Greetings, as I am trying to catch up on posting after my depression fuelled drought of posts, I decided to compose another missive to cover Alignment in the TTRPGs powered by the Adventures Grim & Perilous System. I have always preferred the original Three Alignment Axis over the later incarnations in newer editions. That being said, there was very little description to what they were and how to utilise them in your games. Unless you were well read in the Appendix N bibliography, you wouldn’t really understand it.
Whereas Gary gave a firmer description into the Nine Alignment Axis and how he believed they should be interpreted, I never cared for it. It was unnecessarily bloated and frankly I never cared for how he described Neutrality.
Though I do prefer the Three Alignment Axis, I am not fond of how it was implemented in the game. The fact that there could only be Law and Chaos aligned Clerics, didn’t appeal to me. The expectation that PCs would either be Lawful or Chaotic, especially if they wanted to play a Cleric or Lawful only if they wanted to play a Paladin – just seemed to force players into Choosing Law as their default alignment.
Also, the implication that Law was tantamount to Good, while Chaos was tantamount to Evil annoyed me. Sure, Gary corrected that with the later Alignment Axes; and yet it only codified a shallow system without any real connection to the source material. Where was the constant struggle between the forces of Law and Chaos? Nowhere.
A lost opportunity, that made Alignment just another mechanic with little utility beyond the superficial. WotC surely hasn’t done anything to rectify this, the closest they got was with Eberron and yet it rarely played out beyond the novels and historical lore. Sure, DMs could plumb the lore to create a vibrant struggle that ran throughout their campaigns, yet the lack of official support for it was disheartening.
So, how does ALL of the above apply to the Adventures Grim & Perilous System and the TTRPGs that are powered by it? Simply, it is meant to illustrate the flaws of the established Alignment systems utilised by the iconic and dominant fantasy TTRPG on the scene.
As it stands now Alignment is seen at best a useful tool for designating factions and how they interact with each other. At the worse it is seen as a useless anachronistic mechanic to be ignored. Unfortunately, a vocal section of the customer base sees Alignment as the latter instead of the former.
In the Adventures Grim & Perilous System powered TTRPGs, Alignment is expected to play a pivotal role in the campaigns and settings within where they are based.
That is easy to say, yet harder to accomplish – at least without a proper foundation from which an enterprising Referee can build upon for their campaigns. That means the struggle between Law and Chaos must not only be woven into the lore of the setting, but have mechanical tools for the Referee to easily incorporate them into their campaigns.
There also needs to be firm well explained definitions of what Law, Neutrality and Chaos means in a mechanical way and in how they impact the world and characters that dwell within them.
This CANNOT just be a reaction table modifier, a list of aligned creatures or a few spells that just nod at them in a superficial manner. It MUST be integral to the system AND the setting. The mechanics MUST reinforce this throughout the various aspects of the game that they propose to address.
In Adventures Grim & Perilous System and its setting/TTRPGs, I will endeavour mightily to make sure that Alignment matters, that the referee has the proper mechanical tools and advice to better give life to that eternal struggle between Law and Chaos.
Will this make AG&PS and the TTRPGs powered by it overtly crunchy?
No, because of my ADHD I need to have a mechanical system of which is easy for me to run…so “crunchy” mechanics are out. Simple charts and abundant advice SHOULD allow even a Referee like me with ADHD to easily run it. The mechanics SHOULD just fade into the background and be easy to both master and implement within play. This philosophy goes for ALL aspects of my design philosophy as I move forward in the development cycle for AG&PS and its TTRPGs.
Before I close this missive, I do want to address the future accusations of “Bio-Essentialism” that MAY be cast about concerning Alignment in AG&PS.
- The VAST majority of sentient creatures are Neutral, they are either oblivious to the struggle between Law and Chaos, OR they choose to instead champion Balance – which will be the Neutrality’s ruling Faction.
- Those creatures that are aligned with Law are either Agents of Law born in the Plane of Law and thus their entire being is infused with Law or they chose to align themselves with one of the Powers of Law and their factions within the Mundane World. The same goes for the Agents of Chaos and Balance.
- The Agents of Law, Balance and Chaos can be either Good or Evil. This is either reflected via their actions or factions with whom they are aligned with.
Well before I prattle on even more, I’ll close this missive and get it published and shared. As always, please take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. Fin.