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Soarel
2014-06-10, 11:30 PM
Seriously, the only archetype I've ever seen for a chaotic neutral character is the idiotic "lolrandom" personality. You know, the guy who does things with no rhyme or reason and yells out the names of foods and animals (you know what I mean, waffles cheese toast penguin walrus). Think "teh penguin of doom" for an idea of what I'm talking about.

Anyone else had encounters with these types of PCs and have advice on how to deal with them? I can't think of a way to stop these players without killing off their characters brutally.

PersonMan
2014-06-10, 11:33 PM
Talk to them OOC and explain how you (and the group, if they also have a problem with it) don't like their shenanigans and please stop.

It's a lot more effective than any kind of IC solution.

There's a lot more to CN than badly-played Slaadi-in-human-form, though.

Lord Raziere
2014-06-11, 01:42 AM
show them this:
Chaotic Neutral Done Right.

1. Chaotic Neutral DOES have limits. Its not a free ticket to do whatever you want
You want to do anything you want and not get an alignment change? Be Chaotic Evil. If you disagree with me, then you don't know what Chaotic Neutral is. Because the first thing I found that makes Chaotic Neutral, is the things they will never do. There has to be something that separates CN from CE. A Line They Never Cross. Chaotic Evil has no lines- it has already crossed all of them by being Chaotic Evil. Chaotic Neutral, despite all its love of freedom, its distrust of law and authority and its selfish focus, has things it will never do no matter what. Often, this is not harming the good guys and innocents.

2. Chaotic Neutral above all, is self-consistent
Sure, your character might be freedom-loving, not particularly focused on helping others and an individualist, but that doesn't mean they are random or mercurial. The way they do things, the rules they follow, may not match up with the rest of the world or how it thinks, but they are self-consistent about how they think it. They are their own system, their own way, and it only works as long as they are self-consistent about how they go about it. The rules they follow might be loose and flexible, but they are self-consistent no matter what.

3. Chaotic Neutral recognizes Good and Evil
Chaotic Neutral people are not blind to alignment just because they like their freedom-if anything they are very good at recognizing when somebody is morally higher than them, and know who to fight and not to fight, who to oppose to fight for their freedom, and who to ally with to keep their freedom. After all, if the good guys win, Chaotic Neutral wins too, if Evil wins, that probably means less freedom- even if its a Chaotic Evil villain. After all, Chaotic Evil, does not care about what it does. Chaotic Evil will stomp over anyone else's freedom for their own freedom, and that includes Chaotic Neutral's freedom. Chaotic Neutral on the other hand is more live and let live.

4. Chaotic Neutral can be negotiated with.
Just because they are free, doesn't mean they are stupid or that they force everything to go their way. They might follow their own self-consistent logic and not care about doing good all that much, but they know when to make a deal, when to change tactics, when to stop fighting and talk. If negotiation and restraint will help them keep their freedom better than any sword or spell, they will use it. If anything, they're probably more open to negotiation than Lawful Neutral- LN has rules that must Always Be Followed No Matter What, and is inflexible about carrying them out, following their code no matter the situation. Chaotic Neutral however knows when to cut a deal, when to be smart and pragmatically negotiate to secure their freedom.

5. Chaotic Neutral is flexible for their friends
Following up, its this: Chaotic Neutral can be flexible about how they do things for the people they care about. If their friends wish them to stop stealing, they will do so- at least in their presence and if nothing forces them to steal anyways. They will still feel nothing bad about stealing in general, they will just be smart enough to not to do it when their friends would disapprove of it, or when they could get caught. They won't think it bad that they do this, they just figure "hey what they won't know, won't hurt em". Since they themselves are free, they know that others are free to, and respect their choices, even if they don't agree with them. Lawful Neutral however is inherently inflexible about their code, and while to Chaotic Neutral this just means they need to be particularly careful about not doing something that the Lawful Neutral won't like in their presence, Lawful Neutral is not as open to negotiation and there will be conflict if they find out if Chaotic Neutral has broken a rule.

6. Chaotic Neutral doesn't want to tear down the law, but to avoid it.
This may seem strange to hear, but Chaotic Neutral doesn't actively work against the law. Chaotic good may oppose the law for more freedom for everyone if its tyrannical, Chaotic Evil will probably oppose any law that gets in the way of their selfish desires, but Chaotic Neutral, while often breaking the law, isn't exactly opposing it implicitly. They are just following their own self-consistent train of thought, and it just so happens to clash with the rules around them. If anything, they try to avoid the law.

If faced with a tyrannical city, CG will go in and try to change it for the better, CN is more likely to escape it and find somewhere else to be free, where its easier to be free and not have to jump through as many hoops to get their freedom. Staying in a tyrannical city is a good way to get killed by its laws after all. Though this may vary, some Chaotic Neutrals might desire an interesting, risk-taking life and go into it not to spreading freedom and good to everyone else, but just as a challenge to see if they keep up their life amidst an oppressive regime. However if faced with no other choice, they will stop avoiding and fight against unjust laws for their freedom right alongside Chaotic Good.

Bit Fiend
2014-06-11, 03:23 AM
Point them to some well done CN archetypes, like Saemon Havarian or Jack Sparrow.

Tengu_temp
2014-06-11, 05:44 AM
Tell them to cut it out because it's disruptive. And if they don't, drop a whale on their character's head out of nowhere. They should appreciate the randomness.

Kalmageddon
2014-06-11, 05:53 AM
CN in my experience usually means "I want to do whatever comes to mind and not put any effort in my character", meanwhile CE is the same thing with "I also want to kill any NPC I feel like killing" on top of it. CG? Same as CN plus "I still want to be called a hero".

This is usually the result of a player that is not very good at imagining characters or that hasn't a firm grasp of narrative and what makes a character likeable. To this kind of player Chaotic is a free ticket to ignore boring stuff like consistency and characterization.
There is no cure or solution, OOC talks can help to somewhat mitigate the annoyance of his most extreme behaviours, but usually the only thing you can do is kick him out or tolerate him.

DM Nate
2014-06-11, 06:38 AM
How old is the player in question?

Spore
2014-06-11, 06:58 AM
CN in my experience usually means "I want to do whatever comes to mind and not put any effort in my character", .

That's the main point why I hate alignment charts. Those should be for the DM and some spells - and not even qualify or disqualify one for classes. A new player shouldn't be like: "I want to play a chaotic neutral character." He should say: "I want to test out various things in this system so my character should be comfortable with a wide range of decisions while still loving his freedom."

Because then usually the mind of new players jumps in and says: Well my character wouldn't risk a prison sentence just because he could break into a noble's house just to drink coffee because that's stupid. Other players WANT to cause mischief. And that's totally fine.

I played a large range of characters in my group until now but I started with a CG rogue that I shifted to CN because saving those dwarves isn't as important as saving my own hide. And I did several really silly things to a point where I saved a city and still got put under a heavy permanent enchantment spell and severed some fingers. Things I regret (as a player) until this very day. Along with driving his build into a wall, three times.

Subaru Kujo
2014-06-11, 07:44 AM
show them this:
Chaotic Neutral Done Right.
Chaotic Neutral, despite all its love of freedom, its distrust of law and authority and its selfish focus, has things it will never do no matter what. Often, this is not harming the good guys and innocents.
Things they'll never do, and things they feel like they must rectify (for instance, my rogue decided to attempt to kill an angel that was dewinged, and chained to this succubus as her pet (feeding her pet out of a dog bowl, the whole nine yards), as it mirrored her own experience rather well (she got herself conscripted into the Blood War most certainly regardless of her own sense), and it was the only mercy she could give (on a side note, our barbarian succeeded in it later on and the angel ascended again)).

CN in my experience usually means "I want to do whatever comes to mind and not put any effort in my character", meanwhile CE is the same thing with "I also want to kill any NPC I feel like killing" on top of it. CG? Same as CN plus "I still want to be called a hero".


Usually I use the Chaotic alignments for opportunists, but they tend to be far more in depth than most of my table's lawful characters. Take that as you will though.

Kalmageddon
2014-06-11, 07:51 AM
Usually I use the Chaotic alignments for opportunists, but they tend to be far more in depth than most of my table's lawful characters. Take that as you will though.

Oh I'm not saying that Chaotic characters can't be played well. I'm saying that a Chaotic alignment lends itself well to be used by the kind of bad players I described, since it's easy to think that "Chaotic" = "Random, not bound by common sense or logic".
To be fair, D&D doesn't help at all. Most Chaotic monsters are described as mad, prone to randomness or outright violence despite not actually being Evil.

Subaru Kujo
2014-06-11, 07:56 AM
Oh I'm not saying that Chaotic characters can't be played well. I'm saying that a Chaotic alignment lends itself well to be used by the kind of bad players I described, since it's easy to think that "Chaotic" = "Random, not bound by common sense or logic".
To be fair, D&D doesn't help at all. Most Chaotic monsters are described as mad, prone to randomness or outright violence despite not actually being Evil.

