This post was last updated on June 7th, 2023
Hi, fellow D&D roleplayers and welcome to the last article of the series dedicated to D&D Alignments.
Today’s topic revolves around the Chaotic Evil alignment, the one that’s typically associated with characters who are fuelled by arbitrary violence and selfish bloodlust.
In this article, I’ll explore this alignment in depth, discussing what it means, how it differs from other alignments, what kinds of characters and creatures typically embody this alignment and some good tips for players.
Whether you’re a seasoned D&D player or a newcomer to the game, this article will give you a deeper understanding of the alignment and how you could better play a Chaotic Evil character.
- What is Chaotic Evil?
- Beliefs and Behaviour of Characters and NPCs
- Characters Examples
- Background Ideas for NPCs or Characters
- How to Play a Chaotic Evil Character
- Examples of Chaotic Evil Character Actions
- Why Play a Chaotic Evil Character?
- Chaotic Evil vs. Other Alignments
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What is Chaotic Evil?
Chaotic evil creatures act with arbitrary violence, spurred by their greed, hatred, or bloodlust. Demons, red dragons, and orcs are chaotic evil.
Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook Edition 5.0
In the world of Dungeons & Dragons, Chaotic Evil alignment represents the epitome of chaos and evil.
It characterises individuals who combine a dislike for order with a ruthless pursuit of their desires, often leading to destructive and nefarious outcomes.
Characters with a Chaotic Evil alignment typically have no regard for rules, laws, or conventions and place their own selfish desires above the needs and well-being of others.
They are unpredictable in their actions and can be seen as forces of destruction. These characters might ally themselves with others, but only if it serves their twisted purposes.
The key points related to CE alignment are:
- Chaotic: a disdain for order, laws and traditions.
- Evil: ruthlessly pursue personal desires, often causing harm to others.
- Unpredictable: erratic behaviour and actions, making them difficult to anticipate.
- Selfish: prioritise their interests over the needs and well-being of others.
Beliefs and Behaviour of Characters and NPCs
Role of Morality
Chaotic evil characters see morality as an obstacle to their goals and desires. They often lack empathy, allowing them to easily harm others regardless of the consequences.
This makes them one of the most dangerous character types in D&D.
While a neutral evil or lawful evil character may have some limits on their behaviour, chaotic evil characters are motivated purely by their selfish desires.
Since CE characters act based on their passions and whims, their behaviour is often unpredictable.
They may form alliances with other villains or evil characters but may turn on them at any moment for personal gain.
Their unpredictable nature makes them strong opponents for adventurers, as they may be difficult to predict and outmanoeuvre.
Non-player characters (NPCs) of chaotic evil alignment usually serve as antagonists in D&D adventures.
Examples include ambitious warmongers, rogue knights, brutal assassins, or power-hungry sorcerers.
As interesting narrative elements, these chaotic evil characters can create compelling storylines. However, it’s essential that players portraying chaotic evil characters in a party exercise restraint to avoid disrupting the game experience for the other players.
In popular culture, there are many examples of CE characters. Here are a few examples:
|The Joker (DC Comics)||The Joker is a notorious villain who is known for his unpredictable and chaotic behaviour. He’s a master of manipulation and deception and enjoys playing mind games with his victims. He hasn’t regard for human life and is willing to kill anyone who stands in his way.|
|Joffrey Baratheon (Game of Thrones)||Joffrey is a sadistic and cruel king who takes pleasure in tormenting and killing his subjects. He’s impulsive, unpredictable, and has no regard for human life. Joffrey is a spoiled character who uses his power to satisfy his own desires, regardless of the consequences. He’s a chaotic and dangerous character who causes a great deal of suffering and misery throughout the series.|
|Kefka Palazzo (Final Fantasy VI)||Kefka is a jester-like villain who serves as the primary antagonist of Final Fantasy VI. He is a sadistic and nihilistic character who delights in causing chaos and destruction. Kefka is a powerful mage who seeks total destruction and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals, including killing innocent people and destroying entire cities.|
Background Ideas for NPCs or Characters
Chaotic Evil characters are notorious for their erratic behaviour and selfish intentions. They often serve as formidable obstacles or fearsome allies in various campaigns. Here are a few ideas of characters’ backgrounds that players may find intriguing:
The Disturbed Marauder: this character thrives on spreading destruction and chaos. With a tendency for violence and bloodshed, he’s likely to loot, burn and kill those who stand in his way. The motivation behind his actions can stem from various factors, such as revenge or pure sadism.
