Alignment and D&D
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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 1:34 pm 
 

Wow! Looks like there was quite a bit of discussion on Neutrality and Druids that I missed. I find Druids to be quite playable and one of the more interesting classes . . . I am also a somewhat struck by the narrow & strict viewpoint many seem to have on alignment.

"True" neutrality is very narrow, yes . . . but not quite as limiting as all that.

Sure, we all have read our alignment descriptions in the Player's Handbook, but to review:

True Neutral The "true" netural looks upon all other alignments as facets of the system of things. Thus, each aspect - evil and good, chaos and law - of things must be retained in balance to maintain the status quo; for things as they are cannot be improved upon except temporarily, and even then but superficially. Nature will prevail and keep things as they were meant to be, provided the "wheel' surrounding the hub of nature does not become unbalanced due to the work of unnatural forces - such as human and other intelligent creatures interfering with what is meant to be.


This seems to be the general interpretation of "True" Neutral that has been voiced here. It is definitely restrictive, but it is NOT intended to be how "True" neutrality has to be played. That description is the "ideal" - perhaps a Greater Deity of Nature who was "True" Neutral might exhibit those qualities, but not your everyday PC (Druid).

Let's not overlook the final paragraph after all the alignment descriptions:

Naturally, there are all variations and shades of tendencies within each alignment. The descriptions are generalizations only. A character can be basically good in its "true" neutrality, or tend towards evil. It is probable that your campaign referee will keep a graph of the drift of your character on the alignment chart. This is affected by the actions (and desires) of your character during the course of each adventure, and will be reflected on the graph. You may find that these actions are such as to cause the declared alignment to be shifted towards, or actually to, some other.


This is really the key to all the alignments - overly strict interpretation can lead to boring, unrealistic and shallow characters. Most of the neutral alignments are played with at least a slight drift towards good - (or evil, depending on your campaign). This is often what motivates characters, what sets up innumerable adventures and gives cause to what they quest for. It is often the reason that a character such as a Lawful Neutral fighter might find himself on the side of "good" in most of his quests. Evil is inherently cruel and intrusive. It's goals are often so distasteful that a sane and kind person cannot help but fight against it.

The same would apply to most Druids. They are NOT 20th century protectors of forests - they are clerics of nature who draw their power from it and who, in turn, protect it. Evil is necessarily more often their target as Evil is more likely to encroach upon their domain and more cruelly burn and slaughter the flora and fauna. Though a good lord might also unjustly hunt for sport (for example) - it is often evil whose direct actions must be addressed. While it can easily be allowed to have Neutral Good or Neutral Evil Druids in a particular campaign, the rules also provide enough flexibility that a "True" neutral can exhibit these traits without a radical alignment shift.

Evil characters, as well, might not be always and thoroughly evil. Just because the local tyrant pauses in his walk through town to protect an innocent child from being beaten to death does not make him good - it was a good action, to be sure, but people (and demihumans :D ) are complex creatures. Even Good characters sometimes sin . . .


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 2:16 pm 
 

You're not the only one who missed that discussion.

I'm of the belief that True Neutral is an impossible alignment for intelligent creatures.  The reason is that in order to be totally neutral one cannot make a decision, for the act of making a decision of any kind renders someone no longer neutral.  So druids in my games have to be of a neutral alignment (Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Good, Neutral Evil).  True Neutral is reserved for creatures that function on instinct.

I know I'm nowhere close to by the book on that, but that definition of true neutral has stuck with me for years, ever since it was told to me by a high school friend.  But, other than true neutral, alignments are not absolutes with me, and I can see that you think in much the same way in regards to them.  If I recall, alignments are but a guide, and not a strightjacket in regards to roleplay.



  

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 2:53 pm 
 

I dispensed with alignments. I have players write down personality traits, in great detail. Works just as well for items with intelligence too. And any idiot can compare the two and see where there might be item/character conflicts.
If a character starts acting WAY out of personality, I disallow it. A gradual shift, or one due to a major occurence is fine. If a character is friendly, gentle and outgoing, and some random stranger has unwilling carnal relations with his pet dog, I would of course allow him to slay the offender and not be penalized. Or, if a character slowly begins to commit evil acts, that is fine too, but the personality sheet would be updated to reflect this shift.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 6:34 pm 
 

Most of my original players wanted to start out as Neutral because they did not want to limit their options.

  In the original rules...(and to some extent in the current rules)...there was almost no penalty for being Neutral, while being Good or Evil could get you zapped, drained of experience points or otherwise screwed.  In my players' view (and they had a point), Good is limiting and Evil is otherwise inconvenient.  

  A later player in my games pointed out that Neutral, as played by player characters, actually means Chaotic Evil because in practice it means the freedom to be entirely, freely selfish.  Only the label is different.

   It was only after high school that the players in my game were mature enough to realize that being inconvenienced also makes for more interesting role-playing.  It is the things that a character will not do...when his personal morals create dilemmas...that make a character truly memorable.  Evil bastards are a dime a dozen in comparison.

   What I find laughable is the idea of "Lords of Neutrality" and the idea of "preserving the balance" between good and evil.  "Of course, we all know that it is possible for Good to go too far!"   Riiiight....I have too much peace, unselfishness, joy, brotherly love and hope.  Could someone please stop me before I do something else unspeakably kind?    :?

    *Speaks in high-pitched and whimpy voice*  "We must not let the Lords of Good prevail!  They might be nice to us!"

   Neutral between Law and Chaos?  Yes, certainly.  Neutral between Good and Evil?  No...it's just downright silly.

   The concept of a Neutral defender of nature is an entirely modern, secular idea.  It has very little place in a medieval fantasy setting.  It has much to do with the popular modern fantasy that primitive people used to "live in harmony with nature," or that people in loincloths somehow, "speak for Mother Earth."  *Makes sarcastic vomiting noises*

   How was that for a rant?  Ranty enough?   :lol:  :lol:  God, I take myself sooooo seriously!   :lol:

Mark   8)


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:29 pm 
 

the times i played (which wasnt often as i mostly DM'd cos nobody else wanted to)....my characters were always chaotic neutral, bar for the odd time i was chaotic good. i just loved the randomness it gave and it used to throw a spanner in everyones plans all the time and i had an absolute blast with it :D

franks point relating to personal traits etc is superb. thats what we kinda did in the end. i used to ask ppl to detail their personalities of their character and i forced them to keep to that. worked pretty much the same way really.

