Dungeons and Dragons, in its 40-year history, has many things it is famous for and many influential mechanics. One of the most memorable is alignment. Characters are defined in part by their moral outlook and are inclined certain actions as a result.
There are many interpretations of how alignment works and how strictly one should follow their alignment. To some degree it depends on the adventure and the DM’s discretion,1 but if we accept that alignment serves as a personal ideal to strive for, then loosely defined, alignment is a 3×3 grid consisting of these axes:
- lawful – order
- chaotic – freedom
- evil – self/ego
- good – other
Arranged like so:
|Good||Lawful Good||Lawful Neutral||Lawful Evil||Evil|
|Neutral Good||True Neutral||Neutral Evil|
|Chaotic Good||Chaotic Neutral||Chaotic Evil|
So, a chaotic-good person is someone who values personal freedom, and doing good for others. By contrast, a lawful-evil person is someone who values order and tradition, primarily for their own benefit. True Neutral is someone who is probably hesitant or unwilling to make a strong stand one way or another.
I think the key to making a successful choice for alignment for your D&D character is to answer the question: what is my character’s ideal lifestyle, and which alignment best fits it? A character whose ideal life is high-adventure and getting rich might be chaotic neutral, while a character whose ideal is a life of honor and serving the greater good might be lawful-good, and so on.
While this is just a rough guide, hopefully it will help you make informed decisions about character alignment and how to make the most of it when fleshing out a character from being just a collection of stats into something more memorable. 🙂
1 Recently, I had a heated discussion with a new player why they couldn’t have a chaotic-evil character in my new campaign. Aside from the fact she wanted to just be contrarian, and just learned the rules, my concern was how much it would affect the other party members (many of the similarly new) and ruin their experience. basically, it came down to me telling her she could do chaotic-neutral (or chaotic-good) or nothing.
2 thoughts on “What’s Your Alignment?”