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Using Character Alignments in your writing Overview

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

I love Dungeons and Dragons. It is not only a fun game, but a great creative outlet. Whether I am the Dungeon Master (DM) or a player, there are tons of ways to get creative. As a DM, it is my job to set the scene and the story. As a player, I am a character in the story. I have a back story, traits, skills, and a moral/legal alignment. Depending on what kind of character I play, will determine my alignment. A good DM will assist in making sure I stay within my alignment. That's not to say alignment shifts are bad, but there needs to be a reason.

When you start fleshing out the characters for your book, it is a good idea to use the alignment chart (below) to help set the baseline for your character. This will help describe his traits, convictions, and will also help you determine how they would act/react to different situations.

I will go over the common traits of each alignment and some conflicts each alignment could possibly encounter. In another blog, I will discuss alignment shifts (best practices) and how to incorporate character growth/development in the shift.

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to take a moment to discuss the difference between the axis.

-Lawful literally means if they follow the laws/rules. This does not have to mean society's laws. If your character is a member of a secret society, a religious sect, a militant group, or any other smaller community, they may not follow society's laws, instead following the rules of the community they identify with. There are instances when your character follows their own code/creed.
-Chaotic is simply the absence of rules/laws. A lot of people think of chaos and they immediately think death and destruction. This is not what "chaotic" refers to. A chaotic character is one that does not follow rules, or goes against society.
-Good/Evil are your morality axis. This is where a lot of people get caught up. You need to determine what is good and evil in your world. Most can agree that murder is wrong, but there are instances when people think it is justified. Does that suddenly make murder "good"? Everyone has their own morals, based on multiple factors that shape their opinion. What I consider "evil" may not be to the next person. So make sure you have a firm line when discussing the evil/good in your book.
-Neutrals are fairly obvious. You see "neutral" five times on the chart, based on the legal/moral axis. This just puts them in the center. They sometimes follow the laws, sometimes they break them. They will do bad things, and good things. In a neutral character, make sure their intent and motivation is clear.

Below is the Dungeons and Dragons Alignment chart, which I go over in separate posts. I will discuss the Lawful column, neutral column, and finally the chaotic column.

If you have questions/comments, please feel free to email me.

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Happy Writing Friends!

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