Right, so let's talk about alignment.
It's not unsurprising that few things bring about as much disagreement in the gaming community - much less the OSR community - as alignment. Looking back at OD&D, we can see why. On page 9 of Volume 1, it pretty much just says "pick an alignment" without any explanation of what that means. And thus, forty years of bickering and argument over just what each alignment means and whether Father Joe the Pious would engage in the wholesale slaughter of orc babies along with the rest of the party.
I think it's somewhat inevitable that every gaming blogger eventually tackles the subject at some point or another. I've actually done it once before, but not conclusively. I can't say that I'll rectify that issue today, but I will take a stab at it. First some ground rules.
I: Alignment As AlignmentI think of alignment as quite literally that which the character has aligned himself. The essential dichotomy between Law and Chaos is not universal and membership in one camp or another is not guaranteed. In order to be considered "Lawful," an individual must side with Law against Chaos and vice versa. One must align oneself with either of these forces or neither (Neutrality), and thus alignment is precisely "that with which a character has aligned himself."
II. Alignment Is Justification, Not BehaviorThink of every time someone calls an act "a Chaotic act" or "a Lawful behavior." Nope. Law and Chaos are reasons to do a thing, the justification behind the deed, not the deed itself. An agent of Chaos and an agent of Law may do the exact same thing but for completely different reasons and still be acting "within their alignment." Yes, this works in favor of spurious logic, but I don't expect PCs to be champions of virtue.
III. Alignment Is Ethics, Not MoralityI will come out and say right now that I do not understand alignment systems that include "good" or "evil" as components. If anything, I believe that they cheapen and limit player choice to narrow categories of worthy and acceptable behavior. Without "good" and "evil," player choices take on more weight and consequence as they become unburdened from these artificial (and uninteresting) distinctions. After all, not even Hitler would have described himself as evil, right? Instead, alignment should be composed of a general ethical stance, one largely determined by the character's choice in alignment, one that provides justification not only for a character's behaviors, but also for aligning oneself with one or another pole of the Eternal Conflict.
So, basically, what I want in an alignment system is one that defines itself as an ethical stance (not a moral one) that justifies character behavior (but doesn't seek to define it) and that represents an actual alignment of the character's identity with either Law or Chaos or even neither (but never both). In short, I eschew the "ninefold alignment" and "five point alignment" models in favor of the original, classic alignment model of Law, Chaos & Neutrality.