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D&D Alignments Explained & Character Examples

by Hale L. on January 20, 2023

In the world of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), alignment is a character’s moral and ethical stance. Alignment is an optional element of character creation in D&D, but it can be an important tool for players and Dungeon Masters (DM) alike in developing and understanding a character’s motivations, actions, and role within the game.

Alignment varies across 2 dimension: Lawfulness and Morality.

Lawfulness is the characters tendency to follow the rules. Those rules could be good, like not killing people for fun, or evil, like executing any traitors.

Characters can be Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic.

  • Lawful characters will follow the rules, believing in the value of order and the rule of law.
  • Neutral characters will act as they will, regardless of the rules.
  • Chaotic characters will have a tendency to go against the rules, just for the fun of breaking them.

Morality is more self-explanatory, is the character looking to do good. Do they consider the effect of their actions on other or even society at large? 

Morality comes in 3 colours, Good, Neutral and Evil.

  • Good characters will look for the most righteous course of action and follow that
  • Neutral characters will mostly not consider the moral implications of their actions. Preferring often to prioritise themselves.
  • Evil characters will intentionally seek the misery and suffering of others, perhaps to repay some perceived injustice by the nature of reality itself.

Now, each character will have a selection from each of those dimensions. This takes a relatively simple concept and makes it much more complicated as the intersection of those two dimensions will lead to tension. As an example, a character which is Lawful Evil will be contained by their own (or someone else's) code but that would be explicitly Evil. Chaotic Good characters will overall look to do good but have no regard for the rule of law which can lead to conflict with the powers-at-be despite the good nature of the character.

Let's dig a bit deeper into all 9 of the possible combinations which Alignment can come in.

There are nine alignments in D&D:

Lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, true neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, and chaotic evil.

These alignments can be thought of as points on a grid, with lawful alignments on one axis and good or evil alignments on the other.

Lawful good

Lawful good characters, also known as “crusaders,” believe in order and doing good. They are typically honest, fair, and always striving to do what is right. They believe in following laws and rules, as long as they do not conflict with their moral code.

That’s all well and good but let’s dig into some examples you might recognise.

Examples:
  • Superman: Superman follows a strict code of justice and always strives to do what is right, even if it means sacrificing his own well-being. He follows laws and rules, and he is honest and fair in his actions.
  • Captain America: Captain America is a symbol of patriotism and justice, and he always strives to do what is right, even if it means going against the rules. He follows a strict moral code and is willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
  • Katniss Everdeen: Katniss is a strong and courageous hero who is always willing to stand up for what is right, even if it means putting herself in danger. She follows her own sense of morality and justice, and she is honest and fair in her actions.

    Neutral good

    Neutral good characters, also known as “benefactors,” do what is necessary to bring about the greatest good. They are not bound by laws and may act outside of them if they believe it is necessary to do what is right. 

    Examples:
    • Spider-Man: Spider-Man is motivated by a strong sense of justice and a desire to help others. He follows his own moral code, but he is also willing to act outside the law if he believes it is necessary to do what is right.
    • Harry Potter: Harry Potter is a hero who is motivated by a desire to protect others and do what is right. He follows his own sense of morality, but he is also willing to act outside the law if he believes it is necessary.
    • Tony Stark: Tony Stark is a complex character who is motivated by a desire to do what is right, but he is also driven by his own self-interest. He follows his own sense of morality and is willing to act outside the law if he believes it is necessary to achieve his goals.

      Chaotic good

      Chaotic good characters, also known as “rebels,” believe in doing good, but they also value their own freedom and independence. They may act outside the law to achieve their goals and may sometimes be unpredictable in their actions. 

      Examples:
      • Han Solo: Han Solo is a rebellious and independent character who values his own freedom above all else. He is motivated by a desire to do what is right, but he is also willing to act outside the law if he believes it is necessary to achieve his goals.
      • Robin Hood: Robin Hood is a rebellious and independent character who is motivated by a desire to do what is right and help the poor and downtrodden. He values his own freedom and independence and is willing to act outside the law if he believes it is necessary to achieve his goals.
      • Princess Leia: Princess Leia is a strong and independent character who is willing to stand up for what is right, even if it means going against the rules. She values her own freedom and independence and is willing to act outside the law if she believes it is necessary to do what is right.

      Lawful neutral

      Lawful neutral characters, also known as “judges,” believe in following laws and rules for the sake of order and stability. They may act in their own self-interest, but they do not necessarily prioritise their own desires over the greater good.