No contest there, I suppose. Guess it's just an issue of being lucky with people that understand what Chaotic really means in terms of enjoyment of the game (opportunists or free minded people with some rather strict lines (pretty far down maybe, granted) they won't cross).

Red Fel
2014-06-11, 08:24 AM
Oh I'm not saying that Chaotic characters can't be played well. I'm saying that a Chaotic alignment lends itself well to be used by the kind of bad players I described, since it's easy to think that "Chaotic" = "Random, not bound by common sense or logic".
To be fair, D&D doesn't help at all. Most Chaotic monsters are described as mad, prone to randomness or outright violence despite not actually being Evil.

By the same token, Lawful gets taken to absurd extremes as well. Some players use Lawful to mean "I am the authority in this party, you will all obey me or I will have to kill you, nothing personal." Picture any exaggerated Paladin that emphasizes the L over the G. (Miko much?) Both C and L have their extremes.

The difference is simply one of convenience. Lawful - even Lawful Stupid - is hard to play, good or bad, because it requires you to have more limits. That's part of what defines being Lawful. Chaotic is easier to play, good or bad, because it has fewer limits (but as mentioned previously, it still has some limits). As a result, on average, you will find more players running Chaotic characters than Lawful ones. And even if we assume that the proportion of Chaotic Stupid / Chaotic = Lawful Stupid / Lawful, you will still see more Chaotic Stupid, if only because you will see more Chaotic.

There are absolutely ways to do CN (and CE, and certainly CG) right. There are also (obviously) ways to do them poorly. The problem isn't the alignment at all - it's the mentality of the player. A player can make CE seem almost heroic, a player can make LG look like a deranged homicidal lunatic. Sometimes it's intentional, artistic, entertaining or powerful. Other times it's just a player who wants to break the scenery. In the latter case, as with any out-of-character issue, it merits a sit-down.

Thialfi
2014-06-11, 08:37 AM
Seriously, the only archetype I've ever seen for a chaotic neutral character is the idiotic "lolrandom" personality. You know, the guy who does things with no rhyme or reason and yells out the names of foods and animals (you know what I mean, waffles cheese toast penguin walrus). Think "teh penguin of doom" for an idea of what I'm talking about.

Anyone else had encounters with these types of PCs and have advice on how to deal with them? I can't think of a way to stop these players without killing off their characters brutally.



I haven't noticed a problem with chaotic neutral. I have noticed that several of my other players have a slight prejudice against lawful good. When they hear that a PC or NPC has that alignment, they tend to have the notion that they are sanctimonious jerks.

I have a couple chaotic neutral characters. Both are part of an anarchist cell in Sigil. One is a tiefling and is a dedicated "damn the man" type that raised herself out of the slums of the Hive and would go to almost any means to reach her goal of tearing down society and rebuilding it as a meritocracy. She is absolutely driven and does not suffer fools gladly.

The other is an air genasi from a noble and privileged family. She rejected the notion that people deserve wealth because they were born to it, but she lacks real conviction for doing anything other than having fun. She follows the cause because she cares for the friends she has made there.

I can think of numerous other ways to play chaotic neutral and have yet to run into the random crazy dude you mentioned.

valadil
2014-06-11, 08:48 AM
I actually blame the terminology here. I don't think chaotic really conveys what the alignment actually means. It's not hard for someone just skimming the books to come to the wrong conclusion about that particular alignment.

That said, I don't have a particularly good alternative.

Spore
2014-06-11, 08:59 AM
I actually blame the terminology here. I don't think chaotic really conveys what the alignment actually means.

It's simplified like good and evil imho. Paragon and Renegade from Mass Effect fit the modern perception of good and evil a bit better. In that notion, conservative and liberal could be - all political mentions aside - a better terminology for said alignment axis.

DM Nate
2014-06-11, 09:19 AM
The way I explain it to my players, an alignment like "chaotic" can mean more than one thing...that person's motivations, or how that person accomplishes them.

valadil
2014-06-11, 09:41 AM
It's simplified like good and evil imho. Paragon and Renegade from Mass Effect fit the modern perception of good and evil a bit better. In that notion, conservative and liberal could be - all political mentions aside - a better terminology for said alignment axis.

I like the terms themselves, but there's no escaping the connotation. That does make me thing of the phrase "going rogue" though. Too bad that already means something in D&D. Maybe maverick would be better than chaotic?

Not that I'd want to introduce even more granularity to alignment, but within lawful, it'd be cool to have a leader/follower axis.

Kaervaslol
2014-06-11, 09:50 AM
Have them read The eyes of the underworld and Cugel's Saga.

Both are great examples of how to play one of the most interesting archetypes of the CN character: a quick witted, egotistical psychopath.

The Glyphstone
2014-06-11, 11:05 AM
Have them read The eyes of the underworld and Cugel's Saga.

Both are great examples of how to play one of the most interesting archetypes of the CN character: a quick witted, egotistical psychopath.

"Psychopath" is usually the defining trait of CE, not CN, and that is exactly against what is trying to be encouraged here.



Not that I'd want to introduce even more granularity to alignment, but within lawful, it'd be cool to have a leader/follower axis.

Square and Funky?

Jormengand
2014-06-11, 11:10 AM
"Psychopath" is usually the defining trait of CE, not CN, and that is exactly against what is trying to be encouraged here.

Even then, it's wholly possible to create a CE character who isn't psychopathic - being simply the sum total of Chaotic and Evil, rather than forcing the character to follow the Paladin of Slaughter's code of conduct just due to their alignment.

Speaking of variant paladins, I'd say that this is what "Chaotic done right" is:

"Respect individual liberty, help those in need (provided they do not use the help for lawful or evil ends), and punish those who threaten or curtail personal liberty."

With possibly a bit of:

"Disrespect all authority figures who have not proven their physical superiority to her," but not the rest of the Slaughter code.


Square and Funky?

Bacon and Necktie? (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlueAndOrangeMorality)

AuraTwilight
2014-06-11, 02:17 PM
He's referencing this: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?55828-Negative-Energy-Ha!-OUR-undead-are-fuelled-by-FUNKITUDE!

Jormengand
2014-06-11, 02:54 PM
He's referencing this: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?55828-Negative-Energy-Ha!-OUR-undead-are-fuelled-by-FUNKITUDE!

Yes, and I was referencing the picture in the TVtropes link.

Synar
2014-06-11, 05:19 PM
show them this:
Chaotic Neutral Done Right.

1. Chaotic Neutral DOES have limits. Its not a free ticket to do whatever you want
You want to do anything you want and not get an alignment change? Be Chaotic Evil. If you disagree with me, then you don't know what Chaotic Neutral is. Because the first thing I found that makes Chaotic Neutral, is the things they will never do. There has to be something that separates CN from CE. A Line They Never Cross. Chaotic Evil has no lines- it has already crossed all of them by being Chaotic Evil. Chaotic Neutral, despite all its love of freedom, its distrust of law and authority and its selfish focus, has things it will never do no matter what. Often, this is not harming the good guys and innocents.

2. Chaotic Neutral above all, is self-consistent
Sure, your character might be freedom-loving, not particularly focused on helping others and an individualist, but that doesn't mean they are random or mercurial. The way they do things, the rules they follow, may not match up with the rest of the world or how it thinks, but they are self-consistent about how they think it. They are their own system, their own way, and it only works as long as they are self-consistent about how they go about it. The rules they follow might be loose and flexible, but they are self-consistent no matter what.

3. Chaotic Neutral recognizes Good and Evil
Chaotic Neutral people are not blind to alignment just because they like their freedom-if anything they are very good at recognizing when somebody is morally higher than them, and know who to fight and not to fight, who to oppose to fight for their freedom, and who to ally with to keep their freedom. After all, if the good guys win, Chaotic Neutral wins too, if Evil wins, that probably means less freedom- even if its a Chaotic Evil villain. After all, Chaotic Evil, does not care about what it does. Chaotic Evil will stomp over anyone else's freedom for their own freedom, and that includes Chaotic Neutral's freedom. Chaotic Neutral on the other hand is more live and let live.

4. Chaotic Neutral can be negotiated with.
Just because they are free, doesn't mean they are stupid or that they force everything to go their way. They might follow their own self-consistent logic and not care about doing good all that much, but they know when to make a deal, when to change tactics, when to stop fighting and talk. If negotiation and restraint will help them keep their freedom better than any sword or spell, they will use it. If anything, they're probably more open to negotiation than Lawful Neutral- LN has rules that must Always Be Followed No Matter What, and is inflexible about carrying them out, following their code no matter the situation. Chaotic Neutral however knows when to cut a deal, when to be smart and pragmatically negotiate to secure their freedom.