The Deceptive Trickster: this character uses guile and deceit to accomplish his goals. Clever and manipulative, he exploits weaknesses, sows discord, and causes chaos for personal gain or amusement.
The Ruthless Warlord: obsessed with power and control, this type of character often leads armies or bands of marauders. Ruthless and driven by a thirst for conquest, he’s likely to engage in merciless tactics, including cruel destruction and brutality.
The Diabolical Villain: This character is driven by an insatiable urge to cause suffering and destruction. With a twisted and malevolent mind, he typically pursues his warped ends with a combination of cunning, cruelty, and dark magic. For instance, a sorcerer corrupted by dark powers, ruthlessly seeking to unleash havoc upon the world, would fit this role perfectly.
How to Play a Chaotic Evil Character
Alignment and Roleplaying Tips
CE characters often have a desire for personal freedom, and they may not care about the well-being of others, even their party members. To effectively roleplay a chaotic evil character, keep these aspects in mind:
- Focus on the character’s motivations – whether it’s a quest for power, a desire to spread chaos or a thirst for revenge.
- Develop a complex backstory that helps explain your character’s actions and motivations.
- Find a balance between the destructive and selfish nature of chaotic evil, and the need to work with a party to achieve common goals.
- Communicate with other players about your character’s intentions to avoid misunderstandings.
Challenges and Opportunities
- It can be tricky to maintain a friendly relationship with the party, especially if their goals clash with your character’s motives. Open communication, both in and out of character, can help overcome this issue.
- Chaotic evil characters may face moral dilemmas that other alignments don’t. Embrace these situations as opportunities for character development and exploration.
- Be prepared to adapt your character’s behaviour or goals if his actions become overly disruptive to the game. Cooperation with the DM and other players is crucial for maintaining a fun and enjoyable campaign.
- Use your chaotic evil character as a means to explore darker themes and storylines, providing both you and the party with unique roleplaying experiences.
Examples of Chaotic Evil Character Actions
Actions they would do
A CE character may indulge in acts of violence for personal gain or pleasure.
For example, they might torture someone for information or simply because they enjoy inflicting pain on others.
They could destroy a village without any clear motive, driven only by the thrill of chaos and suffering.
Another common trait among Chaotic Evil characters is their disregard for authority and rules.
They might turn their back on their superiors, break a sacred oath, or betray their allies when it serves their interests.
For instance, they might switch alignments during a quest or sabotage a plan, causing unexpected complications for their companions.
Deceit and manipulation are also typical of Chaotic Evil characters.
They may lie, cheat, and steal without remorse, often resorting to treachery and deceit to achieve their goals.
For example, they might deceive their companions into performing a dangerous task while they reap the rewards, or they may trick their enemies into a deadly trap to exact revenge.
Actions they wouldn’t do
Chaotic Evil characters are unlikely to show mercy towards their enemies, even when it would be more beneficial to do so.
They would generally prefer to eliminate their foes rather than spare them, even if it means crossing a moral boundary or sacrificing a strategic advantage.
Similarly, Chaotic Evil characters aren’t motivated by altruism, and they aren’t inclined to help others without expecting something in return.
They may even view acts of kindness and generosity as weaknesses or liabilities, choosing to exploit others’ goodwill rather than reciprocate it.
For instance, they wouldn’t protect an innocent bystander without expecting a reward, nor would they willingly aid a companion who has been captured or injured, unless there is a personal gain involved.
