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 …
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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Final topic for things to think about with a party. We’re going to try and figure out what alignments you should have in your adventuring party. Probably a trickier subject because some people really don’t want an evil character with their good character, or they …
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 …
Now we’re getting towards the edges of the races you can play in Dungeons and Dragons from the main Players Handbook. There are additional races or race options in other books. I’m going to call out some Tiefling things are from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
Tieflings, for those not familiar, are tainted in their bloodline somehow by demons. Mainly, the lord of the nine hells. In the players handbook you get the rules for creating a character who has some influence of Asmodeus in their bloodline. In Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, you get it for the rest of the Lords and Ladies of the nine hells. All Tieflings are generally charismatic as they all get an improvement to that stat, that generally makes them good at being Warlocks which makes a ton of sense. However, Bard and Sorcerer are also Charisma casting races. Most interestingly, the Paladin is also Charisma based, so that could make a really interesting role playing experience. As you’d expect, the main feature for a Tiefling is that they are resistant to fire.
Now, how that infernal influence gets into your bloodline is going to be up to you as a player. You could have had a relative that screwed one of the Lord of Hell, but that isn’t the only way. If your family worshiped one of the Lords of Ladies of Hell for a long time, it’s possible that they just became tainted through that and spawned the PC. I think that either of them provide some interesting role playing opportunities, but the biggest thing that the Tiefling provides for role playing is the fact you look different and that tells people that somehow your family consorted with someone evil.
Tieflings, themselves, don’t have to be evil, but might lean towards that alignment. And even if you don’t, again, people aren’t going to trust you, because you are very different. In the PHB (players handbook), you feel like most likely a Tiefling came from a human line, but there is no reason that your Tiefling couldn’t be based size wise off of some other race. But, back to my main point, the distrust of your character is going to be something that you are going to have to role play out with your DM. Maybe even your party doesn’t fully trust you because you are a Tiefling, and I find this interesting, because as a charismatic humanoid, you are not just naturally magnetic. It’s more of a situation that you can just sit down and win people over if they give you the time and aren’t running screaming when they see your horns and tail.
So what are some backstory ideas for playing a Tiefling?
When you were born, there was a lot of shock in your community, and you were tossed aside and left to die. However, the old Priestess in your town wouldn’t allow that to happen and went and took you from the woods where you had been left. She, in secret for several years, raised you and taught you the ways of the church. When you reached the age of ten, a new priest came to town as the priestess was getting old and frail. He didn’t treat you as well, but he promised the priestess he wouldn’t kick you out or abandon you. When you were old enough, he told you it was time to go on a mission and spread the word of your god to others and help where you could. So you went out and found a group that seemed to be doing good.
Alignment: Neutral Good
Note: I would play some into the tension between the infernal and the divine.
Your parents told you that the village you had been born in burned when you were young, and that’s why you lived all alone with only a few close family friends who had been able to survive. You found out later that might have been the case. As you grew to know more, you found out that your parents and their friends were worshiping a devil. And it turned out, as you overheard, that the village had burned because the village hadn’t wanted your family there when you were born, and your family and their friends had burned it to the ground while everyone was trapped in the temple. That didn’t sit well with you, so when you were a teen, you escaped and started wandering the woods, hunting and gathering as you needed. Then, one day, there was a tug on your heart and you went into a village, in disguise to see the humans as thralls and your family and their friends controlling them. You knew they had to be stopped.
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Being a Tiefling is generally looked down upon, but you were bred to be that way. Your kingdom is very pragmatic living in the shadows of a Red Dragon. Tieflings really make good firefighters being able to handle the heat and flames better than any humans. So each generation, a few women are selected to be part of the ritual and give birth to Tiefling children. However, your mother had told you that when she was carrying you a seer had told her that you were going to be important at a time when the world was in flames and that you could bring on the end of the world. You didn’t want to do that, but as compared to other Tieflings, it quickly became obvious that you had more power and that whichever Lord of the Nine Hells had sired you was helping keep you alive. Now you’re running, hoping that will protect you from what the seer foretold.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Note: What I like about this idea is that your character has a different feeling Warlock patron because they were given it as a way to defend themselves and stay alive, not because they made a deal, could offer some interesting role playing options.
So, what about you? Have you played a Tiefling before? How easy are they to play in your opinion? How hard are they to fit into the group?
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