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Sajiri
2015-12-19, 01:25 AM
Chaotic Neutral. It seems to be the most universally despised of all the alignments. Possibly because many players want to use it as an excuse for their own jerk-ish behaviour.

My DM wants to reboot our original campaign we only did a few sessions of years ago with some new players (that puts us up to 5 major games, and 2 minor ones <_>; ), so I am, of course, recreating my old character from that. My old character who happened to be chaotic neutral. I didn't get the chance to roleplay her much before we were forced to abandon that one thanks to lack of players being able to meet up at the same time consistently, and the times I've played a CN character since then, I tend to end up defaulting to a character that seems far more NG than CN.

So I'd like some examples of a CN character, that aren't as shallow as 'just gonna be random' or act like a jerk robbing the party out of greed and saying 'lolz that's what my char would do s/he's CN'

Lord Raziere
2015-12-19, 01:46 AM
Perhaps emphasize NEUTRAL over Chaotic? they're primarily a person with motivations, personality and wants and desires and such.

they just get what they want through Chaotic means.

Malifice
2015-12-19, 02:08 AM
Some classic CNs:


Brad Pitts Achilles from the movie Troy
Captain Jack Sparrow from PoTC
Some depictions of Wolverine (he alternates between CN and CG)
Some depictions of Catwoman (she alternates between CN and CE)

Cazero
2015-12-19, 02:47 AM
The thing is, most problems with chaotic neutral character comes from the fact they're truly chaotic evil and lying about their alignement.
Case in point : stealing from the party is chaotic evil (and stupid), random acts of violence are chaotic evil (because neutral still cares), general jerk-ish behavior for no reason is slightly evil (but that one can be compensated by goodness), and saying "it's what my character would do" is usualy evil OOC (see tales of broken gaming groups).

Chaotic Neutral are not good enough to be Good, not evil enough to be Evil and clearly Chaotic. An heroic Chaotic Good that's not that Good when you think about it is Chaotic Neutral.

goto124
2015-12-19, 03:20 AM
As covered in the 5e section (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?461577-Chaotic-Neutral-How-is-it-done-right), but generic enough to apply to any system.

Sajiri
2015-12-19, 07:21 AM
As covered in the 5e section (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?461577-Chaotic-Neutral-How-is-it-done-right), but generic enough to apply to any system.

Yeah...I just saw that in the recent posted section. I've never touched 5e so I don't go to that section. My bad!

Red Fel
2015-12-19, 11:25 AM
So I'd like some examples of a CN character, that aren't as shallow as 'just gonna be random' or act like a jerk robbing the party out of greed and saying 'lolz that's what my char would do s/he's CN'

I think you just hit the nail on the head. It's less about "What should CN do?" (the answer to which is: be a normal person who values freedom/passion/individuality), and more about "What shouldn't CN do?" (the answer to which is: be insane or a jerk).

Really, just make a person. A normal person. And then divorce them from their explicitly moral/immoral tendencies - so your character won't be explicitly Evil or Good. And then separate them from rigid or traditionalist tendencies - so your character won't be explicitly Lawful. Then have the character favor freedom, individuality, and so forth.

Everything else is personality. Which is no different from any other character.

Just never, ever use the excuse "It's what my character would do." Again, same is true for all characters, but particularly for CN.

I think somebody in the 3.5 subsection also made a "How to CN" handbook, also generic enough to apply to any system. I wouldn't know; I favor LE, myself.

tomandtish
2015-12-19, 12:16 PM
I sometimes wonder if Red Felís avatar is a self-portraitÖ.

He hits the nail on the head (as usual). The important thing is freedom. Chaotics donít want to be tied down or bound by rules and regulations. This doesnít mean that they wonít follow them, but they are only going to follow them from a point of personal self-interest.

Take a city that suffers regular attacks. It imposes a new tax to build new fortifications that will make the city safer. One CN character has family, friends, and a successful business than canít easily be moved. That one will probably pay the taxes. Not because itís the law, but because it is in their best interest to do so. Another CN character has no real friends or family, and a moderately successful business that can easily be moved to another city. That one may very well not pay the taxes (or as little as they can get away with), under the logic that if an attack comes they are out of there anyway. Thereís no real benefit to them to do so, so why should they?

You arenít a monster. You donít go out of your way to bring harm to others (that would be evil). But you donít generally go out of your way to help others unless thereís something in it for you. But that something doesnít have to be material. You do have friends, and you may even have your own personal code.

You may just want to help a friend out (and yes, youíre allowed to have friends and people you care about). In fact, as a CN Iíd be much more likely to go on quest X because my friend Red Fel asked me to than because someone tried to order me to do so.

Everyone assumes chaotic characters canít have a code of honor. They can. Itís just not something theyíll necessarily hold to at all costs. But you may owe someone a favor and want to pay it back. If Red Fel asks me to go on this quest because he helped me with X, and it doesnít look too risky, then sure Iíll help him out. On the other hand, if the quest is for me to hold off 5 Tarrasques (thanks to a wish/cloning spell combo gone wrong)? Well, good luck Red, but I donít owe you that much.

And now, the final disclaimer. In the end, alignment is what the DM (hopefully with player input) decides it is. Make sure you and they are on the same page. Because if you arenít you are going to have problems. With all alignments (and especially this one), it warrants a conversation ahead of time.

nedz
2015-12-19, 12:40 PM
The CNs which are despised are either CE-in-disguise or LOL-Random: just don't play one of those and you should be fine.

CN is a perfectly reasonable description of many characters.

On the other hand: since you never got to roleplay your previous character, you could change it's alignment to match whatever you wanted ó it's not like anyone will ever know ó unless there is some mechanical reason you have to be CN ?

sktarq
2015-12-19, 03:54 PM
Also as the terms lawful vs chaotic are vague to the point of near uselessness there are other point that can lead off a chaotic neutral character.

Make each decision fresh-precedent and consistency are not necessarily priorities for you.

Make each decision yourself-you may have a code of honor/behavior but it is one that your character created themselves and doesn't tie into the overaching system well. Somewhat similar to say a Green or American Independence party stalwart in the US political system.

Favor a different lodestar. Perhaps newness is your main measure of worth. You hop from idea to idea always on the cutting edge of philosophical thought but leave it behind soon after and probably avoid the extreme evil or good ones.

Figure out a good goal you want to achive-and be willing to engage in some evil acts to further that goal while finding the law something to be ignored whenever convenient in you pursuit.

RedMage125
2015-12-19, 05:07 PM
One of the most important things to remember is that CN people are not "random". They are NOT just as likely to jump off a bridge as cross it.

The problems people have with Chaotic Neutral is that some people want to play it as "Evil Lite" in a campaign where the DM forbids Evil characters.

Chaotic Neutral characters do not just do whatever they want as whimsy strikes them. They (and this applies to ALL Chaotic alignments) are under no compulsion to reject authority or disobey laws or authority figures.

I've had 2 good CN characters over the years. Both of which would function well in a classic "heroic" adventuring party.

Clain Windsong (CN Elf Bard) has always been a free spirit. His life's ambition is to write the greatest heroic ballad ever. To that end, he likes to adventure with champions of Good. He has no true inclination towards Good himself. truthfully, he does not care about helping others or doing the right thing. But he knows that heroes triumphing over Evil make for the best tales of grand adventure, and so he likes to associate with those who do. Clain travels the world, living by his wits and seeking excitement and exploits of daring-do. He does have a weakness for the fairer sex, and loves to challenge himself by wooing ladies who are "unobtainable". When I DM, Clain exists as an NPC in my world. In that world, he is middle-aged for a elf (approx 500 years old), and he is unusually fertile for an elf. If you count his children, grandchildren, great-, and great-great-chranchildren, he is personally responsible for almost 5% of the half-elves in my campaign setting. Clain knows full well that he has littered the world with his illegitimate offspring, and he does not care. "No one writes epic tales of responsible fathers who stayed at home raising children" he would say.

