Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Geometry of Alignment

Alignment is one of the great game's great issues. Many newer gamers seemingly hate it. Current editions  have a dumber system which doesn't get the roots of the games original unique rules setting. I wanted to go other way.  I will have to rewrite some prior stuff on clerics, druids and revise thoughts on paladins. Thanks to for ideas that put nail in for a years thoughts. Also thinking more Moorcock styling - alignment leads to otherworldly power. This is what I did.

The Geometry of Alignment
 In the beginning there was one alignment. Then it divided and there were two, some say a male female, others good and evil others say law and chaos. From the primordial mythic age where everything was new things became more complex. By the dawn age there were many more alignments and things were more complex with compound alignments or dual alignments. In the first Empire age despots conquered most of the known world with one philosophy dominant but tolerating others was good for Empire and business. Putting their own god and alignment first the others became the first official pantheon. Religion and alignment philosophy had out grown the tribal and ancestral and local cults of old.

Alignment is a basic guide to behavior and interaction with others. Tick one Way from each column for your position in the cosmic struggle from the first 3 if you want a moral focus for your hero. You may choose [none] if your just happy being neutral in the struggle believing what you want and acting as you please without a cosmic purpose. Most common folk, animals, elemental, beast lords and spirits are neutral. None aligned do not detect as having alignment or mention it. Priests of the same god may have different alignments depending on their sect, but priests are usually the biggest exponents and supporters of alignment.

Alignment is good for starting fights, knowing who to kill or help and helps interact with the powers of the outer planes and the cosmic struggle. Some are happy to ignore it and are thus neutral or non-aligned to the outer powers.

Way of Order          Way of Morals
L Law                       G Good
B Balance                 M Middle
C Chaos                  E Evil
N None                     N None

When recording alignment use the shorter letter from each way or tick the choices on the list. Those with None as choice usually wouldn't mention it or might call themselves Neutral if being pigeon holed by other alignments or indicating they are not open to conversion. Thus a NG wizard might just call himself good not nuetral good, especialy if he becomes committed to alignment. LE would be lawful evil, etc.

Basic Alignments

Law L
Order and civilization is the only way in the battle against disorder and entropy
The souls of pure law return to spirit atoms of the cosmic machine a world of mathematical abstractions, planes, lines and ligt. Polygarchic modrons, the demons of law tend the engines of the universe. Spirit atoms may manifest only a second in the world as a lightning bolt or compounded in matter or a living being. Pure law is materialistic, scientific and methodological at its best. Rigid, inflexible and arbitrary at its worst. Popular with wizards, monks, dwarves and priests who meditate on advanced mathematics, systems of order and counting to infinity.

Chaos C
Absolute freedom, infinite spontaneity and pleasure to do as you will
The souls of chaos return to the bosom of chaos as mindless spawn amid a great cloud of raw creation, where aberrant shifting chaos demonic intelligences may arise from formless matter. Chaos brings strange change and transformations. Temporary chaos bands make impulsive changes for their own sake, opposing rigid traditionalists and authoritarians. Revolutions may not actually improve life now but that is too far off to worry about. Planning chaos is a heresy, leaders using iregular mobs, reproductive superiority and numbers. Pure primal chaos uninterested in good or evil or controlling intellect. Chaos is anarchistic freedom at best and entropy incarnate at its worst. Chaos bands and warlords may devolve into mindless chaos spawn. Slaan are demons of pure chaos.

Good G
Help all life and try to live in peace and be a kind steward to those in your care
The souls of good dwell in the land of light, a paradise of eternal peace, who shine their blessed light upon the mortal world caring and helping life. Goodly deva rain joy and, love on the worthy. Good help all grow and prosper but will sacrifice themselves to preserve their way of life. The worst thing that the forces of good do is intervene, missionize and preach their way which isn’t always welcome.

Evil E
Any selfish act of cruelty or harm that helps you get ahead is pleasing
The souls of evil return to primordial pits of darkness and ash where daemons feed from the starving tortured souls of evil lost in despair forever. Strong Evil merely hungers and takes, stepping on anything that they desire. Weak Evil will take its time and work in hiding; it may be distracted by acts of cruelty and base instincts or glory. Ancient cthonic evils lurk hidden and may support an evil doer with power.

Balanced B
The balance between law and chaos must be preserved
Law and Chaos are both necessary and needed for the cosmos to function; both are destructive if allowed to ascend. Souls that serve the balance are reborn again and again to help fight the balance where needed. They offer stability and continuity over uncontrolled orgiastic exuberance or hegemonic stasis. Sometimes you must act lawful or chaotic to succeed when the balance is lost.

Middle M
Minimize interference in the lives of others unless necessity dictates
The middle follow a path of living within your natural means, looking after your own and leaving other to do the same in natural harmony. Good and evil are pushy construct of the human world and madmen. The natural world and your territory must be defended from the over exploitation of
nature just for war. Spirits of the Middle are recycled as new life in the world thus all life is your kin. Acting on necessity means you will kill to eat or defend you family or land.

