Dungeons & Dragon's Player's Handbook

Navigating ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ Alignments Is Child’s Play

So you wanna play Dungeons & Dragons now, do ya?

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I see what’s happening here. It’s the Stranger Things pipeline at play. Those kids looked like they were having a damn good time fighting mind flayers and Vecna and you wanna give it a shot as well. OR MAYBE it’s the squirrel pipeline that will explain what’s going on here. Maybe you just really love squirrels and their big brown eyes and bushy tails and you just wanna BE one, and you found out that D&D will let you do that. Either way, you bought the rulebook and you’re halfway through creating your character.

But you’ve been stymied.

You’ve discovered the “alignments section” and you don’t understand. “Chaotic Good.” “Neutral Evil.” “Lawful Neutral.” What does it all mean? It sounds like some kind of mix between Newtonian physics and sociology concepts. Well, you’re not wrong! But while this a whole can of worms that can be opened up and debated endlessly, I’m here to offer a simple solution. If you want to know a character’s alignment, you just have to ask them “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” And this is what they would say …

Lawful Good

Me? I NEVER. I wouldn’t DREAM of doing such a thing. Stealing a cookie from the cookie jar is AGAINST THE RULES. IT AGAINST THE LAW. I am many things, and “lawful” is chiefest among them. I have a STRICT moral code that prevents me from stealing anything whatsoever! It also prevents me from committing murder, mayhem, arson, armed robbery, theft, or jaywalking. In short, I believe that a MORALLY UPRIGHT society can only function if one follows MORALLY UPRIGHT LAWS TO THE LETTER. So no, I did not STEAL a cookie from the cookie jar, and I will continue to wait until a cookie is LAWFULLY GIVEN to me, because that is the RIGHT THING TO DO.

Neutral Good

Did I still a cookie from the cookie jar? No, I didn’t. And not because it’s against the law; I don’t really give a hoot what the law says! I didn’t steal a cookie because I personally don’t think stealing is right. I have a moral code myself, but I’m not a total stickler about it. Listen, I jaywalk all the time. I think being forced to cross the street at a crosswalk is silly. But sometimes I do agree with the law, like, with regards to murder. Murder isn’t cool. And even if the law said that murder was okay, I still wouldn’t do it because I think it’s wrong. So no, I didn’t steal a cookie from the cookie jar—not because Johnny Law told me I couldn’t, but because I think it’s better to wait my turn so my neighbors can get a fair share.

Chaotic Good

Did I still a cookie from the cookie jar?

*smirk*

Perhaps I did.

But I had a good reason for doing so! It’s not fair that everyone in the kingdom has to WAIT until it’s THEIR TURN to get a cookie. Some of the peasants are STARVING, and I don’t think it’s RIGHT or GOOD that the government is handing out cookies via an esoteric lottery system that places everyone on equal footing! The rich nobleman has PLENTY of cookies at his table, but the poor serf perhaps sees only one a year! That’s why I stole not one, but MANY cookies from the cookie jar in order to hand them out to the peasantry. One cannot depend one LAWS to tell us what is right, because LAWS are put in place by those in POWER, and those in POWER are INHERENTLY BAD. That’s why I declare COOKIE ANARCHY. EAT THE COOKIES OF THE RICH.

Lawful Neutral

Did I steal a cookie from the cookie jar? No, it’s against the law.

Listen, I’ve heard about this Robin Hood cookie anarchist guy going around stealing cookies for the poor or whatever, and I think it’s a load of bull. The law is the law, and it doesn’t matter if you think it’s right or wrong, you gotta follow it. It’s just what you do. Listen, I look out for me and mine. I don’t have lofty ambitions about helping the common man. The common man can help himself. But if he helps himself to a cookie in the cookie jar and gets thrown in the dungeon, he better not come crying to me. The way I see it, following the law is the best way to protect yourself, and I’m not gonna let some high falutin’ morality politics change my mind. We should all count ourselves lucky that the kingdom is giving out cookies in the first place. Things could be worse, way worse.

