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Author Topic: Time for some Neutrality  (Read 6684 times)

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Offline drphluid

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Time for some Neutrality
« on: January 28, 2003, 08:04:29 PM »
Should a character be limited to their declared alignment?
Is it necessary to force a character to always stick to their alignment or force them to change it and suffer accordingly?

Obviously if a paladin assassinates someone, then they are not truly a paladin.  But if the same paladin does not help someone this time, should they be forced to have to help him or her or lose the paladin status?  On the same token, if an evil rouge helps someone, for any reason, are they playing their character?  Must a neutral charater hurt someone as much as they help others?
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Offline DaWergyling

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2003, 03:00:54 PM »
Nah. The DM might want to change the person's alignment, (or at least for anything that the alignment would put into effect :twisted:, as in having someone's rogue, who acts somewhat lawfully, but the character *thinks* they're chaotic neutral, pick up an item bent on killing all lawful people, and then.... ow) but they don't have to know you did  :twisted:.
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Offline Strolen

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2003, 01:41:49 AM »
I have never liked alignments. I think the Palladium alignments made more sense then the AD&D ones anyway. I think true neutral is a farce. How can somebody be true neutral on everything. Even Spock chose sides.

I think the character's history, experiences, and carreer choice should dictate how they act, not a alignment choice. After all, how many real people could pick out their alignment? I can't remember a game where alignment really came into play where it was really an issue.

I always fealt that the characters should play how they think they would play, forget alignment, play in character. Not everybody is going to fit a mold. If a paladin had a horrible childhood incident and then it came into play later causing him to act unpaladiny (hehehe) then let what happens happen, not because he broke alignment, but because he broke his paladin pledge. Let his god or his order take care of it according to the problem. Alignment is intertwined with it all and you can make a case for it, but throw it out and would you lose anything?

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Offline Agar

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2003, 02:07:55 PM »
Agar <--- Chaotic Good.

Yhea, so I know my alingment, big deal.

Instead of alignment being used to shackle a player's actions on the penalty of stiff punishment, shouldn't it be used more for thier general attitude?

Most people act with a set attitude most of the time, untill an unusual situation comes along that might have an impact on their attitude. Unusual situations would be like emotional encounters, fights, hardships, and other life impacting events. When they get into a situation like that, the events in the situation may change thier attitude, for this case, their alingment.

Popular example: The movie Minority Report. Lawman working to prevent the chaos of killing and it's negitive impact on people from happening suddenly finds he will be one of the instigators of the chaos. This situation leads him to perform the vastly chaotic action of running from the law. So for general situations, he is acting in a lawful good manner, but once placed in the situation, he acts in a patently chaotic fashion.

Rather than force alignment changes and/or penalties on players, let them decide if an event has changed them and thier alignment and how. A sort of limit will have to be put in place to keep abusive people from flip-floping with the breeze, perhaps only when XP is awarded or only by party vote to give permision or something.

The bigest time alingment seems to actually come into play is when picking a class. Since that is effectivly the players job title, I fully support Strolen's idea of occupation and experiences determining alingment. Rather than binding classes by alingment, disregard alingment all together and insead supply the classes with a code of conduct. Most codes of conduct have room for a little slack for extreme cases, like you are too busy running down a demon to toss some alms into a leper's cup. If the code of conduct is knowingly and deliberately broken, then the player will suffer the consequences. That doesn't keep someone with a neutral good attitude from being a paladin, but they if they follow the code of conduct, they will likely be subjected to events that will alter their attitude to more lawful good.
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Offline drphluid

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2003, 07:07:31 PM »
Quote
Instead of alignment being used to shackle a player's actions on the penalty of stiff punishment, shouldn't it be used more for thier general attitude?


Well said, and I think that just about sums it up.  Thanks Agar
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Offline manfred

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2003, 04:21:53 AM »
That align... thingy may be useful for something.

Not all players want lenghty histories, or answer thousand-question questionnaires. On the other hand, sometimes there is precious little time for such things.

Alignement is the fastest way to tell how a character will (most of the time) behave. Not the best way, but two words (and a definition in some book) ARE fast.

Wanna play a fast game, say, saving a poor village? :roll: If they all decide to become homicidal maniacs, you better ask this question.

Alignement is a beginning. It's enough to say: Choose one and tell me what you don't agree with. That way, a character can still grow.

