Chaotic Good Is The Most Popular Alignment!

D&D Beyond has provided yet another of it's data dumps of 12 million characters -- this time telling us character alignments are most popular in D&D. Chaotic Good wins, followed by my least favourite as a DM, Chaotic Neutral. Chaotic Evil is the least popular.

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The developer does say that this does not count the percentage of characters with no alignment selected. You can see the original video here.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Comments

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Well. That’s fair I suppose. If the group is allowed to execute your character for stepping out of line, then your alignment doesn’t matter too much.
Do you really have to jump to these absolutely wild hyperbolic versions of folks arguments in order to formulate a response?
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
See, I'm a little confused. We all agree that Jayne is chaotic neutral because he betrays the group. Yes? Does anyone disagree with that? Would anyone put Jayne's alignment as something else?

So, what about Han Solo says Chaotic Neutral? He doesn't betray anyone. He's self interested, sure, but, that's just neutral. He doesn't do anything on a whim that I can think of.
This, in my view is one of the major problems with the 9-alignment system as traditionally presented in D&D. The difference between Chaotic and Neutral with respect to Law and Chaos is simply a matter of degree, and the line between them is not particularly bright. Sure, we can probably all agree that betraying one’s allies falls on the Chaotic side of the line, but does one betrayal make a self-interest les character Chaotic Neutral? Can a character be considered Chaotic Neutral if they haven’t betrayed their allies? And while we’re at it, isn’t self interest a characteristic of evil too? What can a self-interested character get away with doing before crossing the line from Neutral to Evil?

This is why I prefer to define Chaotic as not simply valuing their own individual freedom, but being ideologically opposed to Law. A Chaotic character is not merely an individualist, but an anarchist. Or a libertarian, I suppose. They fall on the far bottom portion of the political compass, is my point. Just as obeying laws doesn’t necessarily make one Lawful, breaking them doesn’t necessarily make one Chaotic. Law and Chaos are strong ideological stances, and Neutrality is merely the lack of a stance.

Now, if Law is roughly analogous to Authoritarianism and Chaos to Libertarianism, I like to map Good and Evil to Altruism and Egoism respectively. A Good character seeks to do the most good for others regardless of the cost to themselves, and an Evil character acts in their own self-interest regardless of the harm it may cause others. Neutrality on this spectrum is likewise defined by not taking a stance. The ethically neutral character does not knowingly harm others for their own benefit, but nor do they go out of their way to help others.

Personally, I would say Jayne’s willingness to betray his allies doesn’t make him Chaotic (though his opposition to the Authoritarian government certainly does that). It makes him Evil. Han, on the other hand, he starts out New Hope skirting the line between Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil (leaning towards Evil when he shot first, but towards Neutral after the edit), and by the end of the film has come around to Chaotic Good. And he pretty much remains Chaotic Good for the rest of the trilogy.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Once again, the idea that only a CN PC would possibly do anything such as turn on a fellow party member baffles me. A LG PC that learns one of his compatriots is secretly a CE sociopathic murderer (as an extreme example) would likely turn their compatriot in to the local authority as soon as possible. How is it any different other than motivation?

Picking some arbitrary disruptive behavior, whether that's falling asleep on watch, turning in fellow party members or whatever else comes up next is pointless. Arguing about it even more so. The motivation behind any action may differ, but to say "only PCs of one alignment" would do something like that is simply untrue.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
This, in my view is one of the major problems with the 9-alignment system as traditionally presented in D&D. The difference between Chaotic and Neutral with respect to Law and Chaos is simply a matter of degree, and the line between them is not particularly bright. Sure, we can probably all agree that betraying one’s allies falls on the Chaotic side of the line, but does one betrayal make a self-interest les character Chaotic Neutral? Can a character be considered Chaotic Neutral if they haven’t betrayed their allies? And while we’re at it, isn’t self interest a characteristic of evil too? What can a self-interested character get away with doing before crossing the line from Neutral to Evil?
It's worse than that, really. You can have an upstanding citizen who would sacrifice himself to save the community, helps little old ladies across the road, donates money to help orphaned children, but secretly also abuses those children on a regular basis to satisfy his appetites. Is he LG? Is he evil? Is he LG with evil tendencies? Something else?

