I have been gaming, off and on, since I was 12 years old. Now that I'm 45, I don't get to play quite as often as I like, but I still like to keep my hand in the game, as it were. This blog is about the role-playing games I write, the games I play, and the games I wish I could play.
Obeys the law, but manipulates it for personal gain,
without regard for the consequences to others.
In recent weeks there have been a few discussions about Alignment in D&D. There are many different interpretations of how Alignment is supposed to work, and many of them are incompatible. This has even caused a lot of players to simply ignore Alignment. Personally, I don’t get this view. In my mind, it’s pretty simple: A character’s Alignment is there to provide a guideline to the player to how his character will act in any given situation.
When I was writing Hero’s Journey a while back, I put my thoughts down on paper, and codified them in the rules. To date, it’s still the explanation that makes the most sense to me. So, I am copying the Alignment section here, for reference.
Every character has a set of social values and a moral compass. Together, these two facets form the character’s Alignment, and define much about a character’s personality, and how they interact with the world around them. To define your character’s Alignment, choose one each from the following two categories:
Lawful – You believe Laws are meant to be obeyed, and you will not break them unless forced to, or given no alternative. You will seek justice against those who flaunt the law in any way you can.
Neutral – You believe Laws are generally good, but, as those who create them are fallible, every law must be weighed against its consequences, and can be summarily ignored if they do more harm than good.
Chaotic – You believe Laws are artificial constructs and should have no hold over the individual, if that individual does not agree with them. You will pay the Law lip service, but will ignore it if it interferes with your personal views or agenda.
Good – You value life, equality, and righteousness above all things. You tend to be cheerful and positive, look for the best in everyone, and will go out of your way to protect and help the weak and helpless.
Neutral – You believe all beings create their own fate, and that good and evil are just reflections of the individual’s views and actions. You will not harm unnecessarily, but you will usually not go out of your way to protect anyone but yourself.
Evil – You believe that your desires come first, and that you should be able to take and do whatever you can to achieve your own level of contentment. You often take joy in others’ pain, and will not endanger yourself to help others, unless there is a direct benefit for you to do so.
A character’s Alignment is mainly for background purposes. It is there to help a player define a character’s personality, and guide him in how the character will react in any given situation. However, certain actions, many of them Class-dependent, will be effected and/or limited by a character’s Alignment (particularly in the case of Priests). GM’s are encouraged to help players interpret their Alignment when a question of Moral or Social behavior comes into play.
By the way, Hero’s Journey is available free on the “My Products” page, linked above. If you’re so inclined, please take a look and let me know what you think. I may put it out on RPGNow as a PWYW document, just for kicks.