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View Full Version : What's your take on Neutrality? (3.5)



WarKitty
2010-08-25, 04:48 PM
I am a die-hard druid player - and no it's not about the class abilities. I do genuinely like the flavor. My issue is with the "neutrality" clause. The way the fluff is written, TN would seem to be the embodiment of the druidic ideal. TN always struck me as sort of, well, lazy, though. Admittedly I am no fan of alignment in general, but I figured I'd give it a shot here.

So, playgrounders, what are your takes on what a TN character would be like?

Edit: anyone posting anything along the lines of "just build a character and then decide what alignment they fit" or "don't play that alignment if you don't like it" will have an internet fired at them from a ballista. That's not the point of this thread.

Rixx
2010-08-25, 04:52 PM
"I don't know and I have no opinion."

Sir_Elderberry
2010-08-25, 04:58 PM
I think there are two kinds of neutrality, and I think it would have been nice to have it spelled out. One is communicated in 4e by "Unaligned"--a character who solely seeks knowledge, or is otherwise unconcerned with the cosmic war between law, chaos, good, and evil. Another is the "balance" form of neutral, which I've always considered to make pretty much no sense in the "balance of good and evil" sense, mostly because, as written, D&D Good is absolutely, universally, a good thing. Most arguments I've heard against Good being so good apply better to Law, actually.

bloodtide
2010-08-25, 05:02 PM
I like the idea of The Balance.

So a TN person could look at it like, for every good, evil, lawful or chaotic action they take...then must then take an action for the other three alignment types. So that everything is balanced. So a TN person would do a crime(evil act), but then give some of the money to the hungry(good act)...so in the end the good/evil balances out.

A TN person can also walk the line, and help all sides, but fully support none of them.

A TN person can pick a side. If they feel the Army of Gold Evles has made too much peace and saftey and in land, they will do evil acts to lessen the good.

For a druid, they see nature as supreime. Nature has no alignment, it just IS. A storm or a plauge or a wild cat just ARE. And Druid's see man as a part of nature.

Ravens_cry
2010-08-25, 05:03 PM
A certain moral and ethical apathy usually. Sure, you don't want to get hurt, but if those guys in Elsewherevania are attacked, OK, sucks to be them, but why should you care? You won't go out to kick the dog, but your not as likely to rush out and stop someone. Paying your taxes, on time, if not gladly, that kind.
Joe Blow average, in fact. I see most people in a society as being of this alignment.

Lord Vampyre
2010-08-25, 05:04 PM
Personally, I've always seen a True Neutral character as someone who adheres to a cause that supercedes the normal alignment rules.

Now, unfortunately this point of view tends to overwrite alignments in the first place. Just give a character a particular cause and call them True Neutral no matter what they do, as long as it is justified by the cause. Therefore it becomes a hassle on truly identifying whether or not something was done to further the cause or to further the character, or does the cause in and of itself adhere to a particular alignment.

Now, most of this view is strongly based on 2nd edition and works well with the druid. Since nature can be seen as being neither good or evil, and having a certain amount of order with random acts of destruction.

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 05:08 PM
I never really liked the "balance out your good acts with evil ones." Mainly because I can't think of a remotely sensible way to play it. "I'm going to rob a peasant village and give the money to an orphanage" just seems sort of, well, insane? Apathy makes sense, although I don't think it seems to fit very well with a druid. Obviously if you're going to be a champion of nature you're not apathetic because you care about nature?

hamishspence
2010-08-25, 05:14 PM
Agreed- Heroes of Horror handles it slightly better- balance mild evil acts (like casting [Evil] spells and rebuking undead) with an overall heroic outlook and behaviour, and you have the "Flexible Neutral character" or possibly the "antihero".

They're more the "hero not afraid to get their hands a little dirty" than the "Agent of the Balance."

Easydamus is often an interesting source- I like it, though I'm away not everyone may:

http://easydamus.com/trueneutral.html

Thurbane
2010-08-25, 05:18 PM
http://i37.tinypic.com/1zxtw6e.jpg

"What makes a good man go neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"

"I hate these filthy neutrals Kif! With enemies you know where they stand but with neutrals? Who knows! It sickens me."

"How very neutral of you!"

Project_Mayhem
2010-08-25, 05:27 PM
If I die, tell my wife hello

Edit:

On a serious note, you could play Druidic neutral as basically nature embodied. NG is focusing more on the protective Mother nature side, NE would be focusing on the predator side, with TN in the middle.

I see the character as very animalistic, spending most time in wildshape, and not caring about the axis your neutral in at all.

imp_fireball
2010-08-25, 05:28 PM
"I don't know and I have no opinion."

There are many many examples of TN.

- "I have no opinion, I don't know. My wisdom score is in the dumps because I'm stupid. Or I'm lazy."

- "I simply don't care. I'm an apathetic nihilist."

- "Life is without meaning. Just live your life to the fullest. Help out those that help you, don't get in trouble, do not disturb the peace. Do what makes you happy. Don't piss off other people."

- "The universe must remain in balance and I must do what it takes to retain that balance."

- "Nature must be conserved and protected. Nature is fragile."

- "Nature does not need protection. But do not piss off nature because it can exact great vengeance. Live a balanced life style and take only what you can return later on."

- "Everyone is stupid with their opinions. Opinions only lead to hate and war. The only true good is harmony and emotional calm. Conflicts must be resolved logically. Compromise is preferred in extreme circumstances. In a perfect world, there is a great force of peace that seeks to prevent good and evil from entirely destroying one another. The best outlet for this force is possibly nature itself."

- "Greed is bad. So are powerful emotions such as intense pain or intense happiness. The most healthy emotion is the point where it breaks even. We as mortals must learn to endure at that state of mind. We cannot ask for more than what we can get for ourselves and are worthy of. No creature was born to serve another unless it requires it to survive or the existing service is a stable contract."

- "It's all about survival of the fittest. I will do what I can to ensure that my friends and family survive. But I have no reason to help strangers unless it is immediately within my means to do so - in all honest technicality though, I have no reason to impose myself upon the lives of others and it is my natural given right to look after myself."

- "Some laws can imbalance the order of things. Nature is the ultimate compromise giver."

- "Mankind must work on a balanced medium to support all lifestyles. As long as we can continue to ensure our existence, all is right in the world. I will help others when it is directly imposed upon myself in some manner."

- "I am not a perfectionist. I will go with what life gives me and seek no more. Greed and ego are sins after all."

- "Life is scary! I must do what it takes to get through the world. I must put myself at a safe distance from any sort of conflict."

- "Fighting for good or evil is stupid. Both can easily get you killed. What's the point of that? The greatest reward is life itself."

- "If the world were perfectly balanced, then their would be the most peace. Death is perhaps the worst thing because it removes the gift of life. The after life is a complete crock. Life is rough and we must live our present life to the fullest until our time is up."


Apathy makes sense, although I don't think it seems to fit very well with a druid. Obviously if you're going to be a champion of nature you're not apathetic because you care about nature?

Druids tend to have high wisdom scores, so I think the stereotypical druid should be a hermit sage. He knows the answers but not the questions. He believes that life is the most important thing and not anything that could possibly extinguish life. He doesn't use metal because it's believed across the land that metal is commonly signified by the 'sword and armor' which are both weapons. After all, military pursuits are what lead to heavy industries such as the mining of copper and iron to make bronze or steel.

The more evil druid (you could give this one 'evil tendencies' if the GM doesn't think it violates alignment restriction) is misanthropic and chose to be a hermit to get away from it all. He tries to be an ally of nature by defiling civilization whenever possible (but never going to actual evil extremes such as murder).


or does the cause in and of itself adhere to a particular alignment.

Good and Evil aren't forces or political stand points. A cause might be 'evil' if it tends to cause more violence than help people. It's very easy for a cause to sway to either good or evil even if the cause has a charter of its own ideals, no matter how obscure.

Beliefs and actions go together to determine alignment. But usually it's actions more than beliefs. If the person hardly commits to any actions but has strong beliefs, that could also influence their alignment.

hamishspence
2010-08-25, 05:33 PM
The misanthropic one could comfortably be a CN, N, or NE druid. All of which are allowed.

I like the "tendencies" system from 2nd ed as well.

Wonton
2010-08-25, 05:34 PM
True Neutral can be the hardest alignment to roleplay because of how it overlaps with Neutral Good. I think most TN characters that saw a burning orphanage would try and help. Some of the braver ones would even run in, risking their lives in the process. Does that make them NG? I don't think so. It's when you start actively seeking out people in need of help that you become NG, in my opinion, at least.

imp_fireball
2010-08-25, 05:36 PM
The misanthropic one could comfortably be a CN, N, or NE druid. All of which are allowed.

So I suppose the heavily misanthropic one could be NE and a worshiper of fiendish fey and one who attacks civilization every other weekend.


mostly because, as written, D&D Good is absolutely, universally, a good thing. Most arguments I've heard against Good being so good apply better to Law, actually.

Thing is, any good aligned person stereotypically thinks about helping the populace more than advancing a cause or operating by logic in regards to winning a war or whatever.

Ie. Marcus Fenix from Gears of War might delay a mission to help some soldiers. If he were neutral, he'd be more concerned about the mission.

Mark Hall
2010-08-25, 05:38 PM
True Neutral can go a few different ways.

1) Disinterested, lesser. Someone who is not interested in questions of good and evil. They do what they do without trying to hurt anyone too much, but not objecting to it if its necessary. This is usually not an alignment for Druids, but works well for Rogues or Bards. Could be called "selfish".

2) Disinterested, greater. Someone who has an interest that is divorced from questions of good and evil. This one is hard to maintain, but a stereotypical druid, who cares not about civilization or benevolence, except insofar as they help their cause. This could be called "motivated" or "dedicated". It is a frequent alignment of druids.

3) Philosophically neutral. Someone who is dedicated to the cosmic balance. They look at whether the area is trending towards good or evil, law or chaos, and work to build the opposite side. If things are too lawful, they start to build chaos. If things are too evil, they work with the side of good. This is the "classical" view of TN, and probably the one hardest to maintain as a PC.

PinkysBrain
2010-08-25, 05:39 PM
So, playgrounders, what are your takes on what a TN character would be like?
Someone who acts out of pure self interest and cares nothing about people in general, neither their well being nor their rights for self determination ... a sociopath (Zapp Brannigan is an excellent example).

Sir_Elderberry
2010-08-25, 05:40 PM
Stereotypically, maybe. But look at what happens in the part of the multiverse where Good really is the absolutely dominant power--Celestia and its ilk. It's not an awful place, and they're not stupid.

hamishspence
2010-08-25, 05:40 PM
So I suppose the heavily misanthropic one could be NE and a worshiper of fiendish fey and one who attacks civilization every other weekend.

Or just someone whose personality is nasty enough, and methods are evil enough (just) to push him across the line- depending on how widely Evil is defined.

"Extreme Jerk" so to speak.

He wouldn't have to be an outright murderer- though that's an option as well.

