The D&D alignment system is perfect.

Yes. That’s right ladies and gentlemen. The D&D alignment system is the best system out there, and it does its job perfectly. It applies to every type of sentient being, and every character, without exception. It has no flaws whatsoever. I haven’t been drinking.

“Shjust gimme the keysh I can totally drive.. “

Now I know what you’re thinking. Well… no I don’t, but judging by the millions of alignment debates that are scattered throughout the interwebs (including a couple I’ve participated in), many people don’t agree with me.
There are many complaints, but generally speaking, there are two.

Argument 1: “My character is complex, not simply an alignment.”
Of all of them, this argument makes the least sense to me, because it actually perfectly demonstrates the opposing viewpoint. It’s correct. Alignment is not  the same as character. It’s not the same as personality.

Counterargument: It’s not meant to be. 
Your strength score doesn’t tell you whether that strength is in your legs, arms or core. It doesn’t tell you how fit you are. It doesn’t give you your body type. It doesn’t tell you your BMI. It doesn’t tell you your childhood or at what age you stopped growing. It doesn’t tell you why you are as strong as you are. It doesn’t tell you which gym you go to.

Strength, like alignment, is there to perform a function in the game. You have to come up with the rest on your own.

Additionally, yes, everyone fits on the axis somewhere. Are you good or evil? If it genuinely doesn’t apply, you’re neutral. I know there’s more to your character, and yes, you can sometimes act outside of your alignment and still be in character (because character and alignment aren’t the same), but you didn’t hem and haw for a week about your 13 wisdom not fully representing your dreams, aspirations and life experience. I’ll never look at your alignment and know if you’re a cat person or a dog person.

Though I could guess….. 

It’s one facet of your character. The rest might not even be on your character sheet. You might take some inspiration from it, just like you would any other stat. (I have the highest Wisdom and Intelligence in the party… why aren’t I leading it? Maybe my character fears responsibility. Maybe he underestimates himself. Why am I a fighter and not a Wizard? Maybe I idolized a warrior when I was young. Etc.)

There have been attempts to fix it as a result of this complaint of “I’m more complex than that”. It’s fascinating stuff. The most interesting attempt at a fix is the expansions. Trying to add in another axis (making it 3x3x3). Turning it into 4×4, or 5×5 alignments instead of 3×3. Trying to force it to distinctly cover each personality type, and failing, rather than letting it be a general consolidation.

“Pfft! All humanity represented by 9 alignments?! I’ll try 12.”

This brings me to the next point.

Argument 2: “It doesn’t work.”
This one is the key I think. I’m not sure exactly why people don’t think it works, yet going through the vast majority of arguments on the topic, one thing seems clear. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. It doesn’t perform its function.

That function is (according to them) building, and defining your character.

And there’s the real problem.
Most of the complaining, comes from people that are using it for the wrong jobs, then complaining that it doesn’t do the job very well. “This teacup is a rubbish wallet!”

“Put tea in it? Then my money will get soggy!”

Counterargument: Its job is mechanical. Not creative.

The alignment system is there, so that when the Cleric casts “Detect Evil”, or the Paladin uses his ability to “Smite Evil”, the DM can look at the thing on the sheet, and generalize, whether or not it works, without a Doctorate in Psychology, and a peer reviewed paper on the matter at hand.

It can move. Like strength drain, or constitution loss, or getting more intelligence from a Wish spell.

It’s not there to be a placeholder where your character’s personality should be. It’s not there to replace the need for motivation. It’s not there to replace morality. It is, like every stat, on every character sheet, in every system, a generalization of one element of your character used in game mechanics.

“Can you lift the rock? What’s your strength?”
“Do you see the thief? What’s your spot skill?”
“Did you grab the crossbow first? What’s your initiative?”
“Will you solve the puzzle? What’s your intelligence?”
“Does the guardian let you pass? What’s your alignment?”

It’s not very good at writing your character’s backstory for you. Defining your character. Building your character. It answers “yes/no/not applicable” to two questions. Are you good? Are you lawful?

Overall, it leads to some convoluted arguments about what morality is, and there is a good argument to be made that in some D&D definitions of Good and Evil, they are not adequately represented as opposites. This is in part because D&D doesn’t go out of its way to define it. Leaving some leeway for DM discretion.

It simply lists some examples of things a good person might do, and things an evil person might do.

It doesn’t overcomplicate. It does everything it needs to do to function in game, and honestly, doing more would actually start to intrude on character (No! You’re not a good character due to section C of definition 3!). I’m never, ever, going to use it to build my character’s backstory/mind/personality/morality. I’m not going to use it as a sole definition of my character’s actions any more than I allow my initiative score to.

In every way it needs to be, and really, there’s only one way it does need to be, it’s perfect.

Although, whenever I try to put my money in it, being a conceptual paradigm rather than strips of leather really holds it back.

A Roleplaying Community?

Hi everyone, and welcome to the Gulf Roleplaying Blog!

 Here I’ll be updating games I’m playing across the UAE, and inviting DMs to make posts about games they’re currently enjoying. The theory being that it’ll show people reading the variety of games that are going on in the UAE (but are currently hidden away).

