This post was last updated on June 7th, 2023
Hi, fellow D&D roleplayers and welcome to another article of the series dedicated to D&D Alignments.
Today’s topic revolves around the Chaotic Neutral alignment, the one that’s associated with characters who prioritise their personal interests and freedom above any allegiance to law or ethics.
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 Neutral character.
- What is Chaotic Neutral?
- Beliefs and Behaviour of Characters and NPCs
- Characters Examples
- How to Play a Chaotic Neutral Character
- Examples of Chaotic Neutral Character Actions
- Why Play a Chaotic Neutral Character?
- Chaotic Neutral vs. Other Alignments
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What is Chaotic Neutral?
Chaotic neutral creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else. Many barbarians and rogues, and some bards, are chaotic neutral.
Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook Edition 5.0
A Chaotic Neutral alignment represents a character who values personal freedom and follows their whims, often acting on impulse and without concern for the consequences of their actions. The central idea behind this alignment is that the character behaves according to their individual desires, without being overly influenced by any moral code or expectation.
Characters with a CN alignment may at times make decisions that are seemingly selfish, but they could also oppose tyranny and protect others’ freedoms. In essence, they are the epitome of a “Free Spirit”, acting without restrictions and pursuing their goals as they see fit.
When creating such a character, it’s critical to balance the drive for personal freedom with respect for other players and the overall campaign. While this alignment grants a character immense flexibility in their actions, it’s crucial to avoid derailing the campaign by acting recklessly or disrupting the party dynamic.
Beliefs and Behaviour of Characters and NPCs
CN characters prioritise their independence, following their own desires and instincts rather than adhering to a strict moral code or societal rules.
They value personal freedom and they don’t like imposed restrictions upon individuals or communities.
When considering the behaviour of Chaotic Neutral characters, it’s important to note that they often act without seeking permission or consulting with the party. Their impulsive nature and focus on personal gain can lead to reckless decisions or conflicts with others. However, this alignment doesn’t imply that these characters lack compassion or the capacity to perform good actions.
Chaotic neutral individuals may choose to help others, but their motivation will likely come from personal preference or particular circumstances, rather than a commitment to uphold ethical principles.
NPCs who embody the Chaotic Neutral alignment can prove to be valuable allies or formidable adversaries, depending upon the situation. They may form alliances with other like-minded individuals who share their dislike for rigid authority structures, working together to further their own goals and maintain autonomy.
In popular culture, there are many examples of Chaotic Neutral characters. Here are a few examples:
|Deadpool (Marvel Comics)||Deadpool is an antihero who often breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly. He’s known for his sarcasm and rule-breaking actions, but he also has a sense of humour and a code of honour. He does what he thinks is right for that moment and doesn’t care about the consequences.|
|Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)||Jack Sparrow is a classic example of a chaotic neutral character. His self-serving nature and tendency to switch allegiances contribute to his Chaotic Neutral persona. He isn’t necessarily good or evil, but he does what he needs to do to survive and achieve his goals. He’s a pirate, after all.|
|Therion (Octopath Traveler)||Therion is a thief who is motivated by his own self-interest. He isn’t interested in helping others or doing what is right, but at the same time, he isn’t interested in causing harm for its own sake. He’s a skilled thief who will steal from anyone if the price is right, but he also has a sense of honour and will not betray those who have earned his trust.|
How to Play a Chaotic Neutral Character
Alignment and Roleplaying Tips
A chaotic neutral character in D&D follows their whims and values their individuality above all. They cherish freedom, avoid authority, and challenge traditions.
To effectively roleplay a chaotic neutral character, it’s important to strike a balance between unpredictability and respecting other players. Here are some tips:
- Be creative and spontaneous in your decisions and actions.
- Make it clear that your character doesn’t believe in rules or restrictions.
- Respect your fellow players and avoid disrupting the game for the sake of chaos. That’s not fun at all!
Challenges and Opportunities
- Conflict with other party members.
- Staying true to the character’s eccentric nature.
- Respecting the party’s decisions and goals.
- Creating dynamic roleplaying experiences.
- Exploring unconventional solutions to problems.
- Developing interesting character arcs.
Examples of Chaotic Neutral Character Actions
Actions they would do
- Save a friend or ally because of personal loyalty, even if it goes against the laws or morals of the setting.
