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I don't understand True Neutral

Someone please explain.

Jaheira is clearly a good person. She is a harper, which is a very good aligned organization. She fights slavers, seeks to keep the realms safe. She balks at any evil course of action and can be counted on to always do the right thing. She comes across as being very clearly neutral good.

Faldorn is clearly an evil person. She is a shadow druid, which we clearly see resorts to murder (BG1, the poisoning of a druid enclave), terrorism (kill people so they don't even enjoy nature, which does happen in BG1) and all out warfare on population centers merely for existing (BG2). She also goes a step further in BG2 and poisons nature itself just to make herself immune to harm, which is so blatantly selfish that it is mind boggling.

How do they share the same alignment?

As I see it, you can believe that both good and evil are necessary for existence. That is being reasonable. But from there, you have intentions.

Would you sacrifice your own well being to help others? Do you try to make the world a better place? Congrats, you are neutral good!

Do you believe in the letter of the druid code, and are willing to enforce it no matter what (such as the druids who side with Faldorn even though they are unhappy with the way she is doing things)? Then you are lawful neutral.

Do you not give two figs about the happiness, well being, safety or survival of your fellow human beings? Will you kill people for disagreeing with you? Are you willing to destroy the very thing that you claim to protect for the sake of your own protection? Then you fall into the evil spectrum, depending on what you said yes to.

And yet, all of those very different people all share the same alignment. I just don't get it.
JuliusBorisovbooinyoureyeslolien
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Comments

  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,085
    It's generally acknowledged that Jaheira's personality is really neutral good at heart, but that she's forced to have a true neutral alignment by her class restrictions.

    With regard to Faldorn, I think the case for true neutral is that she's utterly devoted to a single cause (the protection of nature), and she will stop at nothing in order to carry out that cause. Her actions are not dictated by empathy (like a good character) or selfishness (like an evil character), but rather, solely by what is required to carry out her cause, whether those actions happen to be good or evil.
    MetallomansemiticgodJuliusBorisovSmilingSword
  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,085
    Jarrakul said:

    I'm of the opinion that Jaheira is very clearly neutral good, and Faldorn is very clearly neutral evil. Jaheira talks about balance a lot, sure, but somehow "balance" invariably means "kill the evil guy". Add to that the fact that she's devoted her life to an organization dedicated to wiping out evil, and that she's then willing to betray her own friends and mentors when they fail to live up to their ideals... that screams "good" to me. The kicker is the fact that her personal quest only ends well for her if you have a high reputation. If you are anything but good, she's tortured by her decisions. No, she's not neutral. Not in anything but mechanics.

    Faldorn, meanwhile, is willing to warp and destroy the very nature she seeks to protect, in order to take revenge on civilized society. Like many shadow druids, I suspect her heart was once in the right place, but by BG2, at least, she's lost it. In BG1 she's a slightly more debatable case, but I'd still probably make her neutral evil.

    I think it could be argued that the BG1 versions of both characters are much closer to their actual alignment. In BG2, the writers attempted to flesh out their personalities and backgrounds, with the (perhaps unintended) consequence of straying too far in one direction or another from their alignment.

    I think it would've been interesting if, upon siding with your character against her fellow Harpers, Jaheira's alignment shifted to a good one, much like Anomen when you complete his quest.

    DJKajuru
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 5,783
    True Neutral characters are very rare.
    meagloth
  • ArdulArdul Member Posts: 170
    Not trying to start a flame war, but reading the arguments and decriptions above merely leaves me with my original understanding: the alignment system in D&D is stupid.

    People are not only their actions, they are also their motivations. And both of these are far too complex to be captured within nine frames of personality/alignment. I usually ignore the alignment description and focus on who my char is, and how he relates to the NPC's and their *personalities*.

    In practice I almost invariably end up choosing Chaotic Neutral - for no other reason than the complimentary cat.
    JarrakulFinneousPJ
  • jacobtanjacobtan Member Posts: 655
    edited May 2015
    This topic has been argued to the death before.

