How to Play Dungeons & Dragons' Chaotic Evil

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When it comes to Dungeons & Dragons, the Chaotic Evil alignment is one of the most entertaining but also one of the most misunderstood. This is the right way to play, as well as the wrong way.

For a challenging D&D thought experiment, consider this: What does it mean to be Chaotic Evil? There are several levels to this character alignment, but many players fail to see beyond the surface-level connotations that come along with it. No one expects a Lawful Good character to be a saint who never uses the F-word, and no one expects a Chaotic Evil character to be a nihilistic murder hobo.

The Dungeon Master (DM) will have specific expectations for the player's Chaotic Evil character. When it becomes clear that, sure, the player merely intended to do something crazy like create a necklace out of the sawed-off feet of elderly widows, thus derailing a whole campaign, most of these assumptions turn out to be accurate. Nothing is more annoying than a Chaotic Evil figure that acts erratically only to be annoying. The opportunity for exciting roleplaying as a Chaotic Evil character is lost, and the group might be torn apart as a result.

What is Chaotic Evil?​


Understanding alignment is a prerequisite for grasping the entire scope of Chaotic Evil. The equilibrium between rule-following and rule-breaking is the Lawful/Chaotic dynamic. The word "lawful" may be used to describe any set of guidelines that a character chooses to follow, whether they are based on the law, a religious code, or any other source of authority. Characters who want to behave lawfully do so for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they think the system is beneficial, or maybe they simply want to keep to their own rules. A Chaotic Neutral character is aware of these rules but is open to negotiating minor exceptions. A Chaotic person, on the other hand, is either cynical about the efficacy of laws, thinks that laws are bad for society as a whole, or just despises the concept of rules. Chaotic, though, isn't always acting irrationally. Unpredictability is exciting if you want to embrace it, but that has nothing to do with a lack of ambition or drive on your part. Simply put, it indicates you disagree with a certain legal framework.

However, the Good/Evil relationship is less clear. After all, there is only one perspective from which good and evil may be understood. In Dungeons & Dragons, good and evil are distinguished in three fundamental ways. The energies of good and evil may be diametrically opposed in the cosmos. They may also include a preference for helping others rather than harming them. However, the interaction between selflessness and selfishness is the most intriguing. To put it simply, Good characters put the needs of others before their own, whereas Neutral characters find it difficult to choose between their own desires and those of others, and Evil characters are motivated only by satisfying their own baser desires.

How to Play Chaotic Evil​


A Chaotic Evil character may be a demon's servant (demons are Chaotic Evil, whereas devils are Lawful Evil), an iconoclast out to show that law and order are an illusion, or a hedonist who doesn't give a hoot about the rules as long as they have their way.

Playing a character of this ilk requires an understanding of what constitutes Chaotic Evil in a given setting. Most fictional villainous rulers fall under one of two categories: Neutral Evil and Lawful Evil. To use a Star Wars reference, Darth Vader is an example of Lawful Evil since he acts in accordance with the Sith and Imperial Code. But Darth Maul is Chaotic Evil, particularly in The Clone Wars and beyond, since he fights against the orders that are represented by the Republic, the Sith, and the Jedi. Even though Maul develops his own orders like Death Watch who follow his rules, he is still an unadulterated iconoclast.

Many gamers who play games with friends miss or overlook the opportunities this provides for rich character development. Someone who deals with the demonic may have a violent reaction to being ordered about. Perhaps they empathise with demons that want to inflict suffering on people they despise and feel the rules of their world have mistreated them. Maybe well-intentioned individuals who follow the law and have empathy for others will prevent them from achieving their narcissistic goals.

You should avoid becoming the kind of player that intentionally causes damage to other players. You'd feel like you were making the same character as the millionth other person since there's no development. There is no point, no difficulty, and no chance that they would cooperate with a group of explorers. When you sabotage an effort, you hurt yourself as much as anybody else. Instead, zero in on the one item that really matters to your protagonist, how they can achieve it in spite of the odds, and the moral and legal constraints that stand in their way.
 

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