Chaotic Neutral: Roleplaying Intelligently?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Corathonv2 wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

I aim to misbehave - Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Pretty much perfect chaotic neutral philosophy.

A chaotic neutral character wouldn't have returned the stolen medicine in "The Train Job". It would've been something like "Its terrible the way those folks are suffering, but its in my interest to get paid and to not cross Niska."

Yeah, I think Reynolds is CG masquerading as CN. Jayne, on the other hand, is pretty solidly CN, occasionally borderline CE. He's got a conscience that pops up now and again, but mostly is just out for himself.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Fey are the epitome of CN. If you look at different portrayals of powerful, intelligent fey, you'll get a good idea of how how to play the alignment.


Isonaroc wrote:

Quark Blast

Those are generalized descriptions. You're sorta assuming CE is a monolithic block of character traits. Some will be stable, some will be unstable, some will be coherent, some will be incoherent. Alignment is not the end all be all, and doesn't prescribe all actions at all times. CE characters can still treat people decently if it fits their worldview. For example, in the post-apocalyptic comic Crossed there is a schoolteacher who, when the food ran out, trained preteen children to waylay, murder, and eat other survivors. By most objective standards she was CE even though her primary concern was the continued survival of the children. She never would've turned on them, and spent her dying moments begging the people she'd planned on eating to take care of the children.

CE characters can do good things, they can get along with people, they can toe the line. The difference is that they do these things for ultimately selfish reasons. They do good things because in a particular situation it would benefit them more; they get along with people because they like them or they don't want to deal with the fallout; they toe the line because they know they'll get the crap kicked out of them if they don't. Video games fairly often have teammates that could be classified as chaotic evil (HK-47 from KOTOR, Morrigan and Zevran from DA, etc) who can function well enough in teams and all have certain lines or focii they won't transgress. Hell, look at a character like Bender from Futurama; he's lawless, generally takes pleasure in the misery of others (even his friends), is capable of theft and murder, and otherwise displays essentially all the traits of a CE character, but he still has moments where he feels bad about specific people (or tortoises), and is capable of being begrudgingly kind from time to time.

You missed the part where,
QB wrote:
CE as a successful antihero only works in fiction because the author determines everything.


pH unbalanced wrote:
Fey are the epitome of CN. If you look at different portrayals of powerful, intelligent fey, you'll get a good idea of how how to play the alignment.

This

This should've been the first reply in this thread. Excellent answer. Forget everything else posted here.

Silver Crusade

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Quark Blast wrote:
Isonaroc wrote:

Quark Blast

Those are generalized descriptions. You're sorta assuming CE is a monolithic block of character traits. Some will be stable, some will be unstable, some will be coherent, some will be incoherent. Alignment is not the end all be all, and doesn't prescribe all actions at all times. CE characters can still treat people decently if it fits their worldview. For example, in the post-apocalyptic comic Crossed there is a schoolteacher who, when the food ran out, trained preteen children to waylay, murder, and eat other survivors. By most objective standards she was CE even though her primary concern was the continued survival of the children. She never would've turned on them, and spent her dying moments begging the people she'd planned on eating to take care of the children.

CE characters can do good things, they can get along with people, they can toe the line. The difference is that they do these things for ultimately selfish reasons. They do good things because in a particular situation it would benefit them more; they get along with people because they like them or they don't want to deal with the fallout; they toe the line because they know they'll get the crap kicked out of them if they don't. Video games fairly often have teammates that could be classified as chaotic evil (HK-47 from KOTOR, Morrigan and Zevran from DA, etc) who can function well enough in teams and all have certain lines or focii they won't transgress. Hell, look at a character like Bender from Futurama; he's lawless, generally takes pleasure in the misery of others (even his friends), is capable of theft and murder, and otherwise displays essentially all the traits of a CE character, but he still has moments where he feels bad about specific people (or tortoises), and is capable of being begrudgingly kind from time to time.

You missed the part where,
QB wrote:
CE as a successful antihero only works in fiction because the author determines everything.

No, I ignored it because alignment only exists in fiction due to the fact that real people are more complicated than a two axis nine position chart can convey. In real life it's even more muddy and far harder to pigeonhole people.


The chief difficulty of playing a CN character is STAYING chaotic neutral, for two reasons:

1) The kinds of stories most commonly told in RPGs tend to put the characters in positions where they must choose between committing heroic (Good) or villainous (Evil) acts. It can be very tricky to find a third way when you are constantly faced with stark moral choices. The CN tends to wind up slipping to CG or CE, one way or the other, depending on the PC's choices.