Common Compound Alignments
These are the more modern alignments preached in civilized lands - many have a divine language and species of otherworldy beings to serve them.

Neutral NN

You care little for great struggle and just live to make do without strife
Ambivelant to all axis of cosmic conflict, self interested. While the middle path and balance seem reasonable factions of the alignment wars they still swim in the cosmic moral struggle rather than try to ignore it. Neutrals may be sick of the struggles and no longer care, mercenaries may be driven by pay, atheists, anarchists, humanists or just less extreme. Some may consider selves neutral demonstrating only a part recants of complex alignment philosophy. Self-interest is only thing that matters in the moment, cosmic or moral struggle comes last. Without a stand in the alignments you are a heretic or potential convert, either indifferent to all or mad. Some Illuminates preach neutrality blaming eternal cosmic struggle on extreme alignments. Other alignments goad persons into action by calling them nuetral as an insult.

Lawful Good LG Angelic
Civilization, justice and virtue are the best help to all
Chaotic Good CG Arcadian
Freedom and independence help people be their best
Balanced Good BG Devonic
Law and freedom must be moderated for the best life
Lawful Evil LE Diabolic
An ordered state will enslave the weak and conquer the world 
Chaotic Evil CE Demonic
Murder, destroy and take as you please, it’s all doomed anyway
Balanced Evil BE Daemonic
Random terror or controlled force have their place in granting you power over others
Chaotic Middle CM Primordal
Totally live for the moment dont worry about future
Balanced Middle BM Sylvan
Law and chaos and good and evil must be kept in harmony
Lawful Middle LM Hadean
Law will keep good and evil in harmony

Opposing Alignments

These are the oppositional structures of the alignments
You can indicate a opposed alignment with a X.

Law and Chaos are both opposed to each other
Balance vs Law and Chaos but Law and Chaos dont care about Balance
powers are based on systems of managing energy

Good and Evil are both opposed to each other
Middle vs Law and Chaos but Law and Chaos dont care about Middle
powers are related to forces of life and death

Alignment champions

With a sacrifice of 5% of your XP you may become an aligned person gaining powers from your devotion and gaining clearer insight into who to kill. As you progress in levels you gain aditional abilitied based on your level. Aided by the outer powers eventually you become a champion, able to call beings to your aid and serving the outer powers. At 20th leval you may serve and know your power personally - usualy a demon, god or outer planar being. This is compatible with many religions. A paladin is a Warrior knight Champion of Law and Good. Priests are the principle exponents of alignment and some gods allow several alignment choices. Many sorcerers already serve such powers. Wizards may join to gain powers more like a priest. Rogues tend towards no alignment the most or pick one giving them freedom like chaos but may belong to any.
1st Lv: +1 to hit and damagevs opposed alignment
2nd Lv: +1 save vs opposed magic, poisons or other save effects
3rd Lv: Alignment spoken language or other new language
4th Lv: Alignment written language or other new language
5th Lv: +1 AC vs opposed alignment, sense own alignment
6th Lv: Sense opposed alignment, Y/N answer Augry once per day
7th Lv: Follower gained, +1 Attack vs opposed alignment
8th Lv Sense any alignment, commune once per week
9th Lv: +1d4 followers, +1 every level from now on
10th Lv: +2 hit, damage and AC vs opposed alignment 11th Lv: +2 save vs opposite alignment
12th Lv: Summon lesser servitor 8 HD (less HD if many powers, intelligent) 13th Lv: Every opposed alignment person in 10ft radius takes one damage per round
14th Lv: Summon medium servitor 12 HD (less HD if many powers, intelligent)
15th Lv: +2 Melee attacks vs opposite alignment

16th Lv: Summon large servitor 16 HD (less HD if many powers, intelligent)
Lv:1d3/lv damage, 50" range one use plus prime bonus  per day, if save damage halved
18th Lv: +3 Hit, damage, save AC vs opposed alignment
19th Lv: Planar shift to powers plane daily
20th Lv: Apotheosis - you are a principle champion of your plane and speak directly with the powers. Ascend to serve power on death.

Other Powers for champions

Lay hands can heal 2hp/Lv, +1 one use every 5 Lv
at 10th level can remove disease once per day

+1 Speed, +1 more every 5 Lv
at 10th level can teleport once per week

Death touch can harm 2hp/Lv, +1 one use every 5 Lv
at 10th level can curse once per day

+1 hit, +1 more every 5 Lv
at 10th level receive an artifact  

+1 HP per Lv 
at 10th can summon a follower from any distance once per week

+1 AC, +1 AC more every 5 Lv
at 10th level receive 1d4 chaos mutations

For example a champion allied to Law and Middle ways gets bonuses vs Chaos, Good and Evil with only Chaos getting bonuses to harm back. Nuetral or non aligned dont have any benefits but dont detect on one or both alignment groups.

