Saturday, February 04, 2012

Align In The Sand

For the schizophrenic in all of us
Although I started with 1E around 79-80, I consider myself a 2E baby due to the fact I took the long way around to get back to TSR's shining jewel.  It is only recently that I have been experiencing the joy that is Basic D&D (something I completely missed out on the first time around).

I say all this because by the time 2E rolled around I'd been deeply entrenched in the 9-point alignment system.  Some people even then considered the whole concept a dinosaur leftover from D&D's wargaming roots.  Me, I just took it as it came, finally realizing that alignment was, with the exception of clerics and paladins, NOT a hard and fast set of rules, but more like guidelines for the player in figuring out the character's personality.

Now that I'm dealing with Basic though, I've come to appreciate the 3-point alignment.  Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic, that's it.  As much as I like a story that's told in black and white terms, I enjoy the wiggle room that the three point system gives me.  Seems more believable that someone can be Lawful and still be evil or Chaotic and still be a good person.  Even Neutral gets in the act.  I look back and see that the AD&D alignment is way to specific for me.  The 3-point system makes the PC think more about their character's motivations (plus it gives those clerics and paladins something more to worry about seeing as the morals are more vague) and gives the DM more variety in the types of NPCs and adventures he can use.  You can still have characters that are obviously pure and good or black-hearted and evil too.  When I get back to 2E I may import this.


Ragnardbard said...

I have always just used the 9 alignments too- they are second nature to me now, but sometimes seem a little forced or strangely limiting. I know what you are getting at here. Getting to know the deceptively simple three alignment system has left me with a new sense that it is in fact superior.

I have always had an issue with the idea of evil, you see, which works in a fantasy game but (in my view) it is much more difficult to apply in the real world, and that right there left me feeling an intuitive gulf when trying to run some PCs or NPCs.

The three alignments got me thinking, however, about what people are actually like. It seems to me that most people I know are either basically conservative in outlook (lawful), basically liberal or with radical leanings (chaotic), or either apathetic or somewhat undecided (neutral). And any of those people could be otherwise nice people (basically good) or bad people (evil or sociopathic tendencies)- regardless of political persuasion. And that, to me, seemed to actually represent kind of what people are like. Anyway, just my 2 cents mate. :)

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