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Evergreen Arguments: Meat Points v. Duck Points

Argument 1: Hit points are not meat points. Definitely not meat points. Until your last hit point is lost, every hit you take is a last-ditch dodge, your luck running out, or some other explanation that makes sense in the moment. So hit points are definitely duck points.

  • Except that you lose hit points when you get hit and take damage.
  • And your primary means of regaining hit points is probably some sort of healing spell.
  • And if you get stabbed by a sword of wounding, you start bleeding while still having hit points.
  • And if you get hit by a poisoned dart, you’re poisoned despite your many remaining hit points.
  • And after a few levels, you can reliably survive falling from lethally high heights with hit points to spare.
  • And a rogue can skewer your organs with a well-placed near-miss.
  • And if a dragon or wizard gets angry with you, you’ll end up burned despite a few remaining hit points.
  • And various monsters can grab, swallow, and pin-cushion you with damage-dealing near-misses.
  • Oh, and bigger monsters almost invariably have more hit points than smaller ones.

But no, contrary to any strange ideas you may have, hit points are definitely not meat points.

Argument 2: Hit points are not duck points. Definitely not duck points. Every time you lose hit points, physical damage is being done. So hit points are definitely meat points.

  • Except that every PHB describes hit points as dodging, luck, stamina, parrying, divine favor, and anything else that makes sense for the character.
  • And unless you’re lucky enough to be playing 4e, you’re just standing in combat like a Rock’em Sock’em robot, hammering on some monster while it does the same to you.
  • And you don’t bleed or suffer any other impairment until you drop unconscious or drop dead, despite losing feast-sized chunks of your body.
  • And with every good night’s rest, you regain a shocking portion of your damaged meat.
  • And if an ally gives a inspiring shout, strums an inspiring tune, or casts an inspiring spell, you may either regain lost meat or gain temporary meat.
  • Oh, and you gain more and more meat with experience.

But no, contrary to any strange ideas you may have, hit points are definitely not duck points.

Argument 3: Hit points are hit points. They represent hit points, they simulate hit points, and they model hit points.

 
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Posted by on 14/09/2016 in Uncategorized

 

DMing 4e D&D

4e D&D is a game of big damn heroes battling big damn villains. Like any other edition, 4e can be used in many ways. It supports political intrigue and exploration as well as any other, and arguably better; it can simulate a fantastical reality with a bit of refluffing; it can be used for dungeon delving with a few considerations; it can support sandbox adventures, with the right tweaks. And so on. But where 4e D&D really shines is dramatic action-adventure, like that seen in The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and other adventure films and books.

If you’re accustomed to other D&D editions, 4e’s philosophy and rules may seem strange and uncomfortable. Whereas other editions are written with strategic wargame-like gameplay first and foremost in mind, with combat being something to avoid whenever possible in early editions, 4e is very strategically written with the philosophy that combat ought to be fun in and of itself. So while you can use 1d6-goblins random encounter tables and 10-by-10 rooms with 2 orcs in 4e, this edition is much more fun when you think big. Big environments, big challenges, big fantasy, big drama, and big action!

To put 4e and its game style in context, it may help to read a fellow gamer’s thoughts on D&D’s different flavors, which I’ve copy-pasted to the end of this post.

Rules-wise, there are a few common DM advisories to be aware of:

1. 4e monsters can be pretty grindy in the first two books, so MM3 and the two Monster Vaults are highly recommended. If you do use MM1 and MM2, it is advised that you MM3-ize the monster math. MM3 on a business card is very handy, and if you get into writing your own monsters my Marvelous Monsters is even better.

2. WotC was very Johnny-on-the-spot with errata during the 4e era, so there is a great big errata pdf covering all the 4e books. Most of it is just minor clarifications and tweaks to powers and traits, so most of it isn’t really necessary. The only highly-recommended errata is that for the Stealth rules and that for Skill Challenges.

3. Speaking of skill challenges, some fans like ’em and others don’t. Pretty much everyone agrees that WotC never really got the presentation/explanation right, but some fans have gotten SCs to really shine. One of ENworld’s regulars wrote the Obsidian Skill Challenge pdf to help other 4e DMs use SCs.

4. There are three so-called feat taxes in 4e, which much digital ink has been spilled over and which nobody to this day is quite sure what the heck WotC was thinking when they were written. There are many minor variations of fixes for these feats; the most common of which is to ban any feat with ‘Improved Defenses,’ ‘Weapon Expertise,’ or ‘Implement Expertise’ in the title, and simply give every PC a +1 to all attacks and defenses at 5th, 15th, and 25th levels.

5. Classic 4e books and 4e ‘Essentials’ books can all be used together. Some fans love the E-classes, some hate ’em. What everyone agrees is that the E-classes are WotC’s attempt to make 4e retro, and are in no way essential. In fact, the ‘essentials’ books totally lack rituals, arguably one of 4e’s greatest contributions to D&D.

6. Oh and for the love of all that is good and geeky, do not run Keep on the Shadowfell! It was WotC’s first 4e adventure, and is generally considered one of the worst in D&D history. It’s grindy and doesn’t play to 4e’s strengths.

7. Like characters in every other edition, 4e PCs become more and more reliant upon their magical items as the game progresses. The difference is that 4e explicitly points this out in the PHB, and then provides the Inherent Bonuses variant to DMs who don’t want their PCs to depend on their magical bling. (The variant can be found in the DMG2 and the Dark Sun CS.)

I think that’s about it. Enjoy!

Lastly, and as promised, Armchair Gamer’s thoughts on D&D’s different flavors:

Flavors of D&D

Well, I’ve been using this as shorthand for a while now, and some folks have noticed, so I thought I’d put it out there for public consideration/critique/destruction. It’s an attempt to provide a shorthand way of referring to the various major ‘flavors’ of D&D, in a way that’s less divisive and dualistic than ‘old school vs. new school’ and more focused on theme, flavor and playstyle than simply referring to the editions. As will be noted, many editions have a foot in two or more camps, and I expect many players will as well. (For a comedic example, Knights of the Dinner Table is about a group of gamers mixing Knaves & Kobolds/Dungeoncrawling & Demons, for example, with one player who’s more suited to Paladins & Princesses and a DM who straddles the DC&Dm/P&P line.)

Bear in mind that this is largely an academic, armchair gamer’s work looking at most of these camps from outside. I’ve tried to be as fair and impartial as possible, but my own biases undoubtedly inform it. (First one to guess which playstyle I really don’t care for here gets a no-prize.) The time frames given are not for the origins of the playstyles, or when they were ‘official’, although some of both is involved—rather, it’s a best guess of when they were at their peak. It’s decidedly not meant to determine what’s ‘real D&D’ or ‘not D&D’, but to help us better identify where we and others are coming from, and perhaps eventually what material and mechanics best support our goals.

Please note that all the titles are meant to be both alliterative and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It’s about pretending to be knaves/godslayers/dungeoncrawlers/paladins/spellcasters/warlords and warlocks/other fantasy characters, after all; let’s not take it too seriously.

Knaves & Kobolds (1972-1977, 2005+): This encompasses the kind of game discussed by Old Geezer, run by Gygax and Arneson, and celebrated by much of the Old School Renaissance crowd. It’s also referred to as “Fantasy F#&@*!ing Vietnam.” The protagonists tend to be scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells (hence the “Knaves” portion of the title), treasure is the main goal, life is cheap and the game seems to be at a lower, somewhat grimier scale than later iterations (“Kobolds”). Campaigns tend to involve rivalry and fragile alliances as much as cooperation, with a stronger emphasis on high-level soloing and the political endgame than is typically seen elsewhere.

