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Alignments as Flags

 
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IGTN
Knight-Baron


Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 729

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:02 am    Post subject: Alignments as Flags Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The alignment system has problems. Here's yet another fix I'm floating for it:

Rather than definining traits of the two alignment axes and then creating the nine alignments from them, and from that coming up with the 17 outer planes of the Great Wheel, how about we go backward?

In this case, alignments like Lawful Evil and Chaotic Neutral don't exist, and actions are not Good or Evil. Instead, you start by designing the outer planes or picking an existing set (I'll use the Great Wheel). Match some general behaviors to each outer plane (in general, acting like its natives act). The same behavior can match two or more planes, although if it matches more than half of them it might not actually be alignment-relevent, or it might be better-written as an exception (that is, doing to opposite is aligned with other planes), it's actually no big deal.

Your alignment, then, is the plane that you act the most like, and/or that you have and keep the patronage of. Your Lawful Evil blackguard nemesis becomes Gehennan; his Lawful Evil Barbarian lieutenant becomes Acheronian, and his Ice Devil ally and imp minions become Baatorian. The Chaotic Good elf queen becomes Arborean, and the Slaad's apprentice takes on the alignment Giant Frog, with a Pandemonic Quasit tempting him to evil. The Githzerai monks in Limbo might stay Lawfully-aligned and become Mechanical, or they might revert to second edition and also become Giant Frog.

You can even generalize this to alignments for more planes. A fire elemental might have Alignment: Fire. A bear might have alignment: Material. Undead become Alignment: Negative.

Now, of course, deciding what alignment a character's behavior matches stays difficult, but the source of it is made obvious: alignments are really arbitrary things. And, since it's due to patronage, you really can simply say you have a certain alignment and, as long as you act vaguely like that alignment and not really like any other, actually get that alignment; praying in temples of Pelor actually does make you more Elysian in alignment, provided Pelor doesn't think too negatively of you. In-character, you actually have some degree of control over your alignment.

You can still take different options in Tome of Fiends moral alignments: Good and Evil can be stark differences because the Good planes want you to help the orphans, while Evil planes want you to creatively dispose of them, or they can be differences where one side has you under a Scarlet-on-Crimson banner and the other has you under a Blood-on-Rust banner. Law and Chaos get an actual definition under this system, although exactly what that definition is can vary even from plane to plane: Mechanical Law might be, for instance, opposite Ysgardian Chaos, while Giant Frog Chaos opposes Arcadian law, and Acheronian law is opposed by Beastlandic Chaos. Each of those pairs of planes has a different definition of what Law and Chaos mean to them, and one might even define Chaos in the way another defines Law (Acheronian Law and Ysgardian Chaos might resemble eachother if you look closely at them, for instance).
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Like the old Rifts alignment system. You just make up a series of ethical systems, some of which are purposefully fucked up.

I think that bears should have the "fire" alignment while deer have the "air" alignment.

-Frank
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RandomCasualty2
Prince


Joined: 25 May 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The problem is that the planes don't even make sense, especially the chaotic ones.

Slaad which are supposed to be the epitome of chaos and individual choice actually have lords. And every demon despite being chaotic and individual hates devils and takes part in the blood war.

Mechanus is a bunch of fucking robots and dice with legs that singlemindedly follow one purpose.

And the majority of the planes we have no clue about. I mean, nobody even knows what the fuck goes on in Bitopia or whatever, and honestly we don't even care.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RC wrote:
And the majority of the planes we have no clue about. I mean, nobody even knows what the fuck goes on in Bitopia or whatever, and honestly we don't even care.


Yeah, there's really no sense of what "The Good" represents to any of the various "good" factions. We know that they are down on Mind Flayers, but that's really not much of a courageous or contentious moral stance. Yeah, you don't like your friends and family being enslaved and having their fucking brains eaten. Good for you.

