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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.

Screenshot 2019-06-13 at 23.14.00.png



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

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I stand and proudly cheer for the Chaotics! Long may they reign, and confuse us all!

Also, a DM who bans CN as an alignment is a DM in whose game I wouldn't play: if I can't do all the crazy stuff in the game (where it isn't real) that I can't do in real life, where *can* I do it? :)
 

Hussar

Legend
No, breaking the trust of others makes you untrustworthy.

Because if my whim is to do what I agreed to, then I'm still following my whims, AND I'm being trustworthy.

Because realistically being X doesn't mean you're X all the time. Trustworthy people can break promises and follow their whims. Whimsical people can uphold agreements and follow the law.

Also, *cough* that last line really seemed to change in tone from "We're having a talk about fantastical alignment systems in a game where alignment is often presupposed to be a fundamental element of reality like time and space." to a rather accusatory commentary on real people.
But, if you ALWAYS do what you agree to do, that makes you lawful. If your whims are to always be trustworthy, then, well, that's not chaotic anymore. That's lawful. While, sure, you can do one or the other from time to time, my point is, if you follow your whims and your personal freedom is paramount to you, is the highest priority to you, then you are inherently untrustworthy.

I've run into this argument from players before. "Oh, I AM Chaotic Neutral, I just CHOOSE to be 100% reliable, always accomodating, completely willing to compromise for the good of the group and never act in a selfish or impulsive manner. Since I CHOOSE that, it makes me chaotic."

Nope, it makes you lawful with some definitional issues.
 

MrZeddaPiras

Explorer
Not really that strange. If you think about the distribution of alignments in a fantasy society, most civilians are bound to be neutral-something, while adventurers should favor chaotic. You go from town to town, taking odd jobs and trying to do good in the meantime, that's chaotic good. If you're just there to amuse yourself, that's chaotic neutral. Evil characters are kind of hard to justify with the kind of content D&D is made of these days, because in the end there's always some kind of heroic quest involved, and if you're evil you'not heroic.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
Evil characters are kind of hard to justify with the kind of content D&D is made of these days, because in the end there's always some kind of heroic quest involved, and if you're evil you'not heroic.
There are antiheroes (Elric is canonically chaotic evil according to Dieties & Demigods). They perform the heroic quest for reasons that are not heroic. The trouble is that most players who say they want to play CE just want an excuse to be murder hobbos. The trick is to only allow players who are mature and naturally inclined to be altruistic to play evil PCs.
 

Hexmage-EN

Explorer
[PF][/PF]I've spent a lot of time trying to make sense of alignment, with mixed results.

My biggest questions at the moment are "what would be the alignment of someone who is willing to do evil for the greater good" and "what would be the alignment of someone unwilling to do evil for the greater good, even if it is likely refusal to do so will result in greater evil".

The Blood War sets up a good scenario for these questions. On the one hand, the Blood War keeps demons and devils focused on fighting one another and distracts them from working their designs on the mortal world. Additionally, by letting the forces of evil fight one another the forces of good have more resources free to do good (as opposed to having their hands full fighting against fiends). However, the Blood War sometimes spills out into other sections of the cosmos, and the need for a population of devils large enough and strong enough to hold their own against the more numerous demons means that devils not only need to recruit mortals, but that too much opposition by the celestials against the devils' recruitment attempts could weaken the Infernal forces enough that the Abyssal hordes triumph.

Based on this scenario, how would characters of the various alignments view the supposed necessity of the Blood War?
 

MrZeddaPiras

Explorer
There are antiheroes (Elric is canonically chaotic evil according to Dieties & Demigods). They perform the heroic quest for reasons that are not heroic. The trouble is that most players who say they want to play CE just want an excuse to be murder hobbos. The trick is to only allow players who are mature and naturally inclined to be altruistic to play evil PCs.
That's all true, but most stuff out there, like the published 5ed campaigns for example, simply doesn't have the moral complexity to support that kind of narrative.
 