Al



  

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:41 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:

The concept of a Neutral defender of nature is an entirely modern, secular idea. It has very little place in a medieval fantasy setting. It has much to do with the popular modern fantasy that primitive people used to "live in harmony with nature," or that people in loincloths somehow, "speak for Mother Earth." *Makes sarcastic vomiting noises*

How was that for a rant? Ranty enough? :lol: :lol: God, I take myself sooooo seriously! :lol:

Mark 8)


Mr Shipley! You are entirely correct! As I remember, the elves and sprites of medieval Britain were a very industrial lot - much more concerned with machinery and it's potential usefulness. Of course, everyone knows that a French Dryad was as much a "lady of the night" as anything. And don't get me started on Pixies - nothing more than street urchins the whole lot of 'em!  :D


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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 7:54 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:You're not the only one who missed that discussion.

I'm of the belief that True Neutral is an impossible alignment for intelligent creatures. The reason is that in order to be totally neutral one cannot make a decision, for the act of making a decision of any kind renders someone no longer neutral. So druids in my games have to be of a neutral alignment (Lawful Neutral, Chaotic Neutral, Neutral Good, Neutral Evil). True Neutral is reserved for creatures that function on instinct.

I know I'm nowhere close to by the book on that, but that definition of true neutral has stuck with me for years, ever since it was told to me by a high school friend. But, other than true neutral, alignments are not absolutes with me, and I can see that you think in much the same way in regards to them. If I recall, alignments are but a guide, and not a strightjacket in regards to roleplay.


I agree with Traveller, we've run our campaigns like that for almost 20 years vis a vis the Neutral alignment. For instance, druids in Azura are either NG or NE.  I'm going to post my brother's essay on Alignment in D&D and specifically Azura (my campaign world).  It's the results of lots and lots of discussions and years of playing AD&D and disagreeing with the original alignment rules. It really helped us codify alignment and stopped hundreds of disagreements and arguements, we've had no problems with alignments for many years.  We've had plenty of druids in that time, I was quite surprised to find that a lot of groups never played them at all!  They end up being some of the most powerful characters at higher level.  

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:34 pm 
 

I'm going to post my brother's alignment essay.  This was in our official rules for the campaign world we ran since about 1990 or so.  I apologize for the length, I did edit it down a bit.  I wouldn't have posted the entire thing except that I think he did an exceptional job codifying the arguments we'd had up until then during game play the previous 10 years.  We've used them for the last 16 years with no problems at all, if anyone wants to borrow them or use them as a baseline and improve upon them, go ahead.  If anyone likes or hates them I hope they provoke discussion!

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:41 pm 
 

ALIGNMENT IN AZURA

    Ahh, alignment.  The PHB and the DMG each have nothing less than an entire chapter dedicated to it and yet the subject has still been the source for many a failed campaign and  many hours of argument around the game table.  So what is alignment and why are there so many problems?  If you were to read the prelude to Chapter 4 in the PHB you would find a definition that states alignment is "a guide to basic moral and ethical attitudes towards others, society, good, evil, and the forces of the universe in general."  The definition is then followed by some reassuring lines emphasizing that alignment is meant to be a tool or guide for player characters to better classify their character's general attitudes and not a device intended to restrict the way players choose to play their characters.  The attitudes that define alignment are divided into two groups: good and evil, and law and chaos.  The player need only chose the combination of each of these that best suits the character he wishes to play.  Now what could be more simple?    
    As usual however, the devil is in the details.  Moving past the benign prelude in the PHB the reader is quickly engulfed in the dark abyss of five long detailed pages that describe a moral philosophy for the game that leaves the reader uncertain and confused.  Although the descriptions are at times complex and restrictive there are still many questions left unanswered and loopholes big enough to fly black dragons through.  The prelude suggests that the nine alignments offered "serve well to define the attitudes of most of the people in the world", but many of the alignments described are in actuality not playable at all unless a world is to be populated with madmen.  Conversely, there are many personalities of characters that one could imagine that don't fall neatly within any of the alignments given.  Of the alignments that are playable, some too narrowly define and restrict player's actions while others appear to be overly broad.  In all cases there is overlap and gray areas between them further muddying the issue.  
    But fear not, there is another chapter in the DMG dedicated to straightening out these discrepancies right?  Well, not exactly.  Instead the chapter starts by focusing more on alignment in the big picture instead of shedding light on how to play any one in particular.  Then follows a multitude of admonitions to DMs to be ever-vigilant of transgressions.  There are discussions on how alignments should be secretive, can cause conflicts, can be used by DMs to manipulate actions of their players, and ultimately, harsh punishments described for those who fail to abide by the alignment "straitjacket" that the prelude in the PHB promises doesn't exist.    
    Naturally I have been thinking about the ramifications this flawed alignment system, created by the whims of Gygax decades ago, has upon the Azuran pantheon that has been created.  After much consideration I think I have found a system that is both less restrictive and at the same time makes much more sense than the previous one.  The result will hopefully be more freedom for the player to explore and develop the personalities of their players without having to rely on stale PHB examples to define who they are and without having to worry about the TSR alignment police tracking them down every time their character behaves a little differently.      

Good and Evil

    Of course the most fundamental conflict within the alignment system is good versus evil.  But what exactly is the definition for good and evil?  The philosophy of the PHB/DMG is that good and evil are a matter of perspective and certainly there are examples of that in the fantasy world as well as the real.  Below is a fantasy example:

EX 1:  A group of fighters build a fort in the forest to protect the nearby villages from bandits that live there.  The bandits, unlike the fighters, are able to live off the land and in harmony with their woodland surroundings.  A local druid living there becomes pissed off, not at the bandits who cause no harm to the forest, but with the fighters who are causing the decimation of his forest by building a huge fort.  So many trees cut down to make walls.  So many squirrels killed to feed the garrison.  So many dumps taken in the nearby stream.  The druid can take it no more.  He tells the fighters they are destroying the natural habitat in a way the bandits never have and tries to convince them to leave.  But they refuse pointing out that the lives and well being of nearby villagers are more important than a few trees and woodland critters.  The druid could care less about villages far away when trees nearby suffer so much so he engages in increasingly aggressive attempts to evict the unwanted garrison eventually resorting to causing them harm.  Who is good and who is evil in this scenario?  Is it a matter of perspective?


