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Is Neera actually Chaotic Good?

I believe that Neera's moral character and the unpredicable quality of her magical abilities have been conflated in her development so that her alignment has been presented as Chaotic Neutral when in fact it is much closer to Chaotic Good. Some people on the forums have argued that she is too 'friendly' to be neutral, and this has been rebuffed by others, who suggest that even a truly diabolical character can be friendly when it is in their interest to be so. I agree with the latter, and do not suppose that Neera's friendliness has anything to do with her (in my opinion) miscast alignment.

The character creation screen reads: "Chaotic good characters are strong individualists marked by a streak of kindness and benevolence. They believe in all the virtues of goodness and right, but they have little use for people who "try to push folk around and tell them what to do." Their actions are guided by their own moral compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of society. A brave frontiersman forever moving on as settlers follow in his wake is an example of a chaotic good character."

This seems to describe Neera perfectly. In her in-game biography, she "seems to fear the harm [her wild magic] might cause." A Chaotic Neutral character, on the other hand, will "cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything they have on the roll of a single die." If Neera were truly Chaotic Neutral, therefore, she would not fear the harm her wild magic occassionally causes. Rather, it is on account of her intention to do good that she harbours such fears. (And isn't alignment all about intention?) Such intentions are evidenced when Neera uses her last teleportation talisman to save a child in Athkatla, and thereby endangers her own life. The fact that she has created a wild mage refuge suggests, more than anything, that "her actions are guided by [her] own moral compass which, although good, may not always be in perfect agreement with the rest of society." Moreover, one could interpret the creation of such a refuge as the act of "a brave frontiersman" with a sense of her own moral compass. She is also a "strong individualist," evidenced by the fact that her greatest fear is "being taken by a crazy wizard who wants to tear you apart for what you are. Not even who I am. WHAT I am." Thus she values her individuality, and takes pride in her magic, but uses it out of a desire to do good. Indeed, she resents being judged not by her character ("who I am," a moral judgement), but by the quality of her magic ("WHAT I am," a non-moral judgement). Perhaps the developers- for whom my respect is nonetheless unwavering- did likewise? For, by contrast, a Chaotic Neutral character possesses no moral compass whatsoever. It is not of their concern whether their actions are good, evil or otherwise.

The only real argument for Neera being Chaotic Neutral, in my opinion, is that she continues to utilize her magic despite its unpredictable consequences. Perhaps a truly good character would leave magical pursuits aside and retire to the country? Yet here, you might recall a dialogue between Neera and Aerie wherein Aerie (Lawful Good) admits that she doubts that she would be able to continue using magic if it were as unpredictable as Neera's. However, Aerie says that she admires Neera's "nerve," which suggests her reluctance to be due to nervousness rather than a moral qualm.

Finally, from the character creation screen, "Chaotic neutral characters believe that there is no order to anything, including their own actions." Note the use of the term 'belief' - whilst there is no order to Neera's magic, this does not impinge upon her underlying intention for good to prevail. So that's my argument, in a nutshell (or was it on a lengthly, elaborate parchment?).

If you've any further thoughts, or counter-arguments of your own, do let me know!

kcwiseBelgarathMTHArdulloliendomeplsffs

Comments

  • AstroBryGuyAstroBryGuy Member Posts: 3,414
    I second @elminster's interpretation.

    A Chaotic Neutral character, on the other hand, will "cheerfully and for no apparent purpose gamble away everything they have on the roll of a single die."

    Also, IMHO, the Chaotic Neutral definition you quoted from AD&D 2E is better described as Chaotic Stupid than Chaotic Neutral.

    As the 3rd Edition SRD noted: "Remember that the chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He's not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it."

    elminsterkcwiseLioraValkyrieBelgarathMTH
  • DrEastDrEast Member Posts: 113
    Goodness requires more than just being a vaguely good person; it requires an active participation with recognized Good events, people, etc. "Good" and "Evil" are terrible names for what they are in-game, actually; "Good" can be generally defined by most people as "in accordance with the dictates of conscience", which is a) arguably subjective and b) NOT what it means in-game, so you need to separate that knee-jerk definition that we all have with what the game is trying to get across.

