Last Updated on January 22, 2023
After you’ve wrapped your head around race, class, and other basic concepts of D&D, you’ll probably be introduced to a mechanic called alignment. On the surface, it’s a pretty basic concept used to describe which direction a character’s moral compass points, but in reality, it can be a lot more complex than that.
Based on a two-axis system, this chart can feel overwhelming if you don’t understand the terms used. I mean, it can even be confusing if you do know what’s going on, considering that everyone and their brother seems to have a different concept of what exactly qualifies a character to fit in each alignment.
In reality, characters exist on two spectrums: from lawful to chaotic and from good to evil. Close enough to the middle of either spectrum and you’re neutral for that axis. Luckily, we have a really good understanding of what these spectrums are, which means we can talk about the general guidelines for the various alignments.
Today, we’re going to be talking about an alignment ripe for wacky adventures and a good bit of edginess: the chaotic good alignment. We’ll be looking at exactly what defines this alignment and then move into some examples from pop culture to help you learn how to play an amazing chaotic good character for yourself.
What Is the Chaotic Good Alignment?
Chaotic good is an alignment for characters who believe in doing the right thing and who despise any form of order imposing their will on them. These are characters who are genuinely moral people with some sort of aversion to the law of the land, whatever that may be.
Of course, this too exists on a spectrum. We see a range of characters from those who just don’t care for the law to those who outright despise it and don’t believe good can prosper while people are ruled over. The latter is an example of extreme chaotic good, while the former falls eerily close to the mindset of a neutral good character.
It gets even a bit more complicated than that since the above examples define the spectrum of chaos within this alignment. Since there’s also a spectrum of goodness, we really could have nine more subsections of this alignment to delve into, but that’s obnoxious.
I’m saying all this because it’s incredibly important to realize that there is no one right way to play a chaotic good character. So long as you’re within the bounds of chaos and goodness, you’re safe.
We can start off our search for a deeper understanding of the alignment by gaining an understanding of the spectrums, law and morality.
Our character is good, which means, unsurprisingly, they want to do good things. I know, I know, “good” is subjective. In this concept, it all has to do with your motivations and your intentions. A “good” character is focused on the good of others, while in contrast, an “evil” character is focused on their own self-gain.
When we look at the iconic example of this alignment, Robin Hood, we can clearly see this. His goals are all centered around giving to the poor. We can also see the other axis at play here in the “steal from the rich” part of the famous line.
A chaotic character disagrees with the constraints that laws set on them and those around them. That’s the basis, and some characters may take things much further to the point of outright hatred and disdain for any body of government or other variety of ruling body.
Chaos isn’t simply a character who makes decisions on a whim to suit their needs or at the flip of a coin, although it can be. Generally, though, it just refers to this departure from law.
When we put these together into a lawful good character, we’re left with someone who has the interests of others in mind when they decide to fly in the face of law and order.
I also find it helpful to define the bounds of a certain alignment by looking at its neighbors and seeing how they operate. For this one, we’re flanked by Neutral Good and Chaotic Neutral, two relatively noncommittal alignments.
The neutral good character is someone who is good for the sake of being good. They will happily follow the law, although they have no great ties to it. This means they might break it at times if it’s really getting in the way of the greater good, but they’ll probably try to find an alternative route first.
They are characters who have no real opinion of the law either way, so following it or breaking it, these are all really the same thing on their way to helping others.
Then, we have a chaotic neutral character, a really interesting character indeed. They maintain the chaos element, a strong willingness to break laws at any turn, or even outright hatred, and yet they are not interested in doing this to achieve the greater good.
Instead, a chaotic neutral character doesn’t have many vested stakes in any outcome. They tend to be content living their own lives without any grand necessity for doing good or inflating their egos. It’s an interesting character, but not the focus that we’re looking at today.
The chaotic good character sits flanked by these two. They are made different from these examples because they both care about the well being of others and are willing to do whatever it takes to do so.
We can get into a few different views of this character, not to the point of a smaller alignment chart but enough to see how different beliefs can still fall under chaotic good.
We have to look at how the aspects of a character’s alignment relate to another.
First is a character who is more good than chaotic. Their goals matter more to them than the manner they get there, and working with a ruling body might be necessary to meet their ends.
