Hi, fellow D&D roleplayers and welcome to another article of the series dedicated to D&D Alignments.
Today’s topic revolves around the True Neutral alignment, which is one of the 9 alignments in Dungeons & Dragons and it allows characters to follow their instincts without being influenced by concepts of good, evil, law or chaos.
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 True Neutral character.
- What is True Neutral in D&D?
- Beliefs and Behaviour of Characters and NPCs
- Characters Examples
- Background Ideas for NPCs or Characters
- How to Play a True Neutral Character
- Examples of True Neutral Character Actions
- Why Play a True Neutral Character?
- True Neutral vs. Other Alignments
- True Neutral FAQs
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What is True Neutral in D&D?
True Neutral 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.
Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook Edition 5.0
In D&D the alignment system is often represented in a grid format, with one axis representing morality and the other representing ethics or attitudes. True Neutral characters fall right in the centre of this grid.
These characters are often defined by their pragmatic approach to life.
They may value their own survival, the well-being of their allies, or achieving a specific goal, without strictly adhering to any moral principles.
This neutrality allows them to navigate the world through a clear and unbiased lens. For example:
- A True Neutral druid might seek balance in nature and maintain a healthy ecosystem, avoiding picking sides in conflicts between good and evil.
- A merchant, who sees every transaction as a means to an end, could also fall under the umbrella of True Neutral.
- An adventurer who stays focused on completing quests without getting embroiled in matters of morality might also adopt this alignment.
It is important to note that being True Neutral doesn’t equate to being emotionally detached or completely disinterested in the world.
These characters may have personal motivations and goals they wish to accomplish, but ensure that their actions don’t tip the scales in favour of good, evil, law, or chaos.
Beliefs and Behaviour of Characters and NPCs
At the core of True Neutral characters is the belief in maintaining balance. They view the world in shades of grey and understand the necessity of all alignments within the game world.
TN individuals often hold the view that good, evil, law, and chaos are necessary forces that should coexist in harmony. This belief compels them to avoid taking sides or promoting a single alignment over the others.
The behaviour of TN characters is largely influenced by their belief in balance. They typically follow reasonable laws and social conventions, but they won’t hesitate to bend or break rules if they think it’ll help maintain balance.
These characters aren’t motivated by personal gain, selflessness, or a sense of duty, but rather by a desire to maintain the status quo and ensure the stability of the world around them.
As for their moral compass, TN characters can exhibit a wide range of moral values, therefore some may lean more towards good or evil, while others may be focused on law and chaos.
In decision-making situations, True Neutral characters are likely to carefully weigh the potential consequences of various actions, attempting to choose the option that best promotes equilibrium.
In popular culture, there are many examples of True Neutral characters. Here are a few examples:
|Mordenkainen (Forgotten Realms)||A powerful wizard who is known for his vast knowledge and magical abilities. He’s often called upon to help defend the world from powerful threats as his ultimate goal is to maintain the balance of the Flanaess.|
|Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher)||Geralt of Rivia is a monster hunter who is hired to kill dangerous creatures, but he’s also known for his strong moral code and his willingness to help those in need. He isn’t interested in politics or larger conflicts and prefers to remain neutral and stay out of trouble. However, he will take action if he believes it’s necessary to protect innocent lives or fulfil his duties as a witcher.|
|Tom Bombadil (The Lord of the Rings)||Tom Bombadil is a mysterious figure who lives in the Old Forest and he’s a protector of the forest and its inhabitants. He isn’t motivated by a sense of good or evil, but rather by a love for nature and the natural world and he’s not interested in getting involved in the larger conflicts of Middle-earth. Instead, he prefers to live a simple life, singing and dancing in the forest, and helping those who come to him in need.|
Background Ideas for NPCs or Characters
The druid, a nature-lover and protector of the wilderness, exemplifies a true neutral role. In their quest to maintain the balance of nature, they might sometimes aid the forces of good, and sometimes aid the forces of evil or chaos. Their primary concern is ensuring the well-being of the natural world, rather than committing to a given moral or ethical stance.
A mercenary is essentially a soldier for hire who doesn’t hold any personal allegiance to the causes they fight for. As long their pay is sufficient, they will take on any job, whether it’s for good or evil. Their loyalty lies primarily with themselves and whoever signs their cheques.
