Every D&D 5e alignment has particular quirks and characteristics that make them fun and unique. The Neutral alignment has a reputation of being the black sheep of the lot; boring, uneventful, and somewhat predictable – but as sure as dragons breathe fire and ice, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! There are many exciting nuances around Neutral characters, and here’s what you need to know.
Neutral characters refrain from choosing either Good or Evil, preferring to walk the line that separates them. They believe maintaining the balance between Good and Evil will achieve the best result. They value relational ties and will work with what others might consider Good or Evil to further their self-interests or to maintain the Balance, in the case of the “Neutral Class” of Druids.
Despite their close-minded appearance, Neutral characters are an interesting lot who can look surprisingly different depending on the context. Druids may appear super serious or they might appear to live more carefree than all the other alignments, not caring about war or bandits or even a moving pack of dire wolves because such is the way of things.
There are different subcategories of True Neutral, and we’ll delve into them both, discovering their characteristics, behaviors, and play styles!
What Is A Neutral Alignment in D&D?
Characters with a Neutral alignment do not invest themselves in the concepts of right or wrong, choosing instead to go with the most logical conclusion. They don’t commit themselves to either good or bad, yet they are not averse to working with such parties for progress. A Neutral scientist will not see any qualms working for a good or evil organization if it means they can further their research.
A Neutral character is not willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, nor do they possess the cruel nature that would make them evil. They don’t subscribe to lawful rules, codes, or systematic approaches, yet they are not so erratic that a chaotic person would call them brethren. When dealing with people, they feel no compulsion to meet expectations and hold no prejudice.
They live believing that the world requires a balance between order and chaos, so they avoid crossing the borders of benevolence and malevolence.
You can find one such personality in Squall Leonhart from the video game Final Fantasy VIII. During. He proved his neutrality and perspective on life with this quote:
Right and wrong are not what separate our enemies and us. It’s our different standpoints, our perspectives that separate us. Both sides blame one another. There’s no good or bad side. Just two sides holding different views.Squall Leonhart, Final Fantasy 8
In the classic RPG video game Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, you meet Beckett – an archaeologist and shapeshifting vampire. When you question his ability to shapeshift, he responds with a quote that reveals a Neutral stance:
What I am is Kindred. How others categorize themselves concerns me only where local customs are concerned. Individualism is a path fraught with obstacles and, sometimes, angry mobs, but for all its hardships, it is the only one worth taking.Beckett, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines
There’s also one very different example of a character in pop culture that reminds me of the very definition of True Neutral, and if you’re a Coen Brothers fan, you know where I’m going with this.
The Dude from The Big Lebowski is definition of true Neutral. He doesn’t want to get caught up in Walter’s shenanigans, he’s not ultra moral, he’s not scummy, he just wants his rug back, man. And everyone keeps dragging him into craziness he never wanted to be a part of.
While this has not always been the case, especially in earlier editions, the 5th Edition handbook talks about the importance of Neutrality with Druids who must focus on maintaining the Natural Balance.
This could mean care free chaos if they are Druids in the Fey Wild, helping to revitalize a damaged forest, or even standing against settlers moving into an area that would be destroyed by their presence.
How Has The Neutral Alignment Changed Since Its Inception?
The short answer is actually quite a bit. The 2000 release of the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons used a similar two-axis alignment system as the one introduced in the 1988 2nd Edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
Tactual Studies Rules (TSR) first published the original version of Dungeons & Dragons in 1974, limiting players to only three alignment options: Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic.
These three alignment types showcased a commitment to following the law, a balance between lawful and chaotic behavior, and a disregard for rules and order.
In 2004, the release of the 3.5 Edition of D&D with the Eberron Campaign Setting brought several improvements that moved the game closer to the ruleset of the 5th Edition.
The introduction of the Good alignment option in the 2004 edition of D&D with the Eberron Campaign Setting was a significant development for the game. It allowed players to create characters with various personalities, quirks, and ticks. This change also made the roleplaying experience more dynamic and engaging.
Such changes made the impossible possible, like finding a tribe of trolls living in harmony with humans or a nobleman siding with poverty-stricken peasants.
So How Does All This Effect Neutral Interactions?
Those who wish to try their hand at a Neutral alignment have flexibility regarding ideals, personality traits, decision-making, and other character-building possibilities. This is because depending on how you look at it, being Neutral can mean different things to different characters in different situations.
Characters Can Be Neutral By Default
Characters who are Neutral by default possess qualities and project traits that place them outside the Good and Evil alignments. Their actions are neither good nor evil; they align themselves in the center so that some people may view them as both or neither.
