Author Topic: Rp'ing low stats and Alignment  (Read 7403 times)


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Rp'ing low stats and Alignment
« on: June 22, 2006, 11:40:47 PM »
Contrary to popular belief, alignment does matter, especially in Ravenloft, where the Dark Powers sit in judgement of all in their demesne. Your PC's actions will be watched and judged by those who rule this realm.

This does not mean that you are bound by the alignment on your character sheet. What this does mean is that the alignment on your character sheet will be changed to reflect the way your character is behaving.

First, lets go over how the alignments are defined in D&D, as written in the 3rd edition Player's Handbook:

The Moral Axis:

 :arrow: Good: Good characters protect innocent life. "Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

 :arrow: Evil: Evil characters debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or for profit. "Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil characters simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.

 :arrow: Neutral: People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are commited to others by personal relationships. A neutral person may sacrifice himself to protect his family or even his homeland, but he would not do so for strangers who are not related to him. Being neutral between good and evil usually represents a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a balanced view. While acknowledging that good and evil are objective states, not just opinions, these folk maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people, or at least for them. Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral, because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior.

The Ethical Axis:

 :arrow: Lawful: Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties. "Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherance to tradition, judgementalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who actively promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.

 :arrow: Chaotic: Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it. "Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment towards legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

 :arrow: Neutral: People who are neutral with respect to law and chaos have a normal respect for authority and feel neither a compulsion to obey nor rebel. They are honest, but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others. Neutrality with respect to law and chaos is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blindspots and drawbacks. Animals and other creatures incapable of ethical action are neutral.

The Nine Alignments

 :arrow: Lawful Good: A lawful good character combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. She tells the truth, keeps her word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished.

 :arrow: Neutral Good: A neutral good character is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them.

 :arrow: Chaotic Good: A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard of what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society.

 :arrow: Lawful Neutral: A lawful neutral character acts as law, tradition, or a personal code directs her. Order and organization are paramount to her. She may believe in personal order and live by a code or standard, or she may believe in order for all and favor a strong, organized government.

 :arrow: "True" Neutral: A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutrality is a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil. After all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers rather than evil ones. Still, she's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run.

 :arrow: Chaotic Neutral: A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn't strive to protect other's freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. The chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign  of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). Remember that the chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.

 :arrow: Lawful Evil: A lawful evil villain methodically takes what he wants within the limits of his code of conduct without regard to whom it hurts. He cares about tradition, loyalty, and order, but not about freedom, dignity, or life. He playes by the rules, but without mercy or compassion. He is comfortable in a hierarchy and would like to rule, but he is willing to serve. He condemns others not according to their actions but according to race, religion, homeland, or social rank. He is loath to break laws or promises. This reluctance is partly because of his nature and partly because he depends on order to protect him from those who oppose him on moral grounds. Some lawful evil characters have particular taboos, such as not killing in cold blood (but having underlings do it) or not letting children come to harm (if it can be helped). They imagine that these compunctions put them above unprincipled villains. Some lawful evil characters are committed to evil with a zeal like that of a crusader committed to good. Beyond being willing to hurt others for their own ends, they take pleasure in spreading evil as an end unto itself. They may also see doing evil as part of a duty to an evil deity or master.

 :arrow: Neutral Evil: A neutral evil character does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn't have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has. Some neutral evil characters hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such characters are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.

 :arrow: Chaotic Evil: A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable. If simply out for whatever he can get, he is ruthless and brutal. If he is committed to the spread of evil and chaos, he is even worse. Thankfully, his plans are haphazard, and any groups he joins or forms are poorly organized. Typically, chaotic evil people can only be made to work together by force, and their leader lasts only as long as he can thwart attempts to topple or assassinate him.

Source: 3.0 Player's Handbook, pages 88-90
« Last Edit: February 28, 2007, 07:42:38 AM by Eraldur »

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Re: Rp'ing low stats and Alignment
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2006, 06:31:18 AM »
 :arrow: - Strength

A character with low Strength lacks muscle mass. He receives penalties to hit in melee combat and penalties to damage with most weapons. He can't climb well, lift much weight or exert much force. While this might mean a character without athletic traning, there are other options.

