Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alignment and the whole Detect Evil thing

In DnD the traditional alignment system has a long and storied history - mostly the story involves people yelling at each other about whether or not Chaotic Neutral means 'I just do some crazy stupid thing every time a decision arises because that is fun'.  Aside from constant arguments about what the traditional nine alignments actually mean in terms of how characters should be played there is also a consistent issue with the way in which spells and magical powers interact with the alignment system.  Paladins constantly detecting evil on everything they see is the classic example - if the paladin has any kind of sense they will detect evil on absolutely everything which is a gigantic pain in the butt for the DM both in terms of time invested and silliness of story.

DnD Next has alignment in it.  I wouldn't do that personally but I can understand the desire - they want to appease the old school players and keep things familiar.  Including it at all is going to make the old arguments about what alignments mean continue but they recognize the other issues and seem intent on fixing them.  For example, paladins will be able to detect supernatural creatures instead of generic 'evil'.  That is all good - knowing that a supernatural creature is present is a totally reasonable thing to have in a game and lets the DM easily tinker with what exactly supernatural means to allow the ability to work without making the game silly.  Paladins also aren't going to spend all of their time spamming Detect Supernatural Creature on every pillar and wall they encounter too, which should speed things up some.

The details aren't complete yet of course but I really appreciate that they are trying to prevent alignment from being actively represented in spells and other mechanics.  As long as I can ignore alignment without having to rewrite the rest of the system I don't particularly mind it; some people will use it and that is fine.  It looks like they are making a real effort to ensure that the alignment system is very modular and easily removed which causes me to give Next a rare and enthusiastic thumbs up.  Slipping in stupid old systems to appeal to people's sense of nostalgia without making them define the construct as a whole is a very good compromise.

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