"NE with N tendencies" might be an interesting character to play.


Someone who acts out of pure self interest and cares nothing about people in general, neither their well being nor their rights for self determination ... a sociopath.

Champions of Ruin suggests that "the sociopath equally capable of acts of good or evil, neither of which move him emotionally" is probably Evil rather than Neutral.

imp_fireball
2010-08-25, 05:42 PM
This is the "classical" view of TN, and probably the one hardest to maintain as a PC.

Not really, a TN druid PC could just say that they're adventuring with the party as part of some obscure unseen goal towards conserving the balance of the cosmos and the reason no one else can see this goal is because the druid has a higher wisdom score than everyone else ("You'd never understand! I've spent years meditating upon this."). Through this argument, they can do almost anything short of anything that is openly chaotic or lawful.

Granted, the GM can spring a related quest upon them, but chances are it'll become the main quest that every PC has to be a part of as 'next in line' in the advancing plot, since 'restoring the balance' is a pretty lofty goal.


Someone who acts out of pure self interest and cares nothing about people in general, neither their well being nor their rights for self determination ... a sociopath (Zapp Brannigan is an excellent example).

That's... evil. Everyone gets demanded favors at some point in their lives. Zapp Brann would weasel his way out of it.

Also I don't like how Wizards has made some creatures that devour everything 'chaotic neutral' unless they happened to be unintelligent or animal.

hamishspence
2010-08-25, 05:45 PM
I like Julius the Symmetrical:

http://www.mimir.net/essays/morals.html

who seems eager to criticize every one of the 17 common viewpoints- even True Neutral.

Maybe he's more "Flexible Neutral" than "True Neutral"?

imp_fireball
2010-08-25, 05:48 PM
And if they're all flawed, then why not neutrality?

The fact that someone sees an alignment as 'flawed' is a logical viewpoint. It tends to be neutral.

Good guys tend to see evil as disagreeable because it's 'bad' and 'nobody deserves the cruelty that evil has given' thus evil must be 'prevented'.


Champions of Ruin suggests that "the sociopath equally capable of acts of good or evil, neither of which move him emotionally" is probably Evil rather than Neutral.

He's evil because he's incapable of feeling happiness or pleasure, which are the sole drive of good. Evil is the sole drive of anything that begets happiness and pleasure. Neutrality is the sole drive of not emotion, but logic.

A force that destroys everything isn't logical. It's evil. Unless it has no mind of its own.


All beings are born equal. You make your own fate. Only by toiling and hard graft can you elevate yourself. Work well in all things, and you will achieve what you deserve. Life is an auction, and those who bid the highest stakes will reap the greatest rewards. Help others, but help them to help themselves first. Charity is worthless if those who you aid don't take steps to improve themselves. If someone is willing to make an effort then they deserve as much help as you can give. There is no room for free-loaders or slackers, and do not feel guilty about their fate - they chose it for themselves.

Using those of this perspective, the alignments could affect them as follows:

A CN person with the above belief would look out for himself. He might help others since he is within reach of them but only if he thinks they're cool people. He might actively ignore people if he finds he doesn't like them or they offended him, whether or not accidentally. He could be an arrogant intellectual that considers stupid people to be absolute filth and those that work hard enough should have everything. He works hard because he values the freedom it offers. He doesn't enjoy governments that provide stupid laws and especially not those that restrict freedom.

A CE person would make his own way in the world, and probably even go out of his way to laugh at the less fortunate. He'd think that society is merely a hub at which work can be done. He enjoys civilization because it can actually reward you more for hard work rather then the more rural life of 'work hard to survive and any extra work is wasting time'. Anyone who imposes this on him will be punished twenty times as hard in kind. He values freedom more than anything else. People who don't share his beliefs annoy him so much that he may even seek to swiftly do away with them in some manner.

A CG person would help others whenever he can but he doesn't think that government should get involved in the process. He values community for what it can do and the intimacy it provides. Don't expect others to help out. You can't change what people think. You must provide for yourself by working hard and then you'll have the most means to help others. This sort of society is truly unfortunate for the disabled, but efficient societies can find other ways to make use of them. There should be some method of profiling people and allowing them the freedom to enjoy their own lives.

A LG person would support the existing government so that it can better work out a functioning, uncorrupted society. Respect all laws, and work hard. Don't expect others to help each other. You must help them. They would attack the contradiction to the above quoted belief by arguing that they would help others whenever they could and that such a thing is up to the individual.

IMO, the most likely alignment to correspond with the above belief is neutral.


Take it upon yourself to help someone in need. It doesn't matter who they are, or who you are - if you are capable of helping someone then do so. If a rich man falls sick, and you are poor, then help him as you hope he would do for you. Do not expect gratitude or payment for your aid. Treat others as you expect to be treated yourself. Love your enemies as well as your friends - when they realise you treat them as equals then they will have no choice but to love you in return. Forgive the faults and misdeeds of others.

This pretty much only corresponds with the Good aligned. Neutrals of this belief might not venture to help others as much as the good since they worry about their own well being as well - they'd commit to this as a form of strong discipline, hoping to earn the respect of morally wiser peers. They might be angered by disrespect equally as much as a good aligned or they may not respond at all, learning to render themselves immune to all but the most mortally intense of frustrations (as much as a good aligned might).

The most likely alignment for the above is Neutral Good.


Society should care for all, no matter how weak or useless they may seem to be. Everyone has an equal right to life. The good and the civilised must care for one another. The strong should support the weak. The rich should help the poor. The stronger or richer you are, the more you should help those less fortunate than you. Only in this way can a spirit find true release and happiness. Of course, it's best not to have people get into a plight in the first place. That's why a society needs fair laws to set a framework of what's permitted and not permitted. Never take advantage of those in a position below you, and always respect those above you. Consider the feelings of all in every action you take, and do nothing which is not for the good of society as a whole.

Neutrals and Evils will probably hate abiding by the above belief. Helping the weak because they are weak just isn't logical. Some people are just far too pathetic, to the point that it is shocking, to warrant help.

Some neutrals might help only those close to them, or obvious social targets such as the elderly. Good aligned would make an effort to help everyone whenever they ask, but they would be very depressed by the self deprecating and un-giving manner of mankind.

The above belief is most likely to go with Lawful Good, since a Lawful Good person may often believe that law is the most powerful incentive for benevolence. Also stereotypically, they are the most naive. LG clerics may consult with superior immortal beings of the good aligned plane to descend to the material and assist mortals in retaining the socialist utopia that they have worked hard to create.


Life is a complicated environment. Some will win, and some will lose. Protect those close to you, like your family, and help to see they it is they who win. Strive to do the best for yourself. Set an example for others to follow. Do not put others down in order to rise above them, for this is selfish. Advance yourself by improving the way you do things. Compete, but do not let competition drive you away from doing good. Do not take what you do not need, and do not waste resources. Help others if it does not endanger yourself. Everyone is important in the grand scheme, even the most lowly, so do not take advantage of those weaker than yourself.

A largely neutral and good aligned belief. The good aligned would strive to be paragons of humility - knowing that they are but tiny rats in a greater multiverse and that that is just the way of things. Neutrals might be more extreme in serving self interests and attacking obstacles as well as those that oppose them.

The evil ones of this belief, while somewhat rare, might frame themselves as advocates of it but in reality serve the interests of only themselves and/or their family.


Life is precious, and none more so than your own. You are the only one to care for yourself so much, so make sure you look after your interests. Live to make each moment count. Life can be short, so live it for yourself, and allow others to do the same. Help them if it pleases you, because you cannot be happy if those around you are miserable. Care for those you love, but do not love lightly. Do not accept help if you do not need it, and likewise, do not offer aid unless asked first.

Very neutral stand point. Even good followers might be mistaken for neutrals, but in effect respect mankind's ability to formulate opinions very well.

Evils would find it difficult to follow this alignment, after all they cannot go far with it. But if it allows them to be selfish without seeming all that selfish, they might do with it just fine. Maybe they conceal found loot and snatch it behind the backs of other party members in return for helping the party. Maybe they'll poison those they don't like and make it look like an accident, offering to consul the family members later on. Clearly, they would neglect to help anyone unless they were asked and might lay low on the public scene in an effort to deny beggers.


Depend upon nobody except yourself. You are the only person you can afford to rely on, because only you know what you really want. Be filled with courage, and act upon your desires. Do what you wish, but bear no malice towards those who do not wish to live as you do. Earn the respect of others by your brave acts. Prove you are worthy of their attention and admiration. Be an example to others, but do not force them to follow it. Do not agree unless you know what you hear to be true. Life is as good as you care to make it.

A strong belief of many chaotic neutrals and chaotics in general. They'd argue that the existence of teams is a product of environment. Evils are highly selfish. Some neutrals and even weak willed goods do only what feels good. Lawfuls are highly organized and help further lawful causes subtly, but are perhaps the most 'lesser' of the lawful aligned in existence.

Most likely alignment for the above is Chaotic Neutral although it could arguably be Chaotic Good for the painstakingly honor driven too (for example, someone who refuses to kill and seeks to allow others to pursue individuality as well). Chaotic Neutral is the safest alignment to be for this and Chaotic Evil could conceivably work as well. This also reflects my own beliefs in real life as a person. :smallbiggrin:


Do nothing you do not want to do. Do not be bound by the laws of others, for they do not have your best interests at heart. Laws are made by those who serve themselves, so let your laws be your own and change them when you wish. Do not be set in your ways. It is not weak to change your mind. It is weak to stick to beliefs which are no longer the truth. Enjoy life while it lasts, for happiness is transient. See as much as you can. There's beauty in not knowing what's coming around the next corner; surprises are fun and stop a body getting stuck in the dreary ruts of life. Live to act - do not make assumptions about what you haven't experienced. Open your mind and learn!

Stereotypical Chaotic Any. Nobody lawful would ever be of this alignment. Neutrals are a hard case to make.

Most likely alignment for the above is Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Evil (in the most extreme case, a CE would believe 'existence is fake! Might as well have fun no matter how much it disturbs, disrupts or harms others.'.


Live how you will, but be careful. They are out there, and they are after you. They are envious of you, of your possessions and accomplishments, of your spirit. Watch every shadow, and be wary of every footstep. They will not rest until they have what They want. Hide if you can, but be warned that in the end They will find you. Keep moving so They do not find you. Do not keep to routines. They could be anywhere, so take care of who you trust. Do not help others in case it is Them you are really helping. Choose your friends and allies wisely, because any one of them could be one of Them.

Good could never abide by this belief. Most likely candidates are Neutrals. Lawfuls obey and remain organized to satisfy a higher power that perhaps they are afraid of - they also enjoy the lifestyle. Chaotic Neutrals are very subtle and quiet about their life style, trusting very few people and Chaotic Evils obviously abide this belief as 'kill or be killed' or even 'kill a stranger who hasn't even seen you yet, just to be safe. Human life doesn't matter compared to your own life.'