Last Note: but it is definitively handy to discuss with you guys!
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Offline manfred

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2003, 05:59:08 AM »
Now that we talk about things we don't like on alignement:

- Oh, wise and powerful Chrzrphrx. I sought you long and hard. I am on a quest of great importance, and need desperately your help.
- I have foreseen your coming, and your quest is no secret to me. Indeed I will help you. I have created a blade, worth a noble warrior as ye art! See!
- Ahhh... the beauty and the power inside...
- Yes. Not only it is beatiful, but also stainless and self-cleansing. No more bloody spots, it is ever-shining. It has a blade that won't grow dull. The perfect balance makes it extremely handy and easy-to-use!
- Ohhhh....
- This powerful sword is +X against anything, and +2X against the mighty Quark you must defeat. Such a power must be used carefully, so it itself prevents its user from accidentaly cutting his head off!
- Wonderfull...
- As an added security feature, it can be only used by those of Lawful Good alignement!
- Yes...  ehhh, :idea:, what :?::!:
Did nobody tell you? I am Neutral Good! How should I use that?! And if, when could I borrow to my pal Jimmy the Chaotic Good, he? Why the hell did you not ask, you old fool!


That's it. I hate weapons, and magic items in general, that somewhere bear the mark: usable only by a Chaotic Crunchy or Lawfully Lazy person. What's that good for, anyway?

Similarly I love certain NPCs with extensive descriptions of powers, skills, spells, equipment etc. Despite history telling what the character killed and accomplished, all that I learn about its behaviour is hidden somewhere between the stats as following:  AL:LG. Yeah. Cool character.

All this can be found on the Web, sometimes. What I really want is some rules or principles of behaviour. A weapon needing rules to use, maybe outdated or downright exotic? That's a plot hook I can use, not some silly statistic that does not tell much eitherway.

Poof. Anger is gone. Use alignement freely or not, folks. Just don't overdo it.  :roll:
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Offline manfred

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2003, 04:36:54 AM »
Neutral may work!

Just realized something:
Quote
I think true neutral is a farce. How can somebody be true neutral on everything. Even Spock chose sides.


Neutrals do not choose either side...
But who says there are only two sides, and you have to decide for one?

In a given moment, neutral are those that do not choose a side relevant to that given conflict. To be Neutral most of the time means sticking to a side that rarely interferes with most human(oid) conflicts.

The Neutrality is most often connected to Druids. The bearded wise men of the forest, you know. But it is not true they choose no side: they are on the side of the Nature.

What principles do you stand for? Yeah, trees, grass, Mother Earth, blah, blah. But will you fight with us or with them? Neither? Stupid Neutral.

This way we come to a (somewhat political) definition of Neutrality:
To be on a side most people do not recognize as a side, or do not care for enough, and have values alien to most people's values.

Let's have a kingdom, a fantasy one. Let's see a few threats such a kingdom could possibly change:
- A half-brother to the current king emerges, and wants to usurp the throne, claiming to have the right to rule. Obviously, some groups may support him, to possibly gain more influence, or simply to create chaos in the kingdom for another uses. Some groups will support the current king, some may not care.
- An orcish horde descends upon the lands, wants to loot and pillage everything (Go Orcs!). Many will support the kingdom, not wanting such neighbours. Some may (secretly) support the Orcs, to get a piece of that kingdom, quite possibly want to defeat them Orcs, once they did their job. Few would stay neutral, perhaps they have problems of their own.
- A mighty necromancer with his undead army wants to claim the whole kingdom. Again, some support the king. And again some will support the necromancer, seeing his strong principles (lawful evil) as a guarantee for his promises, never liking the soon-to-be-undead king.

Who would stay Neutral in all these conflicts?

- Some have serious problems of their own. Still, they may at least verbally declare their support.
- Some have a truly important job to do, not to be interfered with these petty earthly things.
- Some don't see any big difference between both sides. Both will cut down trees, so why care?
- Some don't put much value in either side, and not threatened by any.
- Some don't see any possible improvement from joining a side.
- Some do not trust anyone.
- Some are detested by everyone.

The druids and their Nature. The wizard from the Violet Tower and his magical research. A city in a good defensible position, with strong militia, many times tried to be occupied from all possible sides. The five villages in the Border Zone. Followers of a strange cult. The cannibals from the Hungry Moors.


Thus, it is not true neutrals don't have a side, it is just hard to convince them to join some.
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Offline Strolen

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2003, 05:50:29 AM »
Quote from: "manfred"
Neutral may work!

Just realized something:
Quote
I think true neutral is a farce. How can somebody be true neutral on everything. Even Spock chose sides.


Neutrals do not choose either side...
But who says there are only two sides, and you have to decide for one?

.......

Thus, it is not true neutrals don't have a side, it is just hard to convince them to join some.


