, a local, state, or national government, a university,
an employer, or an otherwise established authority.
Nation: This may or may not be the nation that the hero currently resides
in. It may be where the individual was born, or where the hero resides after
emigrating to a new home.
Belief System: This is usually a particular faith or religion, but can also
be a specific philosophy or school of thought. Belief systems could also
include political beliefs or philosophical outlooks.
Ethical Philosophy: This describes how one feels about order, as represented
by law and chaos. An individual with a lawful outlook tends to tell the
truth, keep his or her word, respect authority, and honor tradition, and he
or she expects others to do likewise. An individual with a chaotic outlook
tends to follow his or her instincts and whims, favor new ideas and
experiences, and behave in a subjective and open manner in dealings with
Moral Philosophy: This describes one’s attitude toward others, as
represented by good and evil. An individual with a good allegiance tends to
protect innocent life. This belief implies altruism, respect for life, and a
concern for the dignity of other creatures. An evil allegiance shows a
willingness to hurt, oppress, and kill others, and to debase or destroy
Allegiances and Influence
An allegiance can create an empathic bond with others of the same
allegiance. With the GM’s permission, the character gains a +2 circumstance
bonus on Charisma-based skill checks when dealing with someone of the same
allegiance—as long as the character has had some interaction with the other
character to discover the connections and bring the bonus into play.
09-16-2003, 07:01 PM #3
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
Interesting. Personally, I don't find the alignments too restrictive, as they are really just frameworks.
However, I feel that if you're going to drop alignments, then you need to go all the way. No alignments, no point systems, no "allegiances", just the character. You need to have a very good handle on their motivations and beliefs, but it probably would be very liberating.
As an example, Detect Evil might not pick up that murderer who is returning an orphan's kitten, but the paladin on his way to remorselessly slay an enemy of his faith could register. You could have all sorts of gradations of sensitivity.
If you're going to drop the alignments, then liberate the characters, don't just give them another set of rules and strange stats to keep track of. That's how I feel anyway.I could die, or the king could die, or the horse could learn to sing . . .
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