5. Chaotic Neutral is flexible for their friends
Following up, its this: Chaotic Neutral can be flexible about how they do things for the people they care about. If their friends wish them to stop stealing, they will do so- at least in their presence and if nothing forces them to steal anyways. They will still feel nothing bad about stealing in general, they will just be smart enough to not to do it when their friends would disapprove of it, or when they could get caught. They won't think it bad that they do this, they just figure "hey what they won't know, won't hurt em". Since they themselves are free, they know that others are free to, and respect their choices, even if they don't agree with them. Lawful Neutral however is inherently inflexible about their code, and while to Chaotic Neutral this just means they need to be particularly careful about not doing something that the Lawful Neutral won't like in their presence, Lawful Neutral is not as open to negotiation and there will be conflict if they find out if Chaotic Neutral has broken a rule.

6. Chaotic Neutral doesn't want to tear down the law, but to avoid it.
This may seem strange to hear, but Chaotic Neutral doesn't actively work against the law. Chaotic good may oppose the law for more freedom for everyone if its tyrannical, Chaotic Evil will probably oppose any law that gets in the way of their selfish desires, but Chaotic Neutral, while often breaking the law, isn't exactly opposing it implicitly. They are just following their own self-consistent train of thought, and it just so happens to clash with the rules around them. If anything, they try to avoid the law.

If faced with a tyrannical city, CG will go in and try to change it for the better, CN is more likely to escape it and find somewhere else to be free, where its easier to be free and not have to jump through as many hoops to get their freedom. Staying in a tyrannical city is a good way to get killed by its laws after all. Though this may vary, some Chaotic Neutrals might desire an interesting, risk-taking life and go into it not to spreading freedom and good to everyone else, but just as a challenge to see if they keep up their life amidst an oppressive regime. However if faced with no other choice, they will stop avoiding and fight against unjust laws for their freedom right alongside Chaotic Good.


Hum, I find your post would need some "some" or "many", as all CN are not actually the same (and have different reasons for being Neutral and Chaotic.
But this is not the point of my nitpick.
The point of my nitpick is that you said "CN are consistent", which is something everyone seem to expect from fictional characters. But actual people are not all that consistent in their decisions, I have found. Depending on a range of at-first-view-irrelevant factors, people will act or react very differently. People will also hold inconsistent views and opinion, consciencly or not. This is probably not a "random" level of inconsistent, but still.


Okay, I've got another nitpick: alignements are not personnality nor are they characters. You pretty much know nothing of the opinions and views held by a character just from his alignement.You know even less from how he will act or react in a given situation.
I know this is probably not what you meant to imply, but I've seen too much people make such confusions (or at least what I believe are confusions) on this board.
Too often, characters thought in terms of alignement come to be reduced too 9 steoritypical characters, and people think they can tell how characters with one given alignement will react.
An exemple would be, there is no need for you CG character to liberate the city: maybe he is a coward, maybe he is good but non exalted good, or maybe he is another brand of CG, just like not all LG are paladins.
However, a CN, or even a CE, may feel the strong urge to liberate it, take down the tyrant, and maybe even try to protect its citizen, even at the price of their own life. The fact that they are not good as a whole doesn't mean they have no reason to do such a thing, or can't perform good acts, or have no reason why this particularly revulse them. Maybe, but that is very much a specific exemple, your CE is cruel and take pleasure at killing those he consider as his ennemies, hate orginazations (like your stereotypical CE), but won't harm those he consider 'sheeps', and as a former slave, will bring down any -tyrannical or not- government which tolerate slavery, executing those implied. Maybe else he is a revolutionner, but the people killed were just 'colateral damages', their death 'served a greater good'. Their motivation may even be good. Thinking of it, just like Redcloak is evil. Etc...
The best thing with non-stereotypical, exalted-alignement characters, is that a slight difference in their portayal will drastically change their perceived alignement, and it can be argued for hours.



So this changed in a rant halfway through, but the good thing is that I get in so much tangent I got back at the OP.
So the problem with 'random' CN characters is the same that with most Evil characters: they think first of their alignement, and then think 'what should a character with this given alignement do', or 'what is the stereotypical character for such an alignement', instead of building a character first (maybe with the alignement as a guideline), and then see why he does fit in the alignement (I mean, you could also not let alignement affect at all your character creation and just be picked after to match, but this is a different process).
Moreover, one should never, never let one's alignement guide one's actions.

Well, maybe they don't actually do that. Maybe they don't play random characters because CN, but because they want to play random characters. But in this case, the problem is not with the alignement system, it is just with them.:smallbiggrin: Talking to them will solve the problem-or will not, but I can't help you with that.

Slipperychicken
2014-06-11, 05:47 PM
Anyone else had encounters with these types of PCs and have advice on how to deal with them? I can't think of a way to stop these players without killing off their characters brutally.

You could try vetting character concepts (both mechanics and fluff) long before play begins, and asking the players to give certain information, including but not limited to the following:

Strategies and tactics (in combat, but also outside if applicable).
Character build, intended feats, levels, and so on.
Organizations and communities to which each PC is affiliated.
Character traits and goals (beside those related to class features, swag, and murder).
A few sentences to establish backstory and personality.
Reasons the PC wouldn't betray the party.
Relation to the other PCs.
How the character reacts to nonviolent opposition to a minor goal, such as an obnoxious bureaucrat at the DMV. If the answer involves murder, you can safely reject that character concept.


When you vet PC concepts, the idea is to filter out truly repulsive ideas (such as Sir Random The CN Barbarian, Drizzt Clone #9183, or Pun-Pun Destroyer Of Worlds), and also achieve compromise when you think a character idea is salvageable.

Janus
2014-06-11, 06:25 PM
Point them to some well done CN archetypes, like Saemon Havarian or Jack Sparrow.
Throw some of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian short stories in there while you're at it.

Pex
2014-06-11, 07:16 PM
For a taking itself seriously CN philosophy there is Objectivism, made infamous in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugs". Wealth is a symbol of a person's achievements. It stresses fair trade and actually abhors theft. You don't take or destroy what others' created. You must earn everything.

Angelalex242
2014-06-14, 08:53 PM
Conan is CN with Good tendencies. He has a code of honor, of sorts, even if the Cimmerian Code of Honor isn't anything your average Paladin would understand. Once he becomes king of Aquilonia, he's definitely good, and may even have hit neutral good. He's actually one of the better rulers in the world he lives in, even if he does insist on personally leading his armies every chance he gets because he gets bored sitting on a throne. His armies are generally happy to have the 20th level Barbarian leading them anyway.

There's actually a Conan RPG where you can look up the Cimmerian Code of Honor.

It looks like this:

Barbaric Code of Honor: (What alignment would you call this, anyway?)

This is Conanís style of morality, such as it is.
The barbaric code of honor is common only in lands with
harsh climates, such as Cimmeria, Vanaheim and Asgard in
the north, Ghulistan in the east and is also found among some
of the Shemites and Kozaks who live in the great deserts that
stretch over many of the southern and eastern lands. Here even
strangers are given hospitality and fallen foes are extended mercy
if they ask for it, since it is recognized that humanity must to
some extent work together against the bitter cold or suffocating
heat. Barbarian tribes who have a relatively easy time of it, such
as the Picts in their lush forests, do not usually have a need for a
code of honour, for their environment is not sufficiently deadly
as to be their most dangerous enemy. It could be argued that
the presence of a code of honour is what separates a barbarian
from a mere savage.

Restrictions of the Barbaric Code of Honor
---------------------------------------------------------
A character with a barbaric code of honor will:
 Respect alliances with other honorable characters.
 Ignore an alliance with a dishonorable character, even
pre-emptively, if it suits him.
 Abide loyally by a contract of employment, even with a
dishonorable employer, so long as the character is well treated
and shown loyalty in return.
 Slay a dishonorable foe, even if that foe is helpless.
 Slay an honorable foe who is not helpless.
 Protect those weaker than himself, at least from physical
dangers, if such protection is requested. This includes
ordinary folk such as peasants captured for interrogation,
who will be set free once it is safe to do so and rewarded
if they were of assistance, as well as children and most
women. A woman who has demonstrated herself to be
more capable in war than the average man need not be
protected, though the typical male with a barbaric code
of honor will probably attempt to protect her anyway.
 Offer his allegiance only to an honorable leader who is
clearly stronger and better suited for power than himself,
or to a greater cause of some kind; once allegiance is
granted, the character must be utterly loyal, so long as
his leader remains honorable and loyal to him in return.
Note that a character with a barbaric code of honor
need not necessarily retain an allegiance that was always
intended to be temporary, such as a mercenary contract,
after the conditions are fulfilled.
 Plunder and rob anyone other than honorable allies.
 Lie, cheat and con anyone other than honorable allies.
 Have no in-principle objection to slavery, being willing to
keep or free slaves as it suits his purposes.
 Grudgingly respect genuine piety but despise venal priests
and the typical trappings of civilized Ďreligioní.
 Like or dislike others based on their honor and their
actions, not on their religion or race.
 Be hospitable and generous to those in need, even to
strangers. It is said that no man starves in Cimmeria,
unless there is a famine and all starve, because every
family will give of their own food to anyone without.
 Respect the hospitality shown him.
 Avenge any seriously intended insult with immediate and
lethal force, if at all possible. Note that barbarians new to
civilization are likely to avenge even a jesting insult in the
same way, not having yet learnt the subtleties of civilized
behavior, which can allow a man to insult another
without the imminent danger of having his skull split.
 Avenge any physical harm done him, at the earliest
opportunity, in a manner fitting his sense of balance and
justice.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
A character with a barbaric code of honor will not:
 Slay a wild animal, or any other creature, for sport alone.
He may slay in self-defense, or for revenge, or to get food
or other resources, or slay a sworn enemy.
 Slay an honorable foe who offers a ransom or throws
himself on the characterís mercy.
 Slay or steal from one who has shown him hospitality
in his own house, even if they turn out to be an enemy,
unless the other breaks hospitality first.
 Harm anyone currently under his protection or receiving
his hospitality, even if they turn out to be an enemy,
unless the other breaks faith first.
 Assist the authorities with any information about his
friends or allies, even if refusing to do so puts him at
risk.
 Desert his henchmen or retainers, even if they appear to
desert him. If he ever achieves the position of chieftain or
a similar authority, he feels he must set an example to his
followers. Even if they doubt him, he must prove himself
to them, particularly if they need him.

