Chaos and mayhem are some of the more exciting flavors when playing a Chaotic Evil badass! Chaotic Evil can fulfill your innate desire to incinerate your enemies and gaze upon the desolation with awe and wonder. You might be a masterful strategist and schemer and enjoy shifting your allies and enemies like pawns on a gameboard. Here’s what you need to know about Chaotic Evil!
Chaotic Evil characters care little for social norms, laws, or codes and pursue their ambitions at all costs and without regard for others. They delight in making others suffer and may prefer Chaos over Evil. They are self-indulgent, greedy, and enjoy showing off their power.
While Chaotic Evil characters might be appealing for their destructive tendencies, various subcategories can define your roleplaying experience. We’ll look at Chaotic Evil archetypes, characteristics, and some of the most prominent Chaotic Evil gods.
You’ll also see examples of video game and movie characters with a Chaotic Evil alignment and the evolution of the alignment to give a sense of the different ways that this type of alignment can affect a character’s actions and how they interact with their world.
At its core is one core truth when it comes to this alignment: they’re bad to the bone, and not likely to take a strategic measured position on it.
Let’s dive into this alignment to learn more!
What Does It Mean To Have A Chaotic Evil Alignment in D&D?
The Chaotic Evil character does not concede to the rules, laws, and norms of society, nor a personal code, and will take what they believe they are due, even if it comes at the expense of others. They are no strangers to violence and will often delight in the agony and suffering of others as they indulge in the emotional roller coaster of excitement.
Chaotic Evil can take many forms including but not limited to evil for evil’s sake, or just impulsively evil. Chaotic evil doesn’t care about the consequences of their actions and while they will normally do anything for the sake of personal freedom or gain, sometimes they just do things that would be considered evil “just because they felt like it.”
The chaotic nature of a chaotic evil alignment makes them easy to predict or nail down.
They relish moments of destruction and may even seek such methods to achieve desired results. In the MMORPG World of Warcraft, goblins have chaotic evil tendencies that cause them to obsess with giant explosives – the bigger, the better – and disregard the safety of those involved, even other goblin allies.
In the Gnomeragan dungeon, Mekgineer Thermaplugg is the final boss who, when summoning bombs to kill your party, exclaims, “Explosions! MORE explosions! I’ve got to have more explosions!”.
When it comes to dislodging an airship from Shen-zin Su the Great Turtle, goblins use dynamite instead of caution to dislodge the airship, severely injuring the turtle in the process. Healers had to assist in mending his wound, and he was ultimately saved.
The Joker from the Batman series is the most Chaotic and Evil character to grace the realm of wickedness. He finds his thrills in destruction and mind games that match his incoherent reasoning and the stories of how he got the scars on his face. Did you ever notice that he tells multiple stories about how he got them?
In Batman the Dark Knight, he speaks to Gambol, saying:
“My father was.. a drinker.. and a fiend. And one night, he goes off crazier than usual. Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself; he doesn’t like that – Not. One. Bit. So, me watching, he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it. He turns to me and says, “Why so serious?!” He comes to me with the knife: Why so serious!? He puts the blade in my mouth: Let’s put a smile on that face!
In the scene where he speaks to Rachel Dawes, he tells this story:
“So I had a wife – beautiful, like you – who tells me I worry too much, who tells me I gotta smile more, who gambles and gets in deep with the sharks. One day they carve her face. We didn’t have money for surgeries.
I can’t take it – I just want to see her smile again. Mhm? I just want her to know I don’t care about the scars! So, I stick a razor in my mouth and do this.. to myself. And you know what? She can’t stand the sight of me! She leaves. Now I see the funny side… now I’m always smiling!
Regardless of the story of the Joker you go with, he takes absolute glee in sowing chaos, and no one is going to mistake his actions for anything but evil. Even the times he shows anything remotely close to humanity (Harley Quinn) it’s clear he’s manipulating her back into a super unhealthy relationship.
Chaotic Evil characters are highly impulsive and will gladly perform a wicked action when the opportunity presents itself. They are the most aggressive of any alignment because their inherent violent nature and desire to see others feel pain give them domineering qualities.
The destruction wrought by Chaotic Evil characters seeks to undermine and dismantle the order or hierarchy achieved by goodness and thus takes the top spot as the most terrifying and unpredictable enemy to encounter.
Understanding the reasons for their actions remains mysterious and incomprehensible; for this reason, they gain much of their success regarding wicked schemes.
Then there’s this guy:
There’s very little question that Eric Cartman from South Park is that show’s definition of chaotic evil. He cares for nothing but himself and has shown many, many times over the decades that he will do anything and everything to get his way and morality never gets in the way of going through anyone or hurting anyone to get what he personally selfishly wants.