Weight factors into Strength - the larger you are, the greater your potential. For Moderately low scores (6 to 9) you might be large without muscle tone: you can throw that weight around, but you are weak for your size. For lower scores you might be emaciated: an apparition with sunken cheeks and fleshles limbs.

Age is another explanation. A low-Strength character could be old and frail, which works well for spellcasters, as age gives appearance of experience and knowledge. Perhaps a character is particulary young. Playing a youngster has it's advantages: adults ignore or underestimate childrens, and a child could be more flexible and easily hidden, but you should avoid life skills such as Knowledge, Profession or Craft. Regardless, experience translates into maturity, and with maturity could come Strength.

You might have personality quirks centered around your meager muscles. Since you can't participate in physical labor, you might see yourself about it, assuming every powerful frame holds a weak mind. You might take a "those who can't do, teach" attitude and direct the labor of others, or you might be envious of or deferential to those stronger than yourself. Even this most physical of abilities offers plenty of opportunities for roleplaying.

 :idea: - How To Compensate:

For fighting, low-Strength characters should buy crossbows - the only weapons that don't rely on Strength for either attacking or damaging opponents. You can do a hefty amount of damage with them, and with ranged weapon feats you become a serious threat.

If you can't afford a crossbow, try carrying around the largest weapon avaiable. You might look like Matthew Broderick holding Rutger Hauer's bastard sword in Ladyhawke, but when you roll 1d10 for damage you might at least do some harm if you hit.

 Keep an eye on the party's back, you can prevent surprises and foul enemy sneak attacks.

 With a good AC and decent hit points you can defend archers and spellcasters, or you can play shield man to someone with a weapon with reach. You might not directly damage opponents, but giving the sorcerer time to finish a spell can be critical in a dangerous fight.

Even yelling for the town guard or running around for help could turn the tide of a battle without the need for an attack roll.


 :arrow: - Dexterity

A low-Dexterity character suffers penalties for ranged attacks, Armor Class, Reflex saves and any skills requiring coordination or agility. You're useless at moving quietly, can't mantain balance, neither throw nor catch well and routinely dodge right into attacks. "She's clumsy" is the first response to a low Dexterity, but several other possibilities exist.

A handicap might be the cause of a low Dexterity, such as the classic peg-leg of a pirate. Perhaps you recently lost an eye: the loss of depth perception and peripehral vision could explain a low Dexterity. Equilbrium-altering wounds could be thereason. Perhaps your wizard was too nead the origin of a Shout spell, or maybe your priest heard her god's true voice.

Alternatively, you could have tremors and poor motor control: you could be a wizard whose studies of the unknown left her with twitches she can neither stop not explain, or a veteran whose constant drinking has dulled the memory of was but leaves her unsteady. Subterranean races often risk cave-ins, and many walk away with injuried limbs and frayed nerves. Such people might be clumsy, but they are hardly inept, and their conditions can at least lend them a haunting history.

Roleplaying a low Dexterity depends on the score's rationale. Those hindered by a physical problem might use it to avoid hard or dangerous labor, or they might refuse assistance to prove they're as good as anyone else. You might be perpetually apologetic or constantly upset over your blunders. Alternatively, you might make jokes about your apparent ineptitude or develop excuses to cover for it ("Somebody keeps moving that plant!"). The key to roleplaying a low Dexterity lies in how the character feels about her fumbling and how she expresses it.

 :idea: - How to Compensate:

You'll have to accept that you won't hit at range, forcing you into close combat. Once in meele, you're going to be easy to hit. Low-Dexterity characters should buy the best armor avaiable, regardless of armor penalties. If you already have a Dexterity modifier of -4, armor penalties are just reinforcing what we already know: you're no good at Dexterity-based skills. Even wizards and sorcerers should consider leather armor, since a 10% spell failire is a resonable trade for getting their AC closer to double digits.

If you have a reach weapon you can use other party members as cover, standing in the second rank and attacking over their shoulders. The opponent faces to foes and your poor AC doesn't become an issue.

You can reduce some of the penalties of a low Dexterity score with feats (Improved Initiative and Lighting Reflexes), but his means sacrificing an advantage to offset a weakness. This is usually poor investment. Feats are better spent making you heroic, not raising you to average.

