The two-part alignment system in Pathfinder Online aims to prevent morality grinding.
Tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons were the progenitors of today's MMOs, but free form roleplaying has been hard to codify in a digital game. Alignment systems have so far been binary like in Star Wars The Old Republic and end up forcing you to make decisions you normally wouldn't just to get the "points". Pathfinder Online from Goblinworks wants to rectify that with a two part alignment system in which you choose your starting point on the spectrum, which then gets modified by your actions. The alignment system also features the four points featured in old school D&D: law and chaos, good and evil.
"During character creation, you can select your character's core alignment. This is basic standard of behavior your character strives to maintain at all times," wrote old school D&D designer Rich baker on Goblinworks developer blog. "Active alignment represents your character's actual, objective alignment, as determined by the measurable and observable choices he or she makes in play."
That's the theory, but how does it work in practice? "If your character aspires to be good but you murder someone for no reason, your character's active alignment takes a hard swerve toward neutral (hey, maybe it was an honest mistake). Make a pattern of that behavior, and your character's active alignment soon turns full-on evil," Baker said.
Based on the tabletop RPG of the same name, Pathfinder Online aims to bring Paizo's famous fantasymworld to the realm of MMORPGs with deep, addictive gameplay and mechanics based on the award-winning pen and paper RPG.
Over time, your active alignment will drift back to your ideal core alignment score. Some classes will let you purchase abilities based on your core alignment, but will use your active alignment to determine whether you can cast certain spells or abilities. "A paladin can train her smite evil ability at any time based on her lawful good core alignment, but if her active alignment is currently neutral because she killed characters without justification, she won't be able to actually use her smite evil ability until her active alignment returns to good," Baker said.
The math will work like this:
A character's alignment is measured on two axes: Good-Evil and Law-Chaos. Your character has a score on each axis ranging between -7500 to 7500. A character with a good-evil score of -7500 to -2500 is evil; a character with a score of -2500 to 2500 is neutral; and a character with a score of 2500 to 7500 is good. Your core alignment value is set in the center of each of these ranges. For example, a character with a core alignment of lawful neutral would have a good-evil score of 0 and a lawful-chaotic score of 5000, while a chaotic good character would have a good-evil score of 5000 and a lawful-chaotic score of -5000.
Pathfinder Online is far from complete, and pre-alpha testing hasn't even begun, but everything I hear from the development team and Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey has me excited for the EVE Online meets D&D gameplay.
Source: Goblinworks Dev Blog