Or to paraphrase a conversation from the show that about sums it up:
Kyle: “Dressing nice and being nice aren’t the same thing.”
Cartman: “I don’t understand the difference.”
Kyle: “I know you don’t.”
How Has Chaotic Evil Changed Since Its Inception?
Chaotic Evil characters in D&D 5e have more room to navigate the chessboard of wickedness, choosing how to approach their evil schemes rather than relying on traditional acts like rebellion.
The original creators of D&D, Tactical Studies Rules (TSR), released their first set of rules in 1974. Players could only choose from three primary alignments: Lawful, Chaotic, and Neutral.
- Lawful – A strict belief in adhering to the letter of the law
- Chaotic – Involved acts that defied authority and powers that removed freedom
- Neutral – The choice to live a life devoid of goodness yet refraining from wickedness
The introduction of the 1977 D&D basic set gave players the ability to draw clear lines between good and evil.
However, the Eberron Campaign Setting released in 2004 introduced D&D 3.5e (you can find the stunningly good 5E Eberron book here) and built the throne of awesomeness on which D&D 5e rests comfortably. It allowed characters to assume any alignment regardless of race, beliefs, or other affiliations.
The alignment total shifted from three to nine, with the tenth one called unaligned and meant to represent creatures that act upon instinct.
Chaotic Evil characters in the D&D 5e universe have more breathing room when choosing how to execute their plans. Previous D&D rulesets had them use rebellion, murder, and mayhem as their weapons of choice, but now they have ammunition for corruption, falsehoods, destruction, and impulsive cruelty.
What Are The Characteristics Of A Chaotic Evil Character?
Chaotic Evil characters come in different flavors: those that favor chaos rather than wickedness or vice-versa, schemers with love for destruction, or those who fall to the dark side.
- Chaotic Evil characters value personal liberty, especially when satisfying their impulses for greed, destruction, and self-indulgence.
- They are highly unpredictable, and actions that threaten their freedom will make them feel like they are losing control. In rebellion, they might turn against you when you turn your back.
- Their disregard for the law, rules or personal codes makes it difficult to get them to align with the same methods for achieving a specific outcome.
- Some Chaotic Evil favor Evil so much that they will sacrifice their authority and follow others’ orders to achieve an Evil outcome.
- When something becomes personal, a Chaotic Evil character might prioritize death and destruction over the success of their plans, especially if it brings others immense suffering.
- Chaotic Evil thugs for hire will revel in leaving behind a wake of destruction in their path, and those, even allies, who don’t join them might face the same fate.
- They consider ideals of honor, loyalty, responsibility, and tradition trivial and meaningless, and will not think twice to betray those who rank above or below them for their own pleasure.
Chaotic Evil Gods
Umberlee, the Chaotic Evil goddess of the sea, Demogorgon, the lesser deity of energy draining and domination, and Baphomet, the Demon lord of Minotaurs, are Chaotic Evil deities.
Umberlee is the Chaotic Evil goddess of the sea. Her followers include those who frequent the seas, like sailors, but they do so because they fear her ability to bring destruction on the waves. The Queen of the Depths is petty, malicious, vain, and greedy, but most of all, her evil impulses often lead her to drown people at sea because she enjoys the feeling of her own power.
Her avatar took the form of a giant woman dressed in the blue and green waters of the sea. She has sharp talons in place of her hands, fins attached to her elbows, and green hair with sea kelp. She has eyes that shine white like the most beautiful pearls and a voice that roars like the mightiest oceans. She often used this appearance to instill fear in mortal beings on ships that will soon capsize.
She is quick to anger and revels in wickedness. She won’t hesitate to break her moral promises and commitments when there is no longer any benefit. Her excessive greed loves to collect tribute and values, especially those with a history of cruelty and malicious intent.
Umberlee adores power and does not shy away from flaunting her might, particularly when toying with her servants.
She gets a kick from bringing down destruction on sea vessels and shipwrecking her victims. Those that drown make for better entertainment. There is no rhyme or reason over those ignored and those destroyed other than the whims of her own amusement.
Umberlee has more enemies than allies:
- Umberlee strongly opposes Selûne, goddess of the moon because she guides sailors safely by the stars that litter the night sky. She also hated Valkur for guiding travelers safely, Sune for her astonishing beauty, and Chauntea for ruling the land.
- The dominion in which Umberlee resided meant Silvanus was her superior. She did not subscribe to the notion, instead disregarding it entirely and denying the possibility of her being Silvanus’ servant.
- Umberlee belonged to the group of deities known as Deities of Fury. The group consisted of Malar and Auril, with Talos as their leader.
- Umberlee was closest with Auril the Frostmaiden, who often answered her calls for aid when Umberlee needed it.
