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  1. #1

    Elven alignment restriction

    The restriction on elven alignments in the new rules seems to be a serious case of "versionitis".

    In previous versions of D&D, there were moderately harsh penalties for changing alignment, up to and including losing a level of experience. Under such conditions alignment changes were rare. But this is not the case with the current rules; there are now no penalties at all for changing alignment; rather than alignment meaning "This is how I WILL act" it now means "This is how I HAVE acted".

    OK, that's not strictly true. If you change alignment and you're a member of a strongly aligned class, you suffer penalties. The D&D rules spell out what happens in such cases (eg barbarians lose their ability to rage, paladins lose most of their granted powers, and so forth).

    What exactly is supposed to happen to an elf who becomes lawful? Do they begin to age? Do they lose their immunity to sleep spells? Do their senses dim so that they no longer get the bonus on Search, Spot, and Listen checks?

    In the current edition of the rules a DM cannot say, "Your character wouldn't do that; that's a lawful act, and elves can't be lawful." Instead he just tracks your alignment and if he feels you have drifted into a lawful alignment, he informs you accordingly (probably he warns you first; that's immaterial for this point). If elves have an alignment restriction, then there needs to be an "ex-elves" addendum to the description of the race, spelling out what happens to a lawful elf.

    But I suggest that the whole idea of this alignment restriction is foolish anyway. There are no humanoids in the core rules that have "Always" as part of their alignment; "Always" is limited usually to outsiders. And if elves are only "Usually" non-lawful, then there should not be a restriction on PCs (who are typically not "usual" anyway).

  2. #2
    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    The fact that elves cannot be lawful is a thing about thematics; in fact, there's no elf that ever followed what the rules portray as lawful activity.

    You see, to be lawful, you must create or subject yourself to a more or less defined ethical system or number of axioms; in fact, being lawful is all about abiding to a code of conduct even when it would be inconvenient to do just that. For example, a lawful guardsman may as well tell his superior how a good friend and comrade has committed a crime; however, depending on how he acts in accordance to the world (moral alignment [good-versus-evil] in combination with his code of conduct) affects what and how he is going to do. For example, a lawful good guardsman would probably try to talk his friend over if it is a redeemable act, or do something similar; on the other hand, it is possible that a lawful neutral guardsman will suggest that he surrenders himself, then turn him over to the authorities if he does not comply.

    Sidhelien do not act that way; sure, they do have laws and traditions, but anyone can do that. The difference from a creature with a lawful alignment and a sociologically speaking lawful person is that the lawful alignment signifies a lawful philosophy; in other words, a person with a lawful alignment is a sociologically speaking lawful person, yet not every sociologically speaking lawful person has a lawful alignment.

    How is that so? Well, when one does obey to rules and regulations not because he wants and feels its right to do so (he object to the outcome of using the rules, but this is a question on the nature of the rules, not on the very existence of the rules themselves) but because he has to, then he is either neutral (if he generally does no feel confined as much as defined) or chaotic (if he feels as if his freedom has been cut down considerably).

    An elf on Aebrynis does not ever, but one's very nature, dedicate oneself to such sets of ideals or axioms; one may follow custom and tradition due to good reason, but one won't even think before lying if telling the truth would be disastrous (well, in most cases).

    Another thing: an act alone rarily if ever in any campaign changes one's alignment instantaneously; it should really be a very serious transgression of one's erstwhile alignment to guarantee such a heavy-handed reversal...

    In the end, to put it simply, a sidhelien can simply NOT become lawful; if a player portrays his character lawfully, inform him of the fact so that he stops.

  3. #3

    Elven alignment restriction

    I seem to have missed this in the rules, which I also seem unable to procure a copy of at the moment (I tried to download a copy to find the citation for this, but it's in an unknown file format, ".rar"?).

    How is it that elves cannot be lawful? This seems odd to me, as elves are usually considered staid and steady, cultured and civilized, creatures of habit, etc. These are all traits of lawful creatures, I would think.

    This is mainly moot in my game, as I've pretty much ruled that elf characters are off-limits as PC's. Even so, what's the basis for the restriction?

