D&D 5E A Villain For Every Alignment

Zardnaar

Legend
The old second edition villains Handbook had a villain for every alignment iirc. I haven't read the book since the 90s.

Anyway so I thought I would brainstorm up some ideas. I'll start with Lawful Good.

LG
If carried to extremes a LG character could be heading towards LN or LE territory. Eg an official puts taxes up so high it starts hurting people who can pay.

So without being to extreme a low wisdom foolish LG official or ruler decides to build sonething fir the public good. Eg orphanage, water infrastructure etc. They are good aligned after all. New aqueduct for park and city fountains.

Problem is it's either really expensive or falls into the nice to have category. A modest orphanage would be nice but maybe it's built out of marble using funds better spent on border fort maintenance.

The followers of said official berate and cajole anyone who disagrees while whatever is being neglected for their folly is going to hit a convenient crisis in the campaign. That keep on the borderlands doesn't have a full garrison for example.


LN zealous tax official. Party gets back to town 50% tax rate on loot........ No exceptions.
 

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EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
The old second edition villains Handbook had a villain for every alignment iirc. I haven't read the book since the 90s.

Anyway so I thought I would brainstorm up some ideas. I'll start with Lawful Good.

LG
If carried to extremes a LG character could be heading towards LN or LE territory. Eg an official puts taxes up so high it starts hurting people who can pay.

So without being to extreme a low wisdom foolish LG official or ruler decides to build sonething fir the public good. Eg orphanage, water infrastructure etc. They are good aligned after all. New aqueduct for park and city fountains.

Problem is it's either really expensive or falls into the nice to have category. A modest orphanage would be nice but maybe it's built out of marble using funds better spent on border fort maintenance.

The followers of said official berate and cajole anyone who disagrees while whatever is being neglected for their folly is going to hit a convenient crisis in the campaign. That keep on the borderlands doesn't have a full garrison for example.


LN zealous tax official. Party gets back to town 50% tax rate on loot........ No exceptions.
You should be thinking of antagonists, not villains. Villains are people who do evil things. Antagonists are people who oppose the protagonists. It's quite easy to have LG characters that are antagonistic; it's extremely difficult, bordering on impossible, to have truly, sincerely LG characters who are villainous.

Antagonists for every alignment:

LG
1. The PCs stand falsely accused of having broken the law in a place where punishments are extremely draconian. They (naturally) escape. The local authorities don't have the power to hunt down the PCs themselves, so they contract out with a local Paladin order, but avoid letting the Paladins know that the accusations are unproven, that punishments are swift, brutal, and often excessive, etc. The specific knights chasing the party are good people, but they've been hoodwinked into doing something which will cause far more harm than good. Presuming the party actually cares about not harming others without need, they'll need to find a way to convince the knights that their orders were deceptive, though resolving their duties as members of their order may be trickier than expected!
2. There is a competition between two groups for a precious thing (resource, magic item, cure, what-have-you) and only one group can claim it. The "team captain" for the opposing team is a genuinely upstanding guy, plays fair, shoots straight, wants to win because it was earned and for no other reason. But he'll also fight tooth and nail to win, because there's a genuine need back home and he has the righteousness of his cause. Whether the PCs win or lose, he could become an ally in the future.

NG
There are two leaders, the local mayor and the head druid. Both are NG. The mayor is dealing with multiple crises, including an influx of refugees, and needs to expand the town ASAP so she can make room and prepare for the rough winter ahead (as prophesied by the head druid himself.) The head druid is dealing with multiple crises, including habitat destruction because of an adjacent country's war (that triggered the refugee crisis!) and attempting to prepare for a badly unbalanced seasonal cycle ahead (a long bitterly cold winter, followed by a short spring, followed by a long hot summer). Either or both of these people could be antagonists depending on what the party wants, what brought them to this place, and why they're adventuring in general. The high druid is not callous, he understands that the refugees need help, but he cannot abide rapid construction/clear-felling/etc. when nature is already in bad shape and going to get worse. The mayor understands how important it is to maintain healthy, sustainable living, because the forest is a huge part of the town's livelihood, but she can't just stand by and let people starve or freeze to death.

CG
1. The Thief-Queen leads a merry band of miscreants, but she has been lax about discipline, and her people have been doing a lot more than causing mischief and stealing from those who have gobs more money than they could ever spend. It's become a sufficient problem that the Archduchess has assigned the PCs to hunt her down and end the problem. But will they still think their patron is in the right once they see why the Thief-Queen lives outside the law?
2. It's the start of an adventure, but instead of being adventurers themselves, the PCs are guards, clerks, chaplains, etc. at the local jail. There's a prison break, and several prisoners escape...but some of them are genuinely good people imprisoned unfairly. Will the party find out before it's too late? Or will the start of their career be tarnished "righteousness" and a mockery of justice?

Will do Neutral later. I don't think anyone needs help coming up with Evil antagonists!
 

