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 […]
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 an evil game. While a lawful evil character is going to go along with the party if it helps their goal and a chaotic evil character is going to mess with everything, a neutral evil character just wants to be evil. So the second the rest of the party does anything altruistic the neutral evil character is just going to be out or going to stab them in the back and hand them over to the BBEG.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the Neutral Evil alignment isn’t one that you can’t play in a game. But they are going to have a desire to be the BBEG themselves and that would be their goal. And they would just focus on that versus anything else that the players are doing. So, even if the players are going to destroy the artifact that the BBEG needs for his power and our neutral evil character wants to claim it as their own, they aren’t going to be apt to step in and help on a side quest that is good. And while they might put up with it once in a while, they are going to leave the party, at least with normal motivations for a neutral evil character, and find their own evil party.
So, if you do want to play a neutral evil character, it’s going to be a lot of work for you, in a mixed party. You are going to have to come up with the reasons why your character is going to stick around, because it’s going to be hard for the DM to throw consistent hooks for you. Because the hooks are going to be basically the opposite for any good character. Whether that means your character sits back and stays out of combat as long as they can in a good cause, or don’t help negotiate the release of kidnapped children, or it means that your character just goes off to further their evil goals while those things happen, that’s going to be up to you.
For me, I think the way that I would make this work is to have my neutral evil character to be the researcher. So if I’m there, I can join the party on stuff, but otherwise, I’d send them away from the party during times of the party doing good to research what is needed to find that artifact or whatever the BBEG needs, so that we can further that line of the quest, because that’s what I would care about. It would also lead closer to the moment when I stab the party in the back so that I can enact the same plot.
As for what classes work? A fallen Paladin or a Paladin of an evil deity would make a lot of sense, someone who has been corrupted. The thief rogue who is in it just for themselves. But someone like an assassin rogue would work, and it could be that they just assassinate for fun or to get more money for their evil plan. But being an assassin in and of itself is more of a lawful role. Like all D&D alignments, all of them are going to be possible to use, even if some of them, like Cleric, don’t work as well.
Finally, just to drive home the point. A neutral evil character is all about the evil. They are going to have their evil goals, but the evil goals aren’t tied into some other thing, it is just about being evil. A lawful evil character might want to take over the lands because they think that they can get rich and revenge on someone who did them wrong, but a lawful evil character isn’t going to care about the end goal, they are going to care about being evil, so even if they don’t end up ruling the lands, if they get a sufficient amount of suffering into the world, that’s what they wanted anyways.
Would you allow a neutral evil character into your game with other characters who aren’t evil? Have you played a neutral evil character in a game with non-evil characters? What did you have to do to make that work?
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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?
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Let’s take you back in time to when it was a Friday, last Friday in fact, and I wrote an article about what X-Men I wanted to see show up in the MCU first. I didn’t want to see the normal cast of characters, but instead, I came up with my own team.
When creating that team, I’ll get to who they are again shortly, I wanted to go in a different direction. Instead of having the “boy scout” team, I went with what could be considered a team with more questionable characters. I’ll get into their stories below before I cast them. But having a team that is trouble in space, like the Guardians of the Galaxy, where they are heroes, but they aren’t that reputable is one thing, but then putting a similar team together on Earth, that’s another thing. And them having a rough relationship with the law and a poor view of them will give credence why the rest of the X-Men are in hiding.
Let’s meet the characters:
Gambit – He has the ability to charge objects with energy so that they do more damage. He’s known for throwing around playing cards to do that. But what people don’t know is that he was part of the LeBeau Family Thieve’s Guild after he was kidnapped from a hospital at birth and then raised by them. So he’s got a nice shady background.
Rogue – Growing up on a commune in Mississippi, Rogue had two loving parents until her mother disappeared. Then her “aunt” raised her, but it was very strict. When she was a teen a boy she liked kissed her, and her powers kicked in. Because of that she ran away. Rogue’s powers include stealing super powers from someone, sapping that person’s energy, and erasing memories. After leaving the boy in a coma, she ran away from the commune.
Nightcrawler – Nightcrawler has teleportation powers, but that’s not what you’ll notice about him, it will be his odd look. His tail and slightly demonic look because he is half demon. He’s the happy-go-lucky member of the party. But he’s still shunned from society for how he looks.
Bishop – From the future, Bishop grew up in a mutant camp after humans used Sentinel robots to round up all the mutants. This was after he moved to the United States from Australia when Australia was destroyed in a nuclear attack. He has powers that allow him to absorb energy and redirect back out. He also has super human strength and the ability to know where he is at all times, which is useful being from the future.
Siryn – She, like her father, Banshee, has the power of a super sonic scream. She has more abilities as well, but I think that’s the one that they’d focus on instead of giving her full and large suite of abilities. In common super hero fashion, her mother died while her father was away on a mission and she lived with her uncle. This happened in child birth, so before Banshee knew she was still alive, he hurts her uncle and he vows revenge on Banshee bringing Siryn into a life of crime.
You can kind of see where I’m going with this. I think this is a team of characters who would do the right thing, but wouldn’t always go about doing it the right way. It’s also kind of a duplicate of what we had in my last article, but more details, so sorry for repeating myself, and I am guessing that I have some of the backstory of the characters wrong, but the motivation for them would stay the same.
So let’s get down to casting:
Gambit – Gaspard Ulliel
Who, you might ask, and I think is fair. But this French actor would be able to give Gambit the classic accent. He probably is best known for playing Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising. But I think it would make sense to take a lesser known actor and put it in the roll.
Rogue – Aly Michalka
I know her as Peyton from iZombie. And while she plays a very sweet character in that show, you do get to see her tough side. I think that’s one of the things with Rogue, she’s had struggles in life but she’s generally a sweet character.
Nightcralwer – Max Mauff
I don’t know a ton about him as an actor, so I’m borrowing some of these things from other people or using ideas from others and my own, but he has the look to play Nightcrawler, and yes, by that I mean he comes with his own tail. Okay, not that, but from his work and his look, he would fit Nightcrawler well.
Bishop – Ray Fisher
He played Cyborg in the Justice League movie, but don’t hold that against him. I think that with now being cast in True Detective, I’d trust his acting chops a bit more. Fisher is someone who people won’t recognize for playing Cyborg, so that would help him find his good super hero role.
Siryn – Saoirse Ronan
The big name of the crew, and the least known character. I’m not sure if she’d want to join the super hero world, but she’s definitely got Irish background, like Siryn is supposed to as well. I think she’d be a good foil for a film as well where Siryn might be the reason for pulling whatever job it is, and unlike some actors, she’ll be able to pull off a strong character while being a foil for the story as well.
So that is who I would cast, now obviously there are a whole lot more to look at in the long run as well. You’d bring in Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Strom, Beast, etc. at some point in time. But I think that you’d want to introduce them in a big way, showing up in some big face off event to help the New Avengers or something like that.
What do you think of my casting, would you want to watch a movie with that cast? What sort of plot would you come up with for that X-Men team?
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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 […]