  4. #4
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    Nope, cerilian elves cannot be lawful at all. It is against their very nature. It's described in the core rules.

    "The elven heart is unfathomable to mortals; they're moved to wild delight, dark melancholy, or burning rage with the only the slightest of causes. More than anything else, elves are unpredictable, doing what pleases them from one moment to the next."

    They can still be cultured and civilized certainly, and can still have laws and rulers. Those things don't describe lawful behavior.


    -Fizz

  5. #5
    Ah, so they're unseelie, which is passionate and chaotic, but not necessarily (or even more than occasionally) evil.

    Gotcha.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by celtibear
    Ah, so they're unseelie, which is passionate and chaotic, but not necessarily (or even more than occasionally) evil.

    Gotcha.

    Thanks.
    Um... well... er...

    Kinda sorta not really.

    Passionate and chaotic, definitely. But the term `unseelie' actually has a connection to something else, which i won't mention for fear of spoilers.

    Best to refer to them as sidhelien, and leave it at that. Heh.


    -Fizz

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by RaspK_FOG
    The fact that elves cannot be lawful is a thing about thematics; in fact, there's no elf that ever followed what the rules portray as lawful activity.
    So you're saying that no elf, anywhere, ever engaged in a lawful act?

    If you really mean to say that, then you're suggesting that elves are more strongly aligned than any other being in the multiverse. Even outsiders can engage in cross-alignment acts or even change alignment - it's very rare, but it can happen.

    On the other hand, if you simply mean that it is rare for an elf to ever engage in a lawful activity, then there should be no PC restriction.

    You see, to be lawful, you must create or subject yourself to a more or less defined ethical system or number of axioms; in fact, being lawful is all about abiding to a code of conduct even when it would be inconvenient to do just that.
    There are two problems with this.

    Firstly, your definition of lawful is not accurate. All alignments follow a number of axioms; they are, however, different axioms, which is how one tells alignments apart. For example, lawful good characters believe in the greatest good for the greatest number, and might be inclined to sacrifice a little freedom for the greater good; chaotic good characters would consider a sacrifice of freedom to be too high a price to pay, since freedom is one of the things that are important to their notion of what is "good". Both are following axioms, they're just different axioms.

    But let us suppose for the moment that your definition of lawful is accurate. In 3rd edition, being lawful simply means that on the whole you follow a defined ethical system or number of axioms. It doesn't mean that you always do so, and it certainly (crucially!) doesn't mean that you must do so. If you consistently fail to do so, you will drift into a neutral or even chaotic alignment, but there are no penalties for this in 3rd edition; alignment is no longer a straitjacket.

    (guardsman example snipped)

    Sidhelien do not act that way; sure, they do have laws and traditions, but anyone can do that. The difference from a creature with a lawful alignment and a sociologically speaking lawful person is that the lawful alignment signifies a lawful philosophy; in other words, a person with a lawful alignment is a sociologically speaking lawful person, yet not every sociologically speaking lawful person has a lawful alignment.
    Actually I disagree with that as well. A lawful creature is not necessarily a sociologically lawful person. Lawful Evil crime lords are an obvious counter example.

    But in any case, saying that "Sidhelien do not act that way" is a very strong statement. Saying "very few Sidhelien act that way" or even "Sidhelien very rarely act that way" are fine; that is the equivalent of a "Usually non-lawful" alignment, which is the strongest any non-outsider race has.

    An elf on Aebrynis does not ever, but one's very nature, dedicate oneself to such sets of ideals or axioms; one may follow custom and tradition due to good reason, but one won't even think before lying if telling the truth would be disastrous (well, in most cases).
    Lawful characters are not necessarily truthful. Lawful evil, again, is an obvious counter example, but frankly even a lawful good character is not required to be honest all the time. Paladins, maybe, might have restrictions that are that harsh - some DMs would suggest that a paladin is morally obligated to tell the truth even to a demon prince - but then again, paladins have strict rules for what happens if they engage in chaotic or evil activities. Note that they are not by any means restricted from performing such activities - they can do whatever they wish, but they suffer a penalty if they do.