Most people don't fall solidly within a single alignment, but rather have multiple personality traits which fall regularly within two, three or even more alignments. That's why I prefer my players just come up with a personality for their PC and then I don't bother to look at their alignment.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Once again, the idea that only a CN PC would possibly do anything such as turn on a fellow party member baffles me. A LG PC that learns one of his compatriots is secretly a CE sociopathic murderer (as an extreme example) would likely turn their compatriot in to the local authority as soon as possible. How is it any different other than motivation?
Turning A PC in for murder is not a betrayal. There can be no expectation that your gaming buddies are going to be okay with you murdering someone and not tell the police. The same goes for adventuring parties.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Once again, the idea that only a CN PC would possibly do anything such as turn on a fellow party member baffles me. A LG PC that learns one of his compatriots is secretly a CE sociopathic murderer (as an extreme example) would likely turn their compatriot in to the local authority as soon as possible. How is it any different other than motivation?

Picking some arbitrary disruptive behavior, whether that's falling asleep on watch, turning in fellow party members or whatever else comes up next is pointless. Arguing about it even more so. The motivation behind any action may differ, but to say "only PCs of one alignment" would do something like that is simply untrue.
I mean, it's not like a Paladin has ever joined a game only for the first thing for them to do is "Detect Evil" on the party and then "Smite Evil" on anyone who is non-good.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
But none of this changes the fact that Jayne was untrustworthy.
If you take the term "untrusteorthy" to the extreme of anyone who ever messes up etc, then yup. But that makes everyone untrustworthy snd do the term becomes meaningless.

Moreover, here us the rub, it also tends to blow any claim linking reliability and any relationship to lawful vs chaos.

If falling asleep on watch means unreliable - there is nothing about lawful that says you dont fall asleep or fo so less than others.

If turning on comrades in certain circumstances means unreliable, well, a lawful type might well do so if his teammates are going severely unlawful, in directions they oppose - and turn them in.

The Jayne calling the cops to turn them in for bounty could have played out just fine if Jayne had been a lawful type and the trigger was revelation if River and Doc as wanted criminals with now system wide alerts and high threat notice etc.

The further you choose to step to the edges the less foundation you stand on.

But that's fine. The continual use of broadly scoped words into more extreme cases shows nothing more to be gained.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
No. Oversleeping and showing up late for your shift is "not perfect." Deciding to betray your companions is freaking unreliable and untrustworthy.
And in the course of the show and the movie most every character that got any development at all at one time or another made an intentional choice to defy orders, go against the group etc - even in cases that put others in danger - sometimes cuz they were led astray by those playing on their weaknesses.

Remember the case where Mal's flaws led him to get taken out by Mrs Reynolds delivering the ship into the clutches of bad guys? The doctor not letting them in on how dangerous River was until after she blew? Heck, River with imbeded programming? How many times did River collapse at times of crisis, causing problems?

In 5e terms, each character had flaws. Each character saw those flaws come up in ways that really showed them as "unreliable" and at times willing to let those flaws put the others at risk.

That's maybe a bit of the reasoning behind 5e basically spending a lot more space on ideal, flaw, bonds than they did on alignments and especially on perfect adherence to alignments.

I think to me it makes more sense to try to define flaws, bonds and ideals for most any long run characters (and their changes) than alignment or broader qualities.
 
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5ekyu

Adventurer
See, I'm a little confused. We all agree that Jayne is chaotic neutral because he betrays the group. Yes? Does anyone disagree with that? Would anyone put Jayne's alignment as something else?

So, what about Han Solo says Chaotic Neutral? He doesn't betray anyone. He's self interested, sure, but, that's just neutral. He doesn't do anything on a whim that I can think of.

I can at least present pretty solid evidence for my alignment interpretation. Other than, "Cos I said so" I'm not seeing much reasoning going on here.
"We all agree that Jayne is chaotic neutral because he betrays the group. Yes? Does anyone disagree with that?"

I do. Jayne is chaotic neutral for a lot of reasons - alignment is not determined by a singular act.

Betraying your party to the authorities could be a lawful act or a good act as well - depending on the particulars.

As for Han Solo, like most characters over long periods (here spread over multiple movies over like 40 years) his character does not seem to have a single alignment. I think to me I would try to define flaws, bonds and ideals for most any long run characters (and their changes) than alignment.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Han's probably more CG than CN or N...
Which Han? It's like talking about Batman at this point.

Han starts out the original trilogy as CN, and then has a character arc which goes through a series of changes in his behavior and his moral priorities, so that by the end of the trilogy he is CG.

