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    Default We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    Spoiler: A Disclaimer
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    I claim nothing, because nobody can claim anything, because nobody owns any of this, because all of this is just information, and information isn't property.








    We're Rebels Without A Clue
    A Chaotic Neutral Handbook




    I. Introduction

    At the time of writing, there are three published roleplaying guides, and a fourth on the way. Each of these guides focuses on a crossroads where extremes meet and merge; as such, each covers a wide variety of ways a particular extreme view can be emulated. They define and simplify the stereotypes into archetypes, provide a general road map for interacting with other alignments, and generally show how to play your alignment in a realistic manner without getting thrown out of a gaming group. However, because they focus on where extremes meet, they don't really go into much detail on the individual extremes themselves, and what those extremes are like in a vacuum.

    This guide is about the most thoroughly despised alignment in D&D: Chaotic Neutral. This guide attempts to break through the ideas people have built up around this alignment and show them how good...and how bad...it can really be, when played well.

    II. What is Chaotic Neutral, really?


    Wizards of the Coast has defined the Chaotic Neutral alignment and the Law-Chaos axis thusly:

    Spoiler: Official Alignment stuff
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Law-Chaos Axis
    Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties.

    Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.

    "Law" implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include close-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, judgmentalness, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness say that only lawful behavior creates a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.

    "Chaos" implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.

    Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos has a normal respect for authority and feels neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into lying or deceiving others.

    Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but more often it is a personality trait that is recognized rather than being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful-chaotic axis is usually simply a middle state, a state of not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior to law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots and drawbacks.

    Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chaotic Neutral, "Free Spirit"
    A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.

    While a decent start to any discussion on alignment, a few simple paragraphs are not enough to properly define a full ninth of the outlooks in life, and many issues are far more complicated than WotC is making them out to be. Chaotic Neutral can be a desire to do good tempered by an unwillingness to get involved, just as easily as it can be a desire to do evil tempered by an unwillingness to get imprisoned. It is a combination of actions and motivations, not one or the other on its own, that makes up your alignment.

    The biggest mistake people make about playing Chaotic individuals is that they believe such a person can't operate off a code of conduct, honor system, or the like; this leads to most CN characters being played as insane murderhobos as likely to leap from a bridge as to cross it, a character with no set of rules guiding their path, including logic and reason. While such a character is generally Chaotic Neutral (although they may be Chaotic Evil if they're particularly violent), not all CN individuals operate on absolutely no kind of rules. the difference between a Lawful character's code of conduct and a Chaotic character's code of conduct is that the Lawful character's code will be some combination of traditions, customs, and laws, while a Chaotic individual's code is often more internally developed; to the Chaotic mind, customs, traditions, laws, and the like are suggestions and guidelines at best...and tyrannical chains at the worst. Such things may be taken into account, but they will never go unquestioned, untested, or unchanged.


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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    III. Archetypes


    Spoiler: Rebel Without A Cause
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Camus
    "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."
    You're not part of a cause, you're not some psycho who took Philosophy 101, you're just a person who decided that rules weren't for you. Rules, traditions, customs...they all exist to keep people under a tyrant's boot, whether that tyrant wears a crown or a badge. Those other suckers are on their own, especially if they refuse to help themselves, but that's not good enough for you. Authority is to be defied, traditions are to be flaunted, and rules are to be broken.

    This archetype can be summed up in one word: anti-authority. You don't think the people in charge deserve to tell other people what to do, and your one concern is making sure that nobody tells you what to do; examples of this archetype are often not much for long-term planning, preferring to deal with the here and now. This archetype is focused on personal freedom to an extreme, inherently selfish degree. These individuals are heavily steeped in the rebellious aspects of Chaos, but is also decidedly Neutral morally speaking; shifting towards Good/Evil makes the character more of a Berserker or Jerk, respectively.

    Examples
    Naruto Uzumaki is very much this near the beginning of the series; while his moral compass becomes much more straight and narrow later on, the early Naruto has rejected the society that long ago rejected him.

    Wolverine of the X-men comics/movies tends to be some combination of this and the Cold-Hearted Merc, depending on the writer; both archetypes are, at their core, focused on personal freedom and desire for selfish reasons that aren't quite full-on Evil, so this tends to happen with a lot of similar "badass rebel" characters in fiction.

    Calvin of the "Calvin & Hobbes" tends to bounce between this and either The Artist (if the comic's more fantastic bits are merely flights of fancy), or The Unfettered (if Calvin's imagination is actually warping reality, as some people theorize). Calvin almost always speaks his mind, heedless of the consequences for doing so. Whether it's the expectations of his parents, his teachers, his babysitter, or the goody-two-shoes Suzy, Calvin is always ready to scream his rebellion to the sky.
    Spoiler: Cold-Hearted Merc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Han Solo, "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
    "Look, I ain't in this for your revolution, and I'm not in it for you, princess. I expect to be well paid. I'm in it for the money."
    Han Solo may have been a freaking liar when he said it, but the fact remains that there's many people out there, both IRL and in-game, that operate on this kind of principle. Mercs only trust a person willing to put their money where their mouth is, and are loyal only to the highest bidder. Mercs aren't in a habit of letting their conscience get the best of them...or rather, some are, but they don't last long as Mercs. These characters may well have principles outside of their work, but on the job they are dependable professionals...as long as you've paid them enough. These characters might be predictable and professional, but what separates them from bodyguards and bounty hunters is a lack of respect for any authority that isn't backed by currency, and a distinct lack of a moral compass. To these people, money is a freedom all its own, and they'll fight for that freedom just as hard as the Rebels of the previous archetype would; indeed, many Mercs are Rebels Without A Cause in their heart, but have put aside their hatred of restrictions long enough to get paid enough that they never have to take orders again.

    Archetypal examples, while generally neutral, tend to have more of a mean streak than a nice streak, but CN leaning towards CG isn't unheard of for a Merc. Going too far in the other direction can lead to the character becoming more of an Aggro-Individualist.

