Chaotic Neutral Alignment + How to Play + Character Examples

By Emily Sargeantson

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Want to know all about the Chaotic Neutral alignment? You’re in the right place! This article explains the Chaotic Neutral character alignment, how to play it, and lists character examples.

Read on to find Chaotic Neutral traits, character background ideas, how Chaotic Neutral compares to the other alignments, what their favourite quotes might be and insults they might give out!

Chaotic Neutral definition

A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behaviour is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it. Chaotic neutral is the best alignment you can be because it represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook Edition 3.5

‘Chaotic’ and ‘Neutral’

There are two aspects to the Chaotic Neutral alignment – ‘Chaotic’ and ‘Neutral’. ‘Chaotic’ doesn’t mean that the character is unpredictable, random and makes crazy decisions! Instead, it describes the alignment’s perspective on how they believe society should function. The ‘Neutral’ part of the alignment refers to their morals and drive to do Good or Evil.

Chaotic

Chaotic aligned characters live by their own rules instead of the rules society has decreed. They believe that is the only way an individual is truly free and can live up to their full potential. 

Chaotic characters resent and distrust authority, don’t like following orders, and live life on their own terms. They can be flexible and adaptable and do what fits the situation and their own agenda. 

Characters with a Chaotic alignment may rebel against rules to try to bring about change or simply to create anarchy. They may take reckless actions with a complete disregard for the consequences. 

Neutral

A character with Neutral morals does not have a natural motivation to kill the innocent like an Evil aligned character, nor do they feel the need to make personal sacrifices to help others as Good characters do. 

Instead, the moral actions of Neutral characters are driven by their loyalty to others and themselves. If an action is in their best interest or in the best interest of those to whom they are most loyal they will take it. 

While all characters may naturally change alignments through character development, it is especially common for Neutral characters to move to a Good or Evil alignment if the majority of their actions favour one moral alignment over the other. 

Chaotic Neutral

Chaotic Neutral characters are free spirits. They do what they want but don’t seek to disrupt the norms and laws of society. 

These individuals don’t like being told what to do, following traditions or being controlled. That said, they will not fight to change these restrictions, instead, they will just try to avoid them in the first place. Their need to be free is the most important thing. 

Chaotic Neutral characters do what is most likely to ensure their freedom, protect their free will and get them the outcome they want. That might be a Good action like helping someone out, or an Evil action like lying to someone. However, a Chaotic Good character is more likely to take a Good action than an Evil one because it usually results in a better outcome and an easy time of it for them. 

Chaotic Neutral characters might be step away from being caught for a misdeed in one moment, then redeem themselves with a good action in the next moment. They can easily slip into Chaotic Good or Chaotic Evil if they take too many Good or Evil actions in a row.

Because Chaotic Neutral characters do what’s best for themselves they can be incredibly frustrating allies to have in a D&D group. For example, they might cause a bar fight just for the fun of it and leave the rest of you to sort it out. They might take all the loot for themselves and refuse to share it. Even worse, if they aren’t particularly loyal to anyone in the party and a combat encounter is going badly, they might just run away and leave everyone! 

Some Dungeon Masters won’t allow players to have a combination of Good and Evil characters in a party. In that case, Chaotic Neutral is the closest alignment you can get to an Evil character. 

Chaotic Neutral character examples

In the D&D Player’s Handbook 3.5 Edition, the Chaotic Neutral alignment is dubbed as the “Free Spirit”.

Characters with a Chaotic Neutral alignment are the kind of people who do whatever they feel like at the time and don’t care about the consequences, make selfish decisions most of the time but occasionally do something nice for others, and switch their allegiances when new allies serve them better. 

Here are some examples of Chaotic Neutral characters. 

