Want to know all about the Neutral Evil alignment? You’re in the right place! This article explains the Neutral Evil character alignment, how to play it, and lists character examples.
You’ll discover Neutral Evil traits, character background ideas, how Neutral Evil compares to the other alignments, what their favourite quotes might be and more! Get to know the Neutral Evil alignment!
Neutral Evil definition
A neutral evil villain does whatever she can get away with. She is out for herself, pure and simple. She sheds no tears for those she kills, whether for profit, sport or convenience. She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic villain has. The criminal who robs and murders to get what she wants is neutral evil.
Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies.Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook Edition 3.5, Page 106.
‘Neutral’ and ‘Evil’
Each character alignment has two main aspects. The first part of the alignment, ‘Neutral’ is that alignment’s perspective on order in society and how it affects individuals. ‘Evil’ tells us about their morals.
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Sitting in the middle of the ethical axis, Neutral characters do not feel compelled to follow every rule and societal belief, nor do they feel the need to disrupt and rebel against everything. A Neutral character follows the rules that align with their own agenda, that are convenient to them, or they think are necessary.
Neutral characters will usually follow the rules because they generally lead to a better outcome for them. However, they can lie and break the rules if they believe the benefits to them outweigh the risks.
Characters with a Neutral alignment may see themselves as superior to Lawful and Chaotic aligned characters because in not taking sides, they are the only alignment with true freedom to decide.
Characters aligned with Evil will eliminate others, cause them harm and make them miserable. They do not feel remorse for their actions and will take down anyone, whether those people are innocent or not.
Characters may be aligned with Evil for many different reasons. For example, it could be because they follow an Evil deity, they work for an Evil master, or because they enjoy it.
A Neutral Evil character is only out for themself. Whatever they want – power, wealth, reputation – they won’t follow someone else’s codes to get it. If they want something, they will take it. If that means betraying a friend, they will do it.
They don’t believe that following laws and traditions makes anyone a better person. Law and order props up and protects the weak and holds the strongest back.
But law and order does have its use as a tool to manipulate people who believe in honour, loyalty and promises. Neutral Evil characters make allegiances with others to further their own agenda but will quickly hurt, desert or betray allies when they are no longer useful.
In the same way, they will play along with laws if they happen to align with their ambitions, but they will not hesitate to break them if they don’t.
Neutral Evil characters aren’t stupid, though. They won’t go around breaking every law especially if they will be caught. Instead, they will weigh up their options and decide if risking the consequences for breaking a law is worth it to get what they want.
Characters with a Neutral Evil alignment will harm others if it furthers their agenda or they enjoy it. If their main motivator is to spread Evil for Evil’s sake, they may create situations where they can spread Evil en masse without getting caught.
Neutral Evil characters aren’t motivated to disrupt order for Chaos’s sake though. They take no pleasure in that.
Because a Neutral Evil character has no organised codes to follow and they are Evil they will harm innocents, hit weaker and unarmed foes and see nothing wrong with using poison.
A Neutral Evil character is an unpredictable and dangerous ally to have. The kind of person who will betray their own family and hurt others for fun is not someone I’d want in my party!
You never know at what point you will stop being useful to them – and you don’t want to find out what will happen to you when that day comes!
Given their love of power and money, if someone offers them enough they will switch allegiances without a second thought. All they want is to come out on top. They will take the easy road to get there and to hell with everyone else.
From a Neutral Evil character’s perspective, they are better than everyone else because they only have to care about making their life the best without caring about anyone else.
For everyone else, a Neutral Evil character is terrifying because they can be driven by spreading Evil without any honour to hold them back.
Neutral Evil character examples
The Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook Edition 3.5 refers to the Neutral Evil alignment as the ‘Malefactor’. It’s the perfect name for this alignment! Neutral Evil characters are villains, without a doubt, but they do have some self-restraint. They will go after what they want and will break laws and eliminate others to get it, but they will only do so when the risk of getting caught is worth what they stand to gain.
Neutral Evil female character examples
- Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians)
- Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
- GLaDOS (Portal)
Neutral Evil male character examples
- Bowser (Super Mario Bros.)
