The Moral Compass
The Moral Compass:
The idea behind the moral compass is threefold: 1) To assist players in actualizing the role-play of their chosen alignment. 2) To give feedback to my players based on their actions in game. 3) To disambiguate the effects of a player’s actions in regard to allignment sensitive classes.
1) Roleplay: The allignment system has always been problematic from a role-play perspective. The choice (of allignment) gets made during character creation, and normally is largely forgotten during play as the player acts “as he/she would” to game stimuli, or worse: Forgets role-playing alltogether and begins to treat the campaign as a simple tactical combat game. Having a visual reminder of your actions will be helpful by keeping the actions of the character “in sight, in mind”.
2) Feedback: I was inspired (and sometimes frustrated) by video games that have incorporated a moral compass to keep track of a player’s actions. Bioware in particular has been vey helpful with it’s Starwars inspired “Light Side/Dark Side” scale; the Jade Empire based “Way of the Open Palm/Way of the Closed Fist”. The best that I have seen however came from Neverwinter Night’s actual D&D-Based allignment system: Each allignment was set on an axis, and given a positive score away from 0, which was neutral. You started by choosing your allignment, and were given a strting score of 0 for each neutral choice, and 50 for each choice of law/Chaos/Good/Evil. As you played, your actions modified this score, and could change your allignment as feedback for your performance! Thus playing a Druid became interesting, because to preserve a Neutral allignment meant balancing your Actions; playing a Palaldin became quite rewarding, as you made “The Right” choices or faced “Damnation”. The Moral Compass will be a graphical representation of this! :D
Disambiguation: Anyone who has played an allignment-sensitive Class like a Cleric, Monk, or Paladin, has probably had to contend with a potential loss of all class abilities due to their actions and an arbitrary GM mandated allignment-shift… The moral compass attempts to moderate this by giving both players and GMs a guideline, and a visual record of a character’s actions vs. his/her chosen allignment. As the campaign goes on, a Monk’s player can see their character’s Lawful Axis fall towards Neutrility and Chaos; and adjust thier actions before it’s too late. Only the Paladin need fear arbitrary action at all, but even then their is a scale (Below) of acts that can affect his fragile Law/Good that determine what he can get away with, and what will require a painful atomement quest…
HOW IT WORKS:
The Moral Compass is a graphical representation of a Character’s Allignment. You will each be given a Compas rose that depicts allignment rather than magnetic North. When you select you initial allignment you will be scored along both a Lawful/Chaos Axis, and a Good/Evil Axis with a score of 50 for Lawful/Chaos/Good/Evil, and/or a score of 0 to represent a neutral allignment along that Axis.
Example: Educe the Brown is Neutral/Evil, so his initial score is L/C (0/neutral)and G/E (50/evil). His Moral Compass would indicate this visually as well. (I have sent an Email Example to the team, message me if you did not get one).
A Lawful/Good Paladin would star at L/C (50/Lawful)and G/E (50 Good).
A True Neutral Person would start atL/C (0/neutral)and G/E (0/neutral).The Graphic should remain with your physical Character Sheet, and the above scores will be recorded both online and on your physical ‘allignment line’.
As you play your allignment will shift as you take actions and make social decisions. This requires some rules as to what qualifies as a Good/Evil or Lawful/Chaotic act. So here goes my attempt at some simplistic moralizing…
Good/Evil: For our purposes “Good” represents a respect for life, and a general desire to help others improve thier condition. It represents a genuine interest in people, and in living things in general. “Evil” represents a lack of respect for life, and a lack of interest in the welfare of your fellow being. Charitable Deeds, Defending the Weak, and Self-Sacrifice reflect well on a Good Character. Selfish Acts, Indiscriminant Destruction, and acts of oppression for personal gain reflect well on an evil character. The Good/Evil Axis is about your character’s personal relationship with the world around you devoid of any preference for organization. Otherwise the guidelines on Page 166 of the Pathfinder Core Book apply.
Law/Chaos: For our purposes “Law” is a respect for Order, Principle, and the laws of the land. “Chaos” is conversely a lack of respect for laws, traditions, and even keeping your word! Actions that promote order and stability in society reflect well upon a lawful Character; While operating “Off the Grid” or without a respect for “Due Process” can reflects well on a Chaotic Character. Otherwise the guidelines on Page 166 of the Pathfinder Core Book apply.
Moderation: Some actions simply take you back towards neutral. Actions that seek to moderate the extremes of allignment may be recorded as moderation; meaning that everyone involved shifts towards 0 on the Moral Compass. These situations will be abjucated on a case by case basis.
There are 3 levels of actions that affect an allignment shift, and these are based in order of magnitude:
1) You Let it Happen: This is a basic, social level of allignment Change, that affects everyone in a group regardless of their actual actions; and as a result of inaction. This is the Paladin that looks the other way when a illegal or dark act is being done by his/her group, or the Evil Necromancer that stands idily by while said paladin rescues a kitten from a tree. Your inaction will still net a single point of allignment shift in the direction of whatever the rest of your team is doing. This can even affect you if an act is being undertaken by NPCs and you do nothing to actively oppose it. ‘Letting it Happen’ nets 1 Points of alignment shift, but doesn’t count as an “Act” against your allignment for atonement purposes.
2) Accomplice: You support the action as it occours in some small way, though you still act from the sidelines. While you are not the one who hung the man, but you tied the noose and left it hanging from the gallows… You didn’t rescue the damsel from the tower, but you did go get a ladder for the Knight… You didn’t Capture the thief, but you acted as an informant… You did not steal the crown jewels, but you sold the thief the map that detailed the palace defenses… etc. ‘Being an Accomplice’ nets 2 Points of alignment shift, but doesn’t count as an “Act” against your allignment for atonement purposes.
3) Active Participant: You are an equal partner in perpetuating an act that reflects on the allignment scale. You are part of the posse of deputies that apprehend the criminal and bring him to trial for his crimes… You Steal the crown jewels yourself… You hold down the shopkeeper while your friend brutally murders him with a hatchet… You spend a week helping to rebuild the town after it was razed by dragonfire… etc. Being an ‘Active participant’ nets 3 Points of alignment shift, and does count as an “Act” against your allignment for atonement purposes.
4) Epic Actions: While not a category in it’s own right, being part of an action that has sweeping effects on a township, a country or even the whole world will result in a multiplyer on your allignment shift. Being an active participant in the slaughter of hundreds of POWs, or being an accomplice in the building of a hospital for the poor might result in up to a x5 to the allignment shift. You are heros, and will do epic things. Be mindful.
What do these numbers mean to allignment detection and effects?
0-25 = Detects as Neutral and Counts as Neutral for all allignment purposes.
26-50 = Detects/Counts as Weakly Lawful/Chaotic/Good/Evil.
51-75 = Detects/Counts as Moderately Lawful/Chaotic/Good/Evil.
76-100 = Detects/Counts as Strongly Lawful/Chaotic/Good/Evil.
101+ = While not normally possible for mortals, some outsiders can be “Pure” Lawful/Chaotic/Good/Evil!
Questions, Comments, Considerations?