Alignment is a representation of a creature's general moral and personal attitudes.
The nine alignments
|Good||Lawful good||Neutral good||Chaotic good|
|Neutral||Lawful neutral||True neutral||Chaotic neutral|
|Evil||Lawful evil||Neutral evil||Chaotic evil|
Choosing an alignment
When following an alignment for a character, race and class can be used as a guide. Most player characters are good or neutral rather than evil. In general, evil alignments are for villains and monsters.
Alignment is a tool for developing a character's identity. It is not a straitjacket for restricting a character. Each alignment represents a broad range of personality types or personal philosophies, so two lawful good characters can still be quite different from each other. In addition, few people are completely consistent.
A lawful good character may have a greedy streak that occasionally tempts him to take something or hoard something he has even if that's not lawful or good behavior. People are also not consistent from day to day. A good character can lose his temper, a neutral character can be inspired to perform a noble act, and so on.
An alignment of a character means stating the player's intent to play that character a certain way. If a character acts in a way more appropriate to another alignment, the DM may decide that the character's alignment has changed to match her actions.
Good implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.
Evil implies selfishness and the hurting, oppressing, and killing of others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.
People who are neutral with respect to good and evil have compunctions against killing the innocent but may nevertheless decline to take action or otherwise make sacrifices to protect or help others. Neutral people are more often committed to others and ideas by personal relationships and experiences. A neutral person may sacrifice himself to protect his family, his homeland, or even an idea, but is usually less inclined to do so for strangers who are not related to him or things he has not experienced for himself. Being good or evil can be a conscious choice, as with the paladin who attempts to live up to her ideals or the evil cleric who causes pain and terror to emulate and/or fulfill the goals his god. Good and evil can be attitudinal as well as having moral absolutes. It can be recognized, and being good or evil is just as often chosen as it is shaped while being raised and experiencing the world.
Being neutral on the good-evil axis can represent a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a nuanced/balanced view, balance of power or an idea that good and evil can have subjective, contextual qualities. While acknowledging that good and evil can have absolute and objective states, not just opinions, these folk may maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people and/or the order of things, and that was is good to one (or many) may be evil to others.
Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action beyond instinct are, as a result, neutral rather than good or evil. Deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are examples of neutrality (with respect to good and evil) because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior, although they may be used by others to further good or evil purposes.
To the extent that one is Lawful, such characters value the qualities of truthfulness, keeping their word, respecting authority, honoring tradition, and judging those who fall short of their duties (or living these qualities), though not necessarily all of these nor in equal measure.
To the extent that they are so, Chaotic characters are more likely follow their consciences, be resentful of being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and may only make (or break) a promise if they feel so inclined.
Law implies honor, trustworthiness, obedience to authority, and reliability. On the downside, lawfulness can include closed-mindedness, reactionary adherence to tradition, rigidity or quickness in judgment, and a lack of adaptability. Those who consciously promote lawfulness are more likely to say that only lawful behavior can create a society in which people can depend on each other and make the right decisions in full confidence that others will act as they should.
Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior are more likely to say only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and allow society to fully benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them.
Someone who is neutral with respect to law and chaos may either have a normal respect for authority or see certain limits to its value. They may also feel neither a compulsion to obey nor a compulsion to rebel. She is honest but can be tempted into (or rationalize acts of) lying or deceiving others.
Devotion to law or chaos may be a conscious choice, but is just as often a personality trait that is shaped while being raised and experiencing their world, rather than simply being chosen. Neutrality on the lawful-chaotic axis is usually a middle state - not feeling compelled toward one side or the other. Some few such neutrals, however, espouse neutrality as superior or otherwise more advanced than law or chaos, regarding each as an extreme with its own blind spots, shortsightedness and drawbacks.
Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action beyond instinct and are neutral (with respect to law and chaos). Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.
The 4 corner alignments (lawful good, lawful evil, chaotic good, chaotic evil) are called the extremist alignments since they occupy an end-point on both axes.
Alignment shifts in NWN2
Alignment on the Good-Evil and Lawful-Chaotic axes is treated as bands running from 0 to 30, 31 to 69 and 70 to 100.
|Alignment||100 ... 70||69 ... 31||30 ... 0|
|100 ... 70||Lawful good||Neutral good||Chaotic good|
|69 ... 31||Lawful neutral||True neutral||Chaotic neutral|
|30 ... 0||Lawful evil||Neutral evil||Chaotic evil|
By doing certain actions in-game (usually during conversations) your alignment is shifted in a direction. When such an action takes you over an alignment-boundary your character's alignment-rating is automatically placed at the middle of the new band (i.e. 15, 50, 85)
- Example: Your character started as Lawful Good with a rating of 85:85 (law-chaos:good-evil) during the game he committed several evil and some lawful acts, so that his alignment-rating is now 90:72. If he now commits another evil act that shifts his alignment by 3 points toward evil (90:69), his alignment will change to Lawful Neutral and the character's alignment rating will be set to 90:50, so that he can't shift back to Lawful Good by doing just one noble deed.
To shift alignment during the original campaign, see original campaign alignment shifts.