Wanderers, or lone wanderers, venture through the world without a fixed goal or allegiance. They might help those in need or accidentally cause havoc, but their actions are neither good nor evil by nature. Instead, their encounters are based on whimsy, instinct, or chance, rather than a given moral or ethical philosophy.
Loremasters are devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and the collection of lore, regardless of its nature. They seek to understand the world around them without considering the consequences of their actions or discoveries. While they may choose to adapt to the local culture’s ethical standards, their true focus is on uncovering hidden secrets and preserving ancient knowledge.
Survivors in D&D have a primary goal of self-preservation. Whether they’re facing dungeons, dragons, or deadly traps, their objective remains the same: survive. Though they might aid allies or enemies in the heat of battle, the survivor’s ultimate loyalty lies with themselves, fighting relentlessly to stay alive despite the odds.
How to Play a True Neutral Character
Alignment and Roleplaying Tips
A True Neutral character doesn’t necessarily lack values or goals but seeks harmony between the different aspects of their alignment. The key to playing a True Neutral character is to understand that their motivation stems from maintaining balance and avoiding extremes.
Here are some tips if you want to play a character with this alignment:
- Consider the character’s beliefs: a TN character can hold various causes dear to them, whether it be environmental preservation or fairness to all. Ensure that these beliefs guide their actions without favouring one side over the other.
- Focus on balance: a TN character may work with different parties and adjust their actions based on the situation to maintain balance. Weigh the consequences of actions and seek compromise when appropriate.
- Be adaptable: being TN means that a character must remain flexible in their approach. They may change tactics or goals in response to shifting circumstances so long as it helps maintain neutrality.
Challenges and Opportunities
The following points can help you navigate the challenges of playing a True Neutral character while capitalising on the opportunities:
- Challenge societal norms: as a TN character, you may question the morality and ethics of the world around you. This allows for engaging storylines and decision-making that transcends traditional tropes.
- Mediator role: your character can act as a natural bridge between party members with conflicting goals or alignments. Embrace the opportunity to foster understanding and cooperation amongst your group.
- Embrace versatility: the adaptable nature of TN characters can grant you a broader range of skills and experiences. Use this to your advantage when tackling challenges and exploring new aspects of your character’s abilities.
Examples of True Neutral Character Actions
Actions they would do
- Act based on their instincts or personal feelings in a situation, without considering moral implications.
- Remain impartial in conflicts, avoiding taking any stand on either side of an argument.
- Follow rules and laws if they serve a practical purpose, but willingly bend or break them if the situation calls for it.
- Make decisions without excessive regard for others, but also without malice or cruelty.
- Prioritise their own or their group’s survival and well-being above other concerns.
Actions they wouldn’t do
- Take sides in conflicts or disputes without a clear benefit or advantage to themselves.
- Engage in actions that are overly altruistic or selfless, as they prioritize balance and neutrality over any one individual’s interests.
- Break laws or rules without a clear reason or justification, as they typically seek to maintain order and stability.
- Show favouritism or bias towards certain individuals or groups over others without a clear reason or justification, as they strive for impartiality.
- Engage in actions that may disrupt the balance of nature or the environment without a clear reason or justification, as they prioritize the preservation of the natural order.
It’s important to note that these actions are not set in stone, and TN 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 True Neutral Character?
In this section, I’ll list the benefits and potential drawbacks of playing a TN character.
- Flexibility: true neutral characters can adapt to various situations and alliances, as they don’t adhere to a particular moral or ethical code. This can make them valuable mediators in group conflicts and decision-making processes.
- Unpredictability: their undefined moral compass can make true neutral characters unpredictable and intriguing, offering a sense of mystery and depth to their personality that can be engaging for both the player and fellow characters in the campaign.
- Balance: true neutral characters act as a middle ground between good, evil, lawful, and chaotic, creating an opportunity for interesting in-game dynamics.
- Lack of direction: true neutral characters may struggle with defining their goals and motivations, as their tenuous moral values can make forming lasting connections with other characters more difficult.
