Monday, January 27, 2020

How I Deal With Alignment in Elthos

Alignment has always been a problematic feature in D&D, I think. The rules were kind of vague on the topic, but they alluded to what the purpose was.

The way it seems to me it was supposed to work is to allow PCs to "Align" with NPC groups, such as vampires, or ogres, or goblins based on a common "Alignment", which you could tell by speaking the same "Alignment Language". That way, when you first encountered a new monster and you didn't know what Alignment it was, you could test it out that way, and find out. If you were the same Alignment you'd get an Ally. However, if you were opposite Alignments then FIGHTFIGHTFIGHT. So there was some risk involved. Once you had gone through the monsters in the list (which could conceivably take a long time, actually), then you'd already know the monsters alignments, and the check would not be necessary (or risky). My reading of the OD&D rules gave me the distinct impression that this is what Alignment was originally for. There were only three. Law, Chaos and Neutral.

Because this was the original intent, but GMs and players took the thing in a different direction, it got muddied. GMs starting insisting that Players could only play according to a specific alignment if they were Alignment focused by race or class... For example, the most common, was Paladins. If you didn't kowtow to Lawful Good then BOOM - you'd lose your powers. Which actually does make some sense, at least to me, from a world building perspective. But it made for a rough game where players felt constrained. And complained. It was too restrictive, and depending on the GM, too inflexible.

For my Elthos game, I decided to use Alignment as a concept a little differently. I track everyone's alignment according to their deeds and motives. It's a numeric score, and captures the Law-Chaos, Good-Evil value, which because of how I do it, changes over the course of the game. So Lawful Good would be (10, 10). Chaotic Good would be (-10,10). And so on. If you do Lawful Good deeds a lot, your Alignment could climb to (20,20), let's say... and at some point the Gods start noticing you as a Paragon. But if you do a lot of petty stuff, or kicking the poor to the curb, or ripping off your party, or lying, then your Alignment might change over time and ... the Gods notice that too.

And so on.

It's a fun system. Keeps the players with an interest in achieving a certain Alignment on track, and for the others, they usually wind up neutral overall. Most people are, frankly.

Over time I created a pretty sophisticated system around this concept.  It's in fact a little too much so to explain in a short post.  I intend to write up how my system works, and provide some charts to support it at some point.  And in the meantime, it actually is already fully programmed into the Mythos Machine.  So when you add Experience Gains, you can also account for Alignment.  It's pretty handy, I tell ya.

So go check out the Mythos Machine.  You'll be glad you did.

1 comment:

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