    Examples
    Jayne Cobb from Firefly is a good example of a pure Merc, with no RWAC tainting the character...at least early on. As the series progresses, he shifts closer to CG than his original CN-borderline-CE.

    Deadpool is like this early in his career. He sort of slips into a more mischievious archetype, and also tends towards CE more than CN, but he wouldn't be Deadpool if he didn't have the heart of a Merc beating in his chest.

    Wario of the Mario universe is absolutely a Cold-Hearted Merc. Whether he's finding treasure, stealing treasure, or stealing treasure back, money is the root of his happiness, and everything else is a side-benefit.

    Schlock Mercenary. It's right there in the freaking title. From the titular carbosilicate amorph the the AI hivemind proto-deity, these character's primary motivations often begin and end with "what's yer offer?"

    Krusty the Clown of the Simpsons tends to hover between this and a non-criminal version of The Broken (well, sometimes).
    Spoiler: Hedonist
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel Iglesias
    Why do people measure life in years instead of how good the years were?
    The Hedonist is based around a simple philosophy: life should be enjoyable, all the time. You seek out the things that make life enjoyable, and you experience them. Often times, things that are enjoyable have a cost attached that make them undesirable by authorities (health risks, questionably ethical production methods, outright morally wrong, etc.), but the Hedonist is less likely to let someone else's disapproval keep them from doing what they love to do; they may ignore the consequences their habits have on themselves or society, or they might make counter-arguments, but because the costs are outweighed by the enjoyment the experience grants them, they're unlikely to stop. It's only when the habit begins causing more problems than it solves that the Hedonist will stop indulging in it...although shifting priorities may mean they've hit rock bottom to do so. Other people's pleasure is their concern, not yours, and you prefer that others extend you the same courtesy. You're not really anti-authority, it's just that following the rules and toeing the line rarely allows for a more enjoyable experience than going beyond them.

    This archetype tends to be pretty solidly Neutral, with the barest hints of Good leanings in the standard version: a preference to not dictate to others what they should do on moral grounds. It's not a strong Good lean, and it can easily be overcome if your own indulgences are less than morally-justified. Ultimately, a Hedonist is the person who indulges in activities that, while not necessarily helpful to others, also aren't really hurting anybody directly (with the Hedonist rarely concerning themselves with the overall societal or economic impact of their habits, whether positive or negative). Drifting into more helpful or altruistic habits (providing pleasure for others, whether at your own expense or not) makes you more of the Sunflower, and can be anything from providing the deserving with a sensual experience to simply spreading smiles wherever you go. Drifting into habits that are, at their core, pleasurable for the harm they cause others makes you more of the Jerk or the Experimentalist (getting off from watching/inflicting torture, manipulating others for the thrill of getting away with ruining their lives, etc.).

    This archetype tends to have a lot of crossover with other the others, since this archetype is primarily concerned with an almost purely Chaotic motivation, and other archetypes sometimes have a tangentially similar motivation.

    Examples
    Grunkle Stan (from Gravity Falls) is a skilled con artist who makes money off tricking small-town folk and tourists into being awestruck by shoddily-made poorly thought-out magic-ish animals/items. Nevertheless, while the thrill of the con (and the resulting money) is a primary motivation for him, he's not really Evil since he's providing the experience the customers paid for (even if it was really a lie), so his greed and trickery is balanced out by the relative harmlessness of the results.

    Peter Pan has a good bit of Hedonist in him; every day is an adventure, whether it's a friendly game of hunting between his Lost Boys and the Injuns, or a fight for his life with a small army of cutthroat pirates. While decidedly a Disney Protagonist, Peter can be a bit of a jerk to people who ruin his fun, whether purposefully or by accident, and he's got enough of a mean streak hidden among his boyish charm to show just how much of childhood is less innocent than it's implied to be. Incidentally, Peter Pan is also a good example of a non-Mary-Sueish Trickster.

    Marla Singer (from Fight Club) attends therapy groups that she's not really a fitting applicant for as a coping mechanism for the problems she's actually got. While her particular way of dealing with her problems isn't all that honest or healthy, it's certainly more so than the narrator's; while the Narrator started out as the Hedonist (in a very similar way to Marla), he ended up drifting to a very different CN archetype...but I'm not supposed to talk about that.
    Spoiler: The Artist
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    Pending...
    Spoiler: The Trickster
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    Quote Originally Posted by Discord, "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic"
    "Make Sense? What fun is there in making sense?"
    This is an old archetype, dating back to the mythology of several different cultures. While not always super-capable beings, these thrill-seekers delight in causing chaos and anarchy purely for its own sake. This particular archetype is in some respects a hybrid of the Hedonist and The Artist, but tends to run a bit darker than those. This character finds joy and happiness in pranks, jokes, and long cons, but there's rarely any real malice involved; what separates these jokers from the likes of The Rascal is that the person most likely to draw the Trickster's ire isn't some tyrannical dictator, but merely a stick-in-the-mud who could use a little lightening up.

    While harmful pranks aren't uncommon, they're generally a reaction to being provoked, although they can often be out of proportion to the provocative action that inspired them. As a result, this character can come across as dancing across the lines separating Neutral from Good or Evil...in part because that's precisely what it's doing. Some CN characters are simply no extreme enough to warrant being Good or Evil, but the Trickster stays Neutral by virtue of their morality being extremely fluid, and taking a backseat to entertainment. It barely needs to be stated that there's a lot of crossover between this and The Rascal.

    One of the upsides to working with this character archetype is that, if you can make something out to be fun or entertaining, they can be convinced to go along with it, often to great extremes. As is often the case when making deals with Tricksters, make sure to read the fine print...and don't go back on your word.