Krug Bonebreaker (CN Half-Ogre Barbarian) was raised among a tribe of ogres. Violence was a way of life for him, and though he was dim by human standards, he was much smarter than his kin. He eventually left the tribe and traveled the north, participating in pit fighting and crude arena matches. When he helped defend one such arena from an attack by monsters, he realized that he enjoyed fighting such powerful foes, so he became an adventurer. Krug's outlook on life is simple, and he enjoys having the freedom to do what he wants. He prefers bivouacking in the woods to staying in cities. He dislikes larger cities with laws and restrictions, but that doesn't mean he ignores them. He chafes at restrictions being imposed upon him. Krug has a kind of "might makes right" attitude, but he also fears and respects those who can use magic, even if they are not physically strong. He also likes making money, and is somewhat of a mercenary, although he will refuse jobs that involve only harming those who are weak. His adventuring party is his new adopted tribe, and to them he is loyal. Just the same, he'd always much prefer that he and his friends were out in the wilderness, slaying fearsome monsters and looting their lairs, rather than spending one more day in a city. But cities DO have beer...

So you see, two characters who are certainly Chaotic, and absolutely neither Good nor Evil.

A CN character might in many respects resemble a CG one at times (like the bard example I gave). But something about them does not meet the definition of "Good". The bard, for example, may do "Good" deeds, but his heart is not in it. He is always motivated only by the fame and renown that such deeds accrue.

If you want to make a Chaotic Neutral character, important steps are, I think, to ask yourself "why". Better instead to make a character and decide what alignment fits them AFTER you develop their personality.

GrayDeath
2015-12-19, 05:16 PM
In short I would say: play a selfish Character that isn`t being a Jerk about it.
Thats surely the easiest way. You want something, be it Loot, Entertainment, or Love, whatever; you do what you need to do to get it. But you wont go out of your way to hurt anybody doing so.
Also people and passions are going to be your driving forces, not Ideas and Rules/Society/Image or somesuch.
Individualist at heart, and easy as hell to play, in my humble opinion.
Just forget the randomness some imagine when they hear it, and of course do NOT use it as excuse to paly a CELight Character. :)


Which is why I never saw the problem. if someone TRULEY thinks about chaotic Neutral, it is actually THE most adventerous, and hence likely to be possessed by Adventurers, alignment of them all. ^^
After all, what are Adventurers at heart, but people who do not follow normal rules, do not live in a house, or even a fixed area, and just do what they want? :P

Xerlith
2015-12-19, 06:30 PM
In short? You're neutral. That's how you view the world. And you're Chaotic - That's how you want the world to treat you. What does that mean? You won't murder anyone, but you won't go out of your way to give your money to a poor guy, unless you are in a good mood and have coins to spare. You just want to do your stuff, not minding anyone.

Chaotic for me means freedom. Not anarchy, but freedom. My long-time character is a Chaotic Neutral (formerly Chaotic Good) elven wizard/swiftblade. He has his own agenda, which doesn't include killing anything, but he also isn't really bent on saving anything. He just wants to breed an awesome army of mithral-clad, adamantine-clawed weasels so they can create their own little paradise, starting by conquering the city's sewers (currently occupied by rats).

He recently saved the city from being conquered by nightmare creatures form a nightmare/shadow plane. Why? Because he wants to have his goddamn peaceful weasel farm and these guys are kind of in the way. He went about it without consulting anyone, not really minding what the local army, government and so on thought about it. Just buffed up, smacked around some things, grouped up with other people, smacked some more things, barely succeeded. Then he unleashed his weasels into the sewers.

And he's really, really opposed any form of mind control. A Bard that went about using Suggestion to help "resolve" some stuff in a "good" way got smacked silly by him, because FREE WILL.

Oh, and the social rules? Yea, not a fan.

Allegiances? Even less so. Being knighted for things he's done: "Do you swear to serve the island and me, its ruler?" "I swear to do what's best for the island and its people as I have *crosses fingers*".

goto124
2015-12-19, 06:31 PM
Heh, I realize CN is my favorite alignment.

Think of CN as CG, but not quite G.


Everyone assumes chaotic characters canít have a code of honor.

Define "honor" :smallamused:

nedz
2015-12-19, 06:51 PM
Better instead to make a character and decide what alignment fits them AFTER you develop their personality.

this.

this is why I dislike this sort of debate ó it puts the cart before the horse.

Create your character and then decide which alignment fits that character.

Now you have the problem of matching an abstract concept (alignment) to a concrete idea (the character).

The problem of deriving the concrete from the abstract is much harder because you only have generalisations to go on.

In earlier editions it was a given that alignment was somewhat fluid at lower levels ó until you see how your character actually develops. Alignment first is a straitjacket on character development, whereas it should be a consequence.

Tiktakkat
2015-12-19, 07:56 PM
I see Chaos as significantly different from the "personal freedom" concept.
That element works for Chaotic Good and Chaotic Evil, but it isn't of particular concern to the Chaotic Neutral.

Chaos is more about potential - options rather than existence.
In that, it embodies a curious Catch-22:
Life is a realm of potential in and of itself;
Life is at core an ordering.

For Chaotic Good, the conundrum resolves itself by relishing the potential that each life can achieve.
For Chaotic Evil, it resolves itself by relishing how destruction of life opens the way for new potential. (And indulges personal desires in the process.)

Chaotic Neutrals never resolve that, and thus wind up seeming rather insane, and often indistinguishable from Chaotic Evil.
If saving lives and freeing people from the evil overlord means enabling more options, the Chaotic Neutral does it.
Equally if murdering a dozen innocents opens up new options, the Chaotic Neutral doesn't hesitate there either.

About the only thing "consistent" in their behavior is tearing down existing order, be it social structures or physical existence.
If some particular action can be achieved by a simple sword thrust or setting off a landslide to crush a building, the landslide almost always achieves more chaos. Of course if using a particular poison and framing someone would destabilize a whole kingdom in the process, that immediately gets the nod.

To a large extent, being a non-jerk CN means finding ways to justify that whatever you do with your party focuses on expanding potential rather than crystallizing things with order.
Not stealing from them? More potential to do stuff.
Not murdering at random? Not being locked up and being unable to change things anymore.
Working for some established order? A chance to shift the balance within that order to another group comes out on top.

For a CN character, think Elric on a good day.

nedz
2015-12-19, 08:48 PM
I see Chaos as significantly different from the "personal freedom" concept.
That element works for Chaotic Good and Chaotic Evil, but it isn't of particular concern to the Chaotic Neutral.

Chaos is more about potential - options rather than existence.
In that, it embodies a curious Catch-22:
Life is a realm of potential in and of itself;
Life is at core an ordering.

For Chaotic Good, the conundrum resolves itself by relishing the potential that each life can achieve.
For Chaotic Evil, it resolves itself by relishing how destruction of life opens the way for new potential. (And indulges personal desires in the process.)

Chaotic Neutrals never resolve that, and thus wind up seeming rather insane, and often indistinguishable from Chaotic Evil.
If saving lives and freeing people from the evil overlord means enabling more options, the Chaotic Neutral does it.
Equally if murdering a dozen innocents opens up new options, the Chaotic Neutral doesn't hesitate there either.

About the only thing "consistent" in their behavior is tearing down existing order, be it social structures or physical existence.
If some particular action can be achieved by a simple sword thrust or setting off a landslide to crush a building, the landslide almost always achieves more chaos. Of course if using a particular poison and framing someone would destabilize a whole kingdom in the process, that immediately gets the nod.

To a large extent, being a non-jerk CN means finding ways to justify that whatever you do with your party focuses on expanding potential rather than crystallizing things with order.
Not stealing from them? More potential to do stuff.
Not murdering at random? Not being locked up and being unable to change things anymore.
Working for some established order? A chance to shift the balance within that order to another group comes out on top.

For a CN character, think Elric on a good day.

Yes, chaos can be about a lot of different things.

Your idea is similar to the Chaos = Creative concept.

The Creative character is CN because, whilst they are driven to peruse their own creative instincts, they realise that they have to destroy what exists in order to have the space to realise their creations.

Ed:
this is related to the Fashionista character: out with the old, in with the new ó another CN type.

goto124
2015-12-19, 11:52 PM
What separates the TN from the CN?

Tiktakkat
2015-12-20, 12:56 AM
Yes, chaos can be about a lot of different things.

Your idea is similar to the Chaos = Creative concept.

That's not my idea - it is the Poul Anderson-Michal Moorcock-Gary Gygax version of Chaos.


The Creative character is CN because, whilst they are driven to peruse their own creative instincts, they realise that they have to destroy what exists in order to have the space to realise their creations.

Ed:
this is related to the Fashionista character: out with the old, in with the new ó another CN type.