Galactic Dragons & Godwars (1974-1982?): This one was brought to my attention by Lizard; apparently it’s represented by the Arduin Grimoire and similar publications. It’s sort of the mirror image of K&K, with lots of wild, wahoo, over-the-top fantasy, informed by the pulpier and more hallucinogenic sides of sword & sorcery and 70s fantasy. It informs even some material in the official line—Erol Otus’ art fits in here as well as with K&K, I believe, and Deities & Demigods wound up being used as a Monster Manual for this sort of game. It’s not necessarily Monty Haul or crude powergaming, although it can degenerate into that—just as all other flavors of D&D have their dark sides. (Nasty player vs. player rivalries, mindless hack-and-slash, railroading, CoDzilla, and tedious combat encounters, for examples.) Dark Sun is arguably an outcropping of this, crossed with some elements of K&K, emerging at the height of the P&P era.

Dungeoncrawling & Demons (1977-1986, 1998+): The ‘default’ flavor of the second generation of the game, after it grew beyond the wargaming crowd. It’s the flavor suggested by the original AD&D manuals, as they were received by the community: adventuring parties become smaller and more cohesive, combat begins to be more emphasized, and the political endgame starts to fade into the background. This style isn’t solely about dungeoncrawling, but that’s one of the ‘distinctives’ of the game; likewise, while demons aren’t the only opponents, they tend to be very popular ones and held up as one of the key elements that makes this style different from several others (P&P). It’s also the ‘back to D&D’ flavor that 3rd Edition tried to recapture, and that was strongly supported for most of that line’s official run. Pathfinder, I believe, still carries strong elements of this, especially the ‘demons’ side. 

Paladins & Princesses (1983-1998): Ah, this one is going to be tricky. This is my style and era, the kind that I’ve always wanted to get back to—so it’s why I have to be careful to ensure it’s a real thing and not just my own preferences and nostalgia projected backwards. To that end, I’m going to quote another fan, Piestrio:

The thing I liked about 2e is the flavor.

I know, I know they “ripped all the flavor from AD&D” and “Watered it down” and “Made it too PC” etc… etc…

I contend that they didn’t actually remove flavoring, or tone, or themes or anything.

They just changed them. If you went into 2e looking for the tone and flavor of 1e you would not find it and, alas, far too many people stopped there and assumed that this meant they had removed it.

2e is a game about “Romantic” fantasy (not the sub genre “Romantic Fantasy” but fantasy through a romantic lens). It s about being a hero and doing the right thing by people who depend on you. It’s about striving to overcome challenges of the spirt. It a “clean” fantasy, with shining castles and good kings, friendly innkeepers and helpful travelers.

That’s what I like about 2e.

However, it’s not strictly limited to 2nd Edition—I’d start it with Tracy Hickman’s adventures, such as Ravenloft and especially the Dragonlance saga, and it also informs later BECMI work as well. It was part of TSR policy for a while; see Jim Ward’s article “Angry Mothers from Heck” in DRAGON #154, where he talks about a focus on ‘saving the princess’ adventures where heroes accomplish some sort of positive goals. (In considering this, I looked back over my formative influences and realized that between Leia, Lucy the Valiant, Adora, Eilonwy, Laurana and even some versions of Princess Zelda, a lot of the ‘princesses’ that inform this generation and their take on the game are pretty darn good at saving and helping out as well as being saved.)

Simulation & Spellcasters (2002+): What 3rd Edition became ‘in the wild’, although one can find roots of it in some earlier approaches to the game. The comprehensive, cohesive and well-defined nature of the rules led to a rise in ‘rules as physics’ and further development of earlier attempts to work out how a D&D world would naturally function. Given the high power of magic, spellcasters become a dominant element in both the world and in gameplay. Eberron has strong roots in this school, and I believe Pathfinder deals with it some as well, if only by virtue of its 3E roots. Here on the rpg.net forum, it’s often disparaged, but we have some strong and eloquent voices in support of it.

Warlords & Warlocks (2008+): This is the one flavor so far that’s largely identified with an edition—namely, 4th Edition. This is largely due to the strong mechanical definition and the shakeups in flavor text that edition brought; no other edition seems to be so successful at carrying and maintaining its decided style. It’s a mixture and evolution of DC&Dm and P&P, albeit more high-action than the former and grittier than the latter, and focused on set-piece encounters, tactical combat, and often a sense of growing scope and power, with an endgame strongly informed by G&G.

Comments, criticism and corrections are welcomed. Many of these could use expansion and refinement, and I’m open to the possibility that there may be one or two flavors I’ve overlooked. I don’t want to divide things too finely, though, and I don’t know that one could really collapse any of the already-identified styles without losing something.

 

 
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Posted by on 12/09/2016 in Uncategorized

 

It’s About Consistency

Okay, stream-of-consciousness, folks. This is something that’s been percolating for a while, and I want to get it down and share.

Most of us seem to care a lot about which play styles D&D is geared for, the various -isms that come from GNS and other game theories, how many and how big we want D&D’s mechanical widgets to be, where we want D&D to draw inspiration from, how much and what kind of game balance we want, and so on. And I care about those things too!

But I also care about consistency. Which, as I’ve come to realize, is a big part of my love-hate attitude toward D&D.

D&D’s inconsistency hasn’t always been a problem for me. Back during my teenage years, it didn’t bother me that 2e has a different irregular table for each of its six abilities, or that alignment is defined subjectively in one place and objectively in others, or that mages can do virtually anything — up to and including achieving godhood in one case — but can’t master the humble Cure Light Wounds spell, or that there are so many disparate dice-mechanics scattered throughout the rules.

But then WotC and the d20 standardization came along, I discovered internet forums, and I left home for college. I started to notice, even after the d20 standardization, all the little inconsistencies — both thematic and mechanical.

Take the spell discussion that sparked this post, for example. It seems that prior to and after 4e, D&D is torn between two ideals: One, where every caster class has a specific role/niche, and each spell is a special trick that a single class can access (Raise Dead, Reincarnate). And two, where casters may be able to fill multiple roles/niches depending on spell access, and each spell is a universal trick that different classes access differently (detect magic, protection from evil, endure elements). But neither ideal is attained; D&D sort of has roles/niches, and has kinda-thematic classes.

Anyhow. Yes, consistency can make the game more playable and internally…well, consistent. But even on a purely gut level, I just want things to be consistent. Even minor inconsistencies that don’t really affect much irritate my sensibilities. Take 3e creature sizes, for example. They’ve got all kinds of inconsistencies that don’t affect all that much, but nevertheless get under my skin.

I guess it was inevitable that D&D developed so many inconsistencies over the years; it doesn’t have a single author, or even a small team of authors. Hundreds (thousands?) of game writers working over decades of time can’t help but result in some chaos.

I think that’s a big part of 4e’s appeal to me; letting go of a lot of D&D’s classical quirks also means gaining a lot of consistency. There are still inconsistencies in 4e — sword mages and Remove Disease, anyone? — but they don’t verily leap out at me in droves. Defenses rather than saves, special spells/powers for every class and clear roles/niches, and so on. 4e is pretty damned close to the consistency I want out of D&D.

Oddly though, my desire for consistency doesn’t demand 4e-style consistency. I’m currently writing a heartbreaker based mostly on 3e!