Radaceus

Villager
I cater towards CG, and go for LN if i am 'constrained' by a need to be lawful, i.e., a follower of some semblance of laws.

with regards to DMs banning alignments: This has been a game breaker for me in our 1E circle, because our DM of 30 odd years is stringent , and if you play evil every NPC hates you even the evil NPCs unless their racial ethics accept you ( see the plethora of charts in several handbooks of the era), this translates to the PCs are all good, the world they fight is all evil...
I also found that the PCs gravitate toward inter-party skullduggery, which worked quite well in the arly days (that first time your fighter revealed himself to be an Assassin, and sold us all to the Slavers in A4, making off with his bounty..great ending...sort of, and it worked, once!)
As well as, I found players I had been playing with who were forced to play characters in this one quadrant of the alignment spectrum meta-gaming the DM's perception of alignment, and getting away with murder ( literally!), I saw LG's being chaotic, and good player doing evil things, and I came to loggerheads over the whol idea of banning other alignments from chargen. It's wrong, in that I mean, it's not really how groups of people work. We are all a little bit evil, and hopefully most of us are a more bit good, so there are these grey areas. And now I encourage my players to play any alignment they want at the table, but I want them to explain their actions when they do something 'meaningful'. I tell them at the start of a campaign, during chargen and party formation, that they need to have a reason for joining together and a cause or a goal that they are in agreement to work towards, otherwise they just wouldn't be in the same party. That they can be evil, and they can be good, and they can still coexist, no different than we all do in our work places and in public.
It's been a couple years now and my mini social experiment seem to slowly gaining gas with these old grognards, as they have an NE,CN, NG, LN, CG, and LG all cohabitating without any arguments :)
 

jedijon

Explorer
That chart says two alignments make up half of all selected. And they’re chaotic good/neutral. And 5x more popular than lawful good.

Or we could look at the leading line only. What’s the ratio of unselected? AKA, those that don’t find value in the system? It may be that there’s simply a correlation in those that do find value in it are those that need others to know they’re chaotic [but not evil].
 

jedijon

Explorer
does not typically mean that you swing wildly back and forth between the extremes of Good and Evil (or Law and Chaos) depending on your mood. No, usually it means that you are just an average person, not willing to give up everything to do what is right, and also not intentionally harming others. You do the best you can with the least effort required because you probably do not actually feel that strongly about whatever moral beliefs you hold.
I resonate with your assessment.

There’s a lot more to alignment than the 9 box. And since everyone ends up seeing each category differently—or at least so widely within the category—that someone’s chaotic neutral is someone else’s lawful good...it should make us wonder if there’s anything in it at all.

I ask my characters to score their conscientious, presence, and conviction.

Since only good guys think in terms of good vs evil, 2/3rds of the options would feel like that chart is putting them in a box built by someone else.

What I want to know is whether you bother to think of others or whether you go out of your way for them. Whether you can walk into a room stealthily or never shut up. Whether you’re intense and driven or laid back and accept what’s happening now.

If you prefer—LG is high conscientious, at least average conviction for most character tropes, and your choice of how flamboyant they want to be about it.

But CG—can be anything from low conviction mercenary to low conviction loner in a world of zealots they roll their eyes at to high conviction ‘my tribe lives for freedom and you should too’, to ‘I just don’t align with power structures and organizations bigger than me and maybe my buddies I can gather in a tavern common room’ and still have a useful way to describe their character—in a way likely to convey meaning—that doesn’t feel prescriptive.

TLDR, alignment? There’s better ways to describe a character. Heck just Myers Briggs it.
 

Paul Farquhar

Adventurer
That's all true, but most stuff out there, like the published 5ed campaigns for example, simply doesn't have the moral complexity to support that kind of narrative.
I would say that the motivations of a player character is a matter for the player and DM. I wouldn't expect to see it written into a published adventure.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I think CN gets a bad rap. In part I blame previous editions where they said things like "they'll change sides in the middle of combat just to see what happens". You know what happens? Nobody will accept you as part of your group. Because that's describing insanity, not an alignment. The 5E description isn't much better, but a one line description can only do so much. Alignment is just one thing that describes a character. In my games they're no more or less important than ideals, bonds and flaws.