    Examples
    Discord, as quoted, is a powerful force for mischief in the setting he occupies. Of course, because he lives in a Lawful Good "utopia" where unity, cooperation, and friendship can (and have) been weaponized, he serves as a dangerous enemy due to his ability to sow distrust between even the closest of friends. Discord definitely starts out darker than most standard Tricksters, but lightens up as the series progresses due to character development.

    The Warner Siblings in Animaniacs are this to a T. They've unleashed the full might of their cartoon physics mastery on people for crimes ranging from "being the Devil himself" to "stiffing them on a sandwich delivery job" (to be fair, they ate his sandwich, but he was a butthead anyway). These three embodiments of chaos actually agreed to settle down if they were allowed to stay up late for a Hollywood party. The boss man shooed them away once they had smiled enough for the cameras, and spent the rest of the night regretting it.

    The Cat In The Hat (the Dr. Seuss mascot) tends to border on this: he wants to have fun, but often continues having fun past the point of reason, where "just a little bit of trouble" has turned into "the house looks like a tornado hit it". Once he realizes his mistake (after getting called out on it), the Cat is more than willing to clean up the mess, showing his archetyp teeter-totting back and forth between The Trickster and The Rascal.

    Willy Wonka serves as a more realistic version of this archetype...at least, for a certain value of realistic. Whether the book version or the movie version(s), this enigmatic candy-maker is definitely hovering somewhere outside of conventional hiring methods.
    Spoiler: The Unfettered
    Show
    Pending...
    Spoiler: The Anarchist
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by The unwritten Rule Of Acquisition
    When no appropriate rule applies, make one up.
    This is perhaps the most important misconception to address in regards to Chaotic Neutral, and the fact that I've let it slip by for so long is a failure on my part: what constitutes a Chaotic Neutral code, or organization, and how does it make sense? Well the answer is, it rarely does. It's easy to start out CN, but you've got to be careful to stay that way; it's easy to slip into other alignments (typically some flavor of Evil). Unfortunately, discussing this particular archetype in generalities is difficult, which is why the examples below are so large they have to each be spoiler'd to not break up the visual flow too much...but I'll at least try to give a general summary of the problem a CN code/organization faces in remaining true to itself before moving on to examples. CN codes and organizations typically espouse their beliefs through goals or methods: what they're trying to accomplish, and how they're trying to accomplish it.

    Typically, a goal-based code/organization is just "Rebel Without A Cause" with extra steps, and on a larger scale...and of course, trying to create a group of rebels has problems. This kind of organization or code is created not out of internalized beliefs, but out of a rejection of "the system" in some capacity. This organization was created by people who felt "the system" was too restrictive and didn't allow people to do things they should be allowed to do, so they made their own "the system" that was more freeform and open to expression and less restrictive across the board. This kind of code/organization is the epitome of the phrase "the only rule is, there are no rules", and it tends to have a short shelf life...at least as a CN entity. This is, in essence, because while the rules of "the system" can sometimes (often? usually?) be nonsensically restrictive for the sake of being restrictive, they were typically put in place with a core of good intentions; once upon a time, "the system" you're rebelling against was itself a rebellion against some other system, and attempted to solve the problems the old system had without just throwing out the idea of rules entirely. But if you create an environment where anything is acceptable, you're quickly going to find that the most common type of person to join your cause isn't going to be well-meaning people who were being unfairly crushed under the bootheel of unnecessarily-strict rules, it's *******s who want to be *******s and aren't welcome in "the system" because all of its rules were, at their core, about keeping *******s from being *******s to other people. Even if you start out with the best of intentions, just creating competition for "the system" for those who feel too restricted, if you don't put in restrictions of your own, if you don't establish sensible standards (that is to say, if you don't start out as a CG code/organization, but instead double-down on making a CN one), then you will almost inevitably slip into one that is some shade of Evil. To quote Youtuber Dan Olsen on a tangential subject:

    Quote Originally Posted by Folding Ideas: VidMe or Why Platforms Aren't Your Friends
    Youtube is very successful - monolithic, even. If you simply try to recreate Youtube, who are your users going to be? Well generally speaking, it's going to be a lot of users with small to tiny channels, and it's going to be the people that were too toxic for Youtube. That second one is a far bigger deal than I think most people in the position of platform development really appreciate. If you compete with a monolith, the first people to jump on board? Well, the people who were tossed off the other ship...and most of them were tossed off for a reason.

    Now, this can go either way: there's a lot of creators out there who are disillusioned with Youtube's systems, with the culture on the site, the notoriously awful commenters, and the inter-channel targeting and harassment. They haven't necessarily kicked off, but they have been driven away. The key point is that, you get the audience you build. And if you don't build it? Odds are, you're going to end up with the dregs. [...] If a concerted active effort isn't made to cultivate the types of users that you want to see, then before you know what's happened, toxic users will have become your core users, and then you're never going to get out of that hole.
    So if CN-goals lead to E organizations, how do one remain CN over time? The answer, generally, is to have goals that aren't necessarily in line or out of line with CN values, but accomplishes those goals through decidedly Chaotic means. To make a comparison, if the previous organization is tired of playing "the system" because its rules are BS, they went and made their own game to play with fewer rules under the idea that the less rules, the more fair and balanced things are. With method-based codes/organizations, they remain within "the system"...but they're not longer playing by the same ruleset. They've recognized that playing by the rules isn't going to let them win, so they're not going to play by the rules. They're going to win by whatever means they must. This runs similar risks to the CN-goals organizations, but because "being free of needless restriction" isn't the end-goal, it's easier to weed out the *******s if they're not accomplishing the real goals.

    And now that I've likely confused everybody with this overly-generic summary...let's get into examples that more clearly show what I'm talking about.