Because I can’t go back. I guess I’m still in love with D&D, because I haven’t gone searching for other games, but I can’t unsee its inconsistencies. Yeah, I can have fun playing just about anything with the right group…but rules matter too, and consistency matters to me. I suppose it’s just something that I have to live with.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Do you feel the same about consistency, in gaming and other aspects of life? Do you feel the opposite way about consistency? Do you know of a fantasy ttrpg that might fulfill my taste?

 
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Posted by on 26/06/2016 in Uncategorized

 

Hearthstone 101: Building and Playing Your Deck

Hello, fellow traveler! I’m GreatWyrm on BattleNet (#1807), and I’ve been playing HS since season 4 (July 2014). This is my follow-up blog to HearthStone 101: Tips for Beginners. Here I’m going to get into the basic strategy and tactics you need to know to get a head start in this great game:

Tactical Resources

Before we get into deck-building, it’s helpful to explain a game fundamental: At its root, HS is a game of resource-management. You begin each match with 30 life, a hand of 3-5 cards, and 1 cumulative mana per turn. If you can use these resources better than your opponent uses his, you win the match!

Life: Most beginners instinctively avoid life-loss at all costs, but this is a faulty instinct. Your life total is a resource that you can use to win…so long as it doesn’t reach 0, of course. The obvious example of this is Lifetap, which allows a warlock to spend his life to gain a benefit. (And Lifetap is in the running for best hero power!) Because life-loss has no consequence until a hero reaches 0, many deck strategies include spending it in order to win.

Cards: You begin each match with 3-5 cards, and gain 1 more per turn. Card (dis)advantage is how many cards you have in your hand compared to your opponent. If you have more, you have the advantage; if you have fewer, you have the disadvantage. Certain cards, like Arcane Intellect, increase your card advantage. (One card spent to gain two = +1 cards.) Other cards, like Novice Engineer, are said to be ‘card neutral.’ (One card spent, one card gained.)

Tempo: Each turn, you gain 1 mana, plus the mana you had last turn. Tempo is how efficiently you use that mana compared to your opponent. For example, say your opponent has just used his first turn to play a Murloc Raider. On your first turn, you then kill the Raider with an Elven Archer. You’ve foiled everything that your opponent did on his turn, and put your own minion into play; you’ve gained tempo!

Deck-Building: Have a Strategy!

Before you start throwing cards into your deck, you should have a strategy in mind. The five basic deck strategies are:

Aggro: This strategy is very straightforward, minion-centric, and luck-dependent. An aggro deck seeks to win via elimination of the life resource; it floods the early board with small minions, and uses them to bring the opponent’s life to 0 before he can effectively react. The aggro strategy is popular among beginners because luck favors the underdog, aggro decks are cheap to make, easy to play, and quick to win or lose.

Midrange: As the name implies, this strategy is the midpoint between aggro and the following strategy (control). Against aggro, midrange plays like control; against control, midrange plays like aggro. This tactical variety makes the midrange strategy the favorite of many players.

Control: This is the slowest, the least minion-centric, and the most tactical strategy. A control deck seeks to win via the card resource; it eliminates early- and mid-game threats with tactical use of spells and minions, slowly building card advantage. When the opponent has played out his hand, the control deck then uses a big minion or two to win the match. Control is my own personal favorite strategy.

Tempo: A tempo deck seeks to win via tempo, by using card synergy to use its mana more efficiently than the opponent. For example, a tempo deck might play a Cogmaster on turn 1 (T1), followed by a Mechwarper and a Clockwork Gnome on T2, resulting in 3 damage and 3 minions by T2! Tempo decks win by creating a ‘snowball effect,’ where card synergy creates a quickly mounting threat which keeps the opponent on the defensive until his life hits 0. However, because card synergies are somewhat luck-dependent and can be interrupted, this strategy requires good deck-building skill and can be inconsistent in play.

Combo: Not to be confused with the rogue’s unique card mechanic, which is actually an example of card synergy, the combo strategy uses combinations of specific cards to spectacular effect. For example, a druid might play Force of Nature followed by Savage Roar, winning the game in one dramatic turn by dealing 14+ damage all at once! This strategy is even more skill- and luck-dependent than the tempo strategy: Building a good combo deck is difficult, and in play it tends to either win hard or lose hard.

Deck-Building: Pick the Right Cards!

When deck-building, it helps to keep a few things in mind:

Stats: When picking minions, pay attention to its attack and health (its stats). The best value minions give you more than twice their mana cost in stats: The Acidic Swamp Ooze gives you 5 stats for 2 mana, the Chillwind Yeti gives you 9 stats for 4 mana, the Boulderfist Ogre gives you 13 stats for 6 mana, and so on. If a minion gives you fewer stats than this, it should have text to make up for its lower stats.

Balance Attack and Health: Many beginners are tempted to think that attack is more valuable than health, but this is not necessarily so. Some players favor slightly high health or slightly high attack, but a balance of attack and health is usually best. For example, the Chillwind Yeti is preferable to the Oasis Snapjaw because the latter can kill hardly anything, while the War Golem is preferable to the Core Hound because the latter is so easy to kill. Keep in mind, stats are relative to a card’s cost; a 2 attack would be perfectly acceptable for a 1- or 2-drop, and a 5 health would be completely adequate for a 4- or 5-drop. But not so for a 4- and a 7-drop, respectively!

Don’t Let Them Have Nice Things: As a beginner, you don’t have nice things, so don’t let your opponent have nice things either! Many beginners are tempted to simply fill their decks with their best minions, and then try to duke it out in play. While I’m sure there’s a deck out there that can win this way, HS is designed with the following concepts in mind, and learning them will help you win:

  • Removal: Cards, usually spells, which allow you to kill enemy minions are known as ‘removals.’ Virtually every deck benefits from removal; aggro decks use just a couple of removals to eliminate enemy taunts, while control decks use many removals to efficiently remove enemy minions. Fireball is the classic example of a removal card, while minions such as the Elven Archer include removal effects.
  • Hard Removal: While ‘removal’ refers to effects that merely deal damage, ‘hard removal’ refers to effects which kill or incapacitate minions regardless of their stats. Hard removals are especially important to control decks, whose big minions often can’t be easily eliminated any other way, and vice versa. Assassinate is the classic example of a hard removal card, while spells like Polymorph also qualify, and minions like the Big Game Hunter include hard removal effects.
  • Silencers: Though not as powerful as removals, cards which silence enemy minions can be very handy. You can turn a Piloted Shredder into a plain 4/3, Cairne Bloodhoof into a Yeti, Gruul into a War Golem, and so on. Silence effects waste your opponent’s mana, make his minions more manageable, and puts your own minion on the board. (Assuming you’re using Ironbeak Owls or Spellbreakers.) In other words, silencers gain you tempo much like removals do!

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Posted by on 20/09/2015 in Uncategorized

 

HearthStone 101: Tips for Beginners

Hello, fellow traveler! I’m GreatWyrm on BattleNet (#1807), and I’ve been playing HS since season 4 (July 2014). I love this game, but it can be trying for beginners, so I’m writing this blog to answer some commonly asked questions. If you’re looking for skill-building tips, check out Hearthstone 101: How to Build and Play Your Deck. Otherwise, read on:

Is HS really Free-to-Play, or is it actually Pay-to-Win? Yes and no, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit. There are three factors to winning and losing in HS: Luck, skill, and card quality. The more factors you can influence, the more you’ll win.