For example I may have a CN barbarian who's ideals include finding stalwart companions to seek out adventure and gain fame and fortune. Who's bonds are to those in his group and who's flaw is that he's brutally honest to a fault because he believes deceiving others is a sign of weakness. He's chaotic because he thinks people should make their own rules, he's neutral because he doesn't really believe in concepts of good and evil. An inveterate gambler, he's in it because he enjoys combat and loves gold. He finds no joy in harming others, but he believes people should be responsible for their own lives.

I last played that PC in a 2E game, but the same personality and motivations could easily carry over. He was quite loyal to his group, he was more trustworthy than a lot of people but rarely made long term binding agreements. Basically believed in personal responsibility and freedom. His primary motivation was to get fame and wealth while being completely honest about it.
 

Reynard

Adventurer
Heh, yeah, it doesn't help that the fundamental basis of progress in D&D is centered on killing things. While it makes for a fun game, it can be hard to reconcile that with a Good or Lawful alignment.
One of my favorite illustrations of this actually comes from a video game: Uncharted. Main character Nathan Drake is -- despite being a tomb robber and thief -- a fundamentally good person and would probably hover between NG and CG in D&D terms.

And in that game her murders hundreds of people, because it is an action video game and shooting mooks is the main mode of play that isn't jumping and climbing things.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Of course it is. It’s the goodest good alignment as currently written, so it’s no surprise most players would gravitate towards it. Chaotic Neutral is the neutralest neutral, so that would appeal most to players who don’t want to be tied down to any ideology, and chaotic evil is the evilest evil, so it’s the one DMs are least likely to allow in their campaigns.
Er, by definition Chaotic Neutral cannot be more neutral than True Neutral.
 

Psyzhran2357

Villager


I always defer to this chart when discussing alignments.

I've spent a lot of time trying to make sense of alignment, with mixed results.

My biggest questions at the moment are "what would be the alignment of someone who is willing to do evil for the greater good" and "what would be the alignment of someone unwilling to do evil for the greater good, even if it is likely refusal to do so will result in greater evil".

The Blood War sets up a good scenario for these questions. On the one hand, the Blood War keeps demons and devils focused on fighting one another and distracts them from working their designs on the mortal world. Additionally, by letting the forces of evil fight one another the forces of good have more resources free to do good (as opposed to having their hands full fighting against fiends). However, the Blood War sometimes spills out into other sections of the cosmos, and the need for a population of devils large enough and strong enough to hold their own against the more numerous demons means that devils not only need to recruit mortals, but that too much opposition by the celestials against the devils' recruitment attempts could weaken the Infernal forces enough that the Abyssal hordes triumph.

Based on this scenario, how would characters of the various alignments view the supposed necessity of the Blood War?
In general terms, I'm running under the impression that D&D ethics, if it can even be called that, run on a mix of deontology and virtue ethics, with consequentialism relegated to a distant third. So in general, evil actions done for a good cause would still be evil. However, one evil act does not an evil person make; only if they become a regular habit can that person be described as evil.

In terms of the Blood War specifically, I feel that if you ask enough people in-universe who know enough about it to make an informed judgment, you'd get a lot of answers of either "it's evil, but it's necessary", or "it's a necessary evil, but it's still evil". Nobody (or at least, nobody who isn't evil themselves) denies that both sides of the conflict are different shades of evil, but the existential threat that would come from one side decisively winning and then turning their attention to the rest of the multiverse heavily outweighs any ethical compunctions informed observers may have. And in the Devils' defense, if they're being given a hard time, they can just point to the Wind Dukes of the Plane of Air and blame them for starting this entire mess.
 