Most likely alignment for the above belief is Chaotic Neutral or any Evil.


You owe others nothing. Everyone is self-serving. Putting the interests of others over those of yourself is foolish. Obeying laws which do not serve you is weak. Stand up to your oppressors, make them fear you instead. Let them feel the lash of their own whips on their skins. Take what you can, because life is short and harsh. People may pretend to care, but they are trying to win your confidence so they have power over you. Society exists only in the mind of fools - everyone really seeks their own personal gain. Strength is everything. Show others you are not weak, then you will not have to fear their betrayal.

Possibly only evil people can truly abide by the above. But even the good can follow this belief by including the clause 'I owe others nothing, yet I give to them anyway.' Neutrals might give away their possessions to weaken others, and may be jealous of competition towards their strong lifestyle. Evils will obviously give nothing and take everything, and commit to pre-emptive tactics, sometimes even against their own families.

Most likely alignment for the above is Any Evil.


Others have what you do not. Nobody gets anything without treading on someone else's feelings to get it. The ones who deserve to win will never win. There is always a bigger struggle beyond the horizon. The harder you try, the more they take away from you, so why bother? Life is not fair, because you can't win. Everyone dies in the end. You are trapped in the cage of society. If you can, slip between the bars and escape. Break their rules, else you will never get what you want. Steal if you dare, but don't expect them to be merciful if they catch you.

Only chaotics abide by the above belief, but even neutrals of this philosophy may be dragged into helping others as their chance for a 'hand up' (though that could easily apply to chaotics as well).

CEs are so embittered that they're insane with cynicism. They argue that they are monsters because of what life has given them and so they're only repaying it in kind.

The most likely alignment for the above belief is Chaotic Neutral.


Why care? Does anybody else really care? You are born, some live, all die. Does it really matter when? Sure, there is pain, but that is only brief. Emotions are muted, everything is too transient. People are shallow, so why should you respect them? Do not care what others think of you - it is not your problem. Try to make the misery you feel lessen for yourself. That is what everyone else does, but they don't care about you. Work for yourself, and don't be afraid to do what you need in the course of that work. Make yourself numb, and the hurt will go away. The ends always justify the means.

Any alignment can resort to this as a coping mechanism. But other parts of this philosophy are strongly neutral and evil oriented.

Most likely alignment for the above is Any Evil.


Hierarchies are only useful so you know where to aim next. Work your way into power, and guard your back. If you can achieve power, so can others. Give nothing away, for gifts only weaken your position. You have to fight for what you deserve, so make sure others have to do the same. Take what you can from other people. Weakening others can only strengthen yourself. Anything that will let you get ahead has got to be good. Earn people's trust, as this gives you power over them. Let nobody do the same to you. See the selfish motives behind everyone's actions, and be happy you are careful.

Any Neutral or Evil can abide by the above belief. Good would likely be too concerned with altruism to actually push itself into any position of this sort of social might - if they were pre-occupied with this, they could even face conversion to Neutral or Evil as they are opposed on all sides despite their benevolence which is shadowed by political opponents and the media all the way up until they become supreme dictator, able to maximize the scope of their benevolence (which would be their goal, but a lofty one).

The most likely alignment for the above is Lawful Evil.


Work to advance yourself in society. Use the laws to aid you, and punish those who do you wrong. Look after number one, and use any means you can to further your own interests. Break laws if you dare, for there are others like you who will use whatever they can against you. Conform, and make sure others do as well, for your own good. If they cheat, make sure you catch them first! Grind them beneath your feet once you have finished with them. Follow your laws to the letter, not the spirit - so long as you do not break them you are safe. There is an advantage in every situation, and every law has its loophole. Find them!

Any evil can be of this belief. If they are neutral, it's likely a ruse.

Most likely alignment for the above is Any Evil (although many seem to think LE).


Never question the rules, live your life by them. Fulfil them to the letter - there is no room in this life for those who make mistakes. Punish those who do wrong. If you know you are right, then any who stand against you are wrong. Persuade them by force if you must, but know that people are stubborn. If violence is the only redress then so be it. It is wrong to question everything; children ask questions, men know the answers. The leader has all the answers, and leadership is divine. Any punishment is legitimate for criminals - when they choose to break the laws they also choose to bear the consequences. Life brings only one choice: obey or do not. If you do not, expect no mercy from those who do.

hamishspence
2010-08-25, 05:56 PM
The fact that someone sees an alignment as 'flawed' is a logical viewpoint. It tends to be neutral.

Even Neutrality came in for some flak:


On the planes, belief is everything. This is a vacuous hole in the concept of belief; a null choice. Can anything come from lack of action? Maybe, but what if the outcome is one which is bad? Do you chalk one up for evil and blandly say 'the time for good will come'? Do you take direct action to ensure it comes sooner? How can a state in which you don't pose any questions ever bring you answers? Or don't you care about the answers?

Magnema
2010-08-25, 05:57 PM
I believe the "balance" TN would most likely be the kind against a utopia philosophically, in one of two ways. Firstly, you could be against it in that in order to create a no-evil-utopia, you would need to eliminate all evil and keep things the way they are with no changes - in which case you need an overwhelming lawfulness and lack of freedom (to be the alignment you choose) - or leave evil somewhere in existence, become complacent (if not quickly, over generations), and die when they attack you. Alternatively, you could be against it in that that if the world was perfect, then life would have no meaning for many, because life's meaning is defined by struggle, of which a utopia has none. Therefore, for the sake of the world, I have to keep it from becoming perfect, so that others continue to have to work for a utopia, and their lives will have meaning. However, I must also prevent evil from winning, because then there would be none to struggle. This could become an evil attitude if there is more of the former than the latter as well.

PinkysBrain
2010-08-25, 05:57 PM
I think there is interaction between alignment and personality, it's not a one way street ... committing evil gets you a taste for it where there was none before, the allure of the dark side.

Neutral characters instinctively shy away from too explicitly evil acts to preserve themselves.

hamishspence
2010-08-25, 06:01 PM
Or, if you prefer to think of Evil as a cosmic force that can affect, change, and warp things- committing Evil can cause the Cosmic Force to seep into the mind, warping it slightly, and making further Evil acts that much easier.

A ruler might start out sentencing criminals convicted of heinous crimes to severe punishments solely "to deter further crime, thus protecting the innocent" and end up doing it to gratify his own developing tastes.

SilveryCord
2010-08-25, 06:13 PM
So a TN person could look at it like, for every good, evil, lawful or chaotic action they take...then must then take an action for the other three alignment types. So that everything is balanced. So a TN person would do a crime(evil act), but then give some of the money to the hungry(good act)...so in the end the good/evil balances out.

Acting in this matter would not be neutral, it would be evil. (In D&D terms)

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 06:18 PM
Oooooo...True Neutral, one of my favorite subjects.

JimBob the dirt farmer, whose only goal in life is to harvest enough dirt to live through to next dirt season, when he can try to harvest enough dirt to live through to next dirt season, ad infinitum. He's true neutral. He is too busy to care about good or evil, law or chaos.
Gorgonzola the mighty druid, who seeks out powerful entities of good and evil, law and chaos, and kills them to 'maintain the balance,' he is also true neutral.
Bob the everything-a-phobe, who is too scared to get off his couch because he might upset the balance, but is torn because inaction might upset the balance, is (yep, you guessed it) true neutral.
Archimedes the all powerful wizard, who seeks for knowledge of new things, and considers himself above the concerns of the world he lives in, and (coincidentally, mind you) takes no action that would neither promote nor forbear law, chaos, good, or evil is...need I say more? Oh, alright. He is also true neutral.
And this my friends (and not-so-much-friends) is why I personally prefer the shiny new 4e term "Unaligned." It describes the condition that the term "True Neutral" is meant to represent much better than the term "True Neutral."

Just my take on it, of course.

snoopy13a
2010-08-25, 06:24 PM
In my opinion, a neutral character is one who believes it is wrong to exploit or hurt others. However, he or she either does not believe one should be charitable towards others or does believe that people should be charitable but does not "walk the walk".

It isn't exactly laziness. A successful merchant with a reputation for fair dealing and honesty is neutral if he or she does not help out the community.

darkpuppy
2010-08-25, 07:02 PM
I've posted before on this self-same subject, and everyone is correct that it is one of the thorniest alignments to adjudicate. But to say True Neutral is merely apathetic is only part of the vast tapestry that is... N.

As already noted, one can be apathetic, one can be passionately against everything (even themselves), one can be passionately for everything (although this technically qualifies as Neutral-Insane... :oD), one can be passionate for balance, or... one can seek balance, not knowing whether they can achieve it.

The closest thing to this form of TN is the Taoist. The taoist believes that you cannot have good without evil, beauty without ugliness... everything is connected. Everything is one. By opening the eyes to the universe, acknowledging the good and the bad, and accepting that such things are merely transitory, subjective value judgements, and that reality is there to be experienced, one achieves True Neutrality. Obviously, I haven't worded this brilliantly (it's an extremely difficult concept to get across, Taoism, although kudos to the author of The Tao of Pooh for trying so hard!)

But, in any case, a TN druid can go several ways. He can act according to the rules of nature, and claim them as his morals (No, that doesn't necessarily mean "The strong survive"... after all, that's not actually true. It means that everyone and everything has its niche.) He can look on good and evil in a more philosophical manner, questioning, trying to lead other to his viewpoint that "It just is..." The possibilities are endless with TN.

But to examine this, think of alignment as a two axes XY graph. Let's assume evil and chaos are "negative" X and Y, and good and law are "positive" XY. Good is "others over the self", evil as "self over others", law "the rules are the be-all and end-all", chaos "there are no rules, stoopid!"... now... TN? is actually, on a scale of 1-10, roaming constantly around -1<X<1, and -1<Y<1.

Anyways, that's just my own take on it.

HunterOfJello
2010-08-25, 07:28 PM
"I don't know and I don't care."

Tequila Sunrise
2010-08-25, 07:42 PM
Neutral is the alignment that most RL people share.

Druids having to be some form of N is stupid. Not because of what neutrality is; but just because alignment restrictions are stupid.

dsmiles
2010-08-25, 07:47 PM
"I don't know and I don't care."

Well, if you're not going to meaningfully contribute to the discussion, mister, you can take your negativity elsewhere. :smalltongue:

WarKitty
2010-08-25, 08:03 PM
I've posted before on this self-same subject, and everyone is correct that it is one of the thorniest alignments to adjudicate. But to say True Neutral is merely apathetic is only part of the vast tapestry that is... N.

As already noted, one can be apathetic, one can be passionately against everything (even themselves), one can be passionately for everything (although this technically qualifies as Neutral-Insane... :oD), one can be passionate for balance, or... one can seek balance, not knowing whether they can achieve it.