Demogorgon is the lesser deity of draining energy and domination and seeks to drag everyone down to the abyss through insanity and destruction. He goes by many names, including:
- Ahmon-Ibor the Sibilant Beast by the troglodytes
- Leemooggoogoon the Deep Father by the kuo-toa
- Imprisoned One by the followers of Helm
- Siosivash by the yuan-ti
The tanar’ri and ixitxachitl demon races dared not speak his name aloud because it would spread fear and panic among them. So intense is his presence that even other demon lords fear his name, giving him the title of Prince of Demons. The title carries immense influence and power, and although many demons have tried to wrestle the title from him, all pale in comparison before Demogorgan.
Demogorgon has several heads with distinct names and personalities, which was sometimes the cause of many internal conflicts. The left head has the name Aameul and the right Hethradiah, or Hathradiah. The two heads were in a perpetual state of war as they tried to conquer and rule one another.
Aameul carried immense influence with his charismatic persuasion and ability to produce ingenious schemes. Hethradiah preferred the whims of destruction and brimstone. Aemeul wished to break free from his counterpart, while Hethradiah wanted to stay together.
Demogorgon had countless enemies but few allies:
- Demogorgon had an immense hatred for Orcus, another demon prince and master of the undead, that burned hotter than the raging fires of the abyss itself.
- Demogorgon allied with Dagon, an obyrith, demon lord, and primordial. Dagon often gave counsel to both Aameul and Hethradiah. Dagon brought with him devious intellect, while Demogorgon provided unrivaled, savage strength.
- Zuggtmoy frequently visited Demogorgon to exchange fungi and discuss sensitive topics. He also allied with Ilsidahur, The Howling King and lord of bar-lguras, the leaping demons.
- Demogorgon had romantic interests with Shami-Amourae and the Succubus Queen Malcanthet. They both manipulated him for their own ends, but he imprisoned Shami-Amourae in the Wells of Darkness for her treachery.
Baphomet is the Prince of Beasts and Demon Lord of Minotaurs. He rules over the section of the Abyss called the Endless Maze. His nature embraces savage and insidious behavior, so he deceptively enters man’s heart and causes them to adopt brutality.
He takes the appearance of a bipedal humanoid with the head of a bull. He measures 12 ft. (3.7m) tall and has a thick bovine tail with stubby limbs and hooves. Like an animal, he does not have skin but coarse black hair and horns that travel straight and a second that split from this original and curve downward.
His realm is the 600th layer of the Abyss, called the Endless Maze. In there, he dwells in Lyktion where he labors to create new legions of demonic beings in his spine-chilling Tower of Science. He created infamous creatures like the bulezaus, ghours, goristro, and ankashars, resembling dragons with a bull’s head.
Baphomet doesn’t have much in the way of allies, but he has enemies:
- Baphomet is bitter enemies with Yeenoghu, although their long feud had them both forget their reasons for feuding. They started as allies but failed to conquer an elven kingdom due to a strong showing by the elves, Bahamut, and other benevolent dragons. The demon lords blamed each other for their defeat.
- Baphomet despises Orcus for imprisoning him. He also has disdain for The Demon Queen of Harpies, Ardat.
- He shared an unusual symbiotic relationship with Pale Night, who lived in the Endless Maze. The neighborly demons never bothered or interfered with each other’s plans, mainly because their dominions did not cross. While they never joined forces, the effects of attacking one may spill over to the other and provoke them into action.
Are Any Character Backgrounds Inherently Chaotic Evil?
Character alignments are not indicative of their backgrounds. An acolyte might adopt their characteristics from a benevolent or malevolent god. Guild Artisans can use their craftsmanship to oppress or liberate the poor. An Outlander’s time in solitude can make them hostile or friendly toward outsiders or city folk.
Acolyte (of Chaotic or Chaotic Evil Entities)
While acolytes are generally seen as lawful because they have a code, even cultists have a code, for acolytes of entities that are inherently chaotic the sideways movement into chaotic evil isn’t hard to imagine. Chaos has a way of bringing out the demons – usually metaphorically speaking but sometimes, well, it brings those literal ones out, and the line between chaos and evil can be blurred in even the best of times which is why there is a debate on whether chaotic neutral is even more dangerous an alignment than chaotic evil.
Every god and goddess has their acolytes, including the evil ones, and it makes sense that the alignments would be at least similar in nature if not the exact same – so for those acolytes who belong to an order that follows a Chaotic Evil entity are going to be evil agents of chaos, as well.
So while Acolytes can be found all along the Lawful side of the alignment in very particular situations this can be a background that with the right (or wrong) influences can lead to the complete opposite side of the chart into a Chaotic Evil character or NPC.
