Loyal reader Isaac sent me an email with a simple question indicating that I may still have much to do to eliminate pointless rules from D&D. With a single sentence, he demonstrated that I’ve missed at least one targeted low hanging fruit in my redesign.
As a result of this, perhaps I should go back to the books looking for more ridiculousness to remove.
Of note, here’s the sentence Isaac sent me:
Did any of your redesign ever tackle the now-classic 3×3 D&D Alignment grid?
Facepalm material there.
Seriously, how could I have missed that?
Its been a while since we addressed a D&D redesign, so before we get to work realigning the game, let’s go back and recap what we’ve accomplished so far, the methodologies we’re using, etc.
For reference, let’s take a quick look at what we’ve already proposed:
- We eliminated Vancian magic and overhauled the magic-user.
- In the ensuing discussion on magic items we’ve handled how certain treasures would be handled in our new magic system.
- We addressed the cleric and how to restore the place of the faithful class in D&D.
- We left the majority of the class bloat on the cutting room floor as we took a look at putting the fight back in the fighter.
- We altered how attributes are determined and removed them from the final character sheet leaving only what they represent instead.
- We removed feats and skills as unnecessary, constricting choices.
- We removed racial bonuses, penalties, and favoritism as an archaic and unnecessary balancing act.
- We dropped multiclassing in order to preserve the four iconic classes as viable choices.
- We eliminated charisma as an attribute.
- We modified and streamlined how armor is handled mechanically to align it with player assumption.
- We described how the shortened attribute list impact’s other character-centric game mechanics.
- And then we did the unthinkable. We eliminated levels.
- Taking another look at spells, we eliminated the bloat in the divine spell list.
- Then we re-imagined the magic-user spell effect concept with a nice generic table.
- As equal opportunity re-designers, we turned our eyes on the weapon tables and removed the bulk as unnecessary.
- We showed how attributes can be used for skill-type checks.
- Then we went shopping with a more streamlined and efficient means of equipping beginning characters.
- We discussed how to re-infuse magic into magical items.
- Then we demonstrated how to make creatures challenging in our new level-less D&D system.
- And finally we defended our belief that less system fosters a better game whereas more system stymies a better game.
Phew, that’s a hefty list… and apparently we’re not quite done.
Once again, today we’re going way back to the very nearly the core of D&D again to remove something from the beginnings of the game.
But first, let’s review the usual ground rules:
Try to remember that this is just an exercise in what I would have done. Everything here is opinion. Feel free to disagree, consider me an idiot, whatever. If some edition of the game works for you and your gaming crowd, then by all means play it to your hearts’ content. I applaud all fun had in this hobby. However, as I’ve stated numerous times, D&D at its core no longer works for me or my gaming crowd. As a result of this, I would not have made the same changes to the game that WotC did. What follows is another path where I would have focused my changes and where I would have gone with the intellectual property.
My methodology in the process will be guided by a short list of principles:
- Rules should be simple guides, with options to be expand by the DM.
- Rules should lead to interesting options.
- Rules ignored should be rules removed.
- No Rule is sacred.
- No inspiration forbidden.
The Starting Point
For this process I’ve decided that my jumping-off point with be trying to turn 2E into a better version of 4E by removing the bloat of the 3.xE versions of the game. However, today we’re once again going to go all the way back to the roots of the game and remove something unnecessary.
As referenced above, this post is about ethics and morality and how they’re quantified in D&D. Namely, this post is about:
I’m not gonna…
So I considered creating a rather lengthy dissertation on the roots of the system we’re discussing today. But instead I’m not going to bother to delve into the history of where the 3-fold (or expanded 9-fold) Alignment system came from.
Because its boring and irrelevant. Go do an internet search and listen to the rambling of those who have little better to do with their time than to do so… or don’t and thank me for saving (at least some small part of) your sanity.
Nor am I going to also take the time to host a heady discussion on how to fix the system by bothering to try to shoe-horn my personal opinions of how Law = Ruled and Chaos = Free-form and Good = … well good while Evil = … uh… evil.
Because Alignment is supposed to be about personal motivations and responses of characters and creatures. As a simple result, my own personal opinions don’t belong in this discussion. Also, go do that internet search again if you need to see the ranting. Personally I’ve got better things to do with my time.
Nor will I bore you with a simplified/modified/fixed version of Alignment.
Because at its core, Alignment is unnecessary and absurd. It offers us no options, it leads to no interesting options, and is often ignored for non-aligned classes.
That means Alignment violates 3 of the 3 reasons to eliminate a rule.
Impressive in that it gets a hat-trick in the reasons to be removed. Equally impressive that I failed to address it earlier.
And what do we do with rules like this?
We remove them.
And in this case we won’t be replacing it with anything more useful.
Because at its core Alignment is a lot like Charisma.
Its a role-playing choice masquerading as a statistic.
I propose Alignment be left on the cutting-room floor in our D&D redesign.
Instead of pigeonholing characters and creatures, instead of quantifying the actions and outcomes of acts of said characters and creatures, instead of trying to so order the universe that we place blinders and limitations on the nuances, I say we unshackle the options by empowering players to role-play a character as they see fit, not as some classification dictates.
Feel the freedom?
Feel choice creeping back into the game?
Doesn’t it feel good?
First, thank Isaac for reminding me I have more work to do.
Then, breathe deep my friends, for the air of freedom is magical.