Kurald Galain
2014-06-15, 09:40 AM
Oh I'm not saying that Chaotic characters can't be played well. I'm saying that a Chaotic alignment lends itself well to be used by the kind of bad players I described, since it's easy to think that "Chaotic" = "Random, not bound by common sense or logic".
In retrospect they should probably have picked a different term than "chaotic" (yes, I know it's an Elric reference; that's not an excuse 20 years later)


To be fair, D&D doesn't help at all. Most Chaotic monsters are described as mad, prone to randomness or outright violence despite not actually being Evil.
As I recall, the 2E PHB actively described CN characters as acting like this (and then dying as a result, to be fair).


Anyway, practically speaking I'd suggest two things. First, in my opinion certain players simply shouldn't be allowed to play CN characters (just like in Vampire, you're not playing a Malkavian unless you persuade me first that you can actually do a good job at it). And second, if you think you can "get through" to the player, let him answer this question: why would anyone want to hang out with your character? And if he can't think of an answer, that means his character gets dumped by the group and he has to play something else.

Lord Raziere
2014-06-15, 12:03 PM
maybe better terms for these would be "Free" and "Orderly" like "Orderly Good" and "Free Good" where Free cares more about their own freedom and independence, while Orderly cares more about safety, stability and everything working correctly.

so it'd be better to call it Free Neutral or Independent Neutral- someone who just wants to be free and independent, no chaos involved just freedom. a simple rewording would go a long way to change things for the better.

of course, they can work with others, they just have to agree on a few things and be tolerant of each other.

Vinegar Tom
2014-06-15, 02:28 PM
I fear I may be showing my age here, but didn't the 1e PHB (it's a while since I read it) define CN as the default vanilla alignment for players who couldn't be bothered to take any moral standpoint whatsoever? As opposed to True Neutral, that utterly weird alignment nobody ever chose unless they were absolutely determined to be a Druid, in the same way that CHA was only not the dump stat if you were a Paladin, only more so.

To put it simply, D&D started out as a strongly good versus evil game; the law/chaos axis was fluff pinched from the works of Michael Moorcock that has only comparatively recently become important. It's never mattered anywhere near as much as being Good or Bad, except if you happen to worship a god that worries about such things. The rules state that humans are the most random of all major sentient races, therefore one-third of all humans are Chaotic. Does this make one human in 3 raving mad? I think not. By the same token, one human in 3 is technically evil. But there are degrees of evil, just like chaos, that you need to bear in mind.

As a rule of thumb, especially with beginner PCs, I've always assumed that alignment is pretty flexible, unless of course your powers come from a god who is by definition a rules-lawyer. In which case you brought that condition on yourself, and if you're a good roleplayer, you know what you're doing. But I'm still watching you...

Zweisteine
2014-06-15, 02:49 PM
I agree with Lord Raziere, at least to what I saw of her post.


Here's my basic version of the distinction between Chaotic Evil and Chaotic Neutral:
CN doesn't like authority, but has morals. They won't go out of their way to help a stranger, and they might no actively fight authority, but they won't be unnecessarily cruel to people either.

Soarel
2014-06-15, 07:02 PM
Thanks for all the responses, guys. Just for my 2 cents:

Chaotic Neutral is defined by me as a very libertarian ideal: Going one's own way, not minding in other's business, and valuing personal freedom. It isn't altruistic but isn't selfish either. The insane type CN characters are the extreme end of CN, similar to how Miko's on the extreme end of LG.

As for the player, I killed his character in a method based on the "katy t3h penguin of doom" copypasta and then explained to him how to play a proper CN character. We then shoehorned in a resurrection of the character in which his personality changed.

Coidzor
2014-06-15, 07:27 PM
Seriously, the only archetype I've ever seen for a chaotic neutral character is the idiotic "lolrandom" personality. You know, the guy who does things with no rhyme or reason and yells out the names of foods and animals (you know what I mean, waffles cheese toast penguin walrus). Think "teh penguin of doom" for an idea of what I'm talking about.

Anyone else had encounters with these types of PCs and have advice on how to deal with them? I can't think of a way to stop these players without killing off their characters brutally.

If you run into them so often, I would recommend stopping and asking why the players make their characters like that and what they're really looking for out of the game.

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-19, 07:16 AM
It personally irks me when people associate Chaotic Neutral with libertarianism; as someone who somewhat idealizes chaos irl and dislikes libertarianism, I tend to view the latter as closer to Lawful Neutral, with an extreme focus on property law and a preference for the order of business over the order of government. Especially Objectivism. But that's about as far as I want to get into politics here.

Personally, when I play Chaotic Neutral characters, I tend to avoid lolrandom, but I don't adhere to the principles outlined earlier in this thread; indeed, I essentially do the exact opposite and play very driven characters, unfettered by any kind of principles in the pursuit of their personal goals. In my mind, Chaotic Neutral characters will lie. They will cheat. They will steal. They will kill, even innocents. They will torture if they have to, or if they're in a sufficiently bad state of mind. They just don't seek it out gratuitously like a Chaotic Evil character would. I think Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass is a good example of a Chaotic Neutral character done well-- He's underhanded, manipulative, conflicted, inconsistent, and fabulously hammy, but ultimately willing to destroy himself along with all the others he throws under the bus in the name of his goal. One wouldn't be wrong to hate him, but he clearly isn't malevolent. He simply desires a better world; he doesn't care if he's the hero or the villain in that world, as long as he gets to make it happen.

EDIT: Basically, this is your go-to trope if you want Chaotic Neutral written/played well: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ByronicHero
Oddly enough, it also works for Lawful Evil.

hamishspence
2014-06-19, 09:36 AM
CE can be like LE in having a "goal" and a lack of scruples in achieving that goal - it doesn't have to be actively malevolent, "evil for its own sake".

Segev
2014-06-19, 10:48 AM
*cough* Objectivism is not Libertarianism, though they share some tennets.

Libertarianism tends too much towards anarchy for my taste, as it has "property law" but then tends to fail to provide a strong enough body to enforce it. Like socialism (in many ways its polar opposite, philosophically), it puts too much faith in the good intentions of individual men.

Objectivism is rooted in a study of human nature without any rose-colored glasses. It doesn't pretend men act differently than they do; it instead seeks to exploit human nature to better all mankind.

The core rule that Objectivism has developed from this observation is a simple one: If you reward something, you get more of it. If you punish something, you get less of it.

Put another way: men will, as a general rule, act in their own perceived self-interest more often, with more dedication, and with more effort than they will for "altruistic" purposes.


Libertarianism is actually closest to CG, in a naÔve sort of way. They expect the best of everybody, and assume that you therefore need little to no rules other than those agreed upon by free-acting men and women for their own interpersonal relationships. It tends to fail because it doesn't provide for an organized way to bring together the strength of these well-meaning free-acting individuals when faced with organized and unrestrained use of force to impose tyranny.



I have seen LE interpretations of objectivism, but they always miss (or mischaracterize) crucial elements. I have not really seen any LN interpretations of Libertarianism. Fascism is a very LN to LE philosophy, as it actually does encourage the kind of law-for-the-sake-of-the-powerful-who-get-to-write-it behavior that LE seeks out. At its best, it's LN because it's unifying order is such that there's no room for exploration of options. It can't manage LG because it relies on force to FORCE people to do what it deems crucial for the betterment of all; an LG system would use the laws to ensure that bad behaviors are not rewarded and that good behaviors are, leaving people free to pursue their own self-interest in a way that helps the whole. (Most systems that try to micromanage this fail and slip to LN. The beauty of objectivism is that it's really a particle swarm optimization.)

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-19, 10:51 AM
CE can be like LE in having a "goal" and a lack of scruples in achieving that goal - it doesn't have to be actively malevolent, "evil for its own sake".