Han in the original extended universe starts off as a CG idealist, but is beaten down by the world until he is the jaded CN criminal we see in the beginning of 'A New Hope'

Han in the recent 'Solo' movie is presented as basically CN from the moment we meet him, with the apparent intention of setting him off on the beginning of the character arc we see in the original trilogy. Han the young idealist who joins the Academy, is on the beginning of a bright career as a pilot, and then throws it all away then he sees the reality of the Empire's treatment of its non-human citizens isn't really present. He ends up helping Chewie out of self-interest, and not out of compassion or other fine feeling. He has no real moral core.

Han in 'A Force Awakens' is basically unrecognizable as the character we knew at the end of 'Return of the Jedi'. He's even much more of a defeated man than he was at 'A New Hope', having lost all the idealism and maturity that the had gained over the course of the trilogy, and is now acting as an irresponsible man-child who has abandoned his beliefs, his wife, his son, and in many ways is thoroughly wretched. Since we are given little to no explanation of what has happened beyond some vague hints, and because there seems to have been no concrete idea what those events where and the authors seemed to think they'd be fleshed out at some future point if needed, it's really hard to know what Han's alignment is but it's a moral collapse not that far from Anakin's complete moral collapse in 'Revenge of the Sith'. (And as badly explained and rationalized as that was, at least it was better explained and rationalized than Han's moral collapse.) Han is CN, possibly even CE given the depth of his betrayal, selfishness, and irresponsibility, at the time of 'A Force Awakens'.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
Well. That’s fair I suppose. If the group is allowed to execute your character for stepping out of line, then your alignment doesn’t matter too much.
It's not a matter of being allowed or not - every action has consequences, and in a world like D&D being killed for one's actions is always one of the possible consequences.

Even in the real world, the ultimate consequence for non-compliance with the law is death, though it doesn't usually escalate to that.

In the Abyss, whatever your immediate superior says IS the law, and death as a consequence is highly likely.

As for adventuring groups, how many characters have been killed in D&D history for stealing from the party? Definitely more than a few.

Death is an extreme example, and in my opinion even the most Chaotic of characters would not need such a strong deterrent to dissuade them from doing a lot of the whacky shenanigans they tend to get up to in D&D except for one small detail: usually the other players at the table do not have their characters react in a realistic fashion because to do so would mean the disruptive character would likely no longer be part of the group (one way or another), something which often means losing an actual player, too. Depending on the players' real-life relationships, that may not be an option, probably a big part of why CN is so hated.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Han in 'A Force Awakens' is basically unrecognizable as the character we knew at the end of 'Return of the Jedi'. He's even much more of a defeated man than he was at 'A New Hope', having lost all the idealism and maturity that the had gained over the course of the trilogy, and is now acting as an irresponsible man-child who has abandoned his beliefs, his wife, his son, and in many ways is thoroughly wretched. Since we are given little to no explanation of what has happened beyond some vague hints, and because there seems to have been no concrete idea what those events where and the authors seemed to think they'd be fleshed out at some future point if needed, it's really hard to know what Han's alignment is but it's a moral collapse not that far from Anakin's complete moral collapse in 'Revenge of the Sith'. (And as badly explained and rationalized as that was, at least it was better explained and rationalized than Han's moral collapse.) Han is CN, possibly even CE given the depth of his betrayal, selfishness, and irresponsibility, at the time of 'A Force Awakens'.
Are we watching the same movies?!? There's a vast gulf between Han's moral collapse between the movies and Anakin's. We certainly don't get the impression that Han is either a mass murderer or serial murder as Anakin/Vader clearly is. Han, as far as we can tell, just abandons his marriage and reverts back to smuggling and dealing with criminals in his own, not obviously vicious, way to get by. I don't know how that's somehow less rationalized than Anakin's fall - one assumes that having their only child turn into a Vader-wannabe and destroy a Jedi school as he falls to the dark side and join the closest thing in-setting to a Nazi state might be a bit disheartening.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Are we watching the same movies?!?
I'm pretty sure we are. We both seem to agree as to the gist of the plot.

Han, as far as we can tell, just abandons his marriage and reverts back to smuggling and dealing with criminals in his own, not obviously vicious, way to get by.
Just? Just? Rarely in a person's life do they have motive to engage in acts of stereotypical villainy like murdering a bunch of children. Most of the evil of the real world occurs because of more mundane acts undertaken with more mundane motives, but those actions are no less evil for being mundane and ordinary than the ones that are extraordinary. Often we find if we go digging, that the mundane acts are the basis and foundation of the extraordinary acts. For example, if we go digging in the Dominican Republic right now, I bet we would find a simple but sorrid tale of greed, deceit, and bribery around some bottles of fake high end alchohol tainted with some poisonous, colorless, tasteless achohol unfit for human consumption but cheaper than the luxury items that it replaced. But that scheme is for all it's mundaneness no less evil in the appraisal or in results than chopping up children with lightsabers.