So while spending money gets you better cards faster — and Blizzard is obviously hoping that you will spend money on HS — doing so won’t make or break your win rate. I myself don’t spent a dime on HS other than to buy adventures, and I win often enough to do my daily quests, win tavern brawls, buy a pack every few days, and have fun in the process. I can do this because a skilled player can win with nothing but basic cards, and an unskilled player can lose even with every card in the game.

Now if you’re the hyper-competetive sort, and you need to hit legendary rank within a month of beginning to have fun, then yeah, you’re going to have to dump money into HS. But otherwise, you can absolutely play and win without paying a dime!

Which class is best for beginners? It’s no accident that Jaina is the first tutorial hero; Fireblast is a simple and effective hero power, the basic mage cards are the best basics in the game, and these two facts make it easy to make many styles of mage decks. If you like ‘aggro’ decks, Rexxar and Gul’dan make good beginner choices, and if you like ‘control’ decks, Anduin is a reasonable choice. All classes have fun and effective cards, but sadly many of them are non-basic and thus require time and/or money to play effectively.

What’s the best way to win, or ‘grind’ for gold? Blizzard has given us many fun ways to earn gold, but before I continue let me say this: As soon as earning gold begins to feel like a grind, something’s wrong. When this happens, either change your attitude, your strategy, or take a break from HS. Games are supposed to be fun, and if you’re not having fun, something’s wrong! With that said, here are a few pointers:

  • Complete all of the unique quests that you can; they’re there to give beginners a much-needed boost!
  • Win a tavern brawl every week. This is the only game mode which guarantees you one (and only one) pack for winning a match! Tavern brawls begin on Wednesday, and end on the following Monday.
  • Sign on to check your quests every day, even if you don’t actually play. If your quest requires winning with a hero you don’t have a good deck for, swap it out. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one that doesn’t require winning at all!
  • Win 30 times every day, in casual, ranked, or brawl mode. You’ll gain 10 gold for every 3 wins, to a maximum of 100 gold.

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Posted by on 20/09/2015 in Uncategorized

 

Alignments: D&D 3.5th Edition

Player’s Handbook, page 103

In the temple of Pelor is an ancient tome. When the temple recruits adventurers for its most sensitive and important quests, each one who wants to participate must kiss the book. Those who are evil in their hearts are blasted by holy power, and even those who are neither good nor evil are stunned. Only those who are good can kiss the tome without harm and are trusted with the temple’s most important work. Good and evil are not philosophical concepts in the D&D game. They are the forces that define the cosmos.

Devils in human guise stalk the land, tempting people toward evil. Holy clerics use the power of good to protect worshipers. Devotees of evil gods bring ruin on innocents to win the favor of their deities, while trusting that rewards await them in the afterlife. Crusading paladins fearlessly confront evildoers, knowing that this short life is nothing worth clinging to. Warlords turn to whichever supernatural power will help them conquer, and proxies for good and evil gods promise rewards in return for the warlords’ oaths of obedience.

A creature’s general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, and chaotic evil.

Choose an alignment for your character, using his or her race and class as a guide. Most player characters are good or neutral rather than evil. In general, evil alignments are for villains and monsters.

Alignment is a tool for developing your character’s identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting your character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two lawful good characters can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent. A lawful good character may have a greedy streak that occasionally tempts him to take something or hoard something he has even if that’s not lawful or good behavior. People are also not consistent from day to day. A good character can lose his temper, a neutral character can be inspired to perform a noble act, and so on.

Choosing an alignment for your character means stating your intent to play that character a certain way. If your character acts in a way more appropriate to another alignment, the DM may decide that your character’s alignment has changed to match her actions.

Typical Alignments

Creatures and members of classes shown in italic type on Table 6–1 are always of the indicated alignment. Except for paladins, they are born into that alignment. It is inherent, part of their nature. Usually, a creature with an inherent alignment has some connection (through ancestry, history, or magic) to the Outer Planes or is a magical beast.

For other creatures, races, and classes, the indicated alignment on Table 6–1 is the typical or most common one. Normal sentient creatures can be of any alignment. They may have inherent tendencies toward a particular alignment, but individuals can vary from this norm. Depending on the type of creature, these tendencies may be stronger or weaker. For example, kobolds and beholders are usually lawful evil, but kobolds display more variation in alignment than beholders because their inborn alignment tendency isn’t as strong. Also, sentient creatures have cultural tendencies that usually reinforce alignment tendencies. For example, orcs tend to be chaotic evil, and their culture tends to produce chaotic evil members. A human raised among orcs is more likely than normal to be chaotic evil, while an orc raised among humans is less likely to be so.

Table 6–1: Creature, Race, and Class Alignments

Lawful Good: Archons, Gold Dragons, Lammasus, Dwarves, Paladins.

Neutral Good: Guardinals, Gnomes, Centaurs, Giant Eagles, Pseudodragons.

Chaotic Good: Eladrins, Copper Dragons, Unicorns, Elves, Rangers.

Lawful Neutral: Monks, Wizards, Formians, Azers.

Neutral: Animals, Halflings, Humans, Lizardfolk, Druids.

Chaotic Neutral: Half-Elves, Half-Orcs, Barbarians, Bards, Rogues.

Lawful Evil: Devils, Blue Dragons, Beholders, Ogre Mages, Hobgoblins, Kobolds.

Neutral Evil: Drow, Goblins, Allips, Ettercaps, Devourers.

Chaotic Evil: Demons, Red Dragons, Vampires, Troglodytes, Gnolls, Ogres, Orcs.

Good vs. Evil

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

“Good” implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

“Evil” implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships. A neutral person may sacrifice himself to protect his family or even his homeland, but he would not do so for strangers who are not related to him.

Being good or evil can be a conscious choice, as with the paladin who attempts to live up to her ideals or the evil cleric who causes pain and terror to emulate his god. For most people, though, being good or evil is an attitude that one recognizes but does not choose. Being neutral on the good-evil axis usually represents a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a balanced view. While acknowledging that good and evil are objective states, not just opinions, these folk maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people, or at least for them.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral rather than good or evil. Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior.

Law vs. Chaos

Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties. Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.

“Law” implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.

“Chaos” implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.

Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but more often it is a personality trait that is recognized rather than being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful-chaotic axis is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots and drawbacks.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.

The Nine Alignments

Nine distinct alignments define all the possible combinations of the lawful–chaotic axis with the good–evil axis. Each alignment description below depicts a typical character of that alignment. Remember that individuals vary from this norm, and that a given character may act more or less in accord with his or her alignment from day to day. Use these descriptions as guidelines, not as scripts.

The first six alignments, lawful good through chaotic neutral, are the standard alignments for player characters. The three evil alignments are for monsters and villains.

Lawful Good, “Crusader”: A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. She combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Alhandra, a paladin who fights evil without mercy and protects the innocent without hesitation, is lawful good.

Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion.

Neutral Good, “Benefactor”: A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Jozan, a cleric who helps others according to their needs, is neutral good.

Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order.

Chaotic Good, “Rebel”: A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he’s kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Soverliss, a ranger who waylays the evil baron’s tax collectors, is chaotic good.

Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit.

Lawful Neutral, “Judge”: A lawful neutral characters acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government. Ember, a monk who follows her discipline without being swayed either by the demands of those in need or by the temptations of evil, is lawful neutral.

Lawful neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you are reliable and honorable without being a zealot.

