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Alignment Tracking


The alignment system in Dungeons and Dragons is difficult to use because there are no definite game rules covering alignment. Vital to any alignment system are rules to govern alignment shifts. Normally, it is left to the DM to decide if a player portrays his character's alignment correctly. If the player's roleplaying is found lacking, then the DM must use his own judgment, and the few guidelines given in the rulebooks, to decide if an alignment shift is appropriate. There are no game mechanics to fall back on.

In this system, both the ethical (law-chaos) and moral (good-evil) components of alignment are given a score on a scale of 0 to 100. The number 50 represents neutrality on both axes. Scores of 100 indicate a maximum of law and good, while scores of 0 indicate a maximum of chaos and evil. Thus, a thoroughly chaotic good character would have an ethics score of 0 and a morality score of 100. Conversely, a diabolically lawful evil character would have a 100 in ethics and a 0 in morality. In this respect, the system is much like the alignment tracking system found in the Neverwinter Nights computer game by Bioware.


Ethics and Morality

EthicsMoralityScoreDescription
L+G+91-100True Lawful or True Good
LG81-90Lawful or Good
L(N)G(N)71-80Lawful or Good with Neutral tendencies
-C-E66-70Non-Chaotic or Non-Evil
N(L)N(G)56-65Neutral with Lawful or Good tendencies
NN45-55True Neutral
N(C)N(E)35-44Neutral with Chaotic or Evil tendencies
-L-G30-34Non-Lawful or Non-Good
C(N)E(N)20-29Chaotic or Evil with Neutral tendencies
CE10-19Chaotic or Evil
C+E+0-9True Chaotic or True Evil

The table above shows the score ranges that correspond to the various alignments. Lawful ranges from 71 to 100, chaotic ranges from 0 to 29. Neutral with respect to law and chaos ranges from 35 to 65. Good ranges from 71 to 100, evil from 0 to 29, and neutral with respect to good and evil from 35 to 65.

Starting scores for new characters are shown in the table below.

Alignment ComponentStarting MoralityAlignment ComponentStarting Ethics
Good85Lawful85
Neutral50Neutral50
Evil15Chaotic15

Score ranges from 30 to 34 and 66 to 70 are transition areas. In these areas, the alignment of the character is in question. The DM should use these areas to simulate a character who is in danger of an alignment shift. For example, a lawful good cleric allows his morality score to decrease to 70. He may find that he can no longer cast his highest level spells or he may experience nightmares involving excommunication. At this point, the character is not lawful good or lawful neutral, he is somewhere in between. All that can be said is that he is "non-evil."


The Alignment Check

The DM determines when a character's action has alignment ramifications. For each action that the DM wishes to assess, do the following:

1. Determine the ethical and/or moral nature of the act. An act can be chaotic, evil, good, lawful, or an appropriate combination of an ethical and moral alignment (such as "lawful and good" or "chaotic and good").

2. Assign a strength (or severity) of the act on a scale of 1 to 5. A strength of 1 indicates a significant, but minor act. A strength of 2 should be assigned for a significant act common to the alignment. A significant, major act should be given a 3. An extreme act should be assigned a 4 while only the strongest of extreme acts should be given a 5. Most of the time, the DM should not assign a strength above 3. If the DM needs guidelines in assigning these strength scores to different alignment acts, consult the Sins and Signs of Weakness sections of each alignment description. Since these lists are given in order of severity, they provide good guidelines for alignment infractions.

3. Multiply the strength by -1 for an evil or chaotic act. Therefore, lawful or good acts are rated from +1 to +5 while chaotic or evil acts are rated from -1 to -5.

4. Have the player roll an "alignment check." The player rolls d100 and applies the positive (for lawful or good acts) or negative (for chaotic or evil acts) strength of the action. Note the result.

5. If the act was lawful or good, and the alignment check result is higher than the character's current alignment score, add the strength of the act to the character's alignment score. If the act was chaotic or evil, and the alignment check is lower than the character's current alignment score, add the strength of the act to the character's alignment score (remember, this strength is negative, so the alignment score will decrease). If the alignment check result is exactly the character's alignment score, there is no change.

Some examples may clarify.

Example #1 - A paladin performs an act that the DM considers chaotic. The DM assigns a strength score of 1 (indicating a significant, but minor act of chaos). Since this act is chaotic, the strength becomes -1 (per step 3, above). The paladin's ethics score is 79. The player rolls d100 and gets a 52. The strength is applied to this roll bringing the result down to 51. Since this result is less than the character's ethics score (of 79), the DM orders the player to subtract 1 from the paladins ethics score. The paladin now has an ethics score of 78. She's still lawful, for now.