Well, yeah, but that's kinda my point. Chaotic Neutral doesn't have to be chaos for its own sake either. But it is, nonetheless, chaotic. I think the difference here is that CN goals are personal, while CE goals are egoistic-- both are selfish, but in entirely different ways. CN characters do things that are important to themselves, while CE characters do things that benefit themselves. There's a bit of a distinction there. Dr. Frankenstein, I'd say, is a pretty good example of the kind of character I'm describing. He crossed a major line-- creating life from the parts of corpses-- but he didn't do it because he'd benefit, and he didn't do it out of any kind of malice. It was simply an achievement of personal significance, and it brought great suffering, but I don't think that makes him evil.

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-19, 11:22 AM
excessively long post, in true Randian fashion

Ok, I think we're both skirting the edge here and I don't want this discussion scrubbed, but there's no way I can leave that line about Objectivism accurately representing human behavior. It essentially makes the exact same mistake as Communism: It assumes that people are predictable and machine-like, and that they are solely motivated by money. If anything, this displays a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature on Ayn Rand's part. I don't know what humans you've been hanging around with, but I've met exactly one who behaved as her writings anticipate. He was a rapist. My rapist, actually. And yeah, I know anecdotal evidence doesn't count, but that's my experience with rational self-interest.

As for vanilla libertarianism, I consider it lawful because even though it fixates on freedom as its central value(a choice I actually agree with), it proceeds to spend the rest of its energy treating it in a very abstract, academic way, in an attempt at creating an ideal system of laws that protects the abstract, ideal rights of a theoretical individual while minimizing the role of government, all the while completely ignoring or even leaning heavily on the ability of non-government organizations to behave in a lawful fashion. It all feels very shoehorned, as things tend to do when we adhere excessively to our principles. It takes an ostensibly chaotic value and views it through a very lawful lens.

nedz
2014-06-19, 11:27 AM
CN can be a lot of things apart from lolrandom.


An Anarchist
Someone who just doesn't like being told what to do
Someone who objects to anyone telling anyone else what to do
Someone who rejects dogma and moral systems
...


None of these have to be turned up to 11, running a character on a CN = 1 setting is fine.

Lord Raziere
2014-06-19, 11:29 AM
It personally irks me when people associate Chaotic Neutral with libertarianism; as someone who somewhat idealizes chaos irl and dislikes libertarianism, I tend to view the latter as closer to Lawful Neutral, with an extreme focus on property law and a preference for the order of business over the order of government. Especially Objectivism. But that's about as far as I want to get into politics here.

Personally, when I play Chaotic Neutral characters, I tend to avoid lolrandom, but I don't adhere to the principles outlined earlier in this thread; indeed, I essentially do the exact opposite and play very driven characters, unfettered by any kind of principles in the pursuit of their personal goals. In my mind, Chaotic Neutral characters will lie. They will cheat. They will steal. They will kill, even innocents. They will torture if they have to, or if they're in a sufficiently bad state of mind. They just don't seek it out gratuitously like a Chaotic Evil character would. I think Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass is a good example of a Chaotic Neutral character done well-- He's underhanded, manipulative, conflicted, inconsistent, and fabulously hammy, but ultimately willing to destroy himself along with all the others he throws under the bus in the name of his goal. One wouldn't be wrong to hate him, but he clearly isn't malevolent. He simply desires a better world; he doesn't care if he's the hero or the villain in that world, as long as he gets to make it happen.

EDIT: Basically, this is your go-to trope if you want Chaotic Neutral written/played well: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ByronicHero
Oddly enough, it also works for Lawful Evil.

I disagree. what you just outlined is Chaotic Evil, Evil can desire a better world as well, the fact that they do evil acts to accomplish such a world is what makes them evil. again, there has to be a dividing line between CN and CE, you mistake one for another far too much and say that its ok because CN only does it occasionally, as if the frequency of an evil act has anything to do with the fact that you actually committed it.

CN will lie, yes, cheat yes, kill yes, kill innocents? no. there is no pragmatic reason to. this is not out of compassion, this is out of being smart about what you target. Any neutral character will be more restrained in their morality than any Evil character, as any Good character is more restrained in their morality than any Neutral. there has to be a dividing line between neutral and evil, or the alignments are meaningless, and CN is just as bad as CE.

Sir Samwise
2014-06-19, 11:40 AM
Honestly I mostly see a CN character as similar to early Bugs Bunny, looking out for himself, a prankster, but deadly if you annoy him

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-19, 11:40 AM
I disagree. what you just outlined is Chaotic Evil, Evil can desire a better world as well, the fact that they do evil acts to accomplish such a world is what makes them evil. again, there has to be a dividing line between CN and CE, you mistake one for another far too much and say that its ok because CN only does it occasionally, as if the frequency of an evil act has anything to do with the fact that you actually committed it.

CN will lie, yes, cheat yes, kill yes, kill innocents? no. there is no pragmatic reason to. this is not out of compassion, this is out of being smart about what you target. Any neutral character will be more restrained in their morality than any Evil character, as any Good character is more restrained in their morality than any Neutral. there has to be a dividing line between neutral and evil, or the alignments are meaningless, and CN is just as bad as CE.

You seem to be viewing this through a lens of strict rule ethics. But there are also virtue ethics, and, more to the point, consequentialist ethics. A chaotic neutral character won't kill those innocents if it isn't necessary. A chaotic neutral character, unless they were a sociopath, would certainly feel sick about it. But if somebody holds them hostage, and that gets in the way of the plan, well, sorry. The plan comes first. The rest of those civilians are more important than the 50 or so that are about to die.

Chaos isn't really into dividing lines. And a chaotic neutral character, especially, doesn't have rules. CN has priorities.

EDIT: It should probably be noted, though, that most chaotic neutral characters that kill innocents probably won't be doing so in a hostage situation. It'd probably just be one, as the culmination of a tragic character arc resulting in copious amounts of remorse, and possibly as the beginning of either an arc of attempted redemption, or a continual descent into evil. I think Dorian Grey was probably CN when he committed his first murder, though he was definitely evil by the end of the novel.

Segev
2014-06-19, 01:26 PM
Ok, I think we're both skirting the edge here and I don't want this discussion scrubbed, but there's no way I can leave that line about Objectivism accurately representing human behavior. It essentially makes the exact same mistake as Communism: It assumes that people are predictable and machine-like, and that they are solely motivated by money. If anything, this displays a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature on Ayn Rand's part. I don't know what humans you've been hanging around with, but I've met exactly one who behaved as her writings anticipate. He was a rapist. My rapist, actually. And yeah, I know anecdotal evidence doesn't count, but that's my experience with rational self-interest.

Rand's characters are a bit idealized, but mostly in that they're self-examining beyond the point where most men bother. Well, her heroes are. Her villains are honestly pretty much what you see whenever you look at modern government officials and the big business cronies who work with them.

The events surrounding the "fairness in competition" rules the railroad industry set up with Congress in Atlas Shrugged happen frequently nowadays with various regulatory agencies that are populated with "former" employees and owners of the largest (and highest-donating-to-politicians) companies in those fields, writing rules the existing big companies can afford to follow but which crush and keep out smaller competitors.

Objectivism doesn't assume people are machines at all. It assumes they're living, rational beings which pursue what they think is in their best interest. "Money" is hardly a goal of objectivist philosophy; "money," to an objectivist, is an abstract means of measuring how much what you've done is valued by others (as represented by the fact they were willing to give you that money in return for your goods or services).

It assumes that you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.

To really FOLLOW objectivism, one has to examine the philosophy and pursue enlightenment - that is, understanding of long-term planning and consequences for actions and choices - so that one can get one's maximum self-interest.


Where Randian Objectivism falls short is actually in the interpersonal relationships. She was influenced and poisoned by the way the communist dictators of Russia co-opted the language of social interaction to conflate much of what makes families strong and charity beneficial with communist theft and tyranny, and it scarred her and it shows in her works.

But to say that Objectivism views men as machines is silly. It watches how humans behave. Can you honestly state that people do not do things for their own benefit with more energy and dedication than they do for the nebulous "greater good" of "society?"

One only has to look to history to see this is not so. Look to William Bradford's journal about how the Pilgrims had to set things up in order to survive.


But yes, this is a topic on alignments and CN types.

I think we can agree, at the least, that Objectivism is definitely not on the Chaotic end of the ethical spectrum.

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-19, 02:02 PM
But to say that Objectivism views men as machines is silly. It watches how humans behave. Can you honestly state that people do not do things for their own benefit with more energy and dedication than they do for the nebulous "greater good" of "society?"

