Saturday, August 9, 2014

Discussing D&D (3) – Alignments are not choices

You may hide the colors of your soul from others, but not from yourself
- Alignments are not a choice -

I see many a discussion surrounding alingments in D&D, specially on how they are confusing and hard to understand. I imagine that the origin of such confusion derives from the way that people face alignment in D&D, which is in the same way as we face how people act in the real world.

In our world, people are not born 'evil' or 'chaotic' or 'neutral' - unless, maybe, in extreme situations conditioned by genetical or sociological problems. The way we act comes from our experiences with the world, how we were raised, how much happiness or suffering we endure during our life. Therefore, in our world, the way someone is comes from how that person experiences life and the choices she makes.

Alignments would be conected to the colors of the soul
and the energies of the body
However, would that be the same way in D&D? To comprehend better, maybe we should try going back to the origins of D&D, its inspirations on fantastical litterature, like for example the works of Tolkien. In The Lord of the Rings, 'Good' and 'Evil' are opposing forces, and people seem to have those attributes inside their very soul.

And we see a similar thing happening also in D&D with, for example, the planes of 'Law', 'Chaos', 'Good', 'Evil', where alignments are just as real as the air we breath. Therefore, we may conclude that, in D&D, alignments are Cosmic Energies, components of the very fabric of the multiverse.

And it happens so that even innanimate objects, which in no way could have beliefs or creeds, may also have something similar to 'tendencies'. For example, there are items which were used for evil acts and that become 'evil' magic items; and the same may happen with an object used for great and good deeds. By the same token, a place that witnessed many evil doings - like, for example, an execution chamber - may have an 'evil aura' surrounding it. This only reinforces my assertion that tendencies are elements that compose the universe in D&D, and, by logic, they also compose the characters too.

And, because I see tendencies as cosmic energies, that's why I think I never had any problem with them in D&D. To me, tendencies are not a matter of choice - you are born with them. Like in the real world, where we cannot chose to be born ugly or beautiful, rich or poor, with a masculine or feminine sex, liking X, Y or Z. That is why changing alignments is so traumatic, hard and, most of the times, impossible for a character. They represent the cosmic energies that flow inside you - lawful, evil, good, chaotic. Only in extreme cases (like great suffereing, extreme effort, magic or divine intervention) one would be able to change alignments - in the same way that, in our world, we cannot just change, by our own free will, our biological sex.

Alignments in the world of D&D compose the fabric
of the universe and the spirit of a character
So, that is my opinion regarding alignments. They are ingrainned with the character and is not just a body of beliefs or creeds that he has. But, what about you? What do you think about thsi post? What are your opinions regarding all of that? In another post, I intend on talking about the alignment chart and what I think about each type.

Until then,

Images links: 1, 2, 3

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