Morality in RPGs

Character Alignment in Role-Playing


10/27/20232 min read

Alignment serves as a guiding principle for role-players to understand their character's moral and ethical compass, but it is not a straitjacket. It provides a starting point for character development, offering a framework to shape a character's beliefs and actions, but it should not limit a character's growth or the complexity of their decisions. This is especially helpful for new players. It provides "guide rails" for your characters actions and can prevent them from going all "Murder Hobo."

However, for the more experienced player, we'd like to offer a different approach

When building your character, try starting a new character as True Neutral. True Neutral characters begin their journey without a strong alignment leaning towards Good or Evil, Law or Chaos. This neutral starting point allows players to explore the character's personality and moral inclinations over time, influenced by their backstory experiences and the adventures they undertake.

When the character goes through their history (Backstory), their alignment might change depending on how they view the world through the lens of their interactions with it.

As the character embarks on their adventures and encounters moral dilemmas, they may find their alignment shifting in response to their choices and the challenges they face. This fluidity adds depth to the character, allowing for a dynamic and evolving narrative. For instance, a character who begins as True Neutral might gradually adopt a Lawful Good alignment due to their exposure to a just and noble group of adventurers who inspire them to champion justice and righteousness. Alternatively, a character might descend into a more self-centered evil after making a series of morally questionable choices under the pressure of dire circumstances.

Alignment can also be a powerful tool for role-playing interactions and conflicts within a party. Differing alignments can lead to intriguing in-game discussions and challenges, as characters with opposing moral and ethical values grapple with decisions and moral dilemmas.

Moreover, alignment can influence the course of the campaign itself. The overarching narrative and the challenges characters face can be intricately tied to the moral and ethical choices they make, creating a rich and immersive storytelling experience. The alignment of non-player characters (NPCs) and antagonists can further shape the campaign's themes and moral complexities.

So next time you create a character, think about this: While character alignment is a multifaceted and enduring element of RPGs, offering players a lens through which to view their characters' beliefs, values, and motivations. It provides a framework for role-playing and storytelling, shaping characters' decisions and the narrative as a whole. But remember, the flexibility to start as True Neutral and allow alignment to evolve based on backstory experiences and adventure choices adds layers of complexity to the storytelling and moral dilemmas that players and DMs can explore, making alignment an even more captivating and integral aspect of the world of RPGs.