The closest thing to this form of TN is the Taoist. The taoist believes that you cannot have good without evil, beauty without ugliness... everything is connected. Everything is one. By opening the eyes to the universe, acknowledging the good and the bad, and accepting that such things are merely transitory, subjective value judgements, and that reality is there to be experienced, one achieves True Neutrality. Obviously, I haven't worded this brilliantly (it's an extremely difficult concept to get across, Taoism, although kudos to the author of The Tao of Pooh for trying so hard!)

But, in any case, a TN druid can go several ways. He can act according to the rules of nature, and claim them as his morals (No, that doesn't necessarily mean "The strong survive"... after all, that's not actually true. It means that everyone and everything has its niche.) He can look on good and evil in a more philosophical manner, questioning, trying to lead other to his viewpoint that "It just is..." The possibilities are endless with TN.

But to examine this, think of alignment as a two axes XY graph. Let's assume evil and chaos are "negative" X and Y, and good and law are "positive" XY. Good is "others over the self", evil as "self over others", law "the rules are the be-all and end-all", chaos "there are no rules, stoopid!"... now... TN? is actually, on a scale of 1-10, roaming constantly around -1<X<1, and -1<Y<1.

Anyways, that's just my own take on it.

Unfortunately it's that -1<X<+1 thing that tends to encourage what you called "Neutral Insane."

darkpuppy
2010-08-25, 08:46 PM
Unfortunately it's that -1<X<+1 thing that tends to encourage what you called "Neutral Insane."

Yeah, that's why, when an inexperienced player wants to go TN, I give off the warning sign that many a player in my area now fears (and some outside it, too!):

"[raises one eyebrow slightly] Are you sure about that?"

After all, I enforce some of the character guidelines quite heavily, and TN is not for novices, imho.

EDIT: Then again, since I give up to 250 RP XP a session, depending (very rarely does anyone get above 150), it all balances out, carrot and stick... :)

Marnath
2010-08-25, 08:50 PM
From Easydamus:

True neutral characters are concerned with their own well-being and that of the group or organization which aids them. They may behave in a good manner to those that they consider friends and allies, but will only act maliciously against those who have tried to injure them in some way. For the rest, they do not care. They do not wish ill on those they do not know, but they also do not care when they hear of evil befalling them. Better for others to suffer the evil than the true neutral and his allies. If an ally is in need, the true neutral will aid him, out of genuine love or because he may be able to count on that ally a little more in the future. If someone else is in need, they will weigh the options of the potential rewards and dangers associated with the act. If an enemy is in need, they will ignore him or take advantage of his misfortune.

True neutrals are offended by those who are opinionated or bigoted. A "hell-fire and brimstone" lawful good priest is just as offensive as a neutral evil racial supremacist in their eyes. They do not necessarily strive for philosophical balance. In fact, they may avoid philosophical considerations altogether. A true neutral may take up the cause of his nation, not because he necessarily feels obligated to do so, but because it just makes sense to support the group that protects your way of life. True neutrals tend to believe in lex talionis forms of justice.

This is my take on true neutrals(that site is awesome for this) and it describes me personally pretty well.

Zaydos
2010-08-25, 09:14 PM
I'd say something of my own, but the quote from easydamus sums it up better than I ever could.

Edit: That said there's also the "balance" type of true neutral which is insane by the normal human sense and works best for incarnations of nature and balance. Druids can get in because they're... well servants of nature and a little crazy. The thing is there are two types of neutral, and they should be differentiated either unaligned and true neutral or neutral and True neutral; and that's part of what makes this so hard.

And druid alignment restrictions are stupid. They made some sense in 2e (when they had to be upholders of balance) but either they need to be more extreme or (my preference) scrapped entirely. I only keep alignment restrictions on clerics and paladins (and usually allow alternate alignment paladins from UA) out of the PHB classes.

Ormur
2010-08-25, 10:37 PM
I have to chime in with the view that neutral as keeping the balance between good and evil and less so law and chaos is completely insane. It's like keeping the balance between fluffy kittens and falling meteors or squares and circles. I don't imagine most good and evil people adhere to their alignment to preserve that abstract notion in the universe but because they like and want things associated with it.

I view ethically neutral as a sum of the actions and beliefs which go both ways or not far enough in any to classify as either good, evil, chaotic or lawful. Preserving a balance might fall within that but so could all sorts of other causes or most commonly just a lack of conviction or adherence to a philosophy. Most neutral people probably think good is nice but too much of a hassle, not important, and so on. Evil might perhaps be tempting but going to far.

I think it can be squared pretty well with druids though because alignment has to do with moral agents but druids are preoccupied with unfeeling nature. The preservation and preoccupation of something that doesn't have a moral agency means you probably aren't overly concerned with ethics. A druid that goes all the way and kills people for picking flowers will end up NE but less drastic methods might earn the typical druid TN status whereas the more socially concerned ones might be NG.

There are other philosophies which might fit within TN such as extreme non-intervention or fatalism, or just any kind of implementation of a philosophy which straddles the Good-Evil or Law-Chaos divide. I can imagine a CG and LE utilitarian so TN should also be possible.

Serpentine
2010-08-25, 11:25 PM
Multiple possibilities, as with any alignment. For example:

- Too dumb for philosophy. Animals are the main example of this. They do what they need to do to survive, cannot make any judgements over whether what they do is good or evil, and so cannot truly perform good nor evil acts.

- Too naiive for philosophy. Someone who does not think terribly deeply into the motivations behind other people. Other people do what they do, and sometimes it's good for you, sometimes it's not. You do what you're told or, again, you do what you need to do to survive, nothing more and nothing less, without any consideration for right or wrong or what is best for society.

- Undecided/too new. This character has yet to form any opinions or ideas on right and wrong. A character of mine who was almost literally born yesterday (well, a couple of weeks ago) and who has spent all their life in one place with only a couple of others to talk to has not yet experienced... anything, really. It has no concept of malice nor altruism. It will probably change its alignment as it goes along, although it may just take a distant, observational stance, as it looks at such philosophy from the outside. Which brings me to:

- The observer. This character has no emotional investment in the world around them. You may take a more "large scale" approach to the universe - everyone dies eventually, everyone goes to their appropriate afterlife, the universe trundles on, that sort of thing. You find the things people do interesting, but you do not condemn nor laude their actions, merely, for example, find it an intriguing study of human nature.

- Cloistered. This character is so focussed on one specific thing that it neither has interest nor much effect on anything else. An academic who spends all their time studying dragons of all kinds, with little interest in anything else, will probably be True Neutral, if only because they don't really do anything else, good or bad.

- Balance-seeker. All too often this is described as the "something Good one minute, something Evil the next" variety. As mentioned, this is pretty much insanity - and really, possibly more suited to a Chaotic Neutral than a True Neutral character. Alignment can be about lifetime actions, not just their immediate behaviours one second to the next. If an area, for example, has an overall dominance of Evil, then it makes more sense to balance it out with long-term Good deeds than a mixture of both. It could be things like a decision that, although this Lawful government is doing well now, it looks like it's on the way to becoming an oppressive dictatorship in 20-odd years, so you start sewing the seeds of resistance now.

- Balance-seeker 2 - the ecologist. This is the idea I had for a paladin of Balance (note the small "p". I think a TN Paladin would be hard to do well, if it's possible at all). Law and Chaos are opposing forces of creation and destruction. A world without one would be just as terrible as a world without the other, and it is together, by clashing and opposing and interaction, that the universe functions at its best. Good and Evil, if they really exist at all, are elements of the universe, like Fire or Earth. You're more likely to use Positive and Negative than the culturally-loaded terms Good and Evil. In reality, they are both necessary for the survival of species - a purely Good species would quickly be wiped out as its members hasten to sacrifice themselves for the good of others, and a purely Evil species would similarly disappear in a mess of back-stabbing and infanticide and the like. The most important thing, essential to the maintenance of the world and the universe, is diversity. Too much Chaos and you have anarchy, too much Law and you have inertia. Variety is the basis of the universe, it is the driving force of evolution, it is the best defense a species has against extinction. Anything that threatens to reduce diversity must be opposed - whether it is a tribe of orcs waging a genocide against elves, or an edge that might allow the Celestials to finally put a dint in the forces of Hell. Such a character would probably prefer to avoid death where possible, but would not necessarily balk significantly at killing where necessary.

- The Halfway House. TN can be a stopover on the way from one alignment to another. A Lawful Good character will rarely leap straight to Chaotic Evil. You're much more likely to have your idealogy slip and blend and twist into its new one over time, the transient form possibly fitting into a TN alignment.


Personally? I like True Neutral a lot :smallbiggrin: It disappoints me that there's so much antipathy towards it around here.

Endarire
2010-08-26, 12:10 AM
I'm 'neutral' toward all alignments. I think alignment shouldn't be a mechanical part of D&D.

Hawriel
2010-08-26, 12:27 AM
Serpentine I really like that break down of possable attitudes. Alot of stuff that only fleetingly come to my mind with thugish ability to express it.

I had another type come to mind.

The true diplomat.

A person that can see multaple sides of an issue. This person could be the holst of a negotiation. An arbiter with out bias. I see this similar to Serpentines observer but with a motivation to reach stability.

One thing about neutrality that WOTC left out of TSRs rendition is leaning. Alot of times if a TN NPC is not an animal or animal like creature it would have a tendancy or lean towards good or evil. Not to be confused with NG or NE. But lean just enough to add a layer to motivations.

chiasaur11
2010-08-26, 01:23 AM
An everpresent opportunity to quote Brannigan.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 03:33 AM
Neutral is the alignment that most RL people share.

I'm not so sure- would it be that much more common that, say, Lawful Neutral?

I'd say while people can defy their "inner leanings" a person who dislikes seeing others suffer, and likes seeing others happy- and acts accordingly- helping people who are suffering and working toward increasing the happiness of others who are not happy, is probably Good-leaning. They may do evil- but doing so actually hurts them emotionally.

A person who likes seeing others suffer, dislikes seeing others happy- and acts accordingly- working to spoil moments where others are happy, and make others suffer- is probably Evil-leaning. They may do good- but doing so hurts them emotionally.

Some neutral people will exhibit a bit of both- when their "enemies" are happy, they suffer, and when their "friends" are unhappy, they suffer. And the converse for what makes them happy.

Others may exhibit neither- but end up leaning a bit toward evil anyway. They have no sadistic tendencies- but neither do they have any real empathy.

WinWin
2010-08-26, 08:29 AM
You Are Not Good. And Your Mom is Not Good.
"I have made mistakes in my life, but basically I think I'm a good person."

I'm sorry, but you are not a Good person. You go through your life, you don't stab anyone in the face, you don't break any laws, you don't take pictures of naked children, and… so what? You want a medal for that? Shut up.

The sad fact of the matter is that if you aren't exerting yourself for a cause, if you aren't exerting yourself for something, you aren't Good. You probably aren't Evil, but seriously: get over yourself. Before you can really get into the mind of a Good character you honestly have to come to terms with the fact that you, as a person, are probably Neutral. Your character is a much better person than you are.