Neutral, “Undecided”: A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil — after all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, she’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Mialee, a wizard who devotes herself to her art and is bored by the semantics of moral debate, is neutral.

Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

Chaotic Neutral, “Fee Spirit”: A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Gimble, a bard who wanders the land living by his wits, is chaotic neutral.

Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.

Lawful Evil, “Dominator”: A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard for whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He plays by the rules but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises. This reluctance comes partly from his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect himself from those who oppose him on moral grounds.

Some lawful evil villains have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains. The scheming baron who expands his power and exploits his people is lawful evil.

Some lawful evil people and creatures commit themselves to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

Lawful evil is sometimes called “diabolical,” because devils are the epitome of lawful evil.

Lawful evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents methodical, intentional, and frequently successful evil.

Neutral Evil, “Malefactor”: A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has. The criminal who robs and murders to get what she wants is neutral evil.

Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.

Neutral evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.

Chaotic Evil, “Destroyer”: A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If he is simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can be made to work together only by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him. The demented sorcerer pursuing mad schemes of vengeance and havoc is chaotic evil.

Chaotic evil is sometimes called “demonic” because demons are the epitome of chaotic evil.

Chaotic evil is the most dangerous alignment because it represents the destruction not only of beauty and life but also of the order on which beauty and life depend.

Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 134

Changing Alignment

A character can have a change of heart that leads to the adoption of a different alignment. Alignments aren’t commitments, except in specific cases (such as for paladins and clerics). Player characters have free will, and their actions often dictate a change of alignment. Here are two examples of how a change of alignment can be handled.

  • A player creates a new character, a rogue named Garrett. The player decides he wants Garrett to be neutral good and writes that on Garrett’s character sheet. By the second playing session of Garrett’s career, however, it’s clear that the player isn’t playing Garrett as a good-aligned character at all. Garrett likes to steal minor valuables from others (although not his friends) and does not care about helping people or stopping evil. Garrett is a neutral character, and the player made a mistake when declaring Garrett’s alignment because he hadn’t yet really decided how he wanted to play him. The DM tells the player to erase “good” on Garrett’s character sheet, making his alignment simply “neutral.” No big deal.
  • An NPC traveling with the PCs is chaotic evil and is pretending to be otherwise because he was sent to spy on them and foil their plans. He has been evil all his life, and he has lived among others who acted as he did. As he fights alongside the good-aligned PC adventurers, however, he sees how they work together and help each other. He begins to envy them their camaraderie. Finally, he watches as the paladin PC gives his life to save not only his friends, but an entire town that was poised on the brink of destruction at the hands of an evil sorcerer. Everyone is deeply moved, including the evil NPC, and the town celebrates and honors the paladin’s self-sacrifice. The townfolk hail the adventurers as heroes. The NPC is so moved that he repents, casting aside his own evil ways (and his mission). He becomes chaotic neutral, but he is well on his way to becoming chaotic good, particularly if he remains in the company of the PCs. If the PCs had not acted so gallantly, he might not have changed his ways. If they turn on the NPC when they learn of his past, he may turn back to evil.
  • Most characters incur no game penalty for changing alignment, but you should keep a few points in mind.

    You’re in Control: You control alignment changes, not the players. If a player says, “My neutral good character becomes chaotic good,” the appropriate response from you is “Prove it.” Actions dictate alignment, not statements of intent by players.

    Alignment Changes Is Gradual: Changes in alignment should not be drastic. usually, a character changes alignment only one step at a time–from lawful evil to lawful neutral, for example, and not directly to neutral good. A character on her way to adopting another alignment might have other alignments during the transition to the final alignment.

    Time Requirements: Changing alignment usually takes time. Changes of heart are rarely sudden (although they can be). What you want to avoid is a player changing her character’s alignment to evil to use an evil artifact properly and then changing it right back when she’s done. Alignments aren’t garments you can take off and put on casually. Require an interval of at least a week of game time between alignment changes.

    Indecisiveness Indicates Neutrality: Wishy-washy characters should just be neutral. If a character changes alignment over and over again during a campaign, what’s really happened is that the character hasn’t made a choice, and thus she is neutral.

    Exceptions: There are exceptions to all of the above. For instance, it’s possible (although unlikely) that the most horrible neutral evil villain has a sudden and dramatic change of heart and immediately becomes neutral good.

    Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 138

    Alignment of Power Centers

    The alignment of the ruler or rulers of a community need not conform to the alignment of all or even the majority of the residents, although this is usually the case. In any case, the alignment of the power center strongly shapes the residents’ daily lives. Due to their generally organized and organizing nature, most power centers are lawful.

    To randomly determine the alignment of a power center, roll d% and refer to the table below. How a power center of a given alignment acts, or how it is perceived by the community, is discussed following the table.

    Power Center Alignment

    d% Alignment

    01-35 Lawful Good

    36-39 Neutral Good

    40-41 Chaotic Good

    42-61 Lawful Neutral

    62-63 True Neutral

    64 Chaotic Neutral

    65-90 Lawful Evil

    91-98 Neutral Evil

    99-100 Chaotic Evil

    Lawful Good: A community with a lawful good power center usually has a codified set of laws, and most people willingly obey those laws.

    Neutral Good: A neutral good power center rarely influences the residents of the community other than to help them when they are in need.

    Chaotic Good: This sort of power center influences the community by helping the needy and opposing restrictions on freedom.

    Lawful Neutral: A community with a lawful neutral power center has a codified set of laws that are followed to the letter. Those in power usually insist that visitors (as well as residents) obey all local rules and regulations.

    True Neutral: This sort of power center rarely influences the community. Those in power prefer to pursue their private goals.

    Chaotic Neutral: This sort of power center is unpredictable, influencing the community in different way at different times.

    Lawful Evil: A community with a lawful evil power center usually has a codified set of laws, which most people obey out of fear of harsh punishment.

    Neutral Evil: The residents of a community with a neutral evil power center are usually oppressed and subjugated, facing a dire future.

    Chaotic Evil: The residents of a community with a chaotic evil power center live in abject fear because of the unpredictable and horrific situations continually placed upon them.

    Conflicting Power Centers

    If a community has more than one power center, and two or more of the power centers have opposing alignments (either good vs. evil or law vs. chaos), they conflict in some way. Such conflict is not always open, and sometimes the conflicting power centers grudgingly get along.

    For example, a small city contains a powerful chaotic good wizards’ guild but is ruled by a lawful good aristocrat. The wizards are sometimes exasperated by the strict laws imposed by the aristocrat ruler and occasionally break or circumvent them when it serves their (well-intentioned) purposes. Most of the time, though, a representative from the guild takes their concerns and disagreements to the aristocrat, who attempts to equitably resolve any problems.

    Another example: A large city contains a powerful lawful evil fighter, a lawful good temple, and a chaotic evil aristocrat. The selfish aristocrat is concerned only with his own gain and his debauched desires. The fighter gathers a small legion of warriors, hoping to oust the aristocrat and take control of the city herself. Meanwhile, the clerics of the powerful temple help the citizenry as well as they can, never directly confronting the aristocrat but aiding and abetting those who suffer at his hands.

    Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 269

    Intelligent Item Alignment

    Any item with intelligence has an alignment. Note that intelligent weapons already have alignments, either stated or by implication. (A weapon made to kill chaotic outsiders would hardly be chaotic itself; it would be lawful.) If you’re generating a random intelligent weapon, that weapon’s alignment must fit with any alignment-oriented special abilities it has (such as the holy special ability).

