In my campaign I will be using points to track when characters drift away from their stated alignments, as I find the moral and ethical dimension of character development to be rather intriguing and it can also have significant impact in a game world wherein the forces of Law and Chaos, Good and Evil, actually take concrete form. Any action can earn you anywhere from 1 to 10 infraction points. So let’s say you are a chaotic and end up supporting instead of subverting the rule of law – depending on what you have done you will earn from 1 to 10 points. Extenuating circumstances will be taken into account. And of course biding one’s time or pretending to be another alignment will give some slight leeway, but in the case of Lawful and Good characters not that much. You can’t be an undercover cop and then murder someone just to convince the bad guys you are on their side – for instance.
Minor, Serious or Major acts of Good, Evil, Law, or Chaos will earn:
Minor Points – 1-4
Serious – 5-8
Major – 8-12 or more!
Once you get 10 points of drift you will change over to the next alignment over in that direction and the points will be erased. So if you are Neutral Good and get 10 Evil points, you will be switched to true Neutral. If you get 10 more Evil points you will be switched to Neutral Evil.
Acts performed unwitting or under compulsion do not actually cause the accrual of alignment drift points, but the Atonement spell will still be needed as per the description of that spell. Also, the Atonement spell can be used to erase any alignment drift points accrued. Note that this will require the expenditure of 250 gold pieces per drift point atoned for or the fulfillment of a deed/mission designated by the priest casting the spell (who will him or herself pay off the gold). Paladins who lose their powers due to willfully committing an Evil act will have to pay at least 250 gold even if all the drift points have been negated by later acts such as apologies or making amends.
Also, an aligned creature who has 5 or fewer HD and is not undead, an aligned outsider, a cleric or paladin and also aligned magic items or spells that are 5th level or lower will still register to detections but will be so negligible that the detection spell will not be able to pinpoint anything other than their presence within the area detected.
You will not get points for simply adhering to your alignment, though if you have accrued drift points and you then perform acts at some inconvenience or cost to yourself that are more in keeping with your declared alignment than I will take away some or all of the drift points. For instance, characters who declare Law as their alignment will not get points for doing obeying local laws or adhering to their code of honor, they are expected to. Though if they have drifted into Chaos and earned Chaos points, truly Lawful acts that inconvenience or even endanger their characters will negate the Chaos points. So let’s say a Lawful character helps break a friend out of jail to save them from execution. He would get Chaos point for that. Then that same character turns themselves in to the authorities for doing that, knowing that they will suffer the penalty. That would negate some or all of the Chaos points. The same goes for Chaotics, but in reverse, and likewise for those declaring Good or Evil alignments. The act that erases the drift need not be directly related to the act that caused the drift, but it does need to be a significant act in keeping with their declared alignment. Neutral acts do not cause drift nor will they negate drift points.
I’m not going to penalize anyone in terms of game mechanics or dock anyone experience points for alignment shifts except in the case of paladins, clerics, druids, monks, and any other class that must maintain a certain alignment standard. I will on occasion inform you of how you are drifting so that you can make course corrections or inform me that you are indeed developing your character in a new direction. Generally I’ll let you voluntarily shift one alignment component per level. So let’s say there is a LG fighter. When he gains a level he can choose to become LN or NG. But not N (which would be two shifts) or CE (which would be four shifts). He would have to wait until a new level to change from LN to LE or to N. There are of course instances of drastic conversions and magical manipulation. I will handle those on a case-by-case basis.
This generally means that Lawful and Good alignments will be harder to maintain – as I think they should be. There are benefits to maintaining those alignment such as earning the respect and trust of others and other rewards that may play out in-game. Conversely, Chaos and Evil will be easy to drift into if one is not careful – and the in game penalties of such selfish destructiveness will also play out in game, as one will no doubt arouse the distrust, resentment, and enmity of others. Of course sometimes no good deed goes unpunished and the bad may seem to flourish, but this is all part of unfolding of the campaign. I should also mention that while I will not dock experience points for acting against one’s alignment (instead I will give drift points), I may choose to give role playing experience points to those who act in ways that are in keeping with their alignment and/or other character commitments and motives but that may lead to great inconvenience or harm. These experience points will carry over to one’s next character if your should actually die from such actions.
