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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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Location: Boston

PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Massaria wrote:
Quote:
...so once you approach neutral you're in a pretty steep gravity well. If you should slip past zero, you will lose XP for each kill. Nasty, huh?

It's not only nasty, it's silly - but sadly it's a sillyness most alignment systems that I've seen, is guilty of.
The notion that people who change their perspective is somehow worse of than people who stubbornly stick to whatever mindset they've been given by their parents, doesn't seem realistic to me - quite the contrary.
Well, no wonder you think it's silly - my game has no component called "perspective". You choose your alignment yourself when you join a Guild. If you should kill someone who has prayed to me for protection, then no, I'm not going to give you XP for killing them. It's that simple. I really don't care what your "perspective" on the situation was, how you were feeling, or who your parents were. You made a promise to a god, and you broke it. ZAP!!
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Yui Unifex
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alignment is an interesting topic. Some would say it's oversimplified -- the world is not black and white and good and evil, so why are our alignment systems so exaggerated? People often simultaneously support both law and chaos depending on a political viewpoint.

Personally, I think we should do away with the concept of alignment and institute a more robust system for describing a character's moral philosophy. This philosophy is what alignment is really supposed to measure anyway, isn't it? If you decide to go this route, there are quite a few well-researched systems for measuring philosophies.

Actions speak louder than words. It's my preference that the philosophy of a character reflect his actions in game. This can be a difficult task, but a robust questing or dialog system can award points in the major philosophies depending on what options are chosen.
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Aioros



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first mud i ever played, used an alignment system that i think was very well implemented.

1st, on lower levels, you'd decide if you were going to plead to good, evil or neutrality, then, each time you'd level up, if your alignment was acording to the pledge, you'd gain a couple quest points (qps were very scarce there, only aquirable by a few quests you could not repeat, pkilling and leveling up with alignment acording to your pledge), and these quest points were used to practice skills and spells to 100%, providing a considerable boost in their efficience (in the end, you could only master a few skills, since qps weren't enough for all of them).


For some more diversity between chars, some of the quests also gave away special equipment, with properties different than the usual piece of eq found in the mud (like sneak ability). The top level quests gave even stronger equipment, and this equipment was different for each alignment.
Me being good, if lucky, i could gain the plate of the holy crusades, that gave sanctuary and was better than the other armors in the game.
Evil people had a shield that if activated would cast up to 3 fireballs per day.
Neutral people had and armor to give elemental protection, like fire, ice, etc ...

Every faction had a few pieces that would be given in the top level quests. Weapons, armors, bracers, collars, leggings, whatever. Each alignment with their powers and you never could have them all, only the ones luck would give you.

So in the end, there was character diversity not only from race and class, but also from alignment, since it affected the equipment you'd be gaining.
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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Personally, I think we should do away with the concept of alignment and institute a more robust system for describing a character's moral philosophy. This philosophy is what alignment is really supposed to measure anyway, isn't it? If you decide to go this route, there are quite a few well-researched systems for measuring philosophies.


Got any links to ones that you've found applicable to Mudding or gaming in general? And if so, any thoughts on how'd you'd go around implementing that kind of system?
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never really been comfortable with "alignment" (in the classic D&D sense) at the conceptual level, for the simple reason that it seems completely back-to-front. When was the last time a real person said to himself "I am an evil person, therefore, in this situation, I will choose the evil path"?

Pretty much everybody either thinks he's a good person, even if hardly anyone else agrees with him, or simply rejects the whole concept of good and evil.

And, in any case, alignment is something that should be determined by a character's actions, not the other way around. If a character behaves evilly it is reasonable to describe him as "evil". If he behaves capriciously, sometimes good, sometimes not, that should be his prerogative. In neither case does it make sense to get the player to choose to be "evil" or "neutral" in advance of the decisions that label him.

A system that is based not on "alignment" but on "reputation" seems to me to be a far better idea. This would control all kinds of interaction between player and NPCs (and maybe other players). A player character is thus not classed as "evil" but as someone who is well-known and respected within the Assassin's Guild, someone who is feared and shunned by peasants and lower-class folk, someone who is publically denounced but privately favoured by one or two specific aristocratic employers, someone who has displeased the Disciples Of Aeos by desecrating the Temple Of The Dawn, etc.

