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Unconventional Alignment

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Because Dungeons & Dragons is the Trope Codifier and Ur-Example of so many Tabletop Game tropes, the two-axis alignment system (Order Versus Chaos and Black-and-White Morality) 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.

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Sometimes, an exceptional character (or two) doesn'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.


Examples:

Anime & Manga


Creators

  • 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.
  • Palladium Books's Megaversal system uses seven named character alignments, which pointedly do not include any "neutral" alignments. They are grouped in good, selfish, and evil alignments and roughly translate to classic Dungeons and Dragons alignments: Good: Principled (Lawful Good), Scrupulous (Neutral Good). Selfish: Unprincipled (Chaotic Good), Anarchist (Chaotic Neutral, though not the "insane" interpretation). Evil: Miscreant (Neutral Evil), Aberrant (Lawful Evil), Diabolical (Chaotic Evil). These are described by a short list of the things characters of that Alignment would or would not do in certain situations.
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Psychology

  • The Attachment Theory is a psychological framework that states animals in general and human beings, in particular, develop four attachment styles pertaining to their social relationships, especially the intimate ones. And it all depends on the nature of the relationship with their primary caregiver in the early stages of development. How reliable and available the caregiver was and how frequently love was provided by the caregiver are the key factors. Usually, the attachment style formed towards the caregiver will stick during adulthood, though traumatic experiences might change it.
    The attachment styles can be divided first into two categories: secure and insecure. If the caregiver was consistently reliable and available to the (emotional and physiological) needs of the child while also supplying them with love, then the child is likely to develop a secure attachment style. Will trust their companions to look after them (reliability), will be able to reciprocate love without major complications (love and availability), and will communicate their emotional needs as well as hear those of their companions.
    On the other hand, the caregiver failing to meet the needs of the child and not being available or reliable will cause the child to get an insecure attachment style. Seeing there exist several ways to mess up the aforementioned conditions, the insecure style can be further classified into anxious, avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs indeed.
    The anxious style is clingy to their companions and always paranoid about being abandoned. This style is characterized by low self-esteem (feeling not worthy of love) and constantly seeking love because they trust other people to meet their unfulfilled emotional needs. They are able to communicate said needs and reciprocate love but are too emotionally dependent.
    The avoidant style is standoffish and struggling to reciprocate love and commit to relationships. This style is characterized by an established sense of self-worth but a huge distrust towards other people in matters of meeting their emotional needs, often rejecting love altogether. They can't communicate their needs and will often neglect their companions' needs.
    The fearful-avoidant is both — it doesn't trust other people to meet their emotional needs no feels like it's deserving of love. This style sends mixed messages to their companions, reaching out only to isolate themself. They can't reciprocate love in a reliable manner, won't communicate their needs, but demand love nonetheless.
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  • The Four Humors theory of personality.


Tabletop Games

  • The Warhammer 40,000 is set in the morally gray 41st millennium.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Kindred of the East had your character follow one of several different "dharmas," which were more akin to philosophies about how you should live your (un)life and how you should treat your P'o.
  • Natives of the TORG realm of the Star Sphere follow one of three alignments based on whether they are passive, self-seeking, inwardly-focused (Aka), aggressive, others-centered, and outwardly-focused (Coar), or a balance between those extremes (Zinatt).
  • 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.