    Spoiler: Fight Club
    Show
    Fight Club (the organization within the movie "Fight Club") starts as a rebellion against the norms of society and ends up as a melting pot of toxic masculinity. The men of Fight Club are pushing back against a society that simultaneously tells that what a "real man" is like, while also making it clear in no uncertain terms that the "real man" every man should be is also someone who isn't really welcome in polite society. Being strong and tough and violent is desirable in a man, but just being; exercising that strength, that violence, will get you punished. You should be capable of violence at a moment's notice without it spilling out of you when it shouldn't...but the kind of person who gets good at being a violent killing machine on purpose isn't always living the kind of life that gives them the discipline to keep it clamped down inside them when it's not necessary, and for most men, this means they're getting pulled in a couple entirely opposite directions. Case in point, one of the men at the support group - the literal castrati of the film - lost his balls as an explicit consequence of the steroids he was taking. He pursued the masculine ideal as presented by society so hard it destroyed his manhood.

    These men want to be real men, but know that the kind of behavior that can let them become "real men" (picking fights, getting strong, etc) is stuff they can't do as much in their day-to-day life. This desire for an outlet for violence where the violence doesn't matter because we're all just bros having fun punching each other starts out innocent enough, but gradually grows. The counter-culture roots of the movement soon become less of just an inciting incident for the Club's creation and become the intended goal of the organization: Fight Club, the small rebellion against cultural norms meant to provide an outlet for violent urges society tells men to have but not act on, turns into Project Mayhem, a terrorist organization hell-bent on tearing down the society that made them feel like failures. Fight Club tried to hang on to the masculine ideal "the system" rewarded while rejecting "the system's" restrictions on how one could improve themselves to better fit that ideal, but because it doesn't recognize that the ideal "the system" rewarded is inherently toxic and not something worth aiming for on its own, the toxicity society attaches to masculinity seeped into the Club until by the end of the movie it was nearly unrecognizable. Which isn't to say that all masculinity is inherently toxic, there are plenty of masculine-coded traits that are rewarded by society that aren't inherently dangerous when taken further, because they grow from a good place, like honor, integrity, duty, and loyalty. These aren't inherently masculine, but they're commonly viewed as such by society as a whole, which isn't a bad thing for men the way glorifying violence is.
    Spoiler: The Sith
    Show
    This is the hill I'm gonna die on: Jedi aren't good, they're lawful, and Sith aren't evil, they're chaotic. Jedi can tend towards, Good, and Sith can tend towards Evil, because their respective codes reward that to a degree, but at their core they are lawful and chaotic.

    The Jedi and Sith are, fundamentally, two different approaches to learning how to use the Force, two different approaches to life in general. Jedi are focused on minimizing risk, while Sith are focused on maximizing reward. Jedi are not concerned with doing the right thing, but rather protecting the status quo. Don't rock the boat, be careful, think about what you're doing, understand the consequences of your actions, look before you leap. This method of approaching life and the force can often look Good from the outside - the Jedi are peacekeepers and guardians and sages doing their best to keep the Republic safe - but a frequent feature of the stories told in the Star Wars universe is how the Jedi gradually shift from stability to stagnation, how they become too careful, too afraid to act for fear that they'll upset the balance, while the universe burns around them in their inaction. This stagnation upsets those who joined the Jedi thinking they were a Good organization, and they end up leaving. The harder the Jedi focus on the letter of the Jedi code rather than the protective intent that went into making it, the more they push away those more focused on Good goals than Lawful means. The Jedi rise to power under the sith by learning to take risks for the sake of doing Good in the galaxy and reestablishing peace, and they fall when they become too careful.

    The Sith Code is not concerned with goals either, it's focused on becoming powerful. How do you become powerful? Well, however you can. Explore your limits, test boundaries, cross the line twice and don't look back. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy! The Force can do anything, so how much can you do with it? The Sith as a whole are unconcerned with the consequences of their actions beyond how it accomplishes their goals...but fails to realize that power isn't a goal in and of itself, power is a means to other ends. And when your methods are unconcerned with the consequences with only the "goal" of gaining power at whatever cost, this leaves the door open - indeed, actively rewards - people who are willing to be underhanded about how they go about amassing power. The Sith ends up being an attractive organization to those who want to be powerful specifically so they can be *******s to people without consequence. The Sith Code rewards that line of thinking in the powerful, and as a result, the Sith Organization is inevitably a lit powderkeg ready to blow up at any second. When you get a room full of people capable of magic who all want to be at the top and have literally zero compunctions about how they get there, inevitably the ones at the top are the ones who were willing to be the most underhanded, or just the ones who were inherently so powerful the others could never win no matter how hard they cheated...and it's rare that a sith is that much more powerful than all other sith. The sith rise to power under the jedi by being careful and hiding themselves, working in the shadows until the moment to strike arrives. And when they are in power, they fall because they believe themselves too powerful to be opposed and they begin acting with impunity - they get careless in their power, and that makes them easier to exploit.

    This is the true balance of the force: two organizations, each with an inherently opposite approach to mastering the force, with the universe as a whole being a pendulum that constantly swings back and forth between these two extremes.

    The Rule Of Two is an explicit acknowledgement of this issue in-universe: the absolute understanding that if "the sith organization" consists of more than two sith, the two least powerful with gang up on the most powerful to remove them from the top of the pecking order to improve their own station, and now we're back to two people...and that happens regardless of how many Sith you start with, it just takes extra steps the more people there are involved. The only way for the Sith Organization to remain stable long-term is for there to be two Sith - one apprentice still learning the ropes and coming into his full power, and the master with far more experience, knowledge, and power. The latter starts growing weak with age and starts teaching the former,who grows more powerful and knowledgeable by the day, until eventually the student surpasses the teacher and kills him, only to later become the master to a new apprentice. Anything besides this, and the entire organization just becomes a powderkeg where each individual grain of gunpowder is able and willing to burn the others if it means being at the top of the barrel: inevitably, it will attract people with the worst kind of mentality, and inevitably, it will blow itself up (possibly even by accident).

