The 4 Ways of Being Chaotic Neutral: Fifth Edition

Well, the JADE boys are back from a week long vacation up in Ontario's beautiful cottage country and of course we all have gaming on the brain. And what better way to kick off the blog during our week back then to explore what it means to be Chaotic Neutral in 5th ed Dungeons and Dragons.

For those following along, you can check out our discussion of the Chaotic Neutral alignment in 1st ed AD&D, 2nd Ed AD&D and D&D 3. For those wondering why I went straight from 3rd ed to 5th, as you may well know, D&D 4 saw a major change in how alignments worked. Rather than having the standard array of 9 different personality types, 4th Ed condenses it into 5 options: Good, Lawful Good, Evil, Chaotic Evil, and unaligned. Since 4th Ed doesn't have a Chaotic Neutral alignment, we move straight onto 5th Ed.

The question we are exploring is whether or not 5th Ed's definition of Chaotic Neutral let's you "do whatever you want" in game. This reading did not fit with 1st or 2nd edition, and though 3rd edition came close, there were some important qualifiers. So let's see if 5th ed gives you the freedom to do anything.

Unlike other alignment descriptions, 5th Ed's are tiny stumps; no more than a sentence or two long. However what they lack in length they make up for in conciseness.

4. The Libertarian

It took me a long time to come up with this title for the 5th ed Chaotic Neutral alignment, and while Libertarian doesn't quite fit, its not a bad descriptor. Here is what the folks from Wizard's of the Coast have to say about Chaotic Neutral in D&D 5:

"Chaotic Neutral creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedoms above all else. Many barbarians, rogues and some bards are Chaotic Neutral."

Just like a libertarian who holds personal freedom and choice above all else, 5th Ed's definition let's you follow your whims, and make your own way in the world as you see fit.

Of all the versions of the Chaotic Neutral alignment we have looked at, 5th Ed's comes the closest to letting you do what you want: it evens says in the definition that you follow your whims. Of course this doesn't mean the alignment is impossible to violate. Certainly, too much good or evil could definitely swing you in the direction of either alignment, but unlike other editions 5th Ed's does not have a condition where you must spread chaos, or maintain some sort of balance. You just do what ever you want, as long is as it is not consistently too good or too evil.

And there you have it. Across 5ed of Dungeons & Dragons, one of them actually lets you do what you whatever want. I was actually a little surprised by the simplicity of the definition, I partially feel that 5th Ed's Chaotic Neutral could be easily abused by the player, or potentially give them an excuse to not roleplay and just be a little silly in game. While I am sure there are player's out there who could handle such an open ended definition, I worry that many player's couldn't and that you would end up with a party that simply doesn't work well together.

What do you think? Does 5th Ed's definition of Chaotic Neutral let you do whatever you want, or does the emphasis on the importance of personal freedom limit what your character can do so as not to oppress others? Let us know in the comments!

With 5th Ed's Chaotic Neutral Alignment explored, we are finished the 4 ways of being Chaotic Neutral. Are there any other Alignments you want us to explore? Let us know in the comments, and the research will begin!

Written by: Andrew Gregory

The 4 Ways of Being Chaotic Neutral: Fifth Edition The 4 Ways of Being Chaotic Neutral: Fifth Edition Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 7/20/2016 02:10:00 pm Rating: 5


  1. I think that your assumption that alignment matters all that much for how well a party functions together is pretty pretentious. So what if a player can "do whatever he wants"?

    1. So you don't think that the alignment(s) of the player party matters to how the party functions? Interesting point. Do you find having "conflicting" Alignments in parties makes for a more interesting game?