Talk:Alignment Without Alignment (3.5e Variant Rule)

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RatedOppose.png Qwertyu63 opposes this article and rated it 0 of 4.
Why? What is the point? This seems to be nonsense. UPDATE: While changes have been made to explain the point, my rating remains the same. Now that I know your intended point, I know that I think this has functionally no point.

The basic goal was, and is, to minimize connection between the alignment rules and character personality/goals/behavior while maximizing compatibility with existing 3.5-compatible products. If that didn’t make it clear, the article now goes at some length about what I’m trying to do here.Ideasmith (talk) 14:41, 25 June 2017 (MDT)

RatedOppose.png Ghostwheel opposes this article and rated it 0 of 4.
This seems to take out a lot of things inherent to the system, without actually patching any holes left by it, while not meaningfully giving a way to expand on a character's personality, motivations, or allegiances.

Interactions with “Smite, detect alignment, and so on” seem quite well handled to me. How about I quite the sections that I understand to handle it and you explain why you think otherwise:

From the body:

“Also, each alignment has an ‘equivalent’ 3.5 alignment. Use the equivalent 3.5 alignment listed for mechanical effects only, the characters’ behavior need not fit the 3.5, alignment, or indeed any 3.5. alignment.”

From the alignment descriptions, one per alignment:

“Treat as N for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as CN for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as NE for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as N for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as NG for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as N for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as LN for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as LN for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as LN for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as N for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

“Treat as CN for mechanics, including but not limited to class eligibility and spell effects.”

As for the alignments being “all over the place”, why do you consider this a problem? - Ideasmith

For the first part, not all of these gel to the way that the actual alignments are described. For that reason, it doesn't work well, since when someone is detecting creatures both lawful and evil, or something... well, what do they detect? How about lawful good, chaotic good, and chaotic evil? That's a problem, since each of these covers only a single component of alignment, and thus doesn't work with the base system IMO.
The reason that alignments being all over the place is a problem is because they don't give a unified motivation for action. Plus many of the descriptions are nebulous enough (or perhaps that's the style of writing) that they don't seem to give a core for why characters act as they do. For example, is a mind flayer "Brain Sucking", Demented, Eeevil, Smugly Omniscient, or Unaligned? Any of these could be argued for, and this makes the system unfeasible. --Ghostwheel (talk) 07:59, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
If both detect law and detect evil were up, the detect law would detect law (if present) and the detect evil would detect evil (if present). There is no ‘detect lawful evil’ in core.
The only thing in core that requires the ‘extreme’ alignments (LG/LE/CE/CG), is the paladin class, which causes the same arguments I’m trying to prevent here. Non-core stuff that requires them is quite rare and apt to cause similar arguments.
I’m not sure what you mean by “unified motivation for action” but It sounds like something better handled by an XP system than an alignment system.
I’ve never seen alignment act as a “core for why characters act as they do”, and if I had, I would have left that group for one with a more sensible GM.
The overlap between alignments is a good thing. It means there aren’t arbitrary lines with one alignment on each side, with the resulting wasteful; arguments about where the silly line is and who is on which side of it. Ideasmith (talk) 00:41, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
First... that's the entire point of alignment. To show why people do things. It's a way of describing a character's motivations, or if not motivations, what occurs due to those motivations. A neutral good person is good because they care about the suffering of other people. A neutral evil person is evil because they don't, and put themselves first even if it means they harm others. This is the entire point of an alignment system. I've attempted to illustrate this in my own recent article on alignment.
Second, overlap isn't a good thing. If there's as much overlap as there is here, then that means that alignments are meaningless, since it doesn't matter what alignment you actually are, if it's convenient you can be any other alignment. In the end, it makes all of the proposed alignments here meaningless because they don't describe anything. You yourself said they don't describe a primary motivating factor of how a character acts. If that's the case... what's the point?
Lastly, you still haven't addressed my mind flayer example, which illustrates how pointless these are. If it can fit into more than one, then you should allow people to pick multiple alignments, and... well, then the entire thing needs to be rewritten. --Ghostwheel (talk) 01:17, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
Alignment in 3.5 is for indicating which side a character is on, as Gygax and Arneson intended. Most references to alignment in the core books support that. Few if any, of them support your claim about alignment showing “why people do things”. In any case, I see little use for game mechanics for showing character’s motivations and have no plans for designing such.
On that link you provided, I don’t see any such illustration in that article.
The point is to have something for alignment-related stuff in 3.5 to interact with. Meaning does not seem needed for that purpose. The current revision does the opposite of what you seem to be suggesting here.
I see no point in allowing multiple alignments. Or multiple modetenors. Allowing creatures who qualify for more than one to choose which one they want works fine for me. Ideasmith (talk) 14:41, 25 June 2017 (MDT)
RatedOppose.png Sulacu opposes this article and rated it 0 of 4.
There are potential issues one can have with the alignment system. The ethical axis of law vs. chaos is a bit of a crapshoot at times and on many gaming tables it will shoehorn all the characters into one of like six archetypes.