Lastly, Chaotic Evil characters avoid forming genuine bonds or alliances, as they view trust as a vulnerability.
They are more likely to treat others as instruments or pawns, valuing them only for their usefulness.
As such, activities that foster camaraderie or teamwork, such as seating along with their companions around a campfire and sharing stories, are unlikely to appeal to a Chaotic Evil character.
Why Play a Chaotic Evil Character?
- Creativity and flexibility: Chaotic Evil characters often have unique motivations, allowing players to explore novel ideas in role-playing and storytelling. Their unpredictable and selfish nature opens up possibilities for creative problem-solving and encourages thinking “outside the box”.
- Playing the antagonist: These characters can serve as intriguing antagonists within a party, creating interesting character dynamics and opportunities for exciting storytelling.
- Freedom and individuality: Chaotic Evil characters value personal freedom, and playing one allows players to explore their own desires and needs within the game world without the constraints of law or morality.
- Disrupting party dynamics: A Chaotic Evil character’s goals and actions may conflict with those of their fellow party members, potentially leading to tension and disruption within the group.
- Overstepping boundaries: The chaotic and selfish nature of these characters may result in players pushing ethical or social boundaries and making other players uncomfortable.
- Limited cooperation: Chaotic Evil characters may find it difficult to work with others to achieve communal goals, which could hinder the progress of the party.
Chaotic Evil vs. Other Alignments
Chaotic Evil vs Lawful Good
Lawful Good characters are the complete opposite of CE characters. While Lawful Good creatures are inclined towards justice, kindness, and order, CE characters are selfish, unpredictable, and have a complete disregard for law and order. Both alignments have different perspectives on morality, with Chaotic Evil characters causing harm simply for their own enjoyment or out of anger.
Chaotic Evil vs Neutral Good
Neutral Good characters usually focus on doing good actions and will obey or break the law whenever it suits their goals. In contrast, CE characters prioritize their personal desires and destructive tendencies above all else, without concern for the welfare of others. The two alignments possess different values, often leading them to clash on fundamental issues.
Chaotic Evil vs Chaotic Good
Both Chaotic Good and Chaotic Evil characters share a sense of unpredictability and a disdain for authority. However, Chaotic Good individuals act in the best interest of others and work toward justice, even in defiance of law and order. On the other hand, Chaotic Evil characters prioritize their own desires and destructive actions, often causing harm to others in the process.
Chaotic Evil vs Lawful Neutral
Lawful Neutral characters strictly follow a code or set of laws, regardless of whether those laws are morally good or evil. Conversely, CE characters are driven by their selfish desires and complete disregard for laws and order. Their goals, values, and behaviours are fundamentally different, leading to significant conflicts between these alignments.
Chaotic Evil vs True Neutral
True Neutral characters strive to maintain a balance between good and evil, as well as law and chaos. They avoid taking sides and can be seen as impartial observers. CE characters, however, only pursue their personal desires and destructive urges, disregarding any sense of balance or fairness. This divergence in values and actions creates tensions between these two alignments.
Chaotic Evil vs Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic Neutral characters value their personal freedom and primarily act based on their whims, avoiding conformity to law, order, or morality. While CE characters also reject authority, they actively seek to cause harm and destruction for their own benefit or enjoyment. This fundamental difference between their goals and behaviours leads to conflicts between these alignments.
Chaotic Evil vs Lawful Evil
Both Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil characters pursue evil goals, but Lawful Evil individuals adhere to a strict code, organization, or hierarchy. In contrast, Chaotic Evil characters act on their selfish and destructive desires, with no regard for law, order, or structure. The difference in approach to evil creates a gap between these two alignments.
Chaotic Evil vs Neutral Evil
Neutral Evil characters are willing to use any means necessary to achieve their goals, including both lawful and chaotic methods. Chaotic Evil characters, however, prioritize their desires for destruction, chaos, and personal gain, without concern for laws, order, or others’ well-being. This difference in focus and methods sets these two evil alignments apart.