Alignment

Posted by Theodore Cory on

DnD Alignments and Why They Are Important for the Game

What alignment should I play? Does Chaotic Neutral mean I can do whatever I want? Does Lawful good mean lawful stupid? Dungeons & Dragons uses an alignment tool that reveals the moral and ethical perspective of the player characters and  NPS. In Dungeons & Dragons 5E some big changes have been made to class requirements for alignment, but you still have two choices: one, where your views on "law" vs. "chaos" will matter, and second, on "good" vs. "evil." 

The need for DnD alignments

Many players say that the alignments are essential to the game, while a few think that they may not need them anyway. But most gamers prefer to have them when they are in a critical ethical situation.

5e has removed many previous class requirements, most notably paladins are no longer required to be lawful good, and druids no longer need to be true neutral. 

There are two significant reasons why D&D alignments are crucial:

1. You get a quick summary and guideline of how your character may act in the game. If you know that your character is Chaotic Good, it doesn’t give you a thorough idea of how it might play out. 

2. Some of the forces and monsters in the DnD universe are inherently evil or good. Some spells and abilities specifically impact certain alignments. 

Change in Character Alignment

 

A Character's alignment can change based on their actions. In older versions of D&D this could impact character progression, but it no longer does. Let's say you stole, a magic broom, it could force your true neutral character to move to neutral evil. 

 

Types of DnD alignments

There are nine alignments in Dungeons and Dragons 5e:

i. Lawful Good

Characters with lawful good alignment have a sense of duty and honor. It's frequently stated that lawful good does not mean lawful stupid, and lawful good characters can sometime do otherwise harsh actions. The creatures that have this character trait are the noble golden dragons.

ii. Neutral Good

Characters with neutral good alignment mostly act altruistically. They don’t have any regard or disregard for or against any lawful precept such as traditions or rules. These are the most peace-loving characters in the game. They don’t have a problem cooperating with the lawful officials. But they don’t feel indebted to them. Neutral good characters don’t suffer an inner conflict like the lawful good characters if they have to choose between bending and breaking the law or rule. If they feel it is a decision that will bring a positive change, they will not hesitate to take the decision. 

iii. Chaotic Good

Chaotic good characters always disdain the bureaucratic organizations that often interfere in social improvement. These characters try to bring a change for the better. They believe in personal freedom for everyone. If you are playing a chaotic good character, you will usually incline to do what is right; regardless of the law. However, their methods to bring about the change are often disorganized, and they don’t tune in well with society. 

iv. Lawful Neutral

A lawful neutral character believes in lawful concepts like order, tradition, rules, and honor. Sometimes, these characters can even have a prior preference to choices that they think are controlled by benevolent authorities. Some of the lawful neutral characters in the DnD game are the soldiers who follow orders, an enforcer or judge who only follows the rules of the law, and also a disciplined monk. 

v. True Neutral

True neutrals don’t feel strongly towards any alignment, and they don’t actively seek their balance.  They take decisions on their feet instead of judging what is right and what is wrong according to their character traits. Most "natural" creates in D&D are true neutral. 

vi. Chaotic Neutral

Chaos is the defining attribute for these characters; frequently they are disruptive to the party and can wreak havoc on even the best laid plans. 

vii. Lawful Evil

Lawful evil characters often search for a well-ordered system. They try to exploit this system to show a combination of both desirable and undesirable traits. Some of the alignments that fall under the lawful evil characters are devils, tyrants, mercenaries, and corrupt officials. They will probably stick to a deal that is made, but you can be certain they don't have your best interests in mind when they make it. Beware of loopholes when negotiating with a lawful Evil character. 

viii. Neutral Evil

Neutral Evil characters are very selfish and may not care if they turn against their allies.  NE characters won't hesitate to hurt others if it furthers their means. All they care about is to fulfill their wishes and demands. However, they won’t go out of their way to achieve their desires; they won't cause any mayhem or carnage if they think that the actions will not benefit them.

A suitable example of a neutral evil is an assassin. They may have little regard for the formal laws of society. However, he/she will not kill anyone needlessly. Another example of a neutral evil character is a henchman who plots evil plans against their superior behind his back, and also a mercenary who can switch sides if they get a better offer. 

ix. Chaotic Evil

These characters are more evil than neutral evils. They don’t respect any rules, don’t value people’s lives, and they will do anything to fulfill their desires; they are the most cruel and selfish characters in the game who value nothing but their personal freedom. These characters are so evil that they don’t work well in groups as well. A big differentiation for chaotic evil characters is that they may do evil things even if they don't benefit from it.


Apart from the alignments, two axes also impact the movement of the alignments. 

a) Law vs. Chaos

Law signifies trustworthiness, honor, reliability, and obedience to authority while chaos indicates flexibility, adaptability, and freedom. The neutral alignments in the game usually respect the law and chaos. They don’t feel compelled to follow a rule they don’t like, but they don’t feel like rebelling against it either. 

b) Good vs. Evil

Most fantasy games have a good versus evil axis. Good signifies respect for life, concern for sentiments and dignity, and altruism. Evil, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. They indicate oppression and the desire to kill or harm others. As already mentioned, some of the evil creatures and characters have no compassion for others.

Conclusion:

Ultimately alignment should be a tool to help you decide how your character may act in a situation. While it doesn't mean every act will align, it means that most of your acts should.  Also, it shouldn't be used as an excuse for playing like a jerk; regardless of alignment you should consider how your in game actions will impact the human playing the game with you. If your characters are always jerks, it's not your characters that are jerks.

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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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