- Pursue wealth, power or fame for their own benefit, without concern for the methods used to achieve these goals.
- Change loyalties or alliances whenever it suits them, or when it becomes too restrictive for their liking.
- Act unpredictably, embracing their inner chaos, such as following a sudden whim or impulse that may seem illogical to others.
Actions they wouldn’t do
- Rigorously follow a strict code of conduct or blindly obey authority figures at the expense of their own desires or interests.
- Engage in acts of extreme cruelty or selflessness, as their actions are typically driven by personal gain, curiosity or interest rather than malicious intent or altruism.
- Lay their life on the line for a cause or principle, unless it directly benefits them or their interests in some way.
- Act in a highly predictable, consistent manner, as they prefer to maintain their sense of independence and unpredictability.
It’s important to note that these actions are not set in stone, and CN characters can still surprise players and DMs with their decisions.
These actions could serve as a general guideline for players who are new to the game.
Why Play a Chaotic Neutral Character?
- Freedom: as a CN character, you’re free to act on your whims and desires without being tied down by a strict moral code or allegiance to any particular group or cause. This can make for a more unpredictable and exciting gameplay experience.
- Flexibility: your alignment allows you to be flexible in your decision-making. You can choose to act in a way that benefits yourself, your party, or even a third party, depending on the situation.
- Creative problem-solving: your alignment can also allow you to approach problems in unique and creative ways, as you are not bound by any particular set of rules or expectations.
- Selfishness: as a CN character, you’re free to act on your own desires, which can sometimes lead to selfish or reckless behavior. This can cause tension within the party and may even lead to conflict.
- Unpredictability: your alignment can make your character unpredictable, which can be both a blessing and a curse. While it can make for an exciting gameplay experience, it can also make it difficult for other players to plan or strategize.
- Difficulty with authority: CN characters may have difficulty following orders or respecting authority, which can cause problems within a party or when dealing with NPCs.
Chaotic Neutral vs. Other Alignments
Chaotic Neutral vs Lawful Good
Chaotic Neutral characters are self-serving and follow their own path, often disregarding societal norms and laws in pursuit of their goals.
Conversely, Lawful Good characters respect rules and authority, always striving to do the right thing within the confines of law and order.
Chaotic Neutral vs Neutral Good
Neutral Good characters aim to promote overall goodness and harmony yet are more flexible in their adherence to laws and traditions. Chaotic Neutral characters, on the other hand, are more focused on their own interests and may ignore ideals of general well-being.
Chaotic Neutral vs Chaotic Good
While both alignments share a common disregard for laws and societal norms, Chaotic Good characters act on their personal conscience and benevolence, often seeking to aid others even if it means breaking rules. In contrast, Chaotic Neutral characters are driven by self-interest and may disregard the welfare of others.
Chaotic Neutral vs Lawful Neutral
Lawful Neutral characters follow laws and traditions, considering them paramount regardless of whether their actions serve good or evil purposes. Chaotic Neutral characters, however, give little regard to laws and norms, prioritising their own desires and personal gain.
Chaotic Neutral vs True Neutral
True Neutral characters maintain a balance between laws and chaos, as well as good and evil. They act based on pragmatism, practicality or self-preservation, avoiding any extreme positions. Chaotic Neutral characters, conversely, focus on their own needs and whims, often disrupting the balance between order and chaos.
Chaotic Neutral vs Lawful Evil
Both alignments may pursue personal gain, but Lawful Evil characters adhere to strict codes, laws or hierarchies in their quest for power. Chaotic Neutral characters, by contrast, place their own desires above all else, rejecting established order in favour of chaos and individuality.
Chaotic Neutral vs Neutral Evil
Neutral Evil characters seek personal advantage by any means, demonstrating little concern for morals, laws or chaos. Similarly, Chaotic Neutral characters pursue their own interests with minimal regard for others, but their actions are motivated by a disregard for societal rules and norms rather than a purely selfish agenda.
Chaotic Neutral vs Chaotic Evil
Chaotic Evil characters spread chaos and destruction, often actively harming others to fulfil their desires. While Chaotic Neutral characters may cause trouble or disrupt order, their motivations are not typically malicious, instead focusing on personal desires and freedom from societal constraints.