Tag: Cleric

Total Party Kill – What can you do about it?

Total Party Kill – What can you do about it?

You’ve had a long running campaign. The players were really into the story. They’d spent a bunch of time planning on how to infiltrate this tower. You’d told them the wizard in it was too powerful to fight. Everything is going to plan… LEEEEEEROOOOOOOOOY JENKINS!…

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Evil

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Evil

We’re wrapping up our D&D alignments today with your most evil character as we look at Chaotic Evil. Now, I say most evil, but I don’t think that it has to be, I think that when people want to play that really evil character, though,…

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Neutral

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Neutral

Here’s a hot take, I don’t like Chaotic Neutral, and I don’t think most people who play a Chaotic Neutral actually play a chaotic neutral character.

Now, time to explain myself, and explain how you can play it better.

My issue with Chaotic Neutral is that most people who play it really want to be a murder hobo and not get into any trouble for it. So if they say they aren’t evil, that means that people are going to be nicer to them when they do Chaotic Evil things. It also means that the Paladin is less likely to smite them or pay as much attention to them doing bad things, because they are neutral technically.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

So, really, most people who play chaotic neutral are actually playing chaotic evil, they just don’t want to be an evil character. Now, that being said, it also happens on the flip side as well. I would say that rogues or warlocks most commonly do it the other way. A rogue might be a thief, but everything that they do is good, but because they had a criminal background, they think they need to be Chaotic Neutral, and a similar thing with warlock. But really they are playing a Chaotic Good character. But it is much more playing Chaotic Evil, but pretending that you are Neutral instead of evil that causes issues in a game.

How do you play Chaotic Neutral?

This is where it gets tricky, as I feel like with chaotic, having either good or evil is very defining ,and chaotic neutral can just be chaos for chaos sake, but often times that leans into chaotic evil. I’m trying to come up with a good example of a chaotic neutral character, I would say that Loki, at his best, when he’s not trying to kill Thor, is probably Chaotic Neutral. But he walks that line of being Evil at times as well. Though, I’d argue when he is Evil he’s either Neutral Evil or Lawful Evil, not Chaotic Evil. After a quick google search, I came up with a couple more examples.

The first is Deadpool, which I think makes sense to me. He’s chaotic in that he’s fourth wall breaking, but also that his methods are extreme and sometimes random in dealing with the bad guys. He doesn’t have a plan, and he’s willing to terminate with extreme prejudice, versus bring anyone in, not because it’s letter of the law, but it’s because that’s what he does. When Venom is good, he does a similar thing. The other is Homer Simpson. Now, this is much more benign than Deadpool, but you never really know what Homer is going to do. He might do the right thing, he might do the wrong thing, but he’s never really trying to do the wrong thing, he just doesn’t think things through.

So, I think there’s a few things we can take away for playing all a Chaotic Neutral character from these character examples. First, these characters are not murder hobos. While Deadpool kills, he kills bad guys, and people that he knows are bad guys, not people he might just guess are bad guys. But even with bad guys, they don’t have to kill them, and they might not kill one of them for an odd reason. Thus, they also tend to be hard to predict. They would be a nightmare for a lawful evil villain or a lawful good paladin, because they can’t predict what they are going to do.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

What classes then make a good chaotic neutral character. I have mentioned Warlock and Rogue, both of those make a lot of sense, and same with Sorcerer. But I think one that I haven’t mentioned yet is bard. Bards are entertainers based off of their class, and have a built in desire for being entertained, so while they don’t do the predictable thing, they do the thing that will entertain themselves and others the most. I think that Paladin and Cleric are going to be the hardest to go with in a Chaotic alignment, especially Paladin, but there are Chaotic deities out there that they can follow if you are using the D&D deities for Forgotten Realms.

A Chaotic Neutral character is also likely to be an adventurer because they are bored with what they’ve been doing. I actually like the Noble background for this reason. Tate was a Chaotic Neutral Noble Bard in the Dungeons and Flagons game, and it worked well, because he hadn’t received training to live in a hard world, he just had learned fluffier skills as a noble, so reading, song, etc. I think that a reformed Criminal would also make sense or a Charlatan. But as a player, you are going to have to find a reason that they would keep adventuring and not just bail when things get too hard or dangerous.

So, now I’ve given reasons how you can play it well. I still stand by what I’ve said, I do think that playing a Chaotic Neutral character is too often just a reason to play a Chaotic Evil character, but not have the Paladin smite you to death. There are ways that you can play it well though, so please, for the sake of your DM, try and lean into those aspects.

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D&D Alignments – Chaotic Good

D&D Alignments – Chaotic Good

We’re onto the last column of alignments, and we’re looking at those chaotic characters. I think, and on the Total Party Thrill podcast they talk about this, chaotic good should be the default position for most adventurers. When you think about it, most adventurers don’t…

D&D Alignment – Neutral Evil

D&D Alignment – Neutral Evil

Yes, I’m a bad guy, and I don’t have much reason for being a bad guy, but I wanted to be evil. That’s what Neutral Evil is. A Neutral Evil character is going to be hard to fit into a party, unless the game is…

D&D Alignment – Lawful Neutral

D&D Alignment – Lawful Neutral

I debated what direction I wanted to go. Did I want to go across the top and do all of the good ones, or down the side and do all the lawful ones, or be chaotic and just randomly pick the next one to do. Eventually I decided that I’d take the lawful route and go through all the lawful options and then go to the neutral options and then the chaotic options. I think with lawful to chaotic versus good to evil, you have more interesting things to talk about.

