The Drylands (Pathfinder)
Alignment (Good/Neutral/Evil and Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic) is determined by the actions of your character. The choices made determine alignment, not mindsets, intentions, or justifications.
In most cases alignment shift is independent of motivation, if you protect the innocent because you feel you’re supposed to versus because you want his help, it’s still good. However, if someone needs help and INSTEAD of acting to help you bargain for reward or payment and THEN help, you’ve removed yourself from the act and it’s no longer good. Metaphysically speaking, the omission of help balances the eventual help.
Mechanically, alignment has effects on spells, class restrictions, and other game elements. This is especially true for Mogogols who get physically ill whenever their alignment moves away from good.
Roleplay-wise, it’s great to have a unique sense of right and wrong, order and disorder. Play your character however seems appropriate for its personality. Just be aware the powers-that-be may disagree with how the character interprets its actions, and that disagreement can express itself in how certain mechanics affect that character.
Your alignment is only refering to how the cosmic powers-that-be judge your actions. You can finesse it so you’re a little shit that everyone hates but still count as a good person. There are many ways you can incur social judgement (positive or negative) on yourself without touching your alignment. Cultural relativism vs metaphysics, basically.
To be a “good” character, that person must:
- Act to protect innocent life
- Act altruistically
- Respect life
- Act to preserve the dignity of sentient beings
- Make short-term personal sacrifices to provide long-term help to others
Every time a character commits a “good act”, they take a step towards being “good”. The greater the act – the greater the step.
Every time a character has the opportunity to do one of these and doesn’t, they take a step away from being “good” and towards being “neutral”. The greater the omission – the greater the step.
To be an “evil” character, that person must:
- Kill others in a manner that isn’t “good”
- Kill others without guilt for the sake of convenience
- Hurt others in a manner that isn’t “good”
- Hurt others without guilt for the sake of convenience
- Oppress others
- Debase/disrespect life
- Choose to withhold significant aid when doing so confers little/no benefit to the character
- Actively try to be “evil”
Every time a character commits an “evil” act, they take a step towards being “evil”. The greater the act – the greater the step. Forgoing an “evil” act doesn’t result in a step towards “neutral”. “Neutral” isn’t a center point on a continuum, it’s more of a not-actively-good state than half-good, half-evil state.
A character who alternates between “good” and “evil” acts of similar importance can thus be mechanically “neutral,” although probably would be considered insane and/or criminal by most people who are aware of that behavior.