We then had a series of emails afterwards that sort of went like this:
- The players expressed surprise at my decision, saying that a forced alignment change was too extreme since one incident does not equate to a "pattern of behavior."
- I said that it may have only been one incident, but it was so contemptably evil and utterly malicious that no PC could call himself anything but evil for murdering and robbing an innocent, wounded guy.
- The players also argued that only the guy who committed the backstab committed an evil act. The other guy, by doing nothing to stop him, was playing in character as CN. (In fact, I think this is a valid argument)
This also got me thinking about alignment in general. And the more I think about it, the less I like it. I prefer my fantasy settings to have more gray area, more nuances to behavior and personality. Look at Conan. He was morally ambiguous at times. Hell, he may have committed a few evil acts in the name of the greater good. Same with Solomon Kane. He murdered people in his own vigilante style to advance a cause.
I think constraining PCs with labels takes away the ability of players to roleplay them as normal human beings. And let's face it, normal human beings have moments of greed, stubbornness, lust, envy and cruelty.
By the way, I decided that I was being too harsh and that I reacted withouth thinking it through. So I reversed my alignment change decision for both PCs but told them to consider it a warning and that another such incident would constitute a pattern in my mind.
By the way, my players read this blog and they are really great gamers. This was very much an isolated thing.
Have you ever had a situation where you (or your DM) forced an alignment change?