    According to the PHB/DMG this would be a matter of perspective.  A True Neutral druid could do whatever was necessary to maintain the balance in his forest between good and evil, and law and chaos.  He could hinder or even destroy the fighters thereby ridding his forest of the unnatural fort or he could destroy or runoff the bandits precluding the need for a fort in the first place.  He would be behaving neither evil, nor good regardless of which choice he made since he would be adhering to his primary neutral ethos which requires him to protect the woods.  According to the PHB we can't hold it against the druid that he values his woodlands more than humans.
    Of course in practice the above example would be fraught with contradiction and hypocrisy.  There is the fiction of the druid being neutral, but how many DMs would really allow a player character druid to destroy the fort of good fighters and by default provide refuge to a band of marauding bandits?   I imagine many DMs would threaten the player character druid with penalties, including penalties for alignment change, if the druid actually carried that act out.  But there are seldom any penalties suggested much less imposed upon player character druids who would help a party in destroying the bandits or who otherwise act in a consistently good way.  This is the problem with perspectives….they can vary.    
    In Azura this dilemma is greatly simplified by a single change.  Instead of relying on peoples perspectives of good and evil, why not just define what good and evil is.  In place of perspectives, all moral decisions about what is good and evil in Azura are made from the moral standpoint of human-kind (humans & demi-humans). To be Evil means to believe and/or act without regard for the life and well being of human-kind.  To be Good is to believe and/or act in the benefit of the life and well-being of human-kind. To put it another way; evil people will harm people to advance their beliefs whereas good people advance theirs by performing acts of beneficence.
    So applying the Azuran alignment model to EX1 what do we come up with?  Clearly, the fighters would be good since they are acting in a way to protect the lives and well-being of the villagers even though a few trees and rabbits might get trampled in the process.  Although the bandits are considerate about their treatment of the forest they live in, they are still evil because they live by preying upon human-kind.  But what of the druid?  Well, the druid has a decision to make.  Either he can believe humans are as much apart of the natural world as any wilderness creature and therefore worthy of the same care and protection as any tree or raccoon, or he can believe that the need for preserving and nurturing the woodlands supersedes the well-being of man.  Read my description of the two philosophical schools in the Faerel priesthood and you will see that druids must either be evil or good in Azura.  A druid cannot remain truly neutral in the conflict between good and evil and instead must make his choice.  

Law and Chaos

    Besides good and evil, the other major classification for alignments is law and chaos. The PHB/DMG sometimes seem to imply that the conflict between law and chaos is as equally important as that between good and evil.  But in reality it can't be.  I mean, how many D&D sessions were inspired by a player's desire to role-play a chaotic character who could band with other chaotic characters to collectively strike a blow against lawfulness in the world?  Not exactly the stuff of Tolkien.  
    Although it took the writers of the PHB a half page to describe it, I think I can better define what is meant by law and chaos in a single sentence.  To be Lawful is to believe that the needs of the individual or the few are subordinate to the needs of society and to be Chaotic is to believe that the needs of society are subordinate to the needs of the individual or the few.  This conflict within the alignment system is not nearly as fundamental as that of good versus evil and isn't nearly as clear cut.  Instead law and chaos are merely modifiers of the more salient conflict between good and evil.  After all, law and chaos aren't so much a religious attitude as they are a philosophy for social order.  

EX2:  A lawful (LG or LE) fighter rules a coastal city/state that enjoys prosperity so long as its sea trade isn't disrupted.  However, vessels sailing to and from the city have come under the attack by a ruthless band of pirates.  Unfortunately the only force nearby that is powerful enough to confront and defeat this pirate band is a CE group of mercenary adventurers who have arrived in the territory recently.  They have no love for the fighter or his city and have a reputation for committing their share of atrocities in other lands far away.  To entice the evil adventurers, the fighter swears an oath that he will pay a huge reward to anyone able to bring him the head of the pirate leader.  The group of CE adventurers, knowing that the reputation of the lawful fighter is to keep his word, hears of the reward and goes on the hunt for the pirates.  Eventually they confront and slay the pirate leader and return triumphant to the city to collect their reward.  After presenting the head of the pirate the adventurers are surprised to learn that the lawful fighter refuses to pay the promised reward and instead has his private guard ambush the adventurers, taking them prisoner and slaughtering whoever resists.  Is the lawful fighter guilty of acting in an unlawful way?    

    Remember that in terms of alignment, law and chaos are just philosophies of social order.  No particular act is in and of itself lawful or chaotic.  It only matters why the act was done, not how it was done.  So, if we apply that to EX2 above we would come to the conclusion that the fighter wasn't necessarily acting in a chaotic manner by lying about the reward.  He could arguably be good or evil but he would not have to be chaotic.  A person is lawful because he believes the needs of society outweigh those of the individual or the few.  Certainly it could be justified that CE adventurers would be a danger to order in any city and providing them with substantial amounts of money in the form of a reward could make them even more dangerous.  The lawful fighter only did what he had to in order to ensure the safety and welfare of his city.  In this case the evil adventurers were "the few" and therefore capturing or slaying them, so long as it is done for the benefit of society, could be considered a lawful act.  The act of lying or of keeping one's word is neither inherently lawful or chaotic.  It depends on why one is lying or keeping their word.  The above explanation could justify how even a Paladin may lie, cheat or steal so long as its in the interests of the society.  And even if lying, cheating and/or stealing were against the Paladin's order/ethos he would only be jeopardizing his character class, not his lawful alignment.

Good and Evil & Law and Chaos Combined

    Now that we have definitions for both good/evil and law/chaos its a simple matter to put them together to come up with four very playable alignments.  To be LE/LG is to perform malicious/beneficial acts upon human-kind in the interest of society over that of the individual or the few.  To be CE/CG is to perform malicious/beneficent acts upon human-kind that are in the interest of the individual or the few over that of society.The non-neutral alignments (LE/LG and CE/CG) may be playable but in reality how likely is it that most of the people and creatures encountered in Azura would have such a well-developed concept of the world's social order.  In truth, the vast majority of Azurans don't fall into any of these four alignments which brings us to the discussion of neutrality.