- Perception from others: other characters, both player and NPCs, may not trust true neutral characters due to their unpredictable nature or perceive them as indecisive or uncommitted to a cause.
- Difficulty in moral dilemmas: true neutral characters are forced to navigate between competing alignments, making moral decisions more complicated.
True Neutral vs. Other Alignments
True Neutral vs Lawful Good
Lawful Good characters hold a strong belief in a well-ordered society and the greater good. While True Neutral characters may respect the law, they don’t fervently follow it nor actively seek the greater good. True Neutral can be seen as pragmatic, focusing on balance or self-interest rather than adhering to strict codes and ideals.
True Neutral vs Neutral Good
Neutral Good characters tend to prioritise the greater good without necessarily following a strict moral code. They often act out of kindness or benevolence. True Neutral characters, on the other hand, might make a decision based on the situation, preserving balance, or focusing on personal interests, with moral and ethical considerations being secondary.
True Neutral vs Chaotic Good
Chaotic Good characters value personal freedom and self-expression while still seeking to do what is right. True Neutral characters may share this appreciation for freedom, but they generally maintain a detached stance from actively pursuing the greater good. While CG may challenge authority for altruistic purposes, TN does so for its own reasons or to maintain balance.
True Neutral vs Lawful Neutral
Lawful Neutral characters strictly adhere to a code or set of laws, valuing order above all else. They act according to what is legally acceptable, not morally righteous. While True Neutral characters may respect the law, their actions can vary greatly, swaying between lawful and chaotic behaviour depending on the situation and their goals.
True Neutral vs Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic Neutral characters value personal freedom and are driven by their impulses or desires. Their actions often cause upheaval or disruption. True Neutral characters can exhibit chaotic behaviour, but these actions are grounded in preserving balance or pursuing self-interest, lacking the impulsive decision-making often displayed by Chaotic Neutral characters.
True Neutral vs Lawful Evil
Lawful Evil characters adhere to a rigid code while pursuing their selfish ambitions or malevolent goals. They exploit the law to their advantage, using structure to gain power. True Neutral characters, while they can have their own personal goals, don’t follow a specific code nor actively strive for evil outcomes or power.
True Neutral vs Neutral Evil
Neutral Evil characters pursue their own selfish interests with little regard for the well-being of others. While True Neutral characters can be self-interested too, their actions come from a place of pragmatism, balance, or ambivalence, rather than a singular focus on personal gain or malevolence.
True Neutral vs Chaotic Evil
Chaotic Evil characters act malevolently, causing pain or destruction for their own amusement or personal gain. Unlike True Neutral characters who value balance or personal motives, Chaotic Evil characters embrace chaos and anarchy, acting with little to no moral constraint.
True Neutral FAQs
Can True Neutral characters work with both good and evil characters?
Yes, they can work with both good and evil characters as long as it benefits their own interests or maintains balance.
They don’t have a strong moral compass that would prevent them from working with either side, but they may weigh the pros and cons of each side and choose the option that maintains balance or benefits their own interests.
How do True Neutral characters approach conflicts and decision-making?
True Neutral characters approach conflicts and decision-making by weighing the pros and cons of each side and choosing the option that maintains balance or benefits their own interests.
They may consider factors such as the potential consequences of each decision, the impact on themselves or their allies, and the potential impact on the balance of power or nature.
Is True Neutral alignment rare?
True Neutral alignment isn’t particularly rare in D&D, but it’s less common than some other alignments like Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil.
TN characters are often portrayed as being independent and self-interested, and they may not fit into the traditional hero or villain archetypes that are common in fantasy stories.
What class and race are best for a True Neutral character?
- Druids are often associated with the natural world and the balance of nature, which makes them a good fit for True Neutral characters who value balance and neutrality.
- Rangers are also associated with the natural world and can be good choices for True Neutral characters who value independence and self-reliance.
- Monks are often portrayed as being self-disciplined and focused, which can be a good fit for True Neutral characters who value balance and self-control.
- Rogues are often portrayed as being independent and self-interested, which can be a good fit for True Neutral characters who value their own interests above all else.
- Humans, Elves, and Half-Elves: these races are often associated with individualism and independence, which can be a good fit for True Neutral characters who value their own freedom and autonomy.