 For example, did you know we’ve been running Dark Heresy and and AD&D games in Abu Dhabi? Did you know there’s a Call of Cthulu game, a shadowrun game, an upcoming custom game based on a dream someone had in Dubai? Wasn’t that game of Twilight 3000 (nothing to do with vampires) we just finished playing great? Did you know I’m developing my own roleplaying system and want to run some games to test it out?

 Of course not. Why would you? Nobody is talking about them unless they come up to me in the street because I’m wearing a D&D themed shirt and tell me personally. So there’s an easy solution: We all go out and buy roleplay based shirts and wander the streets hoping to run in to each other.

 Some have come up with crazy ideas that’ll never work. Things like a website slash forum thingymajiggy, a blog (You’re on it), a twitter and a facebook group.

 I say we do the shirt thing… but if you want to go trying out your new fangled computer things you go ahead.

 – Omar

The Enemy Within

Our intrepid adventurers are continuing their journey north to the glorious regional capital of Middenheim – the City of the White Wolf. Things have not been going smoothly…

Despite being drugged and kidnapped by members of the Cult of the Purple Hand they managed to escape and make a few new allies on the way. After spending some time at an archery tourney they decided to listen to the pleas of a small group of peasants from the nearby village of Delberz who were begging for help in dealing with Beastman raids. Compassion and the fact that Delberz is on the way to Middenheim anyway caused them to take up the cause.

The adventurers soon found the Beastmen raids to anything but typical. A brief daylight incursion into the thick forest surrounding the village almost cost the life of one party member and that same evening the Beastmen displayed a level of tactical aptitude not usually seen in such fell creatures. This may be due in part to the Warrior of Chaos spotted by the adventurers directing the Beastmen attacks.

Despite the odds the party prevailed the first night’s attacks with two seriously injured and a the villagers encouraged by their courage and valour in the face of dire odds. However as the dust settles and the sun rises certain questions are coming to mind…how and why is a Warrior of Chaos leading a group of Beastmen just four or five days ride from the regional capital and why haven’t the local authorities done anything meaningful to help the good people of Delberz till now?

Balance in Roleplaying Games

If I had to pick one thing that is most important when dealing with roleplaying games, it is this: Balance.

Balance is everything. Balance is the reason for the system. Additionally, this should be inherent in the system, not something that you add later on. It is not OK because you can change the rules, just like my car is not OK without an engine just because I know how to build an engine. I’m not going to just shrug my shoulders when the dealer hands me an engine-less car.

Every system suffers from this.
D&D: Not all feats are equal.
Able learner (everything is a class skill) is clearly superior to various feats which make 2 or 3 things a class skill.
Menacing Demeanor (+4 intimidate) clearly superior to Skill Focus(Intimidate) (+3 to intimidate).

Warhammer suffers from this.
Flee! gives you +1 movement, for D10 rounds, under special circumstances.
Fleet footed gives you the same, for infinite rounds, any circumstances.

They cost the same. They aren’t worth the same. Sure, fixes can be applied (Lets make it +D10 movement for 1 round. The total is the same, but the advantage is the headstart you get, which is exactly what flee should be).

However all this is doing is building the engine for the car you bought. Do I like to homebrew? Of course! Do I like to customize? Absolutely, but I’m changing my automobile (because I want to) to this:

I’m not fixing it (because I have to) from this:

The Enemy Within

After a long pause we picked up my Warhmammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign which has been running on and off for around a year now. We also welcomed a new player, Nancy to the group who we hope enjoyed the session and will become a regular member.
The game opened with the characters locked in a cell and not remembering much about how they got there. Being the inventive people they are they managed to escape and eventually found out they were being held by their old enemies, The Cult of the Purple Hand. With careful planning and team work they were able to defeat their captors and the re-inforcements sent to take them goodness knows where.
They are now on route to the town of Brokel for a much needed rest before continuing to the magestic city fortress of Middenheim to track down the last remaining member of the Von Wittgenstein family, Gotthard – and hopefully get some answers…

Judge Dredd 2nd Session “Prison Break”

The Rookies were called to a riot in progress at the Aspen Prison and Hard Labour facility located at the top of Aspen mountain out in the cursed earth wastelands. Landing in their H-Wagon they secured the landing zone and rallied with the head of security and his team before heading off to escort a Technician to help restore power to the deactivated automated prison sentry guns.

With the guns back online things quietened down somewhat. The riot had turned into a takeover but fortunately the guards had a the foresight to disable all the prison vehicles thus restricting the prisoners to escaping by foot down a sub zero mountain and through a cannibal mutant held shanty town below…

The Rookies are beginning to suspect foul play as two prisoner remain at large, one of whom is Armon Gill, the former Space Corps trooper who killed over 40 prominent media and academic personalities who were openly critical of the Justice Dept. What has raised the Rookies suspicions is their Tac Group Leader O’Reily has a reputation for being heavy handed – and during the quelling of the riot O’Reily took out an H-Wagon for a good 20 minutes claiming he was checking the perimeter for escapees…of course without evidence the Rookies will have to keep quiet or face charges of false accusation.

The session ended with the successful (and peaceful!) release of the Warden thanks to the players negotiation skills. Now they will be asked to help recover Gill and his accomplice Stonewall….