Saturday, January 7, 2017

D&D: Alignment As Permission

In over twenty-five years of playing DnD and its derivatives, I, like most others, have witnessed a player do something stupid/horrible "because of my alignment". For years, it made me actively ignore Alignment and use "consequences of actions".

I'm lucky that I've matured as a DM and I currently game with some mature folks, so Alignment isn't the trap it used to be. However, I was thinking the other day about using Alignment as permission to purse a goal, instead some all-encompassing directive?

Essentially, I'm thinking that Alignment isn't there to define your character's every move, but at certain key moments, it should be there to  motivate you do the unexpected and move the story along.

If everyone at the table buys into this, it more easily allows very different Alignments to function together. Under this idea, the assumption is that most people can operate together nearly all of the time, but in key moments, defining moments of the story, Alignment provides opportunity to reset the status quo. It grants a character Permission to shake things up.

Treating Alignment as Permission, let's Alignment shine at key moments and be important to the story. Permission, says to a player, I'm choosing to change the story and I want to work with the DM so we are partners and not antagonists.

What I'm thinking is that Alignment should not be a blunt weapon, but a tool to craft interesting stories and add drama at appropriate moments. It should be less "my character would do that" and more "how would it change things if my character pursued this?"

In short, it allows the player's to add to the game world and even contribute to the narrative, if that is desired.

It's something I intend to pursue in my games and hopefully will add to the experience.
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