If you’d like to argue about alignment, be my guest. The comments section is there for you as a resource. Feel free to yell into that empty white void for as long as it takes to feel better. For my part, I’ll confine my remarks to “Mean Girls, Parts 1-3.”

Even though alignment is the punchline of today’s comic, The Anti-Party’s quest for the upper planes is about more than moral superiority. Seeking answers from the gods may be a fine and noble quest, but there’s a problem. It’s only worthwhile within fiction. If you come at an NPC with one of life’s unanswerable questions, it doesn’t matter whether you’re seeking an audience with Iomedae, goddess of justice or Meepo, kobold of memes. You’re only going to get one character’s perspective. And if you (the player) or you (the character) happen to disagree with that perspective, deific certitude becomes a tough pill to swallow.

What is my purpose in life? What is it to be a good person? Do I have free will? 

When the gods are fallible, these questions are a non-issue. The divine NPC (or wise sage; or mighty oracle) provide their philosophical viewpoint, and the PCs respond accordingly. If you’re adventuring in a setting where capital-G Good is supposed to be infallible, however, your GM is going to have a tough time coming up with a satisfying answer.

This is why I prefer a bit of ambiguity in my own games. And it’s also why I like Julie Taymor’s Titus. Ya know… The weird Shakespeare adaptation with Anthony Hopkins in the lead? It’s an odd touchpoint for RPGs, but I think it’s relevant here. That’s because Taymor and Hopkins had differing opinions about one of the play’s key questions. Here’s the relevant bit of trivia from IMDB:

Writer, producer, and director Julie Taymor and Sir Anthony Hopkins disagreed about Titus’ mental state throughout production, with Taymor feeling that Titus is feigning a kind of madness, but is in fact mad himself, but with Hopkins feeling that Titus is feigning madness, and is in fact totally sane. They never resolved their differences and on their respective commentaries on the DVD, they mentioned their differing interpretations.

We usually don’t get to see this kind of split decision within the medium of film. You only have one version of the finished production after all, and filmmakers are rarely so forthcoming with personal interpretations. But for us as roleplayers, I find this difference of opinion endlessly fascinating. That’s because we glimpse a pair of co-creatives who were able to tell a single story with two contrasting visions. Both are valid, and both are present, but neither one is definitive. Just something to think about next time your local rogue and paladin start squabbling about who the real protagonist is.

Question of the day, then! Have you ever encountered a deity in a game? Did they provide disappointing certainty, or interesting ambiguity? And more generally, how do you like to represent divine wisdom in your own games? Tell us all about your pronouncements from on high down in the comments!


ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Twice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.