    Instead of cherry-picking certain actions/thoughts/words of characters that appear to fit in the narrative that the alignment system is broken, consider looking at most (if not all) of the actions/thoughts/words of characters as a collective whole.

    Consider Jaheira:

    1. Worships Silvanus, a True Neutral god, instead of other good-aligned nature deities with druid clergy
    2. Repeatedly emphasises the need for balance (all those selection speeches)
    3. Refuses to raise Khalid from the dead because this is against the cycle of nature
    4. Turns a blind eye to Harper plotting (plot line with Xzar and Montaron in BG2)
    5. Is confused as she assesses her actions with PC on whether they fit the overall balance

    Jaheira does have a benevolent side to her. However, there are also aspects of her that are not inconsistent with her True Neutral alignment. Note my double negative - "not inconsistent". In the overall scheme of things, it is not inconceivable that she is True Neutral, even if she appears less so than most. On the whole, consider her as a seeker of the balance (True Neutral), but her actions are tempered by her nascent good side - not enough of it to be officially good-aligned, but enough to color a shade or two.

    Also, in 2E ADnD, characters who drift from their alignments suffer an experience penalty. I consider her professed confusion in #5 to be a valid in-game demonstration of her deviation from her alignment.

    There is indeed a precedent of such an alignment. If you have read the stories of the Moonshaes, you may know Robyn Kendrick, Great Druid of the Moonshaes (worshipper of Chauntea as the Earthmother), whose alignment is given as True Neutral but with strong good tendencies. In game terms, N(G). I believe Jaheira is rather similar. However, the game does not allow for the inclusion of alignment extensions. All things considered, there is a case for her being good-aligned but it can also be argued that there is insufficient evidence for this.
    semiticgodDJKajuruMetallomanJuliusBorisov
  • jacobtanjacobtan Member Posts: 655
    edited May 2015
    There is less information about Faldorn, but here we go:

    1. Believes in the cause of nature above all
    2. As a Shadow Druid, she feels the cause of nature has been betrayed by existing druidic circles
    3. Shadow Druids are active in the wilderness but do not appear to encroach on civilised areas (Cloakwood, Druid Grove in Amn, wilderness)

    For Faldorn, she is extreme, violent, and vindictive. However, if we view her actions as a collective whole, it can also be argued that she is a "Nature's Avenger" in a way to fight those who have violated nature. Shadow Druids may resort to extreme measures, but it's possible they see the balance as already been gravely disrupted hence they need to resort to extreme measures to rectify the situation. This does not preclude them having evil tendencies, of course. It's also possible she may be an N(E).

    In another way, in 2E AD&D, all priests, including druids, pray for divine spells. If a druid fails the cause of the deity, the deity often denies spells as a punishment and demands penance before restoration of spells. That the Shadow Druids are competent spell casters suggests that they still have divine approval, or at least, they have not drawn the disapproval of their divine patron. As a comparison, Lolth denies her priestesses spells if they are outed as double agents of Vhaeraun.

    I'll cite information on Silvanus since he is the most powerful of the non-good nature deities.

    Silvanus' dogma as noted in 2E AD&D Faiths and Avatars has the description... "...They are strongly on the side of wild nature, the natural state of matters, over any civilising force..." If a True Neutral deity of nature espouses such a dogma, it should not be strange for a Shadow Druid to be violently opposed to civilisation if he feels that the cause of nature is gravely threatened. Silvanites are also known to sponsor brigands to thwart developments that they feel may threaten nature.

    Also, one of Silvanus' affiliated orders is the Emerald Enclave, which is supposedly an aggressive sect considered radical even by fellow Silvanites who fear their actions may provoke a backlash against their cause. That they are still sanctioned by Silvanus also suggests that the Shadow Druids are not exactly out-of-step with the True Neutral alignment of their deity.

