Because Dungeons & Dragons
is the Trope Codifier
of so many Tabletop Game
tropes, the two-axis alignment system (Order vs. Chaos
and Good vs. Evil
) is considered the default, even when it wouldn't make sense. We had The Great Character Alignment Debate
over using the traditional system in places where it doesn't work or matter.
Some systems/works subvert our expectations of the alignment system by replacing or adding scales (and not just the same scale by a different name). Perhaps the system cares more about how sane a character is, or how famous they are, instead of how "nice" or "lawful" they are. Another way to subvert the expectations is to replace one or both scales with a single word. This wiki uses the word "stupid", usually, based on how other characters have behaved in stories and Real Life
. See Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid
Sometimes, an exceptional character or two don't conform to the standard alignment scheme and has a unique alignment listed in their stats. Works with unique alignments can add both nuance and often humour to what would otherwise be a dry description of which predefined box someone sits in.
Subtrope of Character Alignment
- Jade Empire uses 'Open Palm' versus 'Closed Fist'. Open Palm stands for harmony, accepting one's position in life and helping others accept theirs by supporting them, while Closed Fist stands for chaos, seeking to rise above one's station and encouraging others to do the same by teaching them self-sufficiency, harshly if necessary. While the alignments are similar to the basic Good vs. Evil, the Big Bad is an example of how Open Palm can turn someone into a Light Is Not Good Knight Templar.
- Mass Effect aligns its Karma Meter with the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, respectively called "Paragon" and "Renegade". In theory, Paragons are The Hero while Renegades are the '90s Anti-Hero. But since "the place of humanity in the galaxy" is a recurring theme, Renegades also tend to stand for shameless anti-alien racism.
- The Order of the Stick has a tie-in adventure game which lists the main cast's alignments as Beleaguered Good (Roy), Chaotic Greedy (Haley), Foolish Good (Elan), Arrogant Neutral (Vaarsuvius), Selfish Evil (Belkar), and Lawful Bland (Durkon).
- In 8-Bit Theater, Red Mage's alignment as stated by his character sheet is "Lawful Amazing", likely to hide the fact that he's most likely of Evil alignment.
- In Fate/stay night, all the servants have one specific alignment of the regular axis, with the execption of The Berserker Class, which exchanges the sanity of the servant for a Stat Boost, overriding the Morality Axis for the simple "Mad" label, and for example Lancelot, the Berserker servant of the Fourth War was "Lawful Mad" while Herakles, the Berserker servant of the fifth was "Chaotic Mad"
- On This Very Wiki: The Stupid axis.
- Seventh Sanctum has a "Realistic Alignment" generator that churns out such things as "Nerdy Evil" and "Frugal Good".
- Fable II has the standard Good/Evil axis and a not-so-standard Pure/Corrupt one, described by in-game text as essentially "be healthy vs. enjoy yourself". Charging high rent is also corrupt, for some reason.
- The classic Ultima games from Ultima IV onwards featured an alignment system consisting of eight theoretically independent Virtue scales: Honesty, Compassion, Valor, Justice, Sacrifice, Honor, Spirituality, and Humility. "Theoretically" because in specific situations Virtues contradicted each other, forcing the player to prioritize one over the other, but ultimate achieve perfection in each of them to become the Avatar.
- Torment: Tides of Numenera features the eponymous five Tides instead of a classical alignment. The Tides represent the inner values less than the outcome and the impact of your actions.
- Missions in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries will give you either "nobility" or "infamy". Nobility is usually earned for defense-oriented missions like convoy escorts and reinforcement, letting defeated opponents flee, protecting optional objectives, and also fighting the Clans or Capellans. Infamy is gained for aggressive missions like raids and convoy interception, destroying retreating enemies, and assassinations. The two numbers are measured side-by-side, and usually go exclusively up (and the game notes that it's practically impossible to not get a fair bit of each), but one mission does decrease your infamy - after a mission as honor guard at a peace conference (which get bombed, to nobody's surprise), you have the option to escort the delegates off-planet, provided you do it free of charge.
- The Warhammer 40,000 is set in the morally gray 41st millenium.
- Dark Heresy substitutes a system of Insanity and Corruption to determine how crazy or Chaos influenced you are.
- Meanwhile, spin-off game Black Crusade replaces these with Corruption and Infamy; Corruption is how warped by Chaos you are, while Infamy is a weird combination of how strong your spirit is, how notorious you are, and how much notice the Chaos Gods pay to you. High Infamy is the key to becoming a Daemon Prince, while Corruption maxing out will transform you into a Chaos Spawn.
- Inquisitor's alignments (for the 'Inquisition' leader characters) are Puritan and Radical. Although it is a very grey area, Puritan generally refers to characters who refuse to use tactics or equipment tainted by Chaos or Xenos, while Radical factions will use techniques further on the edge. The backstory involves Inquisitorial factions that fight over the idea of resurrecting the Emperor. This is not good or evil, but merely the methods that they might use while being good or evil.
- In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne the previous system of alignment is discarded in favour of three specific philosophies: Shijima (a World of Silence), Musabi (everyone is isolated in their own personal Lotus-Eater Machine) and Yosuga (a meritocracy where Might Makes Right). You can also reject this set-up by resetting the world to the way it was, leaving it as the Vortex World forever, or setting your sights on destroying the system itself.
