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An alignment is a brief description of a character's morals, motivations, and behaviors.

There are two parts to an alignment. The first defines a character's morality, and is one of good, neutral, or evil. The other describes a character's adherence toward society and order, and is described as lawful, neutral, or chaotic. Together, there are nine possible alignments a character can be.

Alignment Chart

Alignments are often spoken of in two axes: the good-evil axis, and the lawful-chaotic axis. This is further formatted into a table, called the alignment chart.

Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Good LG NG CG
Neutral LN TN CN
Evil LE NE CE

An alignment is a combination of both axes. The lawful-chaotic axis is listed first in the term, followed by a creature's stance in the good-evil axis. Neutral chaotic wouldn't be a valid alignment since chaos is placed second, while chaotic neutral would be.

The Alignments

Lawful

A lawful character follows a set of morals, rules, codes, or laws that defines what behavior is and isn't acceptable. This is not inherently the laws set by government. It can be decreed by a god, organization, or similar powers. Paladins are known for being lawful-aligned due to the tenets their oaths require.

  • Lawful good characters follow the rules of society and work toward the better of everyone. Most celestials are lawful good, dedicated to keeping the world's peace.
  • Lawful neutral characters act in line with law, tradition, and common morals, but without a particular desire to improve lives or induce misery. Humanity as a whole tends to be lawful neutral, obeying laws and mostly caring for themselves and their friends.
  • Lawful evil characters work within the rules they're surrounded by to do what they want. Imp familiars are an example of this, since they must listen to their master's order but are inherently self-focused since they're fiends.

Chaotic

The chaotic alignment is the opposite of lawful. They act without regard for any particular rules. Chaotic doesn't mark a lack of predictability, however. It just means they're willing to do what they have to.

  • Chaotic good characters follow their conscience and try to help others, but without care for what's expected of their behavior. Elves are usually chaotic good.
  • Chaotic neutral characters are whimsical and value their freedom. They can be destructive, but lack malicious intent like chaotic evil characters. Many fey are chaotic neutral, and classes like bards, rogues, and barbarians are frequently played as chaotic neutral.
  • Chaotic evil characters tend to be ruled by violence and destruction, and take pride in the damage they cause. Drow, fiends, orcs, and giants are typically chaotic evil.

Good

Good characters dedicate their hearts to the people and the world. They seek to improve society and help others. Good is not nice, however, and many can have bouts of self-focus or fatigue from being a service to those in need. It just marks a willingness to help the greater good.

  • Lawful good characters follow the rules of society and work toward the better of everyone. Most celestials are lawful good, dedicated to keeping the world's peace.
  • Neutral good characters help those in need to the best of their abilities. They're willing to take some risks for the service of others. Aarakocra, centaur, and deep gnomes are neutral good.
  • Chaotic good characters follow their conscience and try to help others, but without care for what's expected of their behavior. Elves are usually chaotic good.

Evil

Evilness is marked by selfishness, greed, and a dissolve of morals. Evil creatures are often violent and ruthless, and prioritize themselves the most. However, evil does not equate stupid. Many evil beings are very intelligent, and evil player characters are smart enough to know they must work in teams to get anywhere.

  • Lawful evil characters work within the rules they're surrounded by to do what they want. Imp familiars are an example of this, since they must listen to their master's order but are inherently self-focused since they're fiends.
  • Neutral evil characters follow a policy of, "It's nothing personal, just business." They do what they can get away with and don't usually have moral objections to anything. Rogues are stereotyped as neutral evil, though assassins, rogue or not, often are.
  • Chaotic evil characters tend to be ruled by violence and destruction, and take pride in the damage they cause. Drow, fiends, orcs, and giants are typically chaotic evil.

Neutral

Neutral exists in both axes and represents no particular sway.

  • Neutral good characters help those in need to the best of their abilities. They're willing to take some risks for the service of others. Aarakocra, centaur, and deep gnomes are neutral good.
  • Lawful neutral characters act in line with law, tradition, and common morals, but without a particular desire to improve lives or induce misery. Humanity as a whole tends to be lawful neutral, obeying laws and mostly caring for themselves and their friends.
  • True neutral is the ultimate neutral alignment. Characters of this alignment don't take sides in the battle of good and evil, and just do what they feel is best at the time. Lizardfolk are an example of this, since they follow what the world gives them and tend to be very simplistic and objective in their lives.
  • Chaotic neutral characters are whimsical and value their freedom. They can be destructive, but lack malicious intent like chaotic evil characters. Many fey are chaotic neutral, and classes like bards, rogues, and barbarians are frequently played as chaotic neutral.
  • Neutral evil characters follow a policy of, "It's nothing personal, just business." They do what they can get away with and don't usually have moral objections to anything. Rogues are stereotyped as neutral evil, though assassins, rogue or not, often are.

Unaligned

It's impossible for a player character to be unaligned. Anyone who thinks they are is actually true neutral. A number of creatures with a lack of sapience or general intelligence are, though, since they lack the capacity to understand the forces of alignments. Most animals are unaligned, as are many constructs. A lack of alignment isn't restricted to small, easy enemies, however. Monsters such as the Astral Dreadnought and the Tarrasque are also unaligned. It's ultimately decided by the creature's ability to comprehend alignments.