The answer I feel is to take a relativist approach and reduce alignment-based restrictions to their most basic level, divorced from character-building decisions entirely; helping these people is a good thing. Bringing these smugglers to justice is a lawful act. Casting this soul-ripping spell is an evil thing to do.

The answer however is NOT to make more archetypes for characters to be shoehorned in. But even if I have to rate this article for its own merits; most of these aren't even alignments. They're quirks. Tropes. Things that you decide your character to be for the sake of roleplaying and that should under no circumstance be governed by rules.

I mean, being a toy-loving gadgeteer doesn't say anything about howmany puppies you kissed or howmany testicles you have added to your trophy necklace this week, and sycophants are really good at singing to the tunes of others, so don't tell me that any sort of lawful alignment can't stand in for that?

Okay, this is even worse than the previous version. This is just replacing the names of the alignment extremes with way more confusing ones and then not changing anything about how alignments work intrinsically. If the alignment 'problem' was easy enough to be solved by using the Microsoft Word 'Find and Replace' feature, there would be no arguments about alignment in the first place.

I don’t know what you mean by “relativist”, but any mechanic that requires deciding whether an action is good/evil/neither is apt to cause the sort of argument that I’m trying to avoid here.

I’m not sure why you consider 11 alignments worse than 9. Leziad has me thinking of increasing that, but I’m not seeing why 15 would be worse than 9 either.

I see no reason for a mechanic to track puppies kissed or testicles on necklaces. I am not aware that any alignment is useful for tracking them.

The overlap between Sycophant and other alignments, and between alignments in general, is a good thing. It means there aren’t arbitrary lines with one alignment on each side, with the resulting wasteful; arguments about where the silly line is and who is on which side of it. -- Ideasmith

RatedOppose.png Spanambula opposes this article and rated it 0 of 4.
Alignment is like politics: some people don't care, and some people have Strong Views. Or you could say Alignment is like religion: it's not bad in and of itself but it's prone to a lot of misinterpretation which can lead to lots of arguments.

I'm of the camp that says it's not broken and doesn't need fixing, just maybe some clarification for those who struggle with it. Naturally therefore, I find myself in agreement with both Leziad and Eiji-kun's comments and critiques. You could call these a bunch of things, Archetypes, Motivations, Dominant Characteristics, but none of these really function the way alignment does, and as such isn't a good replacement for it. Like Eiji said, a reader can see what you're trying to do, it just doesn't work.

For The New Version: Wow. Okay the old version may have been weird and clunky, but this just flat out makes no sense. The terminology needs to be adequately explained. Energy Attunement is never addressed in any kind of way, either mechanically or flavor-wise, as to what it is, how it affects anything, or how you attune or un-attune to it. There's no reason given for the alignment-replacing name structure, nor any explanation of what those things are, only of what they aren't. This isn't Alignment Without Alignment, this is Word Salad That Doesn't Explain Anything. Fix these issues and I will revisit my rating.

I do not see than any of these fit my alignments better than the term alignment. Nor do I see that it matters what term would be used if I was being as precisely correct as possible. They are called alignments because they interact with rules written for the alignment system and it’s a familiar term. They are not intended to “function the way alignment does”. In fact, they are intended not to do so. I have not seen alignments perform any useful function. -- Ideasmith

Leziad opposes this article and rated it 0 of 4.
This rating refers to a substantially different version of the article, or concerns mentioned in it have already been addressed.
This is a joke without the April Fool tags.

It also conflict with everything from prestige class, enjoy being pigeonholed in an alignment if you want a class which require you to be Evil or NG). There also no balance, ideally you want two or three for each possible mechanical alignment but evil only has a single one (which is NE (making any feat or class which require LE or CE impossible to get).

Overall the joke fall flat, some terms seem incorrect like Brain-Sucking (mind flayer ref?) or Gun Bunny (a slang for soldier with mortar, not sure what the joke is there), although it seem more likely I just didn't get it.

