I’m getting utterly quite confused about alignments these days. It’s strange, because I always thought of myself as being a goody-goody Lawful Good. Certainly at work I’m trusted to do things and know things which I would not normally be authorised to do and know.
So I was doing this quiz the other day What D&D Character Am I? and surprisingly, I’m a Chaotic Neutral Elven Ranger/Mage (what rules are they playing by? Elves can’t multi-class as ranger/mages). So I knew already that I’m an elf, but Chaotic Neutral? Really?
You see, according to the official AD&D 2e definition:
Chaotic neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything, including their own actions. With this as a guiding principle, they tend to follow whatever whim strikes them at the moment. Good and evil are irrelevant when making a decision. Chaotic neutral characters are extremely difficult to deal with. Such characters have been known to cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything on the roll of a single die. They are almost totally unreliable. In fact, the only reliable thing about them is that they cannot be relied upon! This alignment is perhaps the most difficult to play. Lunatics and madmen tend toward chaotic neutral behaviour.
What?! I can haz insanity? My family would probably agree, but apparently the official alignment definitions are completely broken and should be ignored. I have to agree. Some of them really don’t make any sense, especially the True Neutral alignment. Ultimate balance of forces in the Universe? Eh?
I’ve found a decent reworking of the AD&D alignment system here and the definitions given on the quiz I did earlier make more sense, too (I think that last one is using D&D 3.5e rules. I stopped at 2e, so I wouldn’t know. 4e is pants, by the way, since I haven’t mentioned that lately). In order:
Chaotic neutral characters believe that the individual and his or her rights are more important than anything, even if need be, the rights of the group. Individuals and minorities are not slaves to the greater good, nor should they be. If society ever puts someone in a position where they no longer benefit from being a member of society, that individual may freely ignore all social codes, laws, morals, or ethics to break free of a society that has failed them. Unfortunately, even if many people will get hurt along the way, that’s too bad, they had it coming. After all, these people were members of a society and supported its actions and therefore they share in its guilt. If his or her rights can be restored without hurting anyone, great, but if not, that’s tough. And though the chaotic neutral character is hard to predict since you never really know what they will care about or why, this is hardly the same as one who engages in random actions, even if it may seem like it to an outside observer. The chaotic neutral characters do care about things and certain people the same way most others do, but they can take good or leave it, or take evil or leave it, whatever happens to be most expedient to them to protect themselves and the people and things they care about, while they champion the individual’s cause. Frequently, random events will determine what situations they find themselves in, and they will act accordingly, but their own actions are NOT randomly determined, but are instead dictated by the situation at hand. Now if your character has no depth and you are not really into playing the role, a player may be able to simulate the CN character’s concerns by randomly flipping a coin, but I highly recommend you do not do this as it is NOT role playing; it is roll playing. The actual character, however, would not flip a coin to decide what he or she cared about. Players who do use dice or coins to determine such matters are at least admonished to be consistent. For example, if they use a coin to see if they’d care about their nephew or not, fine, but thereafter, they should strive to be consistent in this care, or lack of care, toward their nephew.
People who break the law to get what they want are fine examples of chaotic neutral characters. However, what they want may be self-serving and evil, altruistic and good, or something in between. Indeed, stepping outside the law to do a selfish thing one day – stealing a necklace for his girlfriend – and stepping outside the law to do an altruistic thing the next – picking the unscrupulous banker’s pocket and giving the widow Brown enough to pay off her mortgage – is not atypical behaviour of the chaotic neutral character, and though many may see this as random actions or even inconsistent behaviour, they are not since he cares about his girlfriend and his neighbour and doesn’t like the banker but does like the widow Brown. If you know this character and know what he cares about, his actions ARE more predictable. If he is a stranger, his actions may seem random to you, even though they are not. Randomness is NOT what makes a character chaotic. So a chaotic neutral character is far from unreliable just because of their alignment. If you know them, if you know what they care about, then you can rely on them to do their best to protect these interests, and if those interests are common to your own, they are excellent allies. A chaotic neutral character does not typically throw dice or flip coins to make up their minds. This is roll playing, not role-playing, so stop it. And remember, using a coin or die to simulate this is something a PLAYER may do, but their character would not. They are not random beings with no cares about anything, no matter what they may SEEM like to a stranger who doesn’t know them well.
A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behaviour is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.
Hmm…. maybe. But that’s not why I’m interested. These definitions make a lot more sense, so here is my NPC realigning.
Ferys — Chaotic Neutral — Chaotic Good always seemed a bit off for him, and yet none of the other official definitions matched up with his personality. He certainly doesn’t spend his time working for the betterment of others. The fixed CN definition fits him much better. His priorities are: the welfare of his family; his own survival; and the care of those in his charge, in that order. As for the rest of the world, they’re not his problem.
Zephyr — I still think he’s a Neutral Good. He likes to befriend and help out others, but isn’t averse to bypassing the law if necessary.
Clarys (originally my PC) — She’s still such a goody-goody, could she ever be anything other than Lawful Good? Besides, she’s a Paragon and it’s class requirements. Although I was thinking of allowing NG as well for that class.
Edward Sr (aka Uncle Ed) — I have no idea now, really. I’ll need to think about this one. Edit: I did the quizzes for him, he got LG and NG, so I’ll keep him as a NG.
Raven — He’s a bit of a goody-goody, too, so I’d stick with Lawful Good for him, too.
Eddie — Probably stick with Chaotic Good. He hates being a prince, is always running away and likes rescuing people. Yep, CG suits him fine.
Phoenix — I haven’t done enough character development for her yet. Maybe Neutral Good or even Neutral with CG tendencies.
Alexander — Probably Chaotic Neutral as well. But he does have a kind streak to him, too, so who knows.
Anyway, that’s enough boredom from me.