Jul 5, 2011

Posted by in News, Officially Speaking | 11 Comments

Officially Speaking: Alignment And Effects On Characters

Welcome to Officially Speaking, a regular column focused on the most hotly debated topics ever to grace the official Star Wars: The Old Republic forums. Do you have something to add? Feel like it gets lost in the shuffle over there? Join in the extended discussion right here on Ask A Jedi.

A Jedi Force-choking someone out?  A Sith telling you to keep following your dreams?  Doesn’t really seem to jive with our expectations of those Force users, but those expectations may soon change.

One of the biggest innovations coming to the MMORPG by way of Star Wars: The Old Republic is the alignment system. Granted, we have seen these alignment systems in both Knights of the Old Republic and Mass Effect, but this time we’re told things are getting a bit more complex.

As a Jedi you can be as evil as you want to be.  To quote Lead Writer Daniel Erickson: “Anakin Skywalker: very dark side, but still hangs around in the Jedi temple.”  This also is mirrored by the Empire, in that Sith players can be as goodie two-shoes as they prefer.

The dev team has been working hard to get the message across that faction choice does not necessarily reflect the alignment of each player; however the factions do lean towards dark and light.  That being said, many players are wondering what affect their alignment will have on their character as far as game-play goes.  To no-one’s surprise, the forums were rife with discussion on this topic. Read on!


First off, we know that alignment can affect the your appearance, at least from an outfitting perspective. During the fan site summit it was plainly stated that the dev team likes the idea of players having to make tough choices regarding morality in relation to rewards.  Damion Schubert has stated specifically:

This means that though there will be gear based on your alignment (likely aesthetically reflective of your alignment), don’t expect to come across vast quantities of alignment specific gear.

As Damion pointed out, these choices will be meaningful to your character development along the lines of gear and companion character relationships, but the dev team never wants you to feel handicapped because of your alignment choices.


Imagine an ability that clearly signified you were a pure light-side Jedi, or a Sith that could demonstrate how evil he was just by showing off a special ability.  This has always been a sign of which side of the Force one falls on in the films, and I would really enjoy being able to see that reflected in the game.  Word on this topic from the dev team has been very scarce but we can still find the following in TheDarkKnight’s most awesome thread on the official forms:

“The more Dark/Light Side you go you gain access to more abilities that lean towards that calling that going the other way denies you. – GameSutra

I am hopeful that this is still an important part of the design. Unfortunately the devs have been tight-lipped on this subject for a while now, as I’ve been hard-pressed to find any new information on this topic since 2009.

What do you guys this about alignment specific abilities?  How do you feel about the fact that alignment specific gear may not be very plentiful?  And, something we didn’t talk about – what about alignment choices affecting your character’s physical appearance?

Feel free to jump into the discussion below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

  1. I’m not sure how complex a system like this can even be in an MMO… especially one with other “choices” it would seem impossible to map and balance.

    In the end I am sure it will be just flavor, nothing more

  2. I can only hope this attention to detail gets integrated with professions. When a crafter creates a rare item, they have put a lot of themselves into it. Time, effort, expertise, credits …. why not add some alignment affinity? Is it possible to create an item that is of high quality, but the true value is dormant until used by someone of a matching affinity equips it?

  3. Zlatto’s idea is interesting, btw.

    Putting choice into an MMO is difficult, but that’s why TOR is different. It’s not about making your character as strong as it can be min/maxing and the best gear available. It’s also about developing a character, an expression of whatever it is that you visualize your character to be.

    To really understand and make it work, we have to step a little bit outside of what we usually expect MMO’s to be.

  4. The devs have also said that alignment will affect some options for lightsaber color. That blue and green are always available to Jedi, but red is only useable if you have enough dark side alignment. Red is always available to Sith, on the other hand, but blue and green are only useable if you have sufficient light side alignment.

    As much as I enjoy alignment-based powers, especially in the two KotOR games, I have a hard time seeing this work in an MMO. Since we know there is PvP in this game, it seems like balancing such powers could become a nightmare. The nerfbat would likely be swung hard and wide and these powers would end up just being mostly cosmetic and having no real use in mainstream PvP.

    It would be kind of cool to see cosmetic changes to powers or abilities that are already standard. So if an SI with a light side alignment heals, it might have a light purple almost blue effect. While a strongly dark side character using the same ability might have a dark purple and red effect. This would probably be pretty easy to implement, and make characters look a bit different.

    • Agent Smashing says:

      I agree that alignment should affect powers at least visually. I am also with you on the sentiment that players will cry “nerf” against alignment powers. However, something we have to keep in mind is: these classes are not direct mirrors of each other. Classes may have similar roles to their opposite faction counter parts, but they are distinctly different, that said I believe that alignment powers with subtle differences won’t be a big stretch. Also, no MMO will ever be perfectly balanced, as long as it’s fun for all I am happy. Great points you brought up here, your lightsaber comment is also a hot button topic, and may inspire my next article!

      • I’m right there with you on the issue of alignment powers. I mean, I would love to see it, just wonder if it will get cut to avoid the potential nerf headaches they can cause. I hope not, but who knows.

    • I love the idea of cosmetic changes to your abilities based on alignment, but not lightsaber colour. To me the Sith will always be known for Red and then other colours (Orange, purple maybe) in rare occasions. Just look at the cinematics and imagine the confusion with jedi with Red lighsabers and Sith with blue and green! Thats just not for me. If im Sith I wanna know that a red lightsaber is friend and blues and greens are dead. but thats my oppinion anyway. good discussion btw. :D

  5. if I play a dark jedi will I end up with yellow eyes?

  6. No, the devs have said that they dont want to force a persons character to look like something they dont want to look like, so alignment does not seem to affect the look of the character.

  7. It would be nice to have the option for new appearance features due to alignment. This could work if they implement a “barber shop” feature that allows you to change your appearance after character creation.

    If they did this, then you could unlock Sith Eyes or Jedi Eyes (light blue or glowy?) and other sorts of features that are unique to your alignment. Perhaps certain hairstyles and other options could be based on alignment. Rather than it being forced on players, it would be an option and could be used as a badge to show off your dastardly or noble ways.

  8. AlexWhiteSaber says:

    Kind of thing that can create a lot of expectations and if not properly implemented can ruin the game. I would rather have cosmetic effects (choices of light collors from the use of force, scars, horns, red eyes) then any kind of buff.

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