Lawful Neutral is pretty straight forward. You don’t have that particular bent towards good or evil. Instead, you are going to take things more at face value and make a judgement on it based off of more the cultural norm. You also don’t feel the need to jump out there on some righteous quest. You’re really getting your desire to adventure more from the lawful side of things, which I’ll get to. Being neutral doesn’t mean that you’re going not have opinions on things. Thinking more about it as a drive or focus, you aren’t going to be driven to do something good, because you are a character who has focused their life on being good, or the opposite for evil.

Image Source: Wizards

But I think the lawful aspect is really what is going to drive this character to adventure. They are going to be very tied to following the laws of the land. While a lawful good person might make a judgement on laws of the land that they don’t consider to be just, a lawful neutral might realize that it isn’t just, but it’s the law of the land so they are going to uphold it. For that reason, when something bad comes to the land, like a large raid of bandits, and evil wizard who wants to take over and is breaking the rules of the land, this character is going to get up in arms about that.

Now, this doesn’t mean that if the laws of the land are all unjust and in favor of a tyrant that they going to go along with them. The laws of the land do generally need to be just. The lawful neutral character is going to consider what is for the greater good in this situation. They are going to try and depose a tyrant to set-up a just ruler and someone who will put in rules that they can follow, and they might even see themselves as that person. I think that’s something that might trip up a lawful neutral player. If a law is unjust and only helps the few, they probably won’t uphold it or see it as a fair law. Though, if there’s only a law like that, they’ll see the whole system as the greater good, it’s when that starts to be the focus of the system that the lawful neutral character will attempt to depose or to change the system.

So, what classes work well for a lawful neutral character? A fighter, especially with soldier background would make a lot of sense in that role. They are trained to follow orders and follow the rules in place and they know the consequences if order isn’t followed. A wizard would make a lot of sense as well with their magic coming from study. I do think that almost any of the classes can be lawful neutral, something like warlock or rogue lean away from that, but I think that all of them do make sense. The warlock would see the rules of their patron as being part of the rules of the land that doen’t have to be good or evil in those rules being given for the power. For the rogue, I think of the government sanctioned assassin who is dealing with NPC’s who are too hard to get to in a completely normal legal method, so the rogue has been sanctioned to be a part of the legal system when someone is too well protected to get to otherwise. I always like to find ways to play against type that way. I said for lawful good that Paladin and Cleric were in their sweet spot there, but they can be lawful neutral as well, I think following a deity of justice that helps uphold the laws of the land would make a lot of sense.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

As a DM, I think that you can use a lawful neutral characters alignment to ask them questions about how much they will follow the rules of the land. If something seems like it is fair and just and legal, are they going to do this? It isn’t an alignment though that I see getting a ton of play. Mainly because it doesn’t allow you to be a murder hobo because you’d have to deal with yourself as a character who oversteps your bounds. However, this is something that you can make into a role playing point as well if you want, as a DM.

Have you played a lawful neutral character? What traits did you lean into? Have you played against type with your class?

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D&D Alignment – Lawful Good

D&D Alignment – Lawful Good

We’re starting in the top corner of the alignment matrix. Just a quick reminder, the alignment matrix goes from Lawful to Chaotic on the horizontal axis and Good to Evil on the vertical axis. So let’s talk about what a lawful good PC is like,…

D&D Alignment – What is Alignment?

D&D Alignment – What is Alignment?

I think this is the last big character creation piece that I haven’t touched on. I’ve previously done series of articles on the Classes, Backgrounds, and how to develop an interesting backstory. But I’ve only touched on the various alignments in passing. Some of that…

D&D Party – Party People in the House

D&D Party – Party People in the House

Alright, you have your number of people and you’re sitting down at the table. It’s session zero and everyone wants to play a wizard, is there a right way to create your party?

I think that this is a more interesting question than the party size question, but has just as vague and answer. It’s totally acceptable to have a party that is all wizards, as a DM, you just have to adjust for that, but there is an ideal party balance. However, 5e is built so you can ignore that if you want.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

The ideal party balance goes back to what I said in the previous article, it assumes that you are going to have a Wizard, a Cleric, a Fighter, and a Rogue, or someone that fits into each of those archetypes. But I think a more useful way to look at it is do you have someone for each pillar of the game?

Wait, what are the pillars of D&D?

Exploration, Combat, and Social are the three pillars that most D&D games are built on, though fairly often I would say that exploration is not fully used. Some of that is because people just don’t like the resource management aspect that can be in exploration. It’s also more fun to fight something or talk to an NPC than it is exploring which seems more passive for the players and more on the DM to describe what is going on.

These pillars are important though when creating your adventuring party. You want to have player characters who do cover all of these. Now, I generally wouldn’t say that each character should be good at all of them, but all of them should be good at either social or exploration and then generally you want them to be competent at combat.

If the players and DM focus on hitting these pillars in session zero, the ideal party combination doesn’t matter much. For example, I’ve run games where we have two rangers, a paladin, and a wizard. We don’t have a tank character, but you just have to change which monsters you select and how they work. Maybe they are harder to hit, but don’t deal tons of damage as the paladin is the closest we have to a tank. Or were there was a fighter, wizard, and rogue. In that case, you have no healing, so you either have to hand out some healing potions, or have larger fights, but less fights during a day, so the player characters are less likely to die.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

So, to recap, any party combo is going to work. It’s probably more important that they work in your world, such as don’t have a party of wizards when wizards are really rare, unless they are fine being extremely unique, and maybe that’s the plot there. But make it work for your world and your game, but any combo is playable in Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

What are some odd player character combinations that you’ve had? Are there any that you thought didn’t work or that were weird but fun to play?

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Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half Elf

Dungeons and Dragons Character Races – Half Elf

Final character race in the Player Handbook. There are plenty more in other books like Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica. I’ll let you explore those as I haven’t explored all of them yet either. Half Elves fall into the category of…