journal · writing · photos

new alignments for dungeons & dragons

m. werneburg, 2016.01.27

I've decided to replace the alignment listings in the game. First, I'm doing away with them for player-characters altogether. I've always treated them as descriptions of the character, not a guide for his behavior. But given that they're played by living, changing people and set in circumstances that are always shifting, why even keep a descriptor? Which leaves "monsters" (every else), which certainly need descriptors to tell you how the monster is meant to be played. Here are my ten "alignments".


If provoked, this critter will erupt in violence. And easily provoked.


The ravenous capacity of the wrathtar, the slimes and puddings, grey goo demons, and the worms.


Unstable, unpredictable, and seemingly unconcerned with society or self. Not many things are truly insane. Xlid and jabbering mouthers, however, are.

Master race

The schemes and death-dealing of the aboleth, illithid, lich, and dragon. The sinister agenda of the vampire ends when he's enslaved you. The master races wants to enslave your species.

Merry prankster

This is a complex one. Most delight in simply confusing, cheating, or endangering others through lies, pranks, and distortions. They might tell the truth often enough to keep you off balance. The more manipulative ones however will try to get you to deal with their problems: aha, a party of adventurers, maybe they can deal with that awful ogre. Others, like the yhcnurc frogs, aren't so much merry as miserable but they'll still distort and cheat and use fine words to appear what they're not.

Mindless destroyer

The driven urge to unmake, to smash. Embodied in the disrupter and grey goo demons.


Pursuing a mission greater than the creature’s own needs and desires. The griffon’s mission to fight evil. A metal dragon watching over the planet.


A vicious, cruel creature without redeeming qualities.

Sinister agenda

By the time you figure out their intent, it’s usually too late. The seduction and torture of the harpy or gorgon or vampire. The kidnapping of the yellow tongues, and well whatever the wights are up to.


Driven to exist in a pitiless world filled with opponents, and disinterested in anything more. Barter, flee, fight, or distract, these are the pech, kobolds, lizardfolk, and greenies.


No agenda, no desire, no plan. We do what we’re told.

Warrior creed

Once you've stripped away the niceties, you're left with the code of the warrior. Life is a struggle, the code will see you through. The militant, ordered societies of the gnolls, kricklers, and the zerg —I mean ankheg.

Will to power

The main driving force is achievement, ambition, and the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. Or so said a power-mad cripple.


rand()m quote

Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.

—John Gardner