One fear you should consider taking with a low Dexterity is Expertise. If your Intelligence is high enough, pick this up - it lets you improve your AC when needed and allows you to take other feats that offset a poor AC. Few people attack well when disarmed or prone.


 :arrow: - Constitution

Low-Constitution characters have penalties on hit points and Fortitude saves, as well as Concentration checks when casting spells. They are easily knocked out and easily killed, since having poor hitpoints is a fatal flaw for an adventurer.

Many of the physical descriptions of a low Strength or Dexterity can translate well for a low Constitution. Characters who are extremely underweight or overweight might be easily winded or unable to resist injury. An eldery character's health could be ravaged by age. You could have old wounds (such as an arrow through the lung) or be a plague survivor. Old wounds explain a lack of stamina while emphasizing your will to survive.

More dramatically, you might be the victim of a long-term disease. For example, tuberculosis can take years to kill, leaving victims weak and coughing up blood, but Doc Holliday was the most feared gunman in the West even as tuberculosis was killing him. In fantasy settings, even more insidious illnesses exist, sapping your life while allowing limited activity. A character facing his own death head on and refusing to wait for it engenders respect.

A low Constitution often shows itself in personal behaviours. You might constantly push yourself too far and then collapse until forced to move again, or lean against the wall and rest at every opportunity. You might have remedies or medicines you constantly prepare to bolster your Strength, or obstinately ignore your problems. Roleplaying a low Constituion relies more on what you're doing and how you're doing it than what you say.

 :idea: - How to Compensate:

More than other characters, low-Constitution adventurers should avoid combat. Unless you're playing a class with large Hid Dice, a 3 Constitution leaves so few hit points that any attack equals death. But classes with a large Hit Dice are expected to handle mre combat, howereve, putting you back at risk.

You must avoid taking damage, and that means wearing whatever gives you the best AC, following all the advice for finding cover and relying on guile whenever possible.

Fortunately, low Constitution penalizes neither ranged nor melee combat, so you can attack from range or defend up close as long as you avoid attacks. This is where skills and feats come in. Taking ranks in Tumble skill and gaining feats like Spring Attack can negate your enemies' ability to attack you.

Watch out for poision and creatures that cause Constitution damage, If you drop to 0 Constitution you die, and with a low Constitution score there's a good chance that the initial Constitution damage will kill you. Try to get your hands on Neutralize Poision and Lesser Restoration potions. If you can, cast Neutralize Posion on traps and creatures before you come in contact with them.

Cunning could make combat unnecessary. Scatter coins among opponents to distract them; heave a spare lantern into the enemy; cut the rope holding a chandelier overhead. These certainly change the field of battle without calling down attacks.

Some feats help with a low Constitution (Great Fortitude, toughness, Combat Casting), but the only required feat is Thoughness: the hit point bonus is a godsend for a low-Constitution character. You'll still have to worry about low hit points at higher levels, but at least you'll survive to see them.

 :arrow: - Intelligence

A character with a low Intelligence learns slowly and reasons poorly. She has penalties on the number of skill points per level and on any skills based on learning.

Some thought should be applied to why you have such a low Intelligence. You might have never had an opportunity to study, or perhaps you were forcibly banned from doing so. You could've grown up on the streets, among war refugees, or as a slave, where any attempt at learning was severely punished. You might have been raised by animals, a fantasy classic for characters with a nature bent. While brilliant people might come from such backgrounds, most survive by intuition, guile, perception, and will - in other words, traits associated with Wisdom and Charisma, not Intelligence.

For a great challenge, you might be an amnesiac, forgetting anything more than 24 hours old. Head trauma occasionally causes such problems. You are reborn every morning, with no guide save those around you and whatever notes you left for yourself. You may need solid roleplaying skills before trying something this extreme.

When playing a low-Intelligence character you could play it for laughs, as with the barbarian who claims "newly discovered" towns and names them after her father. Or you could play it for terror by taking offense at people talking down to you and snapping into vidictive rages. You might insist on having a say in any discussions and want your not so helpful ideas respected, or you might keep your mouth shut to avoid looking the fool. You could repeat others' suggestions as your own or constantly request more time to work through problems. Remember that a character with a low Intelligence can learn and reason through everyday things, they simply can't do it quickly or reliably. You needn't stiffle your every creative thought, as long as you aren't constantly brilliant or quick.

