Alignment is one of those weird game mechanics that can be viewed as both a hindrance and an aid. Because of this it is often the victim of a love hate type of relationship among players that can cause some heated disagreements. If they could apply their thoughts to its use they would not have so many words in lost to indifference.
When I speak of alignment in this article I’m not referring to any one system or style. I’m instead writing about the concept of what it can be in the development of character. If you apply such a system to developing the personality of your individual I believe it can be invaluable. Many of us walk through our lives with no “moral” code, at least not the way an alignment is is presented in game terms. That’s because games have a difficult time presenting alignment in an effective way. Since many alignments are presented as a code that creates a struggle of some sort, usually good and evil, they have to be broad so players can use them effectively with their creations. Not to mention many characters are created with to be adults ready to start their adventuring career. In reality this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the real world we develop our “alignment” over years of character growth. For us our alignment is directly linked to what we believe, or to be more accurate, what we have come to believe. That is our faith directs our choices. This could mean you are guided by religion, science, or philosophy. It doesn’t matter what guides your thoughts what matters is that when you apply this to your character she has already lost years of development.
I have found that when you the application of alignment is done best as a supplement. It can be used in two applications. The first is used in application of your characters history and beliefs. The second is a continual influence of your characters decision making.
When making your character you can use an alignment system to further develop what you believe your is. For example you’re filling out your character’s history you might create some conflict in your character, maybe she did some thing controversial, you can use alignment to “justify’ these actions, even if they might be in conflict with her religious choice. Then you can use that situation to delve deeper into her personality by wrestling with that decision.
For many people decision making is influenced by several factors, beliefs, thought process, and personal experiences. Why should it be any different for our characters? You’ve spent all this time developing them why not put it to use? Her experiences are what makes her, and experiences help decision making. Besides wrestling with choices like this not only give your character more meaning in the story, but to other characters as well. Now, I’m not saying you should use this to create conflict with every choice she will make. I do suspect that you will use it as a guide when certain situations arise, like whether or not you allow would be prisoners to be exterminated. After all what is good character without tension?
I hope I have shared some things with alignment that you might have missed before. I believe that alignment in and of itself is often a misinterpreted tool that catches flak. If used properly it can be a great way to further rounding out your character’s personality and creating some great scenes in game. For me alignment is best used to strengthen other aspects of the character like religion, and philosophy. Ultimately, it’s more important to understand how they work together within the individual.
Thanks for reading, if you have any questions or ideas that go along with this please log in and share.