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Your character’s alignment can be a very important part a Dungeons and Dragons game if you are really willing to play your character. Most new players will inadvertently play themselves for the first game or two until they have become used to the layout and rules of the game. Over time most players will get bored of playing themselves, and in Dungeons and Dragons you aren’t really meant to play yourself anyway. Creating a really complex and believable character can be difficult but it is so rewarding, and challenging while playing to have to think what your character would do in certain situations.
There are a few aspects that make up your character’s outlook on life – their background; family, education etc, how they came to be an adventurer e.g. a lust for adventure or maybe previous training in some form of combat etc, and the last is alignment. You’re characters alignment is essentially their morality to a certain degree and how they perceive the world around them. Keeping to your characters alignment throughout the game ca make your Dungeons and Dragons adventures a lot more interesting.
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Good Vs. Evil
The first step in choosing your character’s alignment is to decide whether they are good, evil or neutral. Good versus evil is one of the most basic story lines found in Dungeons and Dragons games and one of the most often used too, because it is an idea that is so easy for us to understand and also because it is much easier to play a good character than an evil one.
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A Good character would not kill apperceptive beings without just cause, have much regard for other living beings and is willing to make personal sacrifices to help others. They would strongly oppose anything they would perceive as Evil.
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A Neutral character does not easily kill others, especially others they would consider to be Good but they can have their hand swayed into doing evil things. Neutral characters will usually be more concerned with themselves before others and would not easily make personal sacrifices for another. When making a decision they will usually first consider how it will affect them.
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An Evil character does not have any problem killing another living being, especially if it will benefit them in some way. They may even kill another simply because they think they might get away with it. A character may be forced down the path of Evil by a more powerful Evil creature (e.g. if they worshipped a powerful Evil Deity) but under different circumstances may simply be neutral.
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Law and Chaos
Of course it is not as simple as being either Good, Evil or Neutral. Choosing one of these, or at the very least understanding how they affect your character is just the easiest way to begin shaping your character’s alignment. The other important aspects of alignment are Law and Chaos.
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In the Dungeons and Dragons sense Lawful means that your character trustworthy and honorable with a lot of respect for those in a position of Authority and often seek to be in a position of authority themselves. A very staunch Lawful character may appear to be very ‘set in his ways’ to others and not very open to change, this especially applies to very religious and very Lawful characters who can be very strong in their beliefs.
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Being neutral towards Law and Chaos is very similar to being neutral towards Good and Evil – you are not particularly one or the other, sometimes selfish (or cowardly because you can be afraid to stand up to either) but you can be persuaded to pursue both Lawful and Chaotic behavior by others.
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News players usually think that Chaos represents a complete lack of respect for authority and purposeful disobeying of authority. While this can be true if you want it to be for your character (that kind of position is on the Chaotic Evil scale), most Chaotic characters do not purposefully disobey the law they just see the laws as being in the way of accomplishing something fun or simply being themselves, these characters are usually somewhere on the Chaotic Good scale.
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Often thought of as ‘the Paladin Class’. Lawful Good characters are usually considered to be very honorable by others and always act with good intentions, even if this sometimes means killing an Evil being. Lawful Good characters can sometimes find themselves in a tricky situation if they see themselves as having to choose between either upholding the local law or a sworn oath.They may also find themselves in inner-conflict when doing the right thing could potentially mean breaking the law or an oath so it not always as simply as just being a Good character.
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Chaotic Good characters may often be viewed as a little selfish by others. They do not enjoy hurting or punishing others even if them deem them to be ‘bad’. They usually have good intentions but just go about them the wrong way and do not feel the need to plan ahead or make rules for anything.
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Characters of the Neutral Good alignment have a certain respect for the law but they do not fell the same duty to uphold it as a Lawful Good character. When doing the right thing may mean breaking a law or two a Neutral Good character will do it without batting an eyelid. They would also not view authoritarians as a problem and would simply co-operate with them out of their basic respect for the law.
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Just Neutral (or Neutral Neutral)
Most animals are considered to be Neutral in all respects. Characters of this alignment are either undecided or committing themselves to being ‘balanced’ in all alignments, for example most Druids are of this alignment as it is considered natures alignment.
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A lot of Dungeon Masters would make a very strict law-enforcing NPC Lawful Neutral. Characters of this alignment belive very strongly in upholding the law, no matter how silly or awkward it seems.
Characters that follow a personal set of laws may adhere strictly to them and not very much to any local laws.
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Almost always viewed as selfish by others. Characters with a Chaotic Neutral alignment is usually considered to be a ‘free spirit’ by others who does not care much for laws or rues. They do not enjoy the idea of torturing or punishing others or animals. Their personal goals will almost always overshadow any goals that any adventuring party they are in may have.
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Also almost always considered to be selfish by others, but unlike a Chaotic Neutral character they do not mind stabbing a party member in the back for personal gain. In generally they have no problem with using violence to get what they want, but they will only use violence when it benefits them directly and not just for the sake of being violent. They will follow laws only when it is convenient to them.
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A Lawful Evil character is loyal but only to certain individuals and has no respect for those to whom he is not loyal. Lawful Evil characters are most dangerous to those they do not serve. Like characters of a Neutral Evil alignment they are not pointlessly violent. A lot of characters of this alignment would be mercenaries or assassins who kill simply for profit.
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Chaotic Evil characters are often cruel and enjoy the suffering of others, they will disobey others simply because they want to and will only obey a superior out of fear of being punished. They are often needlessly violent and do not care for anyone but themselves. Playing a Chaotic Neutral character within an adventuring party is extremely difficult and usually ends up with one or more characters injured or killed.
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Note for Dungeon Masters
When creating enemies for your Adventures, especially bosses it is important to think of their alignment too. In most Dungeons and Dragons adventures the adventuring party will be fighting against enemies of the opposite alignment with the most typical being Good versus Evil. Think about how much alignment affects the party and now think about how much it could affect any enemies you create or any NPCs you introduce. Remember your job is to try to surprise and challenge the adventuring party in any way you can.