Neutrality

    Now that we have defined good/evil and law/chaos its time to confront the concept on neutrality in the alignment system.  Once again we first turn to the PHB/DMG.  There we find they have taken the easiest route to obtain a definition by simply stating that neutrality is the absence of good/evil and law/chaos.  However this is a very unsatisfying approach to the issue which allows the creation of some of the most unworkable alignments imaginable.  
    True neutral is the ultimate culmination of this flawed approach towards neutrality.  According to the PHB, true neutral characters see it as "their duty to see that all of these forces (law/chaos & good/evil) remain in balanced contention".  As an example, "a true neutral druid might join the local barony to put down a tribe of evil gnolls, only to drop out or switch sides when the gnolls were brought to the brink of destruction."  And the writers of the PHB have the audacity to say that CN characters are "lunatics and madmen".  According to them, you could never know what a true neutral person would do in any situation and could never count on the fact that they wouldn't reverse course in the middle of something.  People of true neutral alignment are left wondering whether they should open this door or not.  If they open it and there are already too many other doors open in the world at the same time they will have unbalanced the cosmic order of things but if they don't open it there may be too many doors closed.  Why don't we just go ahead and save some time by putting this poor true neutral schlep in a strait jacket and let him bounce around a padded room deciding if he should breath or not because there may or may not be enough oxygen in the world at that moment.
    To put it in Azuran game terms; no intelligent mortal creature can be True Neutral.  It is not a viable alignment for any mortal man to play.  Of those with intelligence, only god's can understand the complexities and manage the heavy burdens of maintaining the universal balance between good and evil & law and chaos.  That awesome responsibility has mercifully not been delegated to someone like Nimnuts the true neutral 1st level druid who likes to plant dandelions and talk to chipmunks in his spare time.
    So if neutrality isn't the absence of good/evil and law/chaos as the PHB/DMG asserts then what the heck is it?  Well, let's approach this from a different direction.  What is something that we would think should be undisputedly neutral?  Maybe a squirrel or other woodland creature.  Basically, natural creatures or plants without any ability to reason as human's do.  So why are they neutral?  A squirrel could steal the last crumb of bread from a starving family but its doing so as a matter of survival and not out of any malicious intent.  Therefore to be neutral is to engage in whatever acts are necessary to ensure one's well-being and survival.  However, as was stated earlier, no mortal man can be true neutral.  Therefore something must modify the neutrality for those with intelligence and in Azura that modifier is good and evil.  And that modifier indicates how far someone is willing to go to ensure their well-being and survival.  To be NE/NG is to be willing to perform good/evil acts upon others in the interest of ensuring one's own well-being and survival.  In other words if someone is willing to jeopardize someone else's life and well-being for their own personal survival they are NE, but if they aren't willing to do so then they are NG.  However the good/evil modifier is not absolute when it comes to neutrality.

EX3:  A neutral man cares for his wife and children by providing them with food, shelter and clothing but he cheats on his wife and sometimes beats his children when they bother him.  He has become a gem-cutter to make a living so that he can give his family what they need but he regularly skims an illegal percentage off his work to do so.  He is an active member of the gem-cutter's guild and helps set the criteria to keep crooks from taking advantage of others in town but uses his influence in the guild to escape punishment himself.  He is a member of the town militia and has fought to defend his town and family from bandits and monsters but he has refused to fight in defense of other towns.  He also pays a tax to support the building of a wall to further protect his town but refuses to pay any taxes that would go to help the poor and disabled in his community.
   
    Although the non-neutral alignments (LE/LG & CE/CG) may be popular with player characters and villains who often times do have strong moral convictions, its important to remember that the vast majority of the common people in Azura don't have such a well-defined concept of their place in the world.  Most people in Azura act upon their need to survive.  Therefore most people would be classified as neutral.  Sure, they may have tendencies towards good or evil but in many cases it would be ever-changing.   The man described in EX3 is a perfect example of just such a person.  He is neither purely good or evil.  He may seem to have a tendency towards evil but at times he does act in a way that helps the well-being of the people in his town as well as his own family.  He would be classified as neutral and could be NG or NE depending on what he was doing at any specific point.      

The Demise of Other Non-playable Alignments (LN/CN)

    So what of law and chaos as a modifier to neutrality?  As described earlier good and evil have a distinct line drawn between them.  There is no such thing as neutrality in regards to good or evil for any creature capable of reason.  Either you are willing to cause harm to humans or human-kind for personal gratification (CE), for the benefit of your society (LE), or as a matter of your survival (NE).  If not, you are good.  However law and chaos are philosophies of social order which don't have as distinct a line between them and neutrality is the concept that falls in the middle of the two.  Neutrality therefore is a part of the conflict between law and chaos.  And since neutrality is a part of the law and chaos conflict it would make no sense to allow itself to be modified by law and chaos.   Instead it can only be modified by good and evil.  
    Let me put it another way.  Anyone who makes a choice to be lawful (asserting the welfare of society over the individual) or chaotic (asserting the welfare of the individual over society) has to make a choice of whether or not these goals of social order are to be achieved at the expense of other humans and human-kind or not.  By making that choice, a person is no longer neutral by definition and is instead good or evil.  Therefore in Azura, no intelligent creature can be LN or CN.  As with true neutral, these alignments are not viable for any mortal man.

Alignment in Game Terms

    So what does it all mean in terms of game play?  
    I realize that what I've written tears apart the system Gygax created and appears on the surface to seem to be a huge reworking of the alignment system.  But lets face it, we never really used the alignment system as written in the PHB/DMG anyway.  Were there ever any penalties for playing druids that always seemed to fall on the side of good instead of weighing the balance of the universe with every decision?  The PHB defined CN characters as madmen and LN was much too rigid in many ways, so how many players would just end up saying their characters were "neutral" without specifying what exactly they believed in?  

Choosing an Alignment

    Under the alignment system I just described I could tell you what the alignment is for any individual in D&D without equivocation.  Try to do that with the PHB/DMG rules.  
    It's very simple to do actually.  Just ask yourself the following questions for each character (these questions work for intelligent creatures as well):

1)         Would this character willingly sacrifice an innocent person's life or well-being for their own survival or to enforce their beliefs upon society?  If the answer is yes, then the character is evil.  If no, then he is good.  
2)         Does this character behave in an evil or good manner to ensure his own well-being or promote either his own personal beliefs (NE/NG); those other individuals, or small groups such as a clan, guild or order (CE/CG); or a large group such as a town, a race, or a culture (LE/LG).

