Reframing Alignment For Newer Players
Let's not waste time with flowery language. Here's how I'm presenting alignment for my games.
Alignment is not about personal beliefs. It's an abstraction that explains a character's place in a large-scale cosmological conflict.
There are four alignments...
Law- You fight for the side of order, creation, and justice. Adherents can include everyone from a cold-hearted but litigious judge to a devout acolyte or even a scout tracking the armies of Chaos.
Neutral- You fight for the side of balance, preservation, and survival. Adherents could include fey creatures and servants or guardians of nature.
Chaos- You fight for the side of entropy, self-determination, and power. This will include anarchists, slavers, cultists, raiders, and monsters.
Unaligned- You have no place in this conflict. Chances are, you're probably the citizen of a place of Law who benefits from the protections paid for with the blood of Lawful warriors. Perhaps you're weak or infirm. Maybe you're a demihuman or a hermit that just doesn't have any time for this constant bloodshed.
So, that covers the cosmological alignments. Now let's talk about alignments for games that don't use the Law vs Chaos dynamic. These are far more in line with pinning down character motivations and sliding that between Vice and Virtue. These can change with play and can easily help a player decide how a character may act in a given situation.
Enterprise/Greed- Your character is motivated by the accumulation of wealth.
Justice/Wrath- Your character has a deeply rooted desire to right the wrongs of the world.
Fame/Infamy- Your character desires to be known across the land for their exploits, and is willing to put everything on the line to make it happen.
Discovery/Acquisition- There are things you wish to find, either for the sake the discovery or so it may be used for your own purposes.
Protection/Destruction- There's something you either hold to be either sacred or to be a threat, and dealing with this is of the utmost importance.
Dedication/Obsession- There's someone or something that has your undying loyalty, either out of admiration, belief, or infatuation. It'll probably be the death of you.
Probably more I haven't thought of yet.