Breakin’ the Law: Chaotic Alignments
Chaotic characters think that rules get in the way of everything. Whether it's helping people or killing people and taking their stuff, laws are to be laughed at and authorities disobeyed.
In today’s Critical Hit to the Blog, I’m going to look at the three Chaotic alignments and give some tips for both players and GMs on how to play or play against these alignments.
Chaotic Good characters act as their conscious directs them, regardless of what the law says. However, they do have a moral compass, which helps determine their actions. These characters make their own way, but do good because they believe in goodness and right. CG characters react badly to being bullied and told what to do. Going back to our “old lady crossing the street” scenario, the Chaotic Good character will help the old lady across the street, but will cross against the signal if there are no cars coming.
As a player, Chaotic Good characters are good to play if you want a character with a good heart and free spirit. A good Ranger will most likely be Chaotic Good. Living in the wilderness allows the chance to escape the rules and restrictions of society. The character is then free to pursue their own agenda.
As a GM, you know that Chaotic Good characters hate rules and will look for any way to circumvent them. Placing a CG character in a party that has a strong lawful "my way or the highway" character such as a Paladin will make for good role-playing scenarios; especially if both characters (or players) happen to be charismatic. For more Law-vs.-Chaos action put the Chaotic Good character into a situation where they need to follow the rules, like a bureaucracy. Place the character in a role where they must jump through legal hoops to accomplish a goal without sacrificing their ethos.
A Chaotic Neutral character follows a path dictated by whims and desires. She is free of society’s restrictions and also free from the do-gooder’s zeal and the villain’s evil. She doesn't intentionally challenge an organization in a campaign of chaos because that would require the need to either help people (Good) or harm the organization (Evil).
The Chaotic Neutral character wouldn’t care one way or the other whether the little old lady makes it across the street.
As a player, the Chaotic Neutral alignment is a good alignment to play if you want to be completely free of constraints. You ignore the law and are oblivious to the concerns of society. The decision to be a good or bad person isn't a decision at all, it's for those who fear taking life by the horns to get what they want. You look out for yourself and what is in your best interests in the here and now. Chaotic Neutral characters tend to live in the moment, they exist in the here and now and worry not for what the future may hold. Goals are a personal matter that may change depending which way the wind blows. If your goal coincides with the rest of the PCs, then that’s great.
For the GM, getting the Chaotic Neutral character interested in the scenario is going to be tough. They don’t care for rules and they aren’t good or evil. So, just like the True Neutral character, you have to make the plot personal to this character. Including family members from the character’s back story is a good way to incite the CN character. If they are motivated to do something, then tell their story to the rest of the party and that should make them motivated as well.
As a side note to the GM, someone who is looking to play a jerk may choose the Chaotic Neutral alignment. They do things like turn on the party or steal another member’s gear. When called on it they say, “I’m just playing my alignment!” Do NOT let this behavior or explanation stand. The Chaotic Neutral character is supposed to be looking after their own best interests. Is instigating trouble with three or four well armed characters acting in their own best interests? No. Explain this in clear terms to the player should you encounter this type of behavior. If the player continues to behave that way, allow the other party members to deal with the character however they want; if that includes combat, so be it. The CN character may end up being killed due to making poor decisions. It’s not that a CN character can’t be played well, it's just that when a player abuses it; that player should be encouraged to pick another alignment.
A Chaotic Evil character is a destroyer. Unlike the Neutral Evil character that commits evil for evil’s sake, the CE character causes havoc simply for a love of death and destruction. They aren’t necessarily planners and generals, as they’re too unorganized. They tend to be ill tempered, haphazard, vicious, and arbitrarily violent. The Chaotic Evil character will not only kill the little old lady, he will knock down the signal pole, and then pick up the little old lady and use her to hit cars as they go by.
As a player, the Chaotic Evil character revels in destruction, whether it's killing people or breaking objects. You are always searching for the next act of violence, so you might want to look at the Barbarian class. Barbarians must be Chaotic and have access to extremely large weapons like the greataxe. Feats like Improved Critical and Improved Sunder for object destruction are right up your alley. In an evil campaign that I once played in, I saw Chaotic Evil played as the character getting a rush from killing, so they were always looking for an excuse to start a fight and kill someone.
For the GM, the Chaotic Evil character loves to destroy, so give them things to destroy. That’s what these characters live for so give them the chance to use their abilities. For role-playing purposes, putting the CE character in a group with a strong Lawful Evil character (perhaps the group leader) is a good tactic. You could also suggest to another party member (or use an NPC) to try and teach the CE character patience or a certain technique. A Chaotic Evil character doesn't want to waste time learning the rules of a technique. If they absolutely must learn it, they do so poorly. To simulate that, you could give the character access to the technique but with a penalty or at a lower power level. Weapon Focus gives the character a +1 to attack rolls, but if they have yet to learn that ability come up with something new. Suppose they only get the +1 if they make an Intelligence check with a DC equal to the Intelligence score of the character who taught them. Hey, that’s a new technique. I kinda like that.
So, there you have the Chaotic alignments. Good stuff there.
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