I don't know how that's somehow less rationalized than Anakin's fall - one assumes that having their only child turn into a Vader-wannabe and destroy a Jedi school as he falls to the dark side and join the closest thing in-setting to a Nazi state might be a bit disheartening.
But Ben Solo's fall is less rationalized than Anakin's as well. We still have no clear idea why it happened, nor did the explanations make any of it make any more sense. While it would certainly be disheartening to have your only child turn into a serial killer and a Neo-Nazi, none of that would excuse his abandoning of his beliefs, his morality, his maturity, or his wife. You don't get a pass on being evil just because you've had a hard time of it. And since we still don't know why Ben Solo fell, we cannot assume as you have generously assumed, that the evil behavior of his father began in response to Ben's evil or was - as is often the case with children - the cause of it. If we knew that Han abandoned is beliefs, his morals, and his wife before Ben went bad, would that instead mean Ben was excused because he was disheartened?
 

OB1

Jedi Master
Late to the party here I know, but thought I’d put in my 2c

The Good/Evil scale I can wrap my head around pretty easily

Good = I sacrifice of myself to help others
Neutral = I help others if it doesn’t require sacrifice of myself, I help myself if it doesn’t require sacrifice of others
Evil = I sacrifice others to help myself

Law/Chaos is a tougher one for me to get my head around, but what I’ve settled on is something around the idea of Entropy.

Law - I expend personal resources (time, money, blood, energy) in the pursuit of changing the state of the world to my liking.

Neutral - I expend personal resources now to reach my desired personal future state.

Chaotic - I allow the world and/or my current desires to dictate where I spend my personal resources now, regardless of the effect in the future.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Turning A PC in for murder is not a betrayal. There can be no expectation that your gaming buddies are going to be okay with you murdering someone and not tell the police. The same goes for adventuring parties.

It's been years since I watched Firefly, but IIRC Jayne had no connection to the pair and actually thought they were a threat to the ship. Getting money was icing on the cake. That does not mean he would have turned in Mal for a profit, Mal was a friend and someone who had his trust and respect.

As far as Han Solo ... I'd still say he was CN. After all he did shoot first in my version of the movies. He did what he did for money and then out of friendship and loyalty to Luke and Leia. I'm not convinced he did it for some greater good. After a while he may have shifted alignment somewhat, but how much of that was just because he was caught up in everything is impossible to tell. All we really know is that after the original trilogy and after he and Leia split he went back to being just another smuggler.

In both cases, the characters show loyalty and friendship even if there's no indication they were motivated by any sense of doing things for the greater good.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Law/Chaos is a tougher one for me to get my head around, but what I’ve settled on is something around the idea of Entropy.
Law/Chaos has always been a little less clear than Good/Evil to the average reader, and while I think entropy has some connection at some philosophical level, at the practical ethical level your interpretation is pretty non-traditional. Additionally, after reading through your list a few times, I feel no closer to understanding what you mean or why they contrast.

Without going into a long write up, one traditional axiomatic contrast I've heard is, "The needs of the many outweigh the few, or the one." versus "The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many." Or, in somewhat the same vein, "To understand something, you have to see the big picture." versus "There is no big picture: only a lot of little pictures."

And if you can tell intuitively which end of the spectrum is which, without me labeling them for you, then I think the contrasts do a pretty good job.

On a very practical level, the way that I judge whether a character in a story is lawful or chaotic is when making a big decision, where do they put their trust? The Chaotic always reserves for themselves the right of appeal. The consider themselves their own highest court, and feel that in so far as decision concerns themselves, they have every right to make a final determination. They believe that they have or ought to have an absolute right to follow the dictates of their own consciousness. This self-centeredness does not necessarily make them selfish - consider the self-centeredness of an axiom like, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.", but it does mean that they believe in the end that they are the highest arbitrator of what is right and wrong, and certainly what is right and wrong for themselves. (We could go further into breaking down how within this framework, CG, CN, and CE differed.)