    Part of the confusion arising with Neera is that she is in direct opposition, throughout the series, to a lawful evil group. This does not make her good; chaotic and lawful groups are often in opposition regardless of morality. Also, BG's rules are not fair with regards to neutral morality characters. They should stick with evil groups regardless of reputation; alternatively, they should leave good groups when the reputation gets too high for their tastes (perhaps because of the powerful enemies it makes). Neutrals in BG by default do neither (which is behavior I always mod out). This unfairness makes ALL neutral characters seem to be more good than evil, including Jan Jansen, who otherwise could be pointed out as the best CN character ever written. He's not "whee haha" Chaotic Stupid; he's actually a bit of a boor. But he's CN! Mod the game so Neera won't leave at low rep and then play her in an evil party (if you can stomach taking her over the strongest mage in the game), and you'll see that good and evil are NOT high in her primary motivations.

    kcwiseLioraValkyrieelminster
  • LioraValkyrieLioraValkyrie Member Posts: 16
    @elminster
    Thank you for rekindling my memory- though I do not play PnP, I faintly recall reading the 3rd Edition description you cite in NWN.
    elminster said:

    Neutral people are committed to others by personal relationships. A neutral person may sacrifice himself to protect his family or even his homeland, but he would not do so for strangers who are not related to him.

    That seems to describe the situation with the refuge rather well, where the wild mages are considered a kind of family to Neera. Indeed, she lacks the overall do-gooder spirit of a Nalia or Minsc. The examples you give are good ones.

    @AstroBryGuy‌
    My D&D readings don't go very far beyond the infinity engine games and the forums surrounding them, so the distinction between Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Stupid is a welcome one. Cheerfully received! Indeed, the description of Chaotic Neutral in the BG series seems to be describing Chaotic Stupid.

    All in all, you have both improved the 'ethical coherence' of the whole Neera role-play situation for me so thank you once again for your replies! Though I should still like to note that the Chaotic Neutral alignment might need a bit more justice being done to its description in a future BG:EE update so as to make it more PC friendly.

    elminsterAstroBryGuykcwiselolien
  • TidusTidus Member Posts: 86
    one could argue that good/evil alignment diotomic concept that runs with 'the pursuit of good/evil for every single living being they ever met' is actually anachronistic...
    for example, reading about a similar post regarding Hexxat I couldn't help but think that people insisting on her being neutral where wrong simply because she does attack you if you ask her to say 'please' at her demands regarding Dragomir's Cloak... only to find out that Aerie - a supposedly legal good character - has the very same reaction!
    Neera, on the other hand, just walks away...

    imho almost every single character in game should be neutral or evil, with possible exceptions for paladins and clerics (while working within a church), since they always do good only when have 'connection' to someone

    kcwiseLioraValkyrie
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,409
    edited January 2015
    It is true that Neera shows some chaotic good tendencies in regards to her role in bg2, aiding and sheltering the wild magi against the Red Wizards.

    However, this may be explained as her seeing them as her kin, as her family, and she knows by protecting and keeping them together, she also keeps herself safer on the whole, she will have allies and a true family to fall on. Neutral characters can be perfectly devoted to their family, friends, and allies as well.

    Good characters go out of their way to help complete strangers and innocents alike. Neera helps the little girl in Bridge district, because she knows she is a wild mageling, a kin. Will she jump to help if she sees a perfectly normal child being abused by someone? Minsc will jump in in an instant, because he is chaotic good he will trash the abuser. While Edwin will chuckle and nod that if it is neccesary, it is a good way to keep annoying brat-monkeys in check. On the other hand, Neera may jump in to help the child. Maybe. Maybe she wants to try a new spell on the attacker to turn him into a chicken. Or maybe not.

    In addition, developers did a good job in bg1 by representing every alignment corner with the new npcs, we have lawful and good Rasaad, neutral and evil Dorn, and chaotic and neutral Neera. I like that.

    I think Neera is much more chaotic than good, thus she is chaotic neutral with good tendencies. Her independent and quirky personality, plus her love of wild magic is ultimately stronger than her desire to help others, though she does want to help. Sometimes.

    kcwiseelminsterLioraValkyrie
  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,504
    I guess I'm late to the party and also in the minority, but I've always agreed with the TS that Neera is more chaotic good than neutral.

    kcwise
  • kcwisekcwise Member Posts: 2,287
    I always thought she was Chaotic Awesome. Who needs good and evil when you're a bad ass wild mage? Drop a cow on its head and problem solved, whether that problem be a starving village (eat the cow!) or an evil Red Wizard!

    Another example of her perhaps less than good tendencies:

    In northern Baldur's Gate you might encounter a rather angry fellow. Apparently, Neera robbed him of his worldly possessions and doesn't seem to feel bad about it in the least. She needed the money so she took it. Probably not the act of a goodly sort, but one could argue it was the result of desperation.

    Elrandirloliendomeplsffs
  • OllmerOllmer Member Posts: 73
    Judging by her dialogs with PC (in both BG1, 2 & ToB) and with LG NPCs (in BG2), Neera is probably the best implementation of a CN character I have ever seen.

    elminsterlunarkcwiselolien
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,409
    edited January 2015

    While my interactions with Neera have always felt more leaning towards CG than CN, her backstory in BGEE keeps throwing up characters she has abused and discarded, and her main regret appears to be being caught or found out. If she were not scoring such awesome loot while gaining power at a crazy rate while under our protection, I suspect CHARNAME would see that other side of Neera soon enough.

