It seems like a particularly hot time to talk about D&D 5E. First our article about the recent "announced changes", or rather reinforced, about the changes to Drow and Orcs. Today, the end of a series of Tweets by J. Crawford, Lead Designer of D&D 5E, about alignments. Cross of 3.5, the result of endless discussions on the forums, alignments have always been a problem. Or, rather, their interpretation by somewhat dysfunctional groups was a problem. Today we talk about it.
Hands on fire
Talking about alignments is always quite mangy within groups (more or less like talking about Anti-Fascism e rape, as our articles attest). We could easily end this - now - scorching June in the flames but we decided to limit ourselves. The diatribe on the neutral chaotic thief, on the other hand, is a topic that is cyclically proposed on the forums, as well as the paid DM.
Jeremy Crawford has thrown a couple of Tweets into the ether just to stir things up enough. Below are a few, others you will find on the Game Designer Twitter page.
Friendly reminder: no rule in D&D mandates your character's alignment, and no class is restricted to certain alignments. You determine your character's moral compass. I see discussions that refer to such rules, yet they don't exist in 5th edition D&D.Source
A sort of advice / connection to his previous comment on the changes the Wizard wants to make to its modernization plan. Nothing new for those who have carefully leafed through the manual, nor for those who have begun to appear in other role-playing games. For all those, however, who still throw a lot of fire in the discussions, it is necessary to go ahead and continue the discussion on alignments, just going to add more wood to the fire.
D&D has general rules and exceptions to those rules. For example, you choose whatever alignment you want for your character at creation (general rule). There are a few magic items and other transformative effects that might affect a character's alignment (exceptions).Source
Your character's alignment in D&D doesn't prescribe their behavior. Alignment describes inclinations. It's a roleplaying tool, like flaws, bonds, and ideals. If any of those tools don't serve your group's bliss, don't use them. The game's system doesn't rely on those tools.Source
In the wake of the change?
Whether it was for the particularly favorable times for a discussion, or for the already high flames, J.Crawford's note has launched a new wave of discussion in various communities, many of which, as I said, I follow with interest. Obviously, a separation has been created again, the usual front already trite and withdrawn. Before giving my point of view, I would like to underline a subsequent intervention by the Lead Designer which, in my opinion, is to be taken as an example of how to approach the game. Sui generis, mind you, not only for D&D.
Regarding a D&D monster's alignment, here's the general rule from the Monster Manual: “The alignment specified in a monster's stat block is the default. Feel free to depart from it and change a monster's alignment to suit the needs of your campaign.Source
Jeremy Crawford essentially said nothing new. A very small note at the beginning of SCAG (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide) clearly stated "Make the Realms yours". Never agreed with this more. What we are trying to do is to build a neutral field, without formal defects and old mechanics, to give free space to creativity. Alignments, fortunately or unfortunately, are the first obsolete mechanism in D&D, just before races and classes. Pathfinder 2 has already eliminated the potentially dangerous word race, replacing it with Ancestry and Heritage. Same thing will happen to alignments, ideals, the way of seeing the world and the way of representing it.
Before replying indignantly, terribly harsh, that in "your living room things are not like this", and to illustrate to everyone how you managed to stem a mechanism, think about it. There are hundreds of solutions on how to get out of alignment. And, perhaps precisely because there are hundreds of them, perhaps it is appropriate to remove them, definitively, so as to give all these creatives a prize.
Finally, I am left with a simple doubt. How much of what D&D is putting forth will end up pleasing the people who play it today? How many will simply be advertised in a moment of fervent attention, only to return to being ideas in a drawer? How will the most famous RPG in the world change, and how will its clones change? Will it be enough to keep up the bandwagon that has been created to date, or will it end up unraveling in the face of time?