True Neutral

Did I steal a cookie from the cookie jar?

An irrelevant question.

To question whether or not I “stole” as cookie is to say that by taking a cookie I am committing a “crime” in the first place. The government says yes, but the bleeding heart cookie thief who steals cookies to give them to the poor says no. Neither one is right, neither one is wrong. Like all questions of morality, it is simply a matter of perspective. What is my perspective? I side with the group, faction, or individual that will most aid my well-being. Whether or not they “steal” cookies is irrelevant to me as a moral question. If they contribute positively to my life, I am for them. If they do not, I am not. Besides, I don’t really care for cookies one way or the other.

Chaotic Neutral

Did I steal a cookie from the cookie jar? YOU BET YOUR ASS I DID.

Why? BECAUSE I WANTED ONE. I don’t give a HONK that “the law” says that I can’t. What has “the law” ever done for me? If other people wanna sit around waiting for their time to get a cookie from the cookie lottery, that’s fine for them. But I don’t really feel like WAITING AROUND until its my turn. The way I see it, if you have the power to take something, why not take it? I’m not trying to hurt anyone, mind you. But you can be DAMN SURE that I’m not gonna give this cookie away to some peasant just because he’s POOR. If he wants a cookie so bad, he can get it HIMSELF.

Lawful Evil

Did I steal a cookie from the cookie jar? Yes, I did. Through a legal loophole.

The law stipulates that everyone in the kingdom is allowed to have a cookie from the cookie jar every year, to be given out on a random day. Nowhere does the law state that we can have only one cookie from the cookie jar each year, so I thought of a plan: Every year, I go around to the local peasantry and say that for everyone who gives me their cookie, I will give them TWO COOKIES in return. I take the farmer’s cookie, and say the same thing to the baker. I then take the baker’s cookie and say the same thing to the butcher. I take the butcher’s cookie and say the same thing to the candlestick maker. I take the candlestick maker’s cookie and give the farmer back his two cookies. Now I have profited one cookie! I eat it. Then I go to the armorer and take his cookie. Then to the fishmonger. Then to the washerwoman. I take a cookie from every guard in the a barracks! I now have a STOCKPILE of cookies that I dole out here and there while I enjoy the lump sum! A cookie Ponzi scheme! And I come out on top without having broken the law! Ingenious!

Neutral Evil

Did I steal a cookie from the cookie jar? No, but I would.

If the opportunity presents itself, I’ll do it. But I’m not going to go out of my way to break the law. I don’t give a shit about the law, but I don’t want to end up in the dungeon. And if one night I decide that I really want a cookie and the door to the cookie vault is left ajar, then yeah, I’ll go in and take a couple. And if a guard sees me? Well, it’s not going to end well for him, now will it? If he’s smart he’ll look the other way, but I’m still not willing to leave a loose end laying around.

Chaotic Evil

Did I steal a cookie from the cookie jar? DO YOU EVEN HAVE TO ASK?

OF COURSE I stole a cookie from the cookie jar. I broke in to the cookie vault, slaughtered the guards, and made off with all the cookies I could carry! And do you know what I did next? I THREW THEM ALL INTO THE MOAT. Why, you ask? FOR THE YUCKS. I LOVE CRIME. Crime is FUN. Crime is the way that I can get what I WANT. And what do I want? I want to see the SUFFERING in children’s eyes when they realize that their cookie WILL NEVER COME. IT TICKLES ME. IT MAKES ME CHORTLE.

I think the world would be a FAR more interesting place if everyone just did what they wanted all the time instead of appealing to silly laws or petty morality. Love for the common man? What has the common man ever done for me? I’ll tell you what he’s done. He’s given me a gift by HOPING for a cookie, and taking that hope away from people is sweeter than any cookie could ever be!

(featured image: Wizards of the Coast)


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Author
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.