Alignment reflects how a character relates to the concepts of good and evil, law and chaos. Alignment is determinated by ethical calculus of the character's current beliefs and (often hypothetical) actions, as well as his thoughts of his past deeds.
Good and evil are not philosophical concepts in the D&D game. They are the forces that define the cosmos.
Devils in human guise stalk the land, tempting people towards evil. Holy clerics use the power of good to protect worshipers. Devotees of evil gods bring ruin on innocents to win the favour of their deities, while trusting that rewards await them in the afterlife. Crusading paladins fearlessly confront evildoers, knowing that this short life is nothing worth clinging to. Warlords turn to whichever supernatural power will help them conquerr, and proxies for good and evil gods promise rewards in return for the warlords' oaths of obedience.
A creature's general moral and personal attitudes are represented by its alignment: Lawful good, Neutral good, Chaotic good, Lawful neutral, Neutral, Chaotic neutral, Lawful evil, Neutral evil or Chaotic evil.
- "Alignment works perfectly fine if you understand that Good and Evil are cosmic, factual lists that apply as much as the rules of physics. An action of Cosmic Good may not be the action that seems the most benevolent in the eyes of men, but Alignment is not about a mortal's view of himself, but that of the divine. This is Antigone all over again.
- It is the decree of the powers that be that slaying goblin children is Good - your character may see that as horrible and immoral, but it will remain Cosmic Good none the less. The Divine is terrifying and awesome, but it is rarely your friend."
Alignment is a tool for developing your character's identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting your character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two Lawful Good characters can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent. A Lawful Good character may have a greedy streak that occasionally tempts him to take something or hoard something he has, even if that's not lawful or good behaviour. People are also not consistent from day to day. A good character can lose his temper, a neutral character can be inspired to perform a noble act, and so on.
Choosing an alignment for your character means stating your intent to play that character a certain way. If your character acts in a way more appropriate to another alignment, the DM may decide that his alignment has changed to match his actions.
Normal sentient creatures can be of any alignment. They may have inherent tendencies towards a particular alignment, but individuals can vary from this norm. Depending on the type of creature, these tendencies may be stronger or weaker. For example, kobolds and beholders are usually Lawful Evil, but kobolds display more variation in alignment than beholders because their inborn alignment tendency isn't as strong. Also, sentient creatures have cultural tendencies that usually reinforce alignment tendencies. For example, orcs tend to be Chaotic Evil, and their culture tends to produce Chaotic Evil members. A human raised among orcs is more likely than normal to be Chaotic Evil while an orc raised among humans is less likely to be so.
--Eyefeeder 11:05, 18 September 2010 (UTC) Useful resource to better play and understand your alignment. More in-depth description than most I have found. Be sure to actually click on your alignment in the tree. http://www.easydamus.com/alignment.html
Good vs. Evil
Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.
"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.
People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships. A neutral person may sacrifice himself to protect his family or even his homeland, but he would not do so for strangers who are not related to him.
Being good or evil can be a conscious choice, as with the paladin who attempts to live up to her ideals or the evil cleric who causes pain and terror to emulate his god. For most people, though, being good or evil is an attitude that one recognizes but does not choose. Being neutral on the good-evil axis usually represents a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a balanced view. While acknowledging that good and evil are objective states, not just opinions, these folk maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people, or at least for them.
Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral rather than good or evil. Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behaviour.
- If character is motivated by doing good for others, even at the expense of his own needs, then he is good.
- If character is motivated by serving his own needs, even at the expense of others, then he is evil.
Law vs. Chaos
Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honour tradition and judge those who fall short of their duties. Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favour new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.
"Law" implies honour, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradtition, judgementalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behaviour creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
"Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behaviour say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.
Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but more often it is a personality trait that is recognized rather than being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful-chaotic axis is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots and drawbacks.
Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.
- If character only follows laws (or a code) because of fear of punishment, and has no need of structure in his life, then he is chaotic.
- If character follows laws (or a code) because he feels they have a value in themselves, and has a need for structure in his life, then he is lawful.
D&D and NWN have both 9 alignments as previously mentioned. Those are spread between 3 steps on 2 different axis. One axis represents characters attitude toward Law and Chaos. Second axis represents characters standing toward Good and Evil.
Each axis is numbered with rating from 0 to 100 and those numbers can be found on character sheet in game. It is possible to think about those numbers representing alignments as about percentage. New lawful good(LG) character would be 75% good and 75% lawful, since characters start in the middle of their alignment's rating range (15, 50 or 75). This also demonstrates that LG character is not expected to always act in purely lawful or good fashion (just 75% of time).
|chaotic good (CG)||neutral good (NG)||lawful good (LG)|
|chaotic neutral (CN)||(true) neutral (N)||lawful neutral (LN)|
|chaotic evil (CE)||neutral evil (NE)||lawful evil (LE)|
Though alignments are not set in stone, the alignment shifts on Arelith are not a common practice. They require assistance and supervision from DMs over longer time. Lawful Good character found every morning torturing innocent kittens for fun is more likely to cause players' RPBonus decreased than alignment shifted.
If character starts to significantly shift in alignment due to roleplay, it is possible to attempt to contact DMs while in game. They might watch the roleplay for a bit and make change to alignment as they see necessary.
DM Qizzia about alignment changes:
- "If you want an alignment change, ask a DM in game. It's a case to case situation, where the DM will evaluate your RP during some time to see if an alignment change is justified. The DM will also consider your race, class and other issues with your char. In general, it will be changed one step at the time, and in general, it is easier to change the good-evil axis, than the chaotic-lawful axis."
- "Just send a message to the DM channel every ½ hour or so when you are on. Suddenly you might be lucky and find one of us. Any of us can do it. A thumb rule is that we do not change more than one step at the time."
- "I'd like to point out that we keep a good watch to prevent any incompatible builds from being formed from this. Don't start dreaming up your Paladin/Bard just yet. Also, sometimes alignments are changed without request, because we see something VERY out of character for that alignment. I personally won't alter it whimsically, but if I see something very blatantly chaotic done by a rigidly lawful character, I'll adjust."
Note that these are, however, the words of individual DMs. This hasn't been established as a server rule, so other DMs may have other views on this.
- "Finally, you will never have your alignment changed to one that's not legal for one of your classes (at least, not by your request). Don't even bother asking (unless you also ask to be delevelled to a point where you don't have that class, and no, you can't have XP back to remake)."
In D&D are often alignment changes toward Evil or Chaos much easier to obtain then those of the opposite way (toward Law or Good). Paladin may loose her paladinhood and LG alignment with a single act of evil, but her redemption may take many years and plenty of good deeds to accomplish.