    That's the 3rd edition way.

    Another thing: an act alone rarily if ever in any campaign changes one's alignment instantaneously; it should really be a very serious transgression of one's erstwhile alignment to guarantee such a heavy-handed reversal...
    Or a series of minor acts, yes?

    In the end, to put it simply, a sidhelien can simply NOT become lawful; if a player portrays his character lawfully, inform him of the fact so that he stops.
    And if he doesn't?

    You should not be telling your players how to act. In 3rd edition, the accepted means of enforcing alignment is to impose penalties for infractions (c.f. paladins, barbarians, et al). So if elves really are as strongly aligned as you suggest - and I reiterate that this is absolutely unprecedented for any non-outsider in 3rd edition - then the rules need to be a lot more explicit, ideally spelling out what happens to an elf who becomes lawful.

    Because with all the best intentions it can happen. What if a chaotic good elf puts on a cursed helm of opposite alignment? Are they simply immune to the effects of such items?

    Either:
    • PC elves should not be restricted to non-lawful alignments; no other humanoid is, and it has no effect on Sidhelien culture as a whole to allow that a rare number of them are lawful (any more than the occasional good goblin or orog affects their culture), or
    • The penalties for becoming lawful need to be spelled out, or
    • It needs to be made explicit that Sidhelien are completely incapable of lawful acts, and immune to any sort of magical compulsion that would force them to engage in them.

    The first of these three options makes the most sense, but at the very least one of them needs to be adopted; the current rules are inconsistent with the 3rd edition definition of the way alignment works.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gazza666

    You should not be telling your players how to act. In 3rd edition, the accepted means of enforcing alignment is to impose penalties for infractions (c.f. paladins, barbarians, et al). So if elves really are as strongly aligned as you suggest - and I reiterate that this is absolutely unprecedented for any non-outsider in 3rd edition - then the rules need to be a lot more explicit, ideally spelling out what happens to an elf who becomes lawful.

    Because with all the best intentions it can happen. What if a chaotic good elf puts on a cursed helm of opposite alignment? Are they simply immune to the effects of such items?

    Either:
    • PC elves should not be restricted to non-lawful alignments; no other humanoid is, and it has no effect on Sidhelien culture as a whole to allow that a rare number of them are lawful (any more than the occasional good goblin or orog affects their culture), or
    • The penalties for becoming lawful need to be spelled out, or
    • It needs to be made explicit that Sidhelien are completely incapable of lawful acts, and immune to any sort of magical compulsion that would force them to engage in them.

    The first of these three options makes the most sense, but at the very least one of them needs to be adopted; the current rules are inconsistent with the 3rd edition definition of the way alignment works.
    Okay, first of all, players playing in BR should maybe buy in to the theme of the campaign... which includes no lawful elves. Period. So, the DM shouldn't have to force them to do anything... they should want to do it. Otherwise, they don't get to play an elf in your campaign. A lawful elf could just become an NPC.

    Alternatively, you could say that BR elves are very different - in fact, in some ways, they ARE Outsiders... consider their relationship with the shadow world, and with the Sie - the Seelie faeries. Thus, they DO classify as an Outsider for the purpose of enforced alignment.

    Lastly, if you need penalties instead, here y'are:
    -Any non-blooded Sidhe that becomes lawful loses the ability to use arcane magic until they return to a non-lawful alignment - any blooded Sidhe that becomes lawful has 2 negative levels towards their arcane spell-casting class until such time as they return to a non-lawful alignment.
    -A lawful Sidhe loses the ability of Nature Stride, as they have lost touch with the chaotic power of nature, as found in Cerilia.
    -Any elf that becomes lawful has the Infamous Reputation affect their dealings with other elves as well. That is, a -4 to diplomacy, and gather information... and a +4 to intimidation, as there is just something utterly wrong with the elf in question.
    -Sidhe with lawful alignment can not achieve balance with their Timeless nature. They begin to grow ill, and are no longer immune to disease. Further, they begin to require more rest than an ordinary elf - meditating, perhaps even sleeping, for the same amount a human requires (8 hours a day)
    -Elves that are lawful lose their racial bonus for Listen, Search and Spot, as they are no longer as in tune with their environment and nature.
    -Elves that are lawful lose their +2 bonus vs. enchantment spells, as their spirit no longer has the quicksilver-like quality of a creature of chaos. They retain their immunity to sleep spells.