While it may seem like a wise idea at first, they struggle to make difficult decisions, like ending an animal’s life to prevent its suffering. Their focus is on preserving themselves and protecting the things or people that mean the most to them and have the potential to sway their alignment. Other alignments can relate to this desire, making it easy to work with Neutral alignments.
A Neutral adventuring character will face many challenging discussions and obstacles that will strain their belief system. If they got word from a village chief that bandits plan to raid and pillage the very same village that raised them, would they protect it or turn a blind eye?
If they help, people will view them as good heroes, but if they don’t, they might be viewed as evil, self-serving, and unreliable. Druids often stumble into the problem of people vs nature and having to make decisions that might not appear good or correct compared to others. Then again Neutral could just be self-serving, sometimes.
Characters May Choose A Neutral Alignment By Choice
Characters who opt for a neutral alignment can be a conundrum since they consciously reject Good values like self-sacrifice but also reject blatant Evil. Their reasons lean on values they believe to be good, like joy and empathy. Unlike default Neutral characters, this type lives by an intentional worldview rather than eyeballing decisions and deciding them as they should be.
Evil philosophies sometimes drag you along and create a sense of excitement until you realize their implications and pull back some of your heavy-handed intentions. The Neutral philosophy is much more straightforward to pursue and makes sense for those who practice it.
Keep in mind there is a glaring difference between two characters who have a philosophical commitment to happiness (Neutral by default) and someone with a philosophical commitment to Neutrality (Neutral by choice).
Most Neutral aligned players choose Neutral by default because they plan to commit to a Neutral cause. They might commit to balancing Good and Evil in themselves and their spheres of influence to achieve harmony and happiness. Those who defend Neutrality for the sake of staying Neutral have more power and influence in their games.
Neutral Characters Make Good Companions And Great Friends
Characters with a True Neutral alignment tend to form strong emotional bonds and are eager to keep them. While they may not carry the same level of passion as some of the other alignments, they still have things they believe to be of great value. A possible exception is a Neutral character that is hyper-focused on keeping balance rather than choosing either good or evil.
Since Neutral Alignment characters do not carry a preference or strong idea about how people ought to behave, friends and loved ones naturally take priority on their list of valuables.
Throughout your D&D journey, you may encounter a difficult choice that will make you choose whether to preserve a relationship you cherish or do the right thing.
Consider a king who gives you three choices: execute your beautiful or handsome romantic interest traveling with you, or execute one-third of the population – some of whom grew up in your neighborhood – If you don’t choose, he will execute both, including you. What would you do?
Several alignments will struggle with this kind of choice, but Neutral characters won’t think twice about choosing their romantic interest because personal ties are often their most valuable treasures.
True Neutral characters rarely alienate friends with radically different approaches or worldviews because they do not lean one way or the other. They can more easily enjoy long-lasting friendships without concerning themselves with ethics.
What Are The Characteristics Of A Neutral Character?
Neutral characters can often appear selfish for not choosing to offer assistance, appear happy-go-lucky, analyze a situation from every angle, may view Good alignments as zealots, work efficiently with Evil alignments, and often do not have a specific objective.
Neutral Characters will generally have the following characteristics:
- Neutral characters’ inclination to choose neither good nor evil can make them appear selfish.
- They are not obligated to good or evil, giving them much more liberty and a happy-go-lucky approach than other alignments.
- Their refusal to choose between good and evil can be a point of contention with others, and some may even view their choices as a betrayal.
- Neutral-aligned characters have the unique strength of viewing things from every angle without prejudices or generalizations about what something should be. This approach helps them keep a balance between good and evil.
- They may view religious commitment or loyalty to a lord or god as zealotry, mainly when others make those demands of them. It may differ slightly when the Neutral character is a self-acknowledged coward or admits their worldview or way of living is not optimal.
- It’s easier for Neutral characters and organizations to work with Evil personalities since they are less bothered by morality. While Good characters may have beliefs in their principles of righteousness, Neutral and Evil characters have no such qualms. The Neutral and Evil characters wouldn’t care if cruel events happen out of sight, unlike a Good alignment.
- Neutral characters have no attachments to the Order and Chaos they encounter. They concern themselves only with interests in their own lives.
- Neutral characters do not have a particular goal or objective, even on a quest. They enter into a contract because they believe it will interest them.
The Raven Queen, Silvanus, and Asgorath are Neutral gods.
Neutral characters often identify with Neutral deities, who, like themselves, choose to remain between good and evil. Let’s look at a few Neutral gods, their relationships, and personalities.
Her fascination with past memories have her remain in her fortress and gaze at them as if they were the whitest opal of perfect purity. Some of the greatest wizard minds suggested her work with memories was a cosmological work that helped to purify human souls and have them deal with pain and fear.
Many believe that only the Lady of Pain knows the meaning behind her actions.