2) I have yet to meet anyone I would truly call Chaotic Neutral in real life. Which poses difficulties for staying CN, because the player's own moral sensibilities tend to leak through. It's often difficult to maintain a sharp dividing line between PC and Player, and more so if your PC has an outlook sharply at variance with your own ordinary take on things.


Remaining any alignment should not be the concern of the player unless their class features depend on it, organic shifts in world view are good for storytelling. Not something you need to avoid, if you find your character being drawn towards good or evil that isn't bad.

Although I don't think its particularly hard to stay neutral, people should understand that one good act does not good make, and the same goes for evil.


Isonaroc wrote:
Corathonv2 wrote:
Dave Justus wrote:

I aim to misbehave - Captain Malcolm Reynolds.

Pretty much perfect chaotic neutral philosophy.

A chaotic neutral character wouldn't have returned the stolen medicine in "The Train Job". It would've been something like "Its terrible the way those folks are suffering, but its in my interest to get paid and to not cross Niska."
Yeah, I think Reynolds is CG masquerading as CN. Jayne, on the other hand, is pretty solidly CN, occasionally borderline CE. He's got a conscience that pops up now and again, but mostly is just out for himself.

During the show, sure. But during the movie, from which said quote comes, he's a much angrier and more cynical man. Take for example his actions during the escape from the Reavers at the beginning of the film: He shoots the man begging for help instead of taking him with them. Ultimately, I would argue for much of Serenity, he is pretty firmly in Chaotic Neutral Territory, and only once they visit Miranda does he drift back to Chaotic Good.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

One of my CN characters was an inventor/magic crafter, who wants to enfranchise people through a magitech revolution. She has a worldview that is a mix of Libertarian and Communism, and often happily disregards or bends local law to push her inventions to the people. This is a very Chaotic philosophy, born from the intersection of two chaotic worldviews.

She's interested in the greater picture of advancing humanity. She doesn't actively seek to cause harm or chaos, but is willing to take sacrifices to see her ideals realized, if necessary. In fact, some of her projects involve her anonymously putting unique, custom-built artifacts in the middle of a town and taking notes from how the people in power react to it (and its impacts long-term), even though it generally leads to a lot of destructive chaos in the wake. This is a very neutral mindset.

So, I ended up with a heavily dedicated CN character that work well with a party of literally any alignment, and probably one of my favorite characters.

*

Basically, there are plenty of philosophies, ideas, and concepts that are CN and work well with any party, as long as you come up with the character first rather than the alignment.


How does this actually keep coming up? It's actually really easy now in Pathfinder.

Chaotic Good believes in personal freedom for everyone and supports and helps others.

Chaotic Neutral believes in personal freedom, maybe for everyone, but the only person's freedom that actually matters is their own, they are looking out for themselves.

Chaotic Evil is only interested in their own personal freedom and are going to go about getting is at the expense of others. They have no problem hurting others to get what they want.

I think everyone gets Lawful vs Chaotic, it's and ordered vs freeform lifestyle.

Everyone seems to be tripped up by the Good Neutral Evil perspective.

Good is concerned for others and goes out of their way to help them.

Neutral is more selfish, they are looking out for themselves, it doesn't make them malevolent, they might even think of other people, but they aren't going to stick their neck out for them.

Evil does what they do at the expense of other, they have no problem hurting others to suit their needs.

I find that most people in life tend the be Neutral or Chaotic Neutral, and it seems that Paizo agrees regularly stating NPC's as Neutral or Chaotic Neutral.


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Dragonchess Player wrote:

CN is pretty much Libertarianism.

Note that libertarianism is not (necessarily) against (all) laws or social structures. Instead, it emphasizes personal autonomy as well as economic and political freedom.

Alright, I'm just going to put this hear because I can.

LG – Social democracy
NG – Social liberalism
CG – Libertarian socialism
LN – Conservatism
N – Classical liberalism
CN – Right Libertatianism
LE – Fascism
NE – Objectivism
CE – Might Makes Right

Grand Lodge

Delightful wrote:

NG – Social liberalism

CG – Libertarian socialism
LN – Conservatism

Now this might be opening a big can of worms, but just because you have Conservatism as generally LN... that doesn't mean you can't have a Conservative that is LG does it? Also, why are the two Libertarian both good? I have seen some pretty messed up s&++ from those professing to be Libertarian, and this is the modern version of it not classical.


Have you ever watched misfits? I'd say that was a party of Chaotic Neutral/Good individuals.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Delightful wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:

CN is pretty much Libertarianism.