Below is description for each of the alignments available in Azura:

Lawful Good:  Lawful good characters regularly perform beneficial acts towards others in an effort to promote the welfare of a society over that of the individual or the few living within it.  These characters believe that good is best promoted by doing those things that will bring the greatest benefit to the most people while causing the least harm.  They will often make sacrifices themselves in order to promote the greater good and will try to convince or compel others to do so as well.    

Chaotic Good:   Chaotic good characters regularly perform beneficial acts towards others in an effort to promote the welfare of an individual or a few.  These characters believe in taking a personal or "grass-roots" approach to promoting good.  They commonly single out specific people, families or small groups for acts of charity and kindness with an emphasis on helping others more than themselves.  As with lawful good, chaotic good characters will often make sacrifices of themselves in order to help others.          

Neutral Good:  Neutral good characters are willing to promote the life and welfare of others (society or individuals) so long as they too can benefit.  A neutral good character will regularly perform good acts on a small scale but will only rarely endure a serious sacrifice for others when there is little to benefit from it personally.  These characters will generally try to refrain from committing purely selfish or evil acts although they may do so from time to time.    

True Neutral:  This alignment is reserved for animals and plants of limited intelligence or god's who are charged with maintaining order in the universe.  Infants, lunatics and other humans or creatures with mental deficiencies may fall into this category as well.  Player characters can not be True Neutral.

**Note:  Many characters who alternate between NG and NE are designated as being Neutral.  Please do not confirm Neutral with True Neutral.

Lawful Evil: Lawful evil characters can justify the use of any action, no matter how ruthless, that promotes the needs of society over that of the individuals within it.  These characters believe in promoting a government, a religious ethos, a social order or some other large organization, cause or hierarchy that typically allows them (and those like them) to benefit from the suffering of others.

Chaotic Evil:  Chaotic evil characters are willing to perform malicious acts upon others that are in the interest of the individual or the few.  These characters believe that any means are justified in their pursuit of personal pleasure and gain.

Neutral Evil:   Neutral evil characters are willing to sacrifice the life and welfare of others in the interest of ensuring their own personal well-being and survival.   Although some of these characters may engage in good acts frequently, they remain neutral evil because they are actually acting only on the behalf of some selfish desire or to gain some immediate personal reward.   These characters live for themselves and if push comes to shove will do just about anything to advance their own needs.  A typical neutral evil character would not necessarily go out of his way to commit an evil act but could be convinced to do so if the opportunity were made available and it provided some benefit to him.

True Good, True Evil and Neutral Defined

True Good:  True good alignments include LG and CG.  These characters regularly perform good acts to benefit others without any expectation of personal gain and sometimes at great risk to themselves.  
As is human, true good characters could occasionally engage in an evil act, but if they were to remain true good then they would feel compelled to perform acts of contrition appropriate to their offense (ie. confession, donations of money or labor to charity/church, quests, or extreme sacrifice to name a few).
In game terms, true good characters would always radiate good, regardless of what act they were engaged in, and would benefit or suffer accordingly from alignment specific magic.  

Neutral:  Neutral alignments include NG and NE.  Characters who are neutral are actually those who, like most people in the world, do some evil and some good things in the regular course of living their lives.  Most people tend to have a tendency towards behaving either in a good or evil way, although there are a few can alternate frequently between the two depending on what they are doing or thinking about at any given time.  This alignment is the most common for the average person or creature.  
In game terms, people of neutral alignments may or may not be affected by alignment-specific magic depending on the circumstances.  It would be up to the DM's discretion whether the character was behaving or thinking in a manner that was good or evil at the time.  Again, most people would have tendencies towards either good or evil that could help resolve this issue most of the time, but there could always be exceptions.

True Evil:  True evil alignments include LE and CE.  These characters regularly perform evil acts to benefit themselves or their cause.  They have little compunction about killing, destroying or causing pain to anyone or anything to acquire personal gain, or to promote their own beliefs.
Although these characters are obsessed with dark thoughts, there are some evil people and creatures who will commit good acts or limit their evil ones in order to deceive others around them of their true nature.  In other words, evil characters need not act evil at all times.  
In game terms, true evil characters would always radiate evil, regardless of what act they were engaged in, and would benefit or suffer accordingly from alignment specific magic.

The Priest, the Paladin, the Ranger and Alignment

For most people in Azura, changes in alignment are just a part of the journey of life.  Attitudes and beliefs change over time and with experience.  There may be repercussions socially when a person changes his beliefs and way of acting but nothing in the way of game penalties.  Regardless of the PHB/DMG rules, no one in Azura can lose class levels, be required to obtain more experience points, or be subject to any other penalty because they changed alignment.
For characters who rely on their alignment to qualify them for the classes they play, the issue requires a bit more attention.  Priests, paladins and rangers all gain spells and other magical powers as a divine favor from the gods they worship.  The gods expect their followers to adhere to their ethos and if the character fails to do so they can indeed be penalized.  Please note that the penalties incurred from disobeying a god are the result of transgressions against the god's ethos and not for alignment change.  Take a look at the following example:

EX4:  A NG druid of Faerel has dedicated his life to protecting the plants and creatures within a particular forest while living in harmony with the people living in a few small nearby villages.  However as the years pass the villages continue to expand in size and multiply, becoming more and more of a danger to the welfare of the druids forest.  The druid eventually has an alignment shift to NE as he begins to believe that the villagers nearby should be prevented by force if necessary from despoiling the forest further.