That was the basis for that crazy "artiste" race in Spelljammer.
The one whose "art" was the "art of war" destroyed the races home planet and the survivors now wander about being odd and entertaining and overpowered.


What separates the TN from the CN?

For me (using the same version as above), TN looks to balance Good versus Evil and Law versus Chaos, as pure of any of them would cause fatal stagnation.
That can leave the TN doing rather random things as well:
Breaking down society in one place while building it in another;
Saving lives in one place while committing slaughter in another.
The question for the TN is "what keeps all the sides equal" rather than worrying about the specific morals or ethics of the action.

Cazero
2015-12-20, 03:31 AM
For me (using the same version as above), TN looks to balance Good versus Evil and Law versus Chaos, as pure of any of them would cause fatal stagnation.
That can leave the TN doing rather random things as well:
Breaking down society in one place while building it in another;
Saving lives in one place while committing slaughter in another.
The question for the TN is "what keeps all the sides equal" rather than worrying about the specific morals or ethics of the action.

Most people are not aware of the cosmic war between alignements and fall in the one matching their personality and behavior by accident. If you're not actively trying to fit a specific alignement, there are countless ways to end in each of them. Seeking balance between all extremes doesn't fit animal behavior, and almost all of them are True Neutral. It's pretty obvious that the same can happen for people.

dramatic flare
2015-12-20, 03:48 AM
What separates the TN from the CN?

I've often considered relabeling lawful/chaotic as "societal/individualistic" in my campaigns to solve this very problem. A true neutral person would take a moment and consider how their neighbors/travelmates would react to their considered course of action. A true neutral person would, on a list of pros and cons for a particular action, include how they believed their society would react as something of some importance. A Chaotic Neutral would, hopefully, be smart enough to account for that societal reaction but would weigh it as far less important.

For example, I'm currently playing a CN character in an orc-bordering Lawful Neutral to Lawful Good town. He doesn't help defend it because that's what demanded of him (although it is), he defends it because his parents and siblings live there and the orc danger is close and present.
But if the patrols all return safely, saying the land is clear of a week's ride of orcs, why shouldn't he take a nice flask of wine with him in patrol today? Or maybe skip the round entirely and hang out on the wall playing cards with his patrol mates? Sure his captain would give him extra latrine duty (if caught, which is unlikely) but marching around the walls all day with nothing to look for is so boring.

goto124
2015-12-20, 06:12 AM
Huh, that guard seems rather normal to me.

¬mesang
2015-12-20, 10:30 AM
I'm trying to remember my last chaotic neutral character, a free-spirited young spirit shaman based on a Nanman warrior I had created in Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires. Leaving the village to explore the wide world, to experience all that she could with a smile, to challenge her strengths and abilities andÖ and I'm really thinking I should have made her chaotic good, since I can't see her having any qualms about helping people in need; granted I had also imagined her as a cannibal, so that might have done it.*

I double-checked the Complete Divine, wondering if spirit shamans had the same alignment restrictions as druids, but nope. Honestly I've even contemplated rebuilding her as a druidÖ I guess helping out people wouldn't be out of the goodness of her heart but just as something to do. Random neutral?

*Merely as a means of practicality since food can be scarce and land is better used for growing living things than burying dead things ó to be less icky, though, I might just make her culture one that leaves bodies exhumed on high mounds away from the village for other creatures to consume, instead.

wumpus
2015-12-20, 12:49 PM
Perhaps emphasize NEUTRAL over Chaotic? they're primarily a person with motivations, personality and wants and desires and such.

they just get what they want through Chaotic means.

This is pretty much the essence. Unless you have a campaign that has a strict law-chaotic bent (rebels overthrowing an oppressive government, or those trying to civilize barbarism) neutrality is going to be the watchword. Personally, I am not aware of a single act (or comment) Vaarsuvius made that wouldn't fit CN as well as the "official" true neutral alignment.

My take on chaos is that a chaotic character considers them selves an individual instead of a group member, and considers others that way as well. Jerkiness should be avoided, as that is more a [mildly] evil thing (damaging others without concern for them). Note that Eugene Greenhilt's other actions almost certainly overshadowed any low level "jerkiness" (although ditching his family is rather chaotic (leaving the group) and probably evil as well).

BestUserName
2015-12-20, 05:05 PM
how do true neutral and chaotic neutral differ? Does chaotic mean you just blatantly don't follow laws?

¬mesang
2015-12-20, 05:14 PM
I can't help but imagine that a smart or wise chaotic character, even chaotic evil, would still follow laws for no other reason than to stay out of obvious trouble (assuming that the local constabulary is stronger than he is).

At least in public.

I mean its hard to work on your plans for world domination if you're rotting in a prison cell, so you'd want to keep a relatively low profile, perhaps even appearing beneficent to those around you (that's why I love the Bluff skill :smalltongue: so much).

Of course if you can get away with it it can be fun to cause chaos, to raise up some rabble-rousers who'll storm the castle and depose the local law, whether good or notÖ but I guess that falls more under the "like to watch the world burn" type, huh?

(Sorry, I've just grown so used to playing chaotic evil and trying to be sneaky and subtle, putting on the face of a goody-little two-shoes while secretly hatching apocalyptic plans, slowly manipulating those around me.)

nedz
2015-12-20, 05:58 PM
I can't help but imagine that a smart or wise chaotic character, even chaotic evil, would still follow laws for no other reason than to stay out of obvious trouble (assuming that the local constabulary is stronger than he is).

Or just make up your own laws about things you care about: Green is the new Black.
Until you that's old and you change it to Pink.

Seto
2015-12-20, 06:02 PM
In fact, as a CN Iíd be much more likely to go on quest X because my friend Red Fel asked me to than because someone tried to order me to do so.

Exactly how long you'll be able to retain a CN alignment while going on quests because your friend Red Fel asked you to, that's a completely different matter.

dramatic flare
2015-12-21, 12:54 AM
Huh, that guard seems rather normal to me.

Hmm, you know what else I find annoying about the alignment debate? The idea that people of different alignments can't look at a situation and develop similar priorities for different reasons. Not accusing you of that, just commenting.

I took a lot of effort to make a backstory for why my character would stick around town until called elsewhere, when he's not motivated by some sense of duty or honor. So i attached him to a character who, "came back to town after years of adventuring with a string of children in tow," as one of the children grown adult. Sure, maybe I didn't quite make it a strong "I hate society and all it stands for" CN, but at the end of the day those guys are basically CE anyway.

Malifice
2015-12-21, 06:47 AM
What separates the TN from the CN?

The TN dude doesnt buck tradition, loyalty or honor, but he isnt beholden to it either.

goto124
2015-12-21, 11:07 AM
Unless you have a campaign that has a strict law-chaotic bent, neutrality is going to be the watchword.


I mean its hard to work on your plans for world domination if you're rotting in a prison cell, so you'd want to keep a relatively low profile, perhaps even appearing beneficent to those around you.

Yeah, I realized how CN can't get too Chaotic without getting into an equal amount of disruptive unfun trouble that drags the entire party down (aka Chaotic Stupid). Especially in civillisations, where people have laws, customs, traditions, etc to follow.

In practice, do the TN and the smart CN appear that much different?

ImNotTrevor
2015-12-21, 01:58 PM
My experience playing a Smart CN was basically this:
He acted in his own self interest. Period.
He was a salesman, a con artist, and a storyteller.
He wasn't much of a fighter, so keeping on good terms with the fighter was a good idea. Staying on good terms with the Cleric secures him a good source of healing. The Warlock.... eh. Dude had issues.
And the Rogue? Best of buds.

But when no one else was around? Whatever it took to get what he wanted.

For instance:
Pall (as he was named) is interrogating a guard that they knocked out rather than killed. Makes some diplomacy checks while telling the guy he'd be free to go if he just cooperated. The rest of the party scatters and lets Pall and the Rogue handle the interrogation. So Pall gets all the info out of the guy, then orders the Rogue to slit his throat. The man is able to gurgle out a last "I trusted...you..." to which Pall replied, "You shouldn't have drawn your sword at me."

When the rest of the party shows up, Pall says that he got the information but the guy tried to attack him after. Everyone bought it, so we moved on. The PLAYERS were stunned at the brutality, but nobody except the Rogue had seen it. Pall was, in all other regards, helpful and nice. But if you gave him a reason, he'd skin you alive.