By contrast, the nature of being Lawful is to believe that you are always and always ought to be subject to some external review. You are not your own highest court, and your own judgment ought to be subject to the judgment of a wiser higher power. Your highest fealty is not to yourself, and if your own consciousness is prompting you to dispute that higher (or highest) authority you are the one in the wrong. It is ultimately not for you to determine for yourself on your own authority what is right or wrong or how you ought to behave.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
It's worse than that, really. You can have an upstanding citizen who would sacrifice himself to save the community, helps little old ladies across the road, donates money to help orphaned children, but secretly also abuses those children on a regular basis to satisfy his appetites. Is he LG? Is he evil? Is he LG with evil tendencies? Something else?

Most people don't fall solidly within a single alignment, but rather have multiple personality traits which fall regularly within two, three or even more alignments. That's why I prefer my players just come up with a personality for their PC and then I don't bother to look at their alignment.
That’s why I prefer to distinguish between a character’s ideology and their actions. The above character sounds like he holds Good ideals, but commits Evil actions. Which is fairly typical, to be honest. Most people tend to hold altruistic ideals in theory, but in actual practice behave more egoistically. At my table, that character would have Good written on his character sheet, but would count as Evil for the purposes of any mechanics that care about alignment. But, of course, ignoring alignment completely works just as well. Better for 5e, in fact, since 5e has almost no mechanics that care about alignment anyway.
 

Celebrim

Legend
It's been years since I watched Firefly, but IIRC Jayne had no connection to the pair and actually thought they were a threat to the ship. Getting money was icing on the cake. That does not mean he would have turned in Mal for a profit, Mal was a friend and someone who had his trust and respect.
Yes, but feeling because he had no connection to the pair that he had no obligation to act in any manner other than for his own benefit, and that he could choose to act in that manner entirely under his own authority is precisely what makes him Chaotic. Being Chaotic doesn't mean you have no loyalty to your friends. On the contrary, it tends to mean you only feel any obligation to be loyal to people you have a personal and emotional attachment to. And despite the fact that he wouldn't have necessarily turned in Mal for a profit - and that's certainly not at all clear - he did go behind Mal's back and betray him.

The real key in that scene is when Jayne thinks he's about to die, Jayne's last request to Mal is for Mal to not tell the others what he has done. When Jayne says that, Mal realizes that Jayne has formed a personal emotional attachment to the rest of the crew, has realized that he has betrayed his friends, and does not what his friends to know that he has betrayed them. Therefore Mal knows that Jayne is at that moment as loyal and repentant as Jayne is ever likely to be.

All we really know is that after the original trilogy and after he and Leia split he went back to being just another smuggler.
The complete character assassination of Luke, Leia, and Han in the sequel trilogy ended my fandom relationship with Star Wars.

In both cases, the characters show loyalty and friendship even if there's no indication they were motivated by any sense of doing things for the greater good.
I think we can make an argument that Han's character arc and transformation in the original trilogy is much more complete than Jayne's. There are several really telling moments, but probably the most telling is when he tells Leia that though he loves her, if she wants to be with Luke, then for her happiness he'll get out of the way. That's a declaration totally at odds with the character of Han when we first meet him in a New Hope. He's still obviously Chaotic, and obviously if you are chaotic you are appalled by even the notion of "the greater good" (which if chaotic you think is a euphemism for evil), but the Han of 'Return of the Jedi' is motivated by fine feelings and not baser ones. He's loving and compassionate and he's putting the needs and feelings of others ahead of his own in a non-cynical manner.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Late to the party here I know, but thought I’d put in my 2c

The Good/Evil scale I can wrap my head around pretty easily

Good = I sacrifice of myself to help others
Neutral = I help others if it doesn’t require sacrifice of myself, I help myself if it doesn’t require sacrifice of others
Evil = I sacrifice others to help myself

Law/Chaos is a tougher one for me to get my head around, but what I’ve settled on is something around the idea of Entropy.

Law - I expend personal resources (time, money, blood, energy) in the pursuit of changing the state of the world to my liking.

Neutral - I expend personal resources now to reach my desired personal future state.

Chaotic - I allow the world and/or my current desires to dictate where I spend my personal resources now, regardless of the effect in the future.
The Law/Chaos spectrum can be viewed analogously to the Good/Evil spectrum, but with personal wellbeing swapped out for liberty and others’ wellbeing swapped out for societal order.

Lawful - I sacrifice my own liberty to benefit society as a whole.
Neutral - I meet the expectations society places on me, to the extent that thru don’t impede on my personal liberty.
Chaotic - I eschew society in favor of retaining my personal liberty.
 

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