The reverse is also true for villains, and should come as no surprise to people who play Evil characters, since most people don't consider themselves Evil. Characters are generally much more than the players who play them. Villains are blacker, heroes are nobler, and when you play one of those characters you should come to terms with that. Even though it probably hurts you a little bit to contemplate it, if you're going to even try to play a Good character you need to play them as a much better person than you personally are.


Seems relevant to this discussion. Most people probably do not use alignment to identify themselves, D&D characters should not either. It may be a legacy from basic, but since then only a few character archtypes have been denoted by their philosophical and/or ethical position.

I find the idea of 'Neutrality as Balance' a little silly. It would be the kind of philosophy a NE druid would tout to justify his actions. A Humble NG character on the other hand, would probably describe themselves as TN, being more concerned with the welfare of others than their opinion of him.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 08:48 AM
Where did that particular Frank Trollman quote come from?

WinWin
2010-08-26, 08:55 AM
Where did that particular Frank Trollman quote come from?

The Gaming Den/Tomes discussion on Paladins and fanatical alignment stances. From a few years ago. I will remove the quote if it is a problem.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:00 AM
I wanted a link to see it in more detail and context. I was looking around in the various essays on Fiends, Necromancy, etc- and couldn't find anything quite the same.

Still- it fits well with 4E "Alignment is a commitment"

3.0/3.5E "Alignment is general moral beliefs and attitudes" might be slightly wider though.

Tiki Snakes
2010-08-26, 09:04 AM
I can't help but think that if you are aiming to 'protect the balance' in order to safeguard the ecology or the cosmology, or the precious interaction between the 'extremes', that it doesn't half seem like an essentially benevolent effort.

Which means it feels a lot more like something-good than true neutral really.

I could even see an argument for balance-drive being evil before I saw it being neutral, (Preserving things as the way you choose at the cost of the suffering of others?)

Morty
2010-08-26, 09:08 AM
The most common form of True Neutral is, I think, simply someone who's not evil, good, lawful or chaotic enough to have any other alignment. Someone who has some good traits and some evil traits, some lawful and chaotic ones. His or her deeds also roughly balance each other.

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 09:09 AM
I can't help but think that if you are aiming to 'protect the balance' in order to safeguard the ecology or the cosmology, or the precious interaction between the 'extremes', that it doesn't half seem like an essentially benevolent effort.

Which means it feels a lot more like something-good than true neutral really.

I could even see an argument for balance-drive being evil before I saw it being neutral, (Preserving things as the way you choose at the cost of the suffering of others?)

Yeah the balance-drive thing actually sounds a lot like my last druid. Who was imo a very good embodiment of Neutral Evil - disinterestedly selfish, believed firmly in survival of the fittest, thought civilization was a crutch.

valadil
2010-08-26, 09:10 AM
So, playgrounders, what are your takes on what a TN character would be like?


When I do alignment I distinguish between active and passive, as denoted by capital and lowercase letters respectively. Do you go with the flow or your alignment, or do you push for that alignment to be right? Paladins are LG. Your average peasant who obeys the law is lg. The party rogue is greedy and self centered, but wouldn't kill his friends, so he's lowercase evil. The BBEG who is working on taking over the world is Evil with a capital E (and incidentally this is where I draw the line for PCs. Selfish evil is fine, capital E is not.)

The neutral alignment maps to active and passive pretty well. An unmotivated and apathetic character is n. A great balancer (who is often a druid) is N.

I treat n and N as two separate alignments. I don't think 3.5's description is deep enough to distinguish the two.

Note that I don't actually enforce this notation. It's just a mental exercise for me to think about my characters, and because I'm a bit of a notation nerd. If a player gave me a character sheet that said N on it and no explanation of the character, I'd ask them to explain which N it was. If they couldn't do that, I'd assume apathetic n because the player is too lazy to justify and alignment and just going with what comes easiest.

Noneoyabizzness
2010-08-26, 09:13 AM
ture neutral is simply this" it needs to be done. or if IU dont want to do it the end result is not really worth doing the task."

chaotic can be whims or a zealousness at an end result. lawful is keeping to a code or a plan with no malice. both strike me as rather serial. true neutral on the other hand has a sense of what feels acceptable. not right or wrong on moral axis, but what simply needs to happen.

would say martin blank might be the essential "true neutral" if people have sent him to kill you, you must have done somethign bad enough, but even he felt that there was too much killing. he didnt feel guilt or a moral pang. it was just enough.

of course also think that is why d&D isnt right about assassins needing to be evil

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:14 AM
When I do alignment I distinguish between active and passive, as denoted by capital and lowercase letters respectively. Do you go with the flow or your alignment, or do you push for that alignment to be right? Paladins are LG. Your average peasant who obeys the law is lg. The party rogue is greedy and self centered, but wouldn't kill his friends, so he's lowercase evil. The BBEG who is working on taking over the world is Evil with a capital E (and incidentally this is where I draw the line for PCs. Selfish evil is fine, capital E is not.)

The neutral alignment maps to active and passive pretty well. An unmotivated and apathetic character is n. A great balancer (who is often a druid) is N.

Sounds about right- especially if the campaign uses a fairly even balance rather than evil, lawful, chaotic, and good alignments all being rare.

If "evil-aligned" covers both "evil" and "Evil" this fits well with sources like Eberron Campaign Setting, where some evil characters will be more jerkish than malevolent.

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 09:15 AM
When I do alignment I distinguish between active and passive, as denoted by capital and lowercase letters respectively. Do you go with the flow or your alignment, or do you push for that alignment to be right? Paladins are LG. Your average peasant who obeys the law is lg. The party rogue is greedy and self centered, but wouldn't kill his friends, so he's lowercase evil. The BBEG who is working on taking over the world is Evil with a capital E (and incidentally this is where I draw the line for PCs. Selfish evil is fine, capital E is not.)

The neutral alignment maps to active and passive pretty well. An unmotivated and apathetic character is n. A great balancer (who is often a druid) is N.

I treat n and N as two separate alignments. I don't think 3.5's description is deep enough to distinguish the two.

Note that I don't actually enforce this notation. It's just a mental exercise for me to think about my characters, and because I'm a bit of a notation nerd. If a player gave me a character sheet that said N on it and no explanation of the character, I'd ask them to explain which N it was. If they couldn't do that, I'd assume apathetic n because the player is too lazy to justify and alignment and just going with what comes easiest.

Not bad. For this character I told my DM "I'm going to put TN on the sheet. After we play a bit, or the first time it actually comes up, you can tell me what you think the character is acting like and we'll go with that."

Kaeso
2010-08-26, 09:15 AM
In my opinion, a neutral character is one who believes it is wrong to exploit or hurt others. However, he or she either does not believe one should be charitable towards others or does believe that people should be charitable but does not "walk the walk".

It isn't exactly laziness. A successful merchant with a reputation for fair dealing and honesty is neutral if he or she does not help out the community.

Wouldn't the merchant be Lawful Neutral? Lawful implies something like 'a code of honor' or 'keeping your word, no matter what'. IMHO a True Neutral merchant would only keep his word if it doesn't cause him any trouble and a Chaotic Neutral merchant would break his promise as soon as there's a slightly more lucrative deal.



- Cloistered. This character is so focussed on one specific thing that it neither has interest nor much effect on anything else. An academic who spends all their time studying dragons of all kinds, with little interest in anything else, will probably be True Neutral, if only because they don't really do anything else, good or bad.

While I do agree on all of your other archetypes, this one raises some questions.
What if the Cloistered character is say, a monk of Pelor (not monk as the DnD class, but the western kind of monk. The type that lives in a monestary and studies scriptures). His god, and his ideals, are obviously LG, does his inaction truly make him True Neutral if his ideals are obviously LG?

WinWin
2010-08-26, 09:18 AM
I wanted a link to see it in more detail and context. I was looking around in the various essays on Fiends, Necromancy, etc- and couldn't find anything quite the same.


Link to a thread review. Exerpt from the Tome of Virtue (uncompleted?) a few posts down.

http://www.tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=23508&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

It certainly expresses my own thoughts more eloquently than I could. I do not think that Neutrality is laziness, but I think that in order to maintain any other alignment requires significant effort. By effort, I mean action, not thought alone.

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 09:18 AM
Wouldn't the merchant be Lawful Neutral? Lawful implies something like 'a code of honor' or 'keeping your word, no matter what'. IMHO a True Neutral merchant would only keep his word if it doesn't cause him any trouble and a Chaotic Neutral merchant would break his promise as soon as there's a slightly more lucrative deal.

Technically that would be Chaotic Stupid. A Chaotic Neutral merchant would break his word if he thought it would profit him and he wouldn't get caught.

[/quibble]

valadil
2010-08-26, 09:19 AM
If "evil-aligned" covers both "evil" and "Evil" this fits well with sources like Eberron Campaign Setting, where some evil characters will be more jerkish than malevolent.

Yes, I definitely consider evil aligned to be both jerk and malevolent. I think jerk is far more common. Evil is defined (or was defined last time I read about it) as being motivated purely by self interest. Not going to jail is a big part of self interest. You don't have to slaughter orphans to be evil.

Kaeso
2010-08-26, 09:20 AM
Technically that would be Chaotic Stupid. A Chaotic Neutral merchant would break his word if he thought it would profit him and he wouldn't get caught.

[/quibble]

:p Touché (10 character length limit)

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:22 AM
It certainly expresses my own thoughts more eloquently than I could. I do not think that Neutrality is laziness, but I think that in order to maintain any other alignment requires significant effort. By effort, I mean action, not thought alone.

That's certainly true in 4E- but in earlier editions, from what I remember, the amount of effort didn't seem quite so "significant"- good aligned people were essentially helpful and benevolent- but they weren't all heroes, putting their lives on the line for others every day or so.


Yes, I definitely consider evil aligned to be both jerk and malevolent. I think jerk is far more common. Evil is defined (or was defined last time I read about it) as being motivated purely by self interest. Not going to jail is a big part of self interest. You don't have to slaughter orphans to be evil.

My summary of the "evil personality type" was:



A person who likes seeing others suffer, dislikes seeing others happy- and acts accordingly- working to spoil moments where others are happy, and make others suffer- is probably Evil-leaning. They may do good- but doing so hurts them emotionally.

Some people will do evil, or be evil aligned, for other reasons, but at least some will do evil (ranging from mild and jerkish to much worse, depending on how evil they are) because it's pleasureable to them.

Serpentine
2010-08-26, 09:24 AM
I disagree with the "balance-neutral would be Evil" idea, but I can't explain any more eloquently than I already did.

I like the capital-lower case idea. I have something similar with compass-style 8-point alignments, for the emphasis a character places on her alignment. So a Lawful Good character for whom goodness and right is more important than order and tradition would be Good Lawful Good. In your method, probably lG.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:28 AM
I see most of the Exalted-type characters as being this- generally Good first, other alignment second.

a chaotic good guy with Exalted feats, and in some cases, PRCs, would see Good as much more important than chaos.