Clearly a system like this should be based on far more than just who the character has killed. And, in principle, it could extent to gameplay bonuses or penalties if, for example, the character draws his power by invoking that of a deity who approves or dissaproves of his actions. But "alignment" in the normal sense of the term is just wrong.
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Yui Unifex
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
Got any links to ones that you've found applicable to Mudding or gaming in general?

I think some reading on the major doctrines of ethics should help a great deal with information gathering for the general case. From these you can setup the basic measurements your mud will make. One of the most popular methods for measuring alignment is to align the character with a deity of some sort, but this is only a small subset of the possible ethical systems and so it's no wonder there are a lot of folks complaining about how much the abstraction leaks.

Ashon wrote:
And if so, any thoughts on how'd you'd go around implementing that kind of system?

There are a number of methods for measuring the ethical practice of a player. Motive plays a significant role in this measurement and this is difficult to obtain through standard play. You would certainly need some sort of dialog or questing system that allows the player to select a reasoning behind accepting a particular quest.

First you need to setup a moral dilemma and see how the character resolves it. Say you have a wizard that's been performing disfiguring and painful experiments on the peasantry in order to create some magical artifact that will ultimately benefit the peasantry. The player could be accepted to perform tasks for the wizard, and depending on the player's choices we can measure what sort of ethical system the player adheres to.

Does he fight the wizard? Does he help to free the peasants? Or does he help him for the greater good? Does he oppose or support the wizard because this religious artifact furthers the doctrine of his religion? Is he simply acting out of greed? Or is it just accepted practice in that nation that wizards experiment on peasants, so tough luck if you're the unlucky slob?

Setting up quests and areas as moral dilemmas could provide a great deal of depth to your game. With your typical mud alignment system, the answers to the questions asked above would be impossible to collect into a simple one-scale value of good and evil. Not to mention it is far more interesting to have to have shades of grey behind a player's actions.
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kelson76



Joined: 27 Jun 2005
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 8:16 pm    Post subject: Thoughts on Alignment.... Reply with quote

Here are a few considerations....

1. In reality, most people are closer to a good/neutral than a full-blown good. Why are so many Mobs classified as Good or Evil? I think the vast majority should be 'Neutral'. This minimizes some of the impact of killing a mob w/r/t your alignment.

2. We allow alignment to change way to easily. Go kill 5 mobs, your align swings 180deg. That's kinda ridiculous. Also, assume you are good, if you go and slaughter all of the villagers in a town, you SHOULD swing to 'pure evil'. However, the fact that you killed all those innocent women and children does not go away if you go and donate 1000 gold to the church. You are still a psychopathic murderer.

3. I think having two alignments makes a bit of sense. The first is your 'moral fiber', it's who you really are. This moves very slowly. The next is the alignment that is based on your current behavior. You can then compare these and see if they are in sync or not. If they are not, you get penalized, call it internal conflict. Loss of concentration in combat and spellcasting for example. Over time, if you say out of sync, your moral fiber will slow start to shift due to the influence of your current behavior.

4. Another change is to create a 'combatant' and 'non-combatant' flag. You don't get penalized for killing combatants, but you do non-combatant's.

- Kelson
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 9:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Thoughts on Alignment.... Reply with quote

kelson76 wrote:
Here are a few considerations....

1. In reality, most people are closer to a good/neutral than a full-blown good. Why are so many Mobs classified as Good or Evil? I think the vast majority should be 'Neutral'. This minimizes some of the impact of killing a mob w/r/t your alignment.

2. We allow alignment to change way to easily. Go kill 5 mobs, your align swings 180deg. That's kinda ridiculous. Also, assume you are good, if you go and slaughter all of the villagers in a town, you SHOULD swing to 'pure evil'. However, the fact that you killed all those innocent women and children does not go away if you go and donate 1000 gold to the church. You are still a psychopathic murderer.

