Home > Hackmaster, RPG, Rules > Mastering the Hack, part 4

Mastering the Hack, part 4

Alignment has been a source of debate for years. (Campaign Mastery has an interesting series of posts going on, analyzing different aspects of alignment.) Hackmaster uses the traditional two axis scale of Law vs. Chaos and Good vs. Evil and Neutral in the middle of both axis. Personally I don’t have a strong opinion for or against such use of alignments. I have played games with and without it. My observation though is that in games without a system to define moral view, the characters tend to be more selfish and after their own well-being first and others’ second and only if it benefits them. In traditional alignment grid they would fall in chaotic evil or neutral evil. This of course just my observation and your mileage may vary depending on the groups you play in.

Having alignment defined in rules, naturally gives some concrete tools for game masters to work with. There can be some magic that depends on alignment of the spell caster or wielder of some items etc. Gods may refuse to grant their powers to people with different ethics and so on. Alignment is a quick tool to do things like that. Of course game masters could keep track of ethics of different actions characters have made and judge things based on them. But having a clearly defined attribute makes things work faster.

Now what about my elven thief and his alignment? Elves tend to be classically seen more chaotic than lawful people though I wouldn’t be so sure. They must have some traditions they follow and considering their lifespans, their traditions must be ages old! They are also considered very civilized so they certainly have laws to follow too. They are however often described as free spirits wandering the woods and doing things that please them on impulse and thus being of more chaotic nature. In my opinion such an ancient race is more bound by strict order of society, than what humans would perceive when meeting them. So general population of elves is rather lawful (by their own laws and traditions) but a thief character might have been bent on the Neutral or even Chaotic ways. I would say my thief is Neutral on this axis as he follows some traditions and understands their benefit to the whole society but he is doing what he can do best and has to sometimes bend or even break these norms.

Among themselves the elves are good people. They rarely have disagreements between themselves and they wage wars with other elves even more rarely. More likely they are about to help each other when faced with grave danger. Towards other races they are more indifferent and could be sometimes perceived as haughty and cold-hearted, pointy eared bad asses. Sounds quit human like doesn’t it? So generally they are good. By class the thief could be anything from good to evil. My character has low score in strength so I don’t see him like an assassin or burglar sort of thief but more like a scout or an expert sent to special assignments. So he can easily be Good and even something like an agent working for some elven high council.

There we go. My thief turns out to Neutral Good which I think is among the most usual selections for fantasy heroes with pretty much those same arguments my thief had.

Here is a very handy character creation worksheet for following the steps in my character creation. The next step for my thief would be determining his background. This is an optional step but hey, is there any reason I would step over it? 😉


Categories: Hackmaster, RPG, Rules
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