Example #2 - This same paladin later performs a great act of heroism, risking her life to save hundreds of innocents. The DM determines that this act merits an alignment check. He determines that this was a major act of goodness and assigns a strength of 3. The player rolls d100 and adds 3 to the roll. The total result is 98. Since the paladin's morality score is 84, her morality is increased by 3 for a new total of 87.

Example #3 - A few days later, our paladin commits a minor act of evil (strength of 1). The player rolls d100 and gets a 93. The adjusted roll becomes 92. Since this roll is above the paladin's morality score of 87, the paladin does not lose a point of morality. Had the player rolled a 13, he would have been forced to subtract one from his character's morality (since he rolled below 87). The DM could, of course, declare that the character loses her paladinhood regardless of the alignment check, since the act committed was evil.

Example #4 - The paladin commits a significant act of goodness. The DM gives the act a strength of 2. The player rolls the dice and gets an adjusted result of 37. The player adds no points to his paladin's morality score, since his result was not greater than the paladin's morality score (which is 87).


Moral Support

This system is designed to make it increasingly harder to become more lawful, chaotic, good, or evil. The higher (or lower) your score, the harder it is to make the actions in keeping with your alignment count towards your alignment score. To become more good, you must beat your morality score when you make alignment checks for good acts. To become more evil, you must roll less than your morality score when you make alignment checks for evil acts. It is very easy to slip (with either an act of goodness or an act of cruelty) and start moving towards neutrality. This system makes it challenging to continue following an extreme alignment. Likewise, it is hard to remain neutral if the character consistently engages in behavior favoring one alignment over the other.

Bringing a "score" into the alignment system gives players an incentive to play alignment correctly. The DM calls for alignment checks, but a roll determines the results. This makes the job of the DM easier by giving alignment change an air of objectivity. Players are more likely to accept the results of a failed roll than the arbitrary judgment of a DM. Of course, even with this system, the DM ALWAYS retains the right to adjust a character's alignment. The DM may determine that a single act changes a character's alignment and force an alignment change.

The DM should remember to call for alignment checks when a player plays an alignment correctly. If alignment checks are called for only when a transgression occurs, all characters will eventually be forced to shift alignment. The DM should also call for alignment checks only for significant acts. A paladin who squashes an innocent bug is not risking his immortal soul by committing an evil act.


Expanded Alignment

Given the alignment tracking system introduced in this section, an expanded alignment chart may look something like the chart shown below. This chart was pulled from Fantasy's Realm.

Ethics Score
100-9190-8180-7170-6665-5655-4544-3534-3029-2019-109-0
91-100L+G+LG+L(N)G+-CG+N(L)G+NG+N(C)G+-LG+C(N)G+CG+C+G+
81-90L+GLGL(N)G-CGN(L)GNGN(C)G-LGC(N)GCGC+G
71-80L+G(N)LG(N)L(N)G(N)-CG(N)N(L)G(N)NG(N)N(C)G(N)-LG(N)C(N)G(N)CG(N)C+G(N)
66-70L+-EL-EL(N)-E-C-EN(L)-EN-EN(C)-E-L-EC(N)-EC-EC+-E
56-65L+N(G)LN(G)L(N)N(G)-CN(G)N(L)N(G)NN(G)N(C)N(G)-LN(G)C(N)N(G)CN(G)C+N(G)
Morality
Score
45-55L+NLNL(N)N-CNN(L)NNN(C)N-LNC(N)NCNC+N
35-44L+N(E)LN(E)L(N)N(E)-CN(E)N(L)N(E)NN(E)N(C)N(E)-LN(E)C(N)N(E)CN(E)C+N(E)
30-34L+-GL-GL(N)-G-C-GN(L)-GN-GN(C)-G-L-GC(N)-GC-GC+-G
20-29L+E(N)LE(N)L(N)E(N)-CE(N)N(L)E(N)NE(N)N(C)E(N)-LE(N)C(N)E(N)CE(N)C+E(N)
10-19L+ELEL(N)E-CEN(L)ENEN(C)E-LEC(N)ECEC+E
0-9L+E+LE+L(N)E+-CE+N(L)E+NE+N(C)E+-LE+C(N)E+CE+C+E+