In that same mission he became close friends with a city guard, his wife, amd their daughter. He cared about them all. And when someone ended up targetting them....
Well...
I'm sure you can imagine how that turned out.


So yeah, CN feels like a careful line. Very much puts its own needs and the needs of those it likes over things like Good or Evil or Law. Pall was willing to do downright Evil things to protect people he cared for, but didn't do them for other reasons. He would do Good so long as it helped him or those under his protection. But if it didn't, he wasn't interested. He had basically no regard for the law. Just didn't care.
He wasn't an outright criminal, he just didn't care about particulars.

Pall was a fun character...

Telonius
2015-12-21, 02:23 PM
There's a Chaotic Neutral handbook here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?448806-We-re-Rebels-Without-A-Clue-A-Chaotic-Neutral-Handbook/page2). We'll probably finish it someday if we feel like it. :smallbiggrin:

For playing CN though - all Chaotic means is that the person will go out of their way to break social norms, expectations, and conventions. There's some overlap with being willing to break legal codes (though not as much as most people assume) and usually a big emphasis on personal freedom.

Another thing to remember: most people are not going to display a particular alignment in all aspects of their life. Even if somebody is Evil, that doesn't mean that everything they do is Evil. They're still perfectly capable of having a loving relationship with their family, and having a puppy that they don't kick. Same way with Law/Chaos. Just because a person really goes out of their way to violate society's rules about (let's say) being faithful to a spouse, that doesn't mean they're also going to start wearing their shoes on their head just to get a rise out of people.

Eugoraton Feiht
2015-12-21, 03:38 PM
I've never had an issue playing chaotic neutral. It plays, for me anyways, as a type of Freedom fighter. You don't listen to laws, and you're not really good or evil. You do what is necessary but you don't cause unnecessary loss or harm. Think robin hood but without the save everyone and give the money to the poor. You're against slavery, mind control, anything that takes away freedom of choice. In your mind laws exist only to impede and limit.

Viva Le Revolution!

neonchameleon
2015-12-21, 06:14 PM
A good CN character? The Time Lord Victorious - otherwise known as The Doctor/Dr Who when he's depressed.

He's never cruel or cowardly. He's not evil. And when he's self-interested it's either to save someone he cares about or to prove that something can be done - and he doesn't care about the consequences. After all he's no intention of coming back anywhere he's been before. Why would he - he's been there, and probably left heartbreak behind. Instead he runs through the cosmos, never looking back, and trying to change things as he sees it for the better. And not worrying about the consequences.

wumpus
2015-12-21, 09:17 PM
Heh, I realize CN is my favorite alignment.

Think of CN as CG, but not quite G.



Define "honor" :smallamused:

The Knights Templar would shout after victory "not to us, not to us, but to thine is the glory!".

To a chaotic, this is absolutely unacceptable. "Unto me! Unto me! My honor is all mine!". What makes this different from Neutral Evil* (who would say the exact same thing) is that a CN (well, any chaotic for various reasons) may indeed have a code of honor. But the code is entirely his, and he keeps it for his own reasons, for his own judgement (and his own glory, should he care about the opinion of others). Should his own make another appear good or ill, that is completely beside the point. A chaotic isn't responsible for the actions of others (a chaotic may be a caretaker for others, but their actions might be another story). Should he grab the glory of a group (he was a member of an army wherever) that really doesn't matter (except to the obvious parts that apply to him).

I suspect Roland was CN. Completely endangering Charlemange's flank in mad, suicidal dash for glory, he did it all for himself. He finally did blow his horn, but largely so there would be witness to his glorious last stand. He got his glory (and presumably so did his men), but he wasn't doing it for Charlemagne (or he would have simply blown his horn when he was supposed to).

* Obviously a CG or CN wants to have an honest opinion of good [or possibly non-necessarily-good-but-great-deeds for CN] deeds to go along with glory. A NE doesn't really care how he got the glory (bribing a bard will do) and would happily the appropriate uniform to get it (regardless of actually served with said military/units). A chaotic wouldn't want the glory from the "uniform" (it is about the group), but his own, personal glory is priceless.

goto124
2015-12-22, 12:37 AM
... so what's a code of honor for a Chaotic?

RickAllison
2015-12-22, 02:52 AM
For my breakdown of CN, I'll split the two. Neutral: neither good, nor evil; he might prize honor or loyalty or anything that doesn't fit the traditional morality spectrum, but he doesn't have to either. Chaotic: prizes freedom and has little care for laws and regulations; he doesn't break them as a compulsion, but because they hinder him.

This might be a minority opinion, but I do think that gives CN characters a lot of moral leeway, but some justification might be in order. As an example of how this might play out, consider a target for interrogation who won't divulge information that the party needs, but has a beloved daughter. A CG might make empty threats on her safety, a CE might torture the girl in front of him without even asking anything, and a CN might bring her before him and brandish the knife, calmly informing the target that he doesn't want to hurt the girl, but that he will if the man refuses to talk. The difference is the desire to commit the evil act; the CN is willing to torture the girl, but he has no desire to, and probably prefers that option not be required.

As for other cases, a CN may or may not be justified in character in committing transgressions. He wouldn't burgle a party member for the hell of it, but because he requires something and that need outweighs the loyalty toward his ally. In a fight in a crowded marketplace, he wouldn't want to hurt any civilians, but he also won't be shaken up if a few people get singed by his fireball that was placed for maximum effectiveness against the foes. If the party was forced to take hostages, he would be able to kill for unmet demands, though he might not like it.

On the flip side, personal codes would interfere with the examples on a case by case basis. A CN who feels that the strong shouldn't oppress the weak (going with freedom) would probably not be okay with stealing from poor shopkeepers to fund an enterprise, but might go out of his way to steal from those he views as oppressors. This all might be a minority opinion, but I feel it is a valid interpretation of what it means to be Chaotic Neutral.

Cazero
2015-12-22, 04:22 AM
... so what's a code of honor for a Chaotic?

Well, they figure the code is more like guidelines to get a general idea of what you're supposed to do and not do. You shall not kill, except when you're totaly in self defense and stuff like that.
But if you try telling a Chaotic people about categorical imperatives or a similar concept, their answer will probably be like "I can name 5 situations where doing [forbidden thing] is the right thing to do".

nedz
2015-12-22, 05:31 AM
I suspect Roland was CN. Completely endangering Charlemange's flank in mad, suicidal dash for glory, he did it all for himself. He finally did blow his horn, but largely so there would be witness to his glorious last stand. He got his glory (and presumably so did his men), but he wasn't doing it for Charlemagne (or he would have simply blown his horn when he was supposed to).

Nope, Roland is an historical example of Lawful Stupid.

He was all about the rules of chivalry and damn the tactics.

Seto
2015-12-22, 06:09 AM
Nope, Roland is an historical example of Lawful Stupid.

He was all about the rules of chivalry and damn the tactics.

In that time, and until pretty late, honor was not associated with the accomplishment of duty, but had its own rules. Rules that exalted the ego rather than obedience. As shown by the egregious dueling between aristocrats despite the King telling them not to. The fact that chivalry had rules at all was already a regulation imposed by mores to avoid the knights running around doing whatever. (As was courtly love : a very strict set of rules, fed to the knights by telling them "honor lies in there", to counter the rampant epidemy of rape among the nobles). The point is, chivalry was an attempt by Law to gain some control on Chaos, but it only half-worked because the appeal was made to the nobles' chaotic motivations ("I'm awesome and I can do what I want without constraints because I was born better than you"). I'd call it chaotic self-regulation.
Roland considered showing off his own bravery and independence more important than winning the battle for his country. I'd peg that as Chaotic Neutral also. There's room for argument, because honor is a notion that can be associated either with Chaotic or Lawful (see Durkon and the dwarven society in OotS). But at Roland's time, I'd argue honor didn't mean self-restraint, but self-exaltation.

goto124
2015-12-22, 06:41 AM
Ah, that makes a lot more sense now. That's why I kept asking what 'honor' meant.

I tend to think of 'honor' as self-restraint, typically in the form of the fantasy knight-in-shining-armor chivalry that has little relevance to RL.

Malifice
2015-12-22, 09:10 AM
My experience playing a Smart CN was basically this:
Pall (as he was named) is interrogating a guard that they knocked out rather than killed. Makes some diplomacy checks while telling the guy he'd be free to go if he just cooperated. The rest of the party scatters and lets Pall and the Rogue handle the interrogation. So Pall gets all the info out of the guy, then orders the Rogue to slit his throat. The man is able to gurgle out a last "I trusted...you..." to which Pall replied, "You shouldn't have drawn your sword at me."