Humor is useful for preventing arguments. That is part of why ten of the alignments are taken (with permission) from a parody. (The eleventh is a catchall.)

Classes that require LG/LE/CE/CG tend to cause the same sort of argument I am trying to prevent here, and therefore ‘’’should’’’ be impossible to get. I agree that more NG and NE equivalents would be nice. Will work on thinking some up.

Those names were copied from my source, and I’m not sure what they had in mind either. Will work on renaming. -- Ideasmith

On classes and option, a system designed to prevent argument that just make things more confusing and limit player option is probably going to cause more arguments than the old and (somewhat) understood alignment system. --Leziad (talk) 03:48, 11 July 2016 (UTC)

Title Change[edit]

I had to move it due to the title, otherwise the page was "Alignment With" in the "Hopefully" category, which doesn't exist. Those () marks man... -- Eiji-kun (talk) 02:16, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

My Apologies.Ideasmith (talk) 07:45, 5 July 2016 (UTC)

About the article itself...[edit]

So looking over it, the intention is right but it's a bit of a mess. It's more all over the place than the actual alignment system and you can be sure that you probably missed something somewhere.

You might be better off with an allegiance system. It's not that you're LG, you're "aligned with celestial forces", which covers however wide a swathe. You're not LN, you're "aligned with nation X", and follow their laws. And so on and so forth. -- Eiji-kun (talk) 02:20, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

(EDIT) I decided to clarify a bit more what I mean by allegiance systems. Technically this is not a new idea, others have done it. But allegiance tells you what guides your character and their motivations the most. I'm gonna rough out an allegiance system right now. Here we go.

Allegiance to...

People or a Person: You act because you follow the footsteps of another. This could be a loved one, or it could just be following your fellow party bros.

Nation: You follow a flag and whatever ideals they possess or claim to possess. You could be a nationalistic American, which could range from the proud soldier to the jingoistic redneck. This could range from good or evil, but the point is you're not doing it for a person or people, but "for Murica". Or Eberron. Whatever.

Religion: This is like a nation, but not limited to borders but rather the dogma of a certain religion. Again, this would vary greatly with whatever alignment you actually have but you perform acts "because God said so". This replaces all the good and evil, law and chaos. If you pledge yourself to Asmodeus, well then you will be associated with devils and the sort, so that's how you work it with current D&D mechanics. Also, "religion" can also cover dedication to the concept of good, evil, etc, so gods aren't required.

Self: This is like people or person, but the person is yourself. It's a selfish nature, but it can range from true neutral self preservation to being very selfish to the point of psychopathy.

And... actually that's all the things I could think of. Four allegiances, pretty simple, but each one composed of dozens of different subcategories as needed. I suppose you could have multiple allegiances too, but that would complicate things and sometimes different allegiances might come in conflict, where you have to choose one. Do you honor your religion, which says not to do something that your nation says you should do? Classic moral conflict.

Anyway, yeah, current system is a poo. -- Eiji-kun (talk) 08:46, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