WinWin
2010-08-26, 09:31 AM
I do not think that one needs to risk their life in order to be good.

The little old lady that spends a great proportion of her time assisting a local charity would be good. The adventurer who risks their life for fame and fortune would most likely be neutral IMO.

Rising Phoenix
2010-08-26, 09:38 AM
This is what I wrote for one of my Druid NPCs when confronted with such a question:

“Sins and virtues are artificial constructions. It’s your choice to place them as barriers to your existence. But beyond you, on this plane, they do not exist, nor apply to others, to the grand picture. You cannot be forgiven for something that does not exist.”

In other words if you take away humanoid society and assume that heaven and hell exist because of those societies/ are other worldly influences (they do in my campaign world), all that is left is neutrality. Law, chaos, good and evil all exist in equal amounts in nature balancing out and thus leaving neutral as the true alignment. (The same holds true for society rules, values and taboos)

A paladin, cleric may argue otherwise. That the truth is whatever you make of it and that is true, for that individual. But in the grand picture the Real Truth, the One Truth remains neutral. It all balances out.

Most of my Druids and truly powerful beings know/follow this in my campaign and thus are neutral in alignment.

Neutral in my campaign will still help strangers. But it doesn't stem from altruism more of a "treat others as you'd like to be treated yourself" mentality. They can still care for others deeply and help friends of course; such are the bonds of society.

As for saving the orphan hypothesis. A character who chooses not to is not committing an evil act in my view. Not caring in most cases is a neutral act and self preservation (you'd be placing yourself at risk to save the orphans) is always a neutral act in my book.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:39 AM
"Protect innocent life" is sometimes considered one of the two cornerstones of Good alignment, along with "make sacrifices to help others"

The question is- how much is enough?

Can someone be Good aligned, but only "weakly aligned" as per Fiendish Codex 2's "Most people are only weakly aligned- they rarely commit acts strong enough to register as Good, Evil, Lawful, or Chaotic".

I think that's what's meant by "lowercase good", in this case- someone whose general attitude to others fits with Good, who routinely makes little sacrifices, but not huge ones.

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 09:44 AM
Not bad. For this character I told my DM "I'm going to put TN on the sheet. After we play a bit, or the first time it actually comes up, you can tell me what you think the character is acting like and we'll go with that."

This. I usually don't even write down an alignment until the third or fourth session.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:48 AM
This may not work so well if the class comes with an alignment restriction though.

In 4E, while a character can be of any alignment and still have their powers work, some classes have to start off as particular alignments- generally divine ones with particular patrons.

In 3.5E- the alignments can be more restrictive. No TN monks, paladins, clerics of gods with alignments other than TN.

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 09:49 AM
This may not work so well if the class comes with an alignment restriction though.

In 4E, while a character can be of any alignment and still have their powers work, some classes have to start off as particular alignments- generally divine ones with particular patrons.

Yup. 3.5 - druids have to be neutral on at least one axis. DM likes alignment, I like druids.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 09:50 AM
Pathfinder has the same restrictions as 3.5 on monks, barbarians, druids, paladins- though it finally dropped "Any non-lawful" on bards which can be any alignment.

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 09:56 AM
This may not work so well if the class comes with an alignment restriction though.

In 4E, while a character can be of any alignment and still have their powers work, some classes have to start off as particular alignments- generally divine ones with particular patrons.

In 3.5E- the alignments can be more restrictive. No TN monks, paladins, clerics of gods with alignments other than TN.

I mostly stay away from the "immediate alignment" classes. I like fighters, rogues, shapers, and telepaths.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:01 AM
I think 4E allowed for most of the restricted ones being either Unaligned or the deity's alignment- and only one absolutely required you to start off as the deity's alignment- Paladin?

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:02 AM
I think 4E allowed for most of the restricted ones being either Unaligned or the deity's alignment- and only one absolutely required you to start off as the deity's alignment- Paladin?

Paladin. (obligatory text)

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:05 AM
One of the things I like about what little I've read of Planescape, is that alignment is both more and less important than in 3.5.

More important, in the sense that beliefs shape the cosmos, and alignments are associated with beliefs. Less important, in the sense that evil beings won't necessarily be especially malevolent enemies- alliance between good and evil beings is more plausible.

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:06 AM
One of the things I like about what little I've read of Planescape, is that alignment is both more and less important than in 3.5.

More important, in the sense that beliefs shape the cosmos, and alignments are associated with beliefs. Less important, in the sense that evil beings won't necessarily be especially malevolent enemies- alliance between good and evil beings is more plausible.

I remember Planescape. Good times, good times. :smallfrown: It shall be missed.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:10 AM
In theory, one could import the Planescape stuff straight into 4E- using older books, or online sources, for the info (like mimir.net).

Maybe divine classes which aren't devotees of gods, could draw from "Powers" using the various domains from Divine Power to represent this.

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 10:11 AM
Of course, if any of you have any good ideas on convincing my DM to scrap the alignment restriction, I'm open to it...

(DM is pretty homebrew-resistant)

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:12 AM
In theory, one could import the Planescape stuff straight into 4E- using older books, or online sources, for the info (like mimir.net).

Maybe divine classes which aren't devotees of gods, could draw from "Powers" using the various domains from Divine Power to represent this.

You could probably do it with certain (read: Elder) gods.

EDIT:
@War Kitty: Do away with it, and use subjective alignments instead. Lots of gray areas to live in.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:17 AM
Of course, if any of you have any good ideas on convincing my DM to scrap the alignment restriction, I'm open to it...

(DM is pretty homebrew-resistant)

The alignment restriction on druids? Maybe point out that druids gain little or nothing from being granted the ability to be LG, CG, LE, or CE, and that it's not exactly "un-D&D-ish" since 4E druids don't have alignment restrictions.

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:20 AM
The alignment restriction on druids? Maybe point out that druids gain little or nothing from being granted the ability to be LG, CG, LE, or CE, and that it's not exactly "un-D&D-ish" since 4E druids don't have alignment restrictions.

Careful now, hamishspence. Some people (I don't know if his DM is one or not) say 4e isn't DnD...

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:22 AM
True. Still, might be interesting to think about the implications of non-neutral druids.

There's a lot of nature fey that are CG, after all- the druid might be associated with the fey aspect of nature.

Rudyard Kipling's "The Laws of the Jungle" might be a basic concept for a Lawful druid- maybe a LG or LE one would modify it slightly.

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:31 AM
The one druid that I played was a CG ranger for a few levels first, and ended up leaning heavily towards NG, so I started picking up druid levels. What I ended up with was a Ranger/Druid/Lion of Talisid who was firmly NG (by "frimly NG" I mean doing good things solely for the sake of doing good things, like the PHB implies).

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:39 AM
Sounds fun. As an Exalted character- were there any of the main general rules for Exalted that got dropped (asking enemies to surrender, not summarily executing them if they did, and so on) or did they mostly make sense in the context of the character?

Serpentine
2010-08-26, 10:44 AM
I would approach it from a different direction: craft a roleplay-friendly character, a Druid with a brilliant backstory and personality, with a genuine connection to nature... that happens to be a non-Neutral character.
But I've always been in roleplay-heavy fluff-focussed games...

WarKitty
2010-08-26, 10:45 AM
EDIT:
@War Kitty: Do away with it, and use subjective alignments instead. Lots of gray areas to live in.

I wish. Unfortunately I'm not the DM. Great guy, but rather strict with the way characters ought to be played according to WoTC fluff.

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 10:47 AM
Makes sense. Alignment is only one of many things that make up a personality- and I don't really see any problem with a nature lover that happens to be LG or CG.

Even LE or CE might make sense in the right context.

If a druid's first loyalty is to "nature" then they might manifest it in ways that don't necessarily require them to have one neutral alignment component.

Esser-Z
2010-08-26, 10:50 AM
A true neutral character considers the ramifications of every action, judging each one on its own. They do not test actions to a previously held idea, but consider what results from the actions.

Or that's how I might play one. The thing about alignments, especially the neutrals, is that they all contain many ways to play.

dsmiles
2010-08-26, 10:54 AM
Sounds fun. As an Exalted character- were there any of the main general rules for Exalted that got dropped (asking enemies to surrender, not summarily executing them if they did, and so on) or did they mostly make sense in the context of the character?

Actually, most of us were (inadvertently) following the rules for exalted characters. I didn't even think about playing an exalted character until I was about halfway through the campaign. Then again, we were in the camp of, "favored enemy doesn't mean you hate them, it just means you're better at hunting them."

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 11:01 AM
Sounds like it was a fun campaign.

on Neutrality- while I like the site in general, one of the difference of opinion I have with Easydamus is the suggestion that "most humans are neutral"- seems like a bit of an overstatement.

Esser-Z
2010-08-26, 11:03 AM
Well, it depends on how you look at the alignment system. Is it just what you believe, or does what you do about it matter? If a guy just tends towards liking good things, but lives out a life without doing much in the way of good actions, does he still count as good?

hamishspence
2010-08-26, 11:50 AM
They might be Neutral with good tendencies.

A person for whom helping others is normal (but doesn't really sacrifice much other than time) might be Good with neutral tendencies.

And a person who's regularly making real sacrifices, not just in time, but also in risks, might be straight Good.

On average human alignment- I don't see any problem with Neutral being the most common alignment- but maybe not common enough for humanity to be "Usually true neutral"

Even "Usually neutral (any)" is quite high.

Esser-Z
2010-08-26, 11:52 AM
Yeah, I can agree with that.

Chauncymancer
2010-08-26, 04:36 PM
The closest thing to this form of TN is the Taoist. The taoist believes that you cannot have good without evil, beauty without ugliness... everything is connected. Everything is one. By opening the eyes to the universe, acknowledging the good and the bad, and accepting that such things are merely transitory, subjective value judgements, and that reality is there to be experienced, one achieves True Neutrality. Obviously, I haven't worded this brilliantly (it's an extremely difficult concept to get across, Taoism, although kudos to the author of The Tao of Pooh for trying so hard!)


"Good and Evil are artificial distinctions made from a limited human perspective. All you detect is your god's prejudices!
What matters is that life is experienced in all its dimensions, without limiting experience out of greed or guilt."
Your character has to chuck the "2 kilograms of Evil" paradigm, but your character doesn't really know about alignment, right?

imp_fireball
2010-08-26, 07:14 PM
I believe the "balance" TN would most likely be the kind against a utopia philosophically, in one of two ways. Firstly, you could be against it in that in order to create a no-evil-utopia, you would need to eliminate all evil and keep things the way they are with no changes - in which case you need an overwhelming lawfulness and lack of freedom (to be the alignment you choose) - or leave evil somewhere in existence, become complacent (if not quickly, over generations), and die when they attack you. Alternatively, you could be against it in that that if the world was perfect, then life would have no meaning for many, because life's meaning is defined by struggle, of which a utopia has none. Therefore, for the sake of the world, I have to keep it from becoming perfect, so that others continue to have to work for a utopia, and their lives will have meaning. However, I must also prevent evil from winning, because then there would be none to struggle. This could become an evil attitude if there is more of the former than the latter as well.