      Examples:
      • Hermione Granger: Hermione is an intelligent and studious character who is motivated by a desire to do what is right and follow the rules. She follows a strict moral code and is willing to act within the law to achieve her goals.
      • Mr. Robot: Mr. Robot is a complex character who is motivated by a desire to bring about change and bring down the corrupt system. He follows a strict moral code and is willing to act within the law to achieve his goals.
      • Batman: Batman is a complex character who is motivated by a desire to bring justice to Gotham and protect the city from crime. He follows a strict moral code and is willing to act within the law to achieve his goals, but he is also willing to act outside the law if he believes it is necessary.

        True neutral

        True neutral characters, also known as “undecided,” are neutral on both axes and do not lean towards any particular alignment. They may act in their own self-interest, but they do not necessarily prioritise their own desires over the greater good or the well-being of others.

        Examples:
        • Rick Sanchez (from Rick and Morty): Rick Sanchez is a complex character who is motivated by his own self-interest and a desire to protect his family. He is not bound by any particular moral code and is willing to act in whatever way he believes is necessary to achieve his goals
        • The Oracle (from The Matrix): The Oracle is a wise and powerful character who is motivated by a desire to bring about balance and understanding in the world. She is not bound by any particular moral code and is willing to act in whatever way she believes is necessary to achieve her goals.
        • The Child (from The Mandalorian): The Child, also known as “Baby Yoda,” is a neutral character who is not motivated by any particular alignment. They are a neutral being who is simply trying to survive in a dangerous world.

          Chaotic neutral

          Chaotic neutral characters, also known as “anarchists,” value their own freedom and independence above all else. They may act in their own self-interest, but they do not necessarily prioritise the greater good or the well-being of others nor are they seeking the suffering or destruction of other.

          Examples:
          • Jack Sparrow: Jack Sparrow is a rebellious and independent character who values his own freedom and independence above all else. He is motivated by his own desires and is willing to act in whatever way he believes is necessary to achieve his goals, good or evil.
          • Deadpool: Deadpool is a rebellious and unpredictable character who values his own freedom and independence above all else. He is motivated by his own desires and is willing to act in whatever way he believes is necessary to achieve his goals, without regard for the greater good or the well-being of others.
          • The Joker: The Joker is a chaotic and unpredictable character who is motivated by his own desires and is willing to act in whatever way he believes is necessary to achieve his goals, without regard for the greater good or for evil. He simply wants chaos.

            Lawful evil

            Lawful evil characters, also known as “dominators,” believe in order and control, and they are willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve it, even if it means acting in an evil manner.

            Examples:
            • Lord Voldemort: Lord Voldemort is a power-hungry and ruthless character who is motivated by a desire to achieve ultimate power and control. He is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve his goals.
            • The Governor (from The Walking Dead): The Governor is a power-hungry and ruthless character who is motivated by a desire to maintain order and control in his community. He is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve his goals.
            • Cersei Lannister: Cersei is a power-hungry and ruthless character who is motivated by a desire to maintain control and protect her family. She is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve her goals.

              Neutral evil

              Neutral evil characters, also known as “malefactors,” are motivated by their own self-interest and are willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve their goals, even if it means acting in an evil manner.

              Examples:
              • The White Walkers (from Game of Thrones): The White Walkers are motivated by a desire to destroy all life and bring about an eternal winter. They are willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve their goals.
              • The Predator: The Predator is a ruthless and cunning alien species who is motivated by a desire to hunt and kill other beings for sport. They are willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve their goals.
              • Sauron: Sauron is a powerful and evil being who is motivated by a desire to conquer and control Middle-earth. He is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve his goals.

              Chaotic evil

              Chaotic evil characters, also known as “destroyers,” are motivated by their own desires and are willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve them, even if it means acting in an evil manner. They value their own freedom and independence above all else and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

              Examples:
              • The Emperor (from Star Wars): The Emperor is a power-hungry and ruthless character who is motivated by a desire to conquer and control the galaxy. He is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve his goals.
              • The Red Skull: The Red Skull is a power-hungry and ruthless character who is motivated by a desire to achieve ultimate power and control. He is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve his goals.
              • The Demogorgon (from Stranger Things): The Demogorgon is a chaotic and evil monster who is motivated by a desire to destroy and consume everything in its path. It is willing to use whatever means necessary, even if it means acting in an evil manner, to achieve its goals.

              You might well disagree with some of the examples as given, and that is to be expected. Characters rarely fall into one alignment category or another in totality. Not to mention that many of these characters have had multiple permutations.

              When selecting an alignment for a character, it’s important to consider the character’s motivations, beliefs, and actions. It’s also important to consider how the character’s alignment will fit within the context of the game and the story being told. A character’s alignment can change over time as they grow and develop, so it’s important to keep this in mind as well.

              Ultimately, the choice of alignment is up to the player and should be based on what feels true to the character they are creating. It’s important to remember that alignments are not meant to be restrictive, but rather a tool for understanding and developing a character’s motivations and actions within the game.


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