That is sort of my point. If you are true neutral. Then you *don't* have a side...no matter what. You are non-caring Star Trek data type, but without doing anything for anybody. I think a tree might be neutral, but a thinking being?

If you ever did do something for somebody, then a side has been chosen and you are not neutral. But they may go to the other side at another point you say? So what, that doesn't make them neutral, that makes them wishy-washy, or perhaps chaotic, but neutral...no. To be neutral you have to stay out of everything and never sway anything or anybody in any direction.

You can't even be pure selfish and self-serving and remain neutral because to satisfy yourself there will be a point where you do something that benefits somebody which therefore makes you on a certain a side. The whole neutral thing makes absolutely no sense and I cannot comprehend a situation where neutral can work, or is even real.

The only example I can think of that is close is Vulcans and Androids, but they don't even fit the bill a little. Even when Data is neutral when he acts as a go between, or judge, or mediator, or whatever, there is always a choice to be made at some point, and any choice, no matter how little, is a choice and is therefore NOT neutral.

That is my take on it more or less.

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Offline manfred

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2003, 06:12:35 AM »
Quote
Wanted:

A True Neutral!

Dead or Alive!

Unbelievable reward offered!


OK, I admit. I wanted to have something/someone/someway Neutral. So I just stated: neutrality means they are VERY hard to move to something, or to choose a side (from those offered). If neutrality means to be impossible to move... why care?

Anybody seen that Truly True Neutral, ever?
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Offline Strolen

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2003, 06:17:24 AM »
A rock is neutral.

If it gets thrown, it is not of its own free will.

If it trips somebody, it is not on purpose.

If it gets eaten and causes indigestion but benefits the eater by helping them digest and then gets dumped out the other end, it got stuck in that situation and did what it had to to survive..

If it is used to create a weapon, it didn't have a choice.

If moss grew on it or worms lived under it then it wasn't a choice that the rock made, it is just who it is.

A rock can be true neutral.

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Offline manfred

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2003, 06:30:38 AM »
d**n. You got him. :oops:

Anyone role-played a Neutral Rock? :lol:
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Offline Strolen

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2003, 06:32:42 AM »
Quote from: "Strolen"
If moss grew on it or worms lived under it then it wasn't a choice that the rock made, it is just who it is.


Hmmm. Do I contradict myself? Is a rock neutral if he helps moss grow or protects worms? The lack of an actual choice for the rock may be the deciding facter. It is neutral to the fact that others benefit from it...is that true?

Perhaps there could be somebody that is neutral. If you can compare the actions of a rock to those of a person with a neutral alignment, and you can find the exact same answer for a rock as that person, then perhaps they are neutral.

Did the person choose that course of action?
Did it do what it had to do to simply survive?
Was the person forced to do what they did?

It sounds good at first, but when you put these questions to somebody that has a choice....none of that matters. If they were true neutral they would be dead because they wouldn't make a choice. If they even tried to protect themself from a sword swung at them then they are instantly not neutral. I don't think survival should matter to somebody that is true nuetral. Nothing would matter to them, not even the loss of their own life. I think a true neutral person would walk into a fire and not care. If they were neutral, would it?

I think I am thinking about this to hard and blowing it out of proportion now though. :twisted:

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Offline manfred

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2003, 06:45:57 AM »
Why should a neutral person (or any person) walk into the fire in the first place? :lol:

Funny that discussions about most weird topics can take muuuch longer than the usual stuff. :wink:

But memories start wandering...

Was it taoism, or something?
The life is a Path, etc,etc...

Or some other philosophical path? I am sure there was one that claimed we do what we are fated to do, and we cannot evade it. It was something about non-acting: not truly doing nothing, but letting yourself go with the stream of life. It is about just living your life, no useless action nor thoughts....


Sorry, not good at Eastern philosophies. :?
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Offline drphluid

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2003, 08:10:40 PM »
No no no

Everybody is wrong.

I will solve this (thank goodness I am here)

Neutral is like being a moderate.  A person does not have to be a conservative or a liberal (to use the ever dynamic American political structure as a reference).

While most people can probably fit into the evil or good categories, you can always find people who defy definition.  Those people may not be truly good but do good thins occasionally, and they may not be truly evil, but do evil things occasionally.

Being neutral does not mean that a person lacks the ability to choose or is totally uninterested in choosing.  Maybe it is a person who believes in predestination, and accepts everything that is thrust on them as destiny.  So this person would fight for one side or the other for no other reason that they were in that place at that time.