Some criminals are going to be naturals for Thieves’ Guilds or have a code about life and death that tends them towards a Lawful Evil build based around their own codes. Then there are the psychopaths, the sociopaths, and the criminals who just don’t care. As the old saying goes, some people just want to watch the world burn.
These types of criminals could toss off the yokes of guilds and embrace their own path to evil, moving or changing plans on a whim. Criminals come in many different forms, and this is a background that is one of the most likely to tend towards Chaotic Evil Alignment.
A soldier first in service isn’t likely to be this alignment because of the need for order in an army, however, a soldier might fight a bloodlust or thirst for destruction that continues to grow, or it can start wit ha bitterness and disillusion with the cause they served, causing the character to go fully in the other direction and eschew everything that they had previously believed or aligned with.
There are several easy ways to see how a once faithful or loyal soldier…or maybe one who wasn’t so loyal to begin with but chose the army over jail or death, would become Chaotic Evil.
Whether it’s PTSD, disillusionment, a lust for destruction, there are many different ways where the soldier background can be used in order to create a background fertile for this especially dangerous and often violent version of Evil.
As an outlander, you might not know the intricacies of technology, but you can recall every shrub within your region. Many outlanders simply couldn’t function in society, or didn’t want to, and it’s not hard to imagine the many voices that might tempt an outlander even before taking into account the potential savage reality of the kill-or-be-killed principles that many Outlanders in the wild must live by in order to survive.
You enjoy the solitude and whispers carried by the wind, and the smell of the air is sweeter to you than any wine. While your family dwells in seclusion, rowdy city folk once happened upon your home and caused a lot of damage, and acting with hostility, nearly took your daughter’s life. The altercation meant you had to take their lives to protect your family.
You have no love for city folk, often treating them with disdain and refusing to lend a hand, even if it means their death. This type of Outlander might be Chaotic Neutral.
If the above scenario leads to you losing your daughter, your character may become Chaotic Evil, hunting city folk to make them suffer an agonizing end.
Chaotic Evil Vs. Neutral Evil
Chaotic Evil characters might find great satisfaction in chaos, but Neutral Evil places no value in Order or Chaos. Their priority involves furthering their own ambitions and seeing them come to fruition. They will gladly dismantle and disregard laws, codes, or the rulesets of society to realize their own self-interests.
Neutral Evil characters will go to great lengths to further their self-interests, even if it means betraying others, selling out allies, or creating a new personal code to govern the outcome of an unexpected turn of events.
Chaotic Evil Vs. Lawful Evil
Unlike Chaotic Evil characters that are loose cannons unbound by the firm grip of laws and rulesets, Lawful Evil will often swear by their code even if it changes the outcome of their plans for the worse. Their law is necessary for them and the tool to provide the best chance for success.
When they need to make impulsive decisions with little time to ponder, their instinctively turn to their law to govern them. It’s especially true when plans go awry, and they find themselves on a slippery slope.
If a Lawful Evil character favors obedience to the law rather than wickedness, they will not dare refuse their law, even if it costs them success. Similarly, those who love evil more than the law will break the law reluctantly to avoid their schemes failing.
Chaotic Evil Vs. Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic Evil and Chaotic Neutral characters share their deep desire for freedom, although Chaotic Evil is the most free-spirited. Chaotic Neutral values the freedom to pursue self-interests without obstacles from authoritative figures, rules, laws, or codes. They understand that some situations demand bloodshed, while others may call for cooperation – all for advancing self-interests.
They are happiest when they advance their ambitions and have no qualms if those they work with also advance their interests. Those who cross their boundary will soon feel their wrath, like someone who desecrated the graves of an elven burial ground. Chaotic Neutral characters will wreak destruction on those who harm them and lend a hand to those who provide aid.
Chaotic Evil: In Conclusion
While chaotic evil might be the alignment of evil that is most often run into by players in a D&D game, chaotic evil characters can be pretty quirky when they side with Chaos over Evil or vice-versa. Their desire to see the world and those around them bend to their will makes them naturally greedy, selfish, and hungry for power.
If you decide to roleplay such a character, prepare to enjoy a slew of events that will satisfy your curiosity about living outside the normal boundaries of life!
Other D&D Articles You May Really Enjoy
- D&D 5E Damage Types
- D&D 5E Conditions and How To Use Them
- How Core Stats Work in 5E DnD
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- One DnD Epic Boons Guide
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- D&D 5e player handbook, backgrounds: online.anyflip.com
- D&D alignments: Wikipedia.org
- Chaotic evil info: forgottenrealms.fandom.com
- Chaotic evil deities: forgottenrealms.fandom.com
- Chaotic Evil info: tvtropes.org
- Popular chaotic evil characters: fictionalcharaters.fandom.com
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.