Next is a character who is more chaotic than good. This character often despises order more than anything, while their good nature prevents them from acting outright violently toward any establishment they come across.
Lastly, we have a character who is balanced in their alignment components. This centered chaotic good character is the basis of everything we’ve talked about so far, and while they act outside of order, everything they do is for the greater good.
Chaotic Goodness in Action
We have the basis of a chaotic good character nailed down, but how would such a character act in some actual situations? Well, let’s look at that and see how this character’s alignment affects their actions.
Our party of adventures witnesses a fight break out between a local official and a farmer. It seems there was some sort of dispute over land permits and taxes.
This one’s pretty straightforward. Our character would come to the aid of the farmer pretty instinctively. Their distaste for laws and taxes means they really don’t care whether or not the farmer was right with the law or not. The main takeaway for our character would basically be that an average person is being picked on by someone with authority.
The king is gathering a grand army to fight back invading demons. They request that our adventurers lead a reconnaissance party to learn more information about the evil forces.
Here we have a more difficult situation. The good thing to do is whatever it takes to drive back the demonic forces. The chaotic thing to do is refuse the king’s request. In situations like these, we have some options at our disposal.
First, I haven’t given enough background for a proper decision. We don’t know if this king has been mostly good or if they’ve been a tyrannical ruler up to this point. We can easily assume that the demons are evil, but maybe their goals aren’t as bad as letting the king stay in charge.
These different factors will greatly affect the outcome because, unlike most lawful alignments, chaotic good characters are fully capable of deciding which response is best.
In most versions of this scenario, the chaotic good character will submit to the king’s request, not out of duty to the king but out of concern for the people. Their decision will likely also be influenced by the party they’re with since most good characters in general have a strong sense of loyalty.
Of course, if the king is evil and there’s another course of action that can better serve the people threatened by demons, the chaotic good character will push for that response.
A band of goblins has been raiding and harassing a village of the local barony. The people have been requesting aid for months with no response and are on their last legs.
First things first, taking care of the goblins is of utmost importance. After that though, well, our chaotic good character will probably have a few choice words for the baron.
If there’s one thing a chaotic good character hates most, it’s a lazy, unjust, and pompous ruler. In fairness, our character is likely to think that any ruler fits that description, so it doesn’t take much to get them fuming.
How our character goes about things is a matter of personality. One might march on the baron’s keep demanding their head on a spike for negligence to their people. Another might focus on helping the village recuperate and steal some supplies from the baron’s men to help in that cause.
The chaos doesn’t mean that this character is flipping a coin before every decision they make; it’s quite the contrary. Chaotic good is an alignment of strong convictions and beliefs. Mainly, it’s the belief that law and order can’t exist alongside goodwill and empathy, at least when it comes to themselves.
Chaotic Good Characters in Pop Culture
It can be incredibly helpful to see some actual finite examples of characters who fit this alignment. Not only does it help us to understand more of the motivations these characters might have, but it also allows us to gain some inspiration for the character we’re going to play.
I’ve compiled a list of characters whom I believe fit this alignment to a T, and I’ve included reasons why each one does so. Of course, alignments are a subjective thing. Everyone is going to have a slightly different perspective on what a character’s motivations truly are.
So, take what I say with a grain of salt, and don’t be afraid to think for yourself. The character’s I’ve chosen should exemplify characteristics of a chaotic good character, but if you disagree, great. That means you’ve come to your own understanding of what it means to be a part of this alignment.
The iconic chaotic good character if there ever was one. Steal from the rich, give to the poor, and topple a corrupt government in the meantime. Robin Hood and his band of merry men are roguish heroes with a disdain for not just government but any true order whatsoever.
Throughout the many incarnations of the character in movies, television, and literature, Robin is always a genuinely good person with incredible amounts of empathy. Of course, he can also be a bit cocky at times since he tends to be a clever free-thinker.
These characteristics, along with a healthy dose of sarcasm, make Robin Hood likable, helping him to gain allies and support along the way. We don’t see many if any renditions of this character who are “chaotic stupid” and willing to go to any lengths to get the job done.
Robin has a code; it’s just one that is far beyond the constraints of law. He is more good than chaotic since his desire to do right by others is often what drives him to put the law aside.