Dude whoah!

Thats CE in my book. Very CE.


When the rest of the party shows up, Pall says that he got the information but the guy tried to attack him after. Everyone bought it, so we moved on. The PLAYERS were stunned at the brutality, but nobody except the Rogue had seen it. Pall was, in all other regards, helpful and nice. But if you gave him a reason, he'd skin you alive.

Yep. CE.


So yeah, CN feels like a careful line. Very much puts its own needs and the needs of those it likes over things like Good or Evil or Law. Pall was willing to do downright Evil things to protect people he cared for, but didn't do them for other reasons. He would do Good so long as it helped him or those under his protection. But if it didn't, he wasn't interested. He had basically no regard for the law. Just didn't care.
He wasn't an outright criminal, he just didn't care about particulars.

Sorry bro, youre playing CE.

Of course evil people do evil things for reasons they care about.

Your character is an evil sociopath that even Tony Soprano or Walter White would have found beyond the pale.

This is the exact reason that many DM's cringe at CN (really just doing evil stuff). Morally Neutral people dont engage in bloody murder of helpeless people. Youre morally an evil person.

That guard probably had a wife and children and you murdered him out of hand. I would have absolutely no hesitation in rubbing out the 'N' on your character sheet and replacing it with an 'E' right after the first murder.

nedz
2015-12-22, 09:17 AM
In that time, and until pretty late, honor was not associated with the accomplishment of duty, but had its own rules. Rules that exalted the ego rather than obedience. As shown by the egregious dueling between aristocrats despite the King telling them not to. The fact that chivalry had rules at all was already a regulation imposed by mores to avoid the knights running around doing whatever. (As was courtly love : a very strict set of rules, fed to the knights by telling them "honor lies in there", to counter the rampant epidemy of rape among the nobles). The point is, chivalry was an attempt by Law to gain some control on Chaos, but it only half-worked because the appeal was made to the nobles' chaotic motivations ("I'm awesome and I can do what I want without constraints because I was born better than you"). I'd call it chaotic self-regulation.
Roland considered showing off his own bravery and independence more important than winning the battle for his country. I'd peg that as Chaotic Neutral also. There's room for argument, because honor is a notion that can be associated either with Chaotic or Lawful (see Durkon and the dwarven society in OotS). But at Roland's time, I'd argue honor didn't mean self-restraint, but self-exaltation.

Interesting points, but, as you say in your first sentence, honour ... had its own rules.

When I used the phrase rules of chivalry I meant the same. They were a species of machismo, in that there were certain things a knight would not do; like run away, refuse a challenge, etc. They were expectations of behaviour rather than any kind of formal code.

I'm not sure that these fit, strictly, into the Law/Chaos abstraction, or at least this is open to interpretation.

Seto
2015-12-22, 01:40 PM
Interesting points, but, as you say in your first sentence, honour ... had its own rules.

When I used the phrase rules of chivalry I meant the same. They were a species of machismo, in that there were certain things a knight would not do; like run away, refuse a challenge, etc. They were expectations of behaviour rather than any kind of formal code.

I'm not sure that these fit, strictly, into the Law/Chaos abstraction, or at least this is open to interpretation.

Oh, absolutely.

Eugoraton Feiht
2015-12-23, 11:36 AM
Dude whoah!

Thats CE in my book. Very CE.



Yep. CE.



Sorry bro, youre playing CE.

Of course evil people do evil things for reasons they care about.

Your character is an evil sociopath that even Tony Soprano or Walter White would have found beyond the pale.

This is the exact reason that many DM's cringe at CN (really just doing evil stuff). Morally Neutral people dont engage in bloody murder of helpeless people. Youre morally an evil person.

That guard probably had a wife and children and you murdered him out of hand. I would have absolutely no hesitation in rubbing out the 'N' on your character sheet and replacing it with an 'E' right after the first murder.

I find this odd to say considering the number of times we usually end up on opposite ends of the spectrum for arguments, but I completely agree with you Malifice.



So for example I have a CN rogue. Recently we came across a baby dragon held captive by a clan of kobolds. We were initially led to believe it was unintelligent and not a colored dragon(We thought it was a pseudodragon or something). My character hated the idea of this baby dragon being enslaved and forced to live in a cage and took up the argument with the Clan Chieftess. I bluffed with a trap canister tied to a spear and we almost came to blows but no violence ever happened. As a CN character your first choice should never be violence or immediate peaceful negotiation between both sides. You aren't out to murder or save the world.

Heck, kobolds had us going against a goblin tribe where the goblins automatically attacked us. Some of the party wanted to fully wipe them out. I saw no issue in just letting them leave. They weren't fighting us so why bother murdering women and children?

CN is often confused as being a murderhobo for no reason. As a CN character you should resort to violence only if:

A. Your life is being threatened.

Otherwise you're free to do anything. Heck the same kobolds who I almost came to blows to I am now helping them to better their clan status and position due to letting me leave with the baby dragon.

CN should never be a question of Good vs Evil. It's a question of Why or Why not. You have only your own ideals to follow. Law means nothing to you but you don't go out of your way to break them. Find a code or set of ideals that your character likes and then follow them. Live you life freely and without oppression. Literally try anything, what's stopping you after all? An alignment?

Try to talk down the drow. Start a bar fight with an annoying monk. Seduce the dragon instead of slaying it. You're life is entirely your own to choose. Just make sure you aren't drowning out the other players.

Malifice
2015-12-23, 09:28 PM
I find this odd to say considering the number of times we usually end up on opposite ends of the spectrum for arguments, but I completely agree with you Malifice.



So for example I have a CN rogue. Recently we came across a baby dragon held captive by a clan of kobolds. We were initially led to believe it was unintelligent and not a colored dragon(We thought it was a pseudodragon or something). My character hated the idea of this baby dragon being enslaved and forced to live in a cage and took up the argument with the Clan Chieftess. I bluffed with a trap canister tied to a spear and we almost came to blows but no violence ever happened. As a CN character your first choice should never be violence or immediate peaceful negotiation between both sides. You aren't out to murder or save the world.

Heck, kobolds had us going against a goblin tribe where the goblins automatically attacked us. Some of the party wanted to fully wipe them out. I saw no issue in just letting them leave. They weren't fighting us so why bother murdering women and children?

CN is often confused as being a murderhobo for no reason. As a CN character you should resort to violence only if:

A. Your life is being threatened.

Otherwise you're free to do anything. Heck the same kobolds who I almost came to blows to I am now helping them to better their clan status and position due to letting me leave with the baby dragon.

CN should never be a question of Good vs Evil. It's a question of Why or Why not. You have only your own ideals to follow. Law means nothing to you but you don't go out of your way to break them. Find a code or set of ideals that your character likes and then follow them. Live you life freely and without oppression. Literally try anything, what's stopping you after all? An alignment?

Try to talk down the drow. Start a bar fight with an annoying monk. Seduce the dragon instead of slaying it. You're life is entirely your own to choose. Just make sure you aren't drowning out the other players.

Agree 100 percent.

If you're (morally) neutral, youre not cutting defenceless prisoners throats, engaging in brutal torture and murder and so forth. If youre going around murdering people at your mercy, youre evil.

Im worried about this in refernce to AL and the prohibition on E characters (barring LE). My fear is that one day I'll get a 'CN' PC who will want to engage in cold blooded (or hot blooded) murder, and my options are to either say 'no, you cant do that' which I dont like doing, or forcing an alignment change. My options for the latter are limited as I could only change it to LE, and the PC might not be acting in a LE manner (it might be more CE or NE).

Red Fel
2015-12-23, 09:54 PM
Im worried about this in refernce to AL and the prohibition on E characters (barring LE). My fear is that one day I'll get a 'CN' PC who will want to engage in cold blooded (or hot blooded) murder, and my options are to either say 'no, you cant do that' which I dont like doing, or forcing an alignment change. My options for the latter are limited as I could only change it to LE, and the PC might not be acting in a LE manner (it might be more CE or NE).