Being neutral (true or otherwise) means that a person chooses evil deeds some times and good deeds other times.  Maybe a true neutral person is not an automaton who does not choose but does indeed choose, perhaps they only average neutral.   Maybe yesterday he or she killed a wealthy (evil) person for their money, but today he or she risked himself or herself to save 20 children from a fate as a dragon's dinner. Maybe it is not necessary to look at the last deed but the last few deeds to get a true look into someone's nature.
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Offline Strolen

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2003, 02:18:55 AM »
All I know is that 3rd edition dropped "True Neutral" because they agreed with my assessment of it.  :wink:  Now "Neutral" is defined as "undecided" which I can accept.

All I know is Palladium got it right the first time and others were embarassed by their portrayal of this so called neutral. Here is what Palladium has to say about it.

Quote from: "Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game"

Neutral
First of all, there is no such thing as an absolute or true neutral. All people tend toward good, evil or self-gratification. An absolute true neutral could not make a decision, go on an adventure, kill, or take any action of any kind without leaning towards good, evil or self-gratification. It is humanly impossible and is, therefore, eliminated in the context of this game.


I played Palladium for most of my gamer life so I am biased by their superior rules and alingments and battle system and magic. I actually didn't ready this bit until today. If I did I would have let it speak for me instead of my babbling.

Anyway, Paladium expertly handles the alignment system like so (in a D&D bashing mood): For those of you unfortunate enough to never played Palladium's FRPG, it is worth posting.

Quote

Good Alignments

Because someone is of a good alignment it doesn't make him a saint. Good people can be just as irritating, abnoxious, arrogant, even prejudiced, and full of quirks. However, life and freedom are of the highest priority. Such people can always be trusted in life and death situations.

Principled

Principled people are generally strong moral characters. They have the highest regard for others' lives, well being, truth and honor. Boy Scout or Palladin.

Principled characters...

1- Always keep their word.
2- Avoid lies.
3- Never kill or attack an unarmed foe.
4- Never harm an innocent.
5- Never torture for any reason.
6- Never kill for pleasure.
7- Always help others.
8- Work well in a group.
9- Respect authority, law, self-discipline and honor.
10- Never betray a friend.

Scrupulous

Scrupulous people have a high regard for life and freedom. They work for the greater good of the people, beyond the law, yet for the law. Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson. Not vicious or vindictive, but are driven to right an injustice.

Scrupulous characters...

1- Keep their word to any other good persons.
2- Lie only to people of selfish and evil alignments.
3- Never kill or attack an unarmed foe.
4- Never harm an innocent.
5- Never torture for pleasure.
6- Never kill for pleasure.
7- Help others.
8- Work with groups, but dislike confining laws and restrictions.
9- Distrust authority.
10- Never betray a friend.



Selfish Alignments

Being selfish is no crime and it is different from being evil. Selfish people can associate with good and evil characters depending on their needs.

Unprincipled

Unprincipled characters are basically good people who generally tend to put their personal freedom and welfare above almost everything else. Han Solo. Looking for the best deal, good or evil, and tempted to lie and cheat and hates himself for being loyal and helping others.

Unprincipled characters...

1- Have a high regard for life and freedom.
2- Keep their word of honor.
3- Lie and cheat if necessary.
4- Will not kill an unarmed foe but can take advantage of one.
5- Help those in need.
6- Do not use torture unless absolutely necessary.
7- Work with a group, especially if profitable.
8- Never harm an innocent.
9- Never kill for pleasure.
10- Dislike authority.
11- Never betray a friend.

Anarchist

Anarchist characters indulge themselves in everything. They are generally intrigued by power, glory and wealth and are continually teetering between good and evil, rebelling, bending the laws to fit their needs. Mercenaries and thieves often fall in this catagory.

Anarchist characters...

1- May keep their word.
2- Lie and cheat if they feel it necessary.
3- Are not likely to kill an unarmed foe but will certainly take advantage of one.
4- Will not kill innocent people unless necessary.
5- Are not likely to help others without some ulterior motives.
6- Seldom kill for pleasure.
7- Will use torture only to extract information.
8- Do not work well in groups.
9- Have little respect for self-discipline and authority.
10- May betray a friend.



Evil Alignments

All evil characters are not all bent on universal genocide or domination over all living creatures. They are ruthless individuals who are willing to say or do anything to achieve their goals. Evil alignments are a step beyond the self-gratification of the selfish alignments.

Miscreant

These people are generally self-serving, unscrupulous characters, out only for themselves. It matters not who get caught in the middle as long as they come out with what they want. They do not actively seek to injure innocents.

Miscreant characters...

