Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Micheal Moorcock and You: Alignment Made Easy

Now, anybody who knows me knows exactly what I think about alignment, and why, and I'm sure that anybody who frequents these boards already has quite a strong opinion already.

So I'm not going to touch it. Instead, I'm going to share my ideas on how I personally run alignment.

This system is easy to use, simplistic, and provides something for everybody without forcing alignments to everybody, while still allowing those who like alignments to use them as they will.

Now, anybody who's read any of the works of Micheal Moorcock will undoubtedly know that one of the most powerful themes in his writing is that of the grand battle against the Lords of Law and the Lords of Chaos, with the Grey Lords somewhere in between, ensuring that the balance of creation and stagnation remains suitable to their grand designs.

Now what does that mean for characters?

First, an alignment of Lawful or Chaotic does not mean that the character takes a side on the stable vs. creative spectrum, or whatever it is, exactly, that people have interpreted that particular axis of 3rd Edition alignments to mean. No, an alignment of Lawful or Chaotic means that the character serves Law or Chaos, and that's it.

Secondly, alignments are only available to servants, priests, or otherwise devoted individuals. Note that this is not limited to paladins, clerics, and other game-world constructs. If your theif is a devout believer, then he can be Chaotic or Lawful, as you choose. Your cleric could be a cleric of the Grey Lords, and be neutral. It's up to you.

Thirdly, and most importantly, your alignment does not control your personality. There are grasping, cruel, avaricious Lawful people and there are rigid, pious, and chaste Chaotics in the world. Lawful and Chaotic, to use a modern world example, are like the difference between religions. There are cold-hearted Christians like there are cold-hearted Muslims or Buddhists or Wiccans, just as there are kind-hearted people. The religion they follow influences their behavior only superficially- they are still the same people they were before.

Of course, there is a little more influence as far as clerics and alignments go- Chaotic clerics often turn into raving, psycopathic madmen and Lawful clerics often turn into rigid, serious judges, but I suppose that's a topic for an entirely different blog post.

A New Beginning

Since I've started a new gaming group, I've decided to go with a game that I've been reading about that I simply can't get enough of: Labyrinth Lord.

Everything about it speaks to my childhood, where my brother and I would sit crouched around that tattered old blue book we found in a box one day and play some D&D with each other.

Labyrinth Lord reminds me heavily of those days, where there were four classes, and that was it. You would crawl through dungeons with your buddies and then you'd eventually graduate to the wide wildernesses and then, once you hit Name Level, then you'd build yourself a keep and that would be that.

In short, it's exactly the sort of game I've wanted to play ever since I learned how to play role-playing games.