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, […]
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 […]
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 have the law in mind when they are doing good, and they don’t do good because they are altruistic. They are going to do it for fame and glory and hopefully some money along the way. And, that is pretty chaotic. They are also going to sometimes do what they think is right, sometimes that the law or a deity says is right, but they are going to do the good thing, but it just might not be in the expected way.
This also makes it easier on the DM, because I know that I can throw out a plot hook where someone is clearly bad, but I don’t know what you are going to do. That’s going to make it more fun for me as I don’t know what is going to happen. That randomness might bug some DM’s, but as they DM more, it makes it easier as you go along. It also keeps it feeling fresh, because the players working in a somewhat random way means that I can’t fully plan for it, and I can’t fully predict what they are going to do.
And, again, I think that this idea of rewards and treasure, those are things that as the players we think about, but also, that then trickles into our characters as we divide loot and try and mechanically make our character as awesome as possible. Now, that might not seem like it’s good, but in your normal campaign, the bad guy is probably very bad, and the good guys are probably pretty good. The characters that we’re playing are those in the middle who are good, but aren’t just good for good sake and are willing to get their hands dirty taking down those who are bad.
As for what class works well, I think that the answer is any. Cleric and Paladin might lean more lawful, but there is no reason that they can’t be chaotic. The ones that jump out the most that do easily slide into this category are going to be your sorcerer, warlock, and rogue. All of them, seem to have class features that would make them more chaotic. But, like I said, this should be the default for adventurers in a good game, and you should explain your way off of it in your back story, if you want to be a different alignment. It is very similar for an evil game with the Lawful Evil alignment should be the default for an adventurer there.
I think that we all have a decent idea of what good is now, from the previous two articles, and the chaotic piece means that your motivations aren’t law or altruism. I don’t know that I have a ton more to say about this. So short article today.
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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, and why you might be out adventuring as one of them.
If you’re lawful that means that there are some set of rules that you follow and you want to follow them closely or perfectly if you can. In the case of a lawful good character, you’re going to most likely be following the rules of someone or something that is known to be good as well. This can be the laws of the land, but it’s more often the rules of a good deity, since humans, elves, dwarves, etc are all fallible creatures. That means that sometimes you might not even follow the laws of the land if you believe that they aren’t just.
The good piece just means that you’re not going to do something that’s evil. It seems pretty simple that way. But to go along with that, it doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything. If there’s something that seems like it’s for a righteous and just cause, you’re going to do that or at least be inclined towards that quest line. Good also means that you might not want to be a party to when the other PC’s from the adventuring party are doing something questionable. We’ll touch on some of that earlier, but a lawful good character might see how something can be useful, but wouldn’t ever take part in it themselves because they won’t do something that isn’t either ideally good and lawful. An example of this might be torturing a goblin to figure out what the giant goblin horde is up to. While it might be a goo thing because it would save a lot of people and the goblin is an evil creature, and even the rules of the land might allow for torture, it’s possible and probable that a good character wouldn’t want to be party to that. But they might also understand why other player characters would be, and leave so that they can do what they need to.
Now, when playing a lawful good character there is a chance it could fall into what is called lawful stupid. This is most commonly a trait for paladin or clerics where players lean too heavily into the lawful and good tropes. It’s going to be the case where a paladin sees someone stealing something, and because stealing isn’t lawful or good, run them through with your sword. The king insults you, that isn’t good, run him through with your sword. It’s the simple reaction to everything that can be scene as not lawful, but in particular not good. If it’s not good, that means death. But that doesn’t seem all that lawful or good in and of itself. Killing someone for stealing because it’s evil is an extreme reaction, which really doesn’t keep you in the camp of good. Capturing them and taking them to the city guard, now that makes a lot more sense. Less violent example of something similar though is a lawful good character who refuses to go into an inn because they serve alcohol and drinking is a sin. Even though they just saw the bad guy run into there.
But beyond the reaction of violence for an insult, lawful stupid can also mean that a character is too trusting and naive. Just because you are good and lawful doesn’t mean that you think everyone else is going to be. This can be equally as harmful as it’ll cause strife in the party when the lawful good character just asks someone a question who is clearly hiding something but doesn’t disbelieve them. Especially if you’re dealing with the face of the party or a split party for some reason so that you’re going to be missing information that you would otherwise want to have readily available for the party.
So how do you avoid this as a characterization for your PC? I think it’s just adding in some dimension to your character. I talk in the first article of the series who your alignment isn’t how you only run your character. It’s a framework for developing a well rounded character and for not spending too long while making a decision. If you find it taking too long, just make that decision based off of the alignment for your character. I gave an example for the thieves stealing bread. But for the Kings insult maybe you don’t trust them more. For the Inn and you don’t approve of drinking, you don’t have to have your PC drink. Being suspicious of people isn’t anything that goes against lawful good either. It allows you to have a more developed character if you don’t just treat them purely as in the tropes.
But let’s talk about why a lawful good character would go adventuring.
I actually think that this one is pretty easy to come up with reasons for going out. You can go with the story where something really bad is going to happen, that will motivate a lawful good character to go out and stop it. The adventure might also be something that a good character gives to the player characters. But if you’re playing a heroic campaign, it’s most likely that you’ll have quest givers that are good or that will want something good done. Now, it can be interesting as a DM to subvert that sometimes. Maybe you’re “good” quest giver has given out a quest that on the surface seems good, but is actually something the actually evil quest giver needs done to complete their plan. Or maybe the actual quest itself isn’t good when you get down into it. I will say, don’t do that all the time though, or your players will never trust you again, and yes, I mean players, not player characters.
So what classes work for lawful good?
The two people will think of right away are Paladin and Cleric. Both of them are tied to a deity of your choice, so it would be easy to pick lawful good ones and a lot of the deities are. But I think that there are some other interesting options, you can even play against type with something like a rogue. A rogue assassin who only kills evil people who are above the normal law, that makes a lot of sense for a lawful good character. Warlock is probably the trickiest as your patron almost has to be lawful good. Something like Hexblade might work. Final question for classes would be if a necromancer wizard would work, and I think that it could possibly. It is a little bit trickier, because you have the lawful good wanting to raise not good undead, I think most of them are evil, and that might be a conflict for you depending on how you play it. But there are necromancy options that aren’t just raising the dead which might work.
So, now that we’ve delved into this alignment. Would you want to play a character with a lawful good alignment? If you have, how have you avoided the lawful stupid trope?
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