Of all the discussions I’ve seen around 5E, one that seems to irk people more than most is the question of alignment. Opinions generally fall into three camps when it comes to “Core” 5E:
- “Bring back the classic 9-pronged alignment system!”
- “Keep the simplified 4E system!”
- “Get rid of alignment altogether!”
I am firmly part of Camp #1, though when I discussed alignment before, I wasn’t ready to go so far as to predict that the old 9 alignment system would be making a comeback. One of the reasons I am firmly in Camp #1 on this is because, in matters of 5E, I find myself trending towards nostalgia and a return to “the way things used to be.” But I’m also in Camp #1 because, as the 5E designers have said numerous times, 5E is supposed to be about the essence of D&D. And alignment is not only quintessentially D&D; it’s also part of the collective cultural zeitgeist.
Here’s the particular example of what I mean: An alignment chart that’s been making its way across the various social media recently (click to embiggen):
Here’s the thing: people get this. Even people who don’t play D&D, like my wife, get these things, find them funny, share them on Facebook and Twitter. And they know where the alignment system comes from: D&D.
The old-school 9 alignment system is so classically D&D that it needs to be in 5E. Not as some optional module in some supplement down the road, but as a core option in the core rulebooks. Maybe it won’t be the only one. But if it’s not there at all, it will be a crime of cultural proportions.