Green Arrow (Oliver Queen)
You can’t mention Robin Hood without the modern-day retelling of the Green Arrow. This comic-book superhero abandons a life of riches and comfort to give back to his city and eventually the world and even the multiverse.
While the CW tv version paints the character in a very Batman-esque light, all grim and duty first, the more representative portrayal is in the comics. There, while Ollie is still prone to a depressive spiral or two, the character is much more fun loving and kindhearted.
Either way, this character cares deeply about his city, or rather, the people whom he has sworn to protect. And whom does he protect them from? Why, the rich and entitled, of course.
In the comics, this character also has a strong distaste for the police since he views it as a corrupt establishment. While there may be a few he trusts, his general feeling is that any body enforcing corrupt rules and protecting corrupt officials is itself an affront to all things good.
While the MCU has gone for the Professor Green route with a Banner/Hulk hybrid character, the actual basic Hulk character defines this alignment incredibly well, although he is definitely not a spinoff of Robin Hood in any way.
Even in his most outraged forms, the Hulk is a hero, someone who wants to do good. Of course, the Hulk himself lacks a lot of control and may end up fitting the more wild aspects of a chaotic nature at times.
No matter how reigned in the character is, they are still someone who will smash their way to justice regardless of whatever laws are in place. Often, the Hulk is an outright fugitive of the law being chased by some government entity for his “crimes.”
However, while Hulk may end up with a fair bit of collateral damage due to his tumultuous nature, his interests always lie in doing the right thing.
Most Modern Anti Heroes
I know, this is broad, but I don’t want to bore you with a list of 30 more heroes and their individual explanations. The reality is that a lot of these vigilante-type heroes are agents of chaos as much as they are good.
The general character tagline is “I need to protect people, but I can’t do that while working within the law.” Some, like Batman, can be switch-hitters since they have a strong code of justice that makes them lawful in their own eyes. Others, like Deadpool or Harley Quinn, lean so heavily into the random aspect of a chaotic alignment that their actions can’t quite be defined as good.
Still, if a character is breaking the law to do good, they probably at least intend to be chaotic good, although it can definitely be a slippery slope to other alignments.
The lovable space pirate/smuggler from the TV series Firefly is a great example of a character who is more good than chaotic. His backstory makes this incredibly clear, as he was a rebel fighting against a corrupt government in a war for independence.
Of course, Mal continues to be a rebel at heart and is far more concerned with the safety of his crew than the laws of the land or even his obligations to others he’s come across on his path.
Mal can sometimes drift into a more chaotic neutral standing, as his motivations can easily drift to money, but the core of the character is based in consideration for others. Of all the things he does, his loyalty to his friends is the thing that keeps him from going off the rails or losing sight of his morality.
Sam and Dean Winchester
The Winchester brothers don’t have any clear opposition for the law, but they definitely don’t work inside of it by any means. Left and right, they pose as various government officials to make their way into a supernatural crime scene.
They also actively oppose the forces of heaven at times, perhaps the greatest law in the Supernatural universe, and all this considering they both are adamantly against demons. Hell, they’re even willing to work with demons at times to get things done.
In fact, the brothers are willing to do a lot of questionable things in order to protect the world and whatever else their goals happen to be at the time.
Of all of this, the key factor is that these characters really don’t have any ties to order at all. They may slip into periods where they aren’t necessarily doing any good, but the core of the characters is heroic and empathetic.
Captain Jack Sparrow
A wildcard if there ever was one, Jack is a pirate, so there’s no surprise here that he doesn’t conform to the law of just about any land (or sea for that matter). Still, perhaps his biggest crime is freeing 100 slaves, a feat that no one can argue falls anything short of good.
While Jack is a pirate and naturally interested in gaining riches, immortality, and other personal gains, his actions often tend to be counterproductive to those ends. His stated intentions and real actions don’t always seem to line up, but that means he’s typically acting in the interest of others.
In fact, Jack is more than willing to sacrifice himself. He’s done so several times in the series and likely several more times throughout his life. Going to the point of actually dying for others is unquestionably good, but, of course, the path he led to that point was everything but lawful.
If you’re starting to see a trend, good job. Here we have another suave character, originally motivated by money, willing to sacrifice himself for others because he found that loyalty came first.