- Mr Burns (The Simpsons)
- Voldemort (Harry Potter)
Neutral Evil traits
Of course, the exact personality of a Neutral Evil character varies from character to character. But there are some traits that are often associated with them.
Neutral Evil personal code
A Neutral Evil character is Evil at their heart, but they are pragmatic in how they achieve their wicked goals. Their personal code might look something like this.
- I will follow the rules if they benefit me.
- I will break the rules if the risk is worth it.
- I will eliminate an innocent if it is the best choice for me.
- I will accept deals if they help me get ahead.
- I will manipulate others into getting what I want.
- I will betray anyone including my family and friends for my own gain.
- I will take any route good or bad, to achieve my goals.
- I will help others if there is a reward for me.
- I will seek pleasure.
- I will be cautious around those more powerful than me.
Neutral Evil character’s perfect world
The perfect world for a Neutral Evil character might look like this.
- There are no laws.
- Deals are made and broken freely.
- Everyone is free to pursue their own interests.
- The weak are manipulated and controlled by the strong.
- Justice is determined by individuals, not a government.
- People are free to spread Evil however they see fit.
- No-one helps the forces of Good.
- People have no loyalty to anyone else.
- There are lots of places to pursue pleasure.
- Honour doesn’t exist.
Neutral Evil quotes
If a Neutral Evil character has some favourite quotes, they might be these!
I’m here to get what’s mine.Cookie
The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.Ayn Rand
Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.Alfred A. Montapert
Wake up beauty, it’s time to beast.Anon
Find something that makes you happy and go for it.Zendaya
Neutral Evil decisions
As your adventurer goes about their merry way they will need to make decisions about what to do. Their Neutral Evil alignment will affect the decisions they make.
Do they take a family heirloom without permission from their wealthy new friend because they know they can sell it for a small fortune?
The decision they make will depend on a few things. How much do they want the heirloom? Can they get away with taking it? Is the gain from taking it worth the potential negative consequences?
Even though they want the shiny heirloom for themselves, they might not take it because their friendship is more valuable to them. Not in a cutesy best friends forever kind of way, but in a pragmatic, selfish way. Perhaps their friend gives them access to the higher tiers of society and therefore lots of rich people to take things from.
However, a Neutral Evil character might take the heirloom if the friendship means less to them than the piles of gold when they sell it!
The ideal situation for a Neutral Evil character is that they can get away with lifting the heirloom. Then they can keep their friendship and future opportunities for more thefts, but they also get the gold!
Every decision basically comes down to this for a Neutral Evil character – what is the best result for me?
How to play a Neutral Evil character
If you’re allowed to play an Evil aligned character with your group, then you’re in for some fun! They are a great disruptive presence especially in groups of Good and Evil characters. Some Dungeon Masters don’t allow mixed groups of good and Evil characters because the party often disagrees and can split up!
As you play your character, your alignment will influence the actions you take and you’ll usually act in line with your character’s alignment. There may be times when you don’t, but your character might feel strange afterwards. They might be angry at themselves, feel sad, or even reflect on who they are.
If your character consistently acts in a way that isn’t in keeping with their original alignment, it can be the start of a character development arc for them. Some great stories come out of these!
Actions aligned with a Neutral Evil character
- Drinking the last healing potion instead of offering it to another party member that you don’t like.
- Following the person who spilt their drink on you when they leave the bar and beating them up in an alley.
- Running away from an encounter and leaving the rest of your party.
- Taking an arrow for an ally in your party because they are critical to your plans.
- Accepting money to let bandits into the property you were protecting.
- Enjoying hurting a government official to find out information.
- Poisoning everyone at a party because they were mean to you at school.
- Refusing someone’s request for mercy.
- Fixing a game of Dragonchess so you win all the gold in the pot.
- Manipulating a group of teenagers into looting a storehouse for you.
Actions not aligned with a Neutral Evil character
- Healing the sick.
- Offering a fair price for an item in a shop when you don’t need to be on good terms with the owner.
- Defending civilians when the odds are against you.
- Giving all your gold to beggars when there’s nothing in it for you.
- Trying to talk down a group of bandits who ambushed you on the road at night.