In that kind of situation, I would give one warning. Just one. After the scene, after the session, take the player aside, and say, "That conduct was Evil. Straight-up Evil. No, I don't want to hear debate, that's what it was. If it happens again, you will get an alignment shift, and if that happens, I will NPC your character. This is your one warning."

If you're playing a game with prohibited alignments, you owe players a warning if they threaten a shift into the prohibited spectrum. If it was thoughtless or accidental, now they know what to avoid, and they'll be careful in the future. But if they do it again, they do so at their PC's peril. A PC that does not qualify as a PC becomes an NPC; it's effectively character death, roll a new character, we're putting this one on a bus.

That's how prohibitions work. That's how any rule works. Players don't get to test or skirt the rules. There may be some flexibility, maybe even a warning, but a broken rule merits consequences. In this case, somebody playing CN so that they can be CE without playing a prohibited alignment gets exactly what he deserves - his character is CE, and is therefore prohibited. Try playing one that isn't prohibited next time.

Malifice
2015-12-23, 10:07 PM
In that kind of situation, I would give one warning. Just one. After the scene, after the session, take the player aside, and say, "That conduct was Evil. Straight-up Evil. No, I don't want to hear debate, that's what it was. If it happens again, you will get an alignment shift, and if that happens, I will NPC your character. This is your one warning."

If you're playing a game with prohibited alignments, you owe players a warning if they threaten a shift into the prohibited spectrum. If it was thoughtless or accidental, now they know what to avoid, and they'll be careful in the future. But if they do it again, they do so at their PC's peril. A PC that does not qualify as a PC becomes an NPC; it's effectively character death, roll a new character, we're putting this one on a bus.

That's how prohibitions work. That's how any rule works. Players don't get to test or skirt the rules. There may be some flexibility, maybe even a warning, but a broken rule merits consequences. In this case, somebody playing CN so that they can be CE without playing a prohibited alignment gets exactly what he deserves - his character is CE, and is therefore prohibited. Try playing one that isn't prohibited next time.

A warning goes without saying. I'd certainly explain that I viewed the act as evil, and will be changing the PC's alignment to evil if he goes through with it. If that results in a prohibited alignment (CE or NE in AL games) and he still wants to go ahead with it, then ill give him the option of becoming LE or leaving the table after the act.

In my home games I generally dont care. I allow evil PC's with few restrictions (generally when I know the player is mature enough to handle it without resorting to 'lol I'll sneak into the shopkeeps home that annoyed me and murder his family lol', and that it wont create too much conflict at the table - i.e. no CE necromancers and LG paladins in the same party).

Eugoraton Feiht
2015-12-29, 11:15 AM
Right let's break down Chaotic Neutral as I see people labeling it wrong in other posts. First we break it down into two sections: Chaotic and Neutral

What does chaotic mean?

Now many people will say Chaotic is the abhorrence of all rules, family ties, traditions, etc. This is not true. Chaos is, quite simply, Chaos.

As per the definition: complete disorder and confusion

Now we are getting somewhere. Disorder and confusion. What does this mean? How can we apply this to a character?

Using disorder as a noun does not work when applied to a character.
Noun: a state of confusion

However when used as a verb we are given the first idea of a character.
Verb: disrupt the systematic functioning or neat arrangement of ____

Here we have the first basis of our character and the reason I usually play a rogue/spell-caster. Our goal as a Chaotic being is to disrupt. It does not say who or what. That is freely given to us to choose. Note however that this does not mean that you are an unlawful cur who spurns everything others hold dear. For Chaos is meant to be shared and spread and the easiest way to do so is to insert yourself into society and play nice. You are capable of following laws and traditions however you actively move to change people's views about it. My entire party saw kobolds as a means to an end/some xp. We are now allied with the Kobolds and have assisted them in procuring a contract with a nearby human settlement which will help both sides get stronger.

Thus is the normal order disrupted. Kobolds are no longer chased away or murdered by humans and the kobolds are actually attempting to trust the humans now.



Since an example of disorder has been given we now move to confusion.
Noun: a lack of understanding;

This will be very true as you will find that you not understand others around you. You will look and see them following along, cogs in a larger machine blissfully unaware, and you will wonder why. Why do they just follow along? Why are things this way? Why must I follow these things? _____ will confuse you. It is open to interpretation. Find something that doesn't make sense to you and work to change it, leading back into disrupting the order.

Now, I have to take a break. Let me know what you think so far and if you want to discuss Chaos with me feel free to quote or pm me.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-29, 05:44 PM
CN is often confused as being a murderhobo for no reason.

I would argue that it's not for NO reason. It's because it's the alignment of choice for all of the murderhobos.

I agree with the bulk of this thread that there is nothing inherently wrong with the CN alignment. However - there is often something wrong (or at least annoying) with the type of player that CN draws. They want an excuse to play a murderhobo.

So - because people know that about CN - many player/characters who might otherwise pick CN avoid it so as to not be associated with the murderhobo players. This leads to CN being an even greater % of murderhobos.

If someone wanted to go CN in my game I'd allow it, but if I didn't know the player well that would be my first clue to watch them for disruptive craziness and/or evilness.

Segev
2015-12-29, 09:04 PM
To me, the biggest distinguishing mark between a CN and a TN character is that the TN character does what he wants, but is willing to go with the flow. He won't follow rules when they're truly inconvenient, but he might not think to break them if they're only mildly so; he's comfortable not making waves.

The CN character follows no rules save his own, and tends to do that which is most expedient at the time. He will ignore social mores if they're in the way. He will break unspoken rules without even noticing they're there (or at least without even pausing to think about it), and will break spoken rules with only a shrug and a statement that he doesn't care about them.

What differentiates him from NE is that he has moral strictures he'll hold to, in general: he's not willing to murder, rape, and hurt other people just because it's expedient. But he's not Good, either; he's fine with inconveniencing them for his own convenience, especially if he judges their inconvenience to be less than the increase to his convenience.

If people are calmly waiting in lines for their turn to get something, the CN person is quite willing to cut in line if he thinks it'll work. The TN person might even follow his example, if it DOES work, but probably wouldn't initiate such rule-breaking; he's more likely to do subtle things to "cheat" the system while acknowledging it - moving ahead of somebody while they're distracted, or changing lines if he thinks it'll put him further ahead - while the CN person is likely to walk right down the open space between the lines and grab what he wants, himself, rather than waiting to be waited upon. He ignores the system when it's in his way.

The TN person adheres to systems when they're mildly inconvenient because he appreciates the system's benefits to himself when it works. The LN person adheres to systems because he BELIEVES in them, no matter how inconvenient they might be, and feels that violating them for convenience is as bad as (or worse than) moral sins. The CN person only adheres to a system while it is actively benefitting him; otherwise, he ignores or circumvents it.


CN people also tend to be more commonly impulsive. This is a dangerous characterization; it can fall into "lol random" if you do it too over-the-top. But one way to be chaotic is to simply value short-term over long-term. (This is not a universal trait, but it's one way it can manifest.) It's often the easiest way to portray it if you really want to portray CN but don't know what else to do.

But yeah, first make your character's personality. Play them to that. Their alignment can follow.

nedz
2015-12-29, 09:17 PM
I'm worried about this in reference to AL and the prohibition on E characters (barring LE). My fear is that one day I'll get a 'CN' PC who will want to engage in cold blooded (or hot blooded) murder, and my options are to either say 'no, you cant do that' which I don't like doing, or forcing an alignment change. My options for the latter are limited as I could only change it to LE, and the PC might not be acting in a LE manner (it might be more CE or NE).

There is the view that Neutral is about Balance. Now Balance can mean moderation in terms of Good and Evil, but it can also mean something more volatile. Volatility is a reasonable interpretation of Chaos. Now whilst I would expect LN characters to display moderation, the same may not be true for CN.

In this light: so long as your CN character balances their Evil acts with those which are Good then they are being neutral and you should have no complaint.

If we for a moment invert your scenario such that you have a CN character who does good things, be that saving orphanages or destroying fiends, and they do so without any ulterior motive, that is they are being altruistic, would you be so quick to force an alignment change to CG ?

Of course: adjudicating alignment in the face of such volatility is very hard and such a character could reasonable be expected to swing wildly between CG and CE. For a start you would have to be able to quantify acts of altruism one the one hand, and cruelty on the other, which I don't think is possible.

Now Volatile Neutral is not the only interpretation of CN, but it is a reasonable one.

