So, I put down the word mechanics, because, magic economy could also describe the level of magic in your world and how much of a vibrant magic trade set up there is. But in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition, you have a magic economy of…
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.
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.
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?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
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…
And after a week of Avengers: Endgame (no spoilers in this post), we’re finally getting back to some D&D. This time we’re looking at the Character Race of Dragonborn.
Dragonborn, are a bit like tieflings or other races where they get some heritage from something non-standard fantasy. And because of that, in Dungeons and Dragons, they are treated as a rarer race. They pull both from their draconic ancestry, including getting a breath weapon. But with that draconic heritage, that means they often also take haughtiness and aloofness of the dragons. This can make them a bit temperamental in a party.
Mechanically speaking, besides that breath weapon that you get which you can use sparingly, you also get bumps to strength and charisma. For that reason, Dragonborn make good fighters, but also charisma casters. Their strongest class is probably Paladin, a charisma casting class that is also good in melee. You also get resistance to the element that your breath weapon is. This also helps you tank as an enemy caster might be using whatever element you’re resistant to, and you’ll be able to stay in melee longer.
Other than those stats, the real things we’re looking at is that Dragonborn tend to role play as haughty. I mentioned that before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. They think that they are better than you, and that they can probably do it themselves. This can also lead to foolhardiness because they are more apt to rush into something if they feel like someone else is going to be able to do it first.
They are also going to be rare and the chromatic ones distrusted. In Dungeons and Dragons, while the metallic dragons aren’t necessarily helpful, they aren’t evil either. The chromatic dragons, aren’t helpful, and they might decide they want to rule or go on a rampage. So, the people who know this, and I suspect it would be fairly common knowledge in most D&D worlds, are going to distrust a Dragonborn that is chromatic. Even the metallic Dragonborn might be looked at askance.
So let’s talk about some backstories, why might a Dragonborn decide to join an adventuring party.
I was, what I would consider a legend on the battlefield, there were few who could stand up to me. I was able to shrug off spells like it was no ones business, and I was only ever bested once when my “rival” got a lucky blow in on me. That took me out of action for a few weeks, but I’d done enough damage to the opposing army that our forces were able to continue routing them and I was given a retirement. But retirement doesn’t suit me well, so I feel the need to save sad adventuring parties who don’t know what they are doing.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Notes: The point of that background, while it wouldn’t make sense for a level one character, is that the dragonborn exaggerates. They were in the army, but got injured, and were in bed for a long time, probably over a year, and now they want to actually do something worth their boasting so when people look them up, it’s something actually true.
With my size, people always thought that I would go into the army. But that wasn’t that interesting for me. I was much more interested in finding out about my draconic background. I spent years researching, trying to get a better understanding of who I was and where I’d come from. That led me all over the world, and I picked up some interesting skills and because pretty good at avoiding trouble. It might not be the most glamorous way to deal with problems, but smashing things with a club isn’t my style. I now want to go to the mountains where my people allegedly came from.
Alignment: Lawful Good/Neutral
People always looked at me like I was strange. I can’t help it if my parents left me in the big city at a young age. I don’t even know what happened to them for sure. I wanted to show people that I was better than just a kid who bounced around from temple to temple, helping when I could and getting a free meal. To do that, when you can’t go to school and life in the city is hard and dangerous, I could only come up with one way. I made a deal. I have some power now through it and I can help other people because of that. But mainly, I just want to find out why my parents left me.
Alignment: Neutral Good/Chaotic Good
There are some ideas for character backgrounds of a Drabonborn. In the game I’m going to be running soon, I’ll have a player who is playing a Dragonborn.
Let me know about some background ideas that you have for a Dragonborn character. Have you played a Dragonborn before?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
Alright, I said I was going to talk about town building, but I am going to wrap that into what I would then do to plan session one. I think that a fair amount of my work is already taken care of when it comes to the hook, but depending on how you wanted to go, that might just be a little bit of game play for everyone to introduce their characters at the end of session 0.
But I tend to split up character creation and some of the planning that goes into a campaign that the group can do together into a session 0, and then in session 1 is when the game play actually starts.
So what was our hook again?
Our Fighter, Cleric, and Wizard who all know the Paladin were helping defend the temple after the powerful Wizard in the town demanded that everyone gives him all their gems in order to prevent some unknown future disaster. The temple has several gems of great value, and now there is a mob outside the door that is fighting, some trying to break in and get the gems, and some trying to stop the other side from stealing things.
Okay, so what do I need to set-up for session 1 with the hook?
You might think about picking my monsters who will play the mob, and giving them hit points and weapons. But for me, I don’t think that’s extremely important. I tend to think that the mob will have a few key players and whatever side the players decide to go with, they will face off against the other sides keys. So I might go through and quickly grab a couple of bad guys, but that’s less important than other things to me.
What does the temple look like and where are the gems, that’s more important. The gems are likely kept in a back room, probably attached to some ancient relic. If the players want to protect it, they are going to have to go outside of the temple or deal with the people as they come crashing through the door. The main area of the temple has some chandeliers and some pews as well as an altar in the front.
Outside of the temple is the town square where there are a couple of other temples in other parts of the square. There are also some of the nicer and fancier shops, the best blacksmith in town, or the one who advertises himself as that. There’s also a “the best” woodworker and other such businesses. In the middle of what is generally a fairly open square there’s a stand where the local noble will give speeches.
You can start to see how the town is coming together for what the players need to know. The temples, while frequented by most of the people in the town are also in the nicer section or more expensive section of the town. In fact, it’s probably a mob of more commoners up against the city watch at this point, with some people who are worried about their businesses also with the watch.
The mob is going to be coming from off in the direction of the city bazaar where most of the common people shop to get their wares as compared to the town center. The mob will definitely have picked up some looters as well with the group who are going to be causing the city watch to have to split their attention which is why they aren’t driving back the common folk.
If the players want, they can probably turn the mob aside to a jewelry merchant, which might seem like a better place to go, but the jewelry shop is better secured, and the common people know more about the temple than they do about that shop.
At this point in time, I don’t know that I would flesh out too much more about the town or for session one. If things go quickly as they fight against the mob and try and get it turned, which it won’t because the players will spend some time planning, then I would have to move onto the next part of the story.
That would be skipping ahead a day and either having the Wizard or Grima Wormtongue character coming and thanking the players if they helped the jewels get stolen, or the noble for helping turn the tide of the mob, or the noble complaining about them not turning the tide of the mob. But whatever it would be, it would be some role playing for the players to do.
That’s a bit more free form and requires less planning. Just know what stat block you’re planning on using for the noble, wizard, and Wormtongue, just in case the players decide to attack. And if they do that, have the person do non-lethal damage to the characters. Unless you decide to have the players all play the B-Team.
And what’s how I’d create my first session and start building out the town. You can see that I left a lot of the town building blank. I’d start asking the players, if they start wondering, for shop ideas that the rich would want in the town center. The players can help you fill out the town and even come up with some of the physical characteristics of what the city watch might look like, what the noble or wizard could even look like as well. It means that you have to be ready to improvise and work with it on the fly, but it will give the players even more buy-in to the world and story.
What do you think of that session 1? Would you have planned out more of it in your game, or maybe less of it? How much input do the players have in world building?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!