- Staying loyal to your family when you are offered a life-changing amount of money to frame them.
- Listening to the advice from the head of your family who you don’t respect.
- Standing as your monarch’s champion against a stronger opponent.
- Working for your nation just for the honour of serving.
- Breaking the law when you know you’ll be caught.
Neutral Evil insults
Neutral Evil characters only care about people’s feelings if they need those people for something, otherwise, they’ll dish out the burns freely!
- “It’s better to let someone think you’re stupid than to talk and prove it.”
- “It looks like your face caught on fire and someone tried to put it out with a hammer.”
- “You’re so bad to look at that when you looked in the mirror, your reflection walked away.”
- “Ordinarily people live and learn. You just live.”
- “If what you don’t know can’t hurt you, you’re invulnerable”
- “I’m multi-talented, I can talk and annoy you at the same time.”
- “Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.”
- “Please, keep talking. I always yawn when I’m interested.”
- “You always have your ear to the ground. So how’s life in the gutter?”
- “You’re not yourself today. I noticed the improvement immediately.”
Neutral Evil background ideas
Whenever you create a character, your background can be whatever you want it to be so long as it makes sense for who your character is today.
Here are some backgrounds that I think work really well for a Neutral Evil character.
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.
You are an experienced criminal with a history of breaking the law. You have spent a lot of time among other criminals and still have contacts within the criminal underworld. You’re far closer than most people to the world of murder, theft, and violence that pervades the underbelly of civilization, and you have survived up to this point by flouting the rules and regulations of society.Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, Edition 5, page 129.
You grew up on the streets alone, orphaned, and poor. You had no one to watch over you or to provide for you, so you learned to provide for yourself. You fought fiercely over food and kept a constant watch out for other desperate souls who might steal from you. You slept on rooftops and in alleyways, exposed to the elements, and endured sickness without the advantage of medicine or a place to recuperate. You’ve survived despite all odds, and did so through cunning, strength, speed or some combination of each.Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, Edition 5, page 141.
Neutral Evil vs the other alignments
Neutral Evil vs Lawful Good
There’s not a huge amount for Lawful Good and Neutral Evil to agree on! Neutral Evil characters are indifferent to Law, they will follow it if it suits them but will equally break it if doesn’t. They are only out for themselves.
To a Lawful Good character, however, laws create a stable society within which people can do more Good. A Lawful Good character will never break the law or the rules they follow.
The biggest thing Lawful Good and Neutral Evil differ on is their morals. A Neutral Evil character will do whatever they want to get the best outcome for themselves. If that means breaking promises or harming others, they will do it. And they’ll feel no remorse either.
To Lawful Good character helping others and doing Good in the world is a huge motivator! They will risk their lives to save others, give money to the poor and help the weak.
For a closer look at Lawful Good, check out my article.
Neutral Evil vs Neutral Good
While they are very different morally, Neutral Good and Neutral Evil alignments do agree that law is no better than chaos. They both take the best decision in each situation. Where that differs, however, is their intent.
A Neutral Good character will take the action that does the most Good in the world, whereas, a Neutral Evil character will do what is best for themselves without a second thought for anyone else, or take the action that will spread as much Evil in the world as they can if that’s what motivates them.
A Neutral Evil character will go to take extremely Evil measures to get what they want. They will even follow the rules if it will get them a good outcome! In comparison, a Neutral Good character will begrudgingly break the law if they can see it will benefit the greater good and they will never harm an innocent person.
For a closer look at the Neutral Good alignment, see my article.
Neutral Evil vs Chaotic Good
Chaotic Good characters passionately distrust and dislike Law and Order. They believe that order restricts individual freedoms and because of that, people can do less good in the world.
A Chaotic Good character will rebel against any laws that restrict their freedom and will break laws and rules in the name of the greater good. Like Robin Hood who stole from the rich to give to the poor.
In contract, Neutral Evil characters don’t care how society is structured. All they care about is themselves and doing as much Evil in the world as they can if they are motivated by that.
A Chaotic Good character will mislead people and even eliminate them in the same way that a Neutral Evil character will. But there is one huge difference. A Chaotic Good character will only do it if it is for the greater good and they will never ever hurt an innocent.
