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What about RPG Alignment Systems?

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What about RPG Alignment Systems?

Hi, I'm curious to hear from people who have opinions on the Alignment systems in RPGs. Do you use them? Do you think they're helpful? What about them do you like / dislike? Thanks!

I don't see a whole lot of

I don't see a whole lot of value in them unless they're tied to an in-world effect.

I don't run AD&D anymore, but in my longest-running campaign (ten years) I tracked alignment performance religiously - and that's not even really a metaphor, because the favor of the gods was literally based on it, and when you asked for Divine Intervention or prayed for some sort of benefit, your position on the alignment chart would affect the outcome of that request, both mechanically (i.e., mods) and narratively (i.e., deific admonishments or omens of good favor). If you came close to drifting out of the preferred alignment zone of your deity, you would receive nightmarish visions and ominous warnings. If you drifted totally out of that zone, your relationship with that deity was either crippled or severed, until you either came back into the fold or switched deities.

That's an example of where alignment is mechanically significant. But these days... Should a character's personality change mid-campaign, I actually find that totally interesting, there's always a reason, and the simplicity of the alignment grid doesn't even come close to modeling the nuances of psychology that are implied in that.

For me, I view them more as

For me, I view them more as a loose guide that informs my players of their character's outlook to the world. I also play 5e mostly, and having run one game of VtM (which has the humanity mechanic) I don't see a big value outside of RP for it though.

Does anyone use them as "faction" alignment?

I've never actually seen them used this way ( except, weirdly, in ICE's MERP), but I'm almost positive that D&D alignment began from campaign war gaming roots, and got layered on top of semi-Tolkien-esque fantasy as a descriptor of behavior/morality/outlook.

It would be interesting to see the concept used more like that in a game, with individual character behavior still up to the players, even while the faction you're in does have a general set of behaviors/morality associated with them.

Overall though? Unless I really wanted to make a call back to D&D as I first experienced as a kid, I probably wouldn't use it in a design.

I like the way Planescape it

I like the way Planescape it built around them, and the weirdness that ensues from having objective morality. I don't see any real use for it in most games though.

I think it can be a useful game-mechanical tool

Here's my take on alignment as experience.

Bill White's Alignment as

Bill White's Alignment as experience is pretty fascinating idea, and can be grafted in as bonus XP in a lot of games, I think.

As for faction alignments as mentioned by komradebob, I have been writing that into my games (OUB Core, and another game soon to be released) as it is just the way I prefer to do things. I also give the player a rank, giving them a tangible level of power in the faction. I will have to look into how MERP did it, as it has been a while since I cracked those books.

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