In EX4 the druid has made a change in his beliefs about the relation of man with nature that has resulted in an alignment change.  However, this change of beliefs can be accommodated within the druid's ethos to protect the woods and he would suffer no consequences from his god for his behavior.  On the other hand, if the druid were to become so prejudiced towards the villagers as to attack any person he sees without provocation, the druid could eventually be considered CE (druids can only be NG and NE) and Faerel would impose heavy penalties including the restriction of the druid's spells and powers.
    Note that in Azura both Paladins and Rangers can be of evil alignments, depending on the God they worship or the ethos they follow. While Paladins must always be either Lawful Good or Lawful Evil, Rangers can be of any alignment except for Chaotic or Lawful Evil (these ethos precludes the respect for forest life over another that a Ranger would have for his powers to function).  A case could be made for a Neutral Evil Ranger, as below:

EX5:  A NG Ranger worshipping the Goddess Sybaris has retired to a small grove outside of town. His companions are a pair of mated black bears, who patrol the area around the local village.  However, as civilization encroaches the grove, the bears find themselves more and more in contact with villagers and several frightening encounters occur between late-night traveling villagers and the bears.  The Ranger goes to the town council to try and place the area around his grove off-limits to villagers or travelers, but they are un-swayed by his arguments.  Soon, the inevitable tragedy happens and the bears are killed by a traveling mercenary group that are unaware of the bear's nature and feel threatened when they come upon them one evening. The group leaves and the bears are found by the Ranger, who now is filled with hatred towards both the adventuring group (who are not evil) and the town council that he feels could have prevented this tragedy.  He is now an embittered, lonely man who will no longer help the town or it's villagers, although if he himself were also threatened (say, an orcish war party invades the region), he would bear arms against with the villagers against a common foe, or if an innocent (say a helpless child) was in trouble he would rescue them.  However, if a member of the town council or mercenary party were attacked by a wolf or another bear he would not raise arms to assist them, feeling they were getting what they deserved.  He has become NE in philosophy; although he still will assist in the war vs evil, he will now pick and choose his spots.

In the past, alignment was used by DMs as a motivational tool ("You're character HAS to help the villagers against the bandits because he's Neutral Good!) or as a straight jacket to enforce his will upon the party ("Since the Paladin is Lawful Good, he HAS to attack the Devil that has appeared in the other room, regardless of whether or not your 2nd level party will survive, and if he doesn't he and all the good characters here will lose a level") instead of a moral distinction that really should have little effect on game play.  Instead, the DM and players alike should avoid bogging the game down in philosophical motivations and mystical connections between actions and suddenly losing skills in lieu of roleplaying a character that has realistic (as far as fantasy concerns can take this definition) emotions. Perhaps during the lifetime of a character the player will allow him to drift from NG to NE and back again, depending on circumstances and experiences, much like many of us sometimes adjust our moral compasses in real life.  Hopefully this will occur without the added burden of looking fearfully over the characters metaphysical shoulder waiting for "The Gods" (aka the vengeful DM) to take offense and punish the character.

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Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 9:09 pm 
 

Again, I apologize for the length of the Alignment post, but I think it's just so damn well written!  :D  It's been our bible for alignment related issues for the last 16 years.
   Alignment reform came about in our campaign as a result of the dreaded "Chaotic Neutral" disease infesting the campaign, as in everyone choosing CN because it basically allowed you do do ANYTHING without being punished....after all you  weren't evil when you allowed that schoolteacher and her students to burn to death in the building, you were just being a "free spirit". Whatever.   Every single pickup game we ever had, the newbie would bring his CN character and try to let any infraction possible fly, we eventually just banned CN as a playable alignment, which led to the manifesto.
  Since then, we have had exactly zero problems with alignment.  NG or NE are really the only two lineups anyone has to choose from, and the same character can fluctuate between these both many times in one campaign or even one game session.  Removing the straitjackets to play helped develop memorable, complex and interesting characters that were actually easier to play.  Especially the druid change, there were loads of philosophical arguments that went on when someone tried to play a druid in the early days...sometimes they also used "true neutral" as a device to escape punishment for what would instead be seen as an evil act.
  AS I said in another thread, to facilitate this we also eliminated all alignment specific spells and instead changed stuf like "Protection from Evil" to "Protection from Enemies" to more accurately reflect the fact that if someone is beating on you, instead of stopping to debate you could count on the spell protecting you.

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 5:03 am 
 

Yes, Chaotic Neutral always seems to present a problem. I am not sure where the general consensus that it allows you to play your character as a "madman" came from, but I have never seen the alignment in that respect. Again, I try to envision the alignments as guidelines of how intelligent beings actually might behave. You average CN Thief is not supposed to be the prime material embodiment of Pandemonium! Leave that to the Slaads!

A CN Thief doesn't actively pursue good ideals, doesn't seek to throw down the evil monsters raiding a village over 50 miles away simply because he hears about it and he doesn't quest to release the "dark clouds of evil" that have blighted the castle! He doesn't slay helpless people for the joy of doing it! He doesn't overthow the weak, subjugate them and become their leader! Perhaps, he might investigate the first "good" actions I mentioned if he thought there were profit or personal gain.

He also doesn't respect the laws of society or the social conventions that may be prevalent. It does NOT mean that he is some sort of "random" force of nature - free to watch idly like a moron as a child is burned alive or risking everything he has to save a bird with a broken wing! A good (fantasy literature) example of a Chaotic Neutral personality might be Conan the Barbarian. He slays, he steals, he thinks nothing of the children of the guardsmen that might suffer as he slays their father (who was only trying to stop him from performing a robbery in the 1st place). He flauts the laws of civilization, he scoffs at the ceremony that nobility and priests expect and he wanders from land to land in search of adventure. But his actions are not a chaotic jumble that make no sense. He has a personality, he has his own values. When innocents are in imminent danger, he does not wait as they are slain without justification. He does not use his strength and prowess to suppress the weak, he doesn't steal from those who can not afford it. He has his own code of morality that he follows. I don't think anyone here would have difficulty playing Conan as a character and yet, he is easily CN. The key is taking an alignment and then molding a strong personality that embodies those alignment traits - not necessarily trying to act as if you are the spirit of CN (or whatever other alignments is too radically adherred to).


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 9:22 am 
 

bar for the very rare occasion, my characters were always fighters and the norm was CN align.

now i didnt particularly play him as a "madman".

it was more of a case like this. i see something i want, so i run into battle, fight whatever i have to cos i just have to have it. all the parties plans for the encounter come to nothing as i trip up all forms of surprise, i think nothing of what i am fighting, because it is an impulsive action and totally at random.

there was lots more to it than that, but that was pretty much the norm of things.

additionally, we might all be in a major fight and i get really hurt, so think - thats enough for me and just leave the combat to them.

Al

ps. just out of curiousity...two characters: one from the hobbit, Beorn...what was his alignment do you think? and in LOTR, what about Radagast the Brown?