To take a closer look at the Chaotic Good alignment, see my article.
Neutral Evil vs Lawful Neutral
Lawful Neutral characters and Neutral Evil characters are very different. For a Lawful Neutral character, they follow a personal code to guide every decision, whereas a Neutral Evil character follows no such code.
A Neutral Evil character might do Evil things just for fun. They aren’t doing it in the name of a rebellion against law and order, they are just doing it because they want to and they can. They will just do whatever they can get away with to get what they want. If that means someone is hurt but they won’t get caught, then fine.
On the other hand, a Lawful Neutral character will pursue their own interests but will not go against their personal or societal code to get them. That generally means, not harming others!
My Lawful Neutral article looks at this alignment in more detail.
Neutral Evil vs True Neutral
These two alignments agree on one thing – that neither law nor chaos are good things.
A True Neutral character takes the most pragmatic decision in every situation without referring to societal order and chaos or moral perspectives on Good and Evil. They see all these perspectives as extremes which lead to black and white views of reality when it’s always shades of grey.
For a Neutral Evil character, they don’t side with order or chaos for a very different reason. It’s because they want the flexibility to sometimes follow the law and sometimes cause chaos depending on what works best for them in any circumstance.
In any given situation, a True Neutral character will take the most pragmatic action, usually with the best outcome for themselves that doesn’t cause harm to others. In contrast, a Neutral Evil character will do whatever they can get away with, and that may mean eliminating another for fun.
Discover more about True Neutral in my article.
Neutral Evil vs Chaotic Neutral
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.
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.
Take a closer look at the Chaotic Neutral alignment in my article.
Neutral Evil vs Lawful Evil
The main difference between Lawful Evil and Neutral Evil characters is why they are committing their Evil acts.
For a Lawful Evil character, it’s because they are part of something bigger than themselves and they follow the codes, traditions and power structures of that group. They commit their evil deeds to gain power and reputation for themselves, but also to spread order for the cause they are part of. They will not trample on those they are loyal to get what they want and they will stick to the laws of the order they follow to the letter.
A Neutral Evil character, on the other hand, is only out for themselves. Whatever they want – power, wealth, reputation – they won’t follow someone else’s codes to get it. If they want something, they will take it. If that means betraying friends and family, they will do it. They are only loyal to themselves.
Delve deeper into the Lawful Evil alignment in my article.
Neutral Evil vs Chaotic Evil
These two alignments have one thing in common – Evil! They are both selfish, cruel and completely out for themselves. But, they have different perspectives on law and order.
A Chaotic Evil character despises order in all its forms. They will take pleasure in disrupting law and order for the sake of spreading chaos. They don’t do it constantly though. That would get them locked up pretty quickly! But they will occasionally act on impulse and do what they want because they have had enough of using what little self-control they’ve got! To them, self-control feels like they are restricting their own freedom. This frustrates them. Their need to be free is just as strong as their need to spread Evil.
A Neutral Evil character, on the other hand, will play along with the rules, make friends and act like a law-abiding citizen if it will further their own Evil agenda. They don’t care how society is structured or take any pleasure in causing chaos. They are just out to get what they want and indulge their Evil sentiments.
Take a closer look at the Chaotic Evil alignment in my article.
How Neutral Evil views the other alignments
A Neutral Evil character will ask this of other characters, “Do they make decisions pragmatically and are they focussed on what they want?”
Idealistic and distracted
Pragmatic but distracted
Impulsive and distracted
Idealistic and aimless
Pragmatic but aimless
Impulsive and aimless
Idealistic but focussed
Pragmatic and focussed
Impulsive but focussed
Conclusion – Neutral Evil alignment
Roleplaying a Neutral Evil alignment can be very disruptive because you can pursue Evil for Evil’s sake.
The Neutral Evil alignment is perfect for self-absorbed swindlers who trample over anyone for the best deal, for thugs for hire who love causing harm to others, and for a street kid who is member of various shady guilds to indulge his need for Evil.
The mini featured in the image at the top of this article is the Time Witch by Freebooter Miniatures (link to Amazon). I played her as Rin, a Neutral Evil warlock in a D&D campaign. She was so selfish!
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