Alignment Demographics Variant Rules (3.5e Variant Rule)

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See the Netbook of Alignment for more alignment - related rules.

Alignment Modifiers[edit]

Creature descriptions usually have something that looks like this: "Alignment: Often Chaotic Evil" The SRD explains what 'Chaotic Evil' really means, more or less, but it doesn't explain what 'often', 'usually', or 'always' mean. The Warcraft RPG Monster Guide gives some answers, but those definitions may not work for everyone.


Often suggests that at a minimum, the percentage of the population with the 'correct' alignment is greater than any of the other eight alignments. Mathematically, 100% / 9 = 11.1111%, so 'often chaotic evil' could mean as little as 11.1112% of the population is actually chaotic evil! Of course, it would be very unusual for any species to have a very nearly even distribution of all alignments, so probably the lower limit for 'often' is between 20 and 40%. The Warcraft RPG Monster Guide describes often as "Exceptions are uncommon, but not unknown." In the author's view, the upper limit should allow that in a typical village, there are at least a few beings of 'nonstandard' alignment, so probably no more than 80 - 90%.


Usually suggests that at a minimum, a majority (50.0001%) have the alignment, and at a maximum, exceptions are just common enough that they are a known phenomena. In reality, there might be many exceptions for each known individual defector, so 99% is probably an absolute maximum. The Warcraft RPG Monster Guide states "Exceptions are thus rare and may be ostracized by the race’s society."


Always suggest that at a maximum, every last member (100%) has the alignment. But what about the minimum? The Warcraft RPG Monster Guide states that "Exceptions, if they exist, comprise less than 1% of the race's population and apply to isolated individuals." However, the Greyhawk Wiki suggests 'Alu-fiends' are 'always chaotic evil', but this site states that 20% of alu-fiends are of nonstandard alignment!

Player Character vs NPC alignments[edit]

Player Characters[edit]

Player Characters are not necessarily representative of the surrounding populations. Misfits and nonconformists are more likely to choose an adventuring profession than their conformist neighbors. However, adventures are often geared for a particular demographic combination, and player characters' lives often depend on whether the DM becomes frustrated with working with a bunch of bizzaroid munchkin idiots. For DMs, I suggest explaining the setting, stating guidelines beforehand, and asking players to submit the character design for approval before allowing a character into the game. Most importantly, you should always expect to be in the minority on the issue of what characters players 'should' come with, and be respectful of the majority. For players, have a two to four sentance background story and an explanation (that actually makes sense and is reasonable in the setting) of how it is possible your character exists ready for submittal, expect that if your character is at all sue - ish, it will be rejected, and don't argue with the DM once he's made up his mind. After all, you can always save your characters for later, you can always call for a "DM approval vote", and you can always find a new DM.

General Population NPCs[edit]

General Population NPCs generally do follow the overall population demographics, since they make up most of it, but people don't spread out evenly. Basic math is useful, but it must be applied along with a healthy dose of common sense. Let's say in your setting the dominant race is humans and the local kingdom has a population of 10,000,000 and tends toward lawful good. There are 1,000,000 orcs in the region, of which 1% are lawful good. The capitol city has a population of 50,000, of which 1% are orc laborers. How many lawful good orc laborers can be found in the city? 50,000 x 1% x 1% = 5 orcs, right? Of course not! Most of the 10,000 lawful good orcs in the region are probably outcasts and thus will be looking for work, whereas a much fewer fraction of the other 990,000 orcs in the area will be looking for work in human cities. Probably, more like 100 - 200 of the city's 500 orc laborers are lawful good.

Plot critical NPCs[edit]

Plot critical NPCs, on the other hand, could be anything that exists in the setting at the whim of the DM. Just because there is only one evil gold dragon on the planet doesn't mean its unlikely the PC's won't ever encounter it. Moderation is key, however. If the players are starting to wonder how its possible there could even be 12 vampire paragons in a kingdom 50 miles across, its time to change the scenery.

Optional Homebrew Modifier Definitions[edit]

Always Means Always[edit]

'Always' alignment creatures stay that way in this cosmology. Player characters must be of 'Often' or 'Usually' species to be able to select any alignment or change alignment. Thus succubi paladins and other such beings CAN NOT EXIST in the game setting. Lawful good - aligned drow might exist, but ONLY in small numbers. Such creatures might not only be ostracized but face a religious crisis as there are too few lawful good drow to form any organized religion, and the local lawful good human church doesn't accept drow members.

  • 'always' = 100% (not one exception in the setting, except at the whim of the DM, and even then only under unique circumstances)
  • 'usually' = 80% (1 in 5 are exceptions) - 95% (1 in 20 are exceptions)
  • 'often' = 40% (3 in 5 are exceptions) - 80% (1 in 5 are exceptions)

Exception Proves the Rule[edit]

Overall populations follow the designations strictly, but on an individual basis ANYTHING can happen. PC's can be anything that the DM is willing to live with, but a PC with an 'exception' alignment is likely to find their world a lonely place.