  

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 12:05 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:Yes, Chaotic Neutral always seems to present a problem. I am not sure where the general consensus that it allows you to play your character as a "madman" came from, but I have never seen the alignment in that respect. Again, I try to envision the alignments as guidelines of how intelligent beings actually might behave. You average CN Thief is not supposed to be the prime material embodiment of Pandemonium! Leave that to the Slaads!

A CN Thief doesn't actively pursue good ideals, doesn't seek to throw down the evil monsters raiding a village over 50 miles away simply because he hears about it and he doesn't quest to release the "dark clouds of evil" that have blighted the castle! He doesn't slay helpless people for the joy of doing it! He doesn't overthow the weak, subjugate them and become their leader! Perhaps, he might investigate the first "good" actions I mentioned if he thought there were profit or personal gain.

He also doesn't respect the laws of society or the social conventions that may be prevalent. It does NOT mean that he is some sort of "random" force of nature - free to watch idly like a moron as a child is burned alive or risking everything he has to save a bird with a broken wing! A good (fantasy literature) example of a Chaotic Neutral personality might be Conan the Barbarian. He slays, he steals, he thinks nothing of the children of the guardsmen that might suffer as he slays their father (who was only trying to stop him from performing a robbery in the 1st place). He flauts the laws of civilization, he scoffs at the ceremony that nobility and priests expect and he wanders from land to land in search of adventure. But his actions are not a chaotic jumble that make no sense. He has a personality, he has his own values. When innocents are in imminent danger, he does not wait as they are slain without justification. He does not use his strength and prowess to suppress the weak, he doesn't steal from those who can not afford it. He has his own code of morality that he follows. I don't think anyone here would have difficulty playing Conan as a character and yet, he is easily CN. The key is taking an alignment and then molding a strong personality that embodies those alignment traits - not necessarily trying to act as if you are the spirit of CN (or whatever other alignments is too radically adherred to).


I think Conan as CN is a good example of what someone who was an expert roleplayer with strong personality could do with that alignment; unfortunately no one I ever gamed with in 25 years used CN as anything more than an excuse to escape punishment while basically letting their character run amok.  I mean, a CN character by definition wouldn't even join a group, much less an adventuring party, so how on earth could five of them band together to raid a hill giant's fortress? It was a recipe for disaster whenever someone brought a character in with that alignment.  We had to ban it in our campaigns simply because the presence of a CN alignment would always entail at least one 10-15 minute argument every session over "alignment infractions" or what not. "Yeh, my thief can steal from the party because he's CN"..."Well, then my fighter can cut his throat tonight because he's CN also"...."My mage is going to fireball them both because he's CN and doesn't care".  Lord save me from CN!
  On the subject of Conan, he's a great example of the fluctuation a character's alignment goes through.  He starts out CN with perhaps even a twist of NE mixed in.  As time goes on, I he slides towards CG as more and more he's involved in forming his own outlaw/mercenary groups and fighting for innocent people, particularly when he starts working for various governments as a soldier (I don't think any army would be unconventional enough to allow a CN officer to operate in their military structure). I think by the time he becomes King Conan later in life, he is Firmly NG with CG tendencies.  In the alignment scheme for my campaign world, he would be constantly sliding between NE, N and NG throughout his career, finally ending up at NG.

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:12 pm 
 

I could see neutrality where nations or rival causes are in conflict.  Alighnment is best played out against the context of great events.

    One of the things I have always liked to do is have the NPC's pull swither-oos on the party...compicating the concept of alighnment with personality and difficult moral choices:

    For instance, the local Bishop of Pholtus is a crappy person, motivated by arrogance and ambition...common people do not like the bishop, but they respect and obey him because of his title...and he is also the town's main defender against a band of evil knights...

    ...A band of evil knights who are the last remnant of a Lawful Good crusade that went too far...but the knights know the location and how to get a major, elvish artifact that belongs to the nearby sylvan elves...

   ...A clan of sylvan elves who are beautiful and noble...but who are also foolishly xenophobic and infuriatingly proud...who are battling against an orc tribe...

   ...An orc tribe that is raiding the countryside, trying to expand their territory...they are violent and gruesome, but their king is wise and chivalrous and...they are also the feudal vassals of the local duke, to whom they are extremely useful....

   ...A duke who is ruthless, evil, sadistic and ignoble...but who was also the hero of The Great Dragon War, three decades ago...and who is also the local kingdom's strongest defender against the Evil Empire....

   ...A Lawful Evil Empire that seeks to rule all other states through force...so that they can send out crusading knights to destroy the enemies of justice and order...

   ...An Archbishop of Pholtus, based in the Lawful Evil Empire, who is the chief sponsor of the order of knights that went bad as well as the supreme pontif of the local Bishop of Pholtus...and who also fears the rise of the Great Dragon Powers once again....

   ...The Great Dragon Powers who secretly manipulate all sides and wish to bring doom upon all...possibly with the aid of the sylvan elves and the local orc tribe, both of whom have their own interests to think about...and whose plans must include the deaths of an annoying group of player characters who have stumbled upon a fraction of the real truth....

   ...And so on....for as many levels of complexity as are needed.

   In this context, alighnment becomes more of a choice between causes and factions.  Players must decide which way their characters would choose to go, since all sides have good and bad characteristics.

   At some point in this campaign, a major evil NPC will choose to spare or even help the party because their interests coincide.  It helps the dilemma if the NPC in question is also an interesting and likeable person who just has a few evil goals...nothing personal.

    Even if the players wish to adopt a snide, modernistic, me-first attitude, their characters must still choose because they need allies and advice.  Even Chaotic Neutral characters cannot simply run about and loot and burn because there are local authorities and powers to whom they must answer.  The players have intrinsic motivation to join in the flow of events and take a personal interest because their actions cause them to rise in importance (or...die) as the campaign progresses.

   This type of context makes paladins choose between difficult options, or even against their own order.  It also forces evil or neutral characters to consider their true self-interests and possibly make noble choices.  Does a cleric obey the head of his order or the head of the state?  Etc...

   All of these situations are distinctly medieval fantasy.  It is a modern take on medieval themes...but it is still medieval.  These are the high fantasy themes that my players have come to expect and demand.  None of them involve an order of Neutral druids who worship fig trees and try to make sure that local chipmunks are not exploited.

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Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:12 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:Well, the druid has a decision to make.  Either he can believe humans are as much apart of the natural world as any wilderness creature and therefore worthy of the same care and protection as any tree or raccoon, or he can believe that the need for preserving and nurturing the woodlands supersedes the well-being of man.

