I stepped in it again. And by “it”, I mean the WotC D&D Next Forums. They are Ennis to my Jack; I don’t know how to quit them.
This time, I wandered over there to see the shitstorm kicked up by Bruce Cordell’s latest article on the paladin class. Predictably, there were many people bemoaning the fact that, “Oh, no! They’re telling me how to roleplay!” And, “I should be able to do anything I want with my character!” The thread is here.
I couldn’t resist. I hit reply. I got snarky, but after a couple posts I found my footing and articulated (once again!) my stance on alignments in D&D. I thought I’d reproduce it here.
D&D is a game. Games have rules. Rules govern play. Roleplaying is a part of D&D, so it only makes sense that the rules will somehow affect roleplaying as a part of play.
Heck, the very fact that rules define roles means that rules affect roleplaying. You choose to be a paladin? The rules have just affected your roleplaying. That’s the point. When I choose to be a fighter, I choose to play within the rules that govern fighters. I don’t rail against the designers because they won’t let me call myself a fighter but stand in back and cast fireball every round.
Further, in all the older editions of the game, alignment was *not* just a roleplaying restriction. That’s something that people have forgotten. Alignment meant something to the game. It was a reflection of cosmic forces that impacted the game world and that could affect die rolls. There were weapons you couldn’t use if you weren’t aligned right, or creatures you could damage better if you were.
Like it or not, alignment’s a part of the rich history of D&D. Paladins as a class were concieved as a class built around an alignment system. They work best within it. I for one am happy to see it return.
That about sums it up. I mean, I could go into more detail, but I’ll wait until the playtest starts and I see how alignment has actually been implemented before I go further.
Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.