Below is my take on what each of the alignments means:
Lawful: Those pledged to Law will be trustworthy, disciplined, and work well with others in hierarchical organization. They may follow a personal code and will respect the laws of the land and the codes of others as long as they don’t conflict with their commitment re good or evil. Disobeying laws is normally a Chaotic act, but a Lawful character need only be loyal to one set of principle or laws at a time. So a Lawful character could break those laws that are in conflict with the laws and principles that he or she follows. However, this will not excuse gratuitous law-breaking that is not in conflict with their primary allegiances. The code or law they adhere to must be one that is shared by a significant group of people (i.e. not just other party members). So a Lawful character can’t just have a personal code and ignore all other forms of law, nor will he gratuitously break laws. I will take away Chaos drift points and/or award XP if your character adheres to laws/codes/discipline even to their detriment or harm. Drift points towards Chaos are accrued for breaking the codes or laws that they subscribe to, for gratuitously flouting other laws or codes, or for being untrustworthy or disloyal.
Chaos: Those pledged to Chaos will not honor their word nor any loyalties and prefer to work independently. They will in fact go out of their way to subvert authority or even start or participate in a revolution. They will form alliances of convenience and only follow leaders who have enough personal power to keep themselves on top, at least for the moment. I will take away Law drift points for being subversive, untrustworthy, undisciplined and generally flakey even when such actions would inconvience your characters or even be self-destructive. Drift points towards Law will be accrued for obeying laws that inconvenience your character, or for being trustworthy and loyal to the point of inconvenience, thereby going beyond just a personl, whimsical, or temporary attachment to a leader, ally, or cause – in other words for being trustworthy, loyal, and reliable when it would not serve your character to do so and/or be boring.
Good: Those pledged to Good will respect all living beings and try to support, nourish and protect life and may actively try to seek and fight Evil. I will negate Evil drift points for doing good when it would inconvenience or even endanger your character. Drift points towards Evil will accrue for hurting or exploiting others for one’s own benefit.
Evil: Those pledged to Evil will, of course, not necessarily think of themselves as Evil. They simply serve themselves at the expense of everyone around them. This does not mean that they will necessarily be raping, pillaging, plundering and murdering. Their evil may be simply a matter of inveterate selfishness and subtle insidiousness. I will negate drift points toward Good for acts involving harming and exploiting others for the character’s own benefit – esp. if such were to harm even family and friends. Drift points towards Good will be accrued for performing any act to benefit another if would inconvience, let alone endganger, oneself or not have some kind of pay-off down the line.
Neutral: These are basically people who just want to mind their own business. On the Law/Chaos axis they will generally obey laws but will not go out of their way to uphold the law and will break it if they think they can get away with it or the consequences of getting caught are minor. On the Good/Evil they will be helpful to others as long as it doesn’t require any real sacrifice, and will generally not harm or exploit others unless they feel it is necessary for their own well-being. Neutrals are basically just self-interested people who are not altruistic enough to be good, not malicious enough to be evil, not revolutionaries, but not sticklers for law and order either (at least not personally. Neutrals do generally want other people to be law abiding and altruistic, but they can also sometimes be suspicious of others because they fear the worst, esp. of strangers. Neutrals will get drift points from both poles of the axis they are neutral on, but these points will also cancel each other out. As long as they don’t accrue more than 10 in any one direction they will remain Neutral, and of course they may just drift back to Neutrality again after that.
Below is a list of specific acts and how I will rate them in terms of alignment and severity – if I don’t specific minor, serious, or major it means I haven’t decided or that it would be very circumstantial:
Killing and Harming sentient beings – this pertains to self-aware, rational beings.
Murder – almost always a Major Evil act, may be Lawful or Chaotic depending. (10 points, Cold Blooded Murder 12 points, Murder for Pleasure 14 points)
Killing a Foe after they are defeated and no longer a threat – 4 Evil points, and may also garner Chaotic points depending on circumstances.
Capital Punishment – may be a Minor Lawful act, but not a Good one.