1- Will not necessarily keep their word to anyone.
2- Lie and cheat anyone.
3- Will most definitely attack an unarmed foe.
4- Use or harm innocent people.
5- May kill for sheer pleasure.
6- Use torture for extracting information and pleasure.
7- Feel no compulsion to help without some sort of tangible reward.
8- Work with others if it will help them attain their goals.
9- Will kill an unarmed foe.
10- Has no respect for law and authority, but will work within the law if they must.
11- Will betray friends if it serves their needs.

Aberrant

Aberrant characters are people who are driven to attain their goals through force, power, and intimidation. Yet they will stand apart from the norm with their own personal code of ethics. WIll always keep his word of honor and uphold any bargains and will define his terms and live by them whether anybody else likes it or not.

Aberrant characters...

1- Always keep their word of honor.
2- Lie and cheat only to those not worthy of their respect.
3- May or may not kill an unarmed foe.
4- Do not kill innocent people without a good reason.
5- Never kill for pleasure.
6- Do not resort to inhumane treatment of prisonners but may torture to extract information.
7- May or may not help someone in need.
8- Work with others to attain their goals.
9- Respect honor and self-discipline.
10- Never betray a friend.

Diabolic

This is the category where megalomaniac, violent, and most despicable characters fall. Diabolic people will crush anyone or anything that gets in their way.

Diabolic characters...

1- Rarely keep their word.
2- Lie and cheat anyone.
3- Will most certainly attack and kill an unarmed foe.
4- Use, hurt and kill innocent people without second thoughts.
5- Use torture for pleasure and information.
6- Kill for sheer pleasure.
7- Are likely to help someone only to kill and rob him after.
8- Do not work well in groups.
9- Despise honor, authority, and self-discipline.
10- Betray friends.

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Offline drphluid

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2003, 09:51:02 AM »
I played D&D for most of my gamer life, so (not that I am biased) I am used to that system.  

I guess were I was misunderstanding you is that I was thinking in terms of an all-encompassing identifier.  If a person is true neutral (the way I am thinking) then there average behavior is somewhat evil and somewhat good, in other words they reach a balance.

If we do not limit ourselves to using a simple label for characters then we have the freedom to custom tailor a behavior description for our characters.

Palladium sounds like they broke it down pretty well.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2003, 04:17:52 PM »
Why not just simplify it into Good and Evil? If you're good, you're good. If you're evil, you're evil.
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Offline Strolen

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2003, 05:26:07 PM »
Why not dump alignments all together. I think I may have mentioned it before. Let your character determine your alignment simply by the way you act. So you pick an alignment. What use is it really? So you know what kind of magical weapons you can use?

Unless it helps define your character, like the Palladium descriptions try and help you do, why use it? I think alignments in D&D are pretty useless, and I never really remember ever using them.

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Offline drphluid

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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2003, 10:10:31 PM »
I agree with the dumping of alignments.

If a character does not require a set code of conduct, then why limit youself?

I say let you character grow and change with you own mood.  :twisted: /  :lol:
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Offline drphluid

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« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2003, 10:12:27 PM »
Quote from: "CaptainPenguin"
Why not just simplify it into Good and Evil? If you're good, you're good. If you're evil, you're evil.


If you are just good or evil then who can you be anything but good or evil.  I say it would be too limiting.  Maybe a ratio would be suitable.

e.g. I am 51% good and 49% evil

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Offline Kassil

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2003, 10:26:03 PM »
Personally, the concepts of good and evil only seem to apply in worlds where Good is a tangible force, along with Evil.

...Otherwise, as we Discordians say, it's all just... An illusion. What's good to one is evil to another, and one man's chaos could be perfect order to another.

Alignments are useful, but only as a starting point. I try to avoid my characters acting alike if I can help it.
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Offline drphluid

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« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2003, 10:32:38 PM »
Ohh,

That is good.  Deep even.  Pithy
I like it.

But still a label is a label, and they have there place.  If it is all about perspective then it is the Game Masters perspective that you are worried about.
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Offline Ria Hawk

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2003, 10:39:21 PM »
I'd just like to say: everything is relative.  I don't think you can quantify good and evil.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Time for some Neutrality
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2003, 10:40:45 PM »
Wellity wellity wellity.... With my players, they always say "I don't know how I want to act. I'll just be neutral!" like it's the total solution to everything. Then, as I see how they act in character, I change their alignment. It's usually some sort of evil because their a bunch of cheats and thieves and often say "I want to go into the whorehouse, have some fun, and then burn it down." or they'll ruin my perfectly well thought out plans by saying "I wanna kill it!" whenever I describe something like a rusty golem or something.
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