Reading OD&D from cover to cover: Alignment

Alignment is one of the interesting topics that usually raises a lot of controversy. As far as I am concerned OD&D has a pretty good stance on the topic: Namely almost no stance.

While I personally am a big fan of the nine-fold alignment system in AD&D for its benefits to quickly characterizing PCs and NPCs I can live with simpler systems and OD&D probably presents on of the simplest systems: Alignments are divided into Law, Neutrality and Chaos - and there are no explanations for what that means.

In my book this is a good thing. And it is also yet another good example of the design philosophy of many of the early games. At the end of last week I read some posts on either Knights & Knaves or the OD&D discussion forums which cited the puzzlement of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the early days about folks wanting them to spell out all kinds of detail.

The original authors obviously initially (and at times later on) viewed spelling things out as one of the most important fun activities of the referee as (s)he got to decide on things, be creative and be imaginative.

I wholeheartedly agree with this and will write more about that in another post as this seems to be a very essential value that needs to be considered for the design of 'The Fantasy Game'.

Back to alignments: Some examples are given and the player needs to decide for his character what stance (alignment) he will take. That's it. The examples don't even imply the Law = Good, Chaos = Evil separation that later editions of basic D&D started to impress as some monsters are listed in the Neutral column that later on are clearly marked as evil (e.g. orcs, chimerae, minotaurs). This nicely illustrates the more open setting approach of OD&D and leaves it to the referee to decide whether his campaign is the focal point in the eternal war between Law and Chaos or whether alignments are just a barebones indication of how beings might behave towards their environment.

That being said 'The Fantasy Game' will mostly use this approach unaltered although I probably will reduce the size of the example list in volume I.

No comments:

Post a Comment