    Any character whose alignment does not correspond to that of the item (except as noted by the asterisks on the table) gains one negative level is he or she so much as picks up the item. Although this negative level never results in actual level loss, it remains as long as the item is in hand and cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells). This negative level is cumulative with any other penalties the item might already place on inappropriate wielders. Items with Ego scores (see below) of 20 to 29 bestow two negative levels. Items with Ego scores of 30 or higher bestow three negative levels.

    Intelligent Item Alignment

    d% Alignment of Item

    01-05 Chaotic Good

    06-15 Chaotic Neutral*

    16-20 Chaotic Evil

    21-25 Neutral Evil*

    26-30 Lawful Evil

    31-55 Lawful Good

    56-60 Lawful Neutral*

    61-80 Neutral Good*

    81-100 Neutral

    *The item can also be used by any character whose alignment corresponds to the nonneutral portion of the item’s alignment (in other words, chaotic, evil, good, or lawful). Thus, any chaotic character (CG, CN, CE) can use an item with chaotic neutral alignment.

     
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    Alignments: AD&D 2nd Edition

    Player’s Handbook, page 46

    After all other steps toward creating a character have been completed, the player must choose an alignment for the character. In some cases (especially the paladin), the choice of alignment may be limited.

    The character’s alignment is a guide to his basic moral and ethical attitudes toward others, society, good, evil, and the forces of the universe in general. use the chosen alignment as a guide to provide a clearer idea of how the character will handle moral dilemmas. Always consider alignment as a tool, not a straitjacket that restricts the character. Although alignment defines general attitudes, it certainly doesn’t prevent a character from changing his beliefs, acting irrationally, or behaving out of character.

    Alignment is divided into two sets of attitudes: order and chaos, and good and evil. By combining the different variations within the two sets, nine distinct alignments are created. These nine alignments serve well to define the attitudes of most of the people in the world.

    Law, Neutrality, and Chaos

    Attitudes toward order and chaos are divided into three opposing beliefs. Picture these beliefs as the points of a triangle, all pulling away from each other. The three beliefs are law, chaos, and neutrality. One of these represents each character’s ethos — his understanding of society and relationships.

    Characters who believe in law maintain that order, organization, and society are important, indeed vital, forces of the universe. The relationships between people and governments exist naturally. Lawful philosophers maintain that this order is not created by man but is a natural law of the universe. Although man does not create orderly structures, it is his obligation to function within them, lest the fabric of everything crumble. For less philosophical types, lawfulness manifests itself in the belief that laws should be made and followed, if only to have understandable rules for society. People should not pursue personal vendettas, for example, but should present their claims to the proper authorities. Strength comes through unity of action, as can be seen in guilds, empires, and powerful churches.

    Those espousing neutrality tend to take a more balanced view of things. They hold that for every force in the universe, there is an opposite force somewhere. Where there is lawfulness, there is also chaos; where there is neutrality, there is also partisanship. The same is true of good and evil, life and death. What is important is that all these forces remain in balance with each other. If one factor becomes ascendant over its opposite, the universe become unbalanced. If enough of these polarities go out of balance, the fabric of reality could pull itself apart. For example, if death became ascendant over life, the universe would become a barren wasteland.

    Philosophers of neutrality not only presuppose the existence of opposites, but they also theorize that the universe would vanish should one opposite completely destroy the other (since nothing can exist without its opposite). Fortunately for these philosophers (and all sentient life), the universe seems to be efficient at regulating itself. Only when a powerful, unbalancing force appears (which almost never happens) need the defenders of neutrality becomes seriously concerned.

    The believers in chaos hold that there is no preordained order or careful balance of forces in the universe. Instead they see the universe as a collection of things and events, some related to each other and others completely independent. They tend to hold that individual actions account for the differences in things and that events in one area do not alter the fabric of the universe halfway across the galaxy. Chaotic philosophers believe in the power of the individual over his own destiny and are fond of anarchistic nations. Being more pragmatic, non-philosophers recognize the function of society in protecting their individual rights. Chaotics can be hard to govern as a group, since they place their own needs and desires above those of society.

    Good, Neutrality, and Evil

    Like law and order, the second set of attitudes is also divided into three parts. These parts describe, more or less, a character’s moral outlook; they are his internal guideposts to what is right or wrong.

    Good characters are just that. They try to be honest, charitable, and forthright. People are not perfect, however, so few are good all the time. There are always occasional failings and weaknesses. A good person, however, worries about his errors and normally tries to correct any damage done.

    Remember, however, that goodness has no absolute values. Although many things are commonly accepted as good (helping those in need, protecting the weak), different cultures impose their own interpretations on what is good and what is evil.

    Those with a neutral moral stance often refrain from passing judgment on anything. They do not classify people, things, or events as good or evil; what is, is. In some cases, this is because the creature lacks the capacity to make a moral judgment (animals fall into this category). Few normal creatures do anything for good or evil reasons. They kill because they are hungry or threatened. They sleep where they find shelter. They do not worry about the moral consequences of their actions — their actions are instinctive.

    Evil is the antithesis of good and appears in many ways, some overt and others quite subtle. Only a few people of evil nature actively seek to cause harm or destruction. Most simply do not recognize that what they do is destructive or disruptive. People and things that obstruct the evil character’s plans are mere hindrances that must be overcome. If someone is harmed in the process…well, that’s too bad. Remember that evil, like good, is interpreted differently in different societies.

    Alignment Combinations

    Nine different alignments result from combining these two sets. Each alignment varies from all others, sometimes in broad, obvious ways, and sometimes in subtle ways. Each alignment is described in the following paragraphs.

    Lawful Good: Characters of this alignment believe that an orderly, strong society with a well-organized government can work to make life better for the majority of the people. To ensure the quality of life, laws must be created and obeyed. When people respect the laws and try to help one another, society as a whole prospers. Therefore, lawful good characters strive for those things that will bring the greatest benefit to the most people and cause the least harm. An honest and hard-working serf, a kindly and wise king, or a stern but forthright minister or justice are all examples of lawful good people.

    Lawful Neutral: Order and organization are of paramount importance to characters of this alignment. They believe in a strong, well-ordered government, whether that government is a tyranny or benevolent democracy. The benefits of organization and regimentation outweigh any moral questions raised by their actions. An inquisitor determined to ferret out traitors at any cost or a soldier who never questions his orders are good examples of lawful neutral behavior.

    Lawful Evil: These characters believe in using society and its laws to benefit themselves. Structure and organization elevate those who deserve to rule as well as provide a clearly defined hierarchy between master and servant. To this end, lawful evil characters support laws and societies that protect their own concerns. If someone is hurt or suffers because of a law that benefits lawful evil characters, too bad. Lawful evil characters obey laws out of fear of punishment. Because they may be forced to honor an unfavorable contract or oath they have made, lawful evil characters are usually very careful about giving their word. Once given, they break their word only if they can find a way to do it legally, within the laws of the society. An iron-fisted tyrant and a devious, greedy merchant are examples of lawful evil beings.

    Neutral Good: These characters believe that a balance of forces is important, but that the concerns of law and chaos do not moderate the need for good. Since the universe is vast and contains many creatures striving for different goals, a determined pursuit of good will not upset the balance; it may even maintain it. If fostering good means supporting organized society, then that is what must be done. If good can only come about through the overthrow of existing social order, so be it. Social structure itself has no innate value to them. A baron who violates the orders of his kind to destroy something he sees as evil is an example of a neutral good character.