MarkB

Legend
The LG villain to me would be someone like Ozymandias from Watchmen, who's super-focused on the big-picture Greater Good and may actually have a point, but will willingly crush individual freedoms and even lives in pursuit of that goal.
 

the Jester

Legend
The LG villain could be the ruler of a neighboring state with contrary interests to the one that the pcs live in and are presumably loyal to. If two states are competing for resources, especially vital ones such as food or water, there can easily be good-on-good conflict.
 


payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I could see a philosophical clash where the LG is the antagonist. Paizo's Golarion has a place called the River Kingdoms. They are more like River acres with about a hundred different rulers. Its a very chaotic place that lives by the rule of dont tread on me. Laws are more guidelines and shift as power plays occur. I could see a lawful good neighbor wanting to liberate people from this type of arrangement by force if necessary for their perceived betterment.
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
The LG villain to me would be someone like Ozymandias from Watchmen, who's super-focused on the big-picture Greater Good and may actually have a point, but will willingly crush individual freedoms and even lives in pursuit of that goal.
I just don't see how that can be parsed as "good." The whole point of Watchmen is that, in a world without someone like Superman to set the moral standard for everyone else,* superheroes would lose their ability to understand or relate to the concerns and problems of people, and that very alienation is what would turn them into something monstrous or broken.

If you made Ozymandias a deity, or a wizard, or any other powerful fantasy figure, he would be seen as an overtly evil being that has to be taken down, no matter how "right" he might be. He might believe he is righteous, and maybe at one time he was righteous. The narrative makes quite clear he isn't anymore.

That's sort of the fundamental problem with any "villain" with a Good alignment. You either need them to be sincerely good but mistaken about the facts of the situation, or actually evil but simply pretending to be good, or having such a warped perception of morality that they genuinely believe that (say) slaughtering orphans is something Good people do. The second and third don't work, because they clearly make the villain in question not actually Good; one is a hypocrite and the other is insane. The first can work in limited contexts, but it's very fragile at best. It's vulnerable to "have a single respectful, earnest conversation" and "simply looked in the right direction and saw the truth," and if the story (meaning, usually the GM) conspires to ensure that neither of these things ever actually fixes the problem, it comes across as

*Keep in mind, Dr. Manhattan is a reference to Captain Atom, not Superman--there is no Superman-analogue in Watchmen. This is intentional.

I could see a philosophical clash where the LG is the antagonist. Paizo's Golarion has a place called the River Kingdoms. They are more like River acres with about a hundred different rulers. Its a very chaotic place that lives by the rule of dont tread on me. Laws are more guidelines and shift as power plays occur. I could see a lawful good neighbor wanting to liberate people from this type of arrangement by force if necessary for their perceived betterment.
Though, by that same token, this too is vulnerable to the above "looked in the right direction and saw the truth" response. If they're sincerely LG and not simply LN, doing things because law is simply the way things should be, then any serious harm their antagonism causes is good reason for them to stop their actions and try some other way. As @the Jester said above, a competition--where there really is only one possible winner, and the conflict is sanctioned and reasonable--it becomes a lot more reasonable, since that context allows an LG character to earnestly pursue a "selfish" end without being evil for it.

I think, in the context of the River Kingdoms, an LG antagonist would make more sense as someone who is offering protection from a genuine external threat, but only to those who agree to become full citizens, including the possibility of conscription, and pay taxes into the common fund which will be spent on improving protection and infrastructure. They respect the autonomy of others, try to help within the limits of their abilities, and don't force anyone to do anything...but they're also withholding protection they could offer because others won't play the game by their rules. Expecting others to contribute isn't necessarily a bad thing, but demanding that they sign up for all the restrictions and expectations of the LG society is a big ask, and it's kind of skeevy (not evil, but not exactly shiny goodness either) to basically say "oh sure we could protect you, but we'll only do it if you give up your whole way of life to live the way we tell you to."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I recently saw an interesting bit. "Chaotic Good: Because laws don't have compassion. I do."

That seems much more like an alignment shift story to me.

It could be, but it doesn't have to be. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," is a solidly LG position. So long as the wannabe-Ozymandias has solid reason to think they really would be bringing a great amount of good to the world, it isn't an alignment shift.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I recently saw an interesting bit. "Chaotic Good: Because laws don't have compassion. I do."
Very nice.
It could be, but it doesn't have to be. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," is a solidly LG position. So long as the wannabe-Ozymandias has solid reason to think they really would be bringing a great amount of good to the world, it isn't an alignment shift.
I have an issue seeing a "good" person killing hundreds of thousands for an end; premeditatedly of course. I view, the needs of the many outweigh the few, as strictly LN territory. Good is much more trickier than anything else in a antagonist. Though, the philosophical discussions are the real treat of alignment, for me anyway.
 

Reynard

Legend
LG Villain: The Gold Dragon that manipulates the trajectory of the human society within its domain, by way of secretly influencing powers that be through shapeshifting, casting spells like dream, etc... The goals of the dragon are for the betterment of all, but it does not consider human free will to be a particularly compelling reason to let evil or chaos to persist.
 

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