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# Comment on sci-fi alignment system?

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This is relatively straightforward, and contains no math I love the alignments in AD&D because they work in a world that is pretty much morally unambiguous: You have good, neutral and evil, and these are pretty much absolute. But they don't work very well in a morally ambiguous, more modern environment. Who defines "good?" What is "evil?" These answers will vary from culture to culture. I've created a nine-point alignment system I call the Moral Compass. It has some elements of absolute morality, but I've tried to make it more central to the individual's beliefs. All the personality types in my game fall under one of these categories.
                 Lawful
+
Just   +   Fervent
+   +   +
+  +  +
+ + +
Humane +++++ Dispassionate +++++ Savage
+ + +
+  +  +
+   +   +
+
Lawless


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I take it my comment about alignments was noticed, then ?

I like the details you go into, but there is something that feels slightly, I dunno, maybe missing ?
As reluctant as I am to say it, maybe we could start by looking at the DnD system.

We got two dimensions :
the Chaos/Order dimension measures the amount of importance given to laws, structure, and general respect of rules, be they for the individual behaviour or for a government.

+ Lawful (laws are necessary, we must abide them at all times)
. Opportunist (as long as you are causing harm to anyone, it''s OK to break a few laws)
- Lawless (laws exist to be broken)

the Good/Evil dimension indicates the natural tendency to do good, to be selfless, to help others, regard killing as bad, and so on.
In a modern setting, you could have something like :
+ Moral (moral values are important, for me AND for the others)
. Neutral (moral values are not an issue, unless it means being affected by other people''s lack of morality)
- Amoral (whatever has be done, as long as *I* am happy)

Now, the way I see it, the main difference between this system and a more sci-fi approach is the importance of spirituality.
In a medieval setting, religion is considered VERY important, and a standard component of any race.
But in a more modern setting, religion, and spirituality in general, are not necessarily regarded as useful, or relevant.
so maybe have another scale that goes something like this :
+ Spiritual (there is more to life than what we can see. We must try to evolve beyond our mortal nature)
. Open minded (all that spiritual stuff is not for me, but you never know, some of it might be true)
- Rational (everything has an explanation, and if it doesnt, we''ll just have to find it.)

So if I look at your moral types, some of them emcompass several of the ones I describe above, but you could create even more.

your Humane type is possibly a Spiritual Good, kind of person, but what about their attachment to rules ? a Lawless type could be your typical ecowarrior, Greenpeace terrorist, maybe ? While a Lawful one would be a monk or something

the Lawful is (obviously) Lawful, but that only indicates how important laws are for him. Morality is probably Neutral, and possibly he would be of the Rational type ?

well, I am not gonna go into all of them, but I think you can see the possibilities ? some pretty cool ideas you have, I have to say, Wav !

Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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I like ahw''s suggestions about making it a set of continua. Not only would this make for more elegant transitions from one to another (repeated disappointments with the legal system could push a character toward lawless, giving rise to vigilantism) and a higher resolution of character types, but it could also be integrated into the psychological profile you''re building with loyalty and sanity.

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I think the compass needs some adjustment.

the way I see it there should be two dimensions, horizontal and vertical. The vertical could be good, neutral, evil. The horizontal could be order, balance, chaos.

So the moral compass would look like this.

GO    GB  GC     \ |  /NO -  NB - NC   /  |  \EO    EB   EC

It would also serve to balance the players actions. So depedning on the players actions the players moral compess would move horzontoly, or verticly.

for specifics you could have

GO = Lawful - Society exist only through strick aderhension to laws.

GB = Just - Laws exist to benefit society and sometimes it is nessary to break laws to benefit society.

GC = Radical - Laws exist to confine people, only by discardarding laws can one benfit society and create change.

NO = devoted - Those who break the law deserved to be punshisd however the punished must be tempered with compassion.

NB = Humane - The world is a vast sea of grey and it some takes a small wrong inorder to achive a greater right.

NC = amorl - Laws ristrict people from achiving there true potentional and if your going to aid society there is nothing wrong with taking your fair share in the proccess.

EO = Fanatic - One can only live within the confines of laws those is violete those laws have thrown there back on socitey and therefore no longer have place in the world.

EB = Single-Minded - The ends justify the means, in order to achive your goals you are pepared to pay any price and make any sacrifice.

EC = Lawless - All that matters in life is what you can get for yourself and the only rules are the ones you make.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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quote:
Original post by ahw
I take it my comment about alignments was noticed, then ?

Yes, I took it as a sign to post.

quote:

We got two dimensions :
the Chaos/Order dimension measures the amount of importance given to laws, structure, and general respect of rules, be they for the individual behaviour or for a government.