I don't think allegiance-based alignment is a good thing, for one simple reason; it imposes upon you the moral and ethical compass of another. That's like saying you're a jerk purely because your boss Buck Fuckwad the human-trafficking merchant is a jerk, and he probably is in most situations, but he just happened to have bought you from your parents so that the rest of the family could avoid starvation and perhaps if you make yourself of particular use he'll send the occasional care package back home.
What if your allegiance is yourself? You can't just say your allegiance is to yourself and then not provide a measure of your own moral character; that's absolutely meaningless. There are plenty of good people that work for their personal benenfit, and I'm sure there are many evil people that discard their selves to further the agenda of some terrible god.
And what if there are conflicting allegiences? Is the protagonist of Papers Please an evil jerkwad because he turns away numerous imperiled innocents for the greater good of an Orwellian regime that thinks nothing of mass shootings and forced labour, or is he a good man for doing everything he can to keep his wife and children fed in times of extreme social tension? Most people have a bunch of allegiances that vye for control, whether it's family, king and country, God, or yourself, and oftentimes which of these are given precedence is the true measure of character. Unfortunately, without a clear definition of all these potential factions, you might as well be anyone.
The alignment system we have is pretty lacking, but at least it's enough to provide a tentative clue as to your moral and ethical standing independent of external factors. --Sulacu (talk) 09:52, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
Oh yes, I should stress that I prefer either alignment, or no alignment. But I figure if he could have variants, the allegiance ones is one of the cleaner ones. Mind you it does very little to tell if the person is good or bad or whatever, so much as gives them a flag to stand under. Which in the case of spells and effects may be enough to be "smite all those with the flag of fiends" even if they are somehow a good person or "this magic sword only listens to those dedicated to the religion of wabbajack" even if they are abnormally lawful for followers of wabbajack. But yes, good points. -- Eiji-kun (talk) 09:56, 4 July 2016 (UTC)
I obviously need to rewrite the intro, since neither “Further, its basic purpose, indicating which side the character is on, can be, and often is, done better without mechanics.” nor “It is still not useful for indicating which side a character is on…” seem to have gotten across that I’m not after mechanics for indicating sides.
My stated reasons for having an alignment system at all are “However, alignment has too many mechanical effects to be just dropped” and “And a lot of players seem to like having alignments.”
Your ‘allegiances’ suggestion serves neither of these purposes: Making it fit 3.5 requires rewriting a bunch of alignment-related rules, many of which are in books I don’t own and don’t intend to; it does not have enough superficial resemblance to feel familiar to D&D players.
I also need to remove the wordage about alignments hating/disliking each other; there is not reason to prohibit an E! and an LJ from being pals, and every reason to allow it.
Thank you for telling me that I ”probably missed something somewhere.“ Could you give me a better idea of what that something might be like or where I might look for it?Ideasmith (talk) 07:45, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
Okay, first I'd like to say that this quagmire of discussion is showing me the irony of the article's name, as this is probably the most arguments I've ever seen involving alignment in a single place. I'm not going to start a new discussion chain in the ratings section, because that'll just turn this page into a complete mess, so let me do it here.
"I mean, being a toy-loving gadgeteer doesn't say anything about howmany puppies you kissed or howmany testicles you have added to your trophy necklace this week": The meaning of this phrase is not something I should have to go through great lengths explaining, so it is a bit baffling you're so focused on the joke statement. The meaning here is: Liking toys has nothing to do with being good or evil, and I don't see this being addressed or remedied so the ratings are likely to stay.
To elaborate: aside from the obvious 'Eeeeeevil' one, there is not a single alignment in this list that's actually an alignment. They're quirks. Personality traits. Things you come up with while building a character. Some of them incredibly specific. I mean, Gun Bunny? Really? That kind of stuff sounds like a Fallout perk. You could be talking about the Heavy from Team Fortress which is also pretty Demented in his own right, or Tank Girl from... Tank Girl who could also easily be described as Wiseacre to a fault. You might as well make 'Stinky' an alignment. It actually says more about what kind of people would associate with you and what kind of people would turn up their nose and pretend you don't exist than the majority of these so-called alignments.
It's not that I expressly hate the idea of mapping out social circles around certain sets of character traits, and I could even see bonuses or penalties to certain skill checks from one social circle to the other. But you can't just take out the basic moral and ethical alignment axes that are so ingrained in many mechanics of D&D and then not create a system to replace them. If this is just an additional layer of obfuscation, and all your alignments defer to basic alignments anyway without any additional mechanics, then what use are they? --Sulacu (talk) 08:36, 5 July 2016 (UTC)
If this variant prevents disagreements during play that make the game less fun, it will be well worth a lengthy discussion by people who *want* to write about alignment.
Wanting “toys. Toys that can destroy worlds!” and being “willing to work for anyone or to do anything it takes to afford bigger blasters” has more to do with being good and evil than how “many puppies you kissed or howmany testicles you have added to your trophy necklace this week”. I didn’t address the good/evil issue because I didn’t know you were referring to it. Was the puppies/necklace stuff some sort of reference to a conflict between good and evil?
Thank you pointing out that Eeevil! tends to indicate which side one is on. I’ll have to think about how to make it less conflict-inducing.
I don’t want alignments to indicate “what kind of people would associate with you and what kind of people would turn up their nose and pretend you don't exist” any more than I want it to indicate “which side the character is on”.
I know from experience that I can run a D&D game without alignment. And by ‘experience’ I meant ‘the best D&D campaign I ever ran’. Thank you for reminding me. Good memories.
As for what use this system is, it has two advantages over not having alignment at all. The first is that various rules that refer to alignment still have something to refer to. The other is that players who are used to choosing alignments from a list of vaguely personality-related items can still do so. Ideasmith (talk) 00:41, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
'Toys that can destroy worlds' is pretty campaign-specific to begin with. Howmany campaigns are there that put that kind of power in the hands of players? The vast majority of games are pretty low-level, you know. You can call yourself a gun bunny all you like but in many campaigns you'll get to start out with a crossbow at best. Also, why can't someone who really loves really big guns have benign intentions? Why do they have to be strictly self-serving and 'do whatever it takes'? Like I said before, this is just an additional layer of obfuscation that I don't need.
Since I have to get real explicit apparently, here's my problem with this: you don't like the conventional alignment system, that's absolutely fine. However, 'Lantern-Jawed' is treated as NG, without any added mechanics. 'Eeevil!' is NE, without any added mechanics. 'Smugly Omniscient', 'Stodgy' and 'Sycophantic' are all LN, without any added mechanics. 'Demented' and 'Wiseacre' are CN, without any added mechanics. If your alignments don't even make any mechanical difference on their own, then what use are they? Even in terms of character building, this system of yours just serves to restrict my way of thinking. Why does my Lantern-Jawed character have to count as NG? Zapp Brannigan is the epitome of Lantern-Jawed and he's far from NG. That's just it, fun and interesting characters will invariably break the molds you've seen fit to create, so isn't this just akin to making everything more boring?
What's more, LG and CG don't even have any counterparts. I don't see any 'Truth, Justice and the American Way' or 'Dashing Rogue' alignments. Even if we're looking at the content alone, this article could be considered quite incomplete.
I definitely believe you when you say that the campaign without alignments is the most fun you've played, but that has no bearing on this article. If I had to choose between these alignments and core D&D alignments, I would go with the core alignments a hundred times out of hundred. --Sulacu (talk) 09:10, 11 July 2016 (UTC)
The description for Gun Bunny didn’t say that the character had such items, only that they wanted them. So in such a campaign as you describe, only players who wanted frustrated characters would play Gun Bunnies. How is that a problem? As the Gun Bunny description was written, they could be beneficent and did not have to be self-serving. As for the must-retain-a-weapon requirement: Rule of Funny. I remind you that all the alignments except ‘unaligned’ were intentionally silly.
Just because the mechanical requirements of having an alignment have changed doesn’t mean that the mechanical results need to change.
The point is to have something for alignment-related stuff in 3.5 to interact with. I see no reason for a character’s alignment under to old system to have anything whatsoever to do with what alignment the character counts as in a new system.
The revised system allows characters who are treated as CG, LG, CE, or LE. I am no longer trying to fix the paladin code with this article, which now only changes those portions of the paladin class which relate to alignment.Ideasmith (talk) 14:41, 25 June 2017 (MDT)

