The 4 Ways of Being Chaotic Neutral: Second Edition

Over the decade I have spent hosting RPG's games, I have discovered that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people misuse the Chaotic Neutral Alignment in Dungeons and Dragons. So many players use this alignment as an excuse to do whatever they want in game and I wanted to take some time to see if the definition given in the Player's Handbook can support this point of view.

This is our base line.
Last week I took a look at the definition in the 1st Edition AD&D Player's Handbook, and concluded that the Chaotic Neutral Alignment as defined there requires you to intentionally be an agent of chaos. All of your actions must serve to preserve the balance of good and evil, without tipping the scales. Thus It did not support the "I can do whatever I want" reading of the alignment, as it requires conscious action to spread chaos. But what about 2nd Edition AD&D? Does the definition change enough between editions?

Well, the definition sure does change... But I am not sure it let's you do whatever you want.

The reprints are just so nice.

The Lunatic

It always seemed to me that 2nd Edition's definition was a direct challenge of 1st Edition's. Where in 1st you must deliberately spread chaos, 2nd argues that if you do it intentionally it is not chaotic, and that your actions in and of themselves must be random. Take a look:  

"Chaotic Neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything including their own actions. With this as a guiding principle, they tend to follow whatever whim strikes them at the moment. Good and evil are irrelevant when making a decision Chaotic Neutral characters are extremely difficult to deal with. Such characters have been known to cheerfully and for no apparent reason gamble away everything they have on a single roll of die. They are almost totally unreliable. In fact the only reliable thing about them is that they cannot be relied upon! This alignment is perhaps the most difficult to play. Lunatics and madmen tend towards chaotic neutral behaviour."

This definition comes pretty close to being able to do whatever you want as a character. However, your actions almost need to make no sense. So any sort of scheming with a 2nd Edition Chaotic Neutral Character is out character. Essentially you can do whatever you want, as long it is nonsensical or at least seems random.

I think for a lot of Chaotic Neutral player's this definition suits them the best. But of course, as the definition mentions, it is a difficult alignment to play. This sort of character can easily get themselves and others killed, reveal secrets, etc. And while yes it does give you license to follow your whims, it comes with a less controllable side that needs to be properly played if the alignment is to be true to form. A Lunatic, or a Madman do indeed fit this role flawless, while something like a Jester or a cruel unpredictable thief are better suited to Chaotic Good, or Chaotic Evil.

What do you think? Does 2nd Edition's definition let you do what you want? Or must you play a madman who's action make almost to sense? Let us know in the comments and check back next Wednesday where we look at 3r Edition D&D's definition of Chaotic Neutral.

Written by: Andrew Gregory

The 4 Ways of Being Chaotic Neutral: Second Edition The 4 Ways of Being Chaotic Neutral: Second Edition Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 6/29/2016 02:05:00 pm Rating: 5

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