Monday, January 10, 2011

[LL House Rules] Alignment in the Realm

Alignment in the Realm is not merely an issue of ethics and morals; taking on an alignment is spiritually aligning oneself metaphysically with one or the other of the opposing Cosmic Forces of Nature, either Law or Chaos. The vast majority of peoples (“Normal Men and Women”) will be Neutral in this battle, as will many adventurers, and even no few clerics. Declaring oneself for Law or Chaos is a very deep and personal action that cannot lightly or easily be undone, though one can all too easily “fall from grace” with one’s Cosmic alliance. There also exists the possibility of Apostates, even hidden within Hierarchies (NB: In this campaign setting, the know alignment spell does not work, and detect evil only senses immediate intent). [Alignments in brackets refer to where a character in the standard 9-alignment system would fall in this new system]

Lawful Good: This alignment represents the best of all that is Good about Law. This is the alignment of the truly Saintly; thus, very, very few fall into the Lawful Good category. Should they ever lift their hand in anger, save against Chaos, they lose Lawful Good status and merely become Lawful, until they can atone through an appropriate quest. Lawful Good clerics need not memorize their spells in the morning; they still need to pray for an hour after eight hours of rest, but they can miraculously (“spontaneously”) cast their spells as they need them; they may only cast “Good” versions of spells, never the Evil versions. They can use any spells listed in the Labyrinth Lord Core book; additional spells from the AEC and otherwise can only be cast after the nature of the miracle has been revealed to them by their deity or one of its servants. Even non-clerical Lawful Good characters and NPCs can gain miraculous benefits, if the need is dire and their faith is strong. [Lawful Good]

Lawful: The Cosmic Force of Law involves all things that are Good and Orderly; Law seeks to bring Order unto Chaos (often, placing Order before individual Freedom) and bring the most Good unto the most beings (often counterpoised with the idea that “The needs of the Many outweigh the needs of the Few”). Note that one cannot truly be Lawful and Evil; Evil is by its nature Chaotic. At best, one who is Lawful can be dispassionate about individual weal, but cannot proactively seek to oppose it. Conversely, one who is Good cannot truly be Chaotic, as Chaos is by its nature Evil and thus opposed to Good (seeking “aggrandizement of the Self whatever the cost to the Other”). Lawful clerics must pray for and memorize spells as per the normal rules; like Lawful Good clerics, they can only choose from the LL Core book, and only the “Good” versions of spells, though they too may have additional spells revealed to them by the Gods of Law. [Lawful Neutral, Neutral Good, Chaotic Good (sometimes)]

Neutral: Most beings fall into this category, choosing neither Law nor Chaos, whether out of a lack of passion for either side or merely because they seek to remain independent from either force. Neutrals can be good or evil, orderly or disorderly, even saintly or diabolic in word and deed; many can be as good as one who is Lawful Good, or as vile as one who is Chaotic Evil. However, Neutrals do not actively serve these Cosmic Forces, even if they may do so unwittingly. Those who act regularly in such a fashion do, however, become targets for recruitment by the servants of the Powers Cosmic. Neutral clerics serve both the Gods of Law and the Gods of Chaos; however, these devout if less-than-zealous clergy cannot advance beyond 6th level without first fully committing themselves to their Cosmic Force. Neutral clerics must keep a Prayer Book/Grimoire, from which they memorize their spells as does a magic-user. The Prayer Book/Grimoire normally contains only the spells their specific Hierarchy allows; to learn to cast any other spell, even a spell otherwise appropriate to their alignment, is considered Heresy! Neutral clerics serving Law, like their Lawful and Lawful Good brethren, cannot wield bladed/piercing weapons. Neutral clerics serving Chaos can use any weapon, even bladed ones (and usually prefer to wield daggers and scimitars). Neutral clerics of Lawful deities, like Lawful and Lawful Good clerics, can only cast the “Good” versions of spells; Neutral clerics of Chaotic deities can cast only the “reversed” or “Evil” versions of spells (yes, this means that there are no normal cure spells available to clerics of Chaotic deities). [Neutral, Chaotic Good (mostly), Lawful Evil (sometimes)]

Chaotic: Metaphysically, Chaos is simply that… Chaos, unbridled action without concern for reaction or causality… it is Eternal, Infinite Cosmic Madness, after a fashion. Chaos doesn’t make sense, as there is no sense, no reason; things just… are, with Chaos. On a personal, mortal level, Chaos is all about Evil, Anarchy, Personal Power, Domination of Others, and Whatever Else We Can Get Away With. That said, followers of Chaos aren’t stupid, or foolish, or even insane, necessarily; they merely place personal self-interest and gratification above all other considerations in all situations. Personal loyalty, notably, isn’t out of order; many Chaotic minions serve their masters unto death not necessarily out of fear, but out of a weird, often sick, and invariably perverse joy… they like giving themselves and their will over to more powerful beings, though most also expect rewards on a quid pro quo basis. Devils, with their strict (if usually roiling and ever-shifting) hierarchy, epitomize the best, “organized” form of Chaos, where terrible and powerful being co-operate enough toward their common goals, if they are still ever out to stab each other in the back to gain a bit of leverage or power. Chaotic and Chaotic Evil clerics, like Neutral clerics of Chaotic deities, may only learn and memorize spells from their Grimoire, or as otherwise provided from time to time (often without rhyme or reason) by their Masters… and woe betide an ambitious lesser functionary who is granted greater powers than his Hierarchal superiors! Chaotic clerics may wield any weapon, preferring daggers, scimitars, and especially poison. [Lawful Evil (mostly), Neutral Evil, Chaotic Neutral]

Chaotic Evil: The epitome of all that is Evil and Nasty in Chaos, Chaotic Evil beings have zero consideration for other beings, and often little enough for themselves; psychopathy and sociopathy are but limited forms of the true Evil that is one who is Chaotic Evil. Merest whims are as great Cosmic Truths; perversions and horrors are as bread and butter. The pain of others is the greatest source of pleasure, whether said pain is a means in pursuit of another end or merely the end in and of itself. Demons and their ilk are the metaphysical personification of Chaos and Evil; they are great enemies of Devils not merely out of simple rivalry over power and influence, but also out of a “lack of dedication” to “The Cause,” whatever that may be to each Demon Lord. Chaotic Evil clerics must use Grimoires, as above, for spell memorization; they may wield any weapon, preferring daggers, scimitars, and especially poison. [Chaotic Evil]

Notes: This system is inspired by the original Law vs. Chaos system from B/X, with a helping of the five-fold alignment system that briefly existed between OD&D and AD&D (LG, LE, N, CG, CE), and a retrenchment of influence from the current alignment system of (gasp!) D&D 4E (LG, G, U, E, CE). The Metaphysical Cosmic Force aspect of it comes from the original sources, the works of Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock.

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