- The Four Humors theory of personality.
- Magic: The Gathering uses a five-colour system. While the five colours have been mapped to the conventional D&D style alignment, it isn't really a 1:1. Intentionally so, alignment to a colour philosophy is the focus of both flavour and mechanical design.
- Characters who use magic tend to be judged more based on what colour of mana they would prefer to use.
- Cards are limited to what the colour can do mechanically. Such as the "Flying" ability for Blue, and the "Deathtouch" ability for Black.
- Alara shows five planes where one allied pair is missing from each plane, and the effects on the environment. The shape is nicknamed "shard".
- Tarkir is dominated by clans/dragons that each utilize two allied colours and the shared enemy colour. The factions are built on the philosophy of the three colours together. The shape is nicknamed "wedge".
- Ravnica features a Guild for each two-colour pair, any two-colour card on that plane is automatically aligned to that guild's philosophies.
- 7th Sea has alignment as a division between heroes, scoundrels and villains. Every NPC has a line in their stats, listing whether they are heroic or villainous. But not Mad King Jack O'Bannon. He is listed as "The O'Bannon", not "Hero" or "Villain".
- The World of Darkness uses specific "karma meters" for each of the races/sub-systems.
- Vampire: The Masquerade has "Humanity" as the default meter, although vampires do have other paths available in splatbooks. For example, a vampire on the path of Typhon would be dinged on the Karma Meter for failing to exploit someone else's weakness, as they are committed worshipers of Set and such weakness should not be countenanced. The Humanity gauge defines and is defined by how humane you are and determines whether you'll become bloodthirsty insane when you smell blood.
- Vampire The Dark Ages had a few alternate alignments that did not turn you into a monster immediately, such as the Path of Heaven, where a vampire decides that his new role is to accept his curse as judgment from God and use it to bring about God's judgment and mercy on the earth.
- The videogame Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is based on the tabletop RPG, and uses the default "humanity" gauge. The Humanity meter depends on how humane you are and determines whether you'll become bloodthirsty insane when your blood meter reaches zero and also affects some dialogues.
- Hunter: The Reckoning had three primary virtues for a character - Zeal, Mercy, and Vision - and your hunter type explicitly stated what your character believed in. For example, a Visionary would pursue understanding, while a Defender was most concerned with protecting innocent people and a Martyr had internalized suffering for others.
- Changeling: The Dreaming had Seelie and Unseelie nature, with Seelie being summery, "nicer" fae. Character development took the Unseelie from being bad guys to being anti-heroic. Of course, each fae has a dominant side, but it's not always in charge.
- Mage: The Awakening uses Wisdom, which is Humanity + Humility about your cosmic powers.
- The now-defunct gamerjargon.com website included "Chaotic Hungry" for creatures that aren't evil, but simply view the PCs as a good meal.
- Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) wrote The Joy of Work, which includes a section on boss alignments: Competent Harmless, Incompetent Harmless, Competent Evil, and Incompetent Evil.
- Natives of the TORG realm the Star Sphere follow one of three alignments based on whether they are passive, self-seeking, and inwardly-focused (Aka), aggressive, others-centered, and outwardly-focused (Coar), or a balance between those extremes (Zinatt).
- Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG has several:
122. The paladin's alignment is not Lawful Anal.
651. My alignment is not Sarcastic Good.
742. Apparently Chaotic Angry and Neutral Hungry aren't real alignments either.
- Palladium roleplaying games, such as Heroes Unlimited and Rifts, still use Good and Evil, but it removes the idea of a neutral alignment in the "balance" sense. Instead of neutral, a character can be Selfish. The seven core alignments are Principled (effectively Lawful Good), Scrupulous (Neutral- to Chaotic Good), Unprincipled(Chaotic Good to Lawful Neutral), Anarchist(Chaotic Neutral), Miscreant(Neutral- to Chaotic Evil), Aberrant (Lawful Evil), and Diabolic(abolute worst of Neutral- and Chaotic Evil, just short of Card Carrying Evil). These are described by a short list the things characters of that Alignment would or would not do in certain situations.
- Dragon Magazine ran a parody of the game's own alignment system with a method of classifying players termed "Front-End Alignments."
- DC Heroes calls their system "Motivation", which included over a dozen different alignments for characters. Upholding the Good, Seeking Justice, Responsibility of Power, Thrill of Adventure and Unwanted Power for Heroes. On the Villains' side, we have Mercenary, Nihilist, Power Lust, Psychopath and Thrill Seeker. There are also anti-heroic versions of all these which blur the good/evil lines a bit.
- Noble characters' Karma Meter in Medieval II: Total War seems like a simple Good-Evil continuum at first, renaming the sides to Chivalry-Dread: characters earn Chivalry by building religious buildings, releasing captured prisoners, and lowering taxes, while Dread is earned by employing Assassins, massacring captured foes and settlements, and exploiting the populace. But this alignment system also notices your battlefield behavior, and judges it based on medieval standards. "Chivalrous" tactics then consist of nothing more sophisticated than headlong charges, while using flanking actions, skirmishers, sneak attacks, or even Spies to gather intelligence, all increase a general's Dread.
- A non-game example for Tumblr blogs: Pure to Problematic and Aesthetic to Shitpost.