I think this works and is reflected partly in what I wanted to do. I took the vertical axis as being life to death, and the horizontal as being order to chaos.

quote:

. Opportunist (as long as you are causing harm to anyone, it''s OK to break a few laws)

I tried to fold this under the "Radical" category to Amoral category. On the one hand you have those who break a few rules that are harmless, then those who break rules to get whatever they want (Amoral).

quote:

+ Moral (moral values are important, for me AND for the others)

Ah, yes, but WHICH moral values? That''s why I wanted to dispense with good and evil. One morality might say that it''s okay to help people, while another thinks helping people weakens them from standing on their own two feet. But I think the ultimate concern of any morality is does it tend toward more life and growth, or toward less life and degradation.

quote:

Now, the way I see it, the main difference between this system and a more sci-fi approach is the importance of spirituality.
In a medieval setting, religion is considered VERY important, and a standard component of any race.
But in a more modern setting, religion, and spirituality in general, are not necessarily regarded as useful, or relevant.

I don''t know that it''s not relevant or useful. I take the Babylon 5 worldbuilding approach in that spirituality isn''t supplanted by science because spiritual questions can neither be supplanted nor validated by science. No matter what exists in the world, one can always ask "why?" There is always an X, always an unknown, and this becomes relevant to peoples lives, particularly as long as there is death, hardship and overwhelming beauty.

All of the Moral Compass types support religion. The Humane types would be the Buddhist monks, for example, while the Amoral types could be Satanists. I can even conceive of a religion based on pure logic, or axioms, that would support the Dispassionate type. So I''m not sure that religion itself, given all the flavors of religion, needs an axis on the compass.

quote:

so maybe have another scale that goes something like this :
+ Spiritual (there is more to life than what we can see. We must try to evolve beyond our mortal nature)

Ah, but how do we go about doing this? Invading other countries, conquering them and converting them? Praying quietly and contemplating life? Sending out evangelical ministries that help the local population? Do you see what I mean? The method fits the axis of the moral compass nicely while keeping religion seperate: Do you behave in a manner that promotes life / rights / tolerance or death / degradation / dominance (the horizontal axis). Do you found huge churches or wander around like monks, which is the vertical axis (more the vertical axis, although I admit "Lawless" should more be "Chaos")

quote:

. Open minded (all that spiritual stuff is not for me, but you never know, some of it might be true)

I do admit that I don''t have this type, but this could simply be a personality ("Equivocator") rather than a moral stance.

quote:

So if I look at your moral types, some of them emcompass several of the ones I describe above, but you could create even more.

More?!?! I keep thinking I need to create LESS!

quote:

your Humane type is possibly a Spiritual Good, kind of person, but what about their attachment to rules ?

Then I''d see them as more Just, do to their acceptance of the use of force-- because if you have rules, someone needs to enforce them or they are useless. The Just type believes that use of force is sometimes necessary to enforce a greater good, while the Humane type tends more to sympathize with both the victim and the transgressor.

quote:

a Lawless type could be your typical ecowarrior, Greenpeace terrorist, maybe ? While a Lawful one would be a monk or something

Yes, this is where it gets interesting: If the ecowarrior is blocking development of land in order to preserve life, they''ll fall under Radical. But if they''re taking human life to save the life of nature, they''ll flip the axis and become "Fervent." Fervent believes not that law itself is important, but some doctrine is above the law, such as a "Gaia Manifesto" or whatever. Fervent is willing to harm in order to realize the tenets of their manifesto, and this would describe an ecoterrorist nicely.

And if spirituality is seperate from the Moral Compass (because there are different types and none can be proven more valid than any other), then Lawful would work find for a Monk.

quote:

the Lawful is (obviously) Lawful, but that only indicates how important laws are for him. Morality is probably Neutral, and possibly he would be of the Rational type ?

Yes, Lawful morality would hold that even if the law causes suffering, it may be moral (imprisonment / death penalty, for example), and that if it is immoral, you only use the law to change it. I don''t know if this is rational or not, as you can make law based on emotional attitudes. Just because they believe in the law doesn''t mean they''re clear thinking and rational.

quote:

well, I am not gonna go into all of them, but I think you can see the possibilities ? some pretty cool ideas you have, I have to say, Wav !

As usual, a thousand thanks for contributing. I see some good possibilities for change, and even if I don''t alter it at least having to explain it makes it more clear in my head!

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I like ahw''s suggestions about making it a set of continua. Not only would this make for more elegant transitions from one to another (repeated disappointments with the legal system could push a character toward lawless, giving rise to vigilantism) and a higher resolution of character types, but it could also be integrated into the psychological profile you''re building with loyalty and sanity.