 :idea: - How to Compensate

The mechanical challenge for a low Intelligence is your diminished skill points. This penalty usually wipes out all but the minimum 1 point per level. Playing a human restores one of those points, but you should rely on the special abilities of your class and one or two non-Intelligence-based class skills. Denied breadth of skills, you should focus on a few strong points.


 :arrow: - Wisdom

Someone with a low Wisdom lacks common sense, perception, intuition and willpower. He is penalized on both his will saves and skills involving untrained experience or awareness.

A poor Wisdom score is the hardest to explain, since it covers such a broad area. Wisdom is something one gains with age, so you might consider a young character to explain a low Wisdom. Take care with this, since a well-played low-Wisdom child will quickly get himself into trouble and might drag the party down with him. Perhaps you come from a culture vastly different than the local norm: detail this culture with your DM, with both good and bad points, and stick with it. You'll miss local cultural cues, make assumptions based on false premises, and argue against things the rest of the party takes for granted ("Letting women drink ale instead of wine ? It will corrupt their souls!"). You wouldn't be stupid, merely ignorant of the local custom.

When playing a low-Wisdom character, make it clear that the party can't rely on you in the long term, In the short term, during the course of a fight or while exploring a dungeon, they can keep an eye on you and trust you will do your part. But if left on watch alone you might fall asleep, get engrossed in spell research, or otherwise lose focus. In delicate negotiations you'll let secrets slip or take offense where wiser diplomats would not. You might forget to mention things you've learned until a critical moment, or assume that your companions must know things, and thus never mention them. The party should probably put another PC to watch over you, just to make sure your impulsiveness doesn't endanger them.

 :idea: - How to Compensate

A low Wisdom offers comparatively few mechanical problems. Some important skills are reduced, and the penalty on Will saves can be troublesome, but all told the low-Wisdom character suffers few survival challenges. The feats of Alertness abd Iron Will compensate for most hindrances, but at the usual cost of not honing your other strengths.


 :arrow: - Charisma

A low Charisma comes from a lack of faith in yourself, translating directly into an inability to interact with people. The character is penalized on all skills that involve social interaction, as well as any non-skill interaction checks.

When dealing with a low Charisma you should remember that these personality traits don't appear without cause - no one is born with a 3 Charisma. What caused you to lose faith in yourself ? Possibly your family or culture valued everything you were poor at and never praised your skills: shy to an extreme, you avoid conversation for fear of being insulted, belittle your abilities, and view any comment as criticism. You might be an escaped slave: deeply ashamed of your past, you either lash out verbally or meekly follow suggstions as orders. You might have once had personal faith, now shattered by some terrible event. This trauma need not have been your fault - you believe if to be so even if the world holds you blameless. An accidental killing, a failure of nerve on the battlefield, the inability to save a loved one, or faillint a test of character can shake your self respect. Once that is lost, it is hard to gain th respect of others.

Alternatively, you might be extremely ugly. Not just homely, but malfotmed to the point where children scream and woman faint. faced with such reactions you see yourself as an outcast while still desperately wanting to be accepted by society. Note that this is very different from the high-Charisma half-orc who looks like ten miles of bad road but whose magnetism unites an army - appearance matters to Charismo only if you let it matter.

When roleplaying a poor-Charisma character, keep in mind why the character has sucha low score and run with it. This might mean never vocing a suggestion (even if you know what to do), or voicing every single suggestion loudly and authoriatively - since if it isn't accepted it damages your already fragile sense of self. Belittle NPCs to prove you're better than them, and even make jibes at other PCs' expense (though not too often, or you'll reduce other people's enjoyment of the game). Here's another idea: start whispering ideas in character to another player, letting him voice them to the group - since your character thinks no one listens to her ideas, she can contribute without putting her ego at risk.

