NOTE: I wish I could say I came up with the below ideas, I really do. But I'd be lying and disrespecting their true creator, an insightful fellow on TV Tropes named "Terminus Est 13". They aren't my creation; I just think they're incredible interesting (sadly, I didn't see them elsewhere) and am reposting them. If the owner wishes for me to remove them, (s)he only need contact me, and I will do so immediately.
I know there's lots of controversy about the alignment system for D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), but I think it has a decent concept. So, I was wondering...what if there was a nine-point alignment chart for the typical "tone" of a campaign?
The Gentle/Neutral/Grim axis refers to the world, how it looks, how gritty it is, and etc.
A Gentle world is a bright and polished world, with lots of color and generally a treat to relax in. A Grim world is a world being torn apart, ruins and remains strewn about everywhere and other such fuckery.
The Light/Grey/Dark axis refers to the morality and philosophy of the setting, whether it espouses or decries heroism/pragmatism.
A Light world has good heroes doing the right thing for maybe the right reasons, delivering everyone to a happier place. A Dark world is where optimism is laughed at and "heroes" get themselves killed with their meaningless antics.
Note 2.0 -- I found this, and the introduction, on vyce
's journal. I couldn't find the original post among TVTropes' users, so I just yanked his. But, I am giving him credit and first dibs. :)
Gentle Light (Happiness): An optimistic and cheerful world.
While it may or may not be a Saturday Morning cartoon world, good usually triumphs and good events makes things a better place for people to live in. Civilizations are cheerful, evil is unabashedly bad and wrong, and the general goal of life is to be a better person. It may seem all too easy to brush these types of worlds off as "simple" or "naive", but they can easily deal with questions about deep philosophical concepts or just throw it all aside for a feel-good romp.
Neutral Light (Justice): A world where heroes are beset by more than a few problems that are inherent to the world, rather than afflicted on the world.
Perhaps the problems lie as an integral part of human nature, and evil is always a prominent part of mankind. Or maybe the heroes are so beset with flaws that they stumble just as often (or more often) than they do good. The heroes are still at the top, and they will still do everything they can to succeed—and frequently will. Now, however, evil is no longer confined in its mountain layer, and instead is very much a part of the world surrounding everyone. It is deeply ingrained.
Grim Light (Persistence): The usual choice for epic fantasy settings, the world is falling apart from an evil that's considered unstoppable or is simply beyond human capabilities.
People are dying in droves, continents are being wiped off the face of the earth, and terror is being sown about, but even in these dark times people of courage can stand up and do what needs to be done to make things better. Whether the world will return to normal afterwards or will remain ruined is something usually considered, but either way, even throughout all of the troubles heroes find it in themselves to do great things.
Gentle Grey (Neither): Might makes right.
The world spins on its gentle axis and people go about their daily lives, but people of all origins and motives clash together for dominance. Or perhaps the conflict isn't so dramatic, and people simply go about their lives without any care and simply taking what comes head-on, but either way there is no moral line to call a definite top. Good and evil clash together or mingle together, people abide by their own moral codes or by whatever corporations they work for, but the line between good and evil either isn't quite so clear-cut...or worse, isn't really all that important.
Neutral Grey (Nothing): A world that can flop anywhere on the axis.
A Neutral Grey world is a world that means one of three things:
1. The world is inherently all-consuming morally that it can encompass any number of things,
2. The system has gotten so many expansions dealing with so many different genres that it can handle any particular thing, or
3. The system just doesn't bother with such things, be it out of bare-bones presentation or a complete disregard for them.
Grim Grey (Aggression): The world is demolished, ruined, and on the brink of terror.
But, despite all that, there is still a shred of hope—but the hope is exactly that, a shred. Perhaps it lies in the hands of the questionable anti-heroes, or perhaps the villains aren't that bad, or perhaps both are in equal force. There are still people pushed to do great things, but as for the how or the why, well...perhaps you shouldn't ask for details. Alternatively, what's left of the world is being squabbled over by forces of both good and evil, with the last remnants of humanity resting strictly on how noble/proper these squabbles are. They can quickly go any way...
Gentle Dark (Deception): A world with a hidden dark side.
While at first glance it may look cheerful and polished--perhaps even happy--underneath is only malevolence. People may be smiling, but it's usually out of ignorance or because it's been forced upon them. A Gentle Dark world may have happiness actively enforced, or maybe because the reality is shielded from people, or maybe because people just don't know, but the result is the same: Only the people that know the dark underworld of things know just how horrible life really is. Everyone else blissfully lives on their daily lives, none the wiser...
Neutral Dark (Desperation): A world falling into destruction.
There is a great darkness, and people can only do their best to fight against it—but it hasn't entirely affected the world yet. The world is changing--most certainly for the worse--but for the most part it's somewhat the same. Perhaps the change has already occurred, and now the world is a melancholy purgatory while people scrap at each other. A Neutral Dark world is, while not horrific, incredibly depressing. This is a world inherently going wrong bit-by-bit with next to nothing stopping it, but those within can hold ground for just a bit longer.
Grim Dark (Death): A world that, per its name, is both grim and dark.
This is a hellish world where there is no light and happiness is fleeting. It can be either a 90s grimdark or a genuinely hateful existence from everyone, but either way there is very little to be cheerful about. In these places, the cynic is always right, and what can go wrong will go horribly wrong. The highest standard of morality you can get is someone who is willing to compromise less than the other...and even then, they tend to end up getting traumatized or dying in a horrible fashion.