3. I think having two alignments makes a bit of sense. The first is your 'moral fiber', it's who you really are. This moves very slowly. The next is the alignment that is based on your current behavior. You can then compare these and see if they are in sync or not. If they are not, you get penalized, call it internal conflict. Loss of concentration in combat and spellcasting for example. Over time, if you say out of sync, your moral fiber will slow start to shift due to the influence of your current behavior.

4. Another change is to create a 'combatant' and 'non-combatant' flag. You don't get penalized for killing combatants, but you do non-combatant's.

- Kelson


I like this entire idea. That's really all I have to say. But in addition, I really like the idea of using a two-fold alignment system "Moral fibre/Current Mindset" system that allows for internal (man vs. self) conflict, which is rarely delved into in the course of video games. Combatant and non-combatant flags would be a decent and easy implementation of this, but who defines a combatant? Of course, warriors count, but mothers defending their children can most certainly count. But it makes sense that you would remain rather unchanged by killing enemy combatants, and would swing slightly for killing enemy non-combatants.

Let's add another dimension, and assume that your character's relations give him allies AND enemies. We know what happens when we kill "enemies", but what if we want to switch sides and masacre our allies? Then we *do* get a radical 180 dg. shift in which team we're playing for.

Of course, most animals, unless you're in a severely polarized world would be neutral and not effect character alignment at all.
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BobTHJ



Joined: 19 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My MUD Engine uses a Faction or Reputation system instead of alignment. Basically, it takes the Good/Evil axis of alignment and adds a hundred more axis (axees?) along side it.

So, for example, a Orc Shaman mob of the Greenbriar clan in the game might have the following faction scores:

Good (-200)
Orc (+600)
Magic (+250)
Greenbriar Clan (+400)

Then, let's say your wizard PC has the following scores:

Good (+500)
Orc (-200)
Magic (+350)


When you encounter the Orc, a overall faction score is generated using the following formula:

1. If the two mobs have opposing scores for an reputation category, deduct the difference between those scores from the overall score
2. If the two mobs both have positive or both have negitive scores for a reputation category, add the absolute value of the smallest of those two scores to teh overall score.
3. If only one mob has a score for a reputation category, disregard that score.

So if your PC Mob meets up with the Orc Shaman, your overall faction score would be:

Subtract difference between Good rep category: -700
Subtract difference between Orc rep category: -800
Add absolute value of lowest score in the Magic rep category: 250
Ignore the Greenbriar clan category: 0

Total Score: -1250.

A negitive overall score indicates that the mob is Hostile toward you, where as a positive overall score indicates the mob is Friendly. The amount of the overall score determines how hostile or friendly the mob is. For example, a score of -100 might earn you a nasty sneer from the Orc, but since your score is -1250, he will instead attack you on sight.

Now, let's say you kill the Orc in battle. Your reputation scores now change based off of the Orc's scores. Here's the formula:

Divide each of the Orc's reputation scores by 10000, then subtract that percentage of maximum possible change from your matching reputation score. (NOTE: Reputation scores have a maximum range of -1000 to +1000).

So in our example, when we slay the Orc, here's what happens (one rep category at a time):

GOOD
The Orc has -200 good. Which means that it will cause a 2% -(-200 / 10000) of the maximum possible change in our Good rep category. Since our Good rep is +500, the maximum possible change is 500 points (+1000 limit - +500 current rep). Since we receive 2% of that change, our Good rep goes up 10 points to +510.

ORC
The Orc has +600 orc rep. Which means that it will cause a -6% -(600 / 10000) of the maximum possible change in our Orc rep category. Since our Orc rep is -200, the maximum possible change is 800 points (-1000 limit - -200 current rep). Since we receive -6% of that change, our Orc rep goes down 48 points to -248.

MAGIC
The Orc has +250 Magic rep. Which means that it will cause a -2.5% -(250 / 10000) of the maximum possible change in our Magic rep category. Since our Magic rep is +350, the maximum possible change is 1350 points (-1000 limit - +350 current rep). Since we receive -2.5% of that change, our Magic rep goes down 38 (rounding from 33.75) points to 312.

GREENBRIAR CLAN
We currently have no rep for the GreenBriar clan (apparently this was our first encounter with them). Therefore our maximum possible change is 1000. The Orc, having a +400 will cause a 4% change in our maximum, giving us -40 Greenbriar rep.