Chaotic Neutral female characters

  • Harley Quinn (DC Comics)
  • Cat Woman (DC Comics)
  • Rita Skeeter (Harry Potter)

Chaotic Neutral male characters

  • Captain Jack Sparrow (The Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • Deadpool (Marvel Comics)
  • Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island)

Chaotic Neutral traits

The exact character traits with vary from character to character, but there are some traits which are commonly associated with Chaotic Neutral characters. 

  • Unpredictable
  • Selfish
  • Cheeky
  • Rebellious
  • Free-spirited
  • Independent
  • Impulsive
  • Fickle
  • Unreliable
  • Hedonistic

Chaotic Neutral moral code

Being Neutral on their morals, a Chaotic Neutral character wouldn’t adhere to much of a fixed code consciously, but their behaviour may lead to actions along these lines. 

  • I will always make the best decision for me.
  • I will not obey authorities unless it serves me.
  • I will fight to maintain my freedom.
  • I will help others if there’s a benefit for me.
  • I will lie, cheat and break the law if I can get away with it.
  • I will not help people who want to restrict individual freedoms.
  • I will always look for fun.
  • I will not kill innocent people. 
  • I will not use my power over others.
  • I will pursue whatever desires I have. 

Chaotic Neutral character’s perfect world

The ideal world for a Chaotic Neutral character might look like this. 

  • Everyone makes the best decisions for themselves. 
  • There is no government overseeing society.
  • People are free to pursue their own interests. 
  • Individuals advance their lives while causing minimal harm to others.
  • There are lots of places to pursue pleasure. 
  • There are no laws. 
  • People are free to enact justice in the way they see fit. 
  • Contracts are broken without consequence. 
  • People will only betray those they are loyal to if their life is in danger.
  • Everyone fights against anyone or anything that tries to restrict their freedom. 

Chaotic Neutral quotes

If a Chaotic Neutral character has some favourite quotes, they might be these.

Nobody can tell me what I can and cannot do.

Amna Al Haddad

I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Freedom – to walk free and own no superior.

Walt Whitman

Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Every chance taken is another chance to win.

Unknown

Chaotic Neutral decisions

As a Chaotic Neutral character is adventuring they will have to make some difficult decisions. Should they bet all their gold to potentially double their money? Do they offer their only health potion to save an ally in a fight?

Other alignments like Lawful Good (see my article for more detail), will face situations where the two parts of their alignment come into conflict. For example, would they follow the orders of their high lord to arrest an innocent person?

For Chaotic Neutral characters, things are a little different. All they care about is doing what’s best for themselves and they often do what they feel like in the moment. There’s no telling whether they will break the rules or follow them, or even if they will take a Good or Evil action. It’s one of the reasons why Chaotic Neutral is often seen as the most unpredictable alignment!

For example, put a Chaotic Neutral character in the same situation on two different days and they may make very different decisions based on their mood. On one day they’d dive headlong into a fight to support the villagers protecting their town from bandits. On another day they would use the opportunity to steal some loot from the villagers’ houses while they are distracted fighting bandits!

How to play a Chaotic Neutral alignment

Your alignment is a helpful guide for how to roleplay your character. When you are faced with a decision, your alignment can help you to think about what your character would do. For example, do you share your food with a starving beggar? Do you give your last health potion to an ally?

There are some actions you can take that are more in keeping with your alignment than others.

You can do things don’t match your character’s alignment, but in doing so your character might feel guilt, remorse or shame, or the action might be part of deliberate character development.

For example, as a Chaotic Neutral character, if you regularly make decisions to help others, protect people and generally make the world a better place, your character may become Chaotic Good. (See my Chaotic Good article for more detail on that alignment).

Actions aligned with a Chaotic Neutral character

  • Spending all your remaining gold to buy a depressed party member an evening with a lady of the night.
  • Swindling an honest vendor in a trade just for fun. 
  • Provoking two people with opposing views into having a fight. 
  • Not sharing the loot equally with your allies. 
  • Starting a fight.
  • Gambling all your remaining gold on one game of cards.
  • Deliberately embarrassing your family and friends.
  • Running away from a fight when outmatched.
  • Kicking an enemy’s weapon away if they drop it in a fight.
  • Using poison to kill an enemy. 