    The whole point is... Shadow Druids as a whole, as they exist in the game, may not have gone past the point of no return where it is more appropriate to reclassify them as evil than neutral. Hence, as a Shadow Druid, Faldorn may still be considered a True Neutral character (even if a borderline one with evil tendencies).
    Post edited by jacobtan on
    semiticgodJuliusBorisov
  • dockaboomskidockaboomski Member Posts: 425
    edited May 2015
    I see them as trying to keep the balance in different ways - Jaheira believes that by doing good, she will offset some of the evil; Faldorn believes the opposite.

    But, like @Hudzy said, it's mainly because of restrictions.
  • GrumGrum Member Posts: 1,893
    Thanks for the replies. I think that I've got a better handle of this now.
    semiticgodMetallomanJuliusBorisov
  • recklessheartrecklessheart Member Posts: 614
    I would largely argue that we, people in the western world in the 21st century, could probably be identified as True Neutral (insofar as such a mechanical system can define one's actions and beliefs). A True Neutral character might have a very strong moral compass, but that is a compass of extreme relativity: a True Neutral character does not commit to any one moral code, yet might agree with all of them to some extent - he might also disagree with them all, though this is harder to rationalise in the sane mindset. A True Neutral person might feel fully at liberty to say cruel or malicious things about a person whom they dislike, even if the feeling is not reciprocated, but might equally be very loyal to their friends, whom they would defend openly in the face of adversity. This can be seen as both evil, and lawful simultaneously. Then factor in that the same person might also lie to discredit somebody whom they dislike (chaotic), but would champion the cause of an oppressed group of people even if he did not identify himself with their cultural identity because he fundamentally believes they should be able to live their lives as equally as another man (good). You've just realistically counterbalanced every alignment in a fully credible portrait of human behaviour.

    Hopefully this gives a picture of how a character other than a Druid (though they are the most common TN class) would identify with an alignment such as TN: an alignment which caters much more to personal perceptions and relative circumstances than any of the other alignments - one which I, personally, believe is under-appreciated for it's awesome RP potential.
    jacobtanDreadKhanJuliusBorisov
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 2,975
    I torally agree that the average person is most likely Neutral. Most people don't go out of their way to help or harm.

    Of course, most people tend to see themselves as 'pretty much good, with the odd failing'.
    BelgarathMTH
  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    I actually see most modern people as Lawful Neutral, following the letter of the law even when it doesn't make particular sense, and they partake in consumerism because it's the socially accepted normal behaviour. I believe most conservatives fall into this category.

    Green activists or gay-rights promoters for example are exceptions, and fall into the (T)N category, because they believe that law isn't always correct. Or it may be downright flawed. This also includes people that believe that the moral compass of the world is pointing in the wrong direction. This is the liberal world-view as well.

    Then there's always rebellious individuals, the party people, Artists and hippie types, which sometimes fall into the Chaotic Neutral territory. Not giving a damn about tomorrow, smoking weed and sometimes drinking their day away.
  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    Grum said:

    I disagree on green activists and gay rights protestors. They are lawful good.

    Working within the boundaries of the law to change them for what they see as being what is right.

    I'll concede that this is probably good behaviour. However, it's not of the lawful kind. It's a general misconception that lawful good is the ultimate good person while that is not true. Green activists and gay-rights promoters work on their goals because they believe in it, and believing in it is the thing that pushed them into this line of life in the first place. That's the definition of a Neutral Good person. If they break the law or not is irrelevant. They follow the law as long as it fits their goals. You may want to consider Drizzt here, since he is Neutral Good.

    A lawful good person is motivated to use the law in favor of the goals he believes in, be it improving healthcare, creating jobs for people or fighting global warming.