I could argue that these two aren't mutually exclusive.  The need for preserving and nurturing the woodlands could be the best long-term view for the well-being of man as well as all other beings.  Non-neutrals are so short sighted! :wink:

Apologies if the point has been made.  But I didn't have time to read all the posts.  Must go now.  Trees to hug.  And then I need to light a fire. :oops:  It's a cold damp night in these parts.

  


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Post Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 7:02 pm 
 

My two cents:

1) There's three types of Neutrality.

Type a) Actively tries to seek a balance between the two poles of the axis.

Example: a NG character who thinks that Good is best promoted by a balance between Lawful and Chaotic means. A bit of both are necessary.

Type b) Considers that axis to be illusory/irrelevant, and only makes judgement on the other axis.

Example: a NG character thinks that Law and Chaos are irrelevant: when evaluating an action or a being they just measure the "Goodness"

Type c) Is unaware of the axis, and hasnt done anything either way to gain an affiliation.


2) Law and Chaos are fun concepts for a fantasy game but if you try even vauguely half-serious moral philosophising using them you can only conclude they are total bollocks.

  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 5:33 am 
 

On the subject of Druids again,

Of course, there are an endless numbers of historical "flavors" that can be the model upon which a campaign is built.  Certainly a Medieval theme being the most prevalent.  I question, though, at what point it becomes the height of illogic for a Druid (let's say a priest of nature) to be more out of place than a Magic-user?  At what point did anything remotely resembling a D&D magic-user exist as a "common" medieval ideal.  From most of the medieval literature I have read, ideas of magic were little discussed and certainly the province of witchcraft and paganism.  If anything, medieval magic would have been more likely to derive from Nature than from tomes, books and arcane libraries.

In fact, wasn't the whole concept of a Wizard needing to memorize his spells (thereby creating an "imprint" of the spell in his mind) influenced by a fantasy novel of some sort?  (I could be completely wrong on this, but I believe I had read that somewhere - probably on these forums a long time ago . . . )

In any case, no matter how you try, D&D is NOT medieval Europe.  The entire game is inundated with "faerie" or Sylvan powers.  Dryads, Elves, Centaurs, Treants, Brownies, etc.  The list goes on.  There are dozens of sentient and intelligent races out there who are deeply and intrinsically a part of nature.  It stands to reason that they would derive their power from nature and have a much greater appreciation for it than our historic medieval counterparts.   Natural order vs. Civilization would be a constant battle with extreme pressures.  Even when both sides were of basic good intent - encroaching on the "Great Forest" that is the lifeblood and home to thousands of intelligent beings would be adamantly opposed by those who dwell within.

It is also logical that at least some humans, being raised in a world where other sentient races espoused the powers of nature and the import of its protection, would also seek to understand, protect and learn its secrets.  (when in Rome . . . )


Run any campaign you want . . . but you'll never convince me that somehow a Druid is out of place in a D&D world.  I see them as the most basic and early users of magic.  Then comes the Clerics as deities first began to gain strength and influence . . . and finally, Wizards as educated and more stable civilizations provided opportunity for research into the potential of magic - allowing a "common" being to take the power for himself rather than having it granted.


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Post Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 1:49 pm 
 

The magic system is based upon Jack Vance's The Dying Earth.

Of course, I missed the discussion, but I do have druids in my game for a reason, and at the same time no monks and bards.  Druids fit the setting, monks don't.  Bards are a specal case, in that they do exist as NPC's, but they aren't anything more than highly trained 0-level humans whose only purpose is to spread the news as the surviving PC's come back after losing two-thirds of the party in the Tomb of Horrors.



  

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Post Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:31 pm 
 

beyondthebreach wrote:On the subject of Druids again,

Of course, there are an endless numbers of historical "flavors" that can be the model upon which a campaign is built. Certainly a Medieval theme being the most prevalent. I question, though, at what point it becomes the height of illogic for a Druid (let's say a priest of nature) to be more out of place than a Magic-user? At what point did anything remotely resembling a D&D magic-user exist as a "common" medieval ideal. From most of the medieval literature I have read, ideas of magic were little discussed and certainly the province of witchcraft and paganism. If anything, medieval magic would have been more likely to derive from Nature than from tomes, books and arcane libraries.


   The medieval tomes of magic are still extant.  (Although the most common books are late medieval, 15th and 16th century survivors.)  Most of the ones that survive have been re-printed in perfect-bound paperback.  You can even find them online for free...even more if you read Latin.  They are mostly "scientific" in nature, if the invocation of angels and demons to work the wizard's will can be considered "science."

    My reading of Shakespeare and Marlowe indicates to me that the members of their audiences shared common information and ideas about magic, faeries, ghosts, witches, etc.  Certainly, they saw these things as satanic (and therefore a bit thrilling).  They seem to have gleaned a great deal of folklore and basic magical cliches from their own traditions and meagre education.  

   Most of the texts I have read were written by Christian wizards, who considered themselves to be tapped into secret, divine powers...and to be guided in their studies by God's will.  Dr. Jon Dee is a good example.  (Queen Elizabeth's court astrologer...look him up online).

   This quest for occult ("hidden") knowledge existed right beside and intertwined with the quest for new scientific knowledge...and was often practiced by the same people.

    D&D is not the middle ages...it is the middle ages if magic had actually worked and if the dark monsters of Germanic imagination and popular beastiaries had actually existed.

    I have two issues with druids.....  1)  Their spells and powers are annoying.  2)  The idea of a Neutral, rabbit-saving "defender of nature" is a modern, misguided-leftist-environmentalist invention.

Mark


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Post Posted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:57 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:   I have two issues with druids..... 1) Their spells and powers are annoying. 2) The idea of a Neutral, rabbit-saving "defender of nature" is a modern, misguided-leftist-environmentalist invention.


The first issue is a different strokes for different folks thing, which is fine.
I'm not sure by the second issue if you mean that Gygax created druids in that manner or if that is how you resent druids being played.  Gygax is pretty much to the right politically, so I doubt "modern, misguided, leftist, environmentalist" (whatever that is  :roll:) is what he had in mind.  I'm not familiar with all the fantasy literature that Gygax cites in the back of the DMG, but I always thought of Radagast and Beorn from LotR as the model/inspiration for the Druid class.

  
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