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Alignment Part 5 – Neutral: Like the Swiss But Without Spiffy Knives

The neutral alignments maintain the middle ground, the balance between good and evil, and are quite popular.  However, most players have a hard time playing neutral of any type.  This is a tricky alignment to play, and definitely warrants intense study.  For the next several articles, we’re going to look more at the neutral alignments and see how these alignments differ from evil alignments, as well as how the differ from good.

Unlike evil alignments, a neutral character may actually acknowledge his neutrality.  He doesn’t care one way or the other, and often makes no bones about it.  The mercenary who works for whoever pays the most, for example.  He doesn’t care if the good king or the evil wizard hires him, so long as payment is made.

Neutral characters often look the other way while evil acts are committed, same as they do with good acts.  As I’ve already mentioned, they generally don’t care one way or the other.  However, neutral characters often do have something they care about, and it is these things that make a neutral character either lawful or chaotic, and that is what we will focus on in the next part of our series on alignments.

However, before that, let me know what you think neutral alignment is and how it should be played!

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August 22, 2008 - Posted by | RPG | ,

7 Comments »

  1. IMHO, to be totally true to a true neutral alignment (NN), it’s not that you don’t care about anything, but you have zero loyalty to anyone specifically. You are always striving for balance, and will generally assist whichever side of a conflict (be that conflict combat or via some other method) needs help the most. The reason this is a playable alignment at all, again in my opinion, is that most often it is the PCs side that is the underdog side.

    A lawful neutral archetype is the judge. A judge is required to be strictly objective regarding the law, and cannot allow any personal morales to affect his decision. LN is all about the facts and that’s it. They are the puzzle-solvers.

    Chaotic neutral is the alignment of choice for characters that are nutter butter. A CN character could give two shits less what the law says, their ethics don’t extend beyond the current moment or situation. In addition, without a moral cause to back this up, their actions are often as aimless as they are rule-breaking. Unlike every other alignment, the CN character has no deep-seated motivating goals. His actions are almost strictly determined by spur-of-the-moment decisions that have nothing at all to do with what is right and what is wrong. I have no clear-cut archetype that comes to mind for this.

    Comment by Liambic | August 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. That is definitely one way to look at the alignments, and they certainly aren’t wrong by any stretch. However, I hope to show a newer take on those alignments.

    Comment by Tom | August 23, 2008 | Reply

  3. Some fellow roleplayers of mine used to compare neutral, and true neutral characters in particular, to punks. I don’t know how the other punks would like that, but I think it’s a good comparison because it fits my experience (both in roleplaying and real life).

    I wouldn’t say that neutral characters look the other way by default, however, nor would I agree that they must strive for balance. I believe the truth (if there is any) is somewhere in between, yet I can’t put it into words.

    BTW, great series. I really like it.

    Comment by Lex Mosgrove | August 24, 2008 | Reply

  4. Definitely an interesting way to look at it. I can definitely see where you’re coming from on that one. 😉

    Thanks for the compliment. There’s plenty more in store in the coming day!

    Comment by Tom | August 24, 2008 | Reply

  5. Neutral is the Zen alignment; no attachments, no aversions.

    Comment by Coyote | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  6. Personally I tend to distinguish between neutral and true neutral. True Neutral is a difficult to play alignment where the player strives to create an absolute balance between all other forces: law, chaos, good, and evil a posistion I find nearly unplayable. I can think of few examples in literature or reality of a True Neutral person. However non-true Neutral reflects someone singularily obsessed or someone who is relatively uninvolved. Your average peasent or merchant would be non-true neutral. I also find most people play a neutral alignment with a bent towards good or towards evil making it a washed out version of good or evil alignments.

    Comment by Will | September 5, 2009 | Reply

  7. Personally, I think it’s a matter of interpretation. The alignment grid, while better than a mere good/evil sliding scale, is still remarkably ambiguous.

    If, for example, you decide that law/chaos represents the existence (or lack) of a personal code of conduct, Lawful Neutral would represent one who actively works to maintain balance, True Neutral would represent someone who doesn’t side with good or evil, but doesn’t strive for balance either, and Chaotic Neutral, as noted before, would represent force of pure impulse.

    However, one could also decide that, instead, Lawful Neutral is a pure representative of law, and therefore a “judge” archetype, True Neutral is the previously-mentioned character who actively strives for balance, and Chaotic Neutral is either the loony or merely a rebel or petty criminal who doesn’t care to side with good or evil.

    In a nutshell, it all depends on whether your definition of “neutral” designates an aversion towards both good and evil or an apathy towards both good and evil.

    Comment by Sillybear25 | November 18, 2009 | Reply


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