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R_J_K75

Explorer
Everyone is going to have a different interpretation of the alignment system to the extent that Ive seen arguments break out between DMs and players over it. IIRC theres been articles in Dragon but for all the supplements printed over the years for all the editions I'm surprised TSR/WotC never printed a book dedicated to the alignment system.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
But, if you ALWAYS do what you agree to do, that makes you lawful. If your whims are to always be trustworthy, then, well, that's not chaotic anymore. That's lawful. While, sure, you can do one or the other from time to time, my point is, if you follow your whims and your personal freedom is paramount to you, is the highest priority to you, then you are inherently untrustworthy.

I've run into this argument from players before. "Oh, I AM Chaotic Neutral, I just CHOOSE to be 100% reliable, always accomodating, completely willing to compromise for the good of the group and never act in a selfish or impulsive manner. Since I CHOOSE that, it makes me chaotic."

Nope, it makes you lawful with some definitional issues.
Not really, no. You don't have to be unreliable in any way to be chaotic - rather, the motivations are personally driven rather than based on some kind of external or social expectation. I might expect the PC to speak up for those motivations in discussions, in contrast to group or external expectations, but still be able to 100% fulfill their obligations if they agree to them and still be chaotic neutral.

Observable behavior isn't the sole determinant of alignment, particularly the lawful vs chaotic part. Is an action chaotic or lawful? Who the hell knows... unless we know WHY the character did it. Law and chaos are fundamentally different from good and evil because they involve motivation to a far stronger degree.

Did the PC choose not to murder someone because murder is illegal and breaks social norms? Or did they choose not to murder someone because it's a nice day and they feel good? Either way, someone didn't get murdered, but the mere fact that someone didn't get murdered tells me jack and squat without knowing why the PC chose not to do the deed.
 


I always defer to this chart when discussing alignments.



In general terms, ai'm running under the impression that D&D ethics, if it can even be called that, run on a mix of deontology and virtue ethics, with consequentialism relegated to a distant third. So in general, evil actions done for a good cause would still be evil. However, one evil act does not an evil person make; only if they become a regular habit can that person be described as evil.

In terms of the Blood War specifically, I feel that if you ask enough people in-universe who know enough about it to make an informed judgment, you'd get a lot of answers of either "it's evil, but it's necessary", or "it's a necessary evil, but it's still evil". Nobody (or at least, nobody who isn't evil themselves) denies that both sides of the conflict are different shades of evil, but the existential threat that would come from won side decisively winning and then turning their attention to the rest of the multiverse heavily outweighs any ethical compunctions informed observers may have. And in the Devils' defense, if they're being given a hard time, they can just point to the Wind Dukes of the Plane of Air and blame them for starting this entire mess.
I not only wanted to give xp for that, but to say that may be the greatest thing on Enworld.
 

Parmandur

Legend


I always defer to this chart when discussing alignments.



In general terms, ai'm running under the impression that D&D ethics, if it can even be called that, run on a mix of deontology and virtue ethics, with consequentialism relegated to a distant third. So in general, evil actions done for a good cause would still be evil. However, one evil act does not an evil person make; only if they become a regular habit can that person be described as evil.

In terms of the Blood War specifically, I feel that if you ask enough people in-universe who know enough about it to make an informed judgment, you'd get a lot of answers of either "it's evil, but it's necessary", or "it's a necessary evil, but it's still evil". Nobody (or at least, nobody who isn't evil themselves) denies that both sides of the conflict are different shades of evil, but the existential threat that would come from won side decisively winning and then turning their attention to the rest of the multiverse heavily outweighs any ethical compunctions informed observers may have. And in the Devils' defense, if they're being given a hard time, they can just point to the Wind Dukes of the Plane of Air and blame them for starting this entire mess.
Yeah, the D&D alignment system is gibbering nonsense from any serious ethical analysis: makes for good acting notes, though.

In 5E, the Ideals/Traits/Bonds are more important in quickly throwing together a character, it seems to me.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Er, by definition Chaotic Neutral cannot be more neutral than True Neutral.
By a natural language definition, you’d be right. But by D&D’s definitions, where chaotic seems to mean not caring about the rules, rather than being actively opposed to rules, chaos is just more extreme neutrality.
 

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