    The CN goals of the Sith organization doom it - it wants to be unhindered power growth through whatever means, but its "goal" isn't a real goal, and "whatever means" leaves the door open for *******s to corrupt the organization. And this happens every time.
    Spoiler: The Ferengi Rules Of Acquisition
    Show
    "He goes to the Rules of Acquisition. Unabridged and fully annotated, with all 47 commentaries, all 900 major and minor judgments, all 10,000 considered opinions. There's a rule for every conceivable situation."
    And now we arrive at an organization with CN means. I've chosen this particular code because, while a number of similar concepts exist elsewhere (the Pirate's Code from Disney's pirate movies, Honor Among Thieves in various thieves guilds across too many movies and games to count, etc), I've chosen the Ferengi because they have it down to a science.

    The Ferengi's cultural obsession with profit has lead to a set of rules with every male Ferengi memorizes in order to be the most cutthroat businessman the galaxy has ever seen. And it's all bunk. It's bunk by design. It's intentionally kept from outsiders because the rules are more "guidelines" with a goal of profits. The only real rule is "make money by whatever means necessary". The rules themselves are a fiction their entire society upholds because it gives them the appearance of having strict unyielding principles they live by, when the reality is that they keep these rules secret, short, and generic, so that no outsider can consistently call them out on breaking the rules, but the Ferengi can cite the rules whenever they please as a reason to not go along with some deal. The FRoA are an excuse: "I'd love to take this deal and do you a solid, but the rules clearly state that blah blah blah". The rules are the Ferengi Bible, and they will take any opportunity to interpret their bible in a different manner if they think that interpretation will provide more profit in the short- or long-term. This CN-methods for alignment-neutral goals kind of code is protected from *******s because "doing whatever you want" isn't the goal, making money is. If you're abusing the code to torture somebody to death for ****s and giggles, but forgot to drain their bank accounts or make sure their will benefits you, well then you're a ****ing failure now aren't you? Being a **** and making money aren't exclusive from each other, but so long as "making money" is the goal, there will be unprofitable ways of being a **** that aren't welcome or appreciated.

    You see the same thing in the PotC franchise: Captain Teague is the keeper of the code, and puts great stock in it, while the others play by the rules as it suits their purposes. Barbossa calls them out as being more guidelines than actual rules, and Jack uses Teague's dedication to the rules against the others when it comes to voting for a new Pirate King. The Code exists as a way to keep pirates from killing each other out of existence when there's profit to be made, because even if you're the last pirate standing, you won't be for long when society as a whole comes down on you. Piracy only survives if there's too many pirates to exterminate, and so the pirates try to play nice with each other to a degree.
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    IV: Interactions With Other Alignments

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    V: Motivation

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    Reserved for additional info.

    Okay, feel free to post now. I know, it's not complete, but I have to spend at least a little bit of time today taking part in the various games I'm in, instead of typing this up. Tomorrow's my day off work, though, so I should be able to finish it then (assuming Time Warner has fixed my home internet for real this time *shakes fist*).


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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    I am super excited for this. This is going to be incredible!
    Not as excited as I was for Red Fel's handbook, but still.
    Don't forget Bart Simpson. He definitely falls somewhere in here. Killua from HxH could too, depending.
    Last edited by FocusWolf413; 2015-10-07 at 08:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FocusWolf413 View Post
    I am super excited for this. This is going to be incredible!
    Not as excited as I was for Red Fel's handbook, but still.
    Don't forget Bart Simpson. He definitely falls somewhere in here. Killua from HxH could too, depending.
    Bart is Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Good depending on the episode. It's a bit of a trick telling which is when.
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    Don't finish the thread. It will be the perfect way to demonstrate CN. Also, your prescriptions for chaos are weak-willed and caged. You need to free them. Fly the banner of apatriotism.


    Don't be standing up on high, telling us CN mutants that your way and your opinion is best. How dare you?! Everyone thinks that they have the solution, let me tell you something: There is no solution. All we have is what we experience, everything else is conjecture and faith. Heck, even our consciousness is just an emergent property of stuff moving through a matrix; an illusion to keep your spores spreading. So pardon me while you equivocate about what is best for everyone. There is no best for everyone. Just yourself and those you drag with you.


    We're just a collection of backwater material that decided to play chicken with thermodynamics, and ever since, we run from the haunting chill of the realization. That realization simultaneously cuts away all pretense: nothing matters and that very same nothing will unlovingly embrace us all. While your good and lawful alignments will rally under the idiotic hope that ensuring the most stability will somehow free us from the prison of the universe that is, only embracing the amoral chaos that works on the scale infinity will set you free of the illusion that you can affect anything of significance. Tell me again about how the power of the gods is supreme, while I sit and ponder that maybe the gods are just projections of the humankinds dreams and fears. That's right.


    I'm chaotic neutral, I break the fourth wall to reason with you. The reason why evil exists in this universe is because we need villains. The reason we need villains is to feel powerful when we use our avatars. But we are in a fantasy, so we need some structure to keep us from indulging in a lopsided power fantasy. So we invent deities to keep our little illusionary pawns of self expression in line. Some of us are daring, and really explore taboo. And some of us are tripping really hard on LSD right now. Whew....


    Where was I. Oh, indignant CN rant....


    Tell me again, oh guru, what on earth your concept of chaos is. Chaos is the reason we exist at all. On a cosmic scale, arbitrary decisions by inert dust, incapable of sentience, precipitated this giant sandcastle called the universe.


    Even our words are just cages for concepts that struggle to break free. The universe is a big bucket where we dump everything we know based on senses we can't entirely trust and wax philosophic about meaning because we are afraid to accept that deep down, we aren't in control of this ride whatsoever. The best we mortals and immortals alike can do is create illusions that we have power. It doesn't matter if you can move atoms around. Those atoms only obey the rules that they want anyway, you just presume to understand the scale upon which they operate.