Vigilantism –Chaotic act, may be Evil as well
War of Aggression –may be Lawful if pretext found, but usually Chaotic and a major Evil
Just War – minor Lawful, may be minor Good at best
Suicide – may be major Lawful, may be major Chaotic depending on local culture, usually major Evil.
Abortion – may be Lawful, may be Chaotic, depending on local laws and culture, never a Good act. Forced abortions are definitely major Evil. Some late term abortions may be tantamount to infanticide which is definitely a major Evil act, though may be Lawful in some Lawful Evil societies.
Infanticide – major Evil
Ritual Sacrifice of a Sentient Being – major Evil, may also be major Chaotic or Lawful depending on deity or cause sacrificed is for.
Martyrdom – A major act in line with the alignments of the deity or cause one is martyred for.
Consenting to be ritually sacrificed – major act of Law or Chaos, and/or Evil in line with the deity or cause the sacrifice is for.
Assault – Evil act, usually Chaotic (Causing gratuitous injury 6 points)
Torture – major Evil act, but may be Lawful or Chaotic.
(According to Book of Vile Darkness:
Intimidating 2 points,
Painful or Cruel 8 points
Excruciating 10 points
Sadistic 12 points
Indescribable 14 points)
Animal Cruelty – minor Evil act for first such act, but ongoing participation would be a more serious Evil act. This may also be a minor or serious Chaotic act depending on local laws. Unfortunately, participating in such acts might be a Lawful act in some societies.
Protecting or Saving Life
Saving a Life – major Good esp. if it entails some risk to oneself
Healing – at least minor Good may be more if at cost to oneself
Defense of Others – Good act
Self Defense – Neutral act
Freeing animals – minor Good act for first time, but ongoing activity could be a more serious Good. This may be a minor or serious Chaotic act depending on local laws. Could also be a Lawful act in some cases.
Taking What is Not Given
Stealing – almost always a major Chaotic act, may be Evil if it actively harms another physically or emotionally. (Stealing from Needy 4 points Evil)
Exploiting – may be Lawful, but definitely serious or major Evil.
Enslaving – major Evil, may be Chaotic or Lawful depending
Confiscation – usually Lawful, may be Evil or Good depending
Robbing the Rich to Sell to the Poor – major Chaotic, and never Good and may even be Evil (see stealing above)
Giving , Liberation, Recovering
Charity – Good act, may be Lawful or Chaotic depending (4 points Good)
Liberating Slaves – major Good, major Chaotic
Robbing the Rich to Give to the Poor – still major Chaotic, but may be Good.
Stealing Back what was Stolen – usually minor Chaotic, could be Good
Rape – usually major Chaotic and always major Evil
Exploitation – may be Lawful and always major Evil
Homosexuality – may be viewed as minor Lawful or minor Chaotic depending on society but in and of itself is not of any alignment.
Prostitution – may be Lawful or Chaotic, if exploitation or other non-concensual activity is involved it is major Evil
Pornography – may be viewed Lawful or Chaotic, if exploitation it is major Evil
Minors – may be Lawful or Chaotic, always major Evil as there can be no consent
Marriage – major Lawful not necessarily Good could be Evil (if forced)
Promiscuity – Chaotic
Adultery – Chaotic, and may be Evil depending on circumstances (note that what constitutes adultery may be cultural – here it means being unfaithful)
Irresponsible in re to disease and pregnancy – Chaotic and possibly Evil
Responsible in re to disease and pregnancy – Lawful and possibly Good
Matchmaking – may be Good, Evil, Lawful, or Chaotic depending on circumstances
Saving/Healing Relationship – Good act, may be Lawful as well
Divorce – determined by motive, rarely Good, but may not always be Evil, could be Lawful or Chaotic depending on laws, culture, and circumstances
Subverting Relationship – Chaotic and usually Evil
Sexual Harrasment – Minor Evil, may even be serious or major depending on circumstances.
