D&D Alignment: True Neutral
The alignments are interesting because, in the middle you have this state of both being neutral on the good and evil axis and the law and chaos axis. And I don’t know that I have the greatest grasp on what this true neutral position is or that most people have that strong a grasp on it when I’ve heard it talked about.
The issue with true neutral is that it doesn’t give you something to grasp onto. With evil and good, you know those concepts, and between law and chaos, you know what those are as well. Neutral is the position is between those, but it doesn’t give you that easy thing to grab onto. The best starting point that I can come up with is talking about the druid.
The reason for the druid is that as someone who gets their powers from nature, nature isn’t inherently good or evil. It has some chaos, but it also has an order placed on it from the food chain and survival of the fittest, but these aren’t laws with how humans place rules and order around themselves. So someone who is fully devoted to nature could find themselves in this middle ground where they don’t cling too strongly to anything, but they just see life, death, and survival as the cycle of things. This cycle is neither good or bad, but it is needed for the land to survive.
This is where you can get into issues with role playing in an adventuring group but also why you join an adventuring group. Some outside force is working on your land, whether it be a grove or the whole world. So the true neutral character would look at this one of two ways. Either, it wouldn’t get them to do anything, because it’s the natural order of things and survival of the fittest. If you develop a character like that, you aren’t really playing in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons and need to come up with a reason why your character would care, or roll up a new character.
But that same thing can also be your hook into adventure. Some outside force is working to destroy the land, whether it be your grove or the whole world. Because it’s an outside force, that means that it isn’t a natural force. Your character now has a reason to go out adventuring to stop bad things from happening. Because it isn’t going to be survival of the fittest, it’s just going to be destruction and not from the natural order and chaos of things, but because someone has a plan to destroy it. This true neutral characters mindset wouldn’t be, in this case, to judge the person as bad, but instead to judge their actions as outside of the balance of things.
This is the tension of the true neutral character. There’s a chance for them to be apathetic in what is happening in the game. So as a player, you need to really find those reasons, either because of the threat, or some other reason, that you’re out adventuring. For me, the easiest way that I’d do this would be to add in some relationship with another character or NPC that is a very strong bond for your character. By doing this, you’re going to always have a reason to go adventuring. And it give the DM something that they know they can motivate your character with as well. I personally like the idea of it being another player character that you’re connected to, because then it gives the true neutral character more of a reason to follow along and and adventure.
So, what classes work, again, I’ll start out with the disclaimer that really any D&D class is going to work for any alignment, you might have a few things that just make less sense. The ones that are going to have the strongest ties to True Neutral, I would say, would be Monk and Druid. However, another class that I think works well is a very tribal Barbarian. They are going to see everything as survival and not have the attachment to things that the more “civialized” characters might. Death, trials, and troubles are just going to be the natural way of things and neither good or bad. Harder to work in are going to be your Cleric and Paladin who naturally leaning towards more lawful or good.
Probably a wild card one that I think would be interesting would a rogue. Generally, you think of them as chaotic, but what about an assassin rogue who just does their job and they get money, but they dispatch the target with out any passion for it and they don’t judge whether the target is good or evil, they just take the job given. You can even give them a loose code, but not hard rules that they follow to keep them from being lawful It would be easy to stray into either chaotic or lawful with this character (as well as good or evil), but that could basically be the rule for the character. They will take any job (somewhat chaotic), but they need their payment and their details before they’ll take it (somewhat lawful), to keep them balanced in a neutral area.
True Neutral is definitely a tricky one for me to try and explain. It’s also going to be a trickier one to try and play, and in my experience is generally just a stopping off point for characters as they go to another alignment. It’s a decent spot to start a campaign for that reason as you figure out the character’s ticks and traits that will allow you to set-up their alignment.
Have you played a true neutral character? Did you find it easy to play or did you have to put a lot of work into it?
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