Now that I have finally got to grips with the basics I am finding one of the most exciting things is to create a character.
Do not be bewildered if you are new to this game, there are plenty of aids out there to help. Having tried a few, we tend to favour Aurora builder. It is a personal preference but this is an easy to use but also comprehensive app that can walk you through your characters and includes a lot of extra content classes and races that other builders charge for. (They have a Patron page if you feel like showing them some support)
You still need to think about your character outside the builder. Firstly, it is probably best to start with your alignment..
Character alignment covers the behaviours and morals of your character. There are 2 parts to your alignment and 3 options within each part so effectively you have 9 options in all and I will try to explain them..
Firstly we tackle Good vs Neutral Vs Evil.
GOOD – Being ‘good’ generally means that you do for the greater good. You put others before yourself, work to aid others. It does not mean your character has to play nice all the time. It does not mean you cannot have character flaws but it does mean you are leaning towards the selfless acts rather than selfish.
NEUTRAL – is literally the space between Good and Evil. They are largely indifferent to either side, believing that there is a grey line between the two sides. They will fight for loved ones but may not want to involve themselves in fights that do not directly affect them and their loved ones. They would not involve themselves for purely altruistic motives.. perhaps there needs to be monetary compensation for example.
EVIL – Greedy, selfish and a lack of morals. Their priority will be themselves. If they get involved with helping others it is purely to reach their end game of a particular prize , whether it be power, wealth or destruction. They may not be obviously evil and may pretend to be aligned differently within a group, in order to gain trust and loyalty that will later serve them in their main goal. Or they may be pure and simple selfish and violent and not bothered about showing that to their group. If the latter, then it is worth noting that it could result in the other party members avoiding aiding the evil character. Maybe the healer ignores the fatal wounds that have been inflicted or the group turn against you before you have completed your goal.
I personally find it difficult to align evil and more often I will choose good over neutral. One of our DM’s tells me that is my personal flaw and that I should branch out and experience more. Don’t get me wrong, my characters all have their own unique back story, they have motivations and goals but they are always there to help others as much or even more than themselves…. I have a problem… I know…. I have to be a hero. In real life I see myself as a good person, I will often help others even if no benefit to myself but in the make believe world of Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft or even Dragon Age, I have to be the hero. Self sacrificing , helping those in need, saving the puppies etc….Yes I like to get the financial rewards or increase my power but not at the cost of sacrificing innocents.
In games such as WoW and Dragon Age, I am the character that tries to avoid the gathering quests where you must kill non aggressive animals .. if an AoE accidently damages a rabbit, I am mortified! I also will spend my time on side quests that give no real gain other than reuniting lost loved ones or gathering items to help a cause, although they usually count towards a trophy or an achievement so maybe it is not purely altruistic!
The reality is, however, things of improvement such as armour, potions , new spells etc come with a financial cost so if your character engages in missions in a purely altruistic manner they may struggle to get the finances needed to progress. And alot of frays can not be averted by talking, and many cases will end in a you versus them scenario. You will need to kill. But my characters tend to kill only those they feel are bad people.. those that start fighting first or those that have killed or stolen from innocents. There are occasions where a member of a ‘bad’ group are only involved with that group for survival… perhaps they do not agree with the evil leader and have had nothing to do with the torture of others, and perhaps that means they may not need to die if they give up some valuable information. Perhaps they can be released under certain conditions…. other members of your team may need convincing in this case but maybe your go to response is not to just kill everyone! After all soldiers in wars are just doing their job and determining their motives are bad is a personal thing, if their side differs from your sides’ views and beliefs.
Now to the second part of the alignments……
LAWFUL, NEUTRAL OR CHAOTIC….
These options relate more to the character’s thoughts on society.
A LAWFUL character has strict rules they follow… this could be the rules of society such as government laws that they follow and adhere to strictly. It could be the laws of their religion or order which they hold in the highest esteem and will always try to adhere completely to them.
NEUTRAL – These characters do not align to lawful or chaotic ways. they do what is best at that very moment , having no real support for the lawful or unlawful. The will not openly just break laws of society but also understand that some laws are not for the good of everyone and make no sense to them and so they will ignore them if the scenario warrants it. They have no desire to takes sides.
CHAOTIC – Chaotic characters will adapt to what is before them. They are opposite to lawful. They do not follow laws. They will do what needs to be done in any given scenario. If that breaks a law so be it.. if it doesn’t break a law so be it. Chaotic does not necessarily mean impulsive or predictable. Chaotic probably gives the most options for actions as those that are lawful can only decide actions based on their laws and those that are neutral, possibly do not care.
The explanations above are very basic outlines and by selecting one trait from each list, you can more comprehensively find your character’s personality. Below is an interpretation of each of the options.
LAWFUL GOOD – These characters will follow the laws of the society and will work towards the good for everyone. They are not selfish in their actions. If they gain from helping in a situation then great but that is not their reason to be involved. It may be they want to uphold the laws that have been broken and do their duty. They will generally act with honour and compassion.
NEUTRAL GOOD – Often acting in an altruistic manner. They work for authorities and within the law where appropriate but if they feel that something needs to be done and in order to do that a law must be broken or fractured a little, they will not feel the inner struggle and turmoil that someone who is Lawful Good would feel. They will take some risks for others.
CHAOTIC GOOD – Freedom is important. Both for the character and others. They will do what needs to be done to improve things for everyone. They will not be confined by laws, especially seeing as many laws do not help the salt of the earth, the common folk. Their intentions are always right and true but they can be impulsive and erratic.
LAWFUL NEUTRAL – These characters adhere to their laws to the letter. They do not stray and follow their orders. Mercy may not be in their vocabulary if their law does not allow it. They would not question their law.
TRUE NEUTRAL – True neutral characters are all about balance. they neither break or adhere to laws. They neither align to the good or the evil. They are objective and simplistic in their lives and views. They are guided by their instinct and not by laws, expected behaviours or others’.
CHAOTIC NEUTRAL – these characters value their freedom above all others. They do not care for laws, they do not care for the good and evil battle. They are often destructive and act first , think later but they have no desire for malice and hatred.
LAWFUL EVIL – They follow their laws and believe in them. Their laws are designed to give them the upper hand, power or wealth they desire. They are tyrannical in leadership. They have a strict code that they follow.
NEUTRAL EVIL – these characters can have an impersonal approach. They do what they need to to further their goals and if people are in the way they will get run over, it is ‘just business – nothing personal’. They will not go out of their way to be overly destructive unless it is needed to reach their goal. They will use allies to aid them and discard them just as quickly.
CHAOTIC EVIL – these are the truly selfish characters. they will do whatever they want in whatever way they want as long as it results in them reaching their end game. They are destructive, deliberately, and take pride in it. They have no care for anyone or anything but themselves and their goals.
It is worth mentioning that your character may start with a particular alignment and gradually , over time, with interactions from the world around them and the bonds they make with their team, they may grow, learn and adapt. Their alignment may change completely or they may just be influenced enough to change some of their views. The world and the character is yours and who is to say how your experiences will change things. Who is to say what baggage you carry or even let go…. well, maybe your DM!
If you are struggling to decide your alignment, talk first to your DM, they can advise whether a specific alignment is needed for a particular campaign, but also, if they know you, they can perhaps guide you as to what they feel will best suit you to play. Failing that, speak to other’s about their choices and they reasoning behind their choices – it may highlight good options for you. .. Alternatively you can join many forums and get views from many players old and new… we have a new Facebook page that is dedicated to general chat about all things D&D (and other RPGs and nerdy stuff) and I know many of us will be happy to help you come to a decision.