The Raven Queen had a fair amount of enemies but no allies due to her secluded nature:
- Her greatest enemy was the demon lord Orcus, who wanted to claim control of the Shadowfell. In 5th Ed this shifted a bit, with the two being enemies mostly because the Raven Queen was Neutral, representing death which was not evil but simply a natural part of the process while Orcus represents undead – a perversion of the natural order as dead are meant to stay dead.
- The Oerthian lesser deity Vecna envied The Raven Queen for her unique ability to engage with the flow of souls and collect knowledge about past events.
- The Prince of Frost despises the Raven Queen because her actions led to his beloved Sharea losing her life.
Silvanus is the Celtic and Faerunian representation of nature’s wild tendencies. He can appear in three forms: an old form called Old Father; a young form called Young Strider; an appearance akin to his fellow Celtic god Cerunnos, Horned Hunter.
His old form looked like an old, bearded human male that floated midair, sometimes sprouting from the trunk of a sizeable tree. This form had brown and grey flesh, representing the bark of an aged tree.
The Young Strider form had long limbs stretched out with a male humanoid figure. He wore a suit of armor consisting of leaves and wielded a wooden mallet. It was the form he chose when he wanted to protect his grove or a circle of druids.
Horned Hunter encompassed a form like that of his fellow Celtic god Ceruos. His persona was silent as he looked on with searing white eyes, stag antlers, and brown fur that looked similar to tree bark. This form was identical to a forest spirit that appears, nods & points, and disappears from sight in an instant.
He wielded unpredictability and savagery in the same way as nature, with the ability to control the surrounding fauna and flora.
He did not have many enemies or allies:
- When he was part of the Faerûnian pantheon, he allied with non-evil deities of animals and nature, such as Shiallia, Mielikki, and Eldath.
- Talos, Talona, Malar, and Moander considered Silvanus an enemy because he often opposed them as their destructive tendencies upset the balance of nature.
Asgorath (or Io) is a dragon deity and the creator of the multiverse and dragon kind. He involved himself in the lives of all dragons by manipulating their destinies in a way that hid all his involvement from others.
Asgorath was meant to encompass all alignments, although most consider him Neutral. He has a holy symbol – an unadorned circle – that represents totality. He possesses the purest virtues of Bahamut while portraying the worst of Tiamat’s vices. No one knows his home plane; people believe he roams the Outer Planes.
This mysterious draconic deity has no allies or enemies, but he does involve himself with some:
- The Singers of Concordance worship him in hopes of understanding draconic prophecy. They work closely with Asgorath or other dragons who study prophecy to learn as much as possible.
Are Any Character Backgrounds Inherently Neutral Good?
D&D 5e provides a lot of freedom regarding alignments, disregarding the idea that background, race, or intention relates to alignment, however when it comes to class many Druids are neutral meaning many common Druid backgrounds are often associated with being Neutral.
As a hermit, you lived in seclusion for most of your life, knowing little about the quarrels of men and caring even less about pitiful arguments. Your solitude gave you time to collect your thoughts and find answers to your difficult questions.
Your reasons for choosing a hermit’s life play a significant role in your character’s personality traits. Whether for spiritual enlightenment, crimes, or life-changing events, there is a plentitude of ways to approach the Hermit background.
Your secluded time in the monastery had you adopt a Neutral perspective on life where you believe it essential to strive for a balance between Good and Evil. Your time away from society made you realize that peace is attainable as long as you refrain from everyday squabbles yet maintain a semblance of goodwill toward others. You found this truth to be enlightening.
In the opposite direction, in your seclusion, you concluded that those who hurt others for personal gain are a menace that needs to be wiped from the face of the earth. This type of Hermit may adopt a Good alignment, leaving behind their isolated life in pursuit of something greater.
A different Hermit may develop a cold and often cruel demeanor toward others, choosing their requests carefully and their allies even more so. They don’t trust others but instead choose to further their beliefs by joining others. This Hermit type might adopt a Neutral Evil alignment.
Charlatans are born with silver tongues and have a way with words that some call art. Their ability to see into a person’s heart and identify the desires, truths, and secrets that make them tick is unmatched. Charlatans have no qualms about using this skill to gain the upper hand.
Charlatans are masters of persuasion, capable of convincing those around them that their bottled mud can cure any disease or ailment or that a beholder hides under the bed or inside the closet.
You may choose to wield your words for a benevolent king whose aim is to discover the intentions of a neighboring kingdom. There are whispers of unrest and war within the neighboring kingdom, and your benevolent king charged you with infiltrating the other kingdom. You would like to keep the peace, and as such, your Good nature spurs you to assist the benevolent king in his endeavors.