    I agree, in one lovetalk she even confesses she has abandoned her boyfriend, suddenly and without notice, one day she just woke up near him and decided to dissapear forever. Not caring if he would feel heartbroken or not. She says she did not want to see him suffer because of her magic, but that is just her sugar coating that being tied down and stable had made her uncomfortable and she wanted to escape to freedom. That's the chaotic neutral spirit! Now if she had tortured and murdered her lover in his sleep that would have been chaotic evil. While a chaotic good person would wake up early and bake some pizza for breakfast for his/her lover, that is both chaotic and good! :smile: alignments are so much fun!

    elminsterkcwiseElrandirlolien
  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511
    Cerevant said:

    Disclaimer: I am not a writer, and don't even pretend to be one on TV.

    Two cases for Neera to be Chaotic Neutral over good:
    1) While she frets over the harm her wild magic does, it doesn't stop her from using it.

    But that simply raises another issue: a PC wild mage can be lawful good - how is that supposed to work?

    kcwise
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,409
    Fardragon said:

    Cerevant said:

    Disclaimer: I am not a writer, and don't even pretend to be one on TV.

    Two cases for Neera to be Chaotic Neutral over good:
    1) While she frets over the harm her wild magic does, it doesn't stop her from using it.

    But that simply raises another issue: a PC wild mage can be lawful good - how is that supposed to work?
    To roleplay that alignment well, the player should never cast spells while commoners or civillians are nearby, and/or use spells only as a last resort, and stay clear away from Reckless dweomering. And if any accident occurs, donate 10k + gp to the church of Lathander.

    kcwiseBelgarathMTHlolien
  • LioraValkyrieLioraValkyrie Member Posts: 16
    Cerevant said:


    I don't think anyone would put her chunking of the guard at the Red Wizard Enclave in Waukeen's on the good end of the spectrum

    Yet I can't help but imagine Misc doing exactly the same thing should his witch be in danger. "Swords, not words!"

    While my interactions with Neera have always felt more leaning towards CG than CN, her backstory in BGEE keeps throwing up characters she has abused and discarded, and her main regret appears to be being caught or found out. If she were not scoring such awesome loot while gaining power at a crazy rate while under our protection, I suspect CHARNAME would see that other side of Neera soon enough.

    While I put her petty thievery and such down to desperation in BG:EE, I suspect much the same with regards another side to her presently kept at bay by the fact that she is getting what she wants in making her mark upon the Realms with the awesomest party around. Alas, I'm in my first run of the EE's and am still enjoying my Neera honeymoon period, hah!

    I guess I'm late to the party and also in the minority, but I've always agreed with the TS that Neera is more chaotic good than neutral.

    Thanks for sticking your neck out! I'm not sure I agree with myself anymore (provided we are using the 3rd Edition aligment descriptions and not the Infinity Engine ones) but with a chaotic good fighter PC, self-styled as "Guardian of Outcasts," my vested interests in Neera are high indeed. There is plenty of good in her heart, but it is a quirky, selective kind of good isn't it? I think my PC could have got on board with that were it not for the (incomplete?) definition of CN in character creation.

    kcwiselunarlolien
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,605
    Lots of great and insightful answers here.

    I can think of one practical reason that I haven't seen mentioned, for her writers to have made Neera chaotic neutral.

    They may have wanted to make her fit in equally well with either a good or an evil party, in order to get more people to try taking her and playing through all her new material for the EE's.

    In fact, if you look at the EE characters on the whole, concern over pleasing both players who prefer good parties and players who prefer evil parties seems to have been on the writers' minds.

    Tiduskcwise
  • LioraValkyrieLioraValkyrie Member Posts: 16

    Lots of great and insightful answers here.

    Couldn't agree more. Thanks all for making my first experiences of commenting on the BG forums pleasant and informative. :smile:

    elminsterkcwiselolien
  • dementeddemented Member Posts: 388
    With a few exceptions Neera seems generally self interested to me. Your first interaction with her involves her risking the lives of strangers in order to save herself. She doesn't even participate in the battle, but lets others fight for her.

    Cerevantkcwiseloliendomeplsffs
  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,504
    demented said:

    She doesn't even participate in the battle, but lets others fight for her.

    Really? That's never been my experience at all - every time I encounter that interaction, she jumps right into the thick of things.

