Red-eyed dust bunny
Actually, just a reference to Dragon's precusor, the 7 issues of The Strategic Review . Now I'm wondering... the dwarf beard article?I bet I know which article from issue 109 you're thinking of.
That's why I like "For King and Country". There's still alignment, with all the spells and attendant trappings. Defining alignment using messy human nationalism, religion, and personal morality allows a lot of free reign.Ha. This is also why when there is objective morality as a fact of the universe, I prefer it's standards impossibly stringent for humans to live up to perfectly, and/or just plain alien, as the cosmic beings that decide what morality is are not human, and have standards informed by that cosmic perspective on things. The more troublesome they are, the more interesting the conflicts between what is objectively Right, what is culturally right, and what would be the most practical option become. When there are several axes to the moral compass, and all have their benefits and drawbacks, so which one to prioritize is not a foregone conclusion, it becomes particularly pleasing to me in terms of world design.
With absolutism, I tend to prefer the idea that the division between Good and Evil in D&D is objective, but created by committee. The various gods, pantheons, religions, religious traditions, and so on are powered by belief. The cumulative belief of humans and other races across the planes is boiled down into a simple on/off button, which is horribly contradictory and doesn't fit particularly well into any one faith's system of morality. But there you have it. Good is defined this way, by consensus; and evil, like this. And all that magic or theurgy dings when it senses one of the polar opposites. People can be wicked, and still register as "Good" as long as they mostly follow the rules; break one single important rule on the other hand, and you're tarred with the "Evil" brush. To jump ahead a couple editions, take the ur-priest. Stealing magic from the gods is Evil, even if you're the most saintly person in every single other way, so by definition all members of the prestige class are Evil. Though being Evil doesn't in any way proscribe your actions. You can still be nice, and rage and wail against the unfair standards of the cosmos. On the other hand, you can be pretty mean and vile, and as long as you only butcher the races with "Evil" written on their barcodes, your patented paladin's halo won't lose any of its tarnish because those are the approved genocides. Learn to play the game, and profit.