Those who use honeyed words may procure secrets of the court and offer them to this highest bidder. You aim to become wealthy regardless of the repercussions because your betrayal in your own life has caused you to render the lives of others valueless. In fact, they want to see others suffer as they did. This charlatan may have a Chaotic Evil alignment.
Does A Neutral Alignment Determine Your Class?
D&D 5e allows players to roleplay a law-abiding orc that fights for humans, or players could encounter a demon lord who does not harbor any Evil intentions.
Bards are renowned for their ability to entertain & perform, inspire their allies, or instill fear in their enemies. An Evil, thieving bard might use their talents to lull a crowd to sleep and rob them of their belongings or charm them and manipulate them into doing something harmful.
Most player characters choose to play Bards as Chaotic Good, which makes a lot of sense and fits in with parties pretty well, but a care free Neutral alignment can also work with the Bard. They’ll step in when something too evil shows up, they will blast the good zealots and go for a drink instead when minor wrongs happen.
The care free life of the Bard tends to go Chaotic, but they could play Neutral very well.
A character could pick up the bard profession as their contribution to keeping the world entirely Neutral. They believe that both Good and Evil can enjoy music and choose to stand on the line that separates both extremes.
If you choose to play Neutral as being obsessed with Balance, then Druid is a class that makes a lot of sense for a Neutral Alignment. Ogres stealing shepherds’ flocks? That’s part of nature. What about the famine that could result? Famines happen. Shouldn’t get involved. Or maybe you need to because too many villages have been assaulted, pushing the balance too far the other way.
This is a class that can go Neutral in many ways and an easy pick if you wanted to try an alignment a bit different from your normal hero’s general alignment and attitude.
Fighters are martial experts and can stand toe-to-toe with some of D&D’s most fearsome enemies. There are many kinds of fighters, and each picks up their sword for a different reason.
A Good fighter may want to destroy Evil and fight to prevent the bloodshed of innocents. Others may adopt a Neutral Evil alignment and become mercenaries for hire. Loyalty is not part of the job; they aim to fulfill their contracts by any means necessary and cut ties with the contract giver.
Neutral Vs. Lawful Neutral
Neutral characters make it a priority to maintain a balance between Good and Evil. It is their way of doing good in the world around them and ensuring that things flow smoothly. Lawful Neutral characters concern themselves with the law, believing it to be the right way of maintaining the peace, even if it means disregarding their own interests.
Neutral Vs. Neutral Good
Neutral Good characters will be obedient to the law unless the law itself appears corrupt or it might produce an Evil result. They seek the greater good in all things and won’t hesitate to extend a helping hand to pilgrims whose cart breaks down on the side of the road.
Neutral characters generally don’t opt for the righteous choice, preferring to remain Neutral to protect their belief that balance should always be the priority.
Neutral Vs. Neutral Evil
A True Neutral character adopts innocent objectives and motivations like self-preservation or pleasures that don’t inherently harm others. On the other hand, a Neutral Evil character has no regard for the value of life, often employing cruel and oppressive tactics to accomplish a task.
The Neutral Good character does not see a problem joining with either Good or Evil entities as long as it advances their interests.
Neutral Evil characters have no respect for other’s needs or feelings. They view them as obstacles or a means to achieve their desires and advance their goals. They carry their selfishness wherever they go and would even sell out their teammates if it means achieving their goals is easier.
Neutral Vs. Chaotic Neutral
While Chaotic Neutral characters don’t make a habit of crossing the law, they don’t consider it an absolute. They allow their conscience to guide them without restricting their liberty by troublesome codes.
While Neutral aligned characters get along with both Good and Evil, Chaotic Neutral types clash with those who insist on law, order, commands, and decrees. They value individual freedoms and rights and do not take kindly to having those qualities revoked, advocating for self-interest.
From a Neutral perspective, this worldview is on the extreme end of maintaining balance. It also tends to be more defensive, ensuring that free will is always present. Neutral characters, on the other hand, are content simply existing or supporting others.
True Neutral Alignment Guide: In Conclusion
Neutral characters can carry serious convictions like other alignments, like deciding to stay Neutral because of past life-changing events. They value their close ties with friends but have no qualms about working for an Evil person if it will advance their self-interests. They may also view some Good alignments as a form of zealotry.
There’s never a dull moment for a Neutral adventurer!
Other D&D Alignment Guides of Interest
- D&D 5e Player Handbook: online.anyflip.com
- True Neutral Alignment Info: Wikipedia.org
- Neutral Alignment: forgottenrealms.fandom.com
- True Neutral deities: forgottenrealms.fandom.com
- Neutral Alignment behavior: tvtropes.org
- True Neutral characters: Fictionalcharacters.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.