  • 'always' = 99% (1 in 100 are exceptions) - 99.999% (1 in 100,000 are exceptions)
  • 'usually' = 65% (1 in 3 are exceptions) - 95% (1 in 20 are exceptions)
  • 'often' = 40% (3 in 5 are exceptions) - 80% (1 in 5 are exceptions)

Exception to Every Rule[edit]

Overall populations usually follow the designations strictly, but individuals and even whole villages often don't. PC's can be anything that the DM is willing to live with, and exceptions aren't always considered rebels.

  • 'always' = 90% (1 in 10 are exceptions) - 99.9% (1 in 1000 are exceptions)
  • 'usually' = 60% (2 in 5 are exceptions) - 90% (1 in 10 are exceptions)
  • 'often' = 40% (3 in 5 are exceptions) - 80% (1 in 5 are exceptions)

Nothing is What it Seems[edit]

Overall populations supposedly follow the designations, but individuals and even whole kingdoms often don't. PC's can be anything that the DM is willing to live with, and NPC's are just as likely to be opposite their stereotype as follow it.

  • 'always' = 80% (1 in 5 are exceptions) - 99% (1 in 100 are exceptions)
  • 'usually' = 55% (9 in 20 are exceptions) - 90% (1 in 10 are exceptions)
  • 'often' = 20% (4 in 5 are exceptions) - 80% (1 in 5 are exceptions)

Alignment Modifiers? What's that?[edit]

Guess what? You're in a homebrew multiverse. The Monster Manual and the SRD are WRONG. The DM has complete authority over the alignment demographics of every race in the setting, and is free to ignore any cannon alignment modifiers.

Adventure Ideas[edit]

War over Technicality[edit]

In a given setting, there are two kingdoms, political parties, races, etc., who have virtually identical alignment demographics, but they are more interested in fighting each other than the other factions who are of very different alignment demographics. Each faction lives in horror of a world ruled by those who favor the other's views. Why they should be so virulent in their opposition is a mystery to the other groups. The reason for the conflict turns out to be one or two 'minor' but highly controversial issues. It might be a controversial issue ripped straight from the newspaper or a history book, or it might be something more obscure like some aspect of a religious ceremony. Both believe that their view is "the only reasonable position given the imperfection of their world", and believe that the other group must be "in the pocket of some conspiracy" or else simply delusional. The debate has gotten out of hand and is beginning to get on the nerves of the other groups in the area, but there seems to be little hope of resolving the difference.

Demon Child[edit]

The player characters come across a strange yet oddly familiar, and apparently harmless, creature. Suddenly they realize in horror what they have on their hands: a child of one of the most feared races in the entire setting. Depending on the setting, alignment mix, and level of the characters, it might be anything from a goblin, orc, drow, or troll to a (could it even be possible?) an undead or fiendish race, or an aberration. It might be an infant or an older child that will try to communicate with the characters. The mere presence of such a child in the area is deeply disturbing, and the characters cannot simply pretend they didn't see it. Maybe it is a creature of a race the players or characters have long been fascinated with, or a creature whose presence would put them in danger of arrest or worse. Despite the creatures' reputation, the child seems innocent, helpless, cute, and even friendly. Do the characters abandon it, kill it, return it to its people despite the great dangers, or raise the child, knowing that they and it will have to deal with racial hatred on a daily basis for the rest of their lives?

Mirror, Mirror[edit]

The player characters find themselves in a strange land, maybe another world or even another multiverse. Some or all of the countries, gods, races, etc., in this setting are based on their own homeland, but are opposite in some way related to alignment. For example, an alternate history in which all the evil deities have changed to a good alignment, and all the good deities have turned evil.

Death just isn't what it used to be[edit]

A player character or maybe even most or all of a party is killed. Instead of rolling new characters, tell the player(s) they are still using the old character(s), but they are now in a strange new world. Maybe even their body looks different. After a while, they realize they are in the afterlife, but it works completely differently than the players had expected giving the setting! Maybe their religion was in error, or maybe something has changed. The characters must search to find a place for themselves in the afterlife or a way to return to the realm of the living.

Alignments as Factions[edit]

What if the alignments weren't just nine vague sets of beliefs, but actual organizations with elected offices, intelligence networks, and campaign strategies?

Of course, most people are members of religions, political parties, clans, etc., that may favor one alignment over another, but that religion or party is not the alignment itself!

Consider this snippet of myth:

At the dawn of time, the first prime mover created the first races, and at first there was peace. But soon a discord rose over how one should live: advocacy groups argued the cause of good, evil, law, and chaos. A fiffth faction took on the cause of opposing all of these as unbalanced; thus was the concept of neutrality born. As Law and Chaos sought allies within the ranks of the members of Good and Evil, so were the corner alignments formed, completing the nine.

The original members of these factions now are in the plane of dead gods or are elder gods, but rather than fade into obscurity, they have continued to secretly and carefully recruit members. The current membership consists largely of planar lords and powerful deities most committed to and closely associated with their own alignment. These secret societies plot strategies to strengthen the position of their own alignment among lesser beings at the expense of the other eight alignments. The result has been a history of unending conflict, but the alignments cannot bring themselves to trust each other long enough to form a lasting peace in the multiverse.

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