    True Neutral: True neutral characters believe in the ultimate balance of forces, and they refuse to see actions as either good or evil. Since the majority of people in the world make judgments, true neutral characters are extremely rare. True neutrals do their best to avoid siding with the forces of either good or evil, law or chaos. It is their duty to see that all of these forces remain in balanced contention.

    True neutral characters sometimes find themselves forced into rather peculiar alliances. To a great extent, they are compelled to side with the underdog in any given situation, sometimes even changing sides as the previous loser becomes the winner. A true neutral druid might join the local barony to put down a tribe of evil gnolls, only to drop out or switch sides when the gnolls were brought to the brink of destruction. He would seek to prevent either side from becoming too powerful. Clearly there are very few true neutral characters in the world.

    Neutral Evil: Neutral Evil characters are primarily concerned with themselves and their own advancement. They have no particular objection to working with others or, for that matter, going it on their own. Their only interest is in getting ahead. If there is a quick and easy way to gain a profit, whether it be legal, questionable, or obviously illegal, they take advantage of it. Although neutral evil characters do not have the every-man-for-himself attitude of chaotic characters, they have no qualms about betraying their friends and companions for personal gain. They typically base their allegiance on power and money, which makes them quite receptive to bribes. An unscrupulous mercenary, a common thief, and a double-crossing informer who betrays people to the authorities to protect and advance himself are typical examples of neutral evil characters.

    Chaotic Good: Chaotic good characters are strong individualists marked by a streak of kindness and benevolence. They believe in all the virtues of goodness and right, but they have little use for laws and regulations. They have no use for people who “try to push folk around and tell them what to do.” Their actions are guided by their own moral compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of society. A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an example of a chaotic good character.

    Chaotic Neutral: Chaotic neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything, including their own actions. With this as a guiding principle, they tend to follow whatever whim strikes them at the moment. Good and evil are irrelevant when making a decision. Chaotic neutral characters are extremely difficult to deal with. Such characters have been known to cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything they have on the roll of a single die. They are almost totally unreliable. In fact, the only reliable thing about them is that they cannot be relied upon! This alignment is perhaps the most difficult to play. Lunatics and madmen tend toward chaotic neutral behavior.

    Chaotic Evil: These characters are the bane of all that is good and organized. Chaotic evil characters are motivated by the desire for personal gain and pleasure. They see absolutely nothing wrong with taking whatever they want by whatever means possible. Laws and government are the tools of weaklings unable to fend for themselves. The strong have the right to take what they want, and the weak are there to be exploited. When chaotic evil characters band together, they are not motivated by a desire to cooperate, but rather to oppose powerful enemies. Such a group can be held together only by a strong leader capable of bullying his underlings into obedience. Since leadership is based on raw power, a leader is likely to be replaced at the first sign of weakness by anyone who can take his position away from him by any method. Bloodthirsty buccaneers and monsters of low Intelligence are find examples of chaotic evil personalities.

    Non-Aligned Creatures

    In addition to the alignments above, some things–particularly unintelligent monsters (killer plants, etc.) and animals–never bother with moral and ethical concerns. For these creatures, alignment is simply not applicable. A dog, even a well-trained one, is neither good nor evil, lawful nor chaotic. It is simply a dog. For these creatures, alignment is always detected as neutral.

    Playing the Character’s Alignment

    Aside from a few minimal restrictions required for some character classes, a player is free to choose whatever alignment he wants for his character. However, before rushing off and selecting an alignment, there are a few things to consider.

    First, alignment is an aid to role-playing and should be used that way. Don’t choose an alignment that will be hard to role play or that won’t be fun. A player who chooses an unappealing alignment probably will wind up playing a different alignment anyway. In that case, he might as well have chosen the second alignment to begin with. A player who thinks that lawful good characters are boring goody-two-shoes who don’t get to have any fun should play a chaotic good character instead. On the other hand, a player who thinks that properly roleplaying a heroic, lawful good fighter would be an interesting challenge is encouraged to try it. No one should be afraid to stretch his imagination. Remember, selecting an alignment is a way of saying, “My character is going to act like a person who believes this.”

    Second, the game revolves around cooperation among everyone in the group. The character who tries to go it alone or gets everyone angry at him is likely to have a short career. Always consider the alignments of other characters in the group. Certain combinations, particularly lawful good and any sort of evil, are explosive. Sooner or later the group will find itself spending more time arguing than adventuring. Some of this is unavoidable (and occasionally amusing), but too much is ultimately destructive. As the players argue, they get angry. As they get angry, their characters begin fighting among themselves. As the characters fight, the players continue to get more angry. Once anger and hostility take over a game, no one has fun. And what’s the point of playing a game if the players don’t have fun?

    Third, some people choose to play evil alignments. Although there is no specific prohibition against this, there are several reasons why it is not a good idea. First, the AD&D game is a game of heroic fantasy. What is heroic about being a villain? If an evilly aligned group plays its alignment correctly, it is as much a battle for the characters to work together as it is to take on the outside world. Neutral evil individuals would be paranoid (with some justification) that the others would betray them for profit or self-aggrandizement. Chaotic evil characters would try to get someone else to take all the risks so that they could become (or remain) strong and take over. Although lawful evil characters might have some code of conduct that governed their party, each member would look for ways to twist the rules to his own favor. A group of players who play a harmonious party of evil characters simply are not playing their alignments correctly. By its nature, evil alignments call for disharmony and squabbling, which destroys the fun.

    Imagine how groups of different alignments might seek to divide a treasure trove. Suppose the adventuring party contains one character of each alignment (a virtually impossible situation, but useful for illustration). Each is then allowed to present his argument:

    The lawful good character says, “Before we went on this adventure, we agreed to split the treasure equally, and that’s what we’re going to do. First, we’ll deduct the costs of the adventure and pay for the resurrection of those who have fallen, since we’re sharing all this equally. If someone can’t be raised, then his share goes to his family.”

    “Since we agreed to split equally, that’s fine,” replies the lawful evil character thoughtfully. “But there was nothing in this deal about paying for anyone else’s expenses. It’s not my fault if you spent a lot on equipment! Furthermore, this deal applies only to the surviving partners; I don’t remember anything about dead partners. I’m not setting aside any money to raise that klutz. He’s someone else’s problem.”

    Flourishing a sheet of paper, the lawful neutral character breaks in. “It’s a good thing for you two that I’ve got things together, nice and organized. I had the foresight to write down the exact terms of our agreement, and we’re all going to follow them.”

    The neutral good character balances the issues and decides, “I’m in favor of equal shares–that keeps everyone happy. I feel that expenses are each adventurer’s own business: If someone spent too much, then he should be more careful next time. But raising fallen comrades seems like a good idea, so I say we set aside money to do that.”

    After listening to the above arguments, the true neutral character decides not to say anything yet. He’s not particularly concerned with any choice. If the issue can be solved without his becoming involved, great. But if it looks like one person is going to get everything, that’s when he’ll step in and cast his vote for a more balanced distribution.

    The neutral evil character died during the adventure, so he doesn’t have anything to say. However, if he could make his opinion known, he would gladly argue that the group ought to pay for raising him and set aside a share for him. The neutral evil character would also hope that the group doesn’t discover the big gem he secretly pocketed during one of the encounters.