But once you actually got down to brass tacks of what people believed other than "Destroy World [Y/N]?" you'd get to some genuine disagreement. And that would make them actually matter. Maybe the Bitopians believe in peaceful racial separatism because they are reciprocal altruism tribalists. So you can pretty much dress them in white hats when there is an unjust war going on (they oppose it), but their position becomes murkier when halflings or bugbears are already second class citizens in your society (they oppose integration or affirmative action on the grounds that bugbears should do their own thing and not be part of the hobgoblin economy at all). Maybe the Celestians believe that universal law exists and should be followed. They get the white hats out when there are destructive rampaging monsters on the loose, but their position gets murkier when questions of home rule or even social progress come to the fore.

You could set up a set of moral imperatives such that all the spokes on the great wheel thought that they were "good" by different definitions. Slap some basic survival strategies on the elemental alignments, and you're pretty much golden.

It's a lot of work, but I think it could be really cool. And useful, unlike pretty much every other D&D alignment variant.

-Frank
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angelfromanotherpin
King


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 5037

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Like the old Rifts alignment system. You just make up a series of ethical systems, some of which are purposefully fucked up.


Back when TNE was being based on the MTG color wheel, my take on Black was:

'They did what's right by them. Can't expect more than that.'
Black believes in creating the greatest happiness in the universe, but also believes that a person can only know if they themselves are happy. i.e. personal happiness is the only truly confirmable happiness that exists. Even if it seems like you have a method for making other people happy, you could be mistaken, or they could be faking it (or magically coerced into faking it). The general upshot is that only actions that make you happy, or mitigate your own unhappiness, are ethical.

'I like your Renoir. I have three myself. I had a fourth but I destroyed it.'
'Why would you do that to a priceless work of art?'
'It displeased me.'

Black also believes in virtue above all other considerations. So yes, your feelings do matter more than artistic merit, or historical significance, or marriage vows, or indeed anything else that might come up.

Those Black-informed societies that exist teach their children to feel pride and happiness when following certain codes of honor, because the societies which didn't do so quickly collapsed into anarchy.


That's pretty fucked up while retaining elements that sound justifiable.

edit: tags
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Last edited by angelfromanotherpin on Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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CatharzGodfoot
King


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
The final challenge of the day was Superman.

Jason, who is an eccentric billonaire, brought over a surprise!

It was a #1 Action Comics! Featuring the origin of Superman. None of us understood why he would destroy something so valuable, so he explained it as he strapped the comic to the metal pole: It seems that by destroying one of the only copies of this book, he would more than double the value of his other #1 Action Comics.

Have you ever heard the cackle of an eccentric billionaire? Oh, it is haunting. In minutes, this collector's item was reduced to wet ashes, destroyed by the power of our yellow sun.


Source: http://cockeyed.com/incredible/solardish/dish23.shtml
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Lago PARANOIA
Overlord


Joined: 25 Sep 2008
Posts: 9343

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I liked the d20 modern system of allegiances a lot better.

For example, in that game, there aren't such things as good and evil. You have things that people are passionate about, such a money, combat, obeying the law, environmentalism, and so on. By setting these passions in a hierarchy we could determine how a character would behave in such a situation.

So rather than make some nbullshit statement like saying that Ichigo is Chaotic Good or Scrooge McDuck is Lawful Neutral, we can say that Ichigo's allegiances in descending order are Friendship, Justice, and Fighting while Scrooge McDuck's are Fairness, Earning Money, and Exploration.

And we have drama when an allegiance comes in conflict with another allegiance. For example, Scrooge McDuck believes in hard work and not exploiting other people but he really loves money. So what does he do when the Great Depression starts?

Now, 'good' and 'evil' are way too broad to be proper allegiances, but if you split them up with things like racialism, altruism, egalitarianism, tribalism, violence, law and order, etc. you could have a pretty varied alignment system.
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There are certain disreputable arguments that travel in clusters. If you voice any of them, your listener suspects you have the rest on the shelf ready to go in the right context, so you lose a lot of credibility immediately. A biologist who says she doesn't believe in evolution is going to have a hard time advancing any argument among biologists.
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FrankTrollman
Serious Badass


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
We forgot all about your needs, we were too busy fulfilling our own.

On the Moon, we have advanced far beyond your Earth morality. At one sixth the gravity we have superior Moon Morality.

We don't listen to people who don't like us.

Don't question it!


-Frank
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