When I think of you guys advising me to expand this, I keep thinking of Agent Smith in Matrix Revolutions: "More...!" And here I am trying to simplify!

Now the hierarchy I saw in my head was that Moral Compass types would give rise to classes of personalities with no overlap. So the Heroic personality type that goes in and rescues people would appear only under the Just type. Or the Loyalist under Lawful (follow the rules), or Shady under Lawless.

I simplified only because of the ambient complexity elsewhere in the game. You already have to think about stats, skills, faction alignment, equipment, loyalty, morale and sanity across up to 16 characters. I worry that making the rules of how the characters behave too nebulous will lead to in-game events that are frustrating.

I could very well delink moral types from personality types, but then I''d have to bar specific instances or they wouldn''t make sense, such as a Savage Cowardly type, or Lawful Shady type.

I could also make the moral compass more like a color wheel, with seperate rings, though right now I''m not sure what that would look like. The question is what would you gain as a player from the extra complexity?

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
the way I see it there should be two dimensions, horizontal and vertical. The vertical could be good, neutral, evil. The horizontal could be order, balance, chaos.

I like the order / chaos aspect, but good / evil is way too subjective to fit a universe that''s not dominated by, say, Judeo-Christian morals. I think fantasy can get away with it because there are demons and devils that corrupt souls, and maybe angels and agents of dieties that save them-- but that interplay may or may not exist across dozens of cultures. The main heavies in the game, the Siegers, are simply starving mouths that devour first sanity then finally life force. So they fit well in a universe that asks, "does your system create more life, joy and freedom or or does it create misery, slavery and death?"

What this means is that there can be two sides that both create life and happiness, but are opposed to one another because of method. In fantasy, I believe that those on the side of good are often all considered on the same side. But as fiction becomes more modern and then futuristic, we get more ambiguity (I''m speaking generally, such as with popular fantasy like D&D where all good gods are on the same side but all evil gods may not be).

quote:

GO = Lawful - Society exist only through strick aderhension to laws.

But these laws may not be "good" in an absolute sense. Forcing women to wear veils, for instance, in order to protect them from predatory men: Is that "good" or "bad?" Depends on the culture. The only thing you can say for sure is that it is a lawful culture with strict rules to follow.

quote:

GC = Radical - Laws exist to confine people, only by discardarding laws can one benfit society and create change.

But what does this society live by when it makes change? Doesn''t it have to enforce a law? Maybe this is a stance for less law, such as libertarianism.

quote:

NB = Humane - The world is a vast sea of grey and it some takes a small wrong inorder to achive a greater right.

I think again "right" is being absolutely defined here, but "right" is not measurable, whereas freedom / happiness / life are measurable. Right is more a category of positives and negatives, whereas life is more of a linear measure. Either a system creates life, leaves it alone, or destroys it, in this context.

quote:

NC = amorl - Laws ristrict people from achiving there true potentional and if your going to aid society there is nothing wrong with taking your fair share in the proccess.

I like representing this mentality (not sure where it fits in my scheme), but amoral is more self-centered and selfish.

quote:

EO = Fanatic - One can only live within the confines of laws those is violete those laws have thrown there back on socitey and therefore no longer have place in the world.

Yes, this is good, but I think Fanatic the way I''ve tried to represent it says that doctrine may or may not be the same as the law, but doctrine is always higher. It may be illegal, for instance, to block abortion clinics, but a Fervent morality will see their religious doctrine as even higher than the law, and may be willing to either disrupt society or even cause harm (tending more towards Savage).

I like your categories, btw, as they put a different spin on things. But I''m very strongly opposed to an absolute definition of right and wrong for a science fiction game. It''s something that''s always bothered me about AD&D, but I let them slide on that simply because in fantasy the world is supposed to be more simple.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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I''m liking everything you post Wave ... but I have to say ... what I felt at first was - the compass isn''t quite balanced ...

as you''ve given some more info, it''s seeming closer to balanced ... so now I''m gonna take a little time off, think it through and come back in a few days with how I feel about it then ... but justing given you my first impression while I have it ...

also - the LAW vs. LAWLESS ... how is or isn''t it related to the idea of INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM / WORTH, vs. SOCIETAL BENIFT ... I mean, i can see they are related ... but I''m trying to think if they are the same, similar, or neigboring axis ... hmm

At home I have some sci-fi alignment thoughts of my own, that involved 3 axis, but I don''t want to polute your well thought out system too much (I like variety, and I''d rather play your game someday, and my game, and them both have interesting worlds

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
I like the order / chaos aspect, but good / evil is way too subjective to fit a universe that''s not dominated by, say, Judeo-Christian morals.

