Friday, May 6, 2011

DM Tips: Realigning Alignments

I have the unfortunate pleasure of having a party full of uncaring bastards. To be more clear, all the PCs in the game I am running are Unaligned.

The current game I am running has four PCs, all with the Unaligned alignment; a Gnome Warlock, a Dwarven Fighter, a Human Slayer, and an Eladrin Bard. In the Warlock's defense, dark characters are his strong suit and usually come with a redemption story of sorts. I attribute the choice of alignment with the other players to Newbie Disease; the realization that you can do anything in a role playing game without any real world consequence, other than frustrating the Dungeon Master.

I got to thinking about why these players are acting out, bordering on evil at times. I am convinced that the vague nature of the Unalignment is one of the reasons for this acting out...other than Newbie Disease, a topic I wish to tackle in another article. In comparison to 3.5e, the Unaligned alignment in 4e essentially encompasses the Chaotic Good, Lawful Neutral, True Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, and Lawful Evil alignments from 3.5e, making Unaligned a rather vast alignment as compared to, for example, Lawful Good.

I can't decide if creating an army of undead orphans is Unaligned or not.
While I admit that I haven't done a thorough search, I have yet to find any mechanical use for alignments in 4th Edition outside of which gods to worship and frankly, that seems more flavor based than mechanics. So, without any strong mechanical use for alignments, then why don't we just revert the alignment system back to 3.5e?

If we return the alignment system to what it once was, then players that align in the gray could have a stronger focus. When it comes to moral choices, a PC in the Lawful Neutral alignment will have less difficulty considering what to do as compared to someone who is Unaligned. A character with a more focused alignment will also be subjected less to debate about what is in character or not.

As I end this article before I risk restarting the Alignment Wars of the '00s, I think the 3.5e alignment system will be making a reappearance at my gaming table soon. Next order of business, see if I can get these uncaring bastards to stop chopping off peoples' delicate body parts.

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