That's a false dichotomy, though. Did I ever say people were inherently altruistic? Did I even imply it?
I only implied two conditions: That people are unpredictable(an inevitable function of complexity), and that they have all kinds of different motives beyond getting paid(again, an inevitable function of complexity). I posit not that people are saints, but that they are right crazy bastards, and no ideology could possibly account for the sheer irrationality of billions upon billions of lurching apes running on wetware supercomputers, each containing approximately 86 billion possible points of failure within, and that's not even accounting for the memetics. And on top of that, there's the old tribal wiring. Not perfect altruism by any means, and undeniably myopic, but very much community-oriented. You can't just stamp that tribalism out of us. It'll always come back, until we get the whole transhumanism thing licked anyway, and that'll just be a whole new can of worms. So you can spare me your canned rebuttals, and you can spare me your assumptions about my worldview.

Now, let's talk about alignments, shall we?

Segev
2014-06-19, 03:10 PM
Speaking as a student of history and an expert on Swarming Intelligence, I can say with authority that human beings, in the aggregate, do in fact tend to behave in a fashion consistent with the following: Offer greater rewards for greater effort, and you will tend to get greater effort. Yes, what "rewards" are can and does vary, but overall, you will see this behavior typically occur.

This is, actually, a defining trait that makes even the most chaotic (but not insane) of CN types still act in a rational fashion: they will act to maximize the benefit to themselves (and possibly their friends/loved ones).

Heck, every single alignment will act, to some degree, with a preference for personal benefit.

CE will, obviously, do anything for Number One. They are often (but needn't be) short-sighted about it, but about the only thing you can predict is that they'll do whatever it takes to get what they want.

NE is also out for Number One, but will tend to be more willing to sacrifice to protect his reputation than the CE type. After all, his reputation keeps people being willing to trust him, so he might be able to get ahead even if he's not already got the strong-arm position.

CN is more likely to expand his "personal" benefit to include friends and loved ones, by virtue of the fact that he's not Evil and thus values others as actual people. He may not value them enough to actively sacrifice for anybody he doesn't know, but he at least scruples to avoid direct and disproportionate harm to others. Still, he has his own goals and he'll pursue them, and if he's not getting something out of it, why should he bother acting?

TN is almost the quintessential definition of this. Like NE, he will engage in a certain amount of enlightenment around his self-interest; he values rules because they can protect him as much as others. But he is willing to break them for his own good, especially if he doesn't think he'll get caught or called out on it. Like CN, he's not willing to cause harm to others directly, but might not care to do anything to help them if there's nothing in it for him. Unlike CN, he will, as stated before, tend to want to follow rules if only to maintain a reputation and an ability to get the rules to protect him.

LE loves his rules because his rules let him play a game of exploitation. Every rule is examined to determine how it can best benefit him or harm those he dislikes (which is a benefit to him, as everybody indulges in schadenfreud, but evil people revel in it). Rules have to be followed, says the LE-type, even to one's detriment, but that's just a sign you're doing it wrong. Find the way to make it work FOR you.

LN is perhaps the furthest from being motivated by self-interest, at least on the surface. It tends to be characterized by a rigid adherence to a set of rules almost for their own sake. Certainly, the Modrons embody that. Still, the LN types will tend to run their decision-making algorithm in determining how the rules should be changed with an eye towards their own benefit. Less than the LE types, they're not going to look to rework the rules strictly to serve them, but they do tend to want laws and their code to at least operate in their best interests overall. They just tend to think that knowing the rules and how everybody is to behave IS in their best interests.

CG, too, is very much about enlightened self-interest. Here, you'll find the people who actually live up to the moral "don't hurt others, and be willing to help out where you can," but that altruistic drive still has an underlying, "after all, you might need the help next week." Their freedom is tempered by a restraint from needless violence, but when they negotiate over disputes, it is always with an eye towards making sure they get the most they can out of any arrangements made with others. And when they break agreements (and CG types will do so if they feel justified in it), they do so for their own benefit as much as anybody else's; after all, they expect that others will break an agreement that has turned unconscionable. CG types will likely be forgiving of such things, and be willing to renegotiate to minimize harm to others in breaking the agreements.

NG is in contention with LN for being the least likely to be acting in their own self-interest. They value helping others extremely highly, and most self-sacrificing types will fall into here. But even here, the wisest of them recognize that they can help more people if they are, themselves, prosperous, and when dealing with others who are not "in need," they are almost certainly going to want some quid pro quo. Even if that quid pro quo is just an expectation of charity to others, the NG-type is expecting more benefit to come back to him by improving the world as a whole. And, in the end, if it comes down to helping his friends and family or helping strangers, most NG types will choose the former, first. It's those people he knows and loves, and thus will make him feel better about helping.

LG, too, is going to work harder for himself and his loved ones than he will for strangers. He is going to support fairness, too, over unfairness. So the LG type will expect the rules to support fair treatment of all. But even though he'll happily help others out, his sense of fairness is going to rebel against helping those who refuse to help themselves and simply demand that which they have not earned. Even if you try to insist on a Communist LG type, such an individual is going to refuse to help those who won't contribute to the Greater Good their fair share of labor. And, in judging what that fair share is, they are judging the worth of their own effort, and how it is best spent.



People predictably act in their own perceived self-interest. A great deal of the unpredictability stems from failure to recognize what it is they perceive as their self-interest. This can be a seemingly selfless desire to protect others, but there is always something one can trade with anybody to get them to behave in a manner different than normal. As a general rule, perceived self-interest will be the motivator of the vast majority of men. Those who are truly, utterly selfless are extremely rare. Even in the most moral and upright and giving of societies, rewarding greater production with greater share of the effort's spoils gets more productive work out of more people.

You pretty much have to posit non-human mindsets to escape this. See: Modrons.

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-19, 04:29 PM
People predictably act in their own perceived self-interest. A great deal of the unpredictability stems from failure to recognize what it is they perceive as their self-interest. This can be a seemingly selfless desire to protect others, but there is always something one can trade with anybody to get them to behave in a manner different than normal. As a general rule, perceived self-interest will be the motivator of the vast majority of men. Those who are truly, utterly selfless are extremely rare. Even in the most moral and upright and giving of societies, rewarding greater production with greater share of the effort's spoils gets more productive work out of more people.

I have a reply to this, but I don't want to keep derailing the thread. I'm taking it to PMs.

Coidzor
2014-06-19, 05:35 PM
CE can be like LE in having a "goal" and a lack of scruples in achieving that goal - it doesn't have to be actively malevolent, "evil for its own sake".

Neither CE nor LE have to be Dark Kantians, doing evil for evil's sake regardless of utility.

kyoryu
2014-06-19, 05:48 PM
Ultimately, I like to look at Chaotic as being not anti-law, but anti-Order. A more nuanced view of Chaotic would be that they believe in the superiority of individual choice and self-organization rather than structure and hierarchy.

A Neutral character, in general, respects others, but won't (generally) help others if there's nothing in it for them. Realistically, this describes most people. Even most do-gooders in reality really want *other* people to solve problems.

A CN person won't, generally, murder or steal, though (like anyone) they'd like kill in self defense or steal if absolutely forced to.

The real issue with "lolrandom" CN characters isn't the alignment. It's the fact that you've got a player that thinks that disrupting the game is fun. The alignment is just an excuse for the behavior, it's not the *driver* of it. And as always, it's better to deal with player issues on a player basis, not on an in-character or rules basis.

Pex
2014-06-19, 07:00 PM
I think we can agree, at the least, that Objectivism is definitely not on the Chaotic end of the ethical spectrum.

No we can't because it is. It is about individualism, not randomness. It is very distrustful of Order only allowing the smidgen necessary for a civilization to function such as defense against aggressors and Justice against swindlers. However, it is true it's not about the pursuit of money. Money is just a unit of measure.

TheIronGolem
2014-06-19, 07:23 PM
The only thing being proven by the current argument is that the D&D alignment system is not a useful tool for modeling or describing real-world philosophies.

kyoryu
2014-06-19, 07:44 PM
Actually, I generally agree with Segev's breakdown.

I see the lawful-chaotic axis as being about what an individual think maximizes benefit - order and predictability, or local (individual) decision-making.

Evil vs. Good is really down to "will I tromp on others for my own benefit" vs. "I'll sacrifice for the benefit of others".

A CN individual (barring insanity - alignments are not personality disorders) will generally act in their own best interests (or for their "group"), but will be hesitant about tromping on others. They also won't go out of their way to help others in general. They'll prefer to maintain autonomy, and will generally be uncomfortable with being placed in a position to order others, as they believe it is inefficient. They'd rather trust that those they work with are competent and will, when working towards a common goal, make smart decisions.

Jeff the Green
2014-06-20, 02:23 AM
I tend to think that the law/chaos axis is best conceived of as code/whim. The lawful person follows a code of behavior. This can be explicit (like the paladin or monk) or implicit (the shaman who does what she believes her ancestors would have done). This code can also be moral (the paladin's), amoral (the monk's, even the Good monk's), or immoral (in D&D, the evil paladins; more realistically, I'm having trouble with this, but possibly Darth Vader would fit here).

The chaotic person acts on what they want most at any given moment. That doesn't mean they can't work to a particular goal (they can have sustained whims), but what they do is not governed by right and wrong. (Chaotic Good characters are good because they want to do each individual good act and Chaotic Evil characters are evil because they want to do each individual evil act.)