I agree that it could be seen that way. But the method I was thinking is that good/evil is determined by the society and culture. Then again you could go with philisophy that something is moral if you are willing to accept it happening to you. So good would be actions that benefit society, while evil is actions that cause a detriment to society. Perhaps the diacotimey would be better seen as Others/Self.

quote:

But these laws may not be "good" in an absolute sense. Forcing women to wear veils, for instance, in order to protect them from predatory men: Is that "good" or "bad?" Depends on the culture. The only thing you can say for sure is that it is a lawful culture with strict rules to follow.

Well the actual laws are not imporant, a Lawful person would follow them and accept them as right.

quote:

quote:

GC = Radical - Laws exist to confine people, only by discardarding laws can one benfit society and create change.

But what does this society live by when it makes change? Doesn''t it have to enforce a law? Maybe this is a stance for less law, such as libertarianism.

Well, the society would exist in a state of constant change.

quote:

quote:

NB = Humane - The world is a vast sea of grey and it some takes a small wrong inorder to achive a greater right.

I think again "right" is being absolutely defined here, but "right" is not measurable, whereas freedom / happiness / life are measurable. Right is more a category of positives and negatives, whereas life is more of a linear measure. Either a system creates life, leaves it alone, or destroys it, in this context.

How are freedom / happiness/ and life any more measurable the right . Once again right is in terms of society, So a Humane person would be willing to benefit society by causing alittle harm. For instance they would be willing to hijack a grain convoy to feed a starving planet.

quote:

quote:

EO = Fanatic - One can only live within the confines of laws those is violete those laws have thrown there back on socitey and therefore no longer have place in the world.

Yes, this is good, but I think Fanatic the way I''ve tried to represent it says that doctrine may or may not be the same as the law, but doctrine is always higher. It may be illegal, for instance, to block abortion clinics, but a Fervent morality will see their religious doctrine as even higher than the law, and may be willing to either disrupt society or even cause harm (tending more towards Savage).

Well "Law" or more accurtely order in this context refers to docterines, laws, customs etc.. Its the rules that govern society. So a Fanatic would enforce these laws to maxium without regard for cicumstances or situation. If there was law that said people form planet Bob can''t wear wooden shoes and a Fantaic from bob saw another person from bob wearing wooden shoes they would punish they would punish them to the full literal interpation of the laws, perhaps even killing them.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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My question is, how do you plan on actually implementing this? Having distinct types works just fine for npcs, just have diferent AI settings for each alignment. The question is, how are you going to track and store the aligmnent of players. Being able to track is important. I doubt just telling the players to choose an alignment at start will work. Especially since they could state one alignment and play another. To compensate for this, you need to have their alignment shift to reflect the character's actual behaviour. In order to do this, you'll need some kind of coordinate system. Here are some ideas I thought of.

High Slot:
1 slot per alignment. The slot with the highest value is the character's alignment. This would let you show how close the character is to any given alignment. However, it does mean having to track 9 diferent value. This also means if an act strengthens or weakens more than 1 alignment you have to not the modifier for each of them.

9-Point Map:
1 point per alignment. Point positions are the product of an angle and a distance, where distance is equal to the points value. This would create a kind of circular chart mapping out the characters stance. The character's position would be based on the average of all their points. the trick is that you'd have to find a way of tacking an alignment to the character, as this is a more continous system. Perhaps you could use angle as a measure, but then you'ld need a way to mark dispassionate characters.

Polar Grid:
This is what many people have been suggesting. Just have 2 values and use them like coordinates on a 2-d plane. Instead of trying to overwrite your map with a D&D derivative, let's try using it to get the axies. Let's make one Lawful/Lawless and the other Humane/Savage. Assume we have Humane (H) and Lawful (L) as out positive value, and Savage and Lawless as their opposites. This means -L is the same as Lawless and -H is Savage. This gives us:
[Fervent]     [Lawful]        [Just] (-H,L)         (0,L)          (H,L)                  |                  |[Savage]---[Dispassionate]---[Humane] (-H,0)         (0,0)          (H,0)                  |                  |[Amoral]      [Lawless]      [Radical] (-H,-L)       (0,-L)          (H,-L)

By reverting your system to 2 axies, you do simplify things. However, you may loose some of the distinctness on the mixed aligments. For example, Lawful, Lawless, Humane, and Savage are well defined, since they mark the axies. However, Just become the same as Humane Lawful. Fervent, Amoral, and Radical are similiarly blended. Dispassionate becomes a mixture of everything.

Personally, I prefer using values instead of archetypes. What does this person think is important? Granted I will admit archetypes are useful to create a certain type of story or character, they just also tend to be less flexible. Either way should be fine, as long as you make sure the system is more helpful/interesting than it is limiting.

[edited by - Shimeran on April 19, 2004 12:05:45 PM]

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