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 Post subject: Alignments: what's not to like?
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 9:24 am 
Noise Maker
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I'm researching for my blog again! This time, I'm looking for opinions regarding alignments.

I don't only mean the D&D alignments. There are other games that have ideas that are close to alignments - for example: WoD uses Nature / Demeanour (or Virtue / Vice, depending on which edition you're playing).
So for the purpose of this thread, I'd like to consider any moral or ethical label that you apply to your character to be an "alignment".

So, the questions:
  1. What do you like about alignments?
  2. What do you dislike about alignments?
  3. What is your preferred alignment system? ("None" is a valid answer.)

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 Post subject: Re: Alignments: what's not to like?
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 10:53 am 
Motor Mouth
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IMO alignment is used like your stats to help build a picture of how to role play your character.

Things I dislike are when alignment becomes a barrier to choosing a course of action.

Maybe something like a fame/infamy system would be better to encourage heroic/evil actions?


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 Post subject: Re: Alignments: what's not to like?
PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 1:19 pm 
1. I like the small help they provide in pointing towards a course of action in-character. Without this, I might just default to what I feel is best/morally right, and then my characters all potentially become carbon copies of each other. With an alignment, I more often stop and think about what the specific character would choose to do, encouraging more diverse role-playing from me.

2. I dislike systems or character classes that chain you too closely to a single alignment, with changes in attitude being viewed as transgressions that need to be punished - for instance the DnD Paladin loses powers if they deviate from Lawful Good. Having alignments/moral compasses at all is good (see above) but a player must be allowed to react to extreme situations in-character, even if that results in an alignment shift.
Some of the most believable and interesting characters in literature and film are the ones who show a change in attitude as a result of an event they witness, a situation they are part of, or feeling the need to prove something.
Real people don't go through life reacting and behaving in one way. While we may have a core moral standpoint that doesn't alter much, we change and adapt our reasoning around that depending on what happens to us. Sometimes we might change our moral standpoints altogether, if a situation has a suitably life-changing impact on us.

3. My preferred alignment system would be one where not doing the 'right' (or alignment appropriate) thing has story and roleplaying consequences, but not physical, stat-based ones.
For more realism and interesting role-playing potential, I also like the idea of having more than one alignment - a core, personal moral compass, and a outward attitude that you try to display to others. As an example of how this can play out in interesting ways, look at this character in Game of Thrones (don't read if you haven't got past series 2 episode 7, and if you have, don't tell me how it plays out - ta!):

Spoiler! :
When Theon goes back to his homeland after being brought up amongst the Starks as a prisoner, he finds his fairly neutral moral compass is completely at odds with the chaotic, warmongering society run by his father and sister. But, wanting to prove himself and go back to his roots, he begins a war against the Starks in his father's name. Returning to take over Winterfell (seat of the Starks and his childhood home), he decides to try and rule with an iron fist by murdering those who get in his way. However, at first every blow he strikes and every person he hurts takes an enormous amount of persuasion by his cohorts. He doesn't want to do any of it, but knows that if he doesn't, his cohorts (and ultimately his father) will not respect him. What alignment is he? I say he has two - at heart he is quite neutral. While he is resentful of a lot of things, it has never before occurred to him to do anyone harm over it, he dislikes the idea. But outwardly, he has taken on a chaotic evil persona which he believes will prove himself to others to be strong. Further down the line, he has started to convince himself that he can do these things and that they are for the best - his neutral 'real' alignment is being slowly swallowed up by the public face he is trying to cultivate.
If this were a game, this is where many alignment systems would have him penalised, or the GM would feel the need to have serious words with the person playing him. But it is this alignment shift and the internal struggle between his real self and his outward persona that make him an interesting and believable character, so why stop it?


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 Post subject: Re: Alignments: what's not to like?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:38 pm 
Any system where the player is rewarded for roleplaying their character. It seems to work well in nWoD - the virtue/vice things are not strictly alignments, they're more of a character personality guide. You can ignore them if you like, but you get bonuses if you play up to them. One thing that I especially like form the nWoD system which hasn't been mentioned is the "morality" scale (or Humanity, or whatever it is in the flavour of nWoD you're playing). you run the risk of developing character derrangements if your morality drops. The actions you perform only have an effect on your morality if they are relevant to your current level of morality.


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