    -Furthermore, any item that would switch a Sidhe's alignment to lawful, they would make a Fort Save, DC 18, or die. However, successfully making this save, the alignment switch would not occur. (it should be noted that items, other than perhaps intelligent weapons, that switch alignment should be relatively rare in Cerilia, as the elves would have been highly unlikely to have created any, leaving what few to be created by humans)

    I think the best option, personally, is just to say that Sidhe can't be lawful.

  9. #9
    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    OK, so my examples have not been that accurate; I don't always have the time to phrase everything the best way possible.

    As for your question, gazza666, let me put it simply: a sidhelien won't ever commit enough minor or any major alignment infractions to see himself becoming lawful; he simply will not act in such a manner. In other words, and before this turns into a joke, the sidhelien are made to resemble the sidhe of Ireland in some extent; and, true, while they really are bound by any geas they take, that doesn't mean they are lawful, much like how a lawful person who lies once in a while does not become chaotic. See how your argument falls short?

    The problem, in my humble opinion, is that you feel that the alignment restriction is supposed to impose a sort of penalty; it doesn't: it's a role-playing thematic, much like how Cerilian dragons don't have an "Always" tag on their alignment. You might also be interested in noting how mythology was much stricter or looser in its outlook of mythical beings in regard to alignment: duergar were evil Scottish dwarves, the same for drow being the equivalent for elves, while Tuatha de Daanan, nymphs and dryads were more fleating and aloof. Likewise, there is a tale written by Marie de France (is that how it is written?) that speaks of a good werewolf, for example, wronged by his wife.

    Blood Spawn holds the answers to most of your questions. It may spoil your view of Birthright, Cerilia, and the Shadow World, however...
    Last edited by RaspK_FOG; 07-12-2006 at 08:39 PM.

  10. #10
    I would have to definately agree with gazza666 on this whole argument. Any good DM that allows PC elves just cannot simply tell the player you must absolutely remain non-lawful. What are you going to do if the player decides that his character is going to start acting lawful??????????? Decide simply beyond any doubt that his character dies? or that he simply dissappears from the world? or make the player leave your house and quit playing? That goes against every core reason for playing. What if the player refuses to listen to nudges that elves "CANT ACT THAT WAY". Obviously there should be penalties as mentioned, loosing the qualities that are inherent to an elf, perhaps. It would be like telling a paladin he couldnt turn to the dark side so you're not going to allow him to slay that innocent.

    All of the arguments that support elves maintaining the strict non-lawful alignment seem to forget that elves, by every single official writing dealing with elves, are in fact very lawful in reguards to following the unwritten rules of their cultures. Until you read Greatheart, you can't really refute what I am saying. In that book and in Tuarhievel realm setting, the official writers give us a very clear look at the heart of elves when it comes to their own custom's and believes dealing with their own countries and lands. Anyone that understands how an elves believe about their own cultures couldnt possibly state that it's impossbile for individual elves not to decide to apply that same mentallity to the rest of their lives.

    Another example of lawful behavior in elves is their extreme dedication to one way of life (taken from the book "war"). In that book, it states that at birth elves are determined to have a "nature" for one particular "class" either artists, warriors or mages. And that is the way that they "must" follow. The culture requires it. Everyone in their culture simply accepts it and no-one would even think of defying that custom. That is very lawful, in fact almost Communist.

    Finally in their personal lives yet another example of lawful behavior is their entirely obsessive devotion to the things that they are studying. Elf mages, devote a very psychologically defined obsession to studying all things magic. Warriors devotes their entire lives to learning the arts of bows and swords, etc. These are not just passing things they learn, they devote their very lives to them, and only in passing devote time to studies outside their "walk" in life. (of course except their families and communities)

    So I would say that all of these extreme contradicitions would indeed produce a few souls so take Lawful to heart in all aspects of their lives.

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