So, when it's all said and done, our rep is:
Good (+510)
Orc (-248)
Magic (+312)
Greenbriar Clan (-40)


These reputation scores effect everything mob you encounter. For example, later on down the road you may encounter a Good orc from a different clan. Although he will like the fact that you are good, he will dislike the fact that you are opposed to his other Orc bretheren. Or, what if you encounter a Good city guard commander who is deathly afraid of magic and magic users? While you are both good, he will dislike you for being a wizard and having a positive Magic score.

A few other factors that effect the reputation system:

Most quests will award positive or negitive reputation points for certain factions. For example, when you help the shop owner find a missing pair of boots, you will gain a small reward in your rep categories for good, the showkeepers race & class, and the government of the city that the shopkeeper resides in.

This system makes it easy to be swayed to the opposite side of a rep category, but very difficult to reach the extreme ends of a category (-1000 or +1000). This represents that a Good player will become evil after only killing a few other Good mobs, but in order to become unconditionally Good, they will have to slay many, many Evil mobs. In contrast, and Evil character can lose their Evil reputation by doing only a few Good deeds, but it will require many Good deeds for them to become completely Good.

To prevent players from contantly shifting reputation scores from one end to the other all the time, I have added an additional factor: Distrust. When your reputation score in a category shifts opposite of it's current value (for example, if you have a positive score, and you receive negitive points in that category), your Distrust penalty increases by an equal number of points. You wouldn't trust someone who is constantly changing their beliefs from one spectrum to another, and in the same way, Mobs will be less likely to be kind to people they distrust. When calculating the overall faction score between your player and a Mob, you deduct your Distrust penalty from the total. Over time, your detrust penalty is reduced as mobs forget about your "waffling" behavior.

I'm trying to determine how add hidden agendas to the reputation system. For example, a high ranking diplomat in a Good city pretents to be Good, while secretly he is an Evil sorcerer who is plotting to destroy the city to fuel a powerful evil spell. I'm not quite sure how to represent this using the above system, but I'm working on it. One thought was to "Muffle" the reputation score so to another player or Mob he would appear to be "Good". Another is to have his reputation score be "Good" until his nefarious plot is revealed, at which time it jumps to the "Evil" side. A third concept is to have 2 sets of reputation scores, one for what other people perceive you as initially, and another for what you actually are when all your secrets are known.

The problem lies in knowledge. What if player A discovers that he is an Evil sorcerer, but Player B who comes along later doesn't know it? If his reputation score jumps to Evil then Good Player B will be opposed to him even though the Mob is still trying to maintain his cover as a "good guy".

Anyway, that's my approach to the whole alignment thing.
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Tonitrus



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alignment is a concept that has given me headaches for years.

On the one hand, alignment seems to be something that is effectively impossible to implement in any sort of sane way, while on the other, alignment seems to give a useful variety and source of conflict. I played a Chaotic Evil Necromancer on a mud once that placed a high importance on alignment. I was often in trouble with Justices (for violating laws) and Knights (for being evil).

As for the sort of interesting conflicts that could emerge from a 9 alignment D&D style system, imagine a group containing a lawful evil Wizard, a chaotic good Rogue, and a lawful good Cleric. The Rogue and the Cleric would disagree with the Wizard on how to deal with opponents, whether or not to help those in need, and so on, while the Cleric and the Wizard would disagree with the Rogue on matters concerning theft, honor violations, and the like. I find this concept very interesting.

What I do not find interesting at all is the interpretations of alignments I've seen. For example, when my Necromancer was robbed by a Paladin, the Paladin's justification was "he's evil". In fact, in that particular game, most good-aligned characters I encountered would go out of their way to kill me. Now, I'm not opposed to players hunting other players, but having a "good" alignment be a carte blanch to hunt down and kill every evil character in the game is both absurd and reprehensible.

Likewise, the evil alignment annoys me as well. I've read several D&D books that seem to believe the purpose of evil is to go around being evil, which is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Such juvenile interpretations of good/evil really grind my gears, but they seem too prevalent to overcome by simply having help files to the contrary.