    Of course, that's not always a good thing - sometimes she'll cast a spell like color spray that accidentally knocks out some of my own party members, and at least one time she got herself killed by charging at one of the wizards with her staff.

    kcwiseelminster
  • OllmerOllmer Member Posts: 73
    demented said:

    With a few exceptions Neera seems generally self interested to me. Your first interaction with her involves her risking the lives of strangers in order to save herself. She doesn't even participate in the battle, but lets others fight for her.

    Strange, in my experience patch 1.2 made getting gem bag without Neera much easier, as she almost always dies in this "recruitment" battle. And trying to keep her alive during the second encounter with Thayans is a quest in itself.

    kcwise
  • dementeddemented Member Posts: 388
    I may have misremembered it. It's been a while since I last recruited Neera into a party. Now that I think about it, I had the same problem as SharGuidesMyHand the first time I met her.

    Apologies.

    Ollmerkcwiselolien
  • LioraValkyrieLioraValkyrie Member Posts: 16
    edited January 2015
    There's just few other things I thought I'd mention...

    I've entered the Athkatla Government District with a party of Neera, Aerie and Keldorn and come across Viconia at the stake...

    Aerie keeps mum. Fair enough. (A little off-topic: she soon reveals that she is afraid of / dislikes drow, and though your PC isn't technically supposed to be a drow, I would imagine her being open minded enough to let a drow CHARNAME off the hook after saving her from the circus illusions.)
    Keldorn comments (paraphrased) "She's a drow. Must be up to no good. Let her burn." (I shall shortly be dumping Keldorn for adherence to such a narrow worldview!)
    Neera comments "Ugh, I suppose we can't really let her smoulder, right? Right?"

    This calls into question the whole line of argument about neutrals standing up for family and friends but being less willing to help strangers and innocents.

    Also, concerning Neera's old boyfriend (Again off-topic: both she and Aerie have "feelings" for me, but my PC is female- do we have gay/lesbian romances in the EEs!? If so, nice :smile: ), she acts impulsively and leaves him but does feel bad about it in dialogue with CHARNAME. Perhaps she has what a psychologist might call a neurotic personality, where the deep instincts go one way and the outward personality goes another. In which case, maybe she wants to be CG but is actually, in her essential being, CN. Just a thought!

    Finally, Neera complains at reputation 16 (popular). I'm not about to start bonking peasants over the head just to keep her happy. Aerie it is. lol.

    Edit: A further further thought - wouldn't many evil characters, especially the scheming sort, want to be thought of as "popular" or "heroic"? It's ever such an ego boost, and lets you get away with the odd murder without interference from the authorities. We'll all recall Sarevok being the most popular guy in Baldur's Gate prior to our underming of his plans. Also, Neera is a little egotist and wishes the highest praise. Surely she'd want a high reputation, too.

    This leads me to the idea that, in addition to class kits you could have alignment kits which provide minor adjustments, for example: Chaotic Neutral Neurotic: CHARNAME acts on impulse but feels remorse and repents afterwards, possibly afraid of her 'evil' alter ego, may protect herself from herself by casting 1x protection from evil on self; positive reaction to high reputation. Chaotic Neutral Lunatic: due to some form of inate or aquired mental instability, CHARNAME acts in a way that appears completely irrational to those around her, consequently their mind is difficult to access by enemy mages, +1 to save vs. Chaos, Confusion, Charm etc.; random reaction to reputation; Chaotic Neutral Rational: CHARNAME has decided through rational contemplation that there is no order to the universe and behaves accordingly, actively strives to hold no moral opinions whatsoever, may 'opt out' of conflict by casting 1x sanctuary on self; no reaction to reputation.

    If there is something similar in existence, let me know; if you like the idea let me know and I might start a new thread and develop it further.

    Post edited by LioraValkyrie on
    Ollmerkcwiselolienlunar
  • OllmerOllmer Member Posts: 73
    Yes, she seems to lean to the good side (other example being her comment in the Forest of Mir when you return witch's heart), but there is also her "Nothing makes me happy" dialog not far away. Frankly, I was surprised by Neera's last dialog the first time I played with her - I was really expecting she will dump PC at some point.

    And she also comments (favourably) on rep increase from "bad" levels. Looks like neutral it is.

    kcwiselolien
  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,504
    edited January 2015
    I think it's worth noting that CG characters often aren't exactly saints - in fact, they're often generally unlikable characters, but who have "a streak of kindness and benevolence" according to the in-game description. For example, Kivan is an all-around jerk, Alora is a rampant klepto, and Coran is a philanderer and a deadbeat dad. I know that Neera is often b+tchy and self-absorbed, but she also seems to be genuinely well-meaning and shows genuine remorse and guilt over the trouble she has caused others and the prospect of causing further trouble in the future. At the very least, I think she's far more suitable for a CG alignment than Coran or even Alora, who are each more suitable for CN IMO.

    kcwiseLioraValkyrie
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