Wednesday 21 June 2023

Dragons of Despair, pt 2. Realigning the alignment


The old Dragonlance modules used the D&D 2ed rules (or, as Zak calls it, D&D Type 2), with some differences that we'll mention later. 

The character races are mostly the same, the magic is mostly the same. 

And the "Law-Chaos, Good-Evil" alignment is the same. 

Which is one thing I always disliked. 

Lamentations of the Flame Princess had alignment simplified - you get "Lawful" for clerics and "Chaotic" for mages and "Neutral" for just people who don't really care, and all it effects is how some spells affect you. It's simple and elegant and not enough for me, because I want alignment to be richer, with more variants, I want it to say something about the characters besides "following the will of the supreme power or gazing into the abyss of lovecraftian horror". I want it to be a whole rainbow of variants. 

Preferably colour-coded. 

I guess Tracy Hickman has a soft spot for colour-coded alignment, too, because how else can you explain the "white robes good, black robes evil, red robes swing both ways" and the "moons of corresponding colour" thing? 

So, in Krynn, alignments matters in more than just "how do some spell affect you". Alignment places you in a specific magical order, alignment means that some magic items let you use them and some hurt you badly when you try to touch them. 

How do I make it work, though? Red, for example, stands in my alignment rainbow for aggression, bloodletting, and passion. Works fine for, say, the Red Wizards of Thay, but in Krynn, red mages are supposed to be neutral. 

Let's think. 

White colour is poetry, nobility and heroism. Yeah, Solinari and his white mages are fine the way they are, no need to fix them. 

Black colour is strength and power. This is what Nuitari's black mages are after - morals are unimportant, gaining knowledge and power is what matters. 

And Red... Red colour is conflict, constant struggle. And this is what Lunitari's red mages support. Never the victory of good or evil, but forever war, the balance between struggling forces that leads to progress, to further development of magical arts. 

(This is not even an issue in Dragons of Despair as written, but since my players have all read the novels, the coloured robes matter) 

Then there's the first magic item that appears in the module - the blue crystal staff of healing. 

I just changed colours and said that the crystal staff is green. Green is the colour of nature and healing, so that's the colour I give to Mishakal and her divine staff. 

Furthermore, Green's opposing colour is Red, so the staff gives our red mage a shock every time the wizard touches the holy item with his greedy magical hands. Which is fun for everyone, and makes more sense for me - it's not the conflict of "well you're bad and I'm good, so you can't touch me" - the characters are supposed to be heroes that will save Krynn from the dragonarmies, what do you mean they're not good enough to touch the staff? - it's the conflict of "You're pro-violence and I'm pro-healing, we have opposing views on how the world should work. It hurts when you touch me". Wait, I'll write it down - touching a magic item of opposed Colour drains it of some charges, and might break it if it's discharged. I like that. 

So, in our campaign, we have a Red (conflict-means-progress) mage, a Yellow (happy-joy-adventures!) kender lady (Yellow is the natural Colour for the kenderkin, they're the Children of Krynn and absolutely fearless, they really dig the joy of life), and, I believe, a Yellow-Blue dwarf (either he's a patriotic Ukrainian dwarf or he's all for freedom and having adventures with his friends, which explains why he's currently exploring the ruins of Xak Tsaroth and not working at some underhill with his clan - and also gives him an opposing colour to Thorbardin's powerful Black). 

To be continued... 

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