What in the actual hell?[edit]

I am exceedingly confused about everything I read just now.

If anything, I understand the meaning and use of any of this even less than I did before.

What even is a Modetenor? I tried to google it but I got nothing. If anything I feel my argument for disliking the previous incarnation of this article is even more viable now. Isn't this just replacing the core alignment axes with different, much more confusing ones? --Sulacu (talk) 15:50, 25 June 2017 (MDT)

My interpretation of this is that modetenor is a portmanteau of mode and tenor, with one of them ostensibly referring to the Past/Present/Future and the other to Beginning/Middle/End. The problem is that this literally accomplishes nothing except to change the name to something so obtuse and unexplained that it is even more confusing than the base alignment system.
The author first claims that this isn't an alignment system, yet it replaces alignment for the paladin's class features. This seems to be a massive inconsistency to me. Either it's not an alignment system, in which case it serves no functional purpose, or it is an alignment system but all you did was change the nomenclature, making it so it essentially has no functional purpose. Either way, it seems futile to me. - TG Cid (talk) 22:30, 25 June 2017 (MDT)
I am completely confused. First you say: "Attunement to these forces affects which character classes are available, various cleric abilities, spell and magic item affects and the effects of certain planar traits’" which ok I get, past clerics can't cast future spells (leaving out the part where these new terms are never explained in any way shape or form as to what they are, simply what they are not). But then the next sentence says "All creatures, including all player characters, are, regardless of actual behavior, considered to be behaving in perfect accord with every modetenor." So the two sentences completely contradict each other and still don't say what these new terms mean, or how they affect anything.
The old version was bad and clunky. This new version is complete unfinished nonsense, like Cid says above. Bringing back my oppose, updated for new version. -Spanambula (talk) 22:40, 25 June 2017 (MDT)
This need a lot of work. The problem here is that it not easily understandable, however the reason and purpose of it existence are even more cryptic than it text. --Leziad (talk) 13:56, 26 June 2017 (MDT)
OpposedQwertyu63 +, Ghostwheel +, Sulacu + and Spanambula +
UncountedRatingLeziad +