Note that libertarianism is not (necessarily) against (all) laws or social structures. Instead, it emphasizes personal autonomy as well as economic and political freedom.

Alright, I'm just going to put this hear because I can.

LG – Social democracy
NG – Social liberalism
CG – Libertarian socialism
LN – Conservatism
N – Classical liberalism
CN – Right Libertatianism
LE – Fascism
NE – Objectivism
CE – Might Makes Right

Political systems are not good or evil. An individual government may be depending on who is at the top and what the general views of that culture is, but not the system as a whole.

Rather - Totalitarianism is more lawful. Anarchy is more chaotic. Socialism is more lawful. Libertarianism is more chaotic. Conservative and progressive (liberal) have no innate alignment. Communism assumes lawful individuals in a chaotic society. Capitalism assumes chaotic individuals in a lawful society.

Objectivism can lead to lots of things. Might makes right is a chaotic offshoot of anarchy and has no good/evil implications of its own. Democracy is neutral on the L-C axis, as it is a middle ground between totaljtarianism and anarchy.


Delightful wrote:


Alright, I'm just going to put this hear because I can.

LG – Social democracy
NG – Social liberalism
CG – Libertarian socialism
LN – Conservatism
N – Classical liberalism
CN – Right Libertatianism
LE – Fascism
NE – Objectivism
CE – Might Makes Right

EUUUUUURRRRRGGGGHH!!!

Far too much bumf and fluff for my liking.....

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

It is not hard to usually reject what other people tell you to do when you actually are smarter and wiser by far than most of them. Hence Chaotic

And you do not wish Evil on people because you know it always fails in the end. But you also know that crusading for Good is just as doomed and any achievements there just as fleeting. Hence Neutral

Everything changes is the only rule in the Universe and even Gods bow to it. You just try to get by


Anyone remember Hercules the Legendary Journeys? Specifically, Bruce Campbell's character, the Prince of Thieves? Arguably him.

A lot of 'gentlemen thief' characters. Even when they have rules about who they'll not hurt or steal from, they're still thieves.

Heck, Catwoman spends a lot of time in Chaotic Neutral.

For political systems, lotta anarchists are Chaotic of some variety. CN, CG, whatever, depends on their bent.


Resurrecting the thread because the issue has cropped up again in our group.

I'm still trying to pin down the second part of the requirement: High Int/Wis. How to make THAT come across in a character who's still Chaotic Neutral?

The basic definition of CN is straightforward, I agree: freedom and individuality over every other consideration. There's plenty of advice on what matters to a CN character and how they would act in different situations. And there are plenty of CN character archetypes out there. But how many of them are also smart and/or wise? THAT's the piece I need ideas for.


Hight Int/Wis CN can be a character that predicts various possibilities, and prepares for them. That preparation gives him many sensible options to choose from when it comes to act, and that freedom is his most treasured asset.

Crazy Prepared


V from V for Vendetta. Any smart Libretarian.

Shadow Lodge

BretI wrote:

Treating other people as pawns or obstacles rather than people doesn't sound sane.

Although a chaotic person may not respect hierarchies and institutions, that doesn't mean they can't treat people with respect.

I think a good example of this is Utred of Bebbenberg in The Last Kingdom. Utred may hate the Church, but he two of his best friends are a Priest and Abbess because they are friends. He doesn't like the LN Alfred but he sees value in working with him. He marries and loves his wife, but he married to prevent the social structures from being used against her and would happily continued informally. After his wife dies, he eventually begins a relationship with the Alfred's married daughter, not something a Lawful person would do.


Calybos1 wrote:

Resurrecting the thread because the issue has cropped up again in our group.

I'm still trying to pin down the second part of the requirement: High Int/Wis. How to make THAT come across in a character who's still Chaotic Neutral?
The basic definition of CN is straightforward, I agree: freedom and individuality over every other consideration. There's plenty of advice on what matters to a CN character and how they would act in different situations. And there are plenty of CN character archetypes out there. But how many of them are also smart and/or wise? THAT's the piece I need ideas for.

It could be explained from the character's background story -- the chaotic could be a visceral response to a personal history of oppression. In other words, a person who has escaped the chains of his past and won't be bound by them again.

Intelligence and wisdom can both justify this type of response! From their own experience it is neither wise nor intelligent to resubmit to an oppressor.
The milieu is quite important though as that provides cause.

The converse is also true -- the lawful submit to authority because they fear chaos (crime, might makes right, etc.).

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