Friday, July 9, 2010

Alignment in Flying Swordsmen RPG

I'd been thinking about dropping alignment in my kung fu RPG. It's in Dragon Fist because it was in AD&D, but I don't think it's necessary, and could even hinder the setting/style of wuxia.

Al's post on alignment at Beyond the Black Gate got me thinking about this.

Wuxia is about people who basically hold the same beliefs as the rest of the people in their nation (truth, respect, honor, virtue, etc.) but add individuality to the mix, while the population as a whole believes in conformity.

Using the AD&D double-axis, nine point alignment scheme seems counterintuitive. Even a simple system like D&D's Law-Neutrality-Chaos feels wrong (and a modified individual/group axis seems pointless). Basically, xia are supposed to be the good guys, but they don't need to act like typical good guys. They're outside of society, but fight for it. So basically, anyone who knows the xia mindset would end up CG (as I've seen so many AD&D characters end up anyway).

So I'm gonna ditch alignment. I'll definitely have a section in the book--the introductory chapter--where I'll discuss the themes and tropes of wuxia, and how I think they can be emulated in an RPG. But no pidgeon-holing people into alignments (even if the alignment system is meant to only be a guide to roleplaying) that might stiffle creative play.

As with S&S, wuxia benefits from having complex characters who are defined by their individual codes of conduct/honor/morality than being fit into some cookie-cutter game system.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, I've never bothered with aligment. It doesn't add anything to the game and is another layer of abstraction that isn't really necessary for anything. Does the game fundamentally change if your selfish character is Neutral Evil as opposed to Lawful Evil, or is it the exact same game?