Strip 148 - Alignment Tutorial - Part 14 (Neutral Evil)

17th Mar 2015, 12:00 AM in Corvus Village
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DragonTrainer 17th Mar 2015, 12:00 AM edit delete
Come to think of it, "do anything they want" also sounds a bit like Chaotic Neutral, doesn't it? What do you think are the differences between Chaotic Neutral, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral Evil?



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Raxon 17th Mar 2015, 12:20 AM edit delete reply
Lawful have some moral or ethical code that they follow. Neutral generally tend to be the most evil in the long term, due to following the laws or rules when it suits them.

Chaotic tends to be the type to be the most dangerous immediately, but the least dangerous in the long run, due to the impulsive nature of most chaotic characters. They will rarely have any moral qualms. They tend to be quick to use violence on a whim.
Disloyal Subject 17th Mar 2015, 5:34 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
I've actually been arguing a similar point with one of my fellow players. It doesn't affect gameplay, so the debate's mostly a fun diversion while we get everything set up, but she argues that she's True Neutral and not Neutral Evil because she hurts people not for the sake of hurting people, but rather for pride & profit. The character falls horrifyingly neatly into this 'Narcissist' archetype Pathfinder provides.
As far as NE/CE/CN, I'd say that Chaotic Neutral probably doesn't particularly enjoy others' suffering or factor it into their plans much, whereas the others might seek to maximize it, insofar as Chaotics tend to plan. Neutral Evil, as I see it, has more of a tendency to have some specific goal or ideal that they strive for, and they do so without a shred of honor or humanity. Really, though, there's too many ways to play each alignment for me to nail down the specific differences between such [potentially] similar alignments.
kidra 17th Mar 2015, 9:27 AM edit delete reply
I've always thought that while neutral characters are listed as doing anything they want, they still tend to not harm others. They may occasionally, but they don't go out of their way to harm others. Whereas evil people enjoy hurting others and look forward to doing it.
SeriousBiz 17th Mar 2015, 12:32 PM edit delete reply

"Another rant"
Alignment can be tricky that way. You can make a good case of a character technically not being evil if the "hurting others" part is incidental.

Which is why such a player would not fare well with me as a GM. Personally, I'd rule that it's not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you (yes, a Batman Begins reference). It doesn't matter squat how you see yourself, whether you hurt others because you enjoy it or for some other reason entirely; if you regularly go around harming people or do not take any steps to minimize the suffering you know will follow from your actions, off to the evil alignment bin you go. Justifications to keep doing evil things while feigning neutrality is not different from the ethical rules-lawyering people in real life do to regularly justify selfish and harmful deeds to themselves and others. If your character does not at least make an effort to avoid causing suffering, they are considered evil in my games.

The problem is, there are a lot of gray areas. For instance, robbing from a wealthy merchant who does not suffer from losing a little gold might still lead to them, in turn, raising the prices of the wares they have a monopoly on and which their poor customers desperately need, thus indirectly causing severe harm to others. Technically, you're not responsible for what another person does, but your actions still have consequences that you should be aware of. Most of the suffering in the world is not caused by individuals actively enjoying hurting others, but large groups of people who collectively tell themselves that there is such a thing as a victimless crime, or that the victim probably deserved it anyway.

Ignorance is not a defense. If it was, the most logical thing to do would be to stay ignorant in order to keep doing what you're doing and not have to think about the consequences of your actions. Everybody slips up sometimes, even good-aligned folks, which is why I would not punish a character's alignment because they made a mistake. But once you know, you have no excuse. Make not caring a pattern, and there you have it. An evil character is someone who does not care if their actions hurt others. They are certainly not going to spend time worrying about it, and when their evil acts are pointed out to them, their reaction may be compared to sticking fingers in their ears and going "lalala I can't hear you lalala". Yes, some evil people actively enjoy hurting others for the sake of hurting them, but they are too few to make much of a difference.

In my book, chaotic neutral is someone who does whatever they want but does usually take the consequences of their actions into consideration, at least to some degree. They would not kick someone who's down, and might even have a soft spot for the downtrodden. A chaotic neutral character is not equal opportunity (like an evil character would be), but targets people who have something they can afford to lose. Neutral people usually possess at least some sense of solidarity.

An evil character, on the other hand, might even target less privileged people, on account that they are easier targets. A chaotic evil character would not hesitate to kick someone who's down, since it's easier to do than kicking someone who is able to fight back. A neutral evil character would also kick someone who's down, or they would not if it suited them better not to. Evil characters only show a semblance of solidarity towards people who belong to their very limited group of "uses" in "us vs. them", and even then, they might turn on you easily.

In the end, set alignments are a hassle, since characters may go back and forth depending on the circumstances. I prefer not to use alignments much in my games, except for the sake of classes that are meant to embody a certain mindset, like the paladin.
nathan400 18th Mar 2015, 4:18 AM edit delete reply
Put as simply as I can, as that's the
way I choose to see it, here are my views:

Chaotic Neutral: I don't care, just let me live my life the way I want

Chaotic Evil: When you're evil, why hide it? Laws exist solely to be broken, so go and have some fun.

Neutral Evil: what's the best way to get what I want with the minimum amount of fuss?
Tsuki_Ouji 18th Mar 2015, 1:45 PM edit delete reply

I'm sorry, but I'm rather disappointed in how most people view, and play, NE. They have it as CE; this has nothing to do with "the lines between alignments are thin". While this can be true, that is very different from being played as the same thing. For a shining (metaphorically) example of how NE should be, look at Shar, the Forgotten Realms' goddess of night, and her followers. Master manipulators, literal shadows behind the thrones of the world. A neutral evil character can have you save a village from a dragon, allowing her to sneak into the dragon's lair and steal the ancient artifact the dragon was acting as a guardian of. They will give you a quest that you see as "good", but it will serve ends, or create opportunities, that the typical short-sighted PC will never predict. All while you think she is Chaotic Good.
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