    That's why Chaotic neutral is best. We admit that we are weak. We know what we can't know. We can accept forces that are more powerful than us and get on with our lives, breaking the illusion that stability is at all preferable to simply accepting that the best we will ever really do with our existence is push the peas around on the plate until mom gives up on making us eat those disgusting vegetables. That paradox is closest thing to stability that you'll ever get.


    Don't finish the thread, OP. Because it doesn't matter. Because you care about chaos. Because you got better things to do. Let those other idiot alignment threads think that you're lazy. There is warm rain outside right now. WARM RAIN. That stuff is kinda rare. It's like a shower, but you don't have waste time cleaning yourself, you can just enjoy the infinite moment of right now, which you can never get back. And let me be honest, nothing is as infinite as the precise moment of the present. Everything else is a nostalgic illusion or a deluded hope. RIGHT NOW YOU COULD BE DOING SOMETHING OF REAL VALUE: Inventing a whole new subversion, standing in warm rain, content that you know true peace, your past is being destroyed and your future is headed for the same fate, but you do have this exact moment. What are you doing with it?
    Last edited by daremetoidareyo; 2015-10-09 at 03:10 PM.

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    Damn it, I was deliberately leaving it unfinished as a personal in-joke. Now I'm going to have to randomly update it over the next <unspecified time period> just to be contrary. Thanks a lot!


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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    Will Rick Sanchez get at least a mention?

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    You list "the cold-hearted merc" as a CN archetype. However, Mrs Kat lists "the hired gun" as a NE archetype. Both are described as willing to do whatever their employer wants them to, as long as there's enough money on the table. So what's the difference ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aetol View Post
    You list "the cold-hearted merc" as a CN archetype. However, Mrs Kat lists "the hired gun" as a NE archetype. Both are described as willing to do whatever their employer wants them to, as long as there's enough money on the table. So what's the difference ?
    NE wants money because money is power; if a situation comes up where taking the money makes them less powerful, they're less likely to take it. CN wants money because money is freedom to do as you wish; if a situation comes up where taking the money comes with more chains of responsibility than the money is capable of unlocking, the money's probably not going to be taken. It's a small difference, but cross-over between alignments is totally expected.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aetol View Post
    You list "the cold-hearted merc" as a CN archetype. However, Mrs Kat lists "the hired gun" as a NE archetype. Both are described as willing to do whatever their employer wants them to, as long as there's enough money on the table. So what's the difference ?
    IMO, the Cold-Hearted Merc can be an archetype for a wide range of alignments. You could make a case for LE, LN, and N archetypes being this.
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    I just want to suggest Willy Wonka as an archetypal CN character. Unpredictable, dangerous, a little bit crazy, but not actively malevolent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben-zayb View Post
    IMO, the Cold-Hearted Merc can be an archetype for a wide range of alignments. You could make a case for LE, LN, and N archetypes being this.
    It's definitely a versatile archetype, but the version that is Chaotic Neutral is the one that's being mentioned here. You do what you're told now so that later, you never have to take orders again.

    Quote Originally Posted by legomaster00156 View Post
    I just want to suggest Willy Wonka as an archetypal CN character. Unpredictable, dangerous, a little bit crazy, but not actively malevolent.
    He's probably a cross between the Hedonist, the Artist, and the Trickster...and is probably closer to CG than CN, but that's definitely debatable.


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    I was thinking about my character concept earlier and thought it might fall under CN pretty well.

    She's a Diviner wizard devoted to the pursuit of power and knowledge. Thing is, she believes that she is entitled to *all* knowledge, and whatever subject she decides to research and divine is fair game. Even the stuff that folks like the gods would say "is not meant for mortals". Consequentially, she's firmly Agnostic as far as religion goes. Who are the gods to say what she can and can't do?

    As a person, deep down, she'll often mean well. The information she divines up prior to an adventure is freely shared with her allies to help them prepare. She's not above to utilizing whatever tactics are necessary to succeed, save the ones that limit freedoms; Enchantment is her only banned school for that reason. She wants to have fun and enjoy a fight with her adversaries, not merely enslave them. That is about her only limit, however. Any other type of magic is fair game, good or evil, light or dark. She's as likely to summon up a demon as she would an angel. Whatever is most effective. Her stubborn, willful and rebellious nature has thus far prevented any falling to dark influences.

    I would originally say CG, but her willingness to dabble sometimes in evil magic, the greater emphasis put on the "I do what I want" philosophy, would put her in CN. She is, at heart, a decent person, usually willing to help out, that keeps her from the CE alignment.

    What do you guys think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tadkins View Post
    I was thinking about my character concept earlier and thought it might fall under CN pretty well.

    She's a Diviner wizard devoted to the pursuit of power and knowledge. Thing is, she believes that she is entitled to *all* knowledge, and whatever subject she decides to research and divine is fair game. Even the stuff that folks like the gods would say "is not meant for mortals". Consequentially, she's firmly Agnostic as far as religion goes. Who are the gods to say what she can and can't do?

    As a person, deep down, she'll often mean well. The information she divines up prior to an adventure is freely shared with her allies to help them prepare. She's not above to utilizing whatever tactics are necessary to succeed, save the ones that limit freedoms; Enchantment is her only banned school for that reason. She wants to have fun and enjoy a fight with her adversaries, not merely enslave them. That is about her only limit, however. Any other type of magic is fair game, good or evil, light or dark. She's as likely to summon up a demon as she would an angel. Whatever is most effective. Her stubborn, willful and rebellious nature has thus far prevented any falling to dark influences.

    I would originally say CG, but her willingness to dabble sometimes in evil magic, the greater emphasis put on the "I do what I want" philosophy, would put her in CN. She is, at heart, a decent person, usually willing to help out, that keeps her from the CE alignment.

    What do you guys think?
    I would say that your character would be solidly chaotic nuetral, and for once, a chaotic nuetral character who I wouldn't mind having in my party. Well done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael7123 View Post
    I would say that your character would be solidly chaotic nuetral, and for once, a chaotic nuetral character who I wouldn't mind having in my party. Well done.
    Seconding this. CN characters that aren't annoying are a rarity not because they don't exist, but because virtually nobody tries to play the alignment in an interesting and realistic way. This character sounds wonderful.