Actions not aligned with a Chaotic Neutral character

  • Receiving a military honour and attending the ceremony in traditional dress. 
  • Calming down a riot.
  • Remaining loyal to an ally instead of betraying them to save your own life. 
  • Unquestioningly following the orders of a noble.
  • Turning an ally over to the authorities if they have broken the law. 
  • Going to war for your nation when the enemy forces massively outnumber yours.
  • Mercilessly killing a horde of goblins for fun.
  • Going peacefully and willingly with guards that want to arrest you.
  • Letting an enemy throw the first punch.
  • Healing the sick if they have an infectious disease. 

Chaotic Neutral insults

As a Chaotic Neutral character, you don’t care hugely for social etiquettes so you love serving up a good insult. 

  • “You’re awfully small to be so hugely irritating.”
  • “Life is full of disappointments, just ask your parents.”
  • “You are so ugly, I’d rather stab my own eyes out than look at you again.”
  • “You’re not funny, but your life is a joke.”
  • “I’d like to help you out, which way did you come in?”
  • “What you lack in intelligence, you make up for in stupidity.”
  • “If you spoke your mind you’d be speechless.”
  • “Of course I talk like an idiot, how else would you understand me?”
  • “You’re not completely useless, you can always serve as a bad example.”
  • “The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.”

Chaotic Neutral background ideas

Something has led your character to be the person they are today and you can be as creative with your backgrounds as you like (proving they make sense to you and your DM!). It’s easy to see how the backgrounds below would result in a character with a Chaotic Neutral alignment.

Charlatan

You have always had a way with people. You know what makes them tick, you can tease out their hearts’ desires after a few minutes of conversation, and with a few leading questions you can read them like they were children’s books. It’s a useful talent, and one that you’re perfectly willing to use for your advantage. You know what people want and you deliver, or rather, you promise to deliver. Common sense should steer people away from things that sound too good to be true, but common sense seems to be in short supply when you’re around.

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition, Page 128.

Outlander

You grew up in the wilds, far from civilization and the comforts of town and technology. You’ve witnessed the migration of herds larger than forests, survived weather more extreme than any city-dweller could comprehend, and enjoyed the solitude of being the only thinking creature for miles in any direction. The wilds are in your blood, whether you were a nomad, an explorer, a recluse, a hunter-gatherer, or even a marauder. Even in places where you don’t know the specific features of the terrain, you know the ways of the wild.

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition, Page 136.

Sailor

You sailed on a seagoing vessel for years. In that time, you faced down mighty storms, monsters of the deep, and those who wanted to sink your craft to the bottomless depths. Your first love is the distant line of the horizon, but the time has come to try your hand at something new.

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition, Page 139.

Chaotic Neutral vs the other alignments

Chaotic Neutral vs Lawful Good

The main difference between Lawful Good and Chaotic Neutral is their perspective on Law and Order in society. The Lawful Good character upholds the Law because they believe it protects people and does good in society. The Chaotic Neutral character believes that Laws restrict individual freedom and they hate traditions, hierarchy and organisational power.

The Lawful Good character will strive to do good in society, but the Chaotic Neutral character is not driven by the same morals. They are only interested in doing what’s best for themselves. If that means that other people benefit from it, then great. If other people will suffer but the Chaotic Neutral character will come out on top with no negative consequences for themselves, also great.

To find out more about Lawful Good, see my Lawful Good alignment article.

Chaotic Neutral vs Neutral Good

These two character alignments don’t agree ethically or morally.

The Neutral Good character will generally follow law and order unless they believe the law does not further the greater good. The Chaotic Neutral character believes that a lawful society is open to people abusing their power and it restricts individual freedoms. As a result, they will rebel against law and order when it furthers their own agenda.