I won’t say tropes don’t exist, and honestly, a good bit of modern smuggler characters probably take inspiration from Han nowadays. The character is incredibly likable, and while he asserts that his interests lie in money and his own safety, the reality is that he cares deeply for others.
The suave, bad boy act is more a facade than anything else, and it gives way to a character who has seen the horrors of the empire and who is willing to do whatever it takes to help people along the way.
Playing a Chaotic Good Character
With a full understanding of the chaotic good alignment under our belt, it’s time to start actually building a character that fits in here. Class and race are easy. Few, if any, of these have any influence on your personality. However, your background and backstory should have a great influence on the character you actually end up playing.
Someone’s origin shapes whom they become, and this is no different for characters. So, while you can realistically play as any background, you need to find a way for that background to work and to fit into the bounds of a chaotic good character.
For example, you can play a chaotic good noble, but they aren’t likely to take any great pride in their noble standing. Instead, they probably found some reason to betray their upbringing and topple the very system that gave them their status. At the very least, they’ll have to have some sort of traumatic incident that gave birth to their disdain.
Some players choose background before alignment; others work the opposite way. Whichever way you’re going about it, make sure the two fit together. It doesn’t even have to be a natural fit. You just have to find the connecting piece.
Having a good backstory that gives you a reason for your chaotic good nature is helpful in more ways than one. It also gives you concrete motivations behind the decisions you’ll be making in everyday roleplaying situations.
It’s easy to hypothesize and use examples for how a chaotic good character might act in certain scenarios, but when it comes down to it, a character makes their decisions based on prior experience. The more experience they have, the more reason they have to be chaotic good, and the better off you’ll be when it comes time to make the tough choices.
Backgrounds give you another way to help roleplay as well: your characteristics. You can always come up with your own, but it’s nice to have some options. Below, I’ve compiled a list of existing and original characteristics that fit the basic concepts of a chaotic good character.
Use these to guide you in your role play, and it won’t even feel like you’re playing a character; it will feel like you’re stepping into someone else’s shoes.
Personality Traits (D8)
- I never stop smiling.
- I can be quite rude to those with so-called “authority.”
- I judge people by their actions, not their words or titles.
- Sarcasm is my first response to most situations.
- My loyalty to my friends comes first, but money is a close second.
- I have a story for every situation.
- My mood changes like the tides.
- There’s no point getting riled up in tough situations, just stay calm, and go with the flow.
- (Respect) Respect is something that must be earned, not given freely due to status.
- (Freedom) No life can be owned by another.
- (Justified) I only commit crimes for the betterment of my community.
- (Pursuit of Happiness) Everyone should be free to pursue their own goals.
- (Honor) The undeserving are free from my wrath.
- (Ingenuity) The old systems clearly aren’t working. It’s time to try something new.
- The pointless fighting of armies led to the destruction of my childhood home. One day, they’ll know how it feels.
- I owe a debt that cannot be repaid in gold.
- As a child, I was horribly beaten by a noble. I’ll get revenge on every bully I come across until the day I die and even after if I’m lucky.
- Someone has put a large price on my head, and I’ll be damned if they have mine before I have theirs.
- I sold my soul, and I’d really like to get that thing back.
- I’ve done some horrible things that I may never be able to make up for.
- I don’t trust others easily.
- Plans are for those who can’t improvise.
- I harbor a deep hatred for the leaders of the armor I fought against.
- Few people know the real me.
- I drink to drown my sorrows, but they seem to have learned how to swim.
- I have trouble hiding how I really feel. My quick tongue can often get me in trouble.
Playing a chaotic good character is an exciting way to delve into a character who is heroic for completely their own reasons. Unlike the lawful good characters who do so out of duty or the neutral good characters who seem to just come to goodness naturally, chaotic good characters often get to deal with some deep internal struggles along the way.
With a character such as this, you’re guaranteed to experience a story that is as exciting as it is compelling. If you’ve chosen this alignment for your next character, I wish you all the best. And remember, down with the system, man.
As always, happy adventuring.
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As a kid, I was often told to get my head out of the clouds and to stop living in a fantasy world. That never really jived with me, so I decided to make a living out of games, stories, and all sorts of fantastical works. Now, as an adult, I aspire to remind people that sometimes a little bit of fantasy is all you need when life gets to be too much.