Game Mastery

Alignmental Musings

by on Sep.26, 2008, under game theory

I did a bad thing on the bus this morning.  I tried to apply D&D alignments to some characters from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.  Characters in that series are all shades of gray.  Even the most evil bastards seem perfectly reasonable when you see things from their point of view.  You just can’t fit those characters into one of nine alignment slots.

So instead I tried to fit alignment around those characters.

I’m going to keep this short.  The character I was looking at today is Stannis Baratheon.  He’s clearly defined as Lawful Neutral.  But he’s slipping towards evil.  Still, no matter how far he slips he’ll never be Lawful Evil like the Lannisters.

So why not indicate the slippery slope of evil as part of his alignment?  In this case we’d call Stannis LN -> LE.  Interesting characters are dynamic.  They change over the course of the game.  Why not indicate that change rather than settling for an inaccurate alignment?

For once I’m not going to examine each new alignment type.  It’s not worth it and they should be self explanatory.  This idea seems pretty elegant at first glance.  The only ugliness, at least in D&D mechanics, is whether Stannis would count as evil or neutral for magical effects.  Maybe it’s both.  Maybe it depends on the effect.  I leave it up to the GM.

Indicating alignment shifts as part of alignment works great with my previous post on alignment too.  An apathetic character who takes up a cause could go from nn (passive neutral) to nG (passive neutral, actively good).

I’m not sure if I’ll inflict this on my players in a real game.  Neither of the groups I play with has much use for alignment to begin with.  I still like keeping it around as a thought exercise though.  Maybe someone else can use it and comment on how it works?

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