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    One thing that's often intrigued me are neutral worshipers of evil religions. Lawful neutral is somewhat understandable as an emphasis on the order that the religions bring over the hardship they create. Even true neutral worshipers of neutral evil can work sometimes with a more apathetic attitude.

    But I feel that Chaotic Neutral worshipers of Chaotic Evil religions seem difficult to pull off. For example how would one worship a god of slaughter like Erythnal without indulging in that sort of attitude. Given that Chaotic Neutral takes significantly more effort to ensure they don't slip into the evil mindset, how do you worship a deity like that and remain chaotic neutral, particularly with divine casters that have to worry about losing their powers for not being evil enough.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael7123 View Post
    I would say that your character would be solidly chaotic nuetral, and for once, a chaotic nuetral character who I wouldn't mind having in my party. Well done.
    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    Seconding this. CN characters that aren't annoying are a rarity not because they don't exist, but because virtually nobody tries to play the alignment in an interesting and realistic way. This character sounds wonderful.
    Thanks folks, that means a lot. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    At the time of writing, there are three published roleplaying guides, and a fourth on the way.
    What guides are you referring too?
    EDIT: Nevermind, found them all.
    Last edited by Banjoman42; 2015-10-18 at 07:53 PM.

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    A comment I'd like to make, one I didn't think of until now.

    The fact that CN has such a bad reputation for being played poorly, for being flagship for "Chaotic Stupid", or being the "go-to CE when E is banned", warrants a guide like this to help out. I think a good CN guide like this one could prove more useful than any of the others for that reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravian View Post
    One thing that's often intrigued me are neutral worshipers of evil religions. Lawful neutral is somewhat understandable as an emphasis on the order that the religions bring over the hardship they create. Even true neutral worshipers of neutral evil can work sometimes with a more apathetic attitude.

    But I feel that Chaotic Neutral worshipers of Chaotic Evil religions seem difficult to pull off. For example how would one worship a god of slaughter like Erythnal without indulging in that sort of attitude. Given that Chaotic Neutral takes significantly more effort to ensure they don't slip into the evil mindset, how do you worship a deity like that and remain chaotic neutral, particularly with divine casters that have to worry about losing their powers for not being evil enough.
    The fact that you can have a Chaotic Neutral cleric of Orcus...yep, that's a tough one. xD

    I remember something about CN Erythnul worshippers being explained though. Basically, while you live for slaughter and the kill, you only do it to those you deem worthy. You don't go around murdering innocents randomly, and anyone without a sword to fight back against you is not worth your time.

    CN in particular, to me, seems like it would have a weird relation with religion in general. For instance, Limbo, the penultimate CN plane, consists of the stuff that the gods used to create the universe. I imagine many adherents to the CN philosophy would have an aversion to the gods for that reason. After all, who did the gods think they were to draw from the raw material of Chaos? And if Chaos can be forged into something that suits Order, Order can no doubt easily be unmade back to what it originally was. Hard to imagine any established CN based religion with an organized church in the way most folks know religion. And besides...

    *yawn* "Yeah, whatever, I'll set up the altar whenever I feel like it."

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    As Tadkins has posted a solid CN character, I feel like I should ask for some advice as to how to run my own CN Luni... *cough cough* I mean character

    He's a dwarven, cleric at that, (not a good start for chaos, but he's getting there) however he worships a mad god. How mad exactly? Who knows, and really who is going to take the time to find out...... He was thrown out of the dwarven homelands when it was descovered that he was worshiping his mad god (who's name can never be remembered the same way twice ((mostly a joke on my part))), he's been wandering the world for a while, not really doing much more than drinking and betting, until he eventually ended up in debt to a member of a newly formed adventuring party, which is how he got dragged into the current mess (what else is a good D&D campaign if not a mess?).

    My question is this: given what AvatarVecna has described for chaotic neutrality, how would my dwarven cleric (who will slowly be driven insane as his level (and access to insane divine power) increases) best act in a chaotic neutral fashion? what does the playground think he would be like from that short description? (because some of it will be adapted into his personality), though of course he doesn't really know about the insanity part yet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedF0x11 View Post
    As Tadkins has posted a solid CN character, I feel like I should ask for some advice as to how to run my own CN Luni... *cough cough* I mean character

    He's a dwarven, cleric at that, (not a good start for chaos, but he's getting there) however he worships a mad god. How mad exactly? Who knows, and really who is going to take the time to find out...... He was thrown out of the dwarven homelands when it was descovered that he was worshiping his mad god (who's name can never be remembered the same way twice ((mostly a joke on my part))), he's been wandering the world for a while, not really doing much more than drinking and betting, until he eventually ended up in debt to a member of a newly formed adventuring party, which is how he got dragged into the current mess (what else is a good D&D campaign if not a mess?).

    My question is this: given what AvatarVecna has described for chaotic neutrality, how would my dwarven cleric (who will slowly be driven insane as his level (and access to insane divine power) increases) best act in a chaotic neutral fashion? what does the playground think he would be like from that short description? (because some of it will be adapted into his personality), though of course he doesn't really know about the insanity part yet.
    It depends on the exact nature of the character; the archetypes I've got set up for characters who view the world differently are the Artist and the Unfettered (although I haven't detailed them, so sorry). The Artist's view of the world exists only in his own head, and its effect on the world is only through the actions the Artist takes based on those altered perceptions. The Artist may be aware that what his way of viewing the world is different (as might be the case for an artist or creator, from a writer to a sculptor to an illusionist), or he might be deluded (believing his perceptions to be totally true, a less-than-sane character who reacts to things very differently from most). If, however, his perceptions are true, and the world actually works very differently from how most people perceive it, the information the Unfettered acts on is actually correct. This could be represented by a character whose mechanics are fluffed as a greater understanding of the science behind magic, or who knows how divine power really works well enough to manipulate it without reprisal.