This is exactly the sort of logical stand point that I believe many neutrals abide by.

The world cannot be made perfect, for it is it's imperfection that has already made it perfect to the highest degree in relation to every conceivable mortal perception. Herein lies mysteries that still await discovery.

I don't think they are any more vulnerable to becoming evil than the good guys - considering, in order to be evil, they must delight in the suffering they are causing when overthrowing a new government that proposes utopia, ie.

Good guys may cause dispropriately equal or more suffering when they try to create utopias (most likely accidental unless they are of the knight templar or 'light is not good' tropes, and are disillusioned evils). Frustration could lead them to misanthropism, wherein they'd officially convert to evil alignment or neutrality wherein they 'give up', or no change of alignment wherein they learn a horrible truth about their undertaking, atone (if they're paladins), cry into their pillows, and/or simply shift their mind set to some other benevolent cause.


Your character has to chuck the "2 kilograms of Evil" paradigm, but your character doesn't really know about alignment, right?

Yes, but they've heard of 'good and evil' as any person in the real world who hasn't ever played a single roleplaying game has, right?


"Good and Evil are artificial distinctions made from a limited human perspective. All you detect is your god's prejudices!
What matters is that life is experienced in all its dimensions, without limiting experience out of greed or guilt."


That'd be an interesting take on the crusader or paladin of neutral alignment. :P
----

What we're learning from this: Neutral really is a cool alignment.
-------

Note that even Neutrals can feel guilty at times though. A large portion of america donates money to charity, however it's only when prompted (and charities tend to do a lot of prompting) and they don't usually donate large percentages of their own personal finance. The rich donate more, simply because that minor percentage yields more - not to mention about 1% of a billionaire's money is usually enough to live perfectly comfortably in absolute luxury; hence many of the most wealthiest individuals in the world have been known for grand displays of philanthropy.

None of the above is true altruism. Basically it's just 'I'm a nice guy, get off my back' or 'I'm not evil, I love humanity as much as you do too.'

Hence it's largely neutral behavior.



a chaotic good guy with Exalted feats, and in some cases, PRCs, would see Good as much more important than chaos.

They wouldn't call it 'chaos' though. And they might even consider 'good' and 'freedom' as equal prospects, or the same thing. But what makes them good is they are also quite benevolent and not just nice people to be around (evil people can be nice to be around; they can love children and beloved by children even).

Note that some good guys are even subconsciously good even though they choose to remain openly neutral on most moral stand points. Perhaps they are particularly disgusted in seeing pain in others or that the pleasure of others lifts their spirits or whatever.

In children's tales, you might have a character like the Jim Carrey's Grinch who tries to be evil but is really good aligned - his evilness is a result of anti social stubborn and immature jealous behavior on his part. More realistically though, he could have been neutral with good tendencies and his foray to ruin chistmas was really just a misperception on his part in that he only believed christmas was frivolous (as in "Bah, they can survive without it!" rather than "They must not have christmas! And then surely their hearts will become as black as mine!!!") although he made it out to seem like he truly detested joy (he appeared more evil and probably was in the original cartoon and book).


The little old lady that spends a great proportion of her time assisting a local charity would be good. The adventurer who risks their life for fame and fortune would most likely be neutral IMO.

True for the latter, but the adventurer might also largely wish to express their fame as a benevolent figure or the followers of some altruistic cause brought about by another party member (ie. the paladin or the rogue who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, and might also have a personal qualm with a lord who declared vendetta on his family, etc.).

Note the little old lady might be largely distrustful of any other organization that encourages benevolence no matter what the cause actually is, which could knock her down to neutral since she'd be valuing the satisfaction or social atmosphere of that specific charity rather than altruism itself. It doesn't detract from her actual sweetness and pleasantry though.


"Protect innocent life" is sometimes considered one of the two cornerstones of Good alignment, along with "make sacrifices to help others"

The question is- how much is enough?

Can someone be Good aligned, but only "weakly aligned" as per Fiendish Codex 2's "Most people are only weakly aligned- they rarely commit acts strong enough to register as Good, Evil, Lawful, or Chaotic".

Fiendish Codex 2 doesn't specify what 'registers'. Anyone weakly aligned is probably largely neutral in one way or another. 'Easy altruism' like the philanthropy and small donations I detailed above are weakly aligned and thus very neutral.

Making sacrifices to help others might mean losing your job, it might be a more logical sacrifice but one that takes some time out of your day - for example; you find someone's credit card on the pavement. You should probably head to their bank and report that it may have been lost and found and that said person should be contacted immediately about the details of the loss and if they had done anything to make up for it or if they had lost money, etc.; whereas an illogical sacrifice would be to, say, donate hundreds of dollars from your own account to that person's account 'just in case' they lost any money.

Saving a little kid from drowning when you happen to be swimming in the same pool is 'easy altruism' if it involves simply getting out of the pool, and scooping up the kid or swimming under water and pulling them up, or perhaps alerting the life guard.

Saving someone from a mugging is easy altruism if it involves simply calling 911.

The sort of protecting innocent without risking yourself is pretty hard without it being 'easy altruism'. Maybe it means telling off a gang of bullies (this isn't necessarily 'easy' without you becoming a target), or being ready to catch someone as they fall from a ladder or being on hand to be the one with first aid ready.

It might also be, if your an employer, giving employees extra chances to make amends when they make mistakes and firing only those that only appear to willingly jeopardize your company. This sort of thing costs money for you and has practically no benefit to yourself (except reputation), hence it's not really 'easy altruism' - more like actual altruism (but not the bold heroic altruism that D&D seems to encourage).

ericgrau
2010-08-26, 10:15 PM
By RAW humans are spread out equally across all alignments and thus TN is just your average Joe. Cares about friends and family but won't go out of his way to heroically save strangers. Doesn't like to hurt them either. Usually follows law and order just as long as it suits him well enough. Likes to adventure with good people more than evil or neutral people because good people are nice. A druid striving for balance as part of his druid beliefs would do all these as a matter of ideals rather than apathetically.

Someone who murders a bunch of people and then donates to an orphanage is what we call [still] a murderer, and also poorly thought out flat role-playing.

Eldariel
2010-08-26, 10:19 PM
The rules have two different meanings for "True Neutral". One is the "doesn't really care that much for anything". The other is the "finds Neutrality to be the only true way and actively tries to work towards Neutrality". Historically (AD&D & earlier) Druids were the latter, while pretty much everyone else was the former, so that's what I go with.

Serpentine
2010-08-26, 11:45 PM
hence many of the most wealthiest individuals in the world have been known for grand displays of philanthropy.The following is based on very flawed memory, so insert "as far as I can remember", "I think", "something like" and "I could be wrong, but"s where appropriate.

One of Australia's richest people, known for his philanthropy and things like giving his kids bupkiss in the will so they have to earn their own money, gave some ridiculous amount of money to a charity - millions and millions of dollars. When asked why, he said "because my accountant tells me I can make that back in a few days, and noone needs that much money".

Few bits and pieces I forgot to put in before, or have been prompted by discussion:

Neutrality isn't necessarily about "striving and struggling to keep the world in balance". It can also be the simple acknowledgement that that is the way the world is. It's not so much opposition to the utopia because it represents a lack of balance, as acknowledgement that a utopia is impossible, because there are always problems, always unhappiness, always disease and have-lesses and disagreement and so on. I suppose this would be the active/passive alignment thing, again: the one who strives to keep the universe in harmony would be Active Neutral, while the one who accepts that the universe is a mess of oppositions is Passive Neutral. However, I also don't think the two are mutually exclusive - a character can believe that the universe can look after itself, even as they take steps to keep the balance in the world around them.

'tother thing: accepting that this is the way the world is doesn't mean you like it. A character can acknowledge that a wolf will eat a deer alive, and then the carcass will rot away, and that this is just the way the world works, but that doesn't mean they gain pleasure from watching the deer's pain, or that they are fascinated by decomposition. The paladin of Balance character I had in mind would prefer Good stuff over Evil stuff, because it's just more pleasant. However, she would also acknowledge that Evil is a necessary and unavoidable part of existance, and that you can't obliterate something just because you don't like it - it serves a purpose in the universal ecology, and it's not your place to remove it.

Finally... argh, I've forgotten it. Ah well. I'll probably remember it later... and then forget it again.

Regarding the "passive well-meaning is Neutral, active is Good", does that mean that, say, a doctor working for Medicine Sans Frontier in Africa is Good, but the person who regularly donates to them is just Neutral?

Tyndmyr
2010-08-27, 12:33 AM
So, playgrounders, what are your takes on what a TN character would be like?

I have no strong opinion on this matter.

WinWin
2010-08-27, 12:39 AM
Most people think that they are good people. Even evil people justify their actions. Very few people are going to put on a White Hat or Black hat and act according to type.

A Paladin might be an arrogant fascist, concerned only with the 'Greater Good.' His abrasive personality and prejudices make him easy to hate, but that does not make the guy any less honourable or selfless with regards to his cause.

An evil priest probably has a good reason for making all of those Faustian pacts with evil outsiders. He probably was a nice guy that got caught up in a difficult situation...Then made the wrong kind of deal to get out of it. Most of the time he could be likeable, charming and generous. He will still sell people out to his Diabolical masters in a second, but might feel bad about it. His attitude could be expressed as "It's either you or me..."

A neutral character could be even more complicated, or less. I think that very few of them would give any thought to balance.

hamishspence
2010-08-27, 02:43 AM
Note that even Neutrals can feel guilty at times though. A large portion of america donates money to charity, however it's only when prompted (and charities tend to do a lot of prompting) and they don't usually donate large percentages of their own personal finance. The rich donate more, simply because that minor percentage yields more - not to mention about 1% of a billionaire's money is usually enough to live perfectly comfortably in absolute luxury; hence many of the most wealthiest individuals in the world have been known for grand displays of philanthropy.

None of the above is true altruism. Basically it's just 'I'm a nice guy, get off my back' or 'I'm not evil, I love humanity as much as you do too.'

Hence it's largely neutral behavior.

Note that some good guys are even subconsciously good even though they choose to remain openly neutral on most moral stand points. Perhaps they are particularly disgusted in seeing pain in others or that the pleasure of others lifts their spirits or whatever.

Note the little old lady might be largely distrustful of any other organization that encourages benevolence no matter what the cause actually is, which could knock her down to neutral since she'd be valuing the satisfaction or social atmosphere of that specific charity rather than altruism itself. It doesn't detract from her actual sweetness and pleasantry though.

Fiendish Codex 2 doesn't specify what 'registers'. Anyone weakly aligned is probably largely neutral in one way or another. 'Easy altruism' like the philanthropy and small donations I detailed above are weakly aligned and thus very neutral.

