Thursday, January 20, 2011

Amended House Rule: Alignment

[Note: Our Labyrinth Lord group is celebrating its one-year anniversary; our campaign launched with its first session on January 18, 2010. In celebration of this milestone, Spawn of Endra and I are going to do a series of posts over the next week or so reflecting upon the exploits, tendencies, experiences, and house rules of our group during its first year of gaming together. Enjoy!]

Amended House Rule: Alignment
Despite my previous assertion that the Arandish Labyrinth Lord Campaign would use James Maliszewski's six-point Dwimmermount alignment System, I have come to realize that for all practical purposes, we are actually using the three-point Labyrinth Lord default alignment system, consisting of Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic.

I think my initial attraction to Maliszewski's system had everything to do with his "Neutral" subcategories, i.e., True Neutral and Neutral (Balance). According to Maliszewski, the former is "apathetic and/or unconcerned with the battle between cosmic forces" and the latter believes "that a balance between Chaos and Law is necessary for the well-being of the cosmos." I like this distinction, but find that it has little impact upon actual game play, at least in our campaign.

So, since our campaign as played has had little use for these finer distinctions, I hereby declare that the Arandish Campaign is reverting to the three-point alignment system as delineated on Labyrinth Lord Revised p. 14. I will still allow individual players of Neutrally aligned PCs to specify that their PCs are philosophically inclined toward Neutral (Balance) if they wish, but for general game purposes, they will all be considered "Neutral."

What does that leave us? Law vs. Chaos, succinctly described by Ripper X as simply:

how well the character plays with others. Lawful characters are weak individually, but work together to solve problems. They are a team, and can act as a unit with precision. Chaotic characters, on the other hand, are exactly the opposite: they prefer fighting alone and are incapable of following orders. They are strong individuals who lack the discipline of their lawful counter-parts. Neutrally aligned characters can do both well. That is all it means! It is that simple!


Chaotic: Inimical to civilization and social organization. Incapable of following orders and unlikely to put the needs of others (especially groups / nations) ahead of their own. Chaotic is the alignment of demons, Faerie, many mages, and all serial killers.

Lawful: The philosophical stance that civilization, regardless of how it is organized, is preferable to other alternatives. Will always privilege group processes and consensual decision making over rogue action. Lawful is the alignment of unicorns, devils, army personnel, most clerics, and all social workers.

Neutral: Neither fully committed to Law nor to Chaos; pragmatic. Many inflections are possible here: the Neutral character may be apathetic, invested in balance, leaning toward lawfulness, leaning toward chaos, or none of the above.

Neutral characters with lawful tendencies work well in groups,and will typically follow the orders of Lawful characters or characters whose ideas seem reasonably certain to benefit the group. Neutral characters who prefer Chaos have very little discipline, and only trust their own authority They can work cooperatively but often undermine outside authority and resist falling in line with group decisions too easily.

Neutral is the alignment of the vast majority of dungeon delvers and adventurers.

Provocative endnote for further thought: Spawn of Endra recently brought this alternative "morality" system to my attention. I wonder if this set of alignment-esque distinctions -- adherence, consensus, and efficiency -- and the seven-point allotment system described by Greg would solve many D&D gamers' woes about the ambiguity of the D&D alignment scheme? Even without his "morality" categories, I wonder if such a point allotment system could be overlaid onto the three-point LL alignment system? Too complicated? This may be fuel for a future post. . .

[UPDATE: More thoughts on the role of alignment in the Arandish Campaign -- which may be assumed to supersede anything written above -- are found here.]


  1. I should probably know this but what's the difference between a gold and silver standard universe? On the face of it I'd guess something that cost 10gp in one costs 10sp in the other, but the way folks talk about it it seems more complicated than that.

  2. No, I think you've basically got it. Maybe other folks complicate it more, but not us.