 :idea: - How to Compensate

If your character has a low Charisma, accept the fact that you aren't the party's spokesperson. Any interaction is going to suffer seriously, but you might pick one of the Charisma-based skills as focus for skill points, giving you a way to interat with a skill bonus.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2007, 09:20:03 PM by Eraldur »


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Re: Rp'ing low stats and Alignment
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2007, 01:24:10 AM »
Lawful Good
1. Always keeps his word.
2. Never lies.
3. Never attack, harm or kill an innocent foe.
4. Never harm an innocent.
5. Never torture for any reason. Will not allow torture.
6. Always helps others.
7. Always work within the law.
8. Respects honor, self-discipline, authority and law.
9. Works well within a group.
10. Never take 'dirty money' or items.
11. Never betray a friend. Ever. For ANY reason.

Neutral Good
1. Always keeps his word.
2. Is VERY unlikely to lie, expept perhaps to an evil person.
3. Never attack or kill an unarmed foe.
4. Never harm an innocent.
5. Never tortures for any reason. Is very unlikely to allow torture for any reason.
6. Never kill for pleasure.
7. Always tries to help others.
8. Works well in groups.
9. Never take dirty money or items.
10. Never betray a friend.

Chaotic Good
1. Keeps his word to any other good person.
2. Lies only to neutral or evil people.
3. Never attack or kill an unarmed foe.
4. Never harm an innocent.
5. Never torture for pleasure or information. Threats may be permissible.
6. Never kill for pleasure.
7. Always tries to help others.
8. Distrusts authority.
9. Works well in groups, but dislikes confining rules and 'red tape'.
10. Never take dirty money or items.
11. Never betray a friend.

Lawful Neutral
1. Keep his word of honor.
2. Lie and cheat only if very necessary.
3. Never attack or harm an unarmed foe.
4. Never harm an innocent.
5. Does not use torture unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. (Never for pleasure)
6. Never kill for pleasure.
7. Usually helps those in need.
8. Works in groups well, especially if it suits his needs.
9. Will quite possibly take dirty money.
10. Never betrays a friend.
11. Has a high reguard for life and personal freedom.

Chaotic Neutral
1. May keep his word.
2. Lies and cheats if he feels it necessary.
3. Never kill an unarmed foe, but may knock out or beat up one.
4. Never kill an innocent but may harm or kidnap.
5. Will use torture to extract information but not for pleasure.
6. Seldom kills for pleasure.
7. Is not likely to help someone without an alterior motive. (Even if its just showing off!).
8. Has little respect for authority.
9. Does not work well within groups - tends to do as he pleases, despite orders to the contrary.
10. Will usually take dirty money or items.
11. Is very unlikely to betray a friend.

Lawful Evil
1. Always keeps his word of honor.
2. Lies and cheats those not worthy of his respect.
3. May or may not kill an unarmed foe.
4. Never kill an innocent but will harm, harass or kidnap.
5. Never torture for pleasure but will to extract information.
6. Never kills for pleasure - always has a reason.
7. May or may not help someone in need.
8. Respects honor and self-discipline. Has no time for the law.
9. Will work with others to attain his goals.
10. May take dirty money.
11. Never betray a friend.

Neutral Evil
1. Will not necessarily keep his word to anyone.
2. Lies and cheats indiscriminately.
3. Will happily kill an unarmed foe.
4. Will harm and use an innocent, killing if necessary.
5. Uses torture to extract information. (And enjoys it! May torture for pleasure).
6. May kill for sheer pleasure.
7. Feels no compulsion to help others without some sort of tangible reward.
8. Works with others if it will help achieve his personal goals.
9. Will take dirty money etc without hesitation.
10. Will betray a friend if it serves his needs.
11. Has little respect for others' lives.

Chaotic Evil
1. Rarely keeps his word. Has no honor.
2. Lie and cheat anyone.
3. Most certainly attack and kill an unarmed foe (those are the best kind!).
4. Will hurt and/or kill an innocent without a second thought. (Or for pleasure).
5. Uses torture to extract information and pleasure.
6. Will kill for sheer pleasure.
7. Is likely to help someone only on a whim.
8. Despises honor and authority and self-discipline. Views them as weaknesses.
9. Does not work well in a group. Constantly vying for power and/or command.
10. Will always take dirty money etc.
11. Will betray a friend. After all, you can always get another friend.
12. Associates mostly with other evil alignments.