    Chaotic Good people intentionally break the law to drive a point, or to prevent something from happening. They try to enforce the greater good, even when it means they break a few windows doing it. They do this in a way that doesn't harm people, and in the end, they have the common good at heart.
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 1,960
    @Yannir I think your second paragraph was kind of Grum's point. Many kinds of activists (Lamdba Legal comes to mind for the LGBT crowd) are attempting to fight for what they believe in, within the context of the law and using a legal framework. That seems fairly lawful good to me, but it does depend on motivations. It's often difficult to tell a lawful person from a neutral (law-chaos) person who thinks that working within the law is the smartest course of action.
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 5,783
    Some people are trying to link alignment to real world attitudes. Kind of risky for the thread. But I'll add to it anyway. Not all of these are fully serious:

    Lawful Good: Butters Stotch or paladin (conservative)
    Neutral Good: Activist or dissident (liberal)
    Chaotic Good: Rebel or freedom fighter (communist)
    Lawful Neutral: Anomen or the CCP (establishment)
    True Neutral: People who don't think about morality or Druids (simply neutral people)
    Chaotic Neutral: Mao Zedong or the Yes Men from the movie Yes Man (free spirit)
    Lawful Evil: Shyster or politician (fascist)
    Neutral Evil: Eric Cartman or cutthroat businessman ("true evil" in DnD terminology)
    Chaotic Evil: Warlord or terrorist (stereotypical orc)

    Longer definition:

    LG wants to do the right thing and never break the rules. Stereotypical good guy.
    NG wants to help people, doesn't really care about the rules. Will break the rules if it helps people, will follow the rules if it helps people.
    CG wants to help people, and thinks the system is an obstacle to that.
    LN wants to follow the rules, whether it hurts people or helps people.
    TN has two groups in DnD: either they want to preserve a balance for its own sake (doesn't want any group, either evil or good, to dominate the world), or are simply "non-aligned." An animal is non-aligned because it has no sense of morality. Some people have the same attitude. Nobody in our world fits the former kind; an office drone or someone simply floating through life would be the latter kind of TN.
    CN either follows any whim that enters their head, or is simply anti-law. Haer'dalis does whatever is interesting to him, and so is CN. Mao Zedong wanted to revolutionize literally everything (I study China), and so is CN.
    LE wants to profit him or herself, and prefers to use the system to do so. Will twist the law to suit their ends.
    NE wants to profit him or herself, and will do whatever it takes to do so. Eric Cartman will openly break the law (Scott Tenorman) or manipulate the system (form a Christian rock band) to seek his goals.
    CE wants to profit him or herself, and will kill people who get in the way.


    I'd say LG and NG would be the most common alignments among people, though few people will dedicate their lives to any particular cause. We are mostly good, but we are not all dragonslayers.
    jesterdesuBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • jesterdesujesterdesu Member Posts: 373
    Grum said:

    Someone please explain.


    Faldorn is clearly an evil person. She is a shadow druid, which we clearly see resorts to murder (BG1, the poisoning of a druid enclave), terrorism (kill people so they don't even enjoy nature, which does happen in BG1) and all out warfare on population centers merely for existing (BG2). She also goes a step further in BG2 and poisons nature itself just to make herself immune to harm, which is so blatantly selfish that it is mind boggling.


    I'd tend to agree that Faldorn became evil in the end, though I think that's the point of the Cernd quest, returning balance to the grove.

    Whether killing is "murder" or evil obviously still relies on perspective. An LG Paladin would shed no tears after killing a group of marauding Gnolls and similarly a Shadow Druid would see themselves doing the right thing by wiping out a town and returning the land to nature.
  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    Arguing about this is silly, since there are as many opinions about this as there are people. And such absolutes as alignments don't really fit the real world. By AD&D definition a good guy would go out of their way to defend or help a total stranger, even so far as to sacrifice of their own. Neutral guys would only care that much about family or close friends. By that light, most people are lawful neutral.

    Now that doesn't mean they aren't good people. They might be the funniest or most caring person you ever knew, but it doesn't mean they are of good alignment. An evil person could just as well be as funny as the good guy. Actually, the evil guy is probably funnier than the good guy.. :smiley:

    To me, Drizzt is the pinnacle of goodness. The true good as there's true evil as well. A LG Paladin would eagerly dive into combat with a bunch of orcs to rid the countryside from their evil presence, whereas a NG Ranger would try to avoid the combat to prevent needless bloodshed. Now, if those orcs are threatening a village with an attack, the Ranger will dispatch the orcs as well, choosing the lesser evil.