Lying – almost always a Chaotic act, but may be Evil if the lie is truly harmful or may be Good if it is to protect life. (White Lie 1 Chaotic)
Lying in order to protect a cover identity depends greatly on the motives for doing so. If it is for survival of oneself or one’s group then it is a Neutral act – kind of like self-defense. If it is for the purposes of subversion it is a Chaotic act. If it is to get close to someone in order to betray them then it is also an Evil act. If it is in the service of a principle or organization as for instance a spy or undercover policemen then it is not really a Lawful act but is not inconsistent with a Lawful alignment. This basically has to do with the principle that a Lawful character need only maintain loyalty to single nation, group, set of laws, or code at a time.
Slander – almost always Evil, may even be Chaotic (4 points)
Abuse – may be a minor Evil act, or even a Chaotic one in some circumstances (2 points Evil)
Gossip and other Irresponsible Speech – could be minor Evil or minor Chaotic (1 point)
Sincere Apology – minor Good and/or minor Lawful (1 point)
Giving in to Greed –may lead to Evil or Chaotic acts (1 points)
Giving in to Hatred –may lead to Evil or Chaotic acts (1 points)
False Views – never Good, but could be Lawful, Chaotic, or even Evil if views are known to be false and one adheres to them or propagates them anyway – depends greatly on law, culture and circumstance. False views should be understood to be stubbornly holding to views about how the game world works that clearly contradict how the game world work (for instance that there is no life after death, or that there is no such thing as alignment, or no such thing as deities, or magic or any other thing that the rules and campaign clearly allow for and can be observed at work in the game world).
Advocating an alignment (2 points towards that alignment)
Condoning or otherwise going along with or making no attempt to stop or even protest an act that would cause alignment drift if the character in question were to do it him or herself (1 point towards that alignment)
Imposing or Reinforcing Authority and/or Discipline: Lawful (4 points Lawful)
Subverting or Rebelling against Authority and/or Discipline: Chaotic (4 points Chaotic)
Obeying Local Laws: Lawful act if it is inconvenient to do so but one obeys anyway. In other words one is going out of one’s way to adhere to the law. (2 points Lawful)
Disobeying Local Laws: Chaotic act if to do so would be inconvenient and/or self-destructive. In other words one is going out of one’s way to flout the law. (2 points Chaotic)
Using an aligned spell (2 points towards that alignment)
Desecrating a church or temple (4 points Evil)
Consecrating a church or temple (4 points Good)
Betraying a friend or ally for personal gain (4 points Evil)
Perverting Justice for Personal Gain (6 points Evil)
Disobeying laws – This is normally a Chaotic act, but a Lawful character need only be loyal to one set of principle or laws at a time. So a Lawful character could break those laws that are in conflict with the laws and principles that he or she follows. However, this will not excuse gratuitous law-breaking that is not in conflict with their primary allegiances.
Making amends for a Chaotic and/or Evil act – depends upon what is done and how sincere and how much it actually resolves the original act, may negate some of the drift at the discretion of GM.
In order to redeem and evil character the redeemer must spend an hour a day in conversation with the evil being and make a Diplomacy check. This conversation will revolve around getting the evil being to reflect on and repent of the evil they have done and to cause them to aspire to the good and gain hope of its rewards. This assumes the being is being treated well and will be forgiven of its evil deeds.
“The evil character then make a special Will save, adding his level as a bonus on the saving throw against a DC equal to the good character’s Diplomay check result. The DM can give the same circumstance bonus on the Diplomacy check as for checks made to interrogate prisoners [+2 or even up to +6 for good treatment]. Creatures whose alignments are listed as “always” a specific alignment, and characters who would lose class abilities if they changed alignment (including evil clerics and anti-paladins), gain a +4 bonus on their Will saves. Outsiders with the Evil subtype are immune to redemption in this manner. Neutral (neither good nor evil) characters take a -2 penalty on their Will saves.”(from pp. 28-29 of Book of Exalted Deeds)
“If an evil character fails seven saving throws in a row at any point during the conversion process of redemption, the evil component of his alignment changes to neutral. If a neutral character (including a formerly evil character who has already failed seven saves) fails seven saving throws in a row, his alignment changes to good. The change is permanent.” (from p. 29 of Book of Exalted Deeds)
By “permanent” I will take this to mean it will stay good unless they commit other evil deeds to cause them to drift back to neutrality or even evil. They still have free will after all.