So, when I switched to my home-brew rules I left the old and problematic AD&D alignment system behind as being “not realistic enough” and switched over to the Paladium RPG’s system of alignments that I found much more useful because of the guidelines given as to what people with certain ethos would actually act like and would do under various circumstances. And then, over time, I ended up expanding out the PRPG style of Ethos into a nine-fold list that replicated (in some ways) the old AD&D system.
But as I start looking at my campaign world I realized that I sort of wanted to either return to the AD&D system or somehow merge the revised Ethos system with the AD&D alignment system.
I think the merge is the best answer, because the original AD&D system was so black-and-white in some ways that it really made running alignments or figuring out how it would approach some regularly encountered dilemmas (poison, torture, lying, etc) difficult at best – and the PRPG system explicitly told you how the various Ethos would handle these situations.
What I’m finding amusing is just how much words matter (HAH! Relational Frame Theory and Narrative Construction proves itself again…) and when you think about Ash the NPC as “Lawful Evil” instead of “Abberent” it really puts a whole new spin on that character and his attitudes towards everything. In “the good old days” I usually had an NPC or two that ran around with the party, and they were invariably Neutral Good and provided a bit a moral compass (or goad) for the players – the one notable exception was a True Neutral mage who ended up becoming the arguably the most powerful mage in history and his power-focused drive was a real shock to a group that was pretty “good” for the most part.
It is also an interesting comment on how much my campaign changed after I changed the game I was using to run it – it became a much more morally grey. It didn’t immediately do this. In retrospect I can see how my divorce had a huge impact on that – I was not exactly a happy camper there for a couple of years. But I had always looked at my fantasy game as a bit of morality play for the players t o explore, and I really explored what evil is comprised of and what makes acts or people evil – plus additional layers of Lovecraftian existential amorality – in the context of the game world.
One of the major plot-points of the metaplot revolved around the idea there are things out there (ala GOO’s – “Great Old Ones” like Cthulhu) that are so evil or so bad that pretty much everyone, Good, Evil, and Neutral will band together to fight it.