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I am currently running a LONG campaign. We are playing about 3 hours everyday and having a ball :D The problem is that my players oscilate quite a bit between alignments. I tried to use +1/2/3 and -1/2/3 points to change their aligmnets on the good/evil and chaotic/law axis and it worked fine, but the problem is mathematical. If one player wants to become Chaotic Evil from Lawful Good and back to Chaotic Evil, it has to add and substract the same ammount of points on the aligmnet axis. Literally, "how many orphanages must I burn down to make up for saving the world to remain true neutral".

What I am looking for is a way to make decisions harder to undo, without actually taking in account everything done before. My attempt was that actions that further your alignment I use + or - 2/4/9 and actions against your alignment are the + or - 1/2/3 mentioned above.

This way, I "push" my players towards the extremes (on each axis individually). I am actively discouraging being Neutral unless their actions are dominantly a change on the other axis. Like, you remain Neutral (on good/evil) if you action is predominantly Chaotic.

It is not satisfactory because it feels unnatural and the people are not happy with this math. And yet they abuse this system or the +x / -x classic system.

I just want their decisions to have lasting consequences. I want the villain to tryhard to redeem himself with the danger of giving up and remaining evil. I want to tempt that paladin to do evil things, up to the point of holding that cup of delicious blood to his mouth, only to throw it away at the last second. Or drink deeply.

I think this type of alignment mechanic would improve the game. I can't remove alignment entirely as there are social/political rules in the game that depend on them. Think in the terms of, the Assasins Guild don't accept paladins.

Thanks!

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Miniman, Adeptus, user17995, Matthieu M., Jason_c_o May 20 '18 at 12:15

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Where can documentation for the +1/2/3 & -1/2/3 alignment tracking system be found? (Besides here, of course. I mean details. :-)) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 19 '18 at 23:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is making me feel incredibly deprived. Is this just a common sense method of alignment tracking that's been transmitted orally from DM to DM through the decades and, like, skipped me, or does this have firmer, codified rules somewhere? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 19 '18 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the question needs to be a balance question in the vein of How can I balance this homebrew alignment tracking system now that I've encountered these problems? then detail the system, the reasons for its use, and the problems that've arisen. However, I'm sad to say that I'm not entirely sure this site's the best place for that question; you may be better off on a forum where an actual back-and-forth conversation about your campaign (rather than the campaign's rules) can take place. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 20 '18 at 6:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Consider, also, the possibility of a totally different question like How should I react when my players to violate the spirit of the campaign's ground rules after we all agreed on them? or Should I let players get away with gaming rules I made for the good of the campaign? or something similar. I mean, this sounds like it may be two separate problems, one mechanical, the other social. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 20 '18 at 6:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Literally, "how many orphanages must I burn down to make up for saving the world to remain true neutral". => why would saving the world make you non-Neutral? Why is saving the world inherently Good? A Devil would save the world if it determined that it is more beneficial in the long term! Because, you know, if everyone dies know most souls would not get harvested by Devils... I am afraid that's the crux of your problem, even before your mathematics. Alignment is about intention, if you save a monster because you are compassionate, it's Good, if it's for personal gains, it's Evil. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. May 20 '18 at 12:08
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You've written:

A sentence spoken is worthy of a +1 or -1, a forced decision (something outside triggers the need to decide) is worthy of +2 or -2, a willed action is worthy of +3 or -3 (player/character initiate the action).

If I'm understanding you correctly, your problem is that players are finding this easy to abuse. For example if someone wants to be good-aligned so that they can interact with paladins, they could just speak a sentence fifty times: "I like helping people! I like helping people! I like helping people!..."


I would recommend that you judge alignment not by actions but rather by consequences: a civilian helped or injured is +1/-1 on the good/evil axis, a civilian killed or lifesaved is +2/-2, and maybe there are some additional modifiers for interaction with angels or demons.

This means that killing monsters can be a large positive alignment change -- if that monster was going to go murder a bunch of villagers, but then you killed the monster, then you've saved a bunch of lives.

You might also need a rule that lets characters reject positive alignment changes: if they declare "I saved the world for selfish reasons and not because I care about other people", the alignment bonus for doing that doesn't happen.

For the law/chaos axis, it seems to me that you need to judge characters by their effect on society. Rallying people to join a common cause in support of some goal should move characters toward lawful; undermining a source of authority should move characters toward chaotic.

In terms of philosophy, we could think of adopting this system as moving from deontology (judging morality by actions) to utilitarianism (judging morality by results).


Please note that I'm not claiming it's more Morally True to judge alignment based on consequences rather than intentions. I'm just arguing that, if you judge alignment by consequences, it will be harder for characters to game the system to change alignment at will.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, that's interesting! I would have based alignments on intentions not on consequences. For example, saving a monster because you are compassionate would make you Good-er even if said monster later burns a village and eats its inhabitants, whereas saving a monster so it can burn a village and eat its inhabitants is Evil. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. May 20 '18 at 12:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Arthas purged the infected citizens before they became hungry zombies. His intentions where to prevent zombies, which he did. His consequence was to slaughter innocents. I understand what Dan B is saying. \$\endgroup\$ – Discipol May 20 '18 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM Surely this should make players a little more conscious about the consequences of their actions, which if anything is more realistic. Being 100% compassionate sounds like an easy ticket to a solid gold Good morality...until you start exercising that compassion towards irredeemably psychopathic serial killers... \$\endgroup\$ – Ynneadwraith Jun 12 '18 at 14:45
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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.

By this text my judgement would be that they cannot (or should not if you have a good RPing group) do evil actions while good or good while evil.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you cannot do Evil actions while Good or Good actions while Evil, how are you ever going to switch alignment? To repent yourself? \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. May 20 '18 at 12:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MatthieuM. Yeah, I want them to be able to change, its just going to be harder. Which means their intention of changing will take more effort (ingame, like a villain redeeming takes effort) or, if they wanna deepen that alignment, just practice what they preach (easier for a good guy to be gooder). \$\endgroup\$ – Discipol May 20 '18 at 14:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would wager that using a direct interpretation goes against good roleplaying, and ignores the logic of real life. A Lawfull good respects authorities and abides by there moral code. That doesn't mean that they will never face situations that cause them to act against their moral code. A character that is good won't do evil, but a character is not restricted to an alignment chart. For example, with that logic, someone's who is good would always be able to resist the temptation of evil, even if that meant kicking someone on the streets for a million dollars. \$\endgroup\$ – DMate May 20 '18 at 16:25

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