Alignment in 4th Edition
The first post is from the Dungeon’s Master, where he questions the importance of Alignment in 4th Edition. He notes that 4E pared down the long-held Nine Alignments to five, and that two of those five are explicitly barred from Player Characters. He goes on to note that there are no penalties to changing alignments, and that the alignments that remain are so broad and all-encompassing that it’s unlikely that a character would stray from them any ways. He wonders if alignment even matters in 4th Edition.
To that I think I would respond that no, alignment doesn’t matter in 4th Edition. That’s not to say that I think it can’t matter in a campaign using the 4E system — it can, and like the Dungeon’s Master I think it should — but it’s my opinion that 4th Edition has a drastically different perspective on what D&D is than it’s predecessors did, and that different perspective doesn’t care much about alignment.
D&D has grown and changed over the years; this becomes more and more apparent as I read up about Chainmail and OD&D compared to the 3.X that I was introduced to. It was a war game that turned into an adventure game that became a role playing game. And as a role playing game, alignment aid the player in getting into they’re character’s head. It informs the player what their character’s morals and values are, and that should be used to inform the decisions and actions he makes. Why must a Paladin be Lawful Good? Because those are the values someone must hold before they would take up such a calling. Why must a rogue be non-Good? Because you can’t burglarize people on a regular basis and hold values focused on “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” These aren’t straight-jackets or lists of things your character can’t do, they’re things your character wouldn’t do and the perspective he has on the world around him. I believe the penalties associated with changing alignment in 1e and 2e are just ways of making the game care about alignment; they look like pretty ham-fisted ways from my point of view, but they’re the proverbial stick to encourage the player to consider his alignment before acting.