I also have philosophical objections to the chaotic/lawful axis to a lesser extent. Now perhaps simply having different names for different alignments can avoid some of the troubles I've listed above, but I'm not so certain. I suspect if Paladins had a "Detect Evil" for whatever I decided to call the Evil alignment, they'd merrily massacre everyone they found. I hate Paladins.

Now, if I have no alignments at all, that avoids the whole problem, which is sorely tempting. Probably the funnest game I ever played in had no sense of alignment. I played the equivalent of a Chaotic Neutral character, and, although no character in the game had a set alignment, the typical interactions occurred. People didn't like it when I'd race speeders around a space station and accidentally crash into things and set them on fire. The more well-behaved individuals would get annoyed when I would cheat at cards, and so on.

That said, in a system with no alignment, there are no alignment checks. Detect Evil may be an abused and useless power, but it's also an excellent warning that you may be in danger. Having no alignment at all makes such warnings impossible. In the mud where I played my Necromancer, goods/evils couldn't group together, so I always grouped with neutrals or other evils. Neutrals were preferable in most cases. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed traveling with evils because you couldn't trust them at all. I'm still uncertain if a "friend" on that mud deliberately set me up to die so he could rob me and blame it on a drow. Damn illithids.

Now having alignments known can sometimes be a detraction. Senator Palpatine surely would not wish to show up on Detect Evil, but skills (Bluff, Deceit, etc) could be used to mask ones alignment. Perhaps that defeats the purpose, and perhaps it does not. I play a Lawful Evil vampire in a different game, and I remembered to mask myself from Detect Evil and Detect Undead for the first several games, but then I started to forget. Now I don't even bother.

I came to the conclusion a long while ago that tracking alignment off of player actions is impossible. Why impossible? There are, quite simply, no actions that are good in and of themselves. Helping an old woman across the street? Maybe I'm just setting up for a hostage if things go wrong. Giving money to the poor? It's good for my reputation. I could think of no singular act that could not be construed as an evil act, or a method of facilitating a planned evil act.

My latest stab at alignments goes like this: You pick your alignment. Your alignment is the morality your character professes to follow, and, theoretically, adheres to. Separate from that, you have a morality score which tracks how well you adhere to your alignment. Raising that score will be severely spam-protected, but I'll leave alignment "sins" without any sort of spam protection. It's always easier to descend than to ascend. A lawful good paladin who goes around killing every evil he encounters will end up with an upsettingly low morality score, which, incidentally, is likely to make him show up on Detect Evil, even though his alignment is Lawful Good. Likewise, an Evil character with a low morality rating might fail to show on Detect Evil, and might even show up on Detect Good, although I'd probably cap it at Neutral in that case for philosophical reasons. Having a high morality would offer bonuses to rolls made due to increased confidence/conviction/focus, while having a low morality would offer penalties.

I think a system like this might allow a reasonable sort of alignment tracking, as the specified alignment can determine the value of each action, but I'm ultimately unsure of the whole concept. I've gone back and forth over alignment for years, and I still don't have any good answers on whether or not it should even be present in a game.

Comments, observations, or descriptions of interesting alignment systems would be appreciated. Note that I like reputation systems and will probably utilize one. Alignment would be a distinct concept, if I were to utilize it at all.
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Tonitrus



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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2011 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Upon further reflection, I can't think of any use for an alignment system that isn't better served by a reputation system.

Detecting the danger that Detect Evil might show could be as simple as having secret reputation scores, such as for violence, attacking group-mates, etc.

The only thing I can think of that an alignment system is particularly good at is trying to force players to behave a certain way to keep their alignment, or to attempt to impose a set morality upon them. I don't consider this a useful goal.

You could easily have spells like Protection from Evil protect against players with a reputation for violence, bloodshed, and mayhem. Paladins, for example. Likewise, powers like Smite Evil and the aforementioned Detect Evil could work the same. This gives all the flexibility of having a true (and maybe even decent) alignment system without the whole concept of cosmic good and cosmic evil which almost always reeks of the emotional maturity of 6-year-olds.
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