    When talking about real people, there are layers to people. Where a person might want to appear to be lawful good on the surface, they may have another layer that is selfish and only wants to appear good to profit from it. Or they may want both, to be good AND profit from it. They aren't mutually exclusive. On top of that, there may be supressed feelings that when let out are chaotic and metaphorically destructive. This happens for example when people get drunk and start to act violently.

    @semiticgod So, this leads me to believe that LG and TN alignments are the rarest in the world. CE isn't too common either.
    JuliusBorisov
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 1,960
    Yannir said:

    Arguing about this is silly, since there are as many opinions about this as there are people. And such absolutes as alignments don't really fit the real world.

    This, right here, is why I kind of hate the entire alignment system. No two people can agree on what a given alignment means, most everyone *can* agree that the 3-by-3 grid is way too simplistic for real moral issues, and yet the mechanics are tied to it like the whole thing is self-evident and irrefutable.
  • AnduinAnduin Member Posts: 5,093
    Can't a true neutral just be undecided?

    Those paladins killed those Orcs! Now they will leave poor baby orcs at home all defenseless and scared and *sob* ALONE ! ! !

    But those Orcs will grow up into big bad Orcs that could possibly eat me... So... What the paladins did was right? RIGHT ! ! !

    But maybe we could have just sat around and talked it out? Solve it like rational, sentient life forms!

    But paladins are not rational... A rational orc is one that has not eaten for a while...

    Perhaps a game of paper, rock, scissors? Yeah!
    semiticgodJuliusBorisov
  • GrumGrum Member Posts: 1,893
    Anduin, I did once make a character who was true neutral simply because I couldn't choose any of the others.
  • jacobtanjacobtan Member Posts: 655
    Anduin said:

    Can't a true neutral just be undecided?

    Those paladins killed those Orcs! Now they will leave poor baby orcs at home all defenseless and scared and *sob* ALONE ! ! !

    But those Orcs will grow up into big bad Orcs that could possibly eat me... So... What the paladins did was right? RIGHT ! ! !

    But maybe we could have just sat around and talked it out? Solve it like rational, sentient life forms!

    But paladins are not rational... A rational orc is one that has not eaten for a while...

    Perhaps a game of paper, rock, scissors? Yeah!

    This appears more Chaotic Neutral.

    In 2E Player's Handbook, in a description of how the CN character would behave in a party,

    "... he would join forces with whichever side appealed to him most at the moment. If he couldn't decide he'd flip a coin."
    Brer_Rabbit
  • jesterdesujesterdesu Member Posts: 373
    I actually feel it's quite clear what each alignment is supposed to represent and I'm never quite sure what causes people to argue at all.
    jacobtan
  • YannirYannir Member Posts: 595
    What's the point of alignments anyway? I mean really, what was the original intent behind them? Other than to give you a guideline on how you should behave as the character, they are rather useless. And I can think of better ways to describe character.
    Montresor_SPArdul
  • jacobtanjacobtan Member Posts: 655
    edited May 2015
    Yannir said:

    What's the point of alignments anyway? I mean really, what was the original intent behind them? Other than to give you a guideline on how you should behave as the character, they are rather useless. And I can think of better ways to describe character.

    It's easy for players to say this, especially when we're discussing this in the context of a computer game.

    However, put ourselves in the position of a human Dungeon Master and we can better understand the need for broad categorisations that govern the general behaviour of characters. If all non-player characters (who have to be controlled by the DM) have to be micromanaged, the DM may go insane from the herculean effort required.

    Having such categorisations does not preclude DMs from exercising greater control over the characters they manage, especially for major NPCs, but where necessary or desirable, he can run them with a broad brush.

    For all players (both DMs and players), having an alignment system can be helpful if we need to imagine content to fill in the gaps of characters whom we don't know in depth. The alignment system, for all its limitations and inadequacies, is a ready-to-use, relatively accessible set of guidelines for us to flesh out unknown characters quickly if required or desired for role-playing purposes.
    jesterdesuJuliusBorisov
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