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Shifts and Affirmations

Source Pathfinder Unchained pg. 97
When faced with a moral challenge or dilemma, use each character’s response to inform whether he or she gains a shift or an affirmation. It’s up to the GM to judge whether a response warrants a shift on the alignment axes. Often, this will be easy: Did a character act in a selfish and uncaring manner? That may cause a shift toward evil on the good/evil axis. Did the character uphold the law of the land over the rights of its citizens? That may cause a shift toward the lawful side of the law/chaos axis. Particularly severe actions may warrant a 2-step shift. However, you should never allow more than a 2-step shift for a single action. As the GM, the final decision is yours, but keep in mind that players may disagree with your initial judgments. Allow them to appeal your decision. Take their arguments seriously, and don’t be afraid to change your mind.

Early in a campaign, you will likely have many shifts as the moral dimensions of characters take shape. Later, as those moral characteristics start to gel, some characters will settle at the extreme ends on one or both of the alignment axes. At this point, they’ll likely commit acts that support their alignments, but since they’re already settled on one or more extreme ends of the alignment axes, there will be no movement on the charts. In these cases, the character is awarded one or two affirmations—small, temporary benefits keyed to the affirmed alignment—based on how many steps you think the action would otherwise have shifted the alignment. A character can spend an affirmation she has gained once within the next 24 hours; any affirmations not spent within that time disappear. Spending an affirmation is usually not an action, but a character must be conscious to do so. The following are benefits gained by spending affirmations.

Chaotic: When attempting a Reflex or Will save, you can spend a chaotic affirmation to roll twice and take the higher result. If you already have an ability that allows you to roll twice and take the higher result, you can spend this affirmation to gain a +2 bonus on both rolls instead.

Evil: You can spend an evil affirmation to gain a +2 bonus on the damage dealt to or healed for all targets when you use an inflict spell or channel negative energy, or you gain a +4 bonus on a single weapon damage roll you make in pursuit of your own desires.

Good: You can spend a good affirmation to gain a +2 bonus on the damage dealt to or healed for all targets when you use a cure spell or channel positive energy, or you can impose a –4 penalty on the damage roll of a weapon attack made against one of your allies or an innocent.

Lawful: You can spend a lawful affirmation to gain a +4 bonus to AC against a single attack. You must choose to spend this affirmation before the attack roll is made.

Note that neutral characters do not gain affirmations—this is because neutral characters already have the advantage of not being targetable by alignment-based spells and effects.

As players advance in level and become more invested in the system, feel free to create your own affirmations based on a particular character’s emergent moral dimensions. For instance, if one of your players is a paladin of Torag, it’s reasonable to allow her to use a lawful affirmation to grant an adjacent ally her bonus to AC. You can also design your own affirmations based on the action that led to the affirmation.