    The chaotic good character objects to the whole business. “Look, it’s obvious that the original agreement is messed up. I say we scrap it and reward people for what they did. I saw some of you hiding in the background when the rest of us were doing all the real fighting. I don’t see why anyone should be rewarded for being a coward! As far as raising dead partners, I say that’s a matter of personal choice. I don’t mind chipping in for some of them, but I don’t think I want everyone back in the group.”

    Outraged at the totally true but tactless accusation of cowardice, the chaotic evil character snaps back, “Look, I was doing an important job, guarding the rear! Can I help it if nothing tried to sneak up behind us? Now, it seems to me that all of you are pretty beat up–and I’m not. So, I don’t think there’s going to be too much objection if I take all the jewelry and that wand. And I’ll take anything interesting those two dead guys have. Now, you can either work with me and do what I say or get lost–permanently!”

    The chaotic neutral character is also dead (after he tried to charge a gorgon), so he doesn’t contribute to the argument. However, if he were alive, he would join forces with whichever side appealed to him the most at the moment. If he couldn’t decide, he’d flip a coin.

    Clearly, widely diverse alignments in a group can make even the simplest task impossible. It is almost certain that the group in the example would come to blows before they could reach a decision. But dividing cash is not the only instance in which this group would have problems. Consider the battle in which they gained the treasure in the first place.

    Upon penetrating the heart of the ruined castle, the party met its foe, a powerful gorgon commanded by a mad warrior. There, chained behind the two, was a helpless peasant kidnapped from a nearby village.

    The lawful good character unhesitatingly (but not foolishly) entered the battle; it was the right thing to do. He considered it his duty to protect the villagers. Besides, he could not abandon an innocent hostage to such fiends. He was willing to fight until he won or was dragged off by his friends. He had no intention of fighting to his own death, but he would not give up until he had tried his utmost to defeat the evil creatures.

    The lawful evil character also entered the battle willingly. Although he cared nothing for the peasant, he could not allow the two fiends to mock him. Still, there was no reason for him to risk all for one peasant. If forced to retreat, he could return with a stronger force, capture the criminals, and execute them publicly. If the peasant died in the meantime, their punishment would be that much more horrible.

    The lawful neutral character was willing to fight, because the villains threatened public order. However, he was not willing to risk his own life. He would have preferred to come back later with reinforcements. If the peasant could be saved, that is good, because he is part of the community. If not, it would be unfortunate but unavoidable.

    The neutral good character did not fight the gorgon or the warrior, but he tried to rescue the peasant. Saving the peasant was worthwhile, but there was no need to risk injury and death along the way. Thus, while the enemy was distracted in combat, he tried to slip past and free the peasant.

    The true neutral character weighed the situation carefully. Although it looked like the forces working for order would have the upper hand in the battle, he knew there had been a general trend toward chaos and destruction in the region that must be combatted. He tried to help, but if the group failed, he could work to restore the balance of law and chaos elsewhere in the kingdom.

    The neutral evil character cared nothing about law, order, or the poor peasant. He figured that there had to be some treasure around somewhere. After all, the villain’s lair had once been a powerful temple. He could poke around for cash while the others did the real work. If the group got into real trouble and it looked like the villains would attack him, then he would fight. Unfortunately, a stray magical arrow killed him just after he found a large gem.

    The chaotic good character joined the fight for several reasons. Several people in the group were his friends, and he wanted to fight at their sides. Furthermore, the poor, kidnapped peasant deserved to be rescued. Thus, the chaotic good character fought to aid his companions and save the peasant. He didn’t care if the villains were killed, captured, or just driven away. Their attacks against the village didn’t concern him.

    The chaotic neutral character decided to charge, screaming bloodthirsty cries, straight for the gorgon. Who knows? He might have broken its nerve and thrown it off guard. He discovered that his plan was a bad one when the gorgon’s breath killed him.

    The chaotic evil character saw no point in risking his hide for the villagers, the peasant, or the rest of the party. In fact, he thought of several good reasons not to. If the party was weakened, he might be able to take over. If the villains won, he could probably make a deal with them and join their side. If everyone was killed, he could take everything he wanted and leave. All these sounded a lot better than getting hurt for little or no gain. So he stayed near the back of the battle, watching. If anyone asked, he could say he was watching the rear, making sure no one came to aid the enemy.

    The two preceding examples of alignment are extreme situations. It’s not very likely that a player will ever play in a group of alignments as varied as those given here. If such a group ever does form, players should seriously reconsider the alignments of the different members of the party. More often, the adventuring party will consist of characters with relatively compatible alignments. Even then, players who role-play their characters’ alignments will discover small issues of disagreement.

    Changing Alignment

    Alignment is a tool, not a straitjacket. It is possible for a player to change his character’s alignment after the character is created, either by action or choice. However, changing alignment is not without its penalties.

    Most often the character’s alignment will change because his actions are more in line with a different alignment. This can happen if the player is not paying attention to the character and his actions. The character gradually assumes a different alignment. For example, a lawful good fighter ignores the village council’s plea for help because he wants to go fight evil elsewhere. This action is much closer to chaotic good, since the character is placing his desire over the need of the community. The fighter would find himself beginning to drift toward chaotic good alignment.

    All people have minor failings, however, so the character does not instantly become chaotic good. Several occasions of lax behavior are required before the character’s alignment changes officially. During that time, extremely lawful good activities can swing the balance back, Although the player may have a good idea of where the character’s alignment lies, only the DM knows for sure.

    Likewise, the character cannot wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll become lawful good today.” (Well, he can say it, but it won’t have any effect.) A player can choose to change his character’s alignment, but this change is accomplished by deeds, not words. Tell the DM of the intention and then try to play according to the new choice.

    Finally, there are many magical effects that can change a character’s alignment. Rare and cursed magical items can instantly alter a character’s alignment. Powerful artifacts may slowly erode a character’s determination and willpower, causing subtle shifts in behavior. Spells can compel a character to perform actions against his will. Although all of these have an effect, none are as permanent or damaging as those choices the character makes of his own free will.

    Changing the way a character behaves and thinks will cost him experience points and slow his advancement. Part of a character’s experience comes from learning how his own behavior affects him and the world around him. In real life, for example, a person learns that he doesn’t like horror movies only by going to see a few of them. Based on that experience, he learns to avoid certain types of movies. Changing behavior means discarding things the character learned previously. Relearning things takes time. This costs the character experience.

    There are other, more immediate effects of changing alignment. Certain character classes require specific alignments. A paladin who is no longer lawful good is no longer a paladin. A character may have magical items usable only by specific alignments (intelligent swords, etc.). Such item don’t function (and may even prove dangerous) in the hands of a differently aligned character.

    News of a character’s change in behavior will certainly get around to friends and acquaintances. Although some people he never considered friendly may now warm to him, others may take exception to his new attitudes. A few may even try to help him “see the error of his ways.” The local clergy, on whom he relies for healing, may look askance on his recent behavior, denying him their special services (while at the same time sermonizing on his plight). The character who changes alignment often finds himself unpopular, depending on the attitudes of the surrounding people. People do not understand him. If the character drifts into chaotic neutral behavior in a highly lawful city, the townspeople might decide that the character is afflicted and needs close supervision, even confinement, for his own good!

    Ultimately, the player is advised to pick an alignment he can play comfortably, one that fits in with those of the rest of the group, and he should stay with that alignment for the course of the character’s career. There will be times when the DM, especially if he is clever, creates situations to test the character’s resolve and ethics. But finding the right course of action within the character’s alignment is part of the fun and challenge of role-playing.

     
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    Posted by on 23/08/2015 in Uncategorized