Malifice
2015-12-29, 10:18 PM
If we for a moment invert your scenario such that you have a CN character who does good things, be that saving orphanages or destroying fiends, and they do so without any ulterior motive, that is they are being altruistic, would you be so quick to force an alignment change to CG ?

Yes.


Of course: adjudicating alignment in the face of such volatility is very hard and such a character could reasonable be expected to swing wildly between CG and CE. For a start you would have to be able to quantify acts of altruism one the one hand, and cruelty on the other, which I don't think is possible.

If he engages in E things (murder, rape and brutal torture) then he is CE. No amount of 'good balancing acts' take that alignment away (however he could spend years repenting and being genuine - redemption is a thing).


Now Volatile Neutral is not the only interpretation of CN, but it is a reasonable one.

I disagree. If you're the kind of person that sets fire to an orphanage and burns the children to death, I dont care how much money you have given away to charity in the past. It doesnt matter how charitable or kind you have been in the past if youre also a rapist or a murderer. Regardless of any positive qualitites you might have, you're CE, and a complete monster.

If you demonstrate genuine remorse you might be able to remove the stain on your soul after a lifetimes amount of good will and charity.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-29, 10:24 PM
I disagree. If you're the kind of person that sets fire to an orphanage and burns the children to death, I dont care how much money you have given away to charity in the past. It doesnt matter how charitable or kind you have been in the past if youre also a rapist or a murderer. Regardless of any positive qualitites you might have, you're CE, and a complete monster.

If you demonstrate genuine remorse you might be able to remove the stain on your soul after a lifetimes amount of good will and charity.

This.

I'm amazed at how many people think that helping a little old lady across the street and then punching her in the face balances out as a neutral act.

I mean - Hannibal Lector helped to catch Wild Bill. That in no way shifted him towards neutral.

Segev
2015-12-29, 11:11 PM
The more genuinely morally "neutral" example would be the street rat who helps the merchant's little old grandmother across the street, but picks her pocket rather than waiting to see if she'll tip him. He's probably not really hurt her with the loss of one belt pouch of coin, since her merchant son is likely middle-class and she probably carries only a little bit of her worldly wealth around with her, but it's still a risk he was willing to take as his "due" for helping her out (and she probably did genuinely appreciate his help, being a little old lady and thus having easily-tired old legs).

CharonsHelper
2015-12-29, 11:19 PM
The more genuinely morally "neutral" example would be the street rat who helps the merchant's little old grandmother across the street, but picks her pocket rather than waiting to see if she'll tip him.

Nope - still evil. Not nearly as evil - but still evil. (It sounds like helping her across the street was just a distraction anyway.)

Malifice
2015-12-29, 11:24 PM
Nope - still evil. Not nearly as evil - but still evil. (It sounds like helping her across the street was just a distraction anyway.)

Not for mine mate.


Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

Evil implies harming, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient or if it can be set up. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some malevolent deity or master.

People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but lack the commitment to make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships.

He is not harming, opressing or killing her (in anything other than the broadest sense of those words). If he robbed her at knife point he gets into grey territory. If he stabbed her and took her money, hes E.

nedz
2015-12-29, 11:38 PM
Of course: adjudicating alignment in the face of such volatility is very hard and such a character could reasonable be expected to swing wildly between CG and CE. For a start you would have to be able to quantify acts of altruism one the one hand, and cruelty on the other, which I don't think is possible.
If he engages in E things (murder, rape and brutal torture) then he is CE. No amount of 'good balancing acts' take that alignment away (however he could spend years repenting and being genuine - redemption is a thing).
You are viewing this through the prism of Good, not Neutral. The character is not aiming for redemption, that is a path which would lead to CG, which is a very different goal.


Now Volatile Neutral is not the only interpretation of CN, but it is a reasonable one.
I disagree. If you're the kind of person that sets fire to an orphanage and burns the children to death, I don't care how much money you have given away to charity in the past. It doesn't matter how charitable or kind you have been in the past if you're also a rapist or a murderer. Regardless of any positive qualities you might have, you're CE, and a complete monster.

If you demonstrate genuine remorse you might be able to remove the stain on your soul after a lifetimes amount of good will and charity.
You have a very unbalanced view in which Evil acts outweigh Good acts several times over. This is not how D&D alignments work. If you murder Evil aligned beings then this is a Good act, regardless of how you would view this IRL. So: if I murder some Fiends because they are Evil, and then I murder some Exalted beings because they are Good, then I am Neutral; because I have committed Good and Evil acts of the same magnitude. Also, I have moved the world towards balance by removing forces which represent both extremes.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-29, 11:41 PM
He is not harming, opressing or killing her (in anything other than the broadest sense of those words). If he robbed her at knife point he gets into grey territory. If he stabbed her and took her money, hes E.

If he's not harming her by stealing - then I have a bridge to sell you. Harm in the definition you quoted isn't limited to the physical.

Edit: I'm not saying that that single act makes the pickpocket evil - but the act as a whole was still evil.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-29, 11:46 PM
You have a very unbalanced view in which Evil acts outweigh Good acts several times over. This is not how D&D alignments work. If you murder Evil aligned beings then this is a Good act, regardless of how you would view this IRL. So: if I murder some Fiends because they are Evil, and then I murder some Exalted beings because they are Good, then I am Neutral; because I have committed Good and Evil acts of the same magnitude. Also, I have moved the world towards balance by removing forces which represent both extremes.

Yeah - I don't think that alignments work that way at all. Show me where the rules say that they do. The alignments rules are left pretty vague on the subject. (probably to avoid angsty nerds like they're getting here :P) But every system of morality and/or justice system that I've ever heard of would disagree entirely.

Edit: It might arguably be true of some force of nature like an Inevitable - but not of characters who have true free will on their actions.

nedz
2015-12-30, 12:08 AM
Yeah - I don't think that alignments work that way at all. Show me where the rules say that they do. The alignments rules are left pretty vague on the subject. (probably to avoid angsty nerds like they're getting here :P) But every system of morality and/or justice system that I've ever heard of would disagree entirely.

Edit: It might arguably be true of some force of nature like an Inevitable - but not of characters who have true free will on their actions.

Well the alternative is that every D&D party, like ever, is Evil; even ones full of Paladins.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-30, 12:13 AM
Well the alternative is that every D&D party, like ever, is Evil; even ones full of Paladins.

Why? Your groups make a habit of murdering people? Mine don't. (Killing /= Murder; killing can be self-defense/execution/act of war/etc. - none of which are evil)

Edit: Also killing non-sentient creatures can't really qualify as murder - pretty much everything with Int less than 3.

Malifice
2015-12-30, 12:28 AM
You have a very unbalanced view in which Evil acts outweigh Good acts several times over. This is not how D&D alignments work.

Yes it is. Baby killers and sadistic rapists dont get into heaven. I dont care how kind they are to everyone else. Theyre evil.

You dont kill children unless youre evil. The other stuff you do doesnt matter.

It might differ in your campaign of course. Ask your DM.


If you murder Evil aligned beings then this is a Good act,

No, its not. Good is defined in DnD as 'mercy, compassion, altruism' and not as 'murdering evil people'. Evil is defined in DnD as 'harming, opressing and killing others'.

Evil people murder. Good people do not. Evil people rape. Good people do not. Evil people torture. Good people do not.

Its not a case of 'the only thing that seperates good and evil is the morality of thier victims'. Thats patently absurd.

Evil people engage in evil acts. If youre going around murdering, raping, and torturing 'evil people' you're also evil.


If he's not harming her by stealing - then I have a bridge to sell you. Harm in the definition you quoted isn't limited to the physical.

Edit: I'm not saying that that single act makes the pickpocket evil - but the act as a whole was still evil.

You have too broad a defintion of 'harm'. Harm in the context of the sentence: 'Evil implies killing, harming and opressing' seems to me to indicate a spiritual or physcial harm.

Shoplifting, theft, bribery, cattle theft etc is not what I would place on the same level of morally evil acts or 'harm' as murder, rape and torture.

Harm can be defined very broadly. For mine (in the DnD context) it certainly implies more than simple pickpocketing, piracy or theft. Captain Jack Sparrow is a fine example of CN - and he's a pirate.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-30, 08:43 AM
Shoplifting, theft, bribery, cattle theft etc is not what I would place on the same level of morally evil acts or 'harm' as murder, rape and torture.