Born again to fight again!
When you die you will serve masters in their legions or
they may not accept your death and send you back. Roll under level as a % powers restore you to life if killed fighting opposition.
After 10th calculate as level x5%.
Expect less free will each time this happens.

1d12 powers Gaze on Champions
1 - Insist on marriage partner or mate or celibacy
2 - Accompanied by meddling bonus
follower acting for powers
3 - Quested to dangerous mission or war
4 - Return you transformed (undead, other species, new body, gender)
5 - Gift you with artifact (eg Intelligent weapon controls you to fight opposition)
6 - Make you leader of a community and share their struggle
7 - Make you incapable of enjoying vice or pleasure or love to aid your focus
8 - Covert possession by a spirit familiar reporting to power
9 - Get you to release powers allies into the world forever
10- Raise a horde or army and go on crusade
11 - Gift you a relic or holy place you must defend
12 - Sent on pilgrimage to far off place or to convert others to your way

A paladin is now just a zealous warrior. A priest has expanded options.  Now have wizards of Law and chaotic thieves getting in on the philosophy and hatred. Lawful Evil monks get death touch. Will revise my other stuff. Aligned items will be more common. Get ready for the bloodshed.

An agent of alignment has a link to an otherworldly patron. At lower levels a minor spirit keeps tabs on you. As more serious rank being attend hero eventually they make a personal connection to their patron outer power.  The power could be a go, demon lord, spirit of law, a duke of hell, a beast lord, an elemental or some other outer plane entity. It is possible to change patron and alignment but the old power will be your enemy if handled poorly.

Your Level of champion power usually equals your class level but if you adopt status later in your career your level usually starts from the level you joined. Impressing the powers might make them raise your alignment level to your class level. Eg: A 6th level warrior becomes a LG paladin with 1st lv for his alignment bonuses. At 8th lv he has 3rd level as a LG champion
. If he smites the son of the Gnoll god who is turning the land to blood and bone and ash in the name of LG, the powers might grant him champion level of 8th equal to his class level and progressing the same from then on.

Leaving champion status often makes you a heretic and hunted. Either to be re converted and punished or killed. Defying powers gets them personally involved in your affairs and a possible enemy. Related gods begrudgingly might make a deal and trade you. Other powers might manipulate unwilling champions or quest for them, making an effort to intervene in the heroes fate and turn them back to the path. An enemy or other power may accept your allegiance and/or alignment change. Conversion requires a Wisdom check, two if two parts of a compound alignment. Can try again next level. It is a major change and represents a personality change that requires tests for all followers to keep them.

Priests Changes

 It is possible to be a non aligned priest. Different sects of same god may vary in alignment. They may deal with different aspects with different cults. Ill go back and amend character classes. In case of priorities between two paths pick one as prority. Default priest is still most common.

Use blunt weapons, positive spell use
turn undead or possibly destroy them
turn outer plane beings of opposed alignments


Middle Use blunt weapons, positive or negative spell use
turn undead or possibly destroy or enslave them
turn outer plane beings of opposed alignments


Evil Use blunt weapons, negative spell use
hold undead or possibly enslave them
turn outer plane beings of opposed alignments

Law Use edged weapons, positive spell use
hold elementals or possibly enslave them
turn outer plane beings of opposed alignments


Balance Use edged weapons, positive or negative spell use 
turn elementals or possibly destroy or enslave them
turn outer plane beings of opposed alignments


Chaos Use edged weapons, negative spell use
elementals or possibly destroy them
turn outer plane beings of opposed alignments

All have basic connection to inner planes
Good-middle-evil axis are connected to positive and negative planes with power over life and death
Law-balance-chaos axis are connected to elemental planes with power over matter and energy

All types may turn outer plane beings
A kill result banishes the being to its home plane

1d12 HD of  effect per priest level
beings with more HD than priest get to save
if have double dice required to turn the creature it is destroyed or banished if from off world
the extra dice always eliminate weakest first after turning everything possible

eg 5th level rolls 5d12 and rolls 36 turns a group of mixed undead 10 skeletons and 10 zombies. Zombies 2HD equal 20 plus 10 HD of skeletons, for a total of 30 HD. Six extra dice can be used to double dice on weakest skeletons destroying them.

How to spot evil


  1. This is the first thing I've read to make me reconsider my stance on playing with alignment (which is: don't) in a good, long time. Very interesting stuff, and it's wonderful to have such clear, unambiguous definitions.

    The distinction between neutrality and apathy is really important. I can't believe it never occurred to me before.

    Also: "They offer stability and continuity over uncontrolled orgiastic exuberance or hegemonic stasis." That is a beautiful sentence.

  2. cheers - will combine with this
    when i revise
    fanatic bonuses require oaths