A typical creature in the game world has an alignment, which broadly describes its moral and personal attitudes. Alignment is a combination of two factors: one identifies morality (good, evil, or neutral), and the other describes attitudes toward society and order (lawful, chaotic, or neutral). Thus, nine distinct alignments define the possible combinations.

These brief summaries of the nine alignments describe the typical behavior of a creature with that alignment. Individuals might vary significantly from that typical behavior, and few people are perfectly and consistently faithful to the precepts of their alignment.

  • Lawful good (LG) creatures can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society. Gold dragons, paladins, and most dwarves are lawful good.
  • Neutral good (NG) folk do the best they can to help others according to their needs. Many celestials, some cloud giants, and most gnomes are neutral good.
  • Chaotic good (CG) creatures act as their conscience directs, with little regard for what others expect. Copper dragons, many elves, and unicorns are chaotic good.
  • Lawful neutral (LN) individuals act in accordance with law, tradition, or personal codes. Many monks and some wizards are lawful neutral.
  • Neutral (N) is the alignment of those who prefer to steer clear of moral questions and don’t take sides, doing what seems best at the time. Lizardfolk, most druids, and many humans are neutral.
  • Chaotic neutral (CN) creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else. Many barbarians and rogues, and some bards, are chaotic neutral.
  • Lawful evil (LE) creatures methodically take what they want, within the limits of a code of tradition, loyalty, or order. Devils, blue dragons, and hobgoblins are lawful evil.
  • Neutral evil (NE) is the alignment of those who do whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms. Many drow, some cloud giants, and goblins are neutral evil.
  • Chaotic evil (CE) creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust. Demons, red dragons, and orcs are chaotic evil.

Alignment in the Multiverse

For many thinking creatures, alignment is a moral choice. Humans, dwarves, elves, and other humanoid races can choose whether to follow the paths of good or evil, law or chaos. According to myth, the good- aligned gods who created these races gave them free will to choose their moral paths, knowing that good without free will is slavery.

The evil deities who created other races, though, made those races to serve them. Those races have strong inborn tendencies that match the nature of their gods. Most orcs share the violent, savage nature of the orc gods, and are thus inclined toward evil. Even if an orc chooses a good alignment, it struggles against its innate tendencies for its entire life. (Even half-orcs feel the lingering pull of the orc god’s influence.)

Alignment is an essential part of the nature of celestials and fiends. A devil does not choose to be lawful evil, and it doesn’t tend toward lawful evil, but rather it is lawful evil in its essence. If it somehow ceased to be lawful evil, it would cease to be a devil.

Most creatures that lack the capacity for rational thought do not have alignments—they are unaligned. Such a creature is incapable of making a moral or ethical choice and acts according to its bestial nature. Sharks are savage predators, for example, but they are not evil; they have no alignment.

1 Comment

  1. Greyhawk Reply

    The alignment system is there to suggest your characters intentions, but more importantly it is there to define whether or not you are affected by spells. However there have been some people who have lived their lives in accordance with a number of the alignments in the D&D world. First we get clear on what each world means to better understand the alignments themselves.

    Good (G) – acting in a way that helps others, sometimes at a cost to oneself.

    Evil (E) – Acting in a way that hurts others, almost always benefiting oneself.

    Lawful (L) – A belief that rigid order, extensive laws and strict adherence to them are the best form of society for all.

    Chaotic (C) – The belief that individualism and freedom are more important above all else.

    LG – Nelson Mandela: Worked for good, went to jail conforming to made up laws to keep others down, peacefully led the movement, and when freed and became president, respected the rule of law and encouraged others to live with the new fair laws. See movie Invictus where he explains why the need to support the existing team instead of creating a new one, ultimate Lawful Good.

    NG – Jonas Salk: created polio vaccine, and instead of lawfully taking the patent for himself, chose the greater good above the law, yet was a scientist of renown and had a firm belief in the scientific method (order). He chose Good over either Law or Chaos.

    CG – Martin Luther King Jr.: A Christian Preacher so believing in the greater good and going around throughout the south to resist and rebel against a system of tyrannical laws that were wrong, yet stressed peaceful resistance over violence which may hurt innocents. Most Freedom Fighters belong to this alignment, and MLK was one of the greats.

    LE – Joseph Goebbels: Creator of the Third Reich’s Society, Creator of the Final Solution. He created a Lawful Society of Evil and was so true to it that he, nor his family could live in a world were it was not the way of things and took their own lives.

    NE – Joseph Stalin: He was evil, but he used both law and chaos to help him achieve his ends. Yes, he rebelled, and then set up a new order in Russia, but he killed all his fellow leaders so he could have the power all to himself. after setting up his dictatorship, he still killed people on a whim. He said he would kill anyone who entered his chambers without his personal invite, which it was why he lay dead for days before anyone had the guts to go in and see why he didn’t respond.

    CE – Charles Manson: This madman was set on burning the world to the ground. He created followers so after he was gone they were to continue the work. He killed indiscriminately, he did whatever pleased him and thought the world needed to be changed to his image of pure chaos and mayhem.

    LN – Most prosecuting attorneys, as they care not for anyone involved in the case just their closing percentage and “the law”.

    N – Animals. They have no bias, just the need to live eat and reproduce.

    CN – Is the hardest to find, as they would be a true anarchist. Problem is that as soon as they follow some political leaning, they are not a true anarchist anymore, and now land in another alignment.

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