I had the strangest idea about a possible solution — or at least an avenue of discussion — for the eternal problem of alignment. Back at the beginning of October, I suggested an alternative to the standard Good/Evil/Lawful/Chaotic alignment axes of Dungeons & Dragons.

Something more appropriate to an “ancient world” setting like mine.

Oct 4, 2013
Link: The Destiny-Agency Axis

One of the more obvious problems with alignments is trying to assign mechanical benefits and penalties to non-mechanical actions. Is stealing wrong? What if you take it from a monster? Is killing wrong? What about in self-defense? While these are fantastic topics for the discussion, they complicate gameplay.

What can make it worse is when a player declares an alignment, and not only doesn’t follow said alignment, but worse still — can’t be convinced otherwise.

But what if alignments could actually be tied directly to play — and perhaps even better, were not only indistinguishable from play but indistinguishable from one another. The ultimate choice being a deliberate illusion of choice?

Let’s say for example, that your alignment were one of Destiny Versus Agency. You exercise “agency” by making choices about your character’s actions but exercise “destiny” by rolling the dice to determine the outcome of said actions.

Is your character then an agent of prophesy, or free will? Both? Neither?

In a setting at war with itself over what is a fundamental reality of the game being played, the PCs are quite literally enemies with everyone and everything — no matter which choice they make, they are doomed to be in conflict with someone.

The question then, is how to make something like this fun.