Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dark Sun: Alignment Continued

There was definitely room for at least one more "and yet" in the initial post.

And yet.

Perhaps I am dismissing the metaphysical and the triune-alignment system too readily. Let's play this out a bit more and see how it looks:

The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!

--Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5

Athas is a world out of joint. Not merely an historical accident or an ecological anomaly, but a serious metaphysical rupture in the spirit of what should be. What exactly happened and how is unknown. Very few inhabitants of the Burning World are consciously aware of this state and, even if they were, they would be unable to express it. Nevertheless, the Defiling Shadow covers all life on this world. And a person's Alignment describes their reaction to it.

Lawful people are few and far between. They recognize that the world is existentially wrong. Some Lawfuls seek to actively oppose the Defiling, taking up swords in pursuit of a better world. Many of these crusaders are dangerous zealots, leading a hopeless war that can only end in their own death or destruction. Others recognize the quixotic nature of their struggle, but seek to do what little they can. But those who actively oppose the state of world are rarer than an unclaimed oasis in the desert. Most Lawfuls are just pessimistic or terrified. They sit in the cool of the evening, thinking dark thoughts, but doing nothing.

Chaotic people relish the state of things. Life is cheap and short and this gives Chaotics an opportunity to better their own lot in some fashion or another. After all, what else is there in this life but personal pleasure and power? The Sorcerer-Kings of the Tablelands are the exemplars of this Alignment. Chaotics can be perfectly charming and are not all black-hearted villains. But they would never think to improve the world in any fashion.

Neutral people are represented by a variety of types. Many are deeply cynical; the world may be awful, but what else can one expect? Others try and keep their heads in the sand, hoping to avoid trouble by even thinking about such things. Neutrals may object to elements of the world, but only as it pertains to them: they may fight a Tyrant, but not Tyranny; they may rail against their own enslavement, but not Slavery.

There is definitely some play in this concept. I'm still not completely sold, but it deserves further thought. One interesting result is that it changes "Preservers" into "Reformers". Not a bad thing. I still can't think of any real mechanical point to all of this, however. Is it worth it having Alignment if it doesn't mean anything to the game?


No comments:

Post a Comment