... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ways to Run Alignment

Yeah, there's an alignment war on a couple forums. But I'm not going to deal with that directly in this post, or even tell you the proper way to play; I'm going to just list the ways of running alignment, just to show that, not only is there more than one way, there's more than two.

  • Scorecard: Good guys wear white hats, bad guys wear black hats. Kill people who are the opposite alignment, while causing as little harm to members of your own alignment as possible.
  • Factions: Do what you want, but if you make a promise to Team Law or Team Chaos, remember not to piss them off.
  • Taint: Do what you want, but whether you agree with it or not, you're touched by Law or Chaos, and there may be consequences.
  • Tendency: Up to now, you've more or less acted in a Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil way, and monsters in general behave like they're said to behave, but there can certainly be exceptions.
  • Track: Like a Tendency, but someone's keeping books on you, and debts must be paid.
  • Compulsion: You can't do that, it goes against your alignment.
Officially, AD&D 1e describes a Track style, but I don't think anyone followed the official rules on that. I suspect Gygax ran alignment more like a loose Track or Tendency, from the quotes I've seen. OD&D was vague, but leaned more towards the first three. I'll play Scorecard in a computer game like Nethack, but prefer more a cross between Factions and Taint.


  1. This is a great way to sum it up. I had been having more complicated thoughts about the implicit game morality, but your typology really cuts to the chase.

  2. It might be a subset of "Faction", but I only ever use alignment to judge the utility of aligned items and spells in the game.

    Alignment as a natural force that, while ubiquitous, has widely varying effects on different individuals depending on their particular constitution and activities.

    Perhaps "Meteorological"?

  3. @rainswept: that's primarily what I meant by "Taint". Alignment as a state of being instead of behavior. Naturally, you can mix Factions in with that, to one degree or another.