Tag: rogue

Magic Economy in D&D

Magic Economy in D&D

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…

PvP in D&D

PvP in D&D

I’m going to continue doing some articles hitting on lesser talked about things in Dungeons and Dragons. There’s a lot for building your character and campaign and I’ve talked a lot about them as well. There are less articles talking about things like death of…

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: True Neutral

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.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

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.

Image Source: D&D Beyong

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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D&D Alignments – Neutral Good

D&D Alignments – Neutral Good

Neutral is an interesting position to talk about when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons characters. I mainly have a harder time nailing down what I think it is and how you use it in role playing. I think, the best way that I can…

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.…

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, 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.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

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.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

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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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…