Making sacrifices to help others might mean losing your job, it might be a more logical sacrifice but one that takes some time out of your day - for example; you find someone's credit card on the pavement. You should probably head to their bank and report that it may have been lost and found and that said person should be contacted immediately about the details of the loss and if they had done anything to make up for it or if they had lost money, etc.; whereas an illogical sacrifice would be to, say, donate hundreds of dollars from your own account to that person's account 'just in case' they lost any money.

Saving a little kid from drowning when you happen to be swimming in the same pool is 'easy altruism' if it involves simply getting out of the pool, and scooping up the kid or swimming under water and pulling them up, or perhaps alerting the life guard.

Saving someone from a mugging is easy altruism if it involves simply calling 911.

It might also be, if your an employer, giving employees extra chances to make amends when they make mistakes and firing only those that only appear to willingly jeopardize your company. This sort of thing costs money for you and has practically no benefit to yourself (except reputation), hence it's not really 'easy altruism' - more like actual altruism (but not the bold heroic altruism that D&D seems to encourage).

That's the thing- "true altruism" done routinely, as part of normal behaviour- seems more like the purview of Exalted Good characters. Characters who are only just Good enough in overall attitudes and behaviour, to count as "Good aligned" might be much more about easy altruism- doing little benevolent things not just for their own sake, but because they like the feeling they get from it.

I see "weakly aligned" as including "weakly good aligned" (still Good) weakly Evil aligned (still Evil) and so on.

Corrupt acts, are acts that "register" for Evil- Obesiant acts are acts that "register" for Law. Good and Chaotic acts are not defined- though BoED does try to define Good acts.

But if "morals and attitudes" are a big part of alignment, not just acts, then a person can be Good despite not regularly committing Good acts. Some beings can be Good (or Evil) despite not having had time to commit any acts at all (like newborn dragons).

Lord Raziere
2010-08-27, 03:30 AM
my take on true neutral?

"Sounds like a good idea, I'll do that."

They simply don't have any particular way of doing things and just do what they think is the best idea at the time, they don't care or even think about the balance, they just care what the best option is at the moment.

most people are this because, well most people simply do what they think is the best option out of all they are given.

chaotic neutral however....

I am chaotic neutral! I'm all for freedom and change, just don't force your stupid rules and views on me, I'm an individual darn it! and I'm gonna stay that way! :smallbiggrin:

Partysan
2010-08-27, 11:37 AM
*Not having read the whole thread*

Most people seem to be interested in the "strong" or philosophical TN. However I think TN is also the most widespread alignment simply because of being devoid of all the other philosophies.
The typical normal guy will not go out of his way to help others, which would be good. He might help others if he might have an advantage, he might help for free if it doesn't cost him anything, but he wouldn't help to his own cost and disadvantage.
He will act selfishly, but not to the point as to hurt others, which would be evil. Sure, there may be inconveniences, that happens in competition, but he will not really try to hurt others actively and probably even avoid doing things with harmful consequences.
He will abide by the rules, but only as not to inconvenience himself. He might break some of them if he sees an advantage and little risk, but on the whole will use the rules to live more comfortably.

This is how most of us live. I can't see it represented by another alignment than TN.

WarKitty
2010-08-27, 11:41 AM
*Not having read the whole thread*

Most people seem to be interested in the "strong" or philosophical TN. However I think TN is also the most widespread alignment simply because of being devoid of all the other philosophies.
The typical normal guy will not go out of his way to help others, which would be good. He might help others if he might have an advantage, he might help for free if it doesn't cost him anything, but he wouldn't help to his own cost and disadvantage.
He will act selfishly, but not to the point as to hurt others, which would be evil. Sure, there may be inconveniences, that happens in competition, but he will not really try to hurt others actively and probably even avoid doing things with harmful consequences.
He will abide by the rules, but only as not to inconvenience himself. He might break some of them if he sees an advantage and little risk, but on the whole will use the rules to live more comfortably.

This is how most of us live. I can't see it represented by another alignment than TN.

To be fair, "strong" TN was my primary interest in posting this thread - particularly with TN being represented as the druidic alignment.

El Dorado
2010-08-27, 12:27 PM
When I played a true neutral druid, I focused more on acting as a guardian of nature than trying to figure out the alignment. I saw the character as willing to ally with heroes or villains as long as the outcome helped the natural world. Sort of a Ra's Al Ghul. More often than not, you can work with heroes, because they'll keep their agreements. At the same time, if making a deal with a lawful evil warlord will help you protect nature, you won't have any qualms doing it.

Serpentine
2010-08-27, 11:39 PM
"Soft" True Neutral is a totally valid way of playing it. Trouble is, there's not much to say about it: you mostly obey the law, except when it suits you not to and you can get away with it; you mostly benevolent but lazy and a bit selfish... and that's about it, we're done.
So: acknowledgement that it's valid TN (and annoyance at self for forgetting to include it). But not much room for discussion...

Lhurgyof
2010-08-28, 12:01 AM
I have no real feelings either way.

Neutrality is a weird concept in D&D were Good and evil are set figures, not relative. My take on neutrality is someone who doesn't bother themselves for either good or evil, just the "I want to be normal, leave me alone" type. Someone like a hermit or Druid, they care not for the matters of Evil Bandit raiders or virtuous paladins, unless it affects them. And then what they decide is more going to be what the average person would do in suck a situation.

Roderick_BR
2010-08-28, 01:17 AM
Basically, you doesn't care for things way out of your league. Like, you'll care for your land, care for your family, care for your land.
Some war going on at the outskirts of the kingdom? That's the army's problem.
Goblins are attacking the merchants in the commercial route? Let the guards take care of it.
You'd rather stay out of politics, maybe commention on one noble or king you have some fondness to.

Now, something that threatens the world, or nature in general, or a place or people close to you, then you spring to action.

I see neutrality as more of a "need" than "want" to do. As in, you'll do stuff for you and your friends, and maybe in the place you are, if something threatens you, or is just too horrible to ignore. Everything else is someone else's problem.
A bit of a lazy or selfish way of acting, just not so strong.

imp_fireball
2010-08-30, 01:55 AM
I have no real feelings either way.

Neutrality is a weird concept in D&D were Good and evil are set figures, not relative. My take on neutrality is someone who doesn't bother themselves for either good or evil, just the "I want to be normal, leave me alone" type. Someone like a hermit or Druid, they care not for the matters of Evil Bandit raiders or virtuous paladins, unless it affects them. And then what they decide is more going to be what the average person would do in suck a situation.

However they may wish just as much that everyone were neutral like them. They're not necessarily lazy - they just believe that life is worth living and there is no after life, etc.

imp_fireball
2010-09-10, 10:25 PM
Likes to adventure with good people more than evil or neutral people because good people are nice.

Well, not necessarily. Average Joe might enjoy adventuring with neutral people because he thinks 'hey they're like me and I know that I can probably put X amount of trust in them'. They might even consider good guys 'fake' because they seem to demonstrate that he can put any amount of trust in them (he's never met anyone like that before; it's almost inhuman). Whereas he may adventure with evil people because the evil person's ambition rubs off on him - until of course, very morally reprehensible actions are witnessed - ie. Joe walks down a hallway and notices that one of the hero's is banging a lady he just met. Joe shakes his head in a manner of 'I'd at least get to know her first', but continues down the hall to check in on his other friend only then to notice bam! this guy's dining on a baby and Joe just caught him red handed. Yep, this other guy seems pretty evil all of a sudden. Joe wants to vomit now and is severely disturbed to ever be friends with the other guy ever again.


I have no real feelings either way.

Then I suppose your neutral on the issue.


Characters who are only just Good enough in overall attitudes and behaviour, to count as "Good aligned" might be much more about easy altruism- doing little benevolent things not just for their own sake, but because they like the feeling they get from it.

Not even. A 'soft good' character probably isn't ideological in anyway, but he's happened to do enough good deeds ("What, that town needed help driving out orcs. It'd suck to be them otherwise. Also, I wanna prove I'm a bad ass. Hey, maybe they've got some hawt broad who's in it for my ruggish looks.") that he's generically good. So, he might do good mostly because it gets people on his side in regards to his reputation. Doing evil gives him a bad feeling inside, but he's in it for himself mostly (so he may be neutral in intention, good in actions). He may not even have been 'raised right'.

In short, they might commit to 'hard altruism' as a 'growing experience' for themselves, not because it has to be done. They might detest easy altruism and believe largely that people have to work for themselves if they want to make a name for themselves. They might also hate the weak - an opinion that any evil character could equally share.

So yah, evil and good characters don't necessarily have to disagree on everything ("Hey, do you own an xbox?" "Yeah." "Do you own halo 3?" "Oh man I love halo 3!" "Great, now say, do you wanna go bash in some hobo skulls in later on?" "... Um... yah, I'm not so sure about that; it's kinda evil, don't you think?" "Nah, not really, it's fun c'mon." "Nah... I - I think I'll just stay at home, thanks." "Sure thing. Oh and hey, don't call the cops or I'll hunt you down and kill you in your sleep homie; seeya!" "Uh yah okay sure, thanks.") - it's just that one believes the other is morally reprehensible in one way or another.

hamishspence
2010-09-11, 02:55 PM
Someone for whom "good deeds feel good and evil deeds feel bad" might be "good by nature" even before they start to do good deeds- a metallic dragon might be like this from birth.

Doing good deeds and refraining from evil deeds for slightly selfish reasons (it's pleasurable to do good, and it hurts to see someone suffer because of their actions) could be a common type of good hero.

Conversely, a lot of villains could be the reverse- they don't do evil deeds "for their own sake" but because they just happen to be wired that way- for them, seeing another person suffer is pleasurable, and seeing another person happy is slightly painful.

A redeemed villain of this type would always struggle against their own "natural urges" so to speak- the famous succubus paladin may have this problem.

And a fallen hero for whom evil deeds are actually painful, may rationalize their deeds as "for the greater good" and perceive themselves as still good because every time they do such a deed, it's a sacrifice on their part.

Most people though, will have both good and evil traits- they will find it pleasurable to help someone in need- but at the same time, they will take pleasure in the sufferings of "an enemy" whether or not they're the one responsible- schadenfreude, I think it's called- when they do so but at the same time nervously hope nothing that bad happens to them.

zephiros
2010-09-11, 04:57 PM
3) Philosophically neutral. Someone who is dedicated to the cosmic balance. They look at whether the area is trending towards good or evil, law or chaos, and work to build the opposite side. If things are too lawful, they start to build chaos. If things are too evil, they work with the side of good. This is the "classical" view of TN, and probably the one hardest to maintain as a PC.

For what it's worth I consider this the most intriguing. It's not so much obligation to counteract every step that they take towards any alignment (the classic murder, feed orphans, rinse-repeat) but more of a realization that all the alignments have both a right to exist and a requirement to be there, and that cosmic imbalance is caused by the absence of any of them. Therefore they do what they can to ensure that things are kept in proper perspective as far as balancing the forces in their area. Personally the nature aspect of druids for me is something separate from their alignment.