Alignment Descriptions in the Pathfinder D20PFSRD

I have been spending a lot of time reading about alignments. One of the places I looked was The top section isn’t very specific, and not very useful. It then mentions the Baby Orc problem, but doesn’t add a lot to it. Still, nice to see it there.

Then it begins a detailed description of each alignment, which was useful. But the Neutral Good description is very confused and goes way beyond the two axes of alignment (Law vs. Chaos, Good vs. Evil). It seems to equate political correctness with Good, which is a big mistake. One section reads, “These characters seek balance and harmony in their dealings with others; they know to avoid conversations leading to heated topics, and keep their responses to the middle of the road.” Dictating character personality seems very inappropriate and great cause for complaint. Another section somehow fits ecological sustainability into NG: “They understand the value of nature, and realize that expanding civilization into the wilderness is not always the most appropriate thing to do.” Huh? How did nature come into this? We’re not all druids! Or maybe the writer sees NGs as super hippies, since he also writes: “Because of their ability to see all facets of a situation, neutral good characters can sometimes have difficulty in choosing a side between other good beings. For this reason, others may label them as wishy-washy or not capable of serious conviction.” In another section, he says that NGs take more time thinking about their alignment than anyone else: “Neutral good characters give great consideration to their actions before deeming them correct; some neutral good characters find it unfathomable that others cannot see their viewpoint as the most sensible.” Well, that applies to every alignment, if people are playing them. For some reason, he also sees Chaos as the primary opposition to a NG character. “Peace, Redemption, and Refuge” reads, “Neutral good characters might find hotbeds of chaos ripe for intervention in the form of redemption and mediation.” Sure, but he should also add that NGs also see Lawful hotbeds ripe for rebellion and passive resistance, and that they are primarily and most strongly opposed to Evil, and that’s what concerns them most.

They also only list three possible approaches to the alignment — Healers, Mediators, and Redeemers. They say there are many others, but it would have been nice if they listed “Smiter of Evil.”

The alignments have changed over the years, by the way. I’ve talked about that before. In the old days, some DMs ruled that Chaotic characters could not stay with a party for long. They just stayed while they had a common goal. The old NG has bled over into CG now, and the old CG has moved off the scale to the right. The new NG is the old super NG, but it still works. The idea of Law vs. Chaos came from the Elric stories and it never worked terribly well. Players that really played chaotic well were incredibly annoying, because they went out of their way to be irrational. But Elric was very popular back in the 1970s. The primary models we had for roleplaying characters were from J.R.R. Tolkien (wizard, halflings, elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, rangers), Robert E. Howard (fighters, barbarians, thieves), Fritz Lieber (thieves), Michael Moorcock (law vs. chaos, summonings, intelligent magic items), and Jack Vance (magical spells). And most people hadn’t read Lieber or Vance.


About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
This entry was posted in Advice to Beginners, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

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