I never said that it was. Actually - I said the opposite by saying that it was less evil than the violent variant of the scenario. However - just because it's LESS evil, that doesn't make it NOT evil.

If you give a starving child a meal it's certainly a good act. But it's also not AS good as adopting them and taking them into your home to raise as your own. Just because adopting them is MORE good, that doesn't make simply feeding them a neutral act.

The same thing applies to evil.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-30, 08:47 AM
Harm can be defined very broadly. For mine (in the DnD context) it certainly implies more than simple pickpocketing, piracy or theft. Captain Jack Sparrow is a fine example of CN - and he's a pirate.

I'll grant you that in the first movie Sparrow is probably CN (I never saw the other ones) - but that's because, while they all talk about him being a pirate, he never does any actual pirating. Outside of movies/novels, pirates spent most of their time stealing, killing, and raping rather than searching for buried treasure (most modern pirate stories seem to be descended from Treasure Island). If Sparrow did much of that - he'd be CE.

Segev
2015-12-30, 09:21 AM
In D&D morality, "theft" is more a Law/Chaos axis thing than it is a Good/Evil axis thing. For theft to echo on the moral axis, it has to cause real and true harm and misery to the victim; otherwise, it's just unLawful (i.e. Chaotic). That said, the small amount of harm caused by taking her coin purse, and the willingness to risk that it's more harm than the thief expects it to be, is why it's a Neutral act. It's not out-and-out Evil; he wouldn't have done it knowing he would inflict deep emotional pain (or worse, cause her to suffer or even die). But it's definitely non-Good, because he is exhibiting a disregard for the possibility that this act could be harmful if he's wrong in his estimation. It's Chaotic, because it's a flagrant violation of any semblence of rules that surround ethical behavior. Pretty much every culture agrees that sneak-thieving is against the rules; you should always at least tell somebody you're taking something, because even if you've every right to do it, the information about shift in custodianship is...well, let's call it "polite."

Malifice
2015-12-30, 09:44 AM
I'll grant you that in the first movie Sparrow is probably CN (I never saw the other ones) - but that's because, while they all talk about him being a pirate, he never does any actual pirating. Outside of movies/novels, pirates spent most of their time stealing, killing, and raping rather than searching for buried treasure (most modern pirate stories seem to be descended from Treasure Island). If Sparrow did much of that - he'd be CE.

For sure. But sparrow never raped or killed. He never kept his word, stole and did what he wanted without bekng evil

Great example of CN in fact.

togapika
2015-12-30, 11:01 AM
Would the movie version of Jack Reacher be Chaotic Neutral?

He values personal freedom above all, goes out of his way to remain hidden and out of the system, and chafed at some of the rules and restrictions of the military. Even when acting as Helen's investigator he goes about it in his own way; refusing to follow the standard strictures of how things are done, but refuses to change what he finds just because of his vendetta against Barr.

CharonsHelper
2015-12-30, 12:41 PM
For sure. But sparrow never raped or killed. He never kept his word, stole and did what he wanted without bekng evil

Great example of CN in fact.

I agree that the character as a whole is CN. When he stole (did he really steal much in the first movie beyond when he had to to run away from the redcoats?) those were lesser evil actions, and when he saved the lives of the two protagonists, those were quite good actions. (He was probably the lead of the 3 main characters - but definitely not the protagonist.)

I do agree that keeping your word is generally just a Law/Chaos thing. (also potentially evil or more rarely good depending upon the results)

CharonsHelper
2015-12-30, 12:47 PM
For theft to echo on the moral axis, it has to cause real and true harm and misery to the victim; otherwise, it's just unLawful (i.e. Chaotic).

I disagree entirely. What is 'true harm' versus? 'Untrue harm'? 'Mild harm'? How is the difference defined? What if the pickpocket stole their purse, not knowing that it was all the money that the little old lady had for rent that month and she'll become homeless as a result. Does the same act then become evil?

The degree of harmful intent has only to do with the degree of evil it was - it has nothing to do with whether or not the act WAS evil. The act was done knowing that it would cause direct harm to the victim - therefore it's evil.

Again - as I've said before - a few lesser evil acts will not make a character evil. But that doesn't keep the acts from being evil.

Edit: Exceptions for theft being evil might be made in the case of Robin Hood etc. - where what he stole wasn't truly the rightful property of those whom he stole it from, and most of it was returned to the rightful owners. I'm not sure if that's really theft at all though.

neonchameleon
2015-12-30, 01:15 PM
This.

I'm amazed at how many people think that helping a little old lady across the street and then punching her in the face balances out as a neutral act.

Ack! Yes. What we have here is a mix of real world good vs evil morality and "Football jersey morality" where it's Good vs Evil and detect-and-smite and killing orc babies are good acts (and preservation of balance is a good thing). Rather than evil which adds like electromagnetism and the seemingly far less powerful good that acts like gravity.

Segev
2015-12-30, 05:50 PM
I disagree entirely. What is 'true harm' versus? 'Untrue harm'? 'Mild harm'? How is the difference defined? What if the pickpocket stole their purse, not knowing that it was all the money that the little old lady had for rent that month and she'll become homeless as a result. Does the same act then become evil?

The degree of harmful intent has only to do with the degree of evil it was - it has nothing to do with whether or not the act WAS evil. The act was done knowing that it would cause direct harm to the victim - therefore it's evil.

Again - as I've said before - a few lesser evil acts will not make a character evil. But that doesn't keep the acts from being evil.

Edit: Exceptions for theft being evil might be made in the case of Robin Hood etc. - where what he stole wasn't truly the rightful property of those whom he stole it from, and most of it was returned to the rightful owners. I'm not sure if that's really theft at all though.

I'm rather an objectivist IRL, so I tend to fall more in line with the arguments you're making here, morally, but for D&D and its alignment axes, you're barking up the wrong tree.

"No real harm" would be the opposite of "real harm." If a street rat steals an apple from a huge pile of them without disturbing any, and the vendor never notices, and the vendor goes home with enough money to take care of his family to the point where he would never have noticed the difference of one apple's sale, that falls under the general argumentative category of "no real harm."

In fact, yes, you've harmed him: he's one apple poorer than he would have been. But the neutral person is more than able to rationalize it as non-evil because it's an amount of harm that would never even be noticed, akin to accidentally bumping into somebody while walking on the street and making them 3 seconds later to their destination than they otherwise would have been.

The willingness to rationalize it, to make the assumption that your action results in no real harm without asking or otherwise doing more than whatever investigation you chose to make, is why you're a neutral person if you do it. If you were concerned about even unintentional harm enough not to take the risk even when you think you know better, you'd be Good.

CG people don't tend to steal. When they do, it's directed rather specifically, with perhaps excessive care taken in ensuring that it truly is "harmless" theft (and, more often than not, the true icons of CG tend to steal only in a legal sense, finding the declaration of ownership by those from whom they steal to be immoral. e.g. Robin Hood's theft from the corrupt government officials to return to the impoverished citizens from whom they legally confiscated far, far too much). CG people are not immune to making mistakes of judgment nor to hasty decisions they later regret, but they also tend to be more concerned with whether it will hurt their victim or not.

CN people will not be all that concerned...but will balk if presented with evidence that they're causing harm. They would feel guilty if hey KNEW the old woman's rent money was in the pouch they stole, and would have chosen not to steal it or even try to return it if they'd found out "in time." (Where "in time" varies based on the narrative and sequence of events.)

What separates the Neutral from the Good is that Neutral people are willing to allow others to come to harm from their actions, where Good people will strive to avoid that at all costs (at least, insofar as their victims are innocent of any wrongdoing being recompensed). What separates the Neutral from the Evil is that Neutral people are only willing to do so as a matter of "acceptable risk," when they assume the victims will recover from it without too much hassle, while Evil people are willing to do it as a matter of course (because they just don't care about or even enjoy their victim's suffering).


Alternatively, you can argue that theft is "always evil," but you have to be very careful about your definition of "theft," then, or Robin Hood is "evil" for "stealing" from Prince John. And your Paladin is "evil" for taking the loaf of bread from the rich nobleman's son and returning it to the starving orphan from whom it was just confiscated (totally legally on the part of the nobleman's son, by the laws of the place).

Assuming you manage a reasonable definition of "theft," however, you can have a neutral thief be one who "does it for the right reasons" and balances out "minor theft" with enough "minor good" to keep himself in the gray.