    How you play it depends on the nature of the character, the mad god, and the relationship between the two, as is always the case with a cleric. Is the mad god an actual deity, a demon pretending to be a mad god, an insane archangel convinced of its own omnipotence, something your character made up, what? Does this religion have any tenants, commandments, etc? How does your character view the mad god, and why does your character devote themselves to the mad god? Does your worship alter your perception of the world? If so, how, in what ways, and does it get worse?

    Asking and answering these questions and others like them will help you figure out how your character should act.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravian View Post
    One thing that's often intrigued me are neutral worshipers of evil religions. Lawful neutral is somewhat understandable as an emphasis on the order that the religions bring over the hardship they create. Even true neutral worshipers of neutral evil can work sometimes with a more apathetic attitude.

    But I feel that Chaotic Neutral worshipers of Chaotic Evil religions seem difficult to pull off. For example how would one worship a god of slaughter like Erythnal without indulging in that sort of attitude. Given that Chaotic Neutral takes significantly more effort to ensure they don't slip into the evil mindset, how do you worship a deity like that and remain chaotic neutral, particularly with divine casters that have to worry about losing their powers for not being evil enough.
    On this general topic:

    Death gods in DND are general either some evil alignment, possibly lawful neutral, and maybe true neutral. What would a chaotic neutral death god act like?

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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    Sounds simple: a Reaper deity whose divine duty is not to cause death, but tocollect the souls of the recently departed and usher them to their new afterlife...and who hates his job because he never gets a break, and he'll never completely empty his inbox permanently without wiping out the planet. He'll despise mortals in general because he never really gets a break from reaping their souls, but he knows they're not really responsible for the problem, so he doesn't take it out on them on the scale that would give him a break.

    His CG followers wish to give the guy a break for his ceaseless labor, so they promote campaigns to reduce the death toll: they preach nonviolence, helping your fellow man, healing, and so on.

    His CE followers wish to give the guy a break and, deciding that the candle that burns twice as bright lasts half as long: they kill as many people as they can so that maybe when they would've died, he has one less soul to collect...and that with all of them working together, he can get an extended break. These guys are usually pretty suicidal, but have a psychopathic regard to most.

    His CN followers have no answers, so they follow in their deities footsteps: making the passage to the next world easier on everyone involved. They tend to the morgues and the cemeteries. None are allowed to disturb their charges, but it is a burden they've accepted for themselves, rather than one forced onto them, so they do their duty.

    EDIT: And he's got to have a thick Jaimacan accent...because reasons.
    Last edited by AvatarVecna; 2015-10-19 at 08:08 PM.

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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    I really like what you've got so far. Especially how you stressed right off the bat that Chaotic doesn't have to mean insane and inconsistent. Also, I just noticed your "Cold-Hearted Merc" archetype and my Mercenary archetype have exactly the same quote. I think it's interesting how fast Han Solo pops into peoples' heads when we think "mercenary", and how much our perception of the concept is influenced by his character.

    Look forward to seeing more. (Oh. Also, the opening image is beautiful. Captures a lot of freedom's poetry.)
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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    EDIT: And he's got to have a thick Jaimacan accent...because reasons.
    A tip of the top hat to that.

    I might write a couple of things for the archetypes. If I feel like it, of course.

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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    Finally got enough motivation to work on this again: the Hedonist archetype has been fleshed out with examples and everything. Next update (hopefully within the next few days this time) will feature me deliberately breaking two incredibly sacred rules of internet culture, as is fitting for a Chaotic Neutral guide.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Xumtiil View Post
    An Abattoir Vecna, if you will.
    My Homebrew

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    Default Re: We're Rebels Without A Clue: A Chaotic Neutral Handbook

    I put together a few things for Hedonist too, but it looks like you've taken it in a different direction than I would have thought. Maybe what I'm thinking of is what you're terming "The Unfettered?" Here's what I had:

    “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.” – Oscar Wilde
    “Because it’s there.” – George Mallory, on why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest

    Adventure? Excitement? A Hedonist craves these things. The Hedonist is in it for the experience, and we’re not just talking EXP. A Hedonist is looking for something new, with no regard to social conventions. In fact, the more it breaks with society’s rules, the more a Hedonist is willing to try it.

    Hedonists are famous for pursuing pleasure, and many of the experiences they seek out are quite pleasing to the senses. But the particular experience an individual Hedonist might be pursuing might not have anything obvious to do with the senses. It could be a new emotional state, a new kind of relationship, or even a new way of looking at the world. The experience they’re seeking might not even be particularly pleasant. As long as it’s new, the Hedonist will pursue it.

    It’s important to note that, while a Hedonist’s goals do center on their personal experience, this does not necessarily mean they are inherently selfish. A Hedonist might be a great benefactor to his own friends, happy to share in his own wealth and the life of every party. What sets this apart from a Chaotic Good do-gooder is that the Chaotic Neutral Hedonist typically won’t give until it hurts. Money can buy a lot of experiences, after all.

    Occasionally, maintaining a Chaotic Neutral alignment can be difficult for a Hedonist. If the experiences they’re chasing are inherently harmful or degrading to others (like finding out what fried Archon tastes like, or exactly what it feels like to murder someone in cold blood), a Hedonist can shift to Chaotic Evil. Less famously, a Hedonist whose quest for experience takes him consistently to actions that benefit others (at great cost to himself) can shift to Chaotic Good. However, not every Hedonist is driven to such extremes. As long as the character is not going out of his way to help or harm people, for the sake of helping or harming them, they can maintain a Chaotic Neutral alignment.

    Examples:
    Effie Trinket, The Hunger Games
    Gabriel, Supernatural
    (Possibly Uncle Iroh, from Avatar: The Last Airbender…?)

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