The alignments of D&D describe motivation and behavior for all sorts of characters. But what makes an NPC turn neutral? Let’s find out.
When it comes to alignments, perhaps the only one more infamous than lawful good, which often gets maligned as lawful stupid by people who completely misunderstand what both “lawful” and more importantly “good” mean, is Chaotic Neutral. At its core, Chaotic Neutral is an alignment that’s supposed to be all about doing what’s best for the individual. It’s the alignment that values your own personal freedom above everything else–chaotic neutral characters are supposed to be nuanced characters that just put their own needs most important.
But that often translates to I do whatever the heck I want to at any given moment. Be it murder or theft or saving a kingdom. Just look at all the “stories” around the alignment. Parties that say they’re Chaotic Neutral but actually are just evil, “mercy, you wanted mercy? I’m chaotic neutral!” That sort of thing.
A big part of it comes from the neutral side of it. Chaotic we can imagine, but neutral on the whole good/evil spectrum is harder to interpret. So most people lean into chaos. It’s definitely a “you know it when you see it” kind of alignment. Mugen from Samurai Champloo is a great example, as is Arsene Lupin III. These are characters who do what’s best for them, including playing the hero when they want to.
Today let’s take a look at some Chaotic Neutral characters that might help your campaign. One great thing to keep in mind is that Chaotic Neutral characters are happy to work with PCs or provide aid or whatever, so long as their own particular needs are met in doing so.
Senreth Kal is an exiled monk. While they don’t talk about where they’re from, or why they’re banished, they are perfectly happy to share drinks and stories of the lands they’ve wandered through. PCs might encounter Senreth Kal in a tavern, or perhaps as a random encounter along a road. Kal can warn them of a danger up ahead–GMs can belie their Chaotic Neutral nature by having Kal point out that people are in danger, but they couldn’t pay enough so Kal wandered on.
The Big Game Hunter
Rupert Henriette Poppinwell IV is a hunter of monsters. A jovial fellow who will talk anyone’s ear off about the creatures they’ve hunted, from aboleths to zaratans, Rupert is a man of many words and considerable skill in the field. An expert tracker and trapper, Rupert might be able to provide invaluable aid to players looking for a wilderness guide–however, Rupert is only in it for the opportunity to hunt a dangerous creature. For best results have it be something ostentatious, like a Tyrannosaurus Rex or a very specific White Dragon. Rupert will abandon the party if the chance to chase down his chosen prey shows up–or if not outright abandon them, lead them into danger in the hopes of killing something exciting to stuff and mount back home.
Gelvinia Sparrows is a con artist extraordinaire. She is a skilled liar, and loves nothing more than bilking someone out of their hard earned gold pieces. Though she’ll be the to admit, she’s a liar, not a monster. Gelvinia has her own standards, and tries only to con people she thinks “deserve it”. This could be anything from nobles who abuse their power to fellow urchins who threaten or disrespect her.
Whatever the case, Gelvinia can provide PCs with access to all kinds of places provided they help her pull off a scam on a particularly tricky heist.
Baltin Holkmeyer is a wealthy dwarven business magnate. Driven by the desire for fortune and respect, Baltin has pursued many projects over the years, including bankrolling adventurers to help procure more wealth or to help promote his own business interests. Whatever helps him grow his empire. Baltin might hire the players to guard a caravan or to go with a caravan for a while, then abandon it to explore a ruin.
Chelney Both is a tiefling scholar of rare plants and insects. While incredibly knowledgeable, Chelney is also focused almost exclusively on discovering something new. If given the opportunity to acquire a rare specimen or to field test some new equipment, she will happily lend her expertise to any party. But only if she can take the opportunity to advance her own studies in the process.
What does chaotic neutral look like at your table? Let us know in the comments!