Of course, nobody's a modron or a slaad, so nobody is free from desires independent of their code that they might follow on occasion and nobody's whims are entirely random. Only modrons are constrained to one course of action and only slaad are as likely to jump off a bridge as cross it. (They're also as likely to compose epic poetry about it or try to mate with it.)

What this means is that, yes, the CN character may be flighty and prone to doing things just because they find them amusing, what whims they get is not random and should be consistent with their general character.

Yora
2014-06-20, 02:47 AM
I'm a strong proponent of simply not using alignment at all (or limiting it to magical creatures with all humanoid races being always Neutral). It doesn't contribute anything to the game.
Except problems.

People have been trying to explain it for almost 40 years and to this day there hasn't been anything even close to consensus. Explaining what one person thinks could be a good way to make alignment work is not going to convince everyone else to agree with that one. But for alignment to be a working tool, this would be absolutely neccessary. And even if it could be done, what would really be gained for playing the game?

My personal suspicion about CN and CE murderhobos is, that players see the alignments and get the impression that they have to play their characters by a set of arbitrary rules and the GM will force them to comply with them as he sees fit. And the best way to break out of this encroachment of what most players consider their most fundamental right in playing a character, is to make the character CN or CE. Then you can do whatever you want without anyone telling you "your character wouldn't do that" or "you have to do this because of your alignment". And at the same time, the game actively encourages you to do silly nonsense by making it appear as if that is appropriate and even desired behavior.

Kalmageddon
2014-06-20, 05:58 AM
I'm a strong proponent of simply not using alignment at all (or limiting it to magical creatures with all humanoid races being always Neutral). It doesn't contribute anything to the game.
Except problems.

People have been trying to explain it for almost 40 years and to this day there hasn't been anything even close to consensus. Explaining what one person thinks could be a good way to make alignment work is not going to convince everyone else to agree with that one. But for alignment to be a working tool, this would be absolutely neccessary. And even if it could be done, what would really be gained for playing the game?

My personal suspicion about CN and CE murderhobos is, that players see the alignments and get the impression that they have to play their characters by a set of arbitrary rules and the GM will force them to comply with them as he sees fit. And the best way to break out of this encroachment of what most players consider their most fundamental right in playing a character, is to make the character CN or CE. Then you can do whatever you want without anyone telling you "your character wouldn't do that" or "you have to do this because of your alignment". And at the same time, the game actively encourages you to do silly nonsense by making it appear as if that is appropriate and even desired behavior.

Pretty much this.
To be honest though, I find that some sort of alignment system is necessary to at least define what a player character would and wouldn't do. It should be far more detailed and less linear then a simple Chaos-Law and Good-Evil axis, that's for sure.
But a guideline that sets the moral standards of a character is useful, I tend to find.

Like, for example, if you don't do anything like this you can find yourself in situations where a character that up until now looked like a decent fellow do something bad out of the blue, like keeping the slaves he just freed for himself, and as a GM you don't know how to act upon it.
Let him keep them? Call him out on having made a sudden heel turn? There must be limits to what each character considers acceptable behaviour in every game.

Storm_Of_Snow
2014-06-20, 08:04 AM
CN will lie, yes, cheat yes, kill yes, kill innocents? no. there is no pragmatic reason to. this is not out of compassion, this is out of being smart about what you target.
Although the question then becomes "who defines who is an innocent?" And that's where the character's own principles come in.

IMO, the "lolrandom CN" character isn't actually CN, they're schizophrenic and animalistic neutral because they're not in concious control of their actions. If someone wants to play that kind of character, well, that's down to them. :smallfrown:

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-20, 12:46 PM
What's great about chaotic neutral(or any alignment, really, but especially chaotic neutral) is that there are all kinds of possible interpretations. But personally, I think "selfish" is pretty boring(and problematic, because it's basically identical to neutral evil). To me, "chaos" means "confusion". If I'm playing chaotic neutral, I want my character to be an enigma, a riddle. I want people to question whether their actions are acceptable or not, and whether they're even in a position to judge. I think that's probably why I go for larger-than-life goals. In my mind, a player character should be heroic, even if that doesn't mean being good. In the case of a CN character, in my mind, this means having a heroic ability to overcome normal limits.

EDIT: I suppose, as a corollary, a lawful neutral character could be just as heroic in their integrity, their ability never to compromise. Judge Dredd and Rorschach come to mind.
I don't know what could be heroic about true neutral characters. Possibly the ability to reject agendas and avoid being pawns.

Yora
2014-06-20, 01:39 PM
Like, for example, if you don't do anything like this you can find yourself in situations where a character that up until now looked like a decent fellow do something bad out of the blue, like keeping the slaves he just freed for himself, and as a GM you don't know how to act upon it.
Let him keep them? Call him out on having made a sudden heel turn? There must be limits to what each character considers acceptable behaviour in every game.
But "your character wouldn't do that" should never be the attempted solution. Making the characters behavior pattern more complex than lawful good would probably result only in players putting some more effort into justifying any possible action. And why should the players have to? It's their character which they created and they can expand and modify as they see appropriate for a situation. They should not have to request permission to play the character they created. If a character acts in a way that will upset the people who got used to a different personalty from him, then decide how NPCs react in a way thay you see as appropriate. People may try to arrest the character, banish him from a place or organization he has joined, or whatever else fits in that situation. Just the same way as it would be if the player had said from the start that his character is perfectly fine with playing by everyones rules, but will consider slaves of defeated enemies part of the loot.

I run games under the mutual understanding that the campaign is going in one general direction and the players will limit their actions and descisions to stay within these boundaries. But as long as they do that, I am perfectly fine with adapting to what they do, even if it is in unexpected ways.

obryn
2014-06-20, 01:48 PM
I'm a strong proponent of simply not using alignment at all (or limiting it to magical creatures with all humanoid races being always Neutral). It doesn't contribute anything to the game.
Except problems.

People have been trying to explain it for almost 40 years and to this day there hasn't been anything even close to consensus. Explaining what one person thinks could be a good way to make alignment work is not going to convince everyone else to agree with that one. But for alignment to be a working tool, this would be absolutely neccessary. And even if it could be done, what would really be gained for playing the game?

My personal suspicion about CN and CE murderhobos is, that players see the alignments and get the impression that they have to play their characters by a set of arbitrary rules and the GM will force them to comply with them as he sees fit. And the best way to break out of this encroachment of what most players consider their most fundamental right in playing a character, is to make the character CN or CE. Then you can do whatever you want without anyone telling you "your character wouldn't do that" or "you have to do this because of your alignment". And at the same time, the game actively encourages you to do silly nonsense by making it appear as if that is appropriate and even desired behavior.
Yeah, pretty much this.

The problem is only tangentially about alignment here. It's about a problem player (or players?), justifying their disruptive behavior by pointing to a big chart. (And, on the other side of the coin, the DM trying to pigeonhole players into actions based on that same big chart.)

kyoryu
2014-06-20, 02:15 PM
But "your character wouldn't do that" should never be the attempted solution.

As I frequently say "alignments aren't personality disorders." Being Lawful Good means that you have strong tendencies along those two axes. It doesn't mean that you can *only* do Lawful things and *must always* sacrifice everything for everybody.

A Lawful character can certainly act in a way that's Chaotic (going against a direct order, for instance). On occasion. An Evil character may do Good, or a Good character might do Evil. It's the frequency, the circumstances, and everything else that determines where you're going to sit.

Also, character alignment is descriptive, not prescriptive. It should never stop a character from doing something, though a continuing trend of behavior over time should result in alignment switching to match the general behavior trend.

Knaight
2014-06-20, 02:29 PM
The problem is only tangentially about alignment here. It's about a problem player (or players?), justifying their disruptive behavior by pointing to a big chart. (And, on the other side of the coin, the DM trying to pigeonhole players into actions based on that same big chart.)

I'd agree with this. 'Lolrandom' chararacters can and do exist in games without alignment or other things there to back them up.

nedz
2014-06-20, 02:53 PM
I'm a strong proponent of simply not using alignment at all (or limiting it to magical creatures with all humanoid races being always Neutral). It doesn't contribute anything to the game.
Except problems.

People have been trying to explain it for almost 40 years and to this day there hasn't been anything even close to consensus. Explaining what one person thinks could be a good way to make alignment work is not going to convince everyone else to agree with that one. But for alignment to be a working tool, this would be absolutely neccessary. And even if it could be done, what would really be gained for playing the game?

My personal suspicion about CN and CE murderhobos is, that players see the alignments and get the impression that they have to play their characters by a set of arbitrary rules and the GM will force them to comply with them as he sees fit. And the best way to break out of this encroachment of what most players consider their most fundamental right in playing a character, is to make the character CN or CE. Then you can do whatever you want without anyone telling you "your character wouldn't do that" or "you have to do this because of your alignment". And at the same time, the game actively encourages you to do silly nonsense by making it appear as if that is appropriate and even desired behavior.