A Chaotic Neutral character is only interested in doing what’s best for themselves. They don’t care if it’s considered Good or Evil in society. Whereas a Neutral Good character will always take the action that furthers Good.

If you want more detail on the Neutral Good alignment, see my article.

Chaotic Neutral vs Chaotic Good

Chaotic Good and Chaotic Neutral characters agree on one thing – that Law and Order do not protect the freedoms of people in society. However, they come at it from different perspectives.

The Chaotic Good character believes that a more chaotic society enables people to do more Good and when given the chance, people will do Good. The Chaotic Neutral character believes that people should be free to do whatever they want, whether that is for Good or Evil.

In any given situation, a Chaotic Good character will be looking for ways to do Good, while a Chaotic Neutral character will be looking for how they as an individual can benefit the most. A Chaotic Neutral character doesn’t care about the impact their actions have on other people.

If other people benefit from their actions, then great. If other people will suffer but the Chaotic Neutral character will come out on top with no negative consequences for themselves, also great.

For a deeper dive into the Chaotic Good alignment, check out my article.

Chaotic Neutral vs Lawful Neutral

There’s one thing that Chaotic Neutral and Lawful Neutral can agree on – both see Good and Evil as something they shouldn’t concern themselves with. Where they differ though, is the reason why they think that way.

A Lawful Neutral character doesn’t concern themselves with Good and Evil because they don’t need to. All they need to do is abide by the laws, codes and traditions of whatever personal or external order they follow. If they do that, they are excused from any moral decisions. They are simply following orders, morality doesn’t come into it.

For a Chaotic Neutral, they hate laws and traditions because they restrict individual freedoms and that’s all they want – to be free. For a Chaotic Neutral character the only way they can be truly free and pursue their own interests at all times is to be morally neutral. 

Find out more about the Lawful Neutral alignment in my article.

Chaotic Neutral vs True Neutral

True Neutrals don’t prefer Law to Chaos or Good to Evil, instead they see them all as extreme positions which lead to negative consequences for individuals. Some True Neutral characters are obsessed with balance and keeping their ethical and moral decisions on an even keel. Others are indecisive and apathetic to what happens.

Generally, a True Neutral will follow the rules and favour Good over Evil, but because it is usually the most sensible decision.

In contrast, a Chaotic Neutral character abhors law and order in society because it can be abused by those in power to restrict individual freedoms. People have a right to be free. A Chaotic Neutral character will actively rebel against any law they disagree with if they feel like it. With regard to morals, the only way they can be truly free is to make decisions which benefit them the most. Some will be considered Good, and some Evil. Generally, a Chaotic Neutral character will make more Good decisions than Evil decisions because they result in better outcomes for them.

Discover more about the True Neutral alignment in my article.

Chaotic Neutral vs Lawful Evil

There is nothing for these two alignments to agree on! A Chaotic Neutral character hates laws, traditions and codes because they can be abused by those in power to restrict freedoms. Lawful Evil characters are often those oppressive people that Chaotic Neutral characters hate!

A Lawful Evil character follows their code of laws and traditions above anything else, even killing others. A Lawful Evil character might have created their own Evil code or they could follow an Evil leader, or be an Evil leader. They might be aware that they are doing Evil, or they might even think they are doing what’s right. Either way, they feel no remorse for carrying out Evil because it’s what their code says to do.

Chaotic Neutral on the other hand, would never follow such an ordered set of codes and traditions because that wouldn’t make them free. In fact, they will rebel against anything that restricts their freedom. Morally, they are just out for themselves. They will generally do Good things because they work out better for them. But if they are in a situation where they can steal from a stranger and get away with it, they will.

For more info on the Lawful Evil alignment, see my article.

Chaotic Neutral vs Neutral Evil

These alignments don’t align ethically or morally, but both alignments are generally quite selfish!

