CaSE #23 : Common Goal or Common Alignment ?

Party unity is desirable for a DM.  Particularly when the campaign is continuous and story-driven.  When the party works as a team against its opposition, the DM has a single unit overcoming challenges and progressing against conflicts in the story.  Despite some minor differences or petty squabbles, this party is strongly allied and will not fall apart before the story reaches endgame.

A common debate among DM’s concerns the underlying factor that keeps a party together and encourages individual characters to work for their collective good.  The discussion often considers this question:

Which best promotes long-term party stability…a common goal or a common alignment ?

To have a common goal is to set aside personal differences, mistrust, social and political obstacles, and perhaps even moral and ethical concerns, to work together.  Many of these conditions may not be possible to satisfy.  The demands of a Paladin’s code of ethics, the actions of an Evil character in the company of Good party members, the appearance of other goals held in higher esteem by a character – any of these may lead to the dissolution of the party.  But to have a common goal is to have {that one thing} which all characters can look to as the ends that justify their means.

Others suggest that a common alignment is a better foundation for a party.  When setting guidelines for character creation, a DM may exclude certain alignments; demand that all characters be within one step of a specific alignment; or even require all characters to be the same alignment.  Those are varying degrees in the attempt to overcome the usual divisive factors within a party, and put all characters on the same moral and ethical page.  It is a belief that characters of the same outlook will gravitate and co-operate more naturally than dissimilar characters driven by a single goal.  However, even within the confines of a common alignment, there may still remain dissimilar goals among characters that will fracture the party.

This is not to suggest that a common alignment and a common goal are mutually exclusive and could not both be employed to bind a party together.  The debate is a question of the two motivators in and of themselves, and if one is predominant.  A DM should consider this question for him- or herself, and form the party by the method s/he finds most suitable.




About d20horizons

D&D player.
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One Response to CaSE #23 : Common Goal or Common Alignment ?

  1. Pingback: Crown of the Dead [D&D 3.5] – Afterword. | d20horizons

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