I used to play CN a lot. For me it was a means to opt out of the alignment debate at least w.r.t. my character.

Now this was a long time ago, now I am more of the view that I create a character and then choose an alignment which best describes that character: so rather than the driver being my character is of alignment X therefore I do Y; it is a case of my character does Z because of reasons and I don't worry about the alignment issues too much. If my original mapping of character onto alignment was wrong I change the character's alignment.

I've always viewed Alignment, per say, as being somewhat simplistic.

Kalmageddon
2014-06-20, 02:55 PM
But "your character wouldn't do that" should never be the attempted solution. Making the characters behavior pattern more complex than lawful good would probably result only in players putting some more effort into justifying any possible action. And why should the players have to? It's their character which they created and they can expand and modify as they see appropriate for a situation. They should not have to request permission to play the character they created. If a character acts in a way that will upset the people who got used to a different personalty from him, then decide how NPCs react in a way thay you see as appropriate. People may try to arrest the character, banish him from a place or organization he has joined, or whatever else fits in that situation. Just the same way as it would be if the player had said from the start that his character is perfectly fine with playing by everyones rules, but will consider slaves of defeated enemies part of the loot.

I run games under the mutual understanding that the campaign is going in one general direction and the players will limit their actions and descisions to stay within these boundaries. But as long as they do that, I am perfectly fine with adapting to what they do, even if it is in unexpected ways.

To be honest, the "just roll with it and make everyone act accordingly" is just boring and basically the passive-aggressive way of saying "hang on a minute, your character does what?". It usually detracts from the plot and the more pressing matters the PCs might have.
I much prefer having a clear psychological profile of a character and know what he will or will not do. A paragraph dedicated to it in the background is usually enough to clear out any misunderstanding.

For example, one time I had to make my character leave the group because one of the other players decided that his character was going to start murdering people just because. There was no buildup and no reason to this decision and my CG character basically said "I'm out" and walked away. Why is this not ok? Well because if I had known what that character was going to do beforehand I would have made a different character, one that would not have had any problems with random killings. But instead I made a character, spent time developing it, grew fond of it and then I had to throw it away.

You can see that some amount of guidelines as to how a character acts can be useful I hope. If you are perfectly ok with your players deciding what their characters would and would not do on the fly, no problem. But to be honest I doubt I would have much fun with your group if anyone could turn into a murderer at any moment just because a player got bored or had a bad day irl.

kyoryu
2014-06-20, 03:05 PM
To be honest, the "just roll with it and make everyone act accordingly" is just boring and basically the passive-aggressive way of saying "hang on a minute, your character does what?".

The better way of handling it is "you know, your Lawful <x> character has been avoiding orders and hierarchy, and generally showing a preference for individual initiative - if he keeps this up, his alignment will change to Neutral <x> to reflect his actions."

dramatic flare
2014-06-20, 05:03 PM
I'm experiencing a different side of this problem. My CN was working for a umbral dragon on the shadow plane when his lord was murdered and he was kicked off the plane to the material plane. This character then had a horrible time making ends meet and wound up resorting to brigandry to survive. He went from lawful to chaotic in the back story.
Since the campaign was Kingmaker, I figured having a character slowly work back from chaotic to lawful as he regained trust in the government and his allies would be a fun story.
My DM has basically treated every major decision towards good or evil as a threat to changing the alignment. It would be fine, except he wants to make a problematic NPC "go away" and I get threatened with turning Chaotic Evil and forced to roll a new character. I dunno. I feel like my DM wants my character to fit into a neater mold than I have in mind for him. He helped save the gnome carivan despite no obvious benefit, because his ally asked (and friends count for something.) He saved a forest drake and even brought him into the kingdom's fold (admittedly it was slightly mafia style, yet with honest pay!).
I feel like he's a pretty damn good chaotic right now.

Wardog
2014-06-20, 06:13 PM
6. Chaotic Neutral doesn't want to tear down the law, but to avoid it.
This may seem strange to hear, but Chaotic Neutral doesn't actively work against the law. Chaotic good may oppose the law for more freedom for everyone if its tyrannical, Chaotic Evil will probably oppose any law that gets in the way of their selfish desires, but Chaotic Neutral, while often breaking the law, isn't exactly opposing it implicitly. They are just following their own self-consistent train of thought, and it just so happens to clash with the rules around them. If anything, they try to avoid the law.

If faced with a tyrannical city, CG will go in and try to change it for the better, CN is more likely to escape it and find somewhere else to be free, where its easier to be free and not have to jump through as many hoops to get their freedom. Staying in a tyrannical city is a good way to get killed by its laws after all. Though this may vary, some Chaotic Neutrals might desire an interesting, risk-taking life and go into it not to spreading freedom and good to everyone else, but just as a challenge to see if they keep up their life amidst an oppressive regime. However if faced with no other choice, they will stop avoiding and fight against unjust laws for their freedom right alongside Chaotic Good.

I'm not sure why that should have to be the case.
A CG can be idealistic: thinking chaos makes things better for everyone.
A CE can be "idealistic", thinking that chaos makes things better for the deserving (such as himself).

But I don't see why a CN can't also be idealistic, thinking that chaos is just better, full stop. After all, if a CN can't be implicity and ideologically opposed to Law per se, who would be? "Rules and regulations and just unnatural. They only exist because The Man makes them and enforces them, and that's just wrong. It's not about me, and its not about making life "better" by someone's arbitary standards. It's about not trying to force people/society/the world to fit into your arbitary standards". (For example).

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-20, 06:23 PM
I'm not sure why that should have to be the case.
A CG can be idealistic: thinking chaos makes things better for everyone.
A CE can be "idealistic", thinking that chaos makes things better for the deserving (such as himself).

But I don't see why a CN can't also be idealistic, thinking that chaos is just better, full stop. After all, if a CN can't be implicity and ideologically opposed to Law per se, who would be? "Rules and regulations and just unnatural. They only exist because The Man makes them and enforces them, and that's just wrong. It's not about me, and its not about making life "better" by someone's arbitary standards. It's about not trying to force people/society/the world to fit into your arbitary standards". (For example).

Yeah, it's entirely possible to view order itself as a hellish condition and something to be avoided. If the entire world is a place you can't stand living in, your choices are to kill yourself or to change the world.

kyoryu
2014-06-20, 06:47 PM
A CE can be "idealistic", thinking that chaos makes things better for the deserving (such as himself).

"Of course it should be every man for himself. How could it be otherwise? If we allow people to keep what they can't defend, then we do nothing but weaken ourselves as a whole. If I can take it, you didn't deserve it. And if you can take it from me, then I didn't deserve it."


Yeah, it's entirely possible to view order itself as a hellish condition and something to be avoided. If the entire world is a place you can't stand living in, your choices are to kill yourself or to change the world.

There's a slightly better way of viewing "chaos" as a positive - you prefer individual autonomy to collective organization.

TandemChelipeds
2014-06-20, 07:56 PM
"Of course it should be every man for himself. How could it be otherwise? If we allow people to keep what they can't defend, then we do nothing but weaken ourselves as a whole. If I can take it, you didn't deserve it. And if you can take it from me, then I didn't deserve it."
And there we have Max Stirner's philosophy in a nutshell.


There's a slightly better way of viewing "chaos" as a positive - you prefer individual autonomy to collective organization.
Better according to what values? Is it always better to be attracted than repelled?

Coidzor
2014-06-21, 12:21 AM
Yeah, pretty much this.

The problem is only tangentially about alignment here. It's about a problem player (or players?), justifying their disruptive behavior by pointing to a big chart. (And, on the other side of the coin, the DM trying to pigeonhole players into actions based on that same big chart.)

Hence why ya gotta get to the root of the problem by seeing if you can get anywhere with the player OOC and OOG.

Yora
2014-06-21, 03:58 AM
As I frequently say "alignments aren't personality disorders." Being Lawful Good means that you have strong tendencies along those two axes. It doesn't mean that you can *only* do Lawful things and *must always* sacrifice everything for everybody.

A Lawful character can certainly act in a way that's Chaotic (going against a direct order, for instance). On occasion. An Evil character may do Good, or a Good character might do Evil. It's the frequency, the circumstances, and everything else that determines where you're going to sit.

Also, character alignment is descriptive, not prescriptive. It should never stop a character from doing something, though a continuing trend of behavior over time should result in alignment switching to match the general behavior trend.
Yes that's right. It's a way to make alignment work. But still, it's a debate you need to have over, and over, and over. And not every time everyone will be convinced and willing to adopt this view. And given that it is still constantly showing up after 40 years is a very good indicator that it will never end.
Now having this debate repeatedly might be considered worth it, if alignment would be adding anything to the game. But it just doesn't. Why suffering through this huge annoyance if there isn't really any gain on the slim chance that you will convince everyone in your group? It's an ordeal that can be entirely avoided without anything being lost.