A Neutral Evil character is only out for themselves and they don’t care who they hurt to get what they want. They don’t care about following laws and aren’t interested in rebelling against them either. They’ll follow societal order if it helps them, but they’ll just as easily go against them when they don’t. Neutral Evil characters will use laws as a tool to manipulate the behaviour of other people to get what they want.

Some Neutral Evil characters will spread Evil for Evil’s sake, and with no personal code to follow or rebel against, they can be incredibly heartless.

Chaotic Neutral characters are equally selfish. They want to pursue whatever they desire the most, however, they will not usually harm people to get it. This is usually because hurting others leads to negative consequences that they don’t want to deal with and they aren’t driven by an inner motivation to spread Good or Evil.

Delve into the detail of the Neutral Evil alignment in my article.

Chaotic Neutral vs Chaotic Evil

Chaotic Neutral and Chaotic Evil both hate the establishment and order in society. Where they differ though, is that a Chaotic Neutral character will not rebel against law and order to further the cause of Good or Evil. They will do it if their own personal freedom is restricted because of laws.

A Chaotic Evil character, however, will rebel against societal order to help spread Evil or just for fun. Of all the alignments, Chaotic Evil is the most terrifying. Characters with this alignment will kill others and destroy anything they want to without a second thought for the consequences.

Take a closer look at the Chaotic Evil alignment in my article.

How a Chaotic Neutral character views the other alignments

A Chaotic Neutral character is mostly interested in being free to make decisions independently without reference to societal norms. They also believe that Good and Evil are just ideals which change depending on the perspective of the situation.

The question a Chaotic Neutral character might subconsciously ask of others is, “Are they freethinking and realistic when making decisions?”

Lawful Good
Authoritarian and naive
Neutral Good
Complaint and naive
Chaotic Good
Freethinking but naive
Lawful Neutral
Authoritarian but realistic
True Neutral
Complaint but realistic
Chaotic Neutral
Freethinking and realistic
Lawful Evil
Authoritarian and irrational
Neutral Evil
Complaint and irrational
Chaotic Evil
Freethinking but irrational

Chaotic Neutral alignment FAQs

Can a paladin be Chaotic Neutral?

Until Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition, paladins had to have a Lawful Good alignment. Now, they can be any alignment.

If you want to play a Chaotic Neutral paladin, you could create an interesting backstory for them which explains why they aren’t Lawful Good.

Perhaps your paladin started his career as a hired hand for service, but found that the nobles who hired him used their wealth and status to repress the people in their estates. This made your character angry and they swore to never support the aims of the establishment ever again. These nobles were supposedly doing Good in the world by giving serfs food and employment, but they were actually doing a lot of Evil. Your character decided that morality isn’t clear cut. 

Are cats Chaotic Neutral?

Most creatures that lack the capacity for rational thought do not have alignments – they are unaligned. Such a creature is incapable of making a moral or ethical choice and acts according to its beastial nature.

Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook 5th Edition, Page 122.

Even though cats may seem to cause chaos for fun, they are not doing it to make an ethical or moral statement because they aren’t able to understand law and order, nor good and evil. They are just being cats.

Conclusion – Chaotic Neutral alignment

The Chaotic Neutral alignment is a fun alignment to play as. You are free to do whatever you want in each situation and follow your personal interests while doing very little harm to others. You’ll generally be a Good person because you aren’t out to do Evil and Good decisions often lead to better outcomes for you.

Chaotic Neutral can be a really frustrating alignment for your fellow adventurers to play alongside because your actions are unpredictable and often selfish!

The Chaotic Neutral alignment is a great choice for a seafaring adventurer who joins different crews according to their whims, for a travelling tradesperson always looking to cut the best deal, and for a ranger who lives in the wilderness and only takes on paid work for something fun to do.

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Emily Sargeantson
Hi there, I’m Emily. I’ve loved tabletop games since 2008 when I was introduced to D&D. I started My Kind of Meeple to nerd out about tabletop!