Thursday, October 13, 2011

FtA: Burning Down the Garden of Good and Evil

I've mentioned this before, but I reject the notion of good and evil, and even neutrality to a certain extent, within the context of role playing.  Once you accept killing as a part of your system, any notion of good and evil as we understand it goes out the window.  Rather, I'm going to divide the "alignment" of From the Ashes between Law, Chaos, Altruism and Selfishness (although I'd love a different word than Selfishness - I was thinking malevolence, but that's too close to Evil.  Still thinking on that).  Law and Chaos represent your views on how the world should act, while Altruism and Selfishness represent your views on how you should act.  I think that encompasses things nicely, without falling prey to the pitfalls I've previously described.

I've ordered a copy of Lumpley Games' Dogs in the Vineyard, which, on the face of it, is as unlikely a premise as you're apt to find in modern roleplaying.  Loosely based on the Mormon faith in the days of the frontier, you play the titular God's Watchdogs, whose job it is to travel from town to town, delivering mail, handing down the judgements of the Almighty, killing heretics, you know - the usual.  In this world, however, the Lord of Lords is very active, and his word literally is law. 

That mildly interested me as a setting, but the kicker was the last paragraph of the wikipedia article, "One of the most potent aspects of the system is "Town Creation" where the moral landscape of the town is laid out in the form of characters, their desires, and what they've done to each other. This gives the GM the ability to make sure that merely engaging meaningfully in the town is interesting and making wins or losses less important to them. By representing the townsfolk and their interests, rather than presenting a tactical challenge, the GM is able to pose interesting questions of the players and give them opportunities to judge their own characters."

Which is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking to do with From the Ashes.  It arrives tomorrow, and I look forward to mining it for ideas.


  1. Selfishness. Hmmm.

    Arrogance, maybe?

  2. I'd go with greed. An Altruism-Greed axis sounds right to me.

    I'm still not sure how I feel about using alignment in a post apocalyptic setting. I imagine that moral concerns would be set aside so long as day to day survival was a struggle.

  3. @Human's Folly - hmm, I see where you're going but I'm looking for something more self serving than self aggrandizing

    @Quibish - I agree with you completely, and rereading the post, I see I wasn't clear. These "alignments" aren't meant to be an indicator of how you should act, but a gauge of the actions you have taken. So if you burn down a house, you slide towards chaos, if you stop to help someone on the side of the road, you slide towards Altruism. That sort of thing.