To be honest I have always struggled with alignments in my games. More often than not alignment seemed to be a roadblock for the players and their ability to roleplay a character in
the way they thought their character should act. Perhaps this was the intention, I really don't know. In the original edition of the game we are presented with three alignments, Law, Chaos and Neutrality, Gygax supposedly drew these from his "Appendix N". The choices are very general and they were generally accepted as guide posts. I think it was after much complaining or maybe suggestions that the nine where released, and so adding to the Law, Chaos and Neutral axis we have Evil, Good and then of course Neutral.
Alignments do little in game to me, but hamper roleplay, and instead should be a tool to encourage rolepaly. There is value in them as a standard or base to develop a character. Thinking about this I have over the years came to this conclusion; Alignment and Morality.
Excerpt from the Book of Darmuc the Philosopher, First Chapter "The Order and Rebellion of Existence"
An ancient sign of Chaos, Art by ERIC!
Alignment is a cosmic force a person, culture or species chooses to align itself with, or to enforce on it environment. Alignment is a cosmic force of nature, a power in itself, mindless as any other force in nature but at the same time bound by a Balance, called Neutrality. Law and Chaos are in constant struggle, the universe spins and "want" to fly blindly into oblivion, but Gravity holds it in place, a tug of war on cosmic scales. Law is this binding stagnate force, never changing never progressing. Chaos however is the wild desire to rip free of Gravity to be flung out into the vastness of space and time, it is ever changing, growing living and dying.
Neither force is inherently "good" or inherently "evil" and Neutrality, a product of the war between these forces, acts as a mediator. A Balance on could say that naturally keeps both forces in check, both forces balanced and in harmony.
In Ganth this all changed, with the creation of the Eldar gods, the Old Ones, the forces of creation that the All Father, Adon used to forge existence. The Elder beings where the tools to create all the stars, the worlds and the realms of the All Father, then cast down they soon grew board and created, life, slaves to serve them much in the same way they served the All Father. These first beings, Gods as they were soon rose up and locked away their task masters and creators. And the looked around for the first time with new eyes.
Untold worlds and realms lay across the vastness of eternity for them to live, work and play and that's what they did, however their "noise" soon drew the attention of the All Father. He commanded them to silence and forced them to draw lots, each now being assigned roles to fill in creation. They where each given responsibility over different worlds and realms and intern shared some of these worlds and realms with other Gods. The All Father then raised his Sickle and cleaved the time and space creating the mostion of the realms and celestial bodies.
From this action shards of the Sickle broke free and crashed into the realms and Worlds, on Ganth seven great shards landed burning bright in seven different colors, from them the Seven Great races rose and looked around at the world laid before them.
The Gods saw this and in awe wondered what these beings could be, what was their purpose, they where weak, dying off in the blinking of a Gods eye, they where hardly intelligent, but seemed to learn rapidly. They questioned the All Father and he smirked, ignoring the pleads of the Gods.
Some of the Gods turn towards these new creatures, and began to watch them, help them and care for them, it was soon evident that as the influenced the lives of these creatures, the Gods themselves grew in strength. Other Gods, ignored them, tormented them or manipulated them in horrid ways, also these Gods learned they grew strength in this. Worship was the answer and soon the Gods, learned methods of encouraging worship.
Morality was introduced to creation, Good and Evil. But nature as always abhorred a vacuum, and a vacuum was created, and that age old Balance moved in to stop a bloody and ageless war. The Gods waged a war in the heavens and in the Realms and in the Worlds of all off creation. On Ganth this was called the God Slayer Wars, Seven swords crafted from the Shards of Adon's sickle were made and used to wage a war between the Gods of Good and the Gods of Evil. The War lasted eons, and life all but dwindled into nothingness. But the Balance moved slowly, steady to stop this, it had to "learn" and as a force of nature this was new to it's, not really existence, but "way". The Balance created it's own Gods, servants of Balance and Protection. They could resist the weapons of Good and Evil and brought about the First Accord. Laws that bound the Gods to equal footing.
And so with Balance came morality. The Gods now bound by the First Accord where no longer allowed to wage an open warfare across the Realms and Worlds. A long existence of shadow wars began, covert undertakings to increase the powers of the Gods, using the newly developed followers, worshipers devoted to Law or Chaos, Good or Evil.
Alignment works much like the traditional alignment of older editions, like Basic D&D. Alignment however does not allow for much leeway. Once a player picks an alignment it takes extreme measures to change ones alignment.
Morality however may shift and change over a characters life. Shifting from good to evil and maybe even back again. Of course a character may still be penalized for shifting morality on the fly, this may be even reason enough for an Alignment shift.
What we have then is Alignment which describes your allegiance to the cosmic struggle and Morality, how you fight in the cosmic struggle. A Lawfully aligned character may be Good, Evil or Even Neutral in Morality, but they find it very difficult to shift from Lawful to Chaotic. Even more rare is what is called True Neutral. Few if any characters should choose this alignment. Lawful and Chaotic Characters would find serious issue with a True Neutral.
Alignment most often is chosen at a characters 1st level of advancement, Adventures are unique individuals and represent counter points to Fate and can radically alter Destiny. A True Neutral Character finds it difficult to deal with the Adventuring life, believing to be bound by the Balance, Fate and Destiny. True Neutrals also have issue with Morally Good or Evil characters seeing them a betraying the Balance.
0-Level NPC's as such rarely ever choose an Alignment other than True Neutral. They tends to be Morally Good or Evil, this being considered Neutral Good, or Neutral Evil. Leaders, like Kings or Guild Masters may choose to be Alignment either Lawfully or Chaotically, but this rarely happens without gaining Character Levels in some class.
More so a Lawful character may only be Good or Neutral while a Chaotic character may be Evil or Neutral. Neutral characters may be Evil or Good.
Which now brings up the issue with Chaotic Neutral and Lawful Neutral characters. These Characters are on the forefront of the battle between Law and Chaos. They are extremely radical in their paths, stubbing their nose at Morality either Good or Evil, all that matters is the war for dominance between the Ancient forces of Law and Chaos. Rarer than even True Neutral Characters these characters are limited in class choice and are only chosen by Adventurers.
So while all the 9 traditional alignments are represented, let me make it claer, Law, Chaos and Neutrality out weight the Morality of a character. Good and Evil tend to be an ends to a mean, different species, cultures and kingdoms will view Good and Evil differently. Local Tabbo's and customs influence Good and Evil, along with the War Gods face with each other and their Churches.
Characters through play will develop Morality, and find it easy to drift from one to another, However Alignment is difficult to change and should be penalized per standard Original Rules. I know it may seem I'm putting a lot of restrictions here but I'm attempting to devalue Good and Evil and emphasize the Law and Chaos axis. This becomes more important as we start to explore Ganth's Mages, Paladins, Clerics, Monks and Crusaders.