Video Games

  • 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 Black-and-White Morality, 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 Versus 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.
  • Fate Series:
    • In Fate/stay night, all the Servants have one specific alignment of the regular axis, with the exception 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 of the Fourth Holy Grail War was "Lawful Mad" while Herakles, the Berserker of the Fifth Holy Grail was "Chaotic Mad". Within the franchise, every Berserker introduced after them do not have the Mad alignment, though. (With the exception of a gag character named Mori Nagayoshi.)
    • Fate/EXTRA:
      • Nursery Rhyme doesn't have an alignment on her own and it changes depending on her Master's alignment. This unique "alignment" carries over to Grand Order.
      • CCC: When Elizabeth Báthory changes her class from Lancer to Berserker, her alignment changes from Chaotic Evil to Insane Reckless.
    • In Fate/Grand Order, Saber Nero can be summoned in her spandex-and-chains "bride" costume. In this form, her alignment is officially "Chaotic Bride" as opposed to her normal Chaotic Good. In addition, Tamamo no Mae has a swimsuit Lancer version whose official alignment is "Neutral Summer". Later Summer additions would also gain the Summer alignment, albeit not all of them.
      • In the Babylonia storyline of Grand Order, Quetzlcoatl's special ability as an opponent is damage reduction based on her attacker's alignment. Good Servants cannot damage her, and Neutral and Evil Servants only deal half damage. Only "Mad", "Summer", or "Bride"-aligned Servants can hit her for full damage.
      • Then there are Servants with two alignments. Ivan the Terrible is "Lawful Evil/Chaotic Evil", whereas Arjuna Alter is "Lawful Evil/Lawful Good". While for gameplay purposes, Ivan is treated as simply Lawful Evil, both of Arjuna Alter's two alignments actually count.
  • When the Tsukihime remake came out, the Material book lists each character with an alignment. The only exception is Shiki Tohno himself, whose alignment is simply stated to be "True Unknown". Arcueid when she transforms into "Luminary Arc" is classified as being "Lawful Chaotic", different from her usual Neutral Good alignment, or her Chaotic Good alignment as Archetype: Earth.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries: Some missions in 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.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne the previous system of alignment is discarded in favour of three specific philosophies: Shijima (a World of Silence), Musubi (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.
  • Medieval II: Total War: Noble characters' Karma Meter 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.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, the player decides their alignment by choosing Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic combined with a religion of your choice, meaning that you can choose to be Lawful Christian or a Chaotic Rastafarian (though Jesus specifically prevents you from becoming Lawful Scientologist since such a thing does not exist). The other party members' alignments are also listed on their character sheets, with the religion part either played straight (Clyde is Neutral Catholic while Tweek is Lawful Buddhist) or part of their in-universe character (Cartman is listed as Neutral Coonism and Kyle is a Lawful Kite Theologist). Uniquely, Henrietta has the alignment "Whatever Satanism".
  • Pipeworks ''Godzilla'' Trilogy:
    • In "Godzilla Unleashed", the normally chaotic monsters are divided into four teams geared towards their own respective interests regarding the crystal formation on Earth, with the possibilities of players allying or vilifying themselves with the factions depending on their actions taken in the story, and find yourself receiving backup support in the form of a Kaiju ally sent to fight alongside you should you do the former. It is also possible to pull a Face–Heel Turn on your respective faction.
    • The Earth Defenders, composed of Kaiju such as Godzilla and Mothra, are out to destroy the crystal formations before they can harm the environment further, but generally do not care about collateral damage done against humanity itself. They can be allied with by also helping destroy the crystals, but will be vilified if the player harnesses their power.
    • The Global Defence Force is composed of autonomous Kaiju such as Mecha-Godzilla 2 and Jet Jaguar, who are programmed to protect the human race first and foremost. As such, they will go after any Kaiju that causes a lot of collateral damage to cities but will ally themselves with that particular Kaiju if they recognize that they're being careful.
    • The Aliens are invaders who are capitalizing on the sudden appearance of the powerful crystals to further their plans for human conquest. They are composed of extra-terrestrial Kaiju such as Gigan and King Ghidorah (With the terrestrial Megalon and the original Mecha-Godzilla allied to them by default as nods to their films) who will ally themselves with any Kaiju that preserves the crystal formations and actively destroy any human resistance but will target anyone who destroys the crystals.
    • The Mutants are made up of a variety of genetic abominations, ruthless predators, and unnatural lifeforms that seek to harness the crystal power completely, driven by a need for pure power alone. Kaiju such as Biollante and Destoroyah make up this faction and will aid any Kaiju that is absorbing the crystals' power to further their own strength (Especially those who do it to the point where they reach Critical Mass) but will attack any Kaiju who is either destroying the crystals or isn't causing enough collateral damage.
  • In Disco Elysium, the player can align themselves to four different political ideologies through dialog options: Communism, Fascism, Ultraliberalism (equivalent to Libertarianism), and Moralism (equivalent to Centrism). All of them will make the player a Straw Character of some sort, but being a Moralist earns you the contempt of everyone for being a fence-sitter. There are also different personality types such as Sorry Cop, Boring Cop, and Apocalypse Cop that the player can also become.


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