Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coolest Neutral

In my experience, Chaotic Neutral is one of the most popular alignments for players to choose. In fact, I'd say it's right up there with any of the Good alignments. This is based on my limited sample size, though. Curiously, a search of the Internet could not find a proper poll showing the most popular alignments. Someone should get on that.

Anyway, most of the time people seem to take Chaotic Neutral to mean a license to be a dick without necessarily being evil about it. You can steal, you can lie, you can cheat, you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as you don't murder people too regularly.

I think the Good Samaritan scenario is useful for illustrating Chaotic Neutral: imagine for a moment a man lying beside the road, calling out for help. A Chaotic Good person will help that person, then steal his wallet. A Chaotic Evil person will kill that person, then steal his wallet. A Chaotic Neutral person will simply steal his wallet, then maybe call the guy a loser for good measure.

Not to say I dislike Chaotic Neutral characters. I think they make things interesting. I challenge you to find me one that's not also a jerk, though.

Anyway, first we have Daryll the Goddess of Nature, once the Goddess of Life. Though once the one who oversaw the bestowal of life to all living things, she has largely turned her back on civilization. The growth of cities, though fortuitous for the sentient beings who build their them, tends to negatively impact the plants and animals around them. In cities and farmland plants are not allowed to grow where they will, and animals must all be tamed or eliminated. In short, compared to even the most desert-like wilderness, cities seem more dead than alive. Though some civilizations can live in harmony with nature, most simply don't. So, Daryll took a side. As a result, most land masses in my campaigns are wild and untamed, with only a few cities acting as points of light in an otherwise dark, dangerous world.

Daryll has many followers among the Elves, whose civilizations are often in harmony with nature. Likewise, druids almost exclusively worship Daryll, as do many rangers and others who spend most of their time in and around the wilds.

I believe the party druid, Syn, was fond of Daryll in my first campaign, and druids have played a significant part in my current campaign as well.

In my second campaign, though, Daryll's absence was heavily felt. Most of the land was civilized on the party's native side of the world, but when they were captured by the elves of the other side of the world nothing could make her lack of influence more clear: elves, usually the most attuned to nature, were by far the most technologically advanced race in that campaign. The party spent a long time traveling through a massive, seemingly endless elven city, filled with buildings and waste, to escape back to their side of the world. Daryll would not have recognized her children.

Next we have Tak, the Goddess of Mischief, formerly the Goddess of Activity. Her name comes from my preferred character in the game Kirby's Super Star, T.A.C. the cat burglar. To be honest, I'd like to find a better "Truth" for her to have been before becoming Mischief, but alas.

Originally she primarily battled sloth, acting as the spark that encouraged people to get up and do things and affect the world. Soon, though, the natural laziness of people meant that she did whatever she had to in order to produce a reaction at all. Thus, she turned to mischief: trickery, pranks, thievery, and anything else that shocked people out of complacency.

Also known by Lady Luck, Fortune, and similar names, she's much favored by gamblers, thieves, and con artists. Thieves' Guilds always keep a shrine to her in their hideouts, and gamblers often keep charms of her likeness on their person. Otherwise, though, her worship does not manifest in physical form. Rather, her name is simply on the lips of every risk-taker, though they say that speaking her name is a great way to turn her against you.

She did not feature prominently in my first campaign, though the party may have met either her or some representation of her recently in my current campaign.

Anyway, the fun thing about the Truth/Half-Truth/Lies system of my pantheon is seeing how each non-Truth deity justifies their change and insists that they're still working toward their Truth. Not a single one rejects their own Truth, they simply interpret it differently than it may have been intended. With the evil deities, it's relatively simple to just take a concept to an extreme to make it evil, but the neutral deities had to be more subtle than that. Where the evil ones take their Truths too far, perhaps the neutral ones don't take their Truths far enough. Or perhaps they sidestep them in some way. Or maybe they take them just a little too far, but not enough to be dangerous. Regardless, neutrality has a stigma of being uninteresting, but it gives me an opportunity to toy with subtlety, and I find subtlety very interesting.

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