Alignment Systems Lack Nuance

I’ve been thinking about alignment in tabletop RPGs a lot lately. It came up because the game that I’ve been playing lately, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, has an incredibly clunky alignment system that pushes characters towards lawfulness and goodness (on a 9-alignment system of good vs evil and lawful vs chaotic with neutral separating each alignment from the others) because the basic assumption is that a decent person is “neutral good.” Anything that is a little orderly is lawful, anything even a bit self-oriented or anti-established norms is chaotic, anything other than being decent is neutral, and anything absolutely reprehensible is evil. I disagree on so many levels it is difficult to find a place to start other than the very basic assumption: I think most people, even allowing them to be decent human beings, is “true neutral” or unaligned.

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Town Management

Argorath the Dark Lord, ruler of the Pits of Hindejnam, surveyed the city sprawling beneath his castle and sneered as more peasants flocked to his walls. They wanted safety from the horrors beyond his walls, even if it cost them their freedom. Their mewling sickened him and he had no use for them. He already had as many useless peasants as he could bear.

He signalled to his guards to drop the gates and, a few moments later, the chilling clank of his hell-forged gates slamming down was met by more wails from the pathetic masses rushing towards his walls.

It would be night soon. There was nowhere left for them to hide and the beasts would find them. Brutish adventurers would follow right after and anyone who survived the beasts would meet their death at the hands of treasury-hungry mercenaries.

It was terrible and he almost wished he could do something to help. Almost. He had enough on his plate with his own useless peasants. They did nothing but take up space and he had to have them around. If he didn’t, his knights would leave, his miners would disappear, and even his castellan would wander away. Peasants were an important part of keeping a town together and so he begrudgingly accepted the bare minimum.

He really wished he could expand his town walls, but he was out of space. He’d hit capacity and there was nothing he could do with his town to expand, so he mostly focused on strengthening it as much as he could. He didn’t want to meet his end at the hands of treasure